PlayStation Pulse Elite review

The Pulse Elite is the latest gaming headset from PlayStation, hoping to lead the pack in gaming on the PS5 for a not-so “Elite” price. Featuring planar magnetic drivers, multi-device pairing, and a stylish charging hanger, there is a lot of value here, but is this the right headset for your setup? I put in the time to try it and tell you my thoughts.

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this PlayStation Pulse Elite review: We tested the PlayStation Pulse Elite over two weeks and two days. It was running firmware version 0136. SoundGuys purchased the unit for this review.

The PlayStation Pulse Elite is for PS5 gamers who want a flashy wireless headset to use at home. EQ settings are exclusive to the PS5, making it less desirable for PC gamers, and the lack of a carrying case or active noise cancelation makes it less desirable for on-the-go gaming with the PlayStation Portal.

What’s it like to use the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset?

A mean wearing the PlayStation Pulse Explore headset while wearing sunglasses.

Commander Birney, reporting for duty.

Building on the design aesthetic of the PlayStation Pulse 3D gaming headset, the Pulse Elite headset features a swooping white frame over big, black swiveling ear cups that match the look of the PlayStation 5 console. There’s no way around looking a little ridiculous wearing the domed headset — something akin to a Rebel pilot straight out of Star Wars — but perhaps that’s the fun factor you are looking for.

The headset is lightweight and comfortable, with a rubberized suspension band that didn’t weigh on top of my head too much and allows for ample height movement to fit larger heads. The soft, plush ear cups are rather large and do a great job of creating a good seal without pressing hard. I noticed a suction sensation while wearing the headset, so you’ll want to remove it slowly to minimize rapid changes in air pressure, avoiding the “vacuum effect.”

The Pulse Elite headset has a flashy, unique look and is comfortable to wear for long hours.

Another reason you’ll want to minimize movement is because of the loose ear cups. The ear cups rotate on a ball joint and have a decent range to fit the shape of your head. However, I did find the swivels too loose and could hear a muffled rattling sound while turning my head from the hinges moving around. That did become annoying at times while gaming.

The headset features a telescoping mic that easily slides out of the left-side elongated tip. You can adjust the flexible boom mic to sit higher, lower, or further away from your mouth, but be careful to align the stem when pushing it back into the headset. On the right side elongated tip is an LED light that remains on while connected to a device. It is present in your peripheral vision while wearing the headset, but I didn’t find it too bright to be distracting.

The Pulse Elite comes with a unique hanger for the headset that can be easily mounted using a single screw (not included). The advantage here is that you can feed an included USB-C to USB-A cable from a power source (I used the port on the back of my PS5 console) to this hanger to charge the headset while it hangs. The hanger uses contacts similar to the ones found on the bottom of the PS5 DualSense controller — though it won’t charge a DualSense controller, in case you were wondering. Overall, it is a clean and easy way to store, attach, and detach the headphones. I strongly recommend using the hangar since there is no carrying case, and the leatherette material around the ear cups is prone to scuffs and scratches.

How do you control the PlayStation Pulse Elite?

Physical button controls on the Pule Elite headset.

Underneath the right side frame is a volume rocker, a USB-C port,  a headphone jack, and a power/pairing button.

There are only two physical buttons on the underside of the right side of the Pulse Elite: a volume rocker and a power button that also serves to pair to devices. The buttons are easier to find than on the Pulse 3D headset, but there is minimal tactile feedback.

The power/pair button has so many functions that it can be hard to remember the number of presses and durations for each function. Additionally, functions other headsets might have dedicated buttons, such as channel mixing, talk-through, and mic gain, can only be adjusted using the PS5 interface.

At the end of the microphone is a physical mute button you can press if you don’t want others to hear you, as well as a small LED light that will light green whenever the microphone is activated.

PlayStation Link Button Mic mute button

Quick Press

PlayStation Link Button

Power on

Mic mute button

Toggles mic on/off

Quick Press three times

PlayStation Link Button

Sound controls (PS5 only)

Mic mute button

Press and hold for two seconds

PlayStation Link Button

Connect to previous BT device/ PS link device

Mic mute button

Press and hold for four seconds

PlayStation Link Button

Power off

Mic mute button

Press and hold for eight seconds

PlayStation Link Button

Pair to new PS Link or Bluetooth Device

Mic mute button

Press and hold for ten seconds

PlayStation Link Button

Reset headset

Mic mute button

How do you connect the PlayStation Pulse Elite?

A hand holding a PlayStation wireless USB dongle.

For the lowest latency, you can connect to your PS5 using PS Link via the wireless USB dongle.

Using the PlayStation Link USB adapter, the Pulse Elite headset can connect wirelessly to your PlayStation 5 console, PC, or Mac. Thankfully, unlike the PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds, I didn’t experience any random disconnections using PS Link with the PS5.

Since it features PS Link technology, you can connect to the PlayStation Portal handheld gaming device without a dongle. However, unlike Apple products, there is no automatic switching between devices within this PlayStation ecosystem. You must manually press the PS Link button on the PlayStation Portal or on the USB dongle to pair the devices.

You can use Bluetooth, PS Link, or both at the same time.

The Pulse Elite also supports Bluetooth to connect to your mobile phone or tablet. Unfortunately, when paired to a Bluetooth device, the volume buttons on the headphones are disabled, which means you will have to use your source device to adjust the volume.

There’s no multi-device pairing using Bluetooth, though you can connect to your PS5 or computer vis PS Link while paired to a Bluetooth device, so you can listen to your playlists or take a phone call while you’re gunning down bugs across the Milky Way Galaxy in Helldivers 2.

Pairing the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset is straightforward if you follow the IKEA-like image instructions.

  1. Make sure the headset is on, then press and hold the PS Link button for eight seconds to pair to a new device.
  2. Press and hold the same button for two seconds to quickly connect to previous BT/PS link devices.
  3. Press and hold for eight seconds, release the button, and press and hold for eight seconds again to wipe all paired connections.

How long does the PlayStation Pulse Elite battery last?

We couldn’t follow our regular testing procedures regarding battery life on the Pulse Elite headset because it automatically shuts off after 30 minutes of inactivity without any way to turn off this function. A well-intentioned design by the engineers at PlayStation but one that led me to endure over two full days’ worth of gaming (poor me, I know). Logging my hours played without charging the headset, the Pulse Elite lasted 49 hours and 31 minutes before it wouldn’t turn on again, well over the 30 hours, Sony claims. My use included a mix of gaming via PS Link, listening to music via Bluetooth, and sometimes both simultaneously, so your mileage may vary depending on your usage.

Yes, the Pulse Elite has a quick charge feature that claims two hours of battery life from a ten-minute charge. You can charge the headset using the included hanger or a USB-C cable.

How well does the PlayStation Pulse Elite attenuate noise?

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The PlayStation Pulse Elite headset does not have active noise cancelation, so passive isolation is your only ally in blocking out external noises. As expected, our measurements show little to no isolation from low frequencies, meaning low rumbles from engines or nearby construction work will be audible.

With a good seal, the ear pads will block out some mid and high-frequency noise above 550Hz. Mid-frequency noise around 2kHz is perceptibly 75% quieter. The headset is a bit more effective at blocking out high-frequency noise sound but still not as good as other comparable headphones that can attenuate up to 40 dB or more. In short, surrounding sounds will make their way through to your ears to some extent.

How does the PlayStation Pulse Elite sound?

The Pulse Elite headset’s sound is very immersive for gaming on the PS5, but there can be too much treble emphasis when listening to music.

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below shows how the sound of the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

An overall score of 3.1-3.3 is average compared to other over-ear headphones and gaming headsets we’ve reviewed. The Pulse Elite scores highest in Immersiveness, showing its most significant strength is in how well virtual sound sources are represented in 3D space, which lends itself well to PS5 games that utilize PlayStation’s 3D Audio.

  • Timbre (MOS-T) represents how faithfully the earbuds reproduce the frequency spectrum and temporal resolution (timing information).
  • Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction.
  • Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space.

See here for an explanation of MDAQS, how it works, and how it was developed.

Reviewer’s notes

Profile of a man wearing the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset

Unfortunately, only PS5 owners can access the graphic EQ and presets.

The default sound of the PlayStation Pulse Elite is decent. Unusually, for a gaming headset, there is a bit more emphasis on the higher frequencies than on the low end. You may find some low-end rumble is lacking, but there is enough of a bump in the high bass to compensate and render kick drums or in-game sound effects like enemy footsteps audible.

For music, the mids are very balanced. The guitar strums and vocals in Hotel California by the Eagles are clear. The treble response can be a little inconsistent, however. For instance, in Viva La Vida by Coldplay, some strings and high hats are a bit harsh. It’s worth noting there’s some audible planar crinkle in this frequency range as well.

Gaming delivered the best experience, especially on the PS5, since that’s the only place to access the graphic EQ and presets. The slicing and clashing of steel swords in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth sounded detailed and precise but can be a bit fatiguing on the ears for extended periods. Sound effects also felt quite immersive using Sony’s Tempest 3D AudioTech in compatible games, such as Venom’s deep, sinister voice taunt you while subsumed by the inky symbiote in Spider-Man 2.

Objective Measurements

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The default frequency response of the PlayStation Pulse Elite shares similarities with other gaming headsets, such as a pronounced bump at around 100Hz. As you can see in the chart above, above 100Hz, the sound loosely follows our headphone preference curve, a sound signature we think most people will enjoy when listening to music.

The Pulse Elite has a few peaks between 4.5kHz-9kHz that reach higher than we would like to hear and can sound a little piercing depending on the pitch. However, the graphic EQ and presets in the PS5 interface helped tame some of these inconsistencies.

How good is the PlayStation Pulse Elite microphone?

Pulse Elite telescope microphone fashioned with PlayStation iconography.

The telescopic microphone features PlayStation’s signature iconography.

The Pulse Elite headset features a retractable boom mic that is pretty flexible to bend and position at different angles. Overall, the recording quality is good. Voices sound natural and are easy to understand clearly. Even in noisy environments, such as the office conditions sample you can listen to below, those on the other end can hear and understand what you are saying despite the background noise.

PlayStation Pulse Elite microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

PlayStation Pulse Elite microphone demo (Office conditions):

PlayStation Pulse Elite microphone demo (Reverb conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

0 votes

Should you buy the PlayStation Pulse Elite?

PlayStation Pulse Elite headset on headphone stand.

The PlayStation Pulse Elite will suit gamers who value style and brand unity over top-tier performance.

The PlayStation Pulse Elite headset is only worthwhile for PS5 gamers. The sound quality for gaming, especially PS5 exclusive titles that utilize Sony’s 3D audio, is immersive. It is also decent for casual music listening, but consider the exclusive EQ features on the console. $150 is a reasonable price for planar magnetic drivers and represents a better value than the Pulse Explore earbuds ($199 at Amazon) as an at-home accompaniment to your PS5. The microphone quality is also better, making the headset ideal for calls or online gaming. The included charging hook sweetens the deal as a convenient way to store the headset, enhancing your gaming setup’s aesthetic. Plus, the battery life is excellent if you forget to hang it to charge.

If you have a quiet home environment, the Pulse Elite with its useful charging hanger is a great addition to the PS5.

The lack of active noise cancelation, an IP rating, or a carrying case doesn’t make the Pulse Elite a good option for taking out and about (not to mention the risk of public ridicule given its design). Plus, the inability of the headset’s controls to work with Bluetooth devices makes it inconvenient when paired with your phone. If you also game on a PC or Nintendo Switch, I recommend a gaming headset that works well with all devices. You may also want to look elsewhere if you encounter a lot of noise and need strong isolation or could use a headset with active noise cancelation (ANC).  If you tend to move around a lot while gaming, consider that this headset is prone to being thrown off by jerking your head around — and that the sound of the hinges can become annoying.

What should you get instead of the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset?

The contents of the Audeze Maxwell's packaging.

Christian Thomas / SoundGuys

You get a lot of headset with the Maxwell and a lot of little parts.

If you want the best gaming headphones with planar magnetic drivers, the conversation starts and ends with the Audeze Maxwell. Sony acquired Audeze in 2023, which is why we see planar drivers here in the Pulse Elite headset. Still, the Maxwell has a sturdier construction and more connectivity options if you hop between consoles and PCs or use Bluetooth multipoint. It offers an incredible 64 hours of continuous battery, more effective passive isolation, and a more balanced sound profile. However, it is more expensive at ($299 at Amazon).

If you want a gaming headset to match your PS5 that has active noise cancelation, consider the Sony Inzone H9 ($279.99 at Best Buy). This wireless-only headset has effective ANC, decent sound, and a good microphone. Battery life is excellent and comfortable enough to wear for long sessions. There’s also the more recent Inzone H5, which has a similar design, but the only real advantage it has over the Pulse Elite is the ability to EQ sound on a PC. It goes for the same price as ($148 at Amazon) but lacks Bluetooth connectivity.

Lastly, if you don’t play online multiplayer games and are less concerned with good mic quality, consider the standard Pulse 3D headset, which can utilize Sony’s 3D audio for single-player campaigns ($99 at Amazon). The overall sound quality may not be as good, and it has worse isolation, but the big, plushy ear cups are comfortable and stay in place without any annoying sounds from loose hinges.

Frequently asked questions about the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset

The PlayStation Pulse Elite is only compatible with Xbox consoles using an analog connection to an Xbox controller.

Yes, the Pulse Elite supports Bluetooth connectivity, and you can simultaneously connect to another device via PS Link.

Yes, you can connect the Pulse Elite headset to an iPhone or Android via Bluetooth.

Yes, the Pulse Elite will work with a PC using the wireless USB dongle or an analog connection. However, you won’t be able to EQ the headset on a PC. You can use Bluetooth as well, though that will entail higher latency.

During my review, I was prompted one time to update the Pulse Elite to the latest firmware when using them on the PS5. Plugging it in with a USB cable to the console, the update took less than two minutes.

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