November 24, 2020

PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset review: The strong, silent type

Have a PlayStation 4? You might love the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset, as long as voice chat is not a priority.

Console gaming is a much bigger market than PC gaming, but oddly enough, gaming headsets don’t really reflect that. PC headsets have tons of features, but no console headset is fully compatible with every platform. Most of the time, even on the intended platforms, gaming headsets don’t offer the same kinds of features as on PC, like surround sound. The PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset doesn’t fix any compatibility issues, but it at least offers a larger feature set than most console offerings.

This wireless gaming headset brings surround sound to the PlayStation 4 for under $100. On paper it’s an impressive product, but is it actually any good?

This PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset review comes from the audio experts at our sister site SoundGuys. Check out their in-depth take on the Playstation Gold Wireless Headset.

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Who is the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset for?

What’s the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset like?

The Playstation gold wireless headset sits on a table next to a DualShock controller with a playstation 4 running Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in the background

This really isn’t a headset worth using on other platforms.

The PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset is primarily plastic. It’s lightweight, made with a single plastic band covered in artificial leather. The headband clamps down without issue, but isn’t so forceful as to feel any noticeable pressure. This is among the most low profile gaming headsets I’ve ever used, for better and worse.

The ear cups are round, thin, and set at a pretty steep angle, so your ear really feels nestled in the headphone. This was very comfortable for me, but if your ears are even a little on the larger side, it won’t be. Gamers with glasses won’t find anything terribly favorable here, either. Remember, even slight pressure from headphones can become unbearable after a couple hours.

The Playstation Gold Wireless headset leans on a DualShock Controller.

The ear pads are comfortable, as long as they fit.

The PlayStation Gold Wireless features an assortment of buttons and switches. Spread across the headphones you’ll encounter a volume rocker, surround sound button, mic mute button, power switch, and a rocker for adjusting game sound and chat balance. Frankly, it’s all a bit much. The buttons are low profile, making them hard to differentiate. Even after using this headset for an extended period, I couldn’t remember what was where; it made even simple things like adjusting the volume take a lot longer.

Surround sound still works when plugged in directly to a DualShock controller.

The headset connects using a 2.4GHz wireless RF USB dongle, which is great for gaming because it isn’t plagued with the same lag as Bluetooth devices. The battery life is a little on the short side, and according to SoundGuys’ full PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset review, lasted just over eight hours on a single charge with surround sound turned off. While this isn’t great, you can always plug the headset into a DualShock controller with a 3.5mm cord when it dies and still get stereo sound.

Gaming with the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset

The Playstation Gold Wireless Headset sits on a black reflective surface in front of a DualShock controller that has been turned on.

The volume rocker and the one controlling game and chat balance are on opposite headphones, and it’s easy to get them mixed up.

Gaming with the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset is actually pretty nice — at least on PlayStation 4. The headset offers 7.1 virtual surround sound, without the need for added software; it’s just a button on the left headphone. There is an optional app, but you’re not missing much by ignoring it.

Fortnite and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order were great tests of how well the surround sound works, as they use it in very different ways. In Fortnite, sounds like footsteps and gunfire sounded like they were coming every which way. Fallen Order used surround sound to really amp up the ambient sounds to create more immersive audio — the insect sounds and animal yelps of Bogano really envelop you as you run around the world. Being able to toggle between stereo and 7.1 on the fly really made it easy to notice the difference.

The experience on PC is considerably worse. Surround sound isn’t supported on the platform, so you’re stuck with stereo, and volume control gets pretty weird. When you plug the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset into a PC, the computer-side volume control doesn’t work. The only thing that will raise or lower the volume of the headset is the rocker on the left headphone. The actual gaming experience on PC is fine, but the volume issue certainly puts a damper on things.

How does the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset sound?

All told, the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset has pretty decent audio for a gaming headset. Bass notes are quieter than they’re meant to sound but this makes it easier to perceive more nuanced sounds like environmental noise, and even chatting teammates. Midrange frequencies are gently boosted, again, to make the aforementioned sounds standout. In music, the significant de-emphasis in the very low bass range means some sounds, many of which are most common in EDM, might be a little bit harder to hear than they otherwise should. Likewise, the de-emphasis in the highs might make the sounds of some strings and cymbals a little bit harder to hear, but nothing too major. If you want a detailed breakdown of the frequency response, checkout the full PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset review.

While the audio is mostly solid, the headset’s isolation really doesn’t do it any favors. The exceedingly thin headphone pads may be comfortable, but they don’t block out average sounds like someone opening and closing a door, or the whirr of a fridge — let alone the louder environments active noise canceling was built for. Even achieving what meager results are possible here requires forming a seal around your ears, so again, people with larger ears will probably fare worse.

Microphone quality isn’t anything special

A man seated wearing the Playstation Gold Wireless Headset.

I almost forgot I was wearing this headset sometimes.

Frankly, the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset’s microphone is just plain bad. From a frequency response perspective, the pretty significant dip in the bass range will make deeper voices sound pretty distorted, though the over-emphasis in the high range will at least make sibilant sounds (F-, S-, and SH– sounds) come through more prominently. This is an embedded microphone, and as such, it really struggles with clarity. It sounds a little bit like you’re talking into a tin can with a pillow stuck in it:


Should you buy the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset?

Playstation Gold Wireless Headset side shot logo up

Unfortunately, you can’t use this headset while it’s charging.

If you don’t care about voice chat, and you only need something for the PlayStation 4, maybe.

Everything about the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset is low profile. It’s lightweight and small, with no big protrusions of any kind. If your ears are small enough, it’s very comfortable, and the surround sound (without the need for additional software, no less) adds a lot of value. However, that low profile design makes the headset harder to use, with an overly complicated button layout, and a sub-par microphone.

If you want something geared more towards extended voice chat sessions, anything with an attached boom mic will do better than the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset. Even wired headsets like the HyperX Cloud Alpha or the Fnatic React would probably be better. If you’re set on a wireless option, the SteelSeries Arctis 7, HyperX Cloud Flight S, and Razer Thresher Ultimate are all great wireless options, albeit at increasingly higher prices.

All told, the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset is great for single-player games, or at least solo multiplayer ones. If you’ve got more social games in mind, don’t bother.