Posted Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT by Brian Hoss
First party product hardly an afterthought.
After pouring dozens of hours of into 'Destiny' over the past week, there's no doubt, the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset is one the best products that Sony has on the market today, and it's a killer headset solution for the PS4.
But let me back up for a moment. This is a headset that was released last February that just happened to have a white color variant produced to coincide with the release of the white PS4 Destiny Bundle. In anticipation of that release, I picked up a black PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset around a month ago. It was (and is still is now) on sale for only $80 instead of the normal $99 price.
I've used the headset before in various demo session situations, but now I wanted to really get a feel for it. I picked up the headset planning to review it prior to the release 'Destiny,' and it sat in its good sized box as other projects kept me busy. Finally though, as the release version of 'Destiny' downloaded onto PS4, I knew it was time to break out the new headset.
Accessories and Contents
In the box, there is a nice assortment of accessories. There's a (comically short) micro USB charging cable, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm headset cable for devices like the Vita, and even a nice looking carrying pouch. Not needing any of these for 'Destiny,' they all went right back in the box. The only thing I needed was the headset and the wireless USB receiver.
As 'Destiny' downloaded I plugged the headset into my resident couch area micro USB cable that I use for the DualShock 4, Xbox One controller and so on. Funnily enough, I happen to be using a Xbox One Charge and Play Cable and Belkin extension, which I will come to later.
I always try to be sure to charge up rechargeable devices when prior to first use, and the scramble to be ready for 'Destiny' was time enough to charge the headset. On the PS4 side, I just slapped the USB receiver into the PS4 even as 'Destiny' loaded, too frenetic to worry about it possible causing an issue and luckily enough, the PS4 didn't miss a beat.
Later, when the game was ready and I was ready, I popped over to the PSN store and downloaded the simple headset app. Sure enough, there was an official 'Destiny' EQ setting, which I downloaded and then loaded onto the headset via micro USB in a process more complex to state than to do.
I jumped into the game no longer really concerned about the headset, anxious to get my character's progress started, retreading the same part of the game I had done in several prior demo sessions. Naturally, I enjoyed my home theater's surround sound, and that enjoyment always extends to solo 'Destiny' sessions, like when I'm playing solo in the Crucible. But once my fireteam came online, a little ahead of schedule, it was time to get game chat going.
Using the Headset
Using the headset for the first time meant a few things. First, I made sure I was matching my ears to the correct ear cups (the controls and connectors are all on the left cup), then I flicked the power switch from off to the 2 position, which powered the headset on and activated the 'Destiny' EQ preset I had downloaded earlier. I clicked the volume buttons a few times and started sound checking with my fireteam. Then we went off, and after a few exchanges of Auto Rifle fire, I clicked the Sound/Game volume buttons until I could hear both the game and my fireteam.
And that was it. Aside from occasionally clicking the mute button as I walk to the kitchen and what not and clicking the 7.1 virtual surround sound on and off a few times for testing purposes, I haven't had to mess with the headset controls at all.
Now let me run through that again. In the many subsequent 'Destiny' sessions I have had, the only thing I've needed to use the headset, is turn it on. When, after around eight hours of use, it beeps about its battery, I just plug in the micro USB and keep playing. The battery has better battery than the DualShock 4, and as I said earlier, if I'm playing solo I click the headset off , which instantly routes sound back to my home theater.
Whenever I click the headset on, its volume and other settings are already just as they were. I can be in the middle of a mission, have someone join my fireteam, grab the headset, flick it on, and keep moving.
The Summoning Pits Strike
I can't stress the ease of use enough. The other night my fiancée returned from a long work trip and that night we were watching 'The Fall' on Netflix when she fell asleep. This being in my office home theater, the PS4 was handy. With my heavy sleeping fiancée's legs on my lap I used Homer Simpson like techniques to grab a DualShock 4 off the table, exit Netflix and load up 'Destiny.' Though my fiancée is a heavy sleeper, she's not so heavy a sleeper as to not be alerted by my home theater speakers. Realizing that the game was like to blast the quiet room in mere moments and my receiver remote momentarily out of place, I Homer Simpsoned the Gold Wireless Stereo Headset over and flicked them on just in time to prevent any sudden loudness.
After some time in the Crucible I went ahead and hazarded voice chat and met up with my fireteam. We decided to take on the Summoning Pits Strike. This was my first attempt, and I stupidly unlocked my super at Phogoth at the exact moment he loosed his chains. He pulverized me, and I waived my fireteam off (being in a bad spot), awaiting respawn. Unfortunately, due to some quirk I've not seen elsewhere in the game, I respawned essentially underneath the map.
There's one side of the arena that face a bottomless abyss, and a ways off the left of the lower platform, where so many Hive are offloaded by ships, I stood in unfortunate bit of rock beyond what should have been payable bounds.
I then got to wait and listen as my fireteam took on what is one of the game's tougher strikes without me. As long as I stood there and fought off the few Hive that could see and attack me from afar (they gave up pretty quick, which is good since I was running out of ammo), my team couldn't be wiped out. Sadly I could only glimpse the battle from a crack between two rocks, and what I saw might as well have been spin art. So, isolated on a rock in the game, and sitting under underneath my fiancée's legs on the couch, all while my team desperately and audibly struggled against disproportionate odds, I had plenty of time to contemplate the surround sound and chat capabilities of the Gold Wireless Stereo Headset.
Though I got plenty bored as I missed out on the many, many deaths of my teammates. I could hear much, and I let the sound field shift around as I rotated and hopped on my sad little crag of map.
This being a wireless headset, it's unlikely to sway anyone to use it over a dedicated surround speaker set-up. Bass response is not going to come close to what dedicated sub or speaker designs can manage, and that's even with the 'Destiny' EQ and the headset itself tuned towards reproducing bass. That said, the game has a sci-fi sound design and is not like to be confused with 'Saving Private Ryan.' At the same time, the fact that these headsets, like most other wireless headsets, won't rattle the user's teeth is probably a blessing in disguise as I've been using them for hours and hours of 'Destiny' firefights. Overall, I've found both the audio quality and surround sound very impressive at this price point. This is solely based on 'Destiny' and in that game, I think most users would be surprised at how good the densely packed sound field sounds through the headsets.
The headset has an invisible mic, but it works very well. The dual mic array does a nice job of keeping other noises from being picked up. It isn't going to outclass a $300 headset, but it gets the job done with comfort and ease. The headset has sidetone, (also known as mic monitoring). It can be disabled, but I think it works great (echo free) in the headset. Like many of the headset's functions, the mic functionality is integrated into the PS4's UI in an effective and unobtrusive manner. Hit the Mute button, and the headset will beep while UI will quickly pop up in the upper left corner of the screen to show that the mic is now muted. (That notification then pops away.) The Virtual Surround Sound button works similarly, but must be held for a few seconds.
The Headset's Sound/Game volume buttons work much like the similar button set on the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter, though I find them much more useful here. With these buttons the Chat to Game audio priority can be set. While this isn'tt as nice as Dynamic Chat boost, it has worked consistently well, and I only needed to set it once. This has turned out to be an essential feature for 'Destiny.' One of my regular fireteam friends has a Turtle Beach M5, which I really like and bought him as a birthday gift some months back. You know that beautiful audio score that 'Destiny' has? Well, it and various other loud sounds, play hell with the M5, which plugs into the controller, uses a dangly mic, and wasn't designed for the PS4 at any rate. Since 'Destiny' lacks any in-game volume adjustment, and the PS4 system settings don't allow for separate game and chat audio settings, my friend and teammate misses out on some of the team communications. I'm hoping a 'Destiny' or PS4 patch will fix his problem so he can keep using the headset I gave him, but I'm certainly glad the Gold Wireless Stereo Headset can cope with this.
Along with the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset, Sony just announced the PlayStation Silver Wired Stereo Headset, which like the Gold Wireless model, follows the design tree of the PS3 focused Wireless Stereo Headset, Pulse Elite, etc. As Sony continues to introduce PS4 focused models, users can feel confident that the PS4 integration and audio profiles will continue to be fully supported. The big difference with PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset when compared with the older models is how the entire package, including the form factor and battery life have come together with the older headset's features to make for a killer product.
The Silver Wired Headset does not yet have a release date and is priced at $69.99, which makes the current $80 price for the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset seem like even better deal.
Comfort and Build
The Gold Wireless Stereo Headset is mainly plastic and foam, and with the PS4 handling so much of the work, the headset is very lightweight. It's collapsible for travel, which is good since I doubt the headset could survive the stomp of a teenager. Purchasers ought to be the type to not step on their equipment. The abundance of plastic detracts from the style somewhat, especially as the removable faceplates look like cheap remote control battery covers when up close. Comfort is whole another story. The adjustable round ear cups sit perfectly with on my normally unhappy (with headsets) ears. The blue foam does it job, and in essence, I could wear these not just for hours but for every waking moment without any pinching or creasing or other fatigue normally associated with headsets, hats, googles, etc.
And that's just it, the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset is well, wireless, offers great VSS, battery life, a nice mic set-up, game specific custom EQs, excellent PS4 integration, and comfort. Much of these features would aid performance of the headset in other applications, but I wanted a go-to headset for PS4 gaming. The Gold Wireless Stereo Headset delivers and without a high price. Tackling 'Destiny' with my fireteam, and achieving co-op excellence as the group shoots and loots its way around the pretty landscape is the standout aspect of the game, and the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset has been instrumental in delivering that experience.
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