Until recently wireless audio for the Xbox 360 has always required...well...wires. Not so with the PlayStation 3. If there's one thing Sony did right it was designing their flagship console in such a way that it was compatible with any Bluetooth headset. That said, gamers wanna look like gamers and not all Bluetooth headsets are built the same.
Enter the Sony Pulse Wireless Headset: Elite Edition for the PS3. With an MSRP of around $149 (£90) the Pulse not only boasts the level of audio quality we've come to expect from a Sony headset, but it's also really comfortable. Even on some relatively large heads.
The Sony Pulse Wireless Headset: Elite Edition resembles its predecessor the Sony PlayStation 3 Wireless Stereo Headset that came out last year. The huge, comfortable earpieces are great for those long gaming sessions and both headphones boast the same virtual 7.1 surround-sound technology. While the Pulse looks much better than the original headset, anyone who already owns the original will be hard pressed to come up with a reason why to upgrade.
Where the Sony Pulse Wireless Headset: Elite Edition shines is in how easy it is to setup and pair with your PS3 or PC. As multiplatform gamers,TechRadar is currently enamored with the Astro A50, a device that works with anything you own with a power button. That said, you can't escape how easy it is to set this thing up. Shipping with a small USB wireless adapter that looks a lot like a USB memory stick, you simply plug the USB adapter into one of your PS3's USB ports (the process is the same when pairing the headset with a PC) and your PS3 will communicate with your headset as if it's just another controller.
This will give you onscreen information about the headset's battery level, the sound profile you happen to be using and whether or not your mic is on. As with the Tritton Warhead 7.1 Headset on the Xbox 360, all of this information is made available when you hit the PlayStation button on your controller.
The Sony Pulse Wireless Headset: Elite Edition ships with a 3.5mm audio cable that let's you use the headset with everything from an MP3 player to a smartphone or even a PS Vita. The versatile USB adapter gives you the option of even using the headset with a TV which means that, technically, you can use it with non-PS3 consoles by way of your standard TV audio.
While we welcome the ability to use the Pulse with any audio device thanks to the included 3.5mm cable, the cable feels super-cheap and delicate and we can easily see users wearing them out and needing a replacement. And while the Pulse's rechargeable battery uses the same USB cable that charges your Dual Shock controller, we don't understand why the unit doesn't ship with a USB cable of its own.
Since the Pulse acts like yet another controller, the headset itself boasts a plethora of controls. There's a button that lets you mute the mic as well as sliders on each of the cans that control things like volume levels and sound profiles. The Pulse sports seven audio profiles that range from "Music" and "Shooter" to "Racing" and "Movie" and use the headset's BassImpact feature to give you a different experience.
Obviously in "Racing" mode the motors inside the cans emulate the rumbling of engines while in "Music" mode they adjust for whatever the bass response is in the music you're listening to. There's also an option to just turn BassImpact off you'd rather not have your head vibrate for hours on end.
We tested the Pulse with Spec Ops: The Line, Madden NFL 13 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and while the Pulse's virtual surround sound can't compete with true 7.1 audio, we still enjoyed the experience. Gunshots and explosions in the shooters sounded great and hits in Madden also proved thunderous.
The Pulse does away with the boom mic that adorned last year's version, opting instead for a hidden mic in the left earpice. We welcomed not looking like a telemarketer while gaming and in multiplayer sessions our "buddies" reported that they had no problem hearing our trash talk.
As a $150 wireless headset, the Pulse offers fine sound quality at a reasonable price. We especially liked how well it integrated with our PS3. Having the unit's battery life and mix settings displayed at the ready with just a press of the PS button is very convenient and makes for a nicely integrated experience. We also appreciated the hidden mic, which makes it a more compact device we'd never feel awkward wearing.
The lack of USB cable is annoying, and we'll always prefer more versatile headsets that work with more than one gaming console. However, the Pulse makes up for it with a respectable price tag and by playing so nice with the PS3's interface.
Simply put, the Sony Pulse Wireless Headset: Elite Edition is a great headset. If you're a PS3 gamer that's in the market for an affordable wireless headset that also works with a portable device, you'll be pleased with this unit. That said, if you're a multiplatform gamer your needs will be better met by a more versatile product like the Astro A50.