Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Sony Wireless Stereo Headset for PS3

Sound is probably the second most important element of any game, after gameplay. Sound is what put us in the mood and a game with bad sound design and music can became unbearable to play. So, having a good sound system can help you to immerse yourself in the game. Do the Sony Wireless Stereo Headset for PS3 and PC lives to the task?

Sony Wireless Stereo Headset
MSRP US$99,90


Sony gives us an interesting piece of tech. The headset follows the Playstation family in design and materials, with the matte finish of the PS3 slim. The ear cups and the headband are covered in a material similar to leather. There are two sliders in the left side, one for the general volume in the back and one to adjust the voice chat volume ratio to the game volume. A small button in the top changes the set from virtual 7.1 surround sound to pure stereo sound. The left side of the headset, near the top, can be pressed to turn the set on/off or to toggle the mute. 

Installation is a breeze. If your console is already updated with firmware 3.72 you just need to plug the USB stick that come with the phones and turn the phones on. They will pair and you are ready to go. Some small setup may be needed in the console settings if you were using another headset. With no cables whatsoever, it is hassle free as possible.

It will use one USB port in your console, so better make room for this. Considering all headsets I have seen to date uses one, it is not a deal breaker. Why this set is not Bluetooth could be related to sound quality, but the USB stick do its job as well. 

Once paired, you can go and play. Turning the surround on, you are involved in the atmosphere, hearing all minimal details. Dark Souls lonely and dangerous world became full of small details. Killzone 3 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 became a chaotic mess of gunshots and ambient sound, which is a good thing, as the intention is feeling in a war.

Without the surround, for some reason, the sound became quieter, making me turning the volume up. The sound is very good, but you loose the immersion provided. Which is the point of the virtual surround, I guess. In other hand, yes, you can tell not only left from right, but front, back, up and down too. But no, I don’t felt any kind of ‘tactical advantage’ yet. Maybe those foot steps are harder to track when everything is exploding around you. Or a true surround system would work better. I can’t tell you that. 

If the voice of your party is too loud, you can just slide the front control to make the game sound more prevalent or the other way around if you are having trouble to listen the team. The middle setting worked for me in most occasions. Also, the headset cam pump very loud sounds, so no need to worry about not having enough volume.

The microphone is nice, but has very few adjustments. In fact, you can just pull it all the way or let it docked. Both ways work fine. The microphone feel a little loose, but nothing that can demerit it. I recommend care in handle, but I would recommend that to any piece of equipment that costs more than the coins in my pocket. The led at the tip is never visible to me, so it was never distracting, but there is reports about it getting in the way. 

Another problem is that you can’t hear your voice from the mic. It is weirder than I expected, since I have no idea if I am screaming or whispering to my team. Hope this can be corrected via firmware one day. This happens because the noise canceling provided by the phones is very good, in fact. It reduces external noises in great deal. 80% if I could guess a number. Which is great for the immersion seeking. 

Since it is wireless, you may have doubts about the quality of the sound. It is perfect as far as I can tell. No hiss, no hiccups (despite my wireless 3rd party controller and phone working in the same frequency), no sound failures in general. I don’t know how much better sound a wired headset would provide at the same price, but I am very happy with the sound those can bring. 

You can charge it with a non-included USB cable equal to the ones that Sony provides with the PS3, the Dualshock or many others Sony products. It is a bit weird that the headset didn’t come with one, as I doubt those cables to be expensive. It is not a deal breaker, but you must be warned. One hour to full charge and Sony promise up to 7.5 hours of gaming. You can charge as you play, so this works as a plus. 

It works with PC, but not the surround sound. Installing was as simple as it was with the PS3 and provided a great deal of sound quality to see movies, You Tube and music. So, if you also play in the PC, this set can be a two for one. 

On a last note, the design could be divisive. I like it because is unique and futuristic, and I will not go around the streets wearing it. They are very light and comfortable, despite the size giving a different impression.

Compared to my TV speaker and my old Turtle Beach P11, this headset is a leap in quality and easy to use-ness. It is not expensive, when compared to other wireless sets compatible with the PS3. So, lending Corduroy Turtle’s system: 

Buy it!: If you are mainly a PS3 player trying to find a good set who will not clutter your house with wires and that provides a great sound for a reasonable price. 

Avoid it!: If you want an all-for-one solution for all consoles+PC, as this set does not work with the 360 or Wii, or if you think everything must be wired or if you want true surround. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment.