Not everyone needs them but if you do then there are a ton of options out there for you. I used to own a pair of Turtle Beach PX21′s that I reviewed a few years ago, but they are currently being held together by electrical tape and the only thing you hear when you put them on is yourself breathing.
Which brings me to about 2 months ago when I started getting back into gaming. I suddenly needed a new pair of headphones so I purchased the Pulse Elite Wireless Stereo Headset for the PS3. Ever since then I’ve been teasing this review as if it was called The Last Guardian. But now with the PS4 out and the holiday season just around the corner I figured now is as good a time as any to let the world know about these puppies. So here it is!
Oh, and if you already have or intend to get a PS4, keep in mind that these will work soon on the system. I’ll update the review once they do or I’ll just post something separate. Don’t let it stop you because they still work now! Keep reading for more on that.
Ok, let’s go!
First thing you notice right out of the box is they feel worth the money you paid for them. They’re sturdy (when they’re not expanded), sleek and have a nice amount of weight to them. The weight for me isn’t heavy enough to bother you during gaming, but I have a abnormally big head so I may not be the one to give a proper opinion there.
Once you feel them in your hands you won’t have any complaints about the quality. This is coming from someone whose only experience with gaming headsets are the PX21′s, so take my opinions with that in mind. These things feel great and as I said, worth the money you paid in terms of quality.
If you’re the type that likes total control over as much as you possibly can, then there’s a good chance you’ll like what these have to offer. You have the power button, as well as a total of 6 ways to adjust the sound getting pumped into your ears.
- Main volume control – left side – want the volume higher or lower, this is your slider.
- Chat/Game volume control – left side – slide up to have game volume dominate your eardrums, slide down to let nothing but your friends talk your ears off about how much you suck.
- BassImpact control – right side – controls how quick you want your brain to explode inside your skull.
- Mic Mute – left side – mutes the mic so you can get yelled at by your wife in peace.
- Virtual Surround Sound – right side – turns the surround sound on and off
- Modes – right side – cycles through the list of 6 different sounds profiles you can install and use.
One thing I love about this headset is at a glance you can have no idea about all the different controls on it. There are even hidden actions like holding down the mute button for 2 seconds grants the ability to turn on a feature that allows you to hear your own voice when you’re talking. It does a real good job at concealing everything and making it look clean and presentable. All the buttons and sliders are easily accessible when you’re wearing them and once you use them about 3 or 4 times you’ll know exactly where everything is and what it does.
If you noticed in the pictures above, you were probably wondering about the 3.5mm headphone jack next to the USB connector. That headphone jack is one of the huge differences between this set and the older Sony wireless gaming headset this model replaced. It’s also the reason why I decided to pay extra for these instead of the older ones which I was originally going to get. That little plug makes these headphones so versatile you’ll wonder why you haven’t bought them yet.
But first, let’s talk about the wireless USB adapter.
It’s fairly straight forward. You plug it in to the PS3 and like magic you have wireless 7.1 virtual surround sound overflowing your ears. Yes, it’s virtual, but it does a good job at it. Keep in mind too, you can only get 7.1 virtual surround sound out of these bad boys when you’re connected with the adapter to the PS3, and not any other way.
But wait, Los.. are you saying there are other ways to use this headset?
Yes. Yes, I am!
See, that adapter is rather special when compared to the older model’s adapter. It’s also sporting a rather stylish 3.5mm audio jack!
What that means is you can plug in the USB adapter to any source that’ll give it power – USB wall plug, back of a tv, computer/laptop… Then plug in the audio cable, that is provided, into the adapter and the other end of it into anything else – tv, cell phone, mp3 player… And badabing badaboom, you have wireless audio for that device!
So technically, these are PlayStation branded, but when plugged into the tv you can use it for anything from the Xbox 360 to the original Nintendo. You won’t be able to chat on the 360 but other than that everything is good. Once again keep in mind that you won’t be getting 7.1 surround, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Not for this price.
Most tv’s nowadays have a USB port, but if your tv does not have an audio jack for headphones like mine does, I’m sure you can buy a cheap RCA to 3.5mm jack at Radioshack.
Another added bonus is that jack on the actual headset that you can plug into anything you want – laptop, phone, or my favorite, the PlayStation Vita! Man, the sound is pretty sweet with these things hooked up to the Vita. I don’t know if it’s the fact that the screen is so close to your face or what but you become immersed rather quickly. The mic even works so you can easily take advantage of cross-game chat with the PS4. What, you didn’t know that? Your PS4 buds can be playing a game and you can be playing on your Vita and you can all be talking to eachother. Freaking technology, it’s great.
Even better, when you have the headset plugged in you don’t even need it powered on! So it’ll work on a dead battery if you need it in a pinch. But, the bass feature will not be available since that needs some juice to work. Also it sounds rather raw compared to the more equalized sound you get when it’s powered on.
AND! Since I’m fortunate enough to own a PS4, I can confirm that you can plug the headset directly into the DualShock 4! Not only will it work, but you’ll get full chat functionality!!
Sorry, I got real excited when I found that out. It’s pretty sweet considering they said these wouldn’t be compatible till they patched it.
Another feature this set has over its predecessor is sound modes. Hand in hand with that is the Pulse Elite Manager app you can download off PSN.
With the dedicated button on the headset, you can switch between 6 modes; each one giving you a different range of sound. For example, the shooter profile will let you hear the footsteps around you while amplifying explosions and gunfire.
While the racing profile will let you feel the sounds of the engines driving all around you.
There are even special profiles for certain triple A games like Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us.
These profiles can be sorted and switched out using the app. Just plug in the headset to the PS3 and follow the easy UI for picking the profiles, hit update, and boom you’re ready to go.
Now, with this comes my only gripe with the headphones.
Depending on the game, these sound profiles can really mess things up. Take Assassin’s Creed 3 for example. With the general Game profile, the bass is insanely overpowered. With the bass turned up to barely 2, there is a constant, low rumble. It reminded me heavily of the alien signal they discovered at the beginning of Independence Day. With that annoying, constant rumble I switched around to the Racing profile and it helped but I still had to keep the bass down.
Comparing all of that to Grand Theft Auto 5 which had it’s own special sound profile is like comparing night and day. There was no stray rumbling, only nice, attuned sound. Dialog was clear, rumbling was subtle and only happened with things like explosions and big crashes – it was the way a dedicated sound profile should sound and made you wish every game got this treatment.
Alright let’s talk about the sound itself.
When the set is not contacting aliens, the sound can be really great. With 7.1 virtual surround sound, you’re pretty engulfed in whatever you’re playing. Being able to hear various noises and voices all around you is something that I never get tired of. These headphones do not disappoint when they’re doing what they’re made to do.
I’m sure you’ve noticed the rather large dial looking things on either side of the set. Those are the actuators that give you the bass impact. To put it simply, it’s like wearing a DualShock on your head. That doesn’t sound pleasant, but when you can control the level it is fairly amazing. Here’s a little tech diary on how the actuators work:
When you find the right profile to fit a game, the bass coupled with the surround sound give you this dynamic level of immersion that I’ve never experienced before.
For instance, I was playing Call of Duty Ghosts with the shooter profile on and not only did I hear every foot step around me, but with every shot I fired I felt little micro pulses. And explosions, fuhgettaboudit, it’s insane. They could’ve been more intense but I didn’t have the bass too high.
Unfortunately, you don’t get the actual surround sound with anything except the PS3. So until they patch it for the PS4, it’ll just be a regular headset. Which even then, with everything I described above, it’s still pretty sweet.
The battery is fairly decent. I don’t say that in a bad way, I just say that because.. well, it’s decent. On one charge I managed to get a good 3.5 – 4 hours of gaming in. Of course that would vary depending on how much bass you and the game are using. But getting roughly 4 hours out of one charge is pretty good in my book. Heck, I’m lucky if I could get 2 hours of gaming in a row. I wouldn’t mind there being more warnings for when they’re about to die though. They give off a tone letting you know they’re about to go, and you’d expect to hear a few more but all you get is one (two in total) and it shuts down right after it. So as soon as you hear that tone, prepare yourself.
At a MSRP of $150 (I got them for $125 from Amazon, who had them as low as $85 once), despite the issue I had with Assassin’s Creed III, it’s hard for me to say anything bad about this headset. Being able to plug virtually anything into it makes it more than just a pair of gaming headphones. The quality of the build to the sound it produces, along with its versatility should make it thee headset to get if you’re gaming on a Sony console.
If you’re comparing, there are quite a few differences between the Pulse and the older wireless headset. Aside from the $50 or so price difference, there is no app manager or any sound modes on the older set. There are also no audio jacks on the adapter or the headphones, making the Pulse much more versatile with the ability to be used on the Vita, your tv and mobile devices. There is a extendable mic that seems to be the main complaint on the older set since it feels so flimsy when extended, while the Pulse has a hidden mic that you don’t have to worry about. And of course the BassImpact which is the main feature of the Pulse.
It was promised that the Pulse will very soon be supported on the PS4 as well. So once that happens it’ll be amazingly difficult to find something comparable for your
next-gen …I’m sorry.. current-gen gaming. Once the patch goes live I’ll test it out and will most likely update this post with how it fares on the PS4.
Until then, if you’re in the market for a new set of wireless headphones and you know you’ll be gaming on a PS3 or PS4, then do yourself a favor and pick these up. It is not something you will regret.