Review: Sony Pulse Wireless Stereo Headset: Elite Edition

Product: Sony Pulse Wireless Stereo Headset: Elite Edition
Manufacturer: Sony
Original MSRP: $149.99

Audio Review:
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 287 of the podcast.

We reviewed the Sony Wireless Headset when it came out last year, and overall it was pretty good for the price. The build quality, and the fact that it looked like you had strapped two PS2’s on your head made it a bit unwieldy. They had a decent sound, but a slight lack of bass and overall pretty poor battery life. After getting mere minutes with this new headset at events though, I could already tell that a much better model was on the way to our homes.

Audio Quality:
If you want to compare the Pulse headset to the prior Sony offering, these are better in every way, and by a pretty good margin. Available volume is ample, and the Virtual 7.1 Surround, while NOT Dolby’s system, does a fantastic job at filling your ears with a wonderful audio landscape. The Virtual 7.1 mode can be turned-off however, and in full stereo, the audio still sounds great.

One issue that’s definitely been addressed is the overall quality of the audio produced, and after hours and hours of use, I can definitely say that nothing is lost here. High and Mid are distinct, and the amount of bass available can be immense if you so choose. Something that’s unique to this unit is the addition of what Sony calls ‘BassImpact’, and it’s something that changes the game in terms of immersion with gaming headphones. As I’ve tweeted, instead of simply having a solid amount of bass available with larger drivers, which they do, the Pulse (I think this is how they got their name) also includes something I can only describe as having a Rumble Pack on each ear.

In a technique that reminds me of what can be experienced on one of the motion-based rides at Disneyland, the headphones will actually pulse or rumble with the bass. In most instances, I love it, but it does require you to adjust the amount you get with different games. Battlefield 3, with the huge amount of explosions and other beefy sounds, can make these headphones really kick your butt. Like I said though, the effect is fully adjustable with a slider behind the right ear. The effect is tough to describe, but in most cases, it really did pull me into the action a bit more than expected.

Also available are specific preset modes, which include:
Game
Music
Movie
Shooter
Fighting
Driving

Each has a distinct theme, and even though the “Game” mode has a great mix, using the specific modes for each genre sounds really good in those games, except for Battlefield 3. Using the “Shooter” mode can really send almost too much bass to your ears, and switching back to the default seemed to balance things out much better. The nice thing is that there are plenty of options, including the ability to adjust the amount of bass and the balance between game and voice volume.

When using the included 3.5mm cable (standard headphone cable) to connect to my Vita and my phone. you don’t have to turn the power on unless you want to use the virtual 7.1 processor. When plugged-in this way, the microphone is unusable, as the mic only works when connected via the USB dongle. Again, the audio quality was excellent in every use that I could attempt. The Virtual 7.1 definitely worked better when playing games on the Vita, but I did also like the effect when using the “Music” mode from my phone (my default MP3 player.) The other fact that I really like here is that since the microphone is built-in to the chassis of the headset, you don’t look ‘weird’ when using them in non-gaming situations. These are definitely the headphones I’ll use on flights now, especially since they do an amazing job of blocking external sounds out.

Build Quality and Comfort:
The build quality is really first-class all around. They feel incredibly solid, and have some great flex, so they don’t feel liked you’d break them any time that you grab them. Once you learn where the controls are located, everything is laid-out well enough that you can reach all of the buttons and slider without having to take them off.

I performed a battery “stress test” by playing a sustained gaming session from full charge until the headset shut down automatically. With the virtual Surround effects active, the battery lasted 6 hours and 19 minutes. Not bad really in my opinion, and I’m pretty certain the battery would last even longer with the surround effects deactivated. Two warnings were given audibly, one at around 20 minutes from a full drain, and the other at around 3-5 minutes before it shut down.

In that 6+ hour session, the headphones never became uncomfortable, which is rare in my experience. I’d definitely say that they’re on par or even a bit better than my precious Turtle Beach P21’s, better because there’s not a hissing sound when the Surround Effects are active. Also, the Pulse headset definitely blocks more external noise than most others that I’ve used.

Setup with the USB dongle is incredibly easy, be it on a PS3, Mac, or WIndows PC. On all 3, simply pop the dongle into the USB port, then turn the headset on. In all 3 instances, the audio was automatically piped to the Pulse, and the microphone worked without making any tweaks. Looks like I’ve found my new headset for when I want to play Battlefield 3 on my PC.

Conclusion:
I really do love these headphones. At the $149.99 price point, you’re getting a lot of bang for the buck. The ability to plug them in to any device with a standard headphone jack adds an incredible amount of value, and with an amazing build quality, and an equally amazing audio quality, this can easily be a set that you’ll use for more than just your PS3.

We don’t normally assign scores to hardware, so instead I’ll simply say that the Pulse Wireless Headset is Highly Recommended. These exceeded every expectation, and I’ve enjoyed them any time that they were used. The only caveat is that you’ll definitely need to adjust the level of the “BassImpact” feature with some games. Other than that though, I can’t say that I can find fault with them at all.

Score:
9.5

**Well, except for one thing. Today, when I attempted to use the headphones, they seemingly lost connection to the USB dongle. Using the included instructions, I can’t get them to connect again. After talking to our representative at SCEA, it sounds like I’m the only one that has experienced this issue. I do personally feel that this is an isolated incident, but I needed to include this info nonetheless. I do still highly recommend this headset, but just know that this issue is a possibility**

“First Impressions” Video:

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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