Which wireless PS4 headset is the right one to buy?
Sony currently sells two wireless headsets for PS4 users: the awkwardly-named New Gold Wireless Headset, and the Platinum Wireless Headset.
They?re still the easiest ways to get wireless virtual surround sound out of a PS4. Both headsets have full access to 7.1 surround data from games thanks to their proprietary USB dongles and direct communication with the hardware and software of the PS4 system, and the Platinum headset adds full 3D object-based audio support.
Priced at $99, the New Gold Headset comes in a few different colors. There?s a standard black, a more limited white, and a basically sold-out ?500 Million? edition that commemorated Sony?s recent sales milestone for PlayStation systems. Each one is functionally identical outside the color scheme. (See my original review here).
You?ll have to outlay $160 for the Platinum model, and you?ll have to like its stock black, silver, and blue color scheme because that?s the only choice. It adds a carrying bag and the aforementioned 3D audio support, but those are the only major differences?from the outside. (Once again, my original review)
Time to dive in.
These collect dust within microseconds.
The New Sony Gold Headset sounds totally fine. It has a reasonable amount of bass, midrange, and treble?though it provides a bit of a dull first impression. It?s not till you turn on the included bass boost preset and use the virtual surround support that the headset comes to life. Though, it won?t punch you in the face with audio the same way that some other gaming headsets do.
For the Platinum headset, Sony stepped up everything about the audio quality, and it?s immediately obvious. Its larger 50mm drivers are tuned for a more accurate and punchy bass, with stronger midrange and more fine detail in the treble. It?s a clear and immediately noticeable step up in sound quality, even in standard stereo mode.
Switch the 3D audio on, and they produce an even better surround effect than the Gold version, and that?s with or without native 3D support in your game. The Platinum headset supports 100 virtual channels in a sphere all around your head, and even standard 7.1 data sounds great here.
You?ll need to play a 3D audio-supported game to get the full benefit of those channels, and just like Atmos support on the Xbox?the game list is a little lighter than I?d like. Basically, any Sony first-party game from the last couple of years has 3D audio. Except for Spider-Man.
Ugh. I should take points away just for Spider-Man having no 3D audio support!
The Gold Headset is going to be enough for most users, and it competes okay with other headsets in the price range, though it?s not as fun or dynamic as similarly-priced offerings from HyperX or Plantronics. In comparison, the Platinum headset gets every aspect of the sound right to the point where it?s the clear pick aurally over its less expensive sibling.
Winner: Platinum Headset
Gold on the left, Platinum on the right
On first blush, the Platinum headset is more comfy.
It has cushier and slightly larger ear cup padding, a springy self-adjusting rubber headband combined with manual height adjust for the cups, and a slightly deeper angle to the drivers, meaning there?s a little more room inside the cup for your ear.
The New Gold Headset has essentially the same diameter of ear openings in spite of the smaller cups, more height adjustment steps for different head sizes, and a softer headband. I can wear the Gold headset half-extended on my giant head, but I only have two extra steps on the Platinum.
However, the New Gold takes a few steps back on initial use thanks to a stronger clamping force. The solid metal piece underlying the headband is to blame. You?ll need to give it a few days of use for the clamp to ease up before it settles into being a nice, comfy experience.
In these pictures, it may look like the Platinum has a significant amount of extra padding, but in reality most of the material under the leatherette is hard plastic. The padding on both headsets is located only right near the opening of the cup. It?s a curious holdover from the pad design of the original Gold headset.
Once the New Gold Headset breaks in, its light weight makes it just as comfy as the more expensive pair. But if you need immediate comfort, the Platinum is the better choice. (Don?t read too much into that, it?s not that hard to break in the Gold headset).
Winner: Tie for all but the most impatient
Both of these pairs are responses to the design of the original Gold Headset, praised for its comfort and audio quality but loathed for its plastic build and hinges that could easily snap.
As a result, both of these headsets use a solid metal headband in their design. The Platinum retains the folding features of the original Gold Headset, but the New Gold Headset forgoes hinges entirely in favor of extra rigidity.
Neither one sticks out that far from the head while you?re wearing it.
The New Gold headset has a more subtle appearance overall, with a matte finish on the ear cups and a smaller, lighter frame.
I personally like both the feel and the look of the New Gold Headset a little more than the Platinum. It?s light without feeling cheap, it?s still small enough to fit in a bag, and it doesn?t scream ?gaming headset? quite as much as the Platinum.
Fortunately, I think both offer much better build quality than the original Gold headset did.
WINNER: New Gold Headset
This is where both headsets start to fall short, not just against each other but against the rest of the market.
Sony used an integrated design for the microphones, with hidden capsules inside the ear cups themselves. The microphones are tiny, and while they offer some basic background noise cancellation?that?s their only perk. They?re a bit tinny, a bit muffled, and unremarkable in a market where mics have only improved. They?re fine for chatting with friends in games, and that?s all they?re really designed for.
If you?re going to be streaming, use something else.
The battery on the New Gold Headset struggles to hit 7 hours at a moderate volume, and the Platinum Headset can last about 90 minutes longer, or so. That was fine in 2014, but many of the cheap wireless headsets on the market now offer double this battery life.
Winner: Platinum headset, for the slightly bigger battery
The features packages here are surprisingly similar, in spite of the price difference.
Although neither headset has a great microphone, they both do offer sidetone you can toggle on or off to monitor yourself. They both offer a control that lets you balance game and chat audio. They both allow you to use Sony?s PS4 headset app to upload custom EQ settings wirelessly. They both include a micro-USB cable for charging and a 3.5mm cable for wired connections, and you can still use the mic when hooked up through a wire, unlike some other models.
Only the Platinum headset includes a basic cloth carrying bag, but other than that these go toe-to-toe on every single extra. That?s impressive!
Winner: Platinum headset, but only for that carrying bag.
The Final Winner: Platinum Headset
Sony?s Platinum Headset edges it out as the better product, thanks to its better sound with 3D support, slightly better padding, extra battery life, and simple carrying bag.
But the differences aren?t so dramatic that I would tell you to run out and spend the extra money immediately. If you want to get 3D audio on your PS4, it?s the only option, and the sound quality bump is noticeable. But everything else is a bit of a wash, and I think the Beats-esque look of the New Gold is more subtle.
Don?t feel bad if the New Gold Headset is more in your price range. The Platinum still justifies its price premium over the upgraded Gold, but it?s not as big of a gap as it was against the older model. I?d like to see the price difference slimmed down, or see a New Platinum model that takes some of the New Gold revisions into account, particularly with the headband.