Despite a flimsy frame, the Pulse 3D headset produces vibrant audio at an affordable price for the PS5 and other platforms.
Sony's going big with the PS5 launch, not only releasing a new console and controller but also a wave of accessories. In addition to a camera, charging dock, and media remote, Sony is putting out a new gaming headset alongside its next-gen console. Sony claims the Pulse wireless 3D headset takes full advantage of its proprietary Tempest 3D AudioTech, but the company has also noted that any headset connected to the console will be able to make use of the PS5's 3D audio capabilities as well. Where this leaves us with the Pulse is whether it can outperform third-party options in the same price range.
For $100, you get the Pulse headset, a USB wireless adapter, a USB-C charging cable, and a 3.5mm audio cable. The Pulse is compatible with the PS5, PS4, PC, and Mac via its USB wireless adapter and 3.5mm cable. You're also still able to voice chat and use the PS5's 3D audio when plugging headsets into your controller, so if you run out of battery when using the Pulse wirelessly, you can easily plug the headset into the DualSense to continue using it. Sony claims a battery life of up to 12 hours, which checks out in our tests.
The audio experience is excellent for a headset in this price range. I played through the majority of Astro's Playroom and Spider-Man: Miles Morales while using it and came away impressed by the experience this affordable headset was able to deliver. Whether I was listening to Spider-Man's hip-hop soundtrack while Miles Morales walked down the street or hearing the wind blow through me as Spider-Man dived between New York skyscrapers, the audio was well-defined, providing a vibrant experience that helped make the PS5's worlds feel alive. The console's 3D audio tech also pairs nicely with the Pulse, offering a slight boost to the sounds around you. This is a subtle effect that makes sounds like cars whizzing past you more pronounced, giving you a better idea of which direction each one is coming from.
- Read more: PS5 Review
The meeting of the Pulse's white headband with its black earpieces gives it an attractive look, emulating the same contrast as the PS5. However, where the black is glossy on the PS5, it's nothing but matte plastic on the Pulse. This also applies to its on-board controls, which consist of similar-feeling plastic buttons and switches. These are all located on the left ear, and even though I've worn the headset for multiple charges, I still have issues feeling out which button is which--however, the volume buttons do have a little tactile dot that makes them easier to find. This mostly plastic construction feels cheap and a little flimsy.
The Pulse's inner headband, on the other hand, is made of soft rubber. It adjusts upward to meet your head where it rests and sits gently on top as you wear it. Considering the headset's all-plastic outer shell, the headband feels surprisingly nice. The ear cushions, however, take some time to break in. They start off quite stiff, giving a bad first impression, though it doesn't take long for them to settle in and become discreet during extended sessions. Those with bigger ears may want to consider a different headset, however. Even after the cushions softened up, I still found my ear lobes hanging out of them, making for a less comfortable experience than other headsets I've tested.
These physical drawbacks are disappointing, but the audio quality and price tag push the Pulse from being a good headset to an almost great one. There are better headsets out there, and perhaps many that are more comfortable, but at $100, Sony has hit a price that is hard to beat for the vivacious and rich audio experience that the Pulse delivers.
- Excellent price tag
- Surprisingly rich audio
- Wireless and wired connectivity
- Compatible with PS5, PS4, PC, and Mac
- Plastic frame feels cheap and easy to break
- Not the most comfortable experience for larger ears