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Andrew Hayward / Lifewire
Great 3D audio features
Seamless PS5 functionality
Sleek, lightweight design
Easy, comfortable fit
Mic is a little muffled
Non-3D audio quality isn’t as impressive
Can slide around head
The Sony Pulse 3D is a straightforward, streamlined wireless headset for PS5 owners who want 3D audio without spending a bundle.
Our reviewer purchased the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset so that they could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
There’s no shortage of gaming headsets on the market today, especially following the explosion of demand triggered by Fortnite. While there are plenty of third-party headsets that work with PlayStation consoles, Sony has made its own models over the last couple generations that are straightforward, well-integrated with the consoles, affordable, and solidly designed.
The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset continues that trend. Launched alongside the PlayStation 5 but also compatible with the PS4 before it, the Pulse 3D bears the sleek contours of the new console and provides an easy way for players to plug in and chat with friends. But as the name suggests, there’s an added benefit in the form of 3D audio on PS5 via Sony’s Tempest 3D AudioTech, amplifying the immersion on selected games. Is this the must-have headset for PS5 owners?
Sony’s Pulse 3D Wireless Headset has a more dynamic-looking design than its predecessor, the Gold Wireless Headset for PlayStation 4. It features thin plastic for the headband that becomes much slimmer as it connects to the big black cans, recalling the curviness of the distinctive (but awkward) PlayStation 5 console itself. The earcups themselves are large enough to fully envelop your ear, with cushy padding that presses against your head and immediately snaps back into form when you take it off.
The cans are just a little loose to accommodate the unique contours of each user’s head, but otherwise do not slide up or down, nor does the headband extend and retract. Instead, there’s a tensile rubberized band that sits beneath the actual headband. As you place the headset on your head, it offers slight resistance to keep the Pulse 3D reasonably secure in place. Finding your fit is effortless, as it happens automatically as you pop the headset onto your noggin.
For a PlayStation 5 owner who wants something that is easy to use, works perfectly with the console, and has the official Sony stamp, it’s worth the cash.
All of the controls sit on the left earcup, including the power button, volume rocker, a separate rocker for the balance between game and chat audio, a microphone mute button, and a monitor on/off button in case you want to hear what your mics pick up. A USB-C charging port is also found on the left headset between the controls, and a USB-C to USB-A cable is included.
The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset pairs with the PlayStation 5 or PlayStation 4 via the included wireless USB dongle, which plugs right into the front of either console. You can also use it to pair the headset to a PC or Mac. For wired usage on nearly any device, you can plug in the headset using the included 3.5mm cable; that port is also on the left can.
Because of the tensile band, there’s no need to spend time fidgeting with earcup positioning to get comfortable: the headset automatically adjusts to meet the size of your head. On the downside, the headset doesn’t feel quite as secure as others I’ve used in the past because you cannot adjust the position of the earcups or band to make it tighter.
While seated in place and playing games, the Pulse 3D remained comfortably in position. However, if you get up and about or are moving your head a lot while playing, it may slide out of place a bit. The advantage of the headset not being overly snug is that it doesn’t press very hard against your head, enabling comfortable extended gaming sessions. That’s the case with glasses, too, as I played for hours on end and didn’t feel excessive pressure from the cups.
Sony’s Pulse 3D Wireless Headset has a more dynamic-looking design than its predecessor, the Gold Wireless Headset for PlayStation 4.
For a $100 gaming headset, the Pulse 3D delivers very good sound—but there’s a clear difference between games that support 3D audio and those that do not. As of this writing, there are only a handful of early games that expressly support it, including Sony’s own Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, and Astro’s Playroom.
Surprisingly, it was Astro’s Playroom—a free pack-in game designed to showcase the PlayStation 5’s new DualSense controller—that delivered the most impactful 3D audio during my testing. When projectiles flew towards the screen at certain moments, the effect immediately dazzled: it sounded like they kept flying through the screen and past my ears. Between the stunning audio and the precise haptic feedback from the DualSense controller, Astro’s Playroom really is a feast for the senses in fun and unexpected ways.
In Spider-Man, the effect wasn’t quite as impactful, but it made the ambient sounds of the city (including conversation) feel more present around me. And in Fortnite, the positional quality to the audio offered a slight advantage in rapidly sensing nearby threats. Games that don’t support 3D audio—such as Rocket League and Final Fantasy VII Remake—sounded clear in the headset, but with a more confined soundscape. It left me wanting something a bit fuller. The 3D audio effect isn’t always a massive benefit to games, but you’ll notice when it’s not there.
The 3.5mm cable lets you plug the Pulse 3D headset into just about any other device. I used it with my MacBook Pro and a Google Pixel 4a smartphone and found the treble to be a bit buried in the mix, with the low-end slightly over-emphasized. I probably wouldn’t use the Pulse 3D headset as headphones on any kind of regular basis, but they’ll do the trick in a pinch.
The Pulse 3D has a pair of microphones built right into the design, rather than having a mic jutting out from the earcup. It works solidly well for in-game chat, but sounds ever so slightly muffled, at least compared to headsets that extend a mic out in front of your mouth.
When projectiles flew towards the screen at certain moments, the effect immediately dazzled: it sounded like they kept flying through the screen and past my ears.
Sony pegs the Pulse 3D’s battery life at approximately 12 hours, which matches up well with my own testing estimates. That’s shorter than many other headsets on the market, some of which hover around the 20-hour mark while other long-lasting ones top out around 30 hours. Still, given that the DualSense controller itself lasts a bit shy of 10 hours, at least they’re not far off. Both can give you a long day of gaming before recharging overnight or can deliver a few shorter sessions before they need a top-up.
The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset is well integrated into the PlayStation 5 system software. Powering on the headset shows you a battery life indicator on the screen, as well as mute on/off and volume details when buttons are pressed. You can also adjust the positioning of the 3D audio effect thanks to five height options in the system settings. It starts at the middle setting, but you can raise and lower the center point of the effect based on how it sounds to your ear.
At $100, the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset costs the same as Sony’s previous base PlayStation headsets, such as the aforementioned Gold Wireless Headset. That’s a reasonable price for a mid-range gaming headset, given the available features, construction, and audio quality. There are much cheaper third-party headsets (which start at around $25) and some that will cost you hundreds of dollars, but for a PlayStation 5 owner who wants something that is easy to use, works perfectly with the console, and has the official Sony stamp, it’s worth the cash.
Sony pegs the Pulse 3D’s battery life at approximately 12 hours, which matches up well with my own testing estimates.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7P is another compelling option for PlayStation 5 owners, and it’s advertised as fully compatible with the PS5’s Tempest 3D Audio technology. This wireless headset uses a USB-C dongle that can also plug into other devices, enabling wireless connectivity with the Nintendo Switch or an Android phone, for example, plus it promises twice the battery life at 24 hours. The retractable, Discord-certified, bidirectional microphone also looks like it could provide clearer sound than the Pulse 3D’s built-in mics.
However, the Arctis 7P is $50 more expensive at $150, so you’ll have to consider whether perks like extra battery life and wider wireless device compatibility are worth the extra scratch.
Be sure to check out our guide for the best accessories for PS5 to enhance your gaming experience.
Audio that pairs well with your PS5.
Like Sony’s earlier PlayStation headsets, the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset hits a sweet spot in terms of quality, features, and price. At this point, it’s not clear whether 3D audio will be widely supported beyond Sony’s first-party games, but even with the early PS5 games, the impact can be very noticeable when well-utilized. There are much more premium gaming headsets on the market, but the Pulse 3D is an easy recommendation for the majority of PS5 owners who want a quality, easy-to-use headset.
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