Sony’s size and wide range of products gives it an edge over Microsoft, Nintendo, and 3rd party product manufacturers. It can mass-produce products that complement its own product line. In the case of Playstation, we’ve already seen the Playstation 3D Display, which is not the typical gamer hardware, but the rest of Sony’s accessory line for the Playstation 3 is filled with Sony products. As the most open system (because the PS3 uses Bluetooth for wireless, compared to the Xbox 360′s proprietary wireless technology), there is plenty of 3rd party hardware, but Sony’s own internal development can put out better hardware faster, and often without compromises.

That’s the story of the Wireless Stereo Headset.

Hardware

Carrying a similar design to Sony’s own high-end headphones, the Wireless Stereo Headset has an ear-shaped design for maximum comfort over long periods of time. It’s an over-the-ear headset with leather cushions and a growing indent on the inside to leave plenty of space for the ear. The frame has a very solid build with a metal band and two heavy plastic side covers leading down to the oversize cans.

Everything is controlled on the left side of the headset. In front is a volume slider for chat or game sound (it boosts one or the other) and on the back is a standard volume slider and the USB-Mini charging port. On the front of the left band is the invisible power button (below the band frame; just press on the band itself to turn on and off), and just above the band in the crevice between plastic and metal is the virtual sound toggle. Inside the left can is the boom microphone, which is not adjustable but extends and retracts to and from the headset.

Audio and power controls are hidden along with the charging port above the left can

Some users may be upset about it, but the Wireless Stereo Headset doesn’t use Bluetooth. Instead it ships with a USB dongle, utilizing the 2.4GHz spectrum. This means users can’t just instantly turn on their PS3 and throw on the headset, they need to keep the dongle connected to do so. This is both a good and bad thing: good because it’s very easy to switch devices and setup (just plug and play on PS3 or PCs), but obviously it requires the dongle and isn’t a standalone piece. I prefer the current design, though my PS3 has 4 USB ports and I switch often between the game console and my PC. No Bluetooth also limits the headset to USB-devices, so no phone use with this headset.

Comfort

The leather is thicker on the back because the can gets deeper for the back of the ear, which sticks out further. Some audio specialists say this design produces lower quality sound, but it's far more comfortable

While I’ve heard from some sound experts that the ear design Sony employs for their high-end headphones isn’t as good as competitors (see Sound Quality), they are excellent for comfort. The Playstation Wireless Stereo Headset is no different in this regard. The design, shape, and weight all are expertly crafted. It’s comfortable for hours on end, for gaming, media, or just to block outside noise. Noise cancellation is minimal, but the design helps block sound naturally.

The Stereo Headset is also expertly sized and weighted; it isn’t so big that it weighs down, nor is it too large to feel overpowering or cumbersome, and by no means is it a small headset. Take a look at some of the competing models by comparison, below. Note that the models shown are not PS3 models, but actually for PC gaming.

Clockwise from top left: the Wireless Stereo Headset, Logitech G930, Plantronics Gamecom 780

Sound Quality

There are two forms of sound quality for headsets, audio quality and voice quality. With the Wireless Stereo headset, the latter is crisp and clear, with uncompromised audio performance and clarity, though there is a slightly noticeable hiss for other players. From my game time they said it was on par with most headsets, and was so quiet it felt like background noise.

For the latter, as I explained earlier, sound experts argue that the shape of the cans in Sony’s high-end headphones don’t reproduce audio as well as in normal headphones. Sony’s engineers obviously think differently. But one thing all audio experts do agree on is that stereo sound and surround sound are almost impossible to differentiate between with headphones, because the audio drivers are so close together and because proper directional audio can be done with smart sound design.

I’ve tested the Stereo Headset over a significant amount of time, and am impressed with audio quality. Bare in mind that this is not an audiophile headset; it’s made for gaming. For that, sound quality is excellent. Games sound vibrant with good bass and finely tuned audio, and for music listening it’s both comfortable and provides good sound. More importantly, while it doesn’t have noise cancellation, the thick leather cushions to an excellent job of blocking any unwanted sounds.

Conclusion

Gaming-grade hardware is all too often on one end of the spectrum, the bad end. The higher quality stuff tends to be too expensive for frugal gamers, who spend $60/game. As so many know too well, it’s an expensive hobby. That’s perhaps the biggest reason why Sony has done something exceptional with the Stereo Headset. It’s only $100 retail, and much cheaper with just a little digging.

Price is always the most important factor, and yet the Wireless Stereo Headset is an exceptional audio device already. It has great sound quality, a very solid build, a simple control scheme, and it’s also one of the most comfortable gaming headsets on the market. The combination of all these things, along with an excellent price, just screams one thing: excellence.

Put simply, the Wireless Stereo Headset is the best wireless gaming headset you can buy. It matches excellent pricing with great quality and comfort. There is no comparison on those fronts.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★★½

Excellent

Bottom Line: An excellent set of stereo headphones that offers digital surround sound. Extremely comfortable, solid 6-8 hours of battery life per charge, and great sound quality, all for an amazing price.

Pros:

  • Comfortable for extended use
  • Excellent physical design
  • Stunning price
  • SOUND QUALITY
Cons:
  • USB dongle limits the functionality
  • Slight buzz on voice communication










James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.