Sony DR-GA500 review

The headphones themselves are excellent, but the decoder adds a huge £70 to the price

Sony DR-GA500
Real 7.1 surround sound isn't enough to justify the extravagant price tag

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Good sound quality

  • +

    7.1 effect quite good

  • +


  • +

    Can be used with other sources


  • -


  • -

    Not the best looking headset around

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Sony's DR-GA500 gaming headset is quite unlike anything we've seen before, with a sci-fi look possibly inspired by the high-tech orbital menus found in computer games.

It's a credit to Sony that they feel light and comfortable, too - if you don't mind looking like you've got some sort of brain scanner perched on your head.

Included with the headset is a Dolby Pro Logic IIx decoder, which can be connected to either a USB port or the 3.5mm analogue outputs on your soundcard. Although connecting a decoder to your soundcard may seem counterintuitive, its purpose is to transfer its surround output to those futuristic cans.

We had our doubts about Sony's ability to deliver 7.1 sound when we realised that the headphones connect via a stereo 3.5mm jack, which is - naturally - only capable of delivering two channels of sound. But somewhere between the decoder and the headphones, Sony has just about got it to work.

It's not quite the same effect you'd get from a proper 7.1 channel speaker system, but it's probably as close as you'll get from a stereo headset. Those all-important bad guys' footsteps seemed to come from behind us, and even ambient sound seemed richer.

One nice thing about the jack is that it can be connected to other sources, and the headphones proved perfectly adept for listening to music on a mobile or watching films on a laptop.

There does seem to be a discrepancy when it comes to Sony's pricing though. The Sony DR-GA200 headphones alone can be picked up for around £40, which means the box of tricks - which isn't available separately - is nearly £70.

While the 7.1 sound is impressive, we'd recommend picking up the headphones on their own and using your soundcard's built-in software to emulate the surround sound effects.

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