PlayStation Platinum Wireless Headset Review: Short of Greatness

Sony makes the best controllers, cameras, adapters and remote controls for the PS4; one would expect the company to make the best headsets as well. However, the PlayStation Platinum Wireless Headset ($160) is a mixed bag. The sound quality is gorgeous, which makes it all the more disappointing that the device is fiddly and overpriced, and offers very little over its much-less-expensive counterparts. There are much better wireless headsets on the market, and they work just fine with PS4s.

Design

If you're familiar with the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset, the Platinum should look very familiar to you. The device is simple and elegant, with two plush, faux-leather, over-the-ear cups; a flexible rubber headband; and a silver-steel brace to hold it all together. Aside from a subtle PlayStation logo over the left ear cup, there's nothing about the peripheral that screams, "gaming headset," and it's perfectly suitable for use outside the house.

As further proof of its portability, the Platinum folds up into a rather compact package, and even comes with a small bag you can stash it in. The whole product feels sturdy and robust, and it can easily withstand some rough treatment at the bottom of a backpack.

The ear cups are chock-full of buttons and connections, and one can't help but wonder whether they could have been better balanced. The left ear cup houses two volume controls — one for media, one for chat — an On/Off switch with two possible "on" configurations, a mute button for the mic, a micro USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The right ear cup, by comparison, is downright sparse, housing only a switch to turn surround sound on and off.

The buttons are all a little on the small side and rely on annoying beeps to let you know when you've reached a maximum value rather than, say, no longer being able to physically turn a dial. It took me a while to figure out where everything was, and finding the right button required some searching, even after I familiarized myself with the layout. The confusing controls are something of an unfair trade-off  for the buttons' relatively unobtrusive designs.

Comfort

With large ear cups and a flexible headband, the Platinum makes it pretty easy to get a good fit. You can move the ear cups up and down to fit your ears more exactly, but no matter what you do, it will be pretty tight. The snug fit wasn't necessarily uncomfortable, except in the case of the PlayStation VR. The Platinum advertises that it works with the PSVR, and while that's true, putting the Platinum on and taking it off was a two-man operation that left one of my ears feeling pretty squished.

I could wear the headset for hours at a time without experiencing any ill effects, which is more than I can say about some of the Platinum's competitors. Still, the ear cups don't have a ton of give, and the tightness did start to grate after a while. I handed them off to a friend, who agreed with my assessment: snug, perhaps too much so, but not painful.

Gaming Performance

Under an extremely specific set of circumstances, the Platinum handles games absolutely beautifully. If you are using a PS4, with a single-player game, in plain sight of the wireless dongle, with traditional stereo sound, the Platinum sounds wonderful. The headset strikes a perfect balance between playing music and dealing with voice work, and it even handles directional sound very well. While playing through character-driven adventures like Tales of Berseria and Nioh, I could hear with crystal clarity both where my allies were situated and where my enemies were coming from.

The Platinum is also a respectable companion for streaming movies and TV. After downloading the free Headset Companion App, players can assign a variety of different profiles to the headset's two On buttons. Movie buffs can choose from genres like Action and Horror, while gamers have everything from Shooter and Fighting to soundscapes engineered especially for games like The Last Guardian and Uncharted 4. The Uncharted 4 mode works as advertised, highlighting both the game's sweeping orchestral soundtrack and the intense firefights that Nathan Drake must endure in his quest.

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In theory, this sounds like a great initiative to make the Platinum headset the ideal companion for every conceivable piece of media. In practice, however, the system is much more limited than it sounds. There are only three game-specific profiles: The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4 and The Show 2016. There are about three profiles apiece for movies, game genres and music. Worse still, the only track you can use to listen and compare is a 40-second loop of gunfire and explosions. This is useful, perhaps, for shooter games and action movies, but not terribly helpful if you're trying to gauge the effectiveness of a Horror movie or Hip-Hop music setting.

When I used the headset with a gaming PC, the Platinum often refused to pair, especially after the PC had gone to sleep and reawakened.

The headset also promises to be a boon for PC gamers, but getting the device to work on a computer is a bit of a process. When I used the headset with a gaming PC, the Platinum often refused to pair, especially after the PC had gone to sleep and reawakened. The Platinum automatically muted all three PCs I tested it with, and toying with the volume in Windows (rather than using the headset's buttons) tended to make the peripheral malfunction. A PS4 headset isn't required to work flawlessly on a PC, but when you consider that similarly priced devices, like the Logitech G533 and the SteelSeries Arctis 7, are perfectly suited to both systems, this is not exactly a feather in the Platinum's cap.

Still, once I actually got it up and running, the Platinum performed well, in both multiplayer titles like Final Fantasy XIV and single-player adventures like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I still wouldn't use this headset for a PC game unless I absolutely had to, though; it's just not reliable enough.

Music Performance

In keeping with the Platinum's high-quality sound, music quality is good, regardless of genre. I experimented with a variety of styles, from Old Crow Medicine Show's "Carry Me Back" to Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," and found that the peripheral provided a beautiful balance among treble, bass and voices (when applicable).

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Since the Platinum comes with a 3.5mm audio wire, connecting the headset to mobile devices is easy. Between that and its portability, the Platinum is a surprisingly good choice as an everyday music headset, if you can get it to maintain a steady connection with a PC, anyway.

Features

The Platinum has two big features meant to set it apart from the rest of the pack: its wireless connection and its surround sound. The wireless connection, as discussed above, is a bit on the mercurial side. In addition to offering potentially poor performance with PCs, the wireless capability isn't nearly as powerful as that of competing models from Logitech and SteelSeries. The connection gave out if I walked more than about 15 feet away, and it stuttered if I put a wall between my PS4 and me.

The surround sound also works, but only under certain circumstances. Most PS4 games use stereo sound, but surround sound is most useful for VR games. Although the Platinum works with the PSVR, it connects via the 3.5mm audio jack, while the PSVR unit itself processes the audio. In other words, if you want 3D sound on PlayStation's VR peripheral, you need to add an extra wire to the mix.

The microphone is also a mixed bag. Unlike most headsets in this price range, the Platinum doesn't offer a boom mic, relying instead on two integrated mics to pick up sound. They did this well, transmitting my voice clearly with a minimum of background noise. However, since the mics are located on the ear cups, if I had to adjust chat volume or sidetone, my hand would block the mic, making my voice totally inaudible.

Bottom Line

The Platinum headset delivers consistently good — sometimes even great — audio for both games and music. It's a beautiful peripheral that fits fairly comfortably and travels well. It's a shame, then, that its most important features are so compromised. The wireless doesn't work that well, the presets are half-baked, and it doesn't have any special advantages for PSVR. Considering that this peripheral costs $10 more than competing headsets that also work just fine with the PS4, the Platinum is a tough sell indeed.

If your gaming efforts are confined to the PS4 and you have a clear line of sight from your couch to the system, the Platinum works well enough. Otherwise, the SteelSeries Arctis 7, Logitech G533 and Razer ManO'War are all better choices.

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