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PlayStation Pulse Elite Headset Offers Some Serious Bang For Your Buck

The PlayStation Pulse Elite doesn’t look like any headset I’ve ever owned before, and I’ve owned tons. The $150 wireless headset has a ‘60s-esque “vision of the future” vibe that stands out from a sea of black-and-neon designs and blinking LEDs. Its architectural shape and sleek simplicity means it’s even visually distinct from other Sony peripherals like the PS5 Pulse 3D.

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As a competitive multiplayer gamer, I am beholden to the quality of the headset on my head—can I hear the footsteps of an enemy Tracer dashing around behind me in a competitive Overwatch 2 match? Can my teammates hear my callouts clearly without my microphone picking up the sound of my cat scratching on the cabinet where I store his food?

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The older, cheaper Pulse 3D headphones are still a solid option for PS5 players, as are the newer Pulse Explore wireless buds that were revealed alongside the PlayStation Portal (if you’re okay with buds, I am not). But at the $150 price point, the Pulse Elites are an excellent option for those looking for high-quality audio and comfort while gaming.

The PlayStation Pulse Elite review

The PlayStation Pulse Elite features a matte white, hyper-futuristic style headband with a flexible black strap that rests on the crown of your head. The ear cups are large, supple, and soft, with a matte black plastic exterior. The headset is pretty light (just 12.2 ounces), which I prefer because I tend to wear them for hours at a time, but could be a deterrent for anyone who feels like weightiness equals quality. They look rather goofy on me, especially from the front, but as a person with a small head and even smaller ears, most headsets look strange on me. While some have complained of discomfort, I found the Pulse Elites to be really comfortable—plus they pass my glasses test, and don’t pinch where the earcups meet the temples. Will the super-soft earcups eventually peel the same way my Beats over-ear headphones did? Only time will tell.

Though the Pulse 3Ds have dual, hidden microphones to pick up your voice while playing, the Pulse Elite has a fully retractable microphone that’s built into the left side of the headband. It’s a pretty neat detail, and the mic is fairly easy to pull in and out, but I’m not sure how it will hold up over time. There’s a mute button on the mic, and an LED light that indicates when your voice is muted. While playing Helldivers 2, my squadmates confirmed that I sounded good, and that they couldn’t hear the incredibly loud mechanical sound that is my upstairs neighbor’s broken fridge.

On the right side of the headset are ports for the charger (USB-C) and a headphone cable (which doesn’t come with the Pulse Elites), a power button, a volume rocker, and a PlayStation Link button that will sync the headset up with the provided USB dongle (which needs to be plugged into your PS5). If you aren’t a fan of dongles and rearranging your cables, this might annoy you.

The Pulse Elites have something I’ve never seen come with any other headset I’ve owned before: a “charging hanger” and screw that you can mount to your wall. Now, if you’ve got a gaming-dedicated room or corner of your home, this might be a cool feature that makes storing your headset super easy. However, I live in a small apartment and value interior design, so there’s no chance in hell I’m putting a hole in my wall so that this strange-looking headset can hang next to my mid-century modern entertainment unit, sorry.

As far as what’s under the hood, the Pulse Elites boast planar magnetic drivers, which are fancy schmancy, “studio-inspired” drivers that are rarely this lightweight. Because of this, the Elites offer a gorgeous 3D soundscape, with deep bass that doesn’t sacrifice clarity, and crispy, clean sound throughout. Helldivers 2 sounds great with these—the booming explosions feel massive without blowing out my eardrums, the dialogue is crystal-clear, and though my teammates’ calls for help are a little quieter than I’d like (as is often the case with headphones), a few adjustments in the PS5’s settings help. Alan Wake 2’s scarier moments are even more impactful with the spatial audio, as I feel fully immersed in Sam Lake’s creepy worlds.

The Pulse Elites don’t have noise-canceling capabilities, but the size and thickness of the cups were more than enough noise-canceling for me, and didn’t require me to constantly pull one earcup off and bark “WHAT” at my poor fiancé when he asks me a question about dinner.

The PlayStation Link technology offers a low-latency connection to the PS5 via the aforementioned dongle (or PlayStation Portal, Mac, and PC without) by tapping the link button on the headset. You can also connect the Pulse Elites via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet, but the headset sounds best on a PS5.

As for the battery life, I wasn’t able to confirm that the Pulse Elite lasts its alleged 30 hours, but I can say that the quick charge battery function (which will give you two hours of playtime after just 10 minutes) is a pretty sick feature. Charging the Pulse Elite can be done via the included USB-C cable, or, if you use the “charging hanger” near an outlet, there’s a charging port included there, as well.

Should you buy the PlayStation Pulse Elite?

While the Pulse Elites can be used with other devices, you’re likely only really considering these if you’re a PS5 owner and player. In that regard, I’d say that these are a fantastic option for you—especially for only $50 more than the Pulse 3Ds. If you prefer earbuds (sicko), then you could consider buying the Pulse Explores, but the buds will cost you $200 rather than $150. You might even consider Sony’s Inzone line of headsets—but if you want wireless audio, noise-canceling capabilities, and 30+ hours of battery life, you’ll need to spend more, too.

If you’re someone who wants to look good while wearing a headset (perhaps you’re a streamer, or maybe you’re very vain, that’s okay), you might hesitate to buy these simply because they look pretty damn goofy on. I don’t care what I look like while gaming (if you peered into my living room window while I was in the middle of a session you’d see me spread-eagled on the couch covered in food crumbs), and am more about comfort, which these afford.

For the price point, the Pulse Elites are a great option for PS5 players looking for a dedicated headset. There’s a wide chasm of quality between a $150 headset and a $300 one, but the Pulse Elites feel like a headset that would cost closer to $200, so I’m going to go ahead and give these a thumbs up.

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