Gaming: Playstation 4 Gold Headset

Here's our review of the brand new PS4 Gold headset.

Oh, the smell. 

Upon opening the first official Sony Gold headset box, I saw it, "Greatness Awaits." I was imbued with a sense of wonder and excitement as I pulled out the second carton within that informed me that something great was indeed inside here. I lifted the "Greatness" lid and out it came--the smell. It's been a while since I've opened a new electronics box and be summoned to its gorgeous innards via such a pleasant aroma of fresh plastic.

Honestly, I've been very unimpressed with Sony's next-gen packaging. The designer inside me is much more invited by the lush green negative-space of the Xbox One's line of products despite being a PS4 fan. The Gold headset packaging is a nice step in a more alluring direction.

Besides the smell of greatness, the Gold headset feels solid and carefully designed. There aren't too many broken lines. The design is mostly flush, even with embossed buttons. This flush overall design will prevent a lot of the grease and flakey scalp particles of you dungeon dwellers from leaking into the crevices of the headset after long hours of playtime.

After the manual informing me of a 3.5 hour wait to fully charge the headset before I could use it, I sank into my computer chair, thoroughly depressed at what exactly I was gonna do with my life until it was done. I pretty much browsed Reddit for an hour before it finished early! The first thing I popped in was Iron Man on blu-ray and right to the fighter jet scene.

My word, it sounded nice.

I pretty much completely write off any claim to "virtual surround sound" in a pair of headphones because I know it's a load of crap, but I am very impressed with the surround performance of the Gold headset. When Iron Man blasted off frame and over my head, it sounded convincing. Emulated, sure, but very convincing for such a low-priced wireless surround set. Machine guns eating at the frame of the F-15s (or whatever kind of planes they were) sounded chunky and prickly. Missiles whipping past your head flowed smoothly from one side to the next. Overall, very impressive for movie watching.

 Volume range feels just right. Highs aren't crackly, but subtle and peppery. Lows aren't overbearing even with bass boost on and remain warm no matter what I listened to. My only gripes are that mids are infrequently a bit crusty at loud volumes and the frequency representation seems constrained, the latter of which is totally expected for a $99 headset and I won't even let that detract from the score. Sony will be releasing a companion app on February 11th to setup your own custom EQ, which I imagine will alleviate this detriment a bit. The same goes for developers, the first of which will be Sucker Punch for the highly anticipated, Infamous: Second Son, which will be getting its own unique audio patch to represent the game's soundscape as intended by the developers. This is ultra cool stuff and I can't wait to see what other developers will do with the custom audio design for this set.

The hidden microphone had me concerned right out of the box. I fired up Warframe and started a party with a friend of mine. He had no issues with clarity from the mic and could even hear me pee when I went three floors down to my basement because my damn roommate was taking a shower... again! I can't even get phone reception down there, and he could hear what used to be Pepsi hitting the porcelain of my toilet!

Well, how about the noise cancelling then? Apparently it's not working too hot if he can hear my little tinkle treats. Actually, pretty damn good from both sides. Seems like my voice was perfectly clear throughout our playtime of one of the most chaotic games for the PS4. Running through several Defense and Survival missions meant we tore through packs of nearly endless enemies with two other players constantly firing off crazy cyborg magic and fountains of bullets. Both our voices were clearly cut above the commotion of the game and he heard no in-game audio returned back through my microphone. Now, this could be attributed to Warframe's lack of dedicated servers, or general lag, but every 45 seconds or so there would be a very slight chop in chat audio. Nothing major. The only other time's I noticed this was when continuing to chat while switching to a loading screen.

Chat was otherwise flawless as far as I could tell and perfectly clear.

As far as the surround sound element to gaming goes, it's adequate. It gets the job done. Spatial awareness works decently in Outlast as I'm hiding out in a tunnel trying to judge just exactly where my pursuer's steps are. In Warframe, I definitely knew when something was attacking from behind. Turning, however, as the audio source spins from behind you, isn't as convincing. My ears understand what the speakers are trying to communicate to me, so, it works in that regard, but it's nothing exceptional.

After the one hour mark they do start to become slightly discomforting, but leveled out even around 2 1/2 hours. It never got any worse than a minor discomfort. My big ears fit well inside the cups and do a good job of muffling the intrusive audio of the real world around me. So far, I've put 4 hours of playtime into these puppies and the battery life barely has a scratch on it.

I did try to connect the headset wirelessly to my PC, and even though my computer informed me that the
drivers were installed and my device was ready, it, indeed, was not ready for anything except being a piece of oddly shaped plastic with an elusive purpose. Thankfully, Sony includes a short 3.5mm cable to connect to your computer speakers (or other auxiliary purpose) and I immediately jammed some Periphery. Stereo separation is very nice, and I was able to discern crispy guitar picking and cymbal crashes better with the Gold set than my $30 PC headphones, but nothing of a dramatic improvement. I couldn't hear a damn thing outside of the headphones either. I couldn't even hear my 50" plasma TV seven feet away with the sound bar blasting the Olympic Games. I didn't realize my girlfriend had left and come back. Dude, my stairs are old and creaky. I couldn't hear her leave. She could have killed me!

For what you get for $99, I think it would be challenging to find a wireless surround set at a better value. Yes, there are higher quality sets out there, but, dude, Sony seriously packed in the value. It's a high quality design. Just having it in your hands feels like it's worth more than what I paid. Battery life is very impressive so far. The audio quality is above average for the price range and the custom audio patches incoming from developers is an exclusive feature that make this very hard to pass up. For a budget gamer who also takes the hobby seriously, this is no doubt a hugely worthwhile investment.

-Review by JG Barnes