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Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset for PlayStation 5 Review 2021

Sony didn’t just release the PlayStation 5 last November. It also rolled out PS5 accessories, including a media remote, a camera (presumably for PlayStation VR), and a headset. The Pulse 3D is Sony’s new, first-party PS5 wireless gaming headset, a sleek-looking set of headphones that carries a $99.99 price tag. The Pulse 3D sounds quite good, with plenty of bass, and it uses the PS5’s surround sound mixing well. Unfortunately, its pinhole microphone can’t compete with a proper boom mic.

PS5 Design

The Pulse 3D headset looks distinctly Sony, with a black-and-while design that compliments the PS5. The earcups are circular with matte black plastic, connected by a curving headband that’s white on the outside and black on the inside. The headband features a springy, padded suspension that automatically fits most head sizes, and the faux leather-covered earpads are nicely cushioned. However, I found that the circular earpads pinched my ears a bit; be wary if you have big ears.

All controls and ports are found along the edge of the left earcup, along with pinhole microphones. The power switch, mic mute button, volume rocker, chat/game audio rocker, and voice monitoring switch are narrow buttons and switches that sit alongside the USB-C charging port and 3.5mm aux port. The controls are tiny, but arranged to be easy to discern with your fingertips: The volume and audio rockers are separated by the clicky monitoring switch, the mic mute button below the volume rocker sticks out a bit more than the other controls, and the power switch is safely tucked in front of the headset’s ports where you won’t accidentally move it.

USB Connectivity

The Pulse 3D is designed to work with the PlayStation 5, using the included wireless USB transmitter. It’s also compatible with the PS4, and PCs and Macs. The 3.5mm port lets you connect the headset to the PlayStation 4 or any mobile device with a headphone jack.

The 3D part of the Pulse 3D’s name doesn’t come from the headset itself, but from the 3D audio it’s capable of when connected to a PS5. The headset relies entirely on the connected device’s 3D audio processing for any simulated surround effect. This isn’t an issue on the PS5, which provides the same effect to any connected, compatible headset. If you use the Pulse 3D with a PC, though, it’ll only function as a stereo headset and any 3D effect will have to be added through software.

Mediocre Microphone

Like the previous Sony headsets for the PlayStation 4, the Pulse 3D doesn’t have the boom microphone most gaming headsets use. Instead, it relies on pinhole microphones located in front of the power switch and above the chat/game audio rocker to pick up your voice. This results in middling voice performance.

Test recordings made from the Pulse 3D result in speech that can be clearly heard in the context of a conversation (or in-game voice chat), but they sound hollow and a bit distant, as is typical for pinhole microphones built into headphone earcups. A boom mic like the ones on the Astro Gaming A20 or Razer Nari Essential (an Editors’ Choice pick for gaming headsets) would have produced much cleaner sound. Your voice will come through on the Pulse 3D, but you shouldn’t rely on it for serious recording or streaming. Of course, we recommend a dedicated USB microphone if you plan to really capture your voice.

Sony Pulse 3D headphones

Music Performance

The Pulse 3D is a capable headset for listening to music. It handled the bass synth and kick drum of our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” at maximum volume with no distortion. The bass is strong, bordering on unsafe at high volumes, with solid low frequency response that you’ll feel in your ears even if it won’t rattle your head.

The acoustic guitar plucks in the opening to Yes’ “Roundabout” sound nicely full and rounded, with a bit of string texture coming through in the higher frequencies. When the track properly kicks in, the electric bass takes center stage in the mix, showing a low and low-mids focus in the headset’s balance. The vocals can be clearly discerned, but the guitar strums and cymbals sit in the background.

The Crystal Method’s “Busy Child” also sounds bassy and powerful, with the bass drum hits almost sounding thunderous and the backbeat driving the track with plenty of force. The higher frequency synth notes and vocals come through clearly, though this is still a very bass-forward audio profile.

Good for Games

Ghost of Tsushima sounds excellent through the Pulse 3D headset. The game’s haunting soundtrack comes through clearly, and the extensive nature sounds are layered and full of texture. The headset provides nice directionality with its simulated surround mixing through the PS5, letting me hear when my horse is galloping up from behind me to the right or left, and when nearby enemies are shouting to each other while I send them into a panic.

Demon’s Souls also sounds impressive through the Pulse 3D, with good simulated surround sound. I could hear the groans and shuffles of enemies in front of and behind me, with impressive audio panning as I carefully wandered around. Every sound effect can be clearly heard against the melancholy background music, providing some advantage to wary ears who know exactly what to listen for around them. The headset won’t be mistaken for a true surround sound system, but the panning and mixing does a very good job simulating the effect.

If You Like the PS5’s Look

The Pulse 3D headset is a good-sounding, bass-forward headset that should please PS5 users. It isn’t particularly comfortable around the ears, though, and its pinhole microphone lags behind the boom mics on most other headsets. If you really want a PS5 gaming headset with higher-quality voice chat, the Astro Gaming A20 is a good pick. And if you’re looking for a wireless headset for use with the PC, both the A20 and the Razer Nari Essential (an Editors’ Choice for gaming headsets) are favorites.

Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset for PlayStation 5

Pros

  • Strong sound, with good bass

  • Works with PS5, PS4, PC, and Mac

  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Pinhole microphone doesn’t sound as good as a boom mic

  • Slightly weak in the higher frequencies

  • Uncomfortable fit for people with large ears

The Bottom Line

The Pulse 3D is Sony’s take on a PS5 wireless gaming headset. It sports a stylish design and satisfying audio, but it eschews a quality boom microphone in favor of a pinhole mic.

Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset for PlayStation 5 Specs

Type Circumaural (over-ear)
Wireless Yes
True Wireless No
Connection Type USB, Stereo 3.5mm
Water/Sweat-Resistant No
Active Noise Cancellation No

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