Sony makes a couple headsets for the PlayStation 3 and 4, and Sony loves to boast about them. With simulated 7.1 surround sound and a built in mic, these headsets seem like a pretty good fit for gamers. The Gold model is $99 and is wireless and the Silver model is $69. However, the Silver model has been on sale for as low as $22 on Amazon recently, so I picked one up on a lark. Here's how I like it.
I need to start my review here because this is the most notable feature of these headphones. I'm not very picky about how comfortable my headphones are, but this set is very, very uncomfortable.
These things are tight, and not at all in a good way! The snugness is noticeable the moment you put them on your head. Each side presses firmly on your ears, smoothing them against your head. For the first 10-20 minutes wearing these, it’s not that bad, but once your play session gets into the 30 minute to and hour territory, things take a turn for the downright painful. I find myself shifting their position on my ears so I can get some relief, but ultimately nothing works. I eventually have to just take them off.
Also, forget about it if you’re wearing glasses at the same time. Adding a thin metal/plastic piece to this smooth-party would almost certainly be considered torture if the UN knew about this.
I really don’t know why Sony went with this design. I’ve been using these for about 3 months at this point and they don’t seem to have loosened up at all, nor have I gotten used to the pressure. The product team at Sony must have ears made of steel if they tried these on in the development cycle.
While the comfort level of these headphones is really bad, the sound quality is anything but. I’m not an audiophile, and I don’t have any “standardized tests” to run on these things to see how objectively good they are. I’ve tested them with my PS4, Mac, and iPhone.
If you’re using these with a PS4 or PS3, you want to use the included USB connector to plug them into your console. This is less convenient on the PS4, as there is a headphone jack on the controller that would make these a little more mobile. However, by using the USB connection, you get to take full advantage of the “7.1 surround sound” mode, and it sounds great! It’s not quite as convincing as a real surround sound setup, but it’s the best I’ve heard. I’ve been playing a lot of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain over the past month and these headphones shine in that game. When you are in a big open world and things are happening all around you, knowing where certain sounds are coming from is a huge advantage. I’m impressed with how good a job Sony has been able to do with sound separation on these since they are technically stereo headsets.
Other games like Madden 15 and N++ have been in my rotation, but these games don’t do much with the surround sound. But even then, the sound coming out of these is really good. Deep bass notes sound properly boomy and high notes sound sharp and clean. I’m not a headphone connoisseur by any means, but as someone who just wants headphones to sound “good”, these do a fantastic job.
I don’t spend a lot of time chatting online when I game, so I honestly don’t have much to say here. The microphone works just fine and I didn’t have anyone complain that I was hard to hear or that the audio coming from my mic was distorted.
This gets a thumbs up from me, but maybe check out another review for more details.
This headset certainly has a unique look. I think the black and blue combo looks pretty cool. They look like something from the future. Or at least like a prop out of a futuristic movie from 1999. I guess I’m saying that I enjoy wearing them, but they’re not something I would ever wear out of the house.
They’re easy to size to your head shape and while the all-plastic design doesn’t feel premium, it also feels very solid. I don’t think these are going to break anytime soon.
My one real complaint with the design of these headphones is the headphone wire. This wire feels thinner than it should, and almost certainly will be the first thing that breaks down the line. And unlike many headphones these days, you can not buy a replacement wire if the built-in one breaks. I haven’t had an issue after the first few months, but it’s just something to keep in mind. Be gentle.
Sony brags about their headset companion app that you can download for the PS4, which basically lets you futz around with the equalizer settings on a game-by-game basis. The box says that there are custom mixes for many games, but I’ve found that to be a bit of an exaggeration. A few games have custom mixes that you can set, but the list is extremely limited. As of October 12, 2015 there are 10 games with custom mixes:
- Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
- Until Dawn
- Batman Arkham Knight
- The Order 1886
- Far Cry 4
- Watch Dogs
- Infamous Second Son
In addition to these game-specific mixes, you can also select from a few generic options:
- Shooter (game)
- Fighting (game)
- Action (movie)
- Horror (movie)
- Techno (music)
- Hip Hop (music)
Finally, there are 3 custom profiles you can set, although the options are limited. You can slide Bass, Mids, and Treble up and down and that’s it.
I suppose there is a little difference in the mixes, but nothing so substantial that I ever wanted to switch away from the default settings.
If Sony is taking advice for the PlayStation 5, I think they should let games automatically switch to the correct sound profile on their own instead of making you go into a separate app to make the switch yourself.
In the end, the game-specific sound profiles are not a good reason to buy this headset on their own. They don’t make games sound outrageously better and it’s a pain to switch between modes as you switch games. Honestly, I wouldn’t even install the app on your PS4.
So when it comes down to it, would I recommend these headphones? Yes, I do, but there are some stipulations.
First, at $69 these are overpriced for what you’re getting. If you see them for that at a store, just keep on walking. However, at $22 on Amazon, I don’t think there is a better headset that you can get.
Also, consider how long you plan on wearing these. If you need something to wear for hours everyday, I really think that the tight fit will become a problem. But if you’re only going to wear them for an hour or so every so often, it’s not that bad.
If you can get past those two complications, then I think you will really enjoy these headphones. They sound great, the mic works fine, and they have a distinctive look. If you need a set of nice gaming headphones, then you could do a lot worse than these. Just make sure you buy them on sale.