PlayStation PULSE Elite Wireless Headset Review – PlayStation’s Best Headset Yet

Great sound and features at a very reasonable price.

The second of Sony’s new first-party PlayStation gaming headsets is here, with the PlayStation PULSE Elite Wireless Headset arriving not too far off of its more portable counterpart in the PULSE Explore Wireless Earbuds. Returning to the more traditional gaming headset form factor, it’s a pseudo-successor to the PULSE 3D headset that launched along the PS5, only now it sports new innovations like planar magnetic drivers and the new PlayStation Link connectivity tech.

It’s quite the well-speced bit of kit for the asking price of $239, especially when PlayStation’s own products tend to command a bit of a premium, and the good news is that these headphones perform every bit as superbly as you’d hope.

First things first, though – while it obviously shares some similarities to the PULSE 3D, the PULSE Elite headset has to be one of the most unique-looking sets of cans I’ve seen, or at least personally used, in quite some time. And not “unique” in the way that I would describe myself in childhood photos as a more delicate version of “kinda weird” but in a genuinely cool, retro-futuristic way that exemplifies Sony’s vision with all of its modern PlayStation products. The stark black-and-white design with its swooping bands that come to a point well in front of the cups feels like something Gary Oldman’s Zorg in The Fifth Element would wear if he was trying to get cracked at Helldivers 2.

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Crucially, the PULSE Elite is surprisingly comfortable with a good amount of give to the unified band that means it doesn’t put a huge amount of pressure on the head. It’s actually a lot lighter than I was expecting and while I was never a big fan of the PULSE 3D’s perfectly-rounded cups they’re at least a lot more plush here and have a much bigger degree of movement that means they’ll sit nicely along your head without pressing at odd points or letting sound bleed out of any gaps. They have the same headband-based adjustment as the PULSE 3D, which maybe isn’t as desirable as adjustable-length arms but works well without the need for any manual input and helps maintain that compelling aesthetic.

One thing I was asked in our community groups was whether or not the PULSE Elite would fit comfortably over the PS VR2 headset, which I did test, and while for me it sat reasonably well there was a small enough margin for error that I don’t think it’d be the best solution for most people – if you’re looking for a great wireless audio solution for the VR2 I’d absolutely be going for the excellent PULSE Explore buds instead.

Like those, the PULSE Elite is another of Sony’s new PlayStation Link-enabled products, meaning it features seamless connectivity with PS5 and PC using the included USB adapter as well as a direct interface to the PlayStation Portal. I still wish that Link had been somehow integrated into the “slim” PS5 model as the adapter is USB-A and thus can only go into the back of the newer console, but it’s one of those set-and-forget things and so not the end of the world. Handily, now that I own both PlayStation Link-compatible headsets I just need the one adapter for my console and I’ve got an extra adapter for my PC so everything just works whenever I need it with no swapping or reconfiguring needed – and the adapters can be purchased on their own if you want that experience with just the one headset.

The PULSE Elite also features Bluetooth connectivity with multi-device support, so you can get the audio from your PS5 through Link and be on a call or listening to music through your phone or laptop via Bluetooth. I’m not sure my brain can handle that much input at once, but it’s an undoubtedly useful option for those that want it.

Comfort and features aside, the obvious big-ticket inclusion in the PlayStation PULSE Elite headset are the new planar magnetic drivers that are the, well, driving force behind its audio output. Planar magnetic drivers are more commonly reserved for the kinds of high-end headsets used by the folks that engineer the audio in games and movies as opposed to the conical, dynamic drivers found in typical consumer headphones, and Sony has worked with audiophile brand Audeze (which it recently acquired) to craft the solution here. As could reasonably be expected from a headset sporting these drivers, the PULSE Elite sounds fantastic.

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The sound these things pump out is wonderfully crisp with a huge amount of detail and nuance, and I’ve been able to pick up things I just wasn’t hearing from my external 5.1 system or other gaming headsets – that’s a pretty common way to praise headphones but it’s absolutely true here. There’s a big advantage in these being full-size cups as compared to the tiny PULSE Explore buds as well, with far more depth in the low-end and a much louder overall sound, something that was a sticking point in my review of those. I used them for a good chunk of my playtime in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth and Helldivers 2 as well as a bit of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden as far as recent releases go, while I also dipped back into The Last of Us Part II Remastered and God of War Ragnarök to get some of the best of the PS5’s 3D audio experience and I was not disappointed.

Using the headset with my PC, I also found it’s fantastic for watching movies or listening to music, with the balanced and detailed audio meaning films sound as intended. The bass response maybe isn’t as skull-shaking as some blockbuster Hollywood features or EDM tracks demand but that’s mostly rectifiable with some finagling of your software or device’s EQ settings. The PULSE Elite itself only sports a power/Link buttons and volume rocker on its arm (along with the USB-C and 3.5mm auxiliary ports), but on the PS5 you can also dive in and tweak things like EQ settings and even enable a sidetone, both of which will save to the headset for when you’re using it on other devices. And, of course, if you’ve got a DualSense Edge controller the Function buttons on that give you quick access to volume and chat mix settings so you don’t really have to mess with the headset buttons at all.

While the sound output from the Pulse Elite is superb, the quality of its retractable microphone is just fine. Definitely not bad, and on par with most headsets in its class, but not remarkable. Playing Helldivers 2 with a friend who’d also just acquired the headset, we both found we were coming through with decent clarity and at one point I put the mic’s AI noise rejection technology to the test by eating a bowl of Rice Bubbles in-between contributions to Managed Democracy, which my companion assures they heard none of. I didn’t get a single bit of background noise from them during our session either, which to me rings as a success on that front. The microphone is quickly mutable via the button on your DualSense controller of choice, too, and has a handy orange LED indicating when you’re muted that sits just far enough out of sight to not be annoying during regular use.

The PULSE Elite has a rated battery life of up to 30 hours, which is great, and while I haven’t yet used it for more than a few hours without juicing it back up I can comfortably say that the rate at which it runs down would indicate that 25-30 hours is pretty accurate. The main reason I’ve been keeping the headset so reliably topped-up is that it comes with a super handy charging mount that you can bung on a wall to keep it neatly stored and powered. It uses a similar charging mechanic to the DualSense Charging Station, and the mount itself can either be screwed into the wall or, if you’re a renter like me, pretty easily popped onto a removable 3M adhesive tab. Of course, the included USB-C charging cable can just be plugged directly into the headset as well if you’re not keen on mounting it.


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Conclusion
The PlayStation PULSE Elite Wireless Headset is the best PlayStation headset to date. It combines the iconic PS5 aesthetic with genuine comfort, great connectivity and battery life, and best of all fantastic sound through its planar magnetic drivers. For just an $80 premium over the PULSE 3D, if you're looking for a well-integrated, official audio solution that delivers best-in-class sound and works seamlessly across multiple devices then it's incredibly easy to recommend.
Positives
Striking look and decent comfort
Fantastic audio with plenty of depth and detail
Great rated battery life and handy charging solution
Flexible and seamless connectivity
Negatives
Microphone is just fine
Cup fabric is quite delicate