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Sony PULSE 3D Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Dec 14, 2020 at 07:43 am
Sony PULSE 3D Wireless Picture
7.3
Neutral Sound
4.7
Commute/Travel
5.7
Sports/Fitness
5.8
Office
6.8
Wireless Gaming
7.0
Wired Gaming
5.7
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Sony PULSE 3D Wireless Headset is a gaming headset designed primarily for PS5 consoles. It delivers low wireless audio latency on all compatible systems and is fully compatible with PC as well as PS4 and PS5 consoles, whether you're using its wireless USB receiver or the included 1/8" TRRS cable. It's also fully compatible with Xbox One and Xbox Series X consoles when using the 1/8" TRRS cable. The Tempest 3D Audio feature compatibility is a unique selling point and is advertised as being able to generate a more immersive listening experience, though it's only available on a couple of games. Unfortunately, the headset isn't very comfortable and lacks any sound customization features, like an EQ or audio presets. Still, if you're looking for a distinctively-styled wireless headset with a spatial audio feature to match your PS5 console, it's a solid option.

Note: We don't currently test for the quality and performance of virtual surround audio like the PS5's Tempest 3D Audio feature due to limitations of our current test bench. 

Our Verdict

7.3 Neutral Sound

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is okay for neutral sound. Its sound profile is lacking a bit of low bass, which may flatten the thump and rumble of sound effects in action-heavy games, but its well-balanced mid-range yields clear and present dialogue as well as vocals and lead instruments in music. Unfortunately, its uneven treble-range can give a slightly dull, veiled quality to some notes. It also doesn't have any sound customization features aside from virtual 3D audio, which is only available in some games.

Pros
  • Good stereo imaging capability.
  • Fairly well-balanced sound profile.
Cons
  • Few sound customization features.
  • Closed-off soundstage.
4.7 Commute/Travel

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is bad for commuting, though it isn't designed for this purpose. It lets in a lot of ambient noise, especially the low rumble of bus and plane engines and the chatter of other commuters. It also isn't very portable or comfortable. That said, it should have enough battery life to get you through long trips. While it isn't Bluetooth-compatible, you can listen to audio and use its mic by plugging the included 1/8" TRRS cable into your phone.

Pros
  • Decent build quality.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
  • Terrible noise isolation capability.
  • Uncomfortable, somewhat unstable fit.
5.7 Sports/Fitness

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is middling for sports and fitness, though this isn't its intended use. While it's relatively lightweight, it's also quite bulky and doesn't have an especially stable fit. You need to use its included 1/8" TRRS cable to use it with your phone, which can get snagged on something while you're on the move, and pull it from your ears.

Pros
  • Decent build quality.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
  • Uncomfortable, somewhat unstable fit.
5.8 Office

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is inadequate for office use, though it isn't meant for this use case. It does an awful job of blocking out the chatter of coworkers and isn't very comfortable. It also can't connect to your computer over Bluetooth, so it doesn't support handy features like multi-device pairing. Thankfully, it doesn't leak very much audio and has enough battery life to easily get you through a day at work as well as the commute back home.

Pros
  • Decent build quality.
Cons
  • Terrible noise isolation capability.
  • Uncomfortable, somewhat unstable fit.
6.8 Wireless Gaming

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is adequate for wireless gaming. Using its wireless USB receiver, it transmits audio without too much disruptive audio latency on PCs and PlayStation consoles. Unfortunately, its integrated microphone can make your voice sound a little muffled, and it may struggle to isolate speech from loud background noise. It also doesn't have any sound customization features aside from spatial audio, which is only available on PS5 consoles and a few PS4 games.

Pros
  • Low wireless audio latency.
  • Good stereo imaging capability.
Cons
  • Few sound customization features.
  • Mediocre microphone noise handling performance.
7.0 Wired Gaming

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is decent for wired gaming. It comes with a 1/8" TRRS cable that allows for full audio and microphone compatibility with PlayStation as well as Xbox consoles and PCs. However, people on the other end of the line may hear your voice as being very quiet while using it on a wired connection with PCs. It can also be a little uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.

Pros
  • Good stereo imaging capability.
  • Low wired audio latency.
Cons
  • Few sound customization features.
  • Mediocre microphone noise handling performance.
5.7 Phone Calls

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is sub-par for making phone calls, though it isn't really meant for this kind of use. It blocks out very little background noise, which can be very disruptive during a call. The integrated microphone makes your voice sound relatively natural, but also a little veiled, and it struggles to isolate your voice from even moderately loud ambient noise.

Pros
  • Fairly well-balanced sound profile.
Cons
  • Terrible noise isolation capability.
  • Mediocre microphone noise handling performance.
  • 7.3 Neutral Sound
  • 4.7 Commute/Travel
  • 5.7 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.8 Office
  • 6.8 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.0 Wired Gaming
  • 5.7 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Jun 29, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  2. Updated Jan 25, 2021: We've updated the results of the Xbox One Compatibility test.
  3. Updated Dec 14, 2020: Review published.
  4. Updated Dec 08, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Sony PULSE 3D are unique-looking headphones. They're heavily inspired by the Sony PS5 console, and share the same white-over-black color scheme, accented with blue indicator lights. The two-piece headband, with a white outer edge and a padded adjustable inner band, isn't entirely dissimilar to the ski-band design found in other gaming headphones like the SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless.

6.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.65 lbs
Clamping Force
0.9 lbs

The Sony PULSE 3D are passably comfortable. The ear cups offer little in the way of adjustment and don't form a good seal against your ears, giving them a somewhat unnatural, floaty fit. Thankfully, they're relatively lightweight and don't clamp very tightly. Their adjustable headband also lets them fit on a variety of head sizes.

6.4
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Decent
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
Yes
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls No

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset has a passable control scheme. There are dedicated controls for volume adjustment, microphone muting, and enabling talk-through, but no call or music management buttons. Unfortunately, it can also be hard to tell if your mic has been muted or not without feeling for the button. The buttons themselves hard to tell apart, which isn't helped by the fact that they're all located on the left ear cup. That said, they do mostly offer a good mix of physical and audio feedback.

5.3
Design
Portability
L 8.2" (20.8 cm)
W 7.3" (18.5 cm)
H 3.6" (9.1 cm)
Volume 216.00 inยณ (3,539.59 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required No

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset isn't very portable. It's quite bulky overall, and it can't be folded into a more compact configuration when putting it in a bag.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

The Sony PULSE 3D don't come with a case or pouch.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The Sony PULSE 3D are decently well-built. The ear cup padding is lined with faux leather while the inner headband is made of rubber. The plastic outer structure feels fairly solid, but the mounting points between the cups and headband feel slightly flimsy, as does the connection between the inner and outer bands.

6.5
Design
Stability

The Sony PULSE 3D are reasonably stable. You can tilt your head at a steep angle without fear of the headphones falling off, even if you wear glasses, but shaking from side to side can cause them to slip off completely.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Sony PULSE 3D Wireless headset
  • USB receiver
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • 1/8" TRRS cable
  • User manual

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-4 dB
Treble Amount
-4.04 dB

These headphones have a somewhat well-balanced but warm sound profile. Their flat, even mid-range should yield clear and present vocals and lead instruments. Unfortunately, their underemphasized low-bass range may rob some sound effects of sufficient thump and rumble. Also, their uneven treble range can veil the details of some higher notes. They also don't have any sort of companion app with an EQ or even audio presets to customize their sound profile.

7.1
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.58 dB

These over-ears have satisfactory frequency response consistency. Only their treble delivery varies noticeably based on their fit, seal, and positioning.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.3
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.72 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
51.13 Hz
Low-Bass
-7.24 dB
Mid-Bass
-0.31 dB
High-Bass
2.08 dB

The bass accuracy is decent. The underemphasized low-bass range can slightly dampen the thump and rumble of sound effects in your favorite action games, but their fairly well-balanced mid and high-bass range should result in sufficient warmth and body.

8.8
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.55 dB
Low-Mid
0.04 dB
Mid-Mid
0.03 dB
High-Mid
2.46 dB

This headset has amazing mid accuracy. The entire range is quite flat and balanced, resulting in clear, present, and detailed vocals and lead instruments that are mostly free of harshness.

5.7
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
6.2 dB
Mid-Treble
-6.44 dB
Low-Treble
-2.65 dB
High-Treble
-10.05 dB

The treble accuracy of these headphones is poor. The range is wholly underemphasized, resulting in a loss of clarity for vocals and lead instruments as well as lispy and dull sibilants. That said, since their treble delivery can vary depending on their fit, seal, and positioning, your experience may vary.

7.0
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.9 dB
Dips
1.61 dB

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset has decent peaks and dips performance. An extended bump across the bass range generates some boominess while a slight dip in the low through mid-mids thins out vocals and lead instruments and nudges them toward the back of the mix. A bump in the high-mids and low-treble gives a harsh quality to some vocals and lead instruments. The alternating drop and rise in the mid-treble can make sibilants sound alternatively dull and piercing.

8.2
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.28
Weighted Phase Mismatch
4.2
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.07
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.26

The Sony PULSE 3D have great stereo imaging performance. Their weighted group delay falls entirely beneath the audibility threshold, resulting in tight bass and transparent treble. The L/R drivers are also well-matched in regards to phase, frequency, and amplitude response, so objects like footsteps and voice should be accurately placed in the stereo image. That said, these results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.

5.6
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
3.34 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
2.79 dB
PRTF Distance
8.05 dB
Openness
9.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.1

The Sony PULSE 3D have a middling passive soundstage, which is normal for closed-back headphones. It's a small and fairly closed-off soundstage, and sounds may be perceived as coming from inside your head rather than speakers placed around you.

2.0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
On/Off
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
Yes

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is compatible with a 3D virtual sound feature, but only on PS5 consoles and on some PS4 games. Using this feature, you can select the effective center point between your ears, which effectively raises or lowers where the main sound comes from. It should be noted that we don't test this feature, and the score for this section is only based on the feature's presence.

7.4
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.297
WHD @ 100
0.182

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset has a decent weighted harmonic distortion performance. There aren't too many spikes aside from a peak in the low to mid-treble range at moderate volumes, which shouldn't be too noticeable overall. Audio reproduction should be mostly clean and pure.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
Unknown
Power
On
Connection
Wireless (Proprietary)
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test the Sony PULSE 3D Headset. Our results are only valid in this configuration.

Note: Unfortunately, while the headset could connect to both PS4 and PS5 consoles, we were unable to manually update its firmware or check the current firmware.

Isolation
2.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-6.56 dB
Bass
0.2 dB
Mid
0.76 dB
Treble
-20.22 dB

These over-ears have terrible noise isolation capability. They filter out almost no ambient noise in the bass or mid ranges, so you're likely to hear both the low rumble of buses passing by an open window as well as the chatter of people in a nearby room. They do a slightly better job of blocking out high-pitched background noise, like the hum of a loud AC unit, but their performance in this regard is still mediocre.

7.3
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
37.91 dB

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset has satisfactory audio leakage performance. The bulk of the escaping audio occurs in the low-treble range, giving it a somewhat thin quality. That said, it isn't too loud overall, and shouldn't be disruptive to people nearby.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No

This headset has an integrated microphone.

6.8
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
179.59 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.66 dB
HFE
3,272.31 Hz
Weighted THD
0.191
Gain
-5.07 dB

The microphone has okay recording quality. Your voice should sound fairly natural and mostly free of distortion, but also somewhat veiled and muffled. If you're looking for gaming headphones with a better recording quality, consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless.

5.7
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
11.29 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
5.5
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
6.0
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The noise handling performance of the microphone is unremarkable. Online teammates may struggle to understand you if you're calling from an even moderately loud or crowded environment.

Active Features
7.2
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
13.4 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
13.4 hrs
Charge Time
3.3 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
Yes
Charging Port USB-C

The Sony PULSE 3D deliver a decent battery performance. They supply over 13 hours of continuous playback, which exceeds the advertised claim of 12 hours, but falls some way short of other wireless gaming headsets like the Corsair HS75 XB WIRELESS Gaming Headset. Thankfully, they can be used while they charge via the included USB-C cable. The included 1/8" TRRS cable allows you to use their mic and listen to audio passively.

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

These headphones don't have an app.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset isn't Bluetooth-compatible.

8.7
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
195.00 ft (59.44 m)
Non-BT Latency
37 ms

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset has great non-Bluetooth connectivity. The included USB wireless receiver allows you to use it wirelessly with PC as well as PS4 and PS5 consoles. Audio latency is just over 60ms on both PC and PS5 systems, which shouldn't be too disruptive.

9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4.10 ft (1.25 m)
Connection
1/8" TRRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

These headphones come with a 1/8" TRRS cable that allows for full microphone and audio compatibility with devices that have an AUX port. They also come with a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
Audio + Microphone
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
Audio + Microphone
Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
Audio + Microphone
PS5 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
Audio + Microphone
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No

Update 01/25/2021: We originally reported that these headphones only received audio when you plugged their 1/8" TRRS cable into an Xbox One controller. However, they have full audio and microphone compatibility with both the Xbox One and the Xbox Series X when using this connection. We've updated this box to better reflect these results.

The Sony PULSE 3D have full audio and microphone compatibility with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X when you plug their 1/8" TRRS cable into the console's controller. However, they aren't compatible with the Xbox One or Xbox Series X when using a wired USB connection. If you're looking for a headset that supports Xbox Wireless technology, consider the Xbox Wireless Headset.

3.4
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Wireless USB Dongle
USB Input
Yes
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
USB

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset comes with a wireless USB receiver that allows for low latency transmission of audio.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony PULSE 3D Headset is only available in one color: 'White'. If someone comes across a differently equipped variant, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Sony PULSE 3D are gaming headphones compatible with PCs and PlayStation consoles. They have a sleek, distinctive look and low wireless audio latency on both PS5 consoles and PCs, not to mention a unique 3D audio feature. Unfortunately, they're quite bulky, don't offer much in the way of sound customization features, and have a mediocre integrated microphone, especially compared to the boom mic found in other gaming headsets. If you're looking for alternatives, take a look at our list of recommendations of the best PS4 gaming headsets, the best wireless gaming headsets, and the best gaming headsets.

Xbox Wireless Headset

The Sony PULSE 3D Wireless and the Xbox Wireless Headset are two gaming headphones, and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. The Sony have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, and they can be used on PC, PS4, and PS5 consoles with full compatibility using either their analog cable or USB wireless dongle. They also have low non-Bluetooth latency. However, the Xbox are better-built and more comfortable. While some users may find their sound profile to be very bass-heavy, you can adjust it to your liking using their companion software's graphic EQ and presets. They also have a longer-lasting battery life than the Sony. Since they're designed for the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, they offer full compatibility with these consoles using their USB cable or by using Xbox Wireless.

Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Wireless

The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Wireless are more versatile than the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless. The Turtle Beach are more comfortable, better-built, have a superior microphone, and have a companion app with a graphic EQ and audio presets. They're also Bluetooth-compatible. Meanwhile, the Sony headphones have a better-balanced default sound profile and can be used on a wired connection courtesy of their included 1/8" TRRS cable. They also have lower non-Bluetooth wireless latency.

SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless are better gaming headphones for the PS4 and PS5 than the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless. The SteelSeries are more comfortable and feel better-built. They have a better performing boom microphone, a longer-lasting continuous battery life, and support SteelSeries Engine so you can tweak their sound using this software's graphic EQ or presets. However, the Sony deliver audio more consistently.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless are better for wireless gaming compared to the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless. The SteelSeries are comfier, more sturdily-built, and have a considerably longer battery life. They're also compatible with the SteelSeries Engine companion app, which offers a fairly broad range of configuration options. That said, the Sony deliver audio more consistently and leak a little bit less audio.

Astro A50 Gen 4 Wireless 2019

The Astro A50 Gen 4 Wireless 2019 are better for wireless gaming than the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless. The Astro are far more comfortable, better-built, and have a better-balanced sound profile that's delivered more consistently. They also have a companion app with a graphic EQ, lower non-Bluetooth wireless latency, and a better overall microphone. However, the Sony can also be used on a wired connection. They also leak less audio and charge faster, though they do have slightly shorter battery life.

SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless are better overall headphones than the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless. The SteelSeries are more comfortable, better-built, and have a better microphone, not to mention longer battery life and a feature-rich companion app. However, unlike the Sony, they can't be used on a wired connection. The Sony also exhibit lower non-Bluetooth audio latency and deliver audio more consistently.

HyperX Cloud Flight S

The HyperX Cloud Flight S are better overall headphones than the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless. The HyperX are comfier, feel sturdier, and have a superior detachable boom microphone along with much longer battery life. They're also compatible with a companion app that offers functions for control remapping and surround sound support. However, the Sony can be used on a wired connection via their included 1/8" TRRS cable and deliver audio more consistently.

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