Posted by John on September 30, 2011

Review: Sony PS3 Wireless Stereo Headset

One of the most ignored aspects of gaming is the audio. You’ll read game reviews that go on about graphics and textures and the overall presentation. They’ll talk about the storyline and missions and probably include several paragraphs about the online component.

It’s rare that you read about the audio. My theory is that’s because most gamers and reviewers don’t use specialized headphones to play the game. They might put one on for the multiplayer, if they plan on talking. But they most likely don’t use a high-end set to actually play the game.

That’s a real shame too. Some developers are doing great things with audio. You just need a surround sound system or good headphones to hear it.

Sony has entered the market with its own brand built specifically for the PlayStation 3. And they’re pretty good.

The Wireless Stereo Headset was recently released by Sony for $99. Here is a review of the product. It runs off a USB adapter that is extremely easy to setup. Just plug in the adapter and turn on the headphones.

The design

The jet-black headset is pretty light. That’s a significant thing if you know about high-end headphones. I have a different set that can start to weigh me down after a few hours of playing a game. This one feels great around the ears and does a pretty good job of adjusting to different sizes. Everything you will need to use the headset is placed on it.

The power and mute button work off the same part of the headphones. You just apply different pressure depending on what you wan to do. The slider that controls the overall volume is nestled on one side of the left ear panel. The slider to adjust how much voice and sound you hear is on the other side of that panel.

A microphone is tucked next to the left side earpiece and slides out. The headphone is charged with the console’s USB port.

It’s a design that makes the headset extremely functional but a little hard to manipulate in the middle of a gaming session.

Playing online, for example, can be slightly annoying if you need to constantly adjust the different volumes. You will find yourself having to repeatedly reach away from the controller to one of several places on the headset.

It will take some practice to remember where everything is, but it does all work smoothly once you get used to the setup.

I also wish the microphone was able to switch sides. I honestly don’t know why, but I sometimes prefer the microphone to be on the right side. I know gamers that have a similar quirk.

It is wireless

One of the great debates in gaming audio is if wireless headphones sacrifice a level of quality when compared to wired ones. I have used some fairly nice wired headphones for more than one year now. I love them, but I can honestly say I don’t notice a different between them and the Sony headset.

Sony’s wireless headset is capable of simulating 7.1 surround sound and does a great job of producing it. It’s obviously not as crisp as the full surround sound devices are, but most people won’t notice a difference. I played entirely through Resistance 3, a PS3 exclusive, using the headphones. It was great to be able to hear the game as the developer intended me to. Plus not having wires stretched across my living room made life a little easier for the pets. One of the challenges of being wireless is monitoring the volumes and whether your microphone is muted.

Sony included an on-screen prompt that will show you volume and charge levels and if your headphone is muted. It’s quick and easy way to know what’s going on.

Two minor gripes

One of the features I love about my wired headphones is that it gives me complete and separate control over how loud the game and the gamers are. It’s two separate volume wheels and lets me mix the sounds a little easier and with more precision than what Sony’s wireless headphones do. I also found the battery life to be a little less than stellar. I got a little less than 10 hours out of one charge.

Overall

Sony’s headphones are a great deal at $100. That’s significantly cheaper than what other high-end headphones cost while still providing an experience that holds up to other headphones. It simulates surround sound nicely, gives you all the controls you’ll need, and feels great during long sessions. PS3 owners looking to get a nice headset without going broke should definitely consider Sony’s device.

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