There’s a healthy glut of high-end gaming headsets on the market right now, all aimed squarely at aspiring professional gamers or the “hardcore” crowd, but the most feature-rich tend to cost £200 and more.
However, with its wireless PlayStation Platinum headset, Sony has managed to bring a similar feature set to market for a “mere” £130 and, in the process, add a clutch of extra capabilities thanks to its close relationships with developers.
First things first, though: Sony’s commitment to style and design really shines through in the Platinum headset. Aside from the rather annoying diamond-shaped USB dongle taking up another precious USB slot on the front of your PS4, the Platinum headset is exceptionally well designed.
A mix of brushed stainless steel and the same matte-black plastic the PS4 is made from, the Platinum really nails the high-end feel. Its clean lines, sturdy build and smart placement of discrete audio controls mean these could easily pass for a pair of normal over-ear headphones. They fold away neatly, too, and come with their own carry pouch for easy storage and transportation.
And you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair that feels as comfortable to wear, with cosseting ear cushions that are soft enough that you rarely feel any pressure against the side of your head, even when wearing glasses, while a suspended headband relieves pressure on the top of your head.
Those ear cushions are subtly angled, too, so that they fit snugly over your ears without pushing the speaker cone right up against them. A small detail, but a welcome one, and it makes the headset comfortable to wear for long periods.
Sony PlayStation Platinum wireless headset review: Sound quality and features
Design is only part of the reason you pick a headset, however. The most important factor is sound quality and, thankfully, Sony’s Platinum headset delivers that in spades.
Using large, 50mm drivers, the PlayStation Platinum headset is capable of delivering crisp highs and punchy bass, and the virtual 7.1 surround sound makes a big difference when playing titles such as Destiny and Battlefield 1.
Guns have weight; melee attacks have true presence; you can hear the rustling of grass around you and the crunching of boots on gravel. Don’t worry if shooters aren’t your thing, either: every game on the PS4 benefits from the 7.1-channel virtual surround-sound tech in the Platinum headset. Sony has also been working with developers to create bespoke sound profiles for some games. At the time of writing, only Uncharted 4 and The Last Guardian have profiles, but both make a drastic difference to how you experience them.
In The Last Guardian, those cavernous rooms feel truly empty: you hear the echo of footsteps resonate in your ears, and you can hear the sound of creaking wooden walkways as they bend and strain in the wind.
The PlayStation Platinum headset also supports a mode called “3D Audio”. While 7.1 surround sound may seem like more than enough, 3D audio somehow manages to rip you out of your sofa and put you into the action more than you would have ever thought possible.
Currently only available in Uncharted 4, although slated to appear in more games soon, 3D audio works by placing you within spherical sound spaces, plotting sound effects and audio in the space around you, a bit like Dolby Atmos but for headphones.
In simple terms, this means you can hear, with terrifying accuracy, exactly where a sound originates. If someone’s shooting you from above, or over on a high rocky outcrop behind you, you’ll hear it. You’ll hear the bullet whizz past your ear and smack into the wall in front of you. It may sound like a bit of a gimmick but, after playing with it switched off, even virtual 7.1 sounds flat.
Sony PlayStation Platinum wireless headset review: Chat and battery
Despite all the features, Sony’s Platinum headset isn’t strictly intended for the pro-level player. Instead, it’s for gamers who want the best audio experience for casual or semi-serious play.
So, if you're looking for the perfect gaming microphone for team play, you might be disappointed by what the Platinum has to offer. You do get noise cancelling, and this works just as effectively as it does on other headsets on the market. Because the Platinum headset uses integrated mics as opposed to a boom mic, however, you’re left feeling like you’re just talking into a room.
It also means your voice isn’t channelled directly into the headset's twin microphones, so it can sometimes sound muffled and quiet on the other end. But for your average player the microphone quality is perfectly fine, and an improvement over the mono chat headset included with the PS4.
Sony has also managed to create a wireless headset with rather impressive battery life. Instead of opting for removable, rechargeable batteries a la the SteelSeries Siberia 840, Sony has gone for an integrated battery that recharges with the same micro-USB cable you use for charging the DualShock 4. Its internal battery may not last quite as long as that of one of the Siberia 840’s power cells but, impressively for a wireless headset that’s half the price, the PlayStation Platinum can easily last a good five- to six-hour solid gaming session before you have plug it in.
Sony PlayStation Platinum wireless headset review: Verdict
The Platinum headset isn’t Sony’s first 7.1 virtual surround-sound headset. That would be the Gold wireless headset, which launched a couple of years ago. If you’re on a tighter budget, the Gold headset is still definitely worth looking at. The chief difference between the Platinum and the Gold is driver size and 3D-audio compatibility.
The Gold’s 40mm drivers still deliver impressive sound, but having used both during my Platinum headset review, it’s clear that Sony’s higher-end headphones have the edge on sound quality.
Comparing Sony’s headset with other brands, it’s clear to see that you get a lot for your money. For one, the Platinum is completely wireless, where other devices require you to plug them into the DualShock 4 for chat functionality. Even its battery life is impressive enough to last you a decent gaming session.
It’s impressive to see how much Sony has managed to squeeze into a £130 device when many of its closest competitors cost almost twice the price. If you’re looking for a headset that can fully immerse you without disturbing others, there’s nothing better for the PS4 at this price.