A close-up view of Sony's Pulse Wireless Stereo Headset (Elite Edition) for PS3 and PS Vita.
Let's get the numbers out of the way early: This headset costs a cool $150. To put that into perspective, that's more than Sony's outgoing PlayStation Portable gaming system and only $50 less than a GameStop-refurbished PlayStation 3. In short, Sony's new Pulse Wireless Stereo Headset (Elite Edition) isn't cheap. It is, however, very good; and truly dedicated gamers should have little issue justifying the price.
Out of the box, it's quite apparent that Sony had quality in mind when designing this headset. The eye is treated to a mix of shiny metal and glossy black with matte black mixed in where necessary. In short, it doesn't look like a tacky gaming headset full of unnecessarily translucent pieces of plastic and tacky LED lights all over the place. Should somebody want to wear one of these in public, he'd blend right in with other audiophiles wearing their own Beats or SYNCs. Furthermore, the headset's mic is internal -- no looking like an air traffic controller when wearing these.
Not only does the Pulse Elite look good, it feels good as well. Yes, it is a tad heavier than one might want, but that is really the only negative here. The headset fits snugly on the head and its earcups are quite comfortable around the ears, cupping them nicely and immersing the wearer into a world of sound.
Sound is, of course, one of the most important features of any headset. Regardless of how comfortable or good-looking a headset is, if the audio isn't up to snuff it's still no good. The Pulse Elite does not fail to hold up its end of the bargain in this department.
Transmitting audio to the headset at 2.4GHz via an included USB stick, the wireless audio quality is near flawless. The headset has no issues with random disconnects and does not seem to suffer anything in the way of household interference. The virtual 7.1 surround sound that this headset does a great job at immersing the wearer into whatever audio he's hearing -- whether from a game or another source -- and bass really hits hard thanks to Sony's BassImpact technology, which provides a pulse to really make sounds like explosions and gunshots pop. Games like Junction Point's Disney Epic Mickey 2: Power of Two sound great, but this headset really shines with more-intense titles such as Battlefield 3.
For those who want to use the headphones to listen to audio from a non-USB source, a short 3.5mm audio cable is included and can be used with devices such as iPods, televisions, and anything else with a standard headset jack. Furthermore, the Pulse Elite has equalizer presets for its different uses, including movies, music, and various gaming genres.
A constant worry with wireless headsets is its battery life. The Pulse Elite doesn't have the world's best battery life, but a full charge will still last long enough for a good gaming session. Users can expect roughly five hours of on-again, off-again battery life. Charging is a simple process, though Sony sadly doesn't supply a USB cable in the box for this operation -- a rare misstep with the Pulse Wireless Stereo Headset (Elite Edition).
Because this headset has so much to it, it's expected that there will be a few buttons to press. These buttons, however, are places somewhat peculiarly and take some getting used to. After regular use, wearers shouldn't have a problem remembering which button is where, but until that happens they can expect to take the headphones off to visually see where each button is whenever one needs pressing.
PlayStation gamers who are looking for a solid gaming headset need not look any further than the Pulse Wireless Stereo Headset (Elite Edition). Gaming audio is excellent, and it provides a wonderful audio experience for non-gaming use as well. The only real issue is with its steep price. That stated, if it's in the budget, it's the one to get.