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Sony PlayStation Pulse Elite wireless headset review — Audial XP boost

You know I always love a good headset. I’m usually the guy at GamingTrend who loves talking about them, and when you pair that with a first party offering from PlayStation, I’ll always be on board. Our Editor-in-Chief reviewed Sony PlayStation’s latest audio tech in the Pulse Explore earbuds, and found those to be exemplary. Given the Pulse Elite is the next step, as PlayStation announced both together, will the over ear alternative follow suit?

Inside the box you’ll find the Pulse Elite wireless headset, the PlayStation Link adapter, a USB-C charging cable, and paperwork. These, along with two items I wasn’t expecting. Packaged with your usual suspects with a headset were a hook for hanging the headset along with a mounting plate. What sets this hook apart is that it’s actually a charging hook. The Pulse Elite features charging contacts on the inside of the top of the headset, so they’ll touch the same contacts on the hook when you hang it up for the day. It’s not a necessary addition, but it’s one I really like.

Unboxing - Sony PlayStation Pulse Elite wireless Headset #playstation #ps5 #gaming #videogames

The PlayStation Link adapter is a bit different than I expected as well. While most headsets I’ve owned have had their own USB-C dongles, this one isn’t paired specifically with the Pulse Elite. If you lose it, you can simply purchase another for your headset. I’ll get into some pairing thoughts a little bit later on how this differs from your standard headset, but a universal adapter cancels out a big problem I’ve had with previous headsets: being useless if you lose the dongle.

As for the Pulse Elite, I like the design. It has that PlayStation 5 sense of style, and the bold look suits it. My brain does prefer symmetry and the mic arm being a little longer than the control one does bug me a little bit, but that’s just a little nitpick. A feature I’m thrilled to see is a ski-band. These are on the main headsets I use, and alleviate a lot of pressure on your head, letting it rest there lightly. The Pulse Elite isn’t as comfortable as some, with a pretty thick rubber ski-band, but it’s an improvement over previous PlayStation headsets. I’m also happy with the ear cups, which looked a bit off but fit nicely over my ears. The faux-leather choice does mean you’ll have to keep them free from any moisture, but it is comfy.

When connecting the Pulse Elite, I was thrilled to find out it has Bluetooth. I wasn’t sure if it would when considering the new PlayStation Link audio connection, but the additional capability is appreciated. Even better, the Pulse Elite supports simultaneous Bluetooth, meaning I was able to play a game while listening to music from my phone. They also leave it up to you to adjust the audio instead of making one or the other secondary, which is another fantastic choice. I’ll always be a fan of options, and the Pulse Elite is stacked.

Using PlayStation Link is easy, if with a few extra steps. As mentioned above, one of the benefits of using this is being able to swap between adapters and devices. PlayStation isn’t swimming in different hardware, but one of the immediate uses has been with the PlayStation Portal. I have one (love it), and being able to instantly sync the headset with it is amazing. The extra effort involved is connecting it; holding your power button for a specific amount of seconds to activate the PS Link pairing. It can be a little confusing trying to remember which beep is on, off, Bluetooth, or PS Link, but the versatility is well worth it.

It doesn’t matter how many devices you can connect to, however, if it doesn’t sound good. Sony PlayStation went the extra mile with planar magnetic drivers, attempting to elevate the audio in the Pulse Elite. There’s a nice blend of highs and mids, tuned so finer details make their way through instead of blowing you away with volume. They are still very loud, with some great volume range, but not needing it saves your consumers hearing. My biggest issue with the Pulse Elite so far has been severely lacking bass. You don’t feel and barely hear the thumping that drives home certain noises, which is noticeable when playing games like Call of Duty during explosions or Final Fantasy with its phenomenal soundtrack.

Even with the bass issue, the spatial audio is truly fantastic. As per usual, I put in some time with Modern Warfare III to give it the multiplayer treatment, and it has handled almost as well as my $400 headset. Sure, it’s getting the benefit of my SteelSeries Sonar software on PC, but I’ve used other headsets with it to less than great results. This lifts the Pulse Elite even further, being a terrific option for the multiplayer gamer along with anyone who enjoys the “Sony single-player game”. We all know you’re playing Helldivers 2 right now, so this is a must-buy to go along with it. Also, a side effect of great spatial audio makes this the perfect companion for VR, and Sony happens to have a fantastic device for that in the PSVR2.

Something else necessary for multiplayer gameplay: a good mic. These tend to have the wonderful buzz we all know and love, with your teammates yelling out call outs you barely understand. The Pulse Elite has a surprisingly great mic, and it’s clear to the point I wonder if it’s a regular headset mic at all. It takes a lot of volume from my voice to make it peak. The AI machine-learning “enhanced noise rejection” mentioned on the box must be having a bit of an effect, because even if it’s a little low it has good sound to it. I don’t expect much from my headset mics as they’re usually limited in quality, so I’m happy this one is towards the top of them. Also, anytime the mic is retractable, it’s a big win.

PULSE Elite & PULSE Explore - Innovation Story | PS5

Battery life is another important function for a wireless headset. I tend to use the phrase that, if I don’t notice the battery life on a headset, it’s pretty good. That phrase works for the Pulse Elite headset. I’ve had a review period where I’ve been using it incessantly – hours at a time – and it’s never once given me a notification that I’m running low. Good on PlayStation to give this a good battery.

On the PS5, there is an EQ software available in the audio settings. It’s not much, but it’s a nice extra for audio enthusiasts. An area where it lacks: presets. Given PlayStation used to have a Headset Companion App where developers could upload special audio presets for games, I’d love to see the Pulse Elite get similar treatment. To take it a step further, I want it to make its way to PC as well. During my time with the DualSense Edge I bemoaned the lack of PlayStation official software on PC; it’s not as noticeable with a headset, but official software will generally give you the most out of that device.

The Sony PlayStation Pulse Elite wireless headset is available on February 21st, you can pre-order (or buy afterwards) your headset here.

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

90

Excellent

Sony PlayStation Pulse Elite wireless headset

Review Guidelines

To be elite, you need elite equipment, and the Sony PlayStation Pulse Elite wireless headset is in fact elite. Sporting fantastic audio almost everywhere, along with a solid mic and superb battery life, you can game to your heart's content late into the night.

David Burdette

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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