PDP's LVL50 Wireless Stereo Headset ($80) is surprisingly solid for the price. This wireless gaming headset features a comfy and lightweight design, a noise-cancelling microphone, solid overall audio performance, and great battery life, all for just $80. While its equalizer options are lacking and its max volume could be louder, the LVL50 (available in Xbox One and PS4 configurations) offers quality features for an affordable price.
The LVL50's plastic frame is somewhat petite, and its ear cups look like chubby little attachments on its slim band. When I first picked it up, I noticed there was a lot of wiggle between the cups and the band, as if I could easily snap the device in half if I applied too much pressure.
A smooth, matte-gray design runs from the LVL50's ear cups to the matte-black band and holds the cups together. The glossy PDP logo sits neatly on the outside of each cup, which is nice because it subtly blends into the frame.
The interiors of the cups, as well as the wires connecting the two to the frame, feature green accents for the Xbox version and blue accents for the PS4. PlayStation plastered its logo all over the PS4 version to ensure that you know it's licensed by them; the Xbox version lacks similar branding.
The left cup features a power button, an equalizer button, an input for micro USB charging, and a rocker for in-game and chat audio balance. The right side has a dial to adjust the headset's overall volume.
One issue I have with the in-game and chat audio rocker is that its wheel doesn't have definable ridges or a center. Also, if you use the headset on PC, the volume control on your computer won't work, so it basically disables Windows' master volume levels. You instead control the sound through the LVL50's volume dial, but the mixer itself will still function properly, so you can adjust sound from each app.
The LVL50's adjustable boom microphone is awkwardly long, resembling a "pilot headset," according to my co-worker. It sits on the left side of the headset, resting on a dial that can mute the mic, depending whether it's positioned up or down. This feature is neat, but since the mic is flexible, you're forced to use the dial to reposition it, as half of the mic will just bend if you attempt to move it up.
For wireless connectivity, the LVL50 uses a USB Type-A dongle.
The LVL50's nylon-mesh ear cups are relatively comfortable for the price, especially in my case, because they fit nicely over my ears. But they could definitely be a little softer. I do like that the band is adjustable via sliding instead of using predetermined notches.
At 11.2 ounces, the LVL50 headset felt relatively light on my head, and it didn't move much as I shifted my head from left to right.
PDP claims that the wireless connectivity can work from up to 40 feet away, and that was pretty accurate. I took a stroll away from my desk, and I could still hear my music at roughly that distance.
With 50mm audio drivers, the LVL50 headset could be a little louder. I typically had to set the gadget to maximum or near-maximum volume to get the sound I wanted. However, the audio itself was solid.
I tested Resident Evil 2 (as an excuse to force myself to continue it), and when I met up with Ada in the parking garage, the dialogue between her and Leon was crisp. As I took a tour around the prison, the creepy, atmospheric soundtrack literally sent shivers down my spine. Blasting zombified dogs with my shotgun created an intense, blustering sound.
In a super-intense match of Apex Legends, I could pinpoint the exact directions that footsteps and gunfire were coming from.
In the Devil May Cry 5 demo, the sharp clangs of my sword grinding against the pavement tinkled in my ears, and the soft, entrancing tune from the main menu almost kept me from actually starting the game. When I Superman-punched a demon with my devil breaker and Nero said, "Get in there," I made an unidentifiable noise of excitement. The repeated blasts from my rocket-powered punch (Punch Line) sounded sharp and impactful.
Meanwhile, in a typical super-intense match of Apex Legends, I could pinpoint the exact directions that footsteps and gunfire were coming from. The Hemlock gunfire pierced through an enemy's armor with its intense, high-impact rounds, and the Eva-8 Auto shotgun delivered a meaty, destructive sound as I finished them off.
A major highlight of the LVL50 headset is its noise-cancelling microphone. My girlfriend and I were playing Apex Legends, so we were both using headsets to communicate with our other teammates. (She used the LVL50.) When I was screaming into my own mic, I could not hear myself getting picked up by the LVL50. This was pretty surprising, considering I was only a few feet away from her.
The equalizer button on the left side has two modes: Pure Audio and Bass Boost. The former delivered more-balanced audio, but it occasionally left the bass in the wind, while the latter enhanced the bass and slightly lowered the treble, so vocals were softer. I wish there were more modes specifically tuned for music, gaming and movies.
A major highlight of the LVL50 headset is its noise-cancelling microphone.
According to PDP, the LVL50 headset can last 16 hours on a charge, and I'm inclined to believe that claim. I didn't have to charge the headset once through all my general testing, including about 5 hours of evaluation in the office and 10 hours of Apex Legends play over a weekend.
If you're not interested in wireless capabilities, PDP also offers the LVL50 Wired Stereo Headset for $50. One perk of this model is that you can plug it into your phone. On top of that, since the wired versions connect via 3.5mm audio jacks, there's no reason that the Xbox and PS4 versions shouldn't work on either console as well as on the Nintendo Switch.
You're not going to get the same rich sound on the LVL50 that you would on a more expensive headset, but for the price, the music performance was good.
While listening to System of the Down's "Prison Song," the guitar and drums that ramp up throughout the song sounded detailed and full. Meanwhile, the bass and vocals were sharply pronounced as they intertwined during the pre-chorus. Even when the chorus dropped, I could distinguish each instrument on the track.
The LVL50 reproduced the melodic electronic beat in the intro of Lil Uzi Vert's "XO Tour Llif3" with such clarity that it almost made me forget I was wearing headphones. During the second chorus, the LVL50 added a sense of depth to the vocals that I didn't think I would be able to hear in a cheap headset. And while the bassy beats weren't as well-defined, the Bass Boost equalizer setting managed to emphasize the lower frequencies.
Muse's "Space Dementia" starts off with a soft, haunting piano that rises to an epic crescendo, but the LVL50 struggled to capture the depth of the high notes. However, the headset picked up more when the notes rapid-fired halfway through the intro. The audio did better during the song's verses, as the headset highlighted the guitar, piano and vocals playing off of each other.
The LVL50 is a great deal, offering a seamless wireless experience, good sound and a long battery life, all for just $80.
If you're willing to spend an extra $20, you can get the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth headset ($99). It connects to Xbox, PS4 and even the Nintendo Switch via a 3.5mm headphone jack. However, if you want to get an even more comfortable fit and better sound quality, consider getting the SteelSeries Arctis 7 ($119).
Overall, the PDP LVL50 Wireless Stereo Headset is a great entry-level choice for wireless connectivity on consoles.
Credit: Tom's Guide