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Review: Sony Pulse 3D headphones – Not quite worth the money

Review: Sony Pulse 3D -But is the headset worth that 100 euros? Well, not quite. But it has its own positives too like design and sound detail.

When Sony released the PlayStation 5 in November, the company immediately released a number of accessories. One of those accessories is the Sony Pulse 3D headset. These are wireless headphones that you can use on your PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC and Mac. The Pulse 3D basically gets all the audio from its source. The 3d effect is therefore not exclusively reserved for this headset. Cheaper headphones can also reproduce the 3D sound. If you want to use the headset on a PC, you need additional software for the surround effect.

Specifications and design

Asking 100 euros for a headset is a lot of money, but even then the Sony Pulse 3D is not the most expensive headphones for gamers. But what exactly do you get for that amount? The Sony headphones come with a special USB dongle, which you can use to connect it to the PlayStation 5 or other supported hardware. You also get an audio cable, with which you connect it directly to your controller, and a USB-a-to-c cable, with which you charge the accessory. So you can use the headset both wirelessly and with a cable.

There are two built-in microphones on board, which you do not like. So there is no mic that sticks out, like on the JBL Quantum 400, which often provide better sound quality. The left ear cup has an abundance of buttons. From top to bottom we find:

  • A volume slider for game chat and audio. This adjusts the balance between both audio streams. This way you can set the volume of the chat to be higher than that of the audio. And if you game without chat, you can just open up the game volume.
  • A monitor button that allows you to hear your own voice while playing. This is useful for times when you get the impression that you have to shout, because you hear your own voice less loudly than without a headset on.
  • An ordinary volume knob.
  • An on and off button.

In addition, you will also find the USB-C connection here, as well as the audio jack. So if you want to charge it or use it with an audio cable, you must also be on the left side of the headset. Incidentally, the battery lasts about twelve hours and needs three to four hours to recharge. That’s not particularly good or particularly bad, so that’s really just fine. In any case, you can game with your friends for a few short evenings without having to worry about the battery. And otherwise you just use an audio cable.

The PlayStation 5 itself has a remarkable and especially playful design, with a futuristic appearance. It’s good to see that Sony has put forward the same design elements for the Pulse 3D. As a result, the headphones fit well with the console for which they were made. The ear cups are comfortable and the band on top quickly fits. However, if you have slightly larger ears, you will soon run into the limitations of the ear cups. The inner band also automatically slides and adapts to the size of your head.

In use

The Sony Pulse 3D is therefore a wireless headset, but you do need the included USB dongle for that. If you put it in your PlayStation 5 and turn on your headset, you are actually already done pairing. You can also use the headset wirelessly on other systems, such as the PlayStation 4, a Windows computer and even the Nintendo Switch. It’s all because of that USB dongle. However, this is not very futuristic – in fact, that dongle feels outdated. Microsoft offers a tighter alternative with Xbox and Windows.

The USB dongle therefore has advantages and disadvantages. Yes, you can use the headset seamlessly on other systems. But when you only use it for your PlayStation 5, it looks ugly and old-fashioned. We encounter problems when the dongle is installed in the back of a USB port. The connection falters and you cannot sit very far from your console. That is why it is now at the front with us. It protrudes considerably and is therefore also noticeable; especially when your PS5 is not hidden in a cupboard.

If you don’t mind having a cable running from your headset to your controller, funnily enough, you can also use the headphones on Xbox. However, the buttons on the left cup only work really well with the PS4 and of course the PS5. For the other console you are often dependent on options that are offered in the software. The regular volume button does work on the Nintendo Switch, if you intend to switch between those consoles. But whether that is going well, that is a second …

It’s good to see that Sony offers so many options on the headset, but using them blind is really asking for chaos. The buttons all feel the same in part. Only the volume controls have a small dent that you can recognize them from, but then there is still a good chance that you are adjusting the wrong setting. In addition, you can no longer control the difference between game and chat audio with software, so you probably take off the headphones at the beginning of the game session to look at the buttons.

Audio quality

As mentioned, the Pulse 3D headset does not have an external microphone. Instead, you have to make do with small holes that hold the two mics. This means that you cannot count on the same quality as headphones with a microphone that is close to your mouth. The holes are also on the left ear cup. You will find one above the volume mixer and the power button. So one is on top, while the other is closer to the mouth. As a result, people on the other hand indicate that you sometimes sound soft while gaming.

Fortunately, the audio quality is fine. Of course, it just depends on what kind of audio you listen to. During testing, we have a lot Sackboy: A Big Adventure sit down and play online in co-op mode. That is a game with a lot of remixed songs and where 3d audio can sometimes be important. The music in that game is of high quality and the Sony Pulse 3D headphones show that beautifully. The bass is nice and low, while the higher tones can also be heard fairly well. In terms of volume, we hear little distortion in the higher regions.

Sometimes there are some elements that fade into the background. Really high notes sometimes drop when there is too much going on. That can come when someone is talking or the other sound effects take over. Sometimes it is a combination of those. Nevertheless, we are satisfied with the warm and especially round sound quality of the headphones. Although you should not want to compare this headset with the more expensive Sony offer at the moment, because that is simply the difference between apples and pears.

The 3d sound is also impressive. Again: the headset itself is not responsible for that. The PlayStation 5 provides the audio, while the Pulse 3D only reproduces that audio. So you can also access that digital surround sound with a cheaper headset. Games have shown that such sound can really complement your experience. For example, in Demon’s Souls you can hear where enemies are and during a game of FIFA you really have the idea that you are in the stadium. So that’s great.

Sony Pulse 3D – conclusion

But is the headset worth that 100 euros? Well, not quite. The way you connect the headset feels outdated, but it is still up to that point. But when you add the substandard microphones to that, (especially in the beginning) you fuss with the buttons and the connection falters when you are too far, then you have some blemishes on the experience. In terms of sound quality, we see that the headset scores a lot better. Music sounds beautifully detailed, while the 3d audio hugs you, as it were. The unique design also looks very cool with the PS5.

Pros of Sony Pulse 3D 

  • Design matches console
  • Sit comfortably
  • Audio playback
  • Also suitable for other devices

Negatives of Sony Pulse 3D 

  • Only wireless with USB dongle
  • Connection sometimes falters
  • Microphone quality
  • Hassle with buttons

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