PlayStation VR is a high-end virtual-reality headset that has found its place in over one million homes worldwide. The sales in 2016 were higher then expected, with over 700,000 shipments, and with 350,000 sold in the first quarter of 2017 alone, PSVR has a huge numbers advantage in sold units over the closest competitors – Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
You are probably aware that buying a VR headset is only an initial investment and some additional equipment is required in order to fully enjoy the VR experience. The reason for better sales of PSVR compared to high-end PC devices (Rift & Vive) might be that it doesn’t require as much unplanned expense after you’ve purchased it, nor the pre-investment in your PC hardware. While PlayStation VR excels at many things, it doesn’t have built-in headphones like Oculus Rift for example.
Besides PlayStation Move Motion controllers and PlayStation Camera (currently available in a Launch Bundle), buying headphones for PSVR is also mandatory. There are earbuds in the shipment box along with your PlayStation VR, but they are far from amazing. While there aren’t any designated PSVR headphones officially released, many companies recognized the market’s demand for this product and started working on it.
What you should know before buying headphones for PSVR
Many headphones available nowadays are PSVR compatible, and some are even specifically designed just for it. There are several things you should consider before acquiring your PSVR headphones in order to get the most out of your headset. Headphones that are connected via USB port won’t do. Only the ones with 3.5mm jack will work with PlayStation VR, which you will plug into the processor unit.
Regarding other features, first of all they have to support 3D surround sound and respond properly to the VR environment. Next important feature you need to look out for is headphones’ ability to block out the outside sounds. Hearing anything other than the game you are playing can break the immersion and this is something you definitely want to avoid. Finally, headphones have to be comfortable and fit well over your PSVR, if they fall off your head or pinch your ears while you are trying to enjoy a virtual-reality session, well, that is a deal-breaker!
Now that we have covered the basics features you should look out for before making the purchase, we at VRborg have done some research for you, and present some of the best headphones for PSVR available on the market.
PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset
First on our list is the Sony’s official PlayStation exclusive headphones – Gold Wireless Stereo Headset, also known as – PlayStation Gold or Sony Gold. This is a wireless headset (obviously) but in the shipment box the 3.5mm cable is also included, and you will have to connect PlayStation Gold to your PSVR manually via this cable to make it work.
The PlayStation gold is gamer’s favourite across the globe mostly because of the sound quality and the fact they are very comfortable. They will fit nicely over your headset, and there are several different colours to choose from, which enable you to customize your VR image. After you’ve put the headset on, put the headphones so they fit over your ears and align them with the black part of PSVR on your forehead. This will ensure that PlayStation Gold stays in place, giving you a peace of mind as to freely move your head around.
The design of earcups makes even prolonged use comfortable and without any side-effects, sweating for example, because the padding breathes well. This however is also a cause of its main flaw – noise gets in and out of the headset a lot. Bear in mind that PlayStation Gold is a mid-range headset, costing under $100, and for the given price, this is pretty common. While the headphones are sturdy enough to handle, I wouldn’t dare to say that it’s built to last, since the headband left me with the impression that it would snap, if you were to accidentally apply just a bit too much axial stress on it.
Turtle Beach Stealth 350 VR
Stealth 350 VR is the Turtle Beach‘s headset designed specifically for virtual reality. A simple design modification at the headband cushion, which is cut-out in the middle, makes necessary space for the HMD cable management with Rift and Vive. High end VR headset developers on many occasions stated that 3D sound makes up almost the half of the complete experience. While many different headphones can be used with PSVR, Stealth 350 VR might just be the right choice for you.
These headphones feature large, high performance, 50mm Neodymium speakers over the ear-cups and battery-powered amplification you turn on and off on the left headphone. Amplified audio system works very well, ensuring that spatial sounds work accordingly to your current environment, which is very important for VR immersion. Sound doesn’t work unless amplifier is on, and make sure to switch it off when you finish the session. At Turtle Beach they claim that battery is made to last for up to 30 hours of gaming, however it will run out quickly if you haven’t turned the amp off.
Over-the-ear cushions are made of memory foam and wrapped in fabric ensure breathable fit, and the overall design makes Stealth 350 VR light and comfortable. Bass boost is variable and the microphone can easily be detached when not in use. Additionally, the mic features noise-canceling technology and that will eliminate any background noise created by movement or other factors in the real world. Mic monitoring also allows you to hear your own voice when you talk to other players.
If you happen to own Oculus Rift or HTC Vive too, Stealth 350 VR seems like a right choice, since it comes with changeable cables to swap between the platforms. While headset’s clever design makes all the difference and it fits over PlayStation VR headset perfectly, aesthetically it isn’t that appealing. Matte black colour looks fine, but plastic dominates its build for a simple reason – to meet the mid-tier price range. The headset is firm enough to handle, but as it is very lightweight you probably shouldn’t jounce it around too much.
All things considered, Stealth 350 VR probably won’t be your primary regular-gaming headset, but its specific design enhances the VR immersion and experience on each step of the way, so we have to admit that at Turtle Beach they have achieved what they aimed for. Another good thing that it isn’t exclusively made for PlayStation, so you can use it with other VR devices too.
Plantronics RIG 4VR
The massive headband for PSVR rules out many headset models, and designers at Plantronics had this in mind when engineering RIG 4VR. Plantronics RIG 4VR is licensed by Sony, therefore this is as close as you can get to “official” headphones for PSVR.
To fit the headphones around the PSVR headband, designers made an even wider headband that is very elastic and flexible. I just can’t see it snapping unless you really put in some effort to break it. Ear-cups have an unique oval shape, and are a bit smaller than usual which may cause problems to users with a bit bigger ears.
The left ear-cup features a detachable mic and the cable with standard 3.5mm jack. The good thing about the cable is that it can be split at just about the right length to plug it into your PSVR. This means you wont have to deal with another cord at your neck, but you still have the extension when you want to put the headphones to another use.
The stylish appearance of the headset is complemented with comfortable fit too. While RIG 4VR is robust, it somehow managed to retain its lightweight, which is pretty important considering that PSVR weighs around 610 grams, especially for extended use. Bass isn’t excessive, but I didn’t feel like it is lacking either.
When you consider the price, RIG 4VR offers a high quality sound. Although we can’t say that it sounds better than some more expensive headsets, it is certainly up to par. 3D audio reproduction works really well, and increases the sense of actually being inside the games like Resident Evil 7 for example.
The ear cups are comfy and vented. Even after prolonged gaming sessions on your PSVR, your head wont get sweaty at all. Once again, this makes blocking outside noise impossible, but still gives you a great sense of spatial awareness. While real-world sound may be immersion-breaking, it is useful at times when you have friends or family around during your VR sessions, since you’ll be able to clearly hear them. Additionally, RIG 4VR isn’t a “one-trick-pony”. It works surprisingly well with other standard headset applications like regular gaming or listening to music.
When compared to PlayStation Gold headset, the notable downside is absence of manual controls on headphones, so you will be relying on menus to make volume adjustments. Sound quality however is superb, and the design fits your fancy PSVR headset perfectly.
Bionik Mantis Headphones
The most original and definitely the neatest of PSVR dedicated audio solutions are Mantis Headphones created by bionik. These cleverly designed headphones are just clipped onto both sides of the Sony’s virtual-reality platform and just hang down over your ears.
For some people bulky headphones that encapsulate your ears may seem unnecessary uncomfortable, since they can weigh your head down. Comfort and ease of use you gain with Mantis’ design has only one drawback.
You have probably guessed it by now – complete outside sound blocking is unattainable, since the earpieces don’t completely cover your ears but just rest atop of them. It seems that we will have to wait for new generation of PSVR headphones to deal with this predicament and provide complete auditory immersion.
The Mantis on the other hand is very convenient for use and installation – each earpiece folds out in case you need to communicate with someone who is beside you in the real world. So you can look at the drawback we aforementioned as not such a bad thing after all, since if you have kids or pets, having a sense of what is happening around you in the real world is pretty important. Also this feature is helpful if you like showcasing PSVR to your friends.
The audio quality despite the circumstances is still very good, even without the silencing benefit of over-the-ear headphones. It is still far from high-end headphones quality, but for price of $50 it is very practical and cost efficient solution.
PSVR is an amazing and immersive device with one major flaw – the audio peripheral doesn’t come with the package. Sony might have thought that this will lead the customers to purchase their PlayStation Gold headphones and earn some extra cash that way. Fortunately for us, other companies worked on the solution too, hence there are few decent options available on the market.
PlayStation Gold has many qualities, but I wouldn’t dare to say that it is the go-to option in this case, unless you prefer fancy looks over comfort. All of the other headsets we covered offer better fit over your PSVR, especially bionik’s Mantis and Plantronics’ RIG 4VR.
Mantis was designed exclusively for PSVR use, and has no applications otherwise, while RIG 4VR is an option you can put to good use in other situations as well. They both look imposing when paired with your PSVR.
If your motto is “louder is better”, then Turtlebeach’s Stealth 350 VR is the right pair of PSVR headphones for you. However, the design, while clever and practical, visually isn’t very impressive.
Sound tends to “bleed” in and out of each of the aforementioned headsets. We assume that you enjoy your virtual sessions in the tranquillity of your room, so this isn’t too much of an issue then. Still, we eagerly await the release of headphones that provide complete outside sound blocking, for even higher stratum of immersion.