Release Date: September 6, 2011
Price: $99.99 MSRP (but can easily be found for a cheaper price)
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I’ve got my console, a plethora of quality games, and a big ass television. What more could I want? Let’s see… I have the visual side of things covered, the only thing missing is some fantastic audio support to add to the experience. The small speakers that come standard in every television do not do justice to the explosion-heavy games of today so I went on a journey to bring these deafening sound effects a little closer to my face. There were plenty of options, but each had a hefty price. Almost every alternative would weigh heavily on any wallet, with most clocking in well over a leg and some fingers. I wanted good audio, but not at the price of my appendages.
That was until I ran into Sony’s wireless surround sound headset. Everything looked solid, until I noticed the price. Shockingly enough, there were plenty of useful aspects packed into this feature-heavy device and all wrapped up in a price that was much easier to swallow. If you want cheap but effective treatment for your ears, it’s hard to go wrong here.
Setting up this machine is a breeze for PS3 owners. It’s basically plug in and play, something some other headsets can learn from. On-screen indicators are extremely helpful in noticing when the battery is going dead, volume levels, and mic levels. Something like this was made for the PS3, and with all of these small, useful additions, it shows.
But it wasn’t only made for PS3 owners. Although it takes slightly longer (we’re talking just a few minutes), PC owners can hook it up and enjoy a similar experience but on a different system. I tested it out with Portal and some music I had and I was pleased.
Playing it on the PC was nice, but, and let’s be frank here, I wanted this for a big, console experience. Being wirelessly connected to the PS3 via a USB stick, I was skeptic on how good the sound would actually come through. I was genuinely shocked on how crisp audio was coming through. No lag or tinny sounds were present and the surround sound definitely made itself apparent.
Playing through Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Batman: Arkham City, some of the more stealth-focused games I had in the rotation at the time, relayed to me how audio helps in these kinds of games. I was able to generally point out where patrols were by footsteps and shuffles, putting the sneaking more in my control.
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, explosions in faster paced war games shine through. Part of the reason I was able to appreciate the sound design in Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was because of this headset. Similar to finding patrols in Deus Ex, pinpointing hidden soldiers by gunfire alone was an eye-opening experience. Also, having the constant noise of war right up to your ear holes demonstrates how the chaos can be significantly upped. I felt like I was a little closer of being actually there, something TV speakers can’t even dream of emulating.
If it was just a method of giving the game sound to your ears, it would be worth it. As an added bonus (for me at least), it is also used as a mic in voice chat. The mic is even extendable, meaning you can shove it back inside the machine if you don’t plan on using it. Vocal quality is surprisingly clear, meaning it hits both sides of what it does pretty effectively.
I’ll admit that I think I look a little goofy wearing it, but it is comfortable in almost every aspect. I’ve had a few long sessions with this on and I never felt uncomfortable or the need to change how it was sitting on my head. I almost forget I’m wearing a headset. Adjusting the size is easy too along with accessing every button function. Volume control for both the mic and game audio is easily accessible (with their own on-screen indicators) through their sliders, along with mute button located on the side.
Battery life will probably take you a few sessions to drain (maybe around eight or ten hours), but thankfully it charges through USB to its internal battery. Disposable batteries are inconvenient, annoying, and expensive, so plugging it in to get a charge is one of the hardware’s biggest positive. You’ll need a long USB cable if you plan on using it while it is filling its battery up, but given the quick charge time, you might not even need it.
There is one slight stumble in the headset though. I couldn’t directly find an exact cause, but once every couple play sessions, a loud, sharp buzz would occur. It would always be extremely brief, but it would be distracting whenever it would decide to happen. Strangely, it hasn’t happened in a couple weeks. It happened constantly through my time with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, but almost never happened after. I didn’t change how or where I played, so I don’t know what caused it. If it would have happened consistently throughout my whole stay with the headset, I might have a different outlook on this review. Thankfully, it sounds like it was a short-lived problem.
At first, I just wanted this headset so I wouldn’t disturb anyone else with the noise I was making. Quality was almost secondary. After finding out how good the hardware actually was, I almost can’t play without it. Having that sharp sound right up to my ear with almost no hassle makes me ever so hesitant to play without it.
+Easy to use
+Fantastic audio quality
+Rechargeable though USB
-Rare buzz noise