Forget about that inadequate, tethered mono headset that came with your PlayStation 4 console. What you should really be using is Sony's Gold headset. The official PlayStation 4 wireless stereo headset from Sony that contrary to its promising name, isn't actually gold. That aside, the Gold headset is an reasonably priced and good looking wireless gaming headset that boasts 7.1 virtual surround sound, hidden noise-canceling mic, a built-in rechargeable battery, and voluptuously padded circumaural-sized ear cups with on-board audio controls – as well as a collapsible design that effectively turns this gaming headset into portable regular headphones you can use to listen to music. Sony's Gold is currently one of the very few headsets available for the PS4 that offers complete and total wireless freedom with wireless in-game chat support and voice commands. There's a lot more to cover, and we have all the details for you in the full and in-depth review after the break!
When it comes to designing an official gaming console headset, Sony likes to overcomplicate its headsets with layers and all kinds of chunky exterior decorations. It was all about being bold, hugely bold. This time however, Sony's Gold headset is quite a significant and welcome departure from previous PlayStation 3 headsets which have all looked a lot like the console they were assigned to represent. Even though the PS4 is the most cutting-edge gaming console with its angular parallelogram design, the styling of the Gold headset is surprisingly less Sony and more Beats-like in that there are no visible moving parts but instead it's got one fluid clean curvature designed to conceal things like the pivoting ear cup joins and the headband adjustment mechanism. It's all very updated and part of Sony's new design language for accessories it seems. The Gold headset looks simplistic yet still highly slick compared to other gaming headsets made by Sony and other competitors, and that is what also helps make it stand out aesthetically.
When you think about the term "headset" you immediately picture something with a microphone boom sticking out the side. Not so much with the Gold headset though. Its noise canceling microphone is embedded into the left ear cup where chances are you'll never even see the sight of it. Not only is it aesthetically good looking, but the reasoning behind this concealment is so that you'll be able to use the Gold headset as normal headphones without them looking like they're missing some kind of an attachment.
Despite its ill-considered name, the Gold headset as you see it is in fact black in color with Sony's signature blue color accenting the headband which creeps around the sides creating a stylish looking trim that is somewhat indicative of the PS4's status light bar.
And although the Gold headset was introduced alongside Sony's next-generation gaming console, it will also work wirelessly with the PS3 as well as with a number of other devices using an included audio cable. Alas, it'll do so passively. That means that you won't be able to enjoy the Gold's 7.1 virtual surround sound feature or any of the bass boosting functionality when the headset is powered on and wirelessly connected to either a PS4 or a PS3 console.
Looking into the well packaged and easy to unbox packaging we have got a few items included with the Gold stereo wireless headset. The first thing is a black fabric drawstring pouch for protecting your small investment whilst you're out and about, although not very much protection will be offered by this cleaning cloth of a pouch in the way of impact and general crushing of things. Moving right along you'll be as thrilled as us to find that very little additional cables are actually included with this wireless headset. The unfortunately very short micro-USB to USB cable is only used for charging the headset itself.
The second cable is a regular 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable which is completely optional and can be used to connect the Gold headset to virtually any audio device like your computer, smartphone or other mobile devices for listening to audio using of course a wired connection. So while you can enjoy using the Gold headset completely wirelessly with your PS4 or PS4 without having to plug a cable into your DualShock 4 controller, you can only use the Gold headset in wired mode with all other devices. That's because the included USB dongle you see above, the reason why you're thinking about picking up this headset, is the connection bridge that allows the Gold headset to wirelessly connect to your console. Which also means that the Gold wireless headset isn't Bluetooth capable.
What you may not know is the fact that you can actually use the Gold headset as your wireless computer headphones by simply plugging in the USB wireless adapter into any Windows or Mac machine to instantly stream wireless audio just like you would from your PlayStation. Now how awesome is that?! I've tested this using an iMac as well as a MacBook Pro to find out that the Gold headset functioned just as faultlessly as it does with my PS4.
The great thing about this little USB wireless dongle is that it is literally plug and play. The connection process is seamless and is automated all by itself. You literally plug this small USB wireless adapter in one of the two USB ports on the PS4 or PS3, turn on your headset and boom...you're connected and ready to game or watch a movie or whatever it is that you'd like to entertain yourself with. Sony has done a terrific job at simplifying not only the wireless connection process between the two devices, but also the hardware involved that makes it all happen. There are just two things that make it all happen. A small USB wireless thumbdrive of an adapter and the headset itself. No additional wires, power cables and bulky external wireless base stations that I simply cannot stand setting up or looking at. This is one of the biggest advantages that comes with the official wireless PlayStation headset no doubt about it.
The 2.4Ghz wireless connection range may not be as great as Bluetooth technology, but as long as you stay within the same room as your console, you'll have a great experience with the wireless connection which during our testing has been nothing short of excellent and nearly instantaneous in pairing each time. It's a nice feeling when you're able to just relax, sit back where ever you want with your DualShock 4 controller and Gold headset completely cable-free. And did you know that you can still play a game and listen to music from your console library uninterrupted by the in-game sound effects and music?
Being able to fold the Gold headset down to a more compact size is a welcome addition, but there's no hiding the fact that you're basically still left with a bulky package.
The noise-canceling mic on the Gold headset, while concealed from plain sight, is far more sensitive in picking up your voice compared to the included mono PS4 headset. And while it is clear sounding, it does sound somewhat hollow compared to other headsets we've used over the years. It isn't the greatest sounding mic quality found on a headset, but it gets the job done fairly well as it does reduce the amount of background noise. But if you're on a computer and need a headset or mic you'll find that a $30 in-ear headset like Apple's EarPods blow away the Gold's mic quality far and away, which is actually quite surprising to say the least.
One crucial battery saving feature that is lacking is standby mode. The Gold headset bewilderingly enough hasn't got any battery saving features that will power the device off if left powered on and unused which will eventually bite you in the ass at times where you put your PS4 into standby and haven't thought to switch off your headset. Speaking about battery power, the Gold headset will offer you up to a decent 7 to 8 hours of wireless use. It'll fully recharge in roughly 3 hours, which is not bad at all.
Though the only time when it will shut itself off is when it isn't connected wirelessly to your computer or console. But the thing is, if your PS4 is in standby mode the connection never breaks and the headset will always remain on. And that's odd because it's not like you can turn on your PS4 with a voice command using the headset. Nitpicking aside, voice commands work really well. You can start a specific game or music with your voice which is handy. But you can't really do much like you can with the Xbox One Kinect.
On the left side of the headset you will find that you have got quick access to all the necessary button controls at a close and convenient reach. On the back side of the ear cup you have button controls to adjust the audio volume of your music as well as game sounds, a mute button that will mute your voice chat microphone and a dedicated button that turns on the Gold's most prized feature - virtual surround sound (VSS). And we're going to get into more detail on how the Gold's 7.1 virtual surround sound feature actually works in practise and what it actually does under the Sound Quality category further into the review.
Of course each button press will be followed by an audible chime denoting that you have indeed activated or deactivated something. In addition to that, muting voice chat will turn the blue headset LED light to purple but an on-screen popup will also confirm the status of every button press and task that you have enabled using the headset like VSS.
Towards the front is where you'll find the sound chat volume toggle which controls the in-game voice chat volume.
And right underneath is the headset's power on/off switch with a bass boost setting being labeled as "2". More on that later of course. You can also customize that setting to be assigned a different equalizer profile with the PlayStation Headset Companion app, which features different kinds of game profiles that were tailored by game developers specifically for the Gold headset and were tuned to enhance the audio experience even further. Right next to it is the status LED indicator, micro-USB charging port and 3.5mm audio input.
The Gold's control buttons are very easy to press and offer great tactile feedback even though they are seamlessly integrated into the rubbery surface of the ear cup enclosure. And I really like that about the Gold headset.
Built quality isn't very good. Actually, it's quite poor compared to most headphones at this price. While the ear cup enclosures have this rather nice and seemingly durable rubbery finish to them, the rest is just a cheaply made plastic construction with an unpleasant, slippery plasticky finish. I can't help but be reminded of the first generation Beats Studio and Solo headphones when handling the Gold headset, which has a very familiar build quality layout using a cheap plastic construction. Even the headband padding is identical to Beats headphones, albeit more plump and softer.
Even the headband and joints are made entirely out of plastic with no metal strengthening elements, a disappointment considering the price and weight. You wouldn't find this kind of cost saving build quality on Beats headphones. Come on, Sony. The headband is the most plasticky element that leaves more to be desired. The foldable headband joints while seem to work just fine, aren't very durable nor do they have as much tension in their folding mechanism. The question is will they break easily? Not if you take care of your shit. Otherwise you probably should skip the Gold and go with something that's made with a sturdier selection of materials.
At least you can swap out the Gold's headband faceplates with something a bit more interesting though. Sony says that it will soon offer interchangeable faceplates that will let users customize their Gold headset to their unique taste. Each faceplate panel simply slides down off the bottom portion of the headband arm for an effortless change. You can see that the interior of the headband arm is also made entirely out of plastic.
Have you got Dumbo-sized ears? If you do, know that you'll be able to fit them entirely inside the Gold's huge, roomy ear cups. The unique thing about the design of the ear cups and padded cushions is that the interior is angled in a way so that the back side of your ears completely fit into the deeper interior which puts less pressure on your ears, if at all. I've worn these for a few hours and haven't felt any pain or discomfort. True praise when it comes to gaming headphones. The Gold headset practically offers all-day comfort without the discomforts of forceful clamping. The well padded ear cup cushions are made using a soft leather-like material and have a slightly firm foamy rigidity that keeps its supportive shape whilst encasing your ears. But ultimately the ingenious slanted design of these cushions enables the Gold headset to ergonomically envelop the natural shape of your ears.
The headband is also enormously padded in a streamlined fashion to provide extra comfort. So although the plasticky build quality takes away from the premium quality of the headset, the amount of padding and comfort easily makes up for that.
To be honest I never expected much from the Gold headset being that it is so reasonably priced compared to other wireless headsets on the market. So while it is true that Sony cut some corners from a build quality standpoint, the result of that is impressive audio quality and wireless streaming capability. It is by far and away one of the best sounding headset that I have used on any gaming console at this price range. Having said that, when turning on the virtual surround sound mode, the sound become less dynamic and more thin.
Having virtual surround sound enabled is great when you want to include everything the occurs around you instead of focusing more on what is in front of you. But unfortunately it also weakens the richness and fullness of the sound. When you have VSS turned on, the bass considerably weakens and even more treble is added to give you a sense of extreme detailed clarity whereby you feel like you can hear everything being separated and scattered from more directions. You can clearly make out where other players or enemies are in relation to your location. But while you may benefit from having VSS turned on, know that explosions end up sounding quite thin and very harsh in that they lack richness and bass so it's just a harsh loud sound effect that is more annoying to the ears than a pleasing adrenalin pumping sensation.
Despite having an inclosed ear cup design, the Gold's sound signature is surprisingly airy and high on treble. Naturally that translates into highs that are terrifically crystal clear and sound extremely pronounced while the bass can be heard as if it was lugging behind. Not ideal, but not terribly bad either. The bass while not overpowering or rumbly as some may think when Sony described the sound to have explosive booming lows, is somewhat lacking yet not disappointingly weak at the same time. If you're someone who is used to using a headset that sounds more like Razer's Kraken, you'd think the Gold headset was on some kind of vegetarian diet that had a healthy list of slimming foods instead of delicious meaty goodness. The midrange also suffers quite a lot from excessive treble when VSS is on. It doesn't sound rich. Instead of having a balanced sound signature, the Gold headset is one biased fanboy with treble-heavy vocal clarity being its most favorite thing in the whole world.
Although I do like the alternative audio experience you can get with VSS, I don't think the Gold headset sounds as good as it does when you have 7.1 virtual surround sound enabled. It is after all virtual, and obviously inferior to true 7.1 surround sound where you actually have all the multiple drivers handling the audio instead of just one in each ear.
The good news is that it does get even better. As soon as you turn off the Gold's virtual surround sound feature and toggle to the bass boost setting, things start to become much more pleasing. Bass becomes tight, well composed and defined which is superb when you're listening to music wireless. The bass response is even more satisfying and thumpier than the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones, which are more balanced and neutral sounding headphones. It's a little bit like finding that magical button that turns on that Greatness moniker when flipped on. Why it's even an optional switch is beyond belief. Because without it being on the audio quality is kinda bland, flat and lacks that extra helping of bass. It is without a doubt a setting you'll want to be using straight out of the box, forever.
So while switching over to the bass boost setting whereby the bass will thicken and have more presence in the sound in a very positive manner that greatly improves the audio quality to a point where you can actually enjoy listening to music thanks to a more rich and fuller sounding sound that's still amazingly clear all throughout, you do unfortunately lose that bass boot option as soon as you run out of battery or use the Gold headphones with a cable plugged in.
I think that the audio quality at this price for a pair of wireless headphones/headset is actually extraordinarily good. You can easily use it as your daily wireless headphones with your computer when you're not gaming on your PlayStation. It's super convenient, and the wireless streaming quality is impressively crystal clean and static-free. Not to mention that at high volumes the Gold does not distort or lose control whatsoever. Obviously the Gold headset isn't noise-cancelling, however, being that it is powered when using it wirelessly, it does not hiss which is a common caveat with many powered headphones. For music listening the Gold comes very close to beating the Logitech UE 6000 (one of our favorite headphones) if it weren't for slightly less thumpier lows. But other than that the Gold's sound quality is as good as more expensive headphones. You really cannot ask for more.
While you are most likely be purchasing this headset for use as you primary console gaming headset, you're also getting the added value of it doubling as your desktop computer or portable laptop wireless headphones. All while never having to use a single cable in the process unlike most other wireless headsets of this kind.
After countless hours consisting of playing games, listening to music and comparing the Gold headset to other more expensive offerings, we believe we have come to a final conclusion. And that is that the Gold headset isn't just a large gaming headset, it's more than that. It makes for a truly great wireless and wired pair of headphones with an above average sound performance that rivals that of the AKG K845 wireless Bluetooth over-ear headphones. And although we weren't very impressed by its faux 7.1 virtual surround sound and microphone performance, the Gold headset offers a whole lot of wireless audio bang for your buck at just $100. For that kind of money and performance, you really can't ask for more. The Gold headset the total wireless headset package that just works without even trying. They're remarkably comfortable to wear for long periods of time, look good, can fold up into a more compact form factor, have a solid 8-hour battery life and great wireless sound quality for gaming and music listening.
Even if you don't own a PS4 or a PS3 and you're just looking to get wireless headphones to use with your desktop or portable computer, you should definitely consider purchasing Sony's Gold stereo wireless headset. Yes there are a few drawbacks like the plasticky build quality, mediocre mic quality and wireless-only bass boost function. But we feel that there are more positives that outweigh the negatives in this case. And for that reason Sony's Gold headset is a fantastic versatile wireless headset that can be used as your dedicated wired or wireless headphones just as well for only $100. That's a tough set of features to beat in a so called hybrid package we would happily see ourselves using to enjoy all kinds of wireless entertainment audio.