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Sony/PlayStation Pulse 3D Headset - Short Review, and Initial Impressions (spoilers: not even worth the effort of measuring)

Intro:

We’re in an unfortunate position in the audio world as it stands today. Manufacturers are putting in a minimal amount of effort on the engineering side, and a lot of consumers are either too dim-witted or lazy to do their research. This has led to the mass production of a wide variety of trash-tier audio products, which are also receiving high praise from their ill-informed customers. It’s existent throughout the industry, but seemingly fuels the gaming headset market second-to-none. Gimmicky surround-sound and 3D audio claims are part of the issue, the other is an apparent inability for engineers to identify what exactly could be gained from a properly tuned headphone. They bottleneck their own stereo imaging capabilities by using cheap drivers, and rolling off the top-end. In an attempt to combat this, they “design” a surround-sound DSP that supposedly improves the physical limitations of said product… I’m continuously bewildered by the fact people can be so ignorant to such insufficiencies, and how we’ve propped-up / given a platform to such knowledgeless influencers.

 

With that said, here’s a short review / initial impressions on the Pulse 3D headset from Sony. I was able to put my frustration aside, and review it as objectively as possible for the time being. I also managed to bypass my hatred of wireless audio by using the headset passively in wired-mode on my SMSL SP200. If you’re wondering what a reference-grade amp was able to add to this headset… it wasn’t a lot, if anything.

 

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Tonality:

Before taking a look at measurements or conducting my own, I decided to open MS Paint and draw out what I thought I was hearing as I shuffled through my test tracks. Starting with bass, and slowly working my way up through the response, I immediately identified:
a) Rolled-off subbass
b) Midbass hump
c) Recessed highs
Which by the way, is a lot to identify in the first 30 seconds of listening. Not a great start.

 

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Impressions of response. Test track: ‘Slowed-Down Bass Attack’ by Bass 305. Used to measure sub and midbass throughput. Contains deep wafts + midbass kick, varying bass notes.

 

Moving onto the next track, we found much of the same. Although, now we were greeted by some additional peaks in the treble response. How pleasant.

 

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Impressions of response. Test track: ‘I would for you’ by Nine Inch Nails. Tests for driver speed, and distortion. Contains synth growl + kick, varying bass tones.

 

Even though I’d already identified a ringing midbass hump, I decided to continue on down the list to my next test song. I usually use this track in particular to help identify any annoying resonances. I was met with the same data I’d received from the previous track.

 

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Impressions of response. Test track: ‘Lifestyle’s of the Infamous’ by Mobb Deep. Contains dirty midbass ringing + kick, mostly constant tones.

 

Notes:

Since the tonality was an instant fail, I decided to begin testing technical performance and comfort. These are my notes from those tests:
-Peaks are still apparent, along with ringing midbass
-Missing a lot of top-end
-Imaging is very blurred, and presented in a L/C/R fashion
-Pads are very shallow, and there is a lot of pressure uncomfortably pressed against my outer ear
-Soundstage is narrow & condensed
-Midbass ring was present throughout testing (resonance)
-Elevated midbass and recessed highs are contributing to a perceived muddiness.

 

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Impressions of technicalities. Test tracks: ‘Letter’ by Yosi Horikawa. Provides a very linear representation of sounds moving from one side to another, and easily discernible subjective data. ‘Dele ala ord og tanker’ and ‘Ved balet’ by Hoff Ensemble. Provide a very natural sense of timbre and decay, along with some additional spatial information, and clear vocals.

 

In conclusion:

For the price, they’re not great at all. The HiFiMan HE400SE costs about the same, and the DT990 / TYGR 300R’s aren’t much more if your main focus is detail/imaging. I can’t recommend them for the price. They’ve got a very typical gaming headset sound, and no discernible benefits or standout features. Spend your money elsewhere, folks.

 

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These measurements taken by rtings confirm the accuracy of my impressions. Rolled-off subbass, midbass hump, slightly recessed lower-mid midrange, distinct upper midrange/treble peaks, and a steep treble fallout:

 

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[Main Desktop]

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X  GPU: EVGA RTX 3070 Ti (FTW3 Ultra)  MOBO: MSI Gaming Pro Carbon (X470)  RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws V DDR4-3600 CL16 (2x8GB)

COOLER: Arctic LiquidFreezer II 280 STORAGE: G.SKILL Phoenix FTL 240GB SSD, Crucial MX500 1TB SSD, Toshiba 2TB HDD, Seagate 4TB HDD

PSU: EVGA GQ-1000W 80+ Gold  CASE: The MESHMOD v1.0 (Custom Deepcool Matrexx 70 chassis)  MONITOR: AOC 24G2 144Hz (IPS) 

MOUSE: Logitech G502 HERO (wired)  KEYBOARD: Rosewill K81 RGB (Kailh Brown)  HEADPHONES: HiFiMan Ananda, Drop x Sennheiser HD6XX

IEMS: 7Hz Timeless, Tin Audio T2, Blon BL-03, Samsung/AKG Galaxy Buds Pro  STUDIO MONITORS: Mackie MR524, Mackie MRS10  MIC: NEAT Worker Bee  

INTERFACE: Focusrite Scarlett Solo  AMPLIFIER: SMSL SP200 THX AAA-888, XDUOO XD-05 Basic  DAC: SMSL Sanskrit 10th MKII (upgraded AK4493 Version)

WHEEL: Logitech G29 + Logitech G Shifter

 

[Stream Encoder]

CPU: AMD FX-9590  GPU: Sapphire R9 390X (Tri-X OC)  MOBO: ASUS Sabertooth R2.0 (AM3+)  RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X DDR3-1866 (2x8GB)

COOLER: EVGA CLC 280 PSU: MSI A750GF 80+ Gold CASE: Phanteks P400A Digital

 

[Garage]

CAR: 2003 Honda Civic Coupe LX (EM2)  ENGINE: D17A1, planned K20A2 swap  INTAKE: DIY Solutions Short RAM  HEADERS: Motor1 4-2-1 with Cat-Delete

EXHAUST: Yonaka 2.5" Cat-Back with 3.5" tip (YMCB-CIV0105)  COILOVERS: MaXpeedingrods adjustable  RIMS: Core Racing Concept Seven Alloys (15x6.5)

RECEIVER: Kenwood DPX304MBT  SOUND DEADENING: Damplifier Pro Deadening Mats  SOUND DAMPENING: Custom solution, layers of thick insulation

DOOR SPEAKERS: Kenwood KFC-P710PS 6.5" Components  WINDOW LEDGE SPEAKERS: Kenwood KFC-6996PS 6x9" 5-Ways

 

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