Jun 06, 2023
Sony’s PlayStation wireless earbuds will cost a whopping $199.99
By Chris Welch, a reviewer specializing in personal audio and home theater. Since 2011, he has published nearly 6,000 articles, from breaking news and reviews to useful how-tos. In addition to
By Chris Welch, a reviewer specializing in personal audio and home theater. Since 2011, he has published nearly 6,000 articles, from breaking news and reviews to useful how-tos.
In addition to announcing the price of its upcoming PlayStation Portal remote gaming gadget, Sony also shared new details today on the PlayStation-branded wireless earbuds that it first revealed several months ago. They’re officially called the Pulse Explore and will be priced at $199.99, though the company isn’t yet sharing exactly when they’ll be available (or even up for preorder). That’s as much as the Portal device itself and substantially more than any of Microsoft’s first-party Xbox audio peripherals.
The Pulse Explore buds come at a premium, but Sony is positioning them as a unique offering for their combination of lossless audio quality and low-latency performance. Sony will also be releasing a new Pulse Elite headset for $149.99, which looks like an evolution of the PS5’s original Pulse 3D headset.
Both products “are the first PlayStation audio devices to use custom-designed planar magnetic drivers for an audiophile-level listening experience normally found in premium headphones for professional sound engineers,” Sony’s Hideaki Nishino wrote in a blog post today. “We’re pleased to be one of the first companies to provide wireless earbuds to the mass consumer market using planar magnetic driver technology.”
To communicate with the PS5 and PlayStation Portal, the audio devices utilize a new technology that Sony calls PlayStation Link. Link is built directly into the Portal remote player, but you’ll still need a dongle for the PS5: one has to wonder whether it’ll be natively integrated with the rumored PS5 “Slim” with a removable disc drive. It’d be nice to be able to ditch the dongle altogether. Here’s how Sony describes PlayStation Link:
This innovation delivers low latency, lossless audio and easy switching between multiple PlayStation Link hosts such as PS5 with the USB adapter and PlayStation Portal.
When using Pulse Elite and Pulse Explore with PS5, the USB adapter that’s included with each headset and earbuds is required for PlayStation Link. The PlayStation Link USB adapter will also be sold separately as a standalone item, and can be used on PC and Mac, so players can connect Pulse Elite or Pulse Explore to experience the same lossless and low latency audio.
Pulse Elite and Pulse Explore can simultaneously connect to a PlayStation Link supported device (PS5, PC, Mac, or PlayStation Portal) and a Bluetooth supported device. For example, Pulse Explore can be connected to PS5 (via the USB adapter) using PlayStation Link and also to a mobile phone through Bluetooth at the same time. While playing on PS5, gamers can instantly answer a call and hear it through the same Pulse Explore earbuds.
I’m going to assume that these $200 earbuds will sound at least decent for music in addition to their intended gaming chops. But if music is your primary focus, it’s probably best to stick with Sony’s WF-1000XM5 buds or the LinkBuds S. These are clearly geared for the company’s PlayStation customers.
But Sony’s 3D audio tech on the PS5 is impressive. Pairing that together with lossless fidelity and low-latency response time should make for a very immersive experience — for those willing to pay for it.
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