Have you ever tried using Sony’s pitiful little mono headset that comes with every PlayStation 4? It’s a chintzy freebie at best, and a no-good, annoying, keeps-coming-unclipped-from-your-collar, hanging hellion the rest of the time.
Sony’s 2014 Gold Wireless Headset also angered gamers due to a fragile, crack-prone headband. With this track record, you’d be forgiven for ignoring Sony’s new 2018 Gold Wireless Headset. I was pretty skeptical myself, but aside from a few issues, it’s been one of the best wireless headsets I’ve used on the PS4. I even recommended in our list of best PS4 accessories.
Black is the New Gold
Like the first PlayStation Gold Headset, the color is a bit of a misnomer. You won’t find any gold on them. Like a Model T, this headset is completely black, from earcup to headband, with part of it wrapped in a soft leather-like material. The headband and ear cushions have some extra padding on them, because of unique design of the headband and how it connects with the earcups.
Most headsets are full of hinges and hangers so they can turn and adjust every which way, but not the Gold. Underneath all that faux leather, its entire headband is a single curved horseshoe piece of metal (or possibly an extremely durable plastic) that you pull apart to fit your head.
The earcups don’t flex forward and back a whole lot (just a wiggle), but they can slide up and down the band itself, which makes for a surprisingly comfortable fit. Sony says these are designed to fit around the PlayStation VR headset. Those with wider heads, glasses, or larger ears may want to look elsewhere, though. This design gets less comfortable the bigger your head is, and the padding is thin enough that it will lightly pinch a pair of frames.
It’s not great for those of us with moderate-sized domes, either. I had to slide the earcups up some, which covered up the L and R labels, making it hard to figure out how to put these on. And because there is no boom mic, I had to spend a few extra seconds figuring out which end is the front and back. Sony is far from the first headset maker with this problem. A little rotation in the earcups would also make resting the headset on your shoulders and neck far more comfortable in-between matches.
Lost in the Gloss
The only area on the PlayStation Gold that isn’t brushed or leathery are the glossy vinyl-like edges of the earcups, where all the buttons and controls are located. It’s never a smart idea to gloss up the one area that’s constantly under attack by finger grease, but alas that’s exactly what Sony did here.
The controls themselves are okay, but could be easier to feel and find. Everything is on the left earcup, which seems to be the norm for most headsets. The mute button is on the lower back side, above it is a volume rocker and above that is a toggle for 7.1 virtual surround sound, which simulates surround. I don’t love this feature for most games because it sounds unnatural, but it’s present and accounted for.
On the front is another toggle, but this one adjusts your chat mix (how loud your friends sound compared to the game). Below it is a switch that turns off the headset or puts it in the standard or extra bassy setting. The extra bass adds to the immersion if you’re playing anything with explosions or bullet fire, and if you download the Sony Headset Companion app on your PS4, you can replace that bass boost with game-specific effects, or fully tweak the bass, treble, and mids to your delight.
It took some time to discover, but holding down the mute button also turns on two levels of mic monitoring, which Sony calls sidetones. This lets you hear your own voice as you talk. It helps me talk at a more reasonable volume instead of shouting just to make sure others are hearing what I’m saying. Try it out!
Missing Mic, Cool Connection
The lack of a physical mic is a bummer. None of my friends complained about the quality of my audio, but it wasn’t nearly as good as many headsets. Sony does attempt to isolate the sound of your voice, but it would do a much better job if it had a microphone that could be positioned near your mouth like most of its competitors.
Normally, I’d complain that it’s hard to know if you’re muted or not, but thanks to the high level of integration this headset has with the PS4 (it’s made by Sony, after all), a prompt pops onscreen in the upper left to tell you the battery life, mute status, and whether virtual surround is on any time you adjust a setting. I wish more headsets had this feature.
The battery indicator in that onscreen popup is especially helpful. The Gold gets a decent 7-ish hours of wireless play time thanks to its 570mAh battery, but that’s nowhere near the 15 hours Turtle Beach’s Stealth 600 (8/10 WIRED Recommends) can reach. Unlike that headset, this one comes with an optional 3.5mm audio cable, so even if you run out of battery, you can still plug it in to your controller and keep playing. With the cord plugged in you can use the headset with any compatible system or player. It charges with an included micro USB cable.
Wireless play has been stable and I’ve had no connection problems. It uses a USB dongle to transmit a 2.4GHz wireless signal, which I found to be very stable. The only cutouts I’ve had are when I leave and walk to another room.
Going for the Gold
This is one of the clearest wireless headsets I’ve used, and the bass is quite boomy. I found myself watching Netflix and listening to music with them on from time to time, even with a pile of other headsets to choose from. I still play Fortnite a lot, and the sounds of my footsteps pattering through the woods, avoiding conflict at all costs because I’m a terrible shot, are quite crisp.
The PlayStation Gold Headset can’t quite match up to expensive heavyweights like the hi-fi Arctis Pro line or comfortable Sony PlayStation Platinum, but it doesn’t have to. At around $ 100 it’s one of the best wireless headsets for PS4, and if you hook up that optional wire, it can connect to a whole lot more. It took Sony four years to get this headset just right, but we’re glad it decided to try again.