After the disaster that was my 4Gamers headset, I decided to put a bit more money into what is becoming an essential piece of kit for my PS3 gaming.
To this end, the best value for money, I believe is the official Sony wireless headset. The main selling feature, apart from its wireless connectivity, is the virtual 7.1 surround. You’d need to be spending twice the money for an equivalent Turtle Beach headset.
There are some areas where you can see costs have been cut – most notably the lack of any kind of dock or even charging cable (although the same that you use to charge your controllers will be fine). In fact, other than a paper manual nothing is included other than the headphones.
Packaging wise, I’m impressed – a cardboard carton inside holds the headphones, sitting inside the thin, printed box. Unfortunately, the headphones and instruction manual are inside a plastic bag, the use of which I’m unsure – it would work equally well without them and reduce the whole packaging down to easily recyclable materials.
The headphones look really good – matt black plastic with a thin, metal band over the top. The microphone is telescopic, so it can be tucked away when not in use.
The left hand panel, when pressed, acts as the power button and an LED on the tip indicates its status. A quick tap of the power button will act as a mute (and the LED will change from blue to purple) and a double click will get the LED light to indicate the current battery level. On the top is a button to toggle the surround sound and slider controls on the front and back allow to to adjust the volume and control how much emphasis is given to game sound and chat. On the back is a Mini-USB connector for charging, the same type used for the controllers.
You can also use the wireless transmitter in a PC and connect the headphones, although the virtual surround sound won’t work. The transmitter itself looks like a pretty standard USB memory stick, also cased in matt black plastic, and a blue strip lights up on the front when it’s in use.
Getting it going is as basic as it gets – plug the wireless receiver into the front of the PS3 and press the power button on the side of the headphones for a second. That’s it. A status bar will appear briefly in the top right hand corner of the screen (whichever PS3 screen you’re in) and will re-appear whenever you change a setting,
When it comes to headphones I’m always worried as I have a large head (no jokes, please) and I often struggle to get the band to expand enough. This isn’t a problem here – they expand more than enough and the cushioning on the ears and under the band makes it very comfortable in use.
Weight wise, they feel extremely light considering their bulk and the amount of padding. At 275 grams they weigh the same as a Nintendo DS (or a tin of custard powder, if you need another comparison ;)). They’re not, what I would consider, solid and rattle in places, but don’t feel as if they’re going to fall apart any time soon.
Sound wise, they are excellent – plenty of bass and the surround sound, although artificially created, makes game sounds that bit more realistic. I tried it on Battlefield 3 and it really enhanced the feeling of “being there”. There is some background hiss when the surround is switched on but I suspect this is just amplified noise, created by the wireless connection and amplified by the surround effect (it’s there when the surround is switched off, but not as obvious). The microphone picks up well and the resulting speech transmission is clear.
The wireless transmitter works for a good distance too – my PS3 is in one corner of my house and I can very nearly reach the completely opposite corner (with 3 walls separating me) before I get a drop off of signal. Battery life is quoted at 7.5 hours.
Right now you can buy these headphones at Amazon for under £64 (inc. P&P).[review]The price may seem steep for a pair of headphones until you look at the competition for wireless sets – you can easily pay double the amount. As it’s made by Sony it’s specific to the PS3 and the ease of use shows as a result.
The sound, although a simulated surround rather than actual, is still excellent. It’s built well and looks good. I love the retractable microphone with LED on the end.
If you’re after a gaming headset for your PS3 and don’t want to pay hundreds for the most professional sets, you really can’t go wrong wit these – I love them![/review]