Playstation’s Got the Pulse: A combined review of the Pulse Explore and Pulse Elite headsets from Playstation

Update: In a later portion of the review, I speak about potential confusion between headset dongles. I have since learned that, while each dongle you receive with each headset is paired specifically to that headset, they are actually the same otherwise, and you can even pair multiple headsets to the same dongle. You can find a Playstation support article on how to do this here.

Playstation is just about to release a brand new addition to their line of gaming headsets, the Pulse Elite. This release comes alongside the already-released Pulse Explore gaming earbuds, which were developed in tandem with the Elite. I was graciously provided review units for both items, and now I’m going to offer you my review and comparisons for them both.

Let’s start with the most important bit, the sound. Both the Pulse Elite and Pulse Explore provide extremely crisp, crystal clear sound. In fact, highs and mids seem to be especially amplified, bringing some sounds forward that were always there, but were less noticeable with other headsets. For instance, the buzz of the light you turn on when at a workbench in The Last of Us 2 Remastered just seems more audible now. It isn’t obtrusive, this doesn’t feel annoying, it’s just more present. That combined with the PS5’s 3D audio, in my opinion, actually does work to increase immersion, at least with the Pulse Elite, but more on that in a minute.

Thanks to the Playstation link technology in both Pulse products, we once again have truly lagless wireless audio. That’s not just marketing, it’s true. I tested this using haptics. This was especially easy now that there are haptics in the PS5 menus. There is simply no delay between feeling the haptic, and the audio in your ears. It’s incredibly impressive, and means that you can allow yourself to be fully immersed in your game without having to worry about such things.

I unfortunately didn’t get an opportunity to test the microphone in either Pulse product, but I am aware that the headsets combined with some upcoming changes in the PS5 system software are going to result in some fairly advanced noise cancellation. Voices are isolated and other sounds, like the constant button presses of playing video games, or the crunch of that snack you’re chomping into, will be eliminated. It’s always nice to reduce audio clutter in a chat-heavy multiplayer game, and it looks like these Pulse products will be able to do just that.

Let’s move onto the hardware, starting with the Pulse Explore earbuds. There are quite a few positives here. First, they come with a charging case and USB-C cable, so think of them like airpods for your PS5. The charging case has an interesting design as well. The “lid” feels as though it’s wrapped around the case, like something you could just pull right off, but it is attached. You pull it to the side, freeing up access to your earbuds, and when you’ve taken them out, just slide the cover back into place. The earbuds do have ear detection as well, and will react to being inserted or removed from your ears. Each earbud sports the same controls as well, meaning you can use either hand on either earbud to change the volume, or turn them off, for example. The volume control is located on the outside of the earbud, and the power/pairing button is smaller and located on the inside. These are the only controls, but pressing the power/pairing button 3 times quickly brings up a settings menu specifically for the pulse products that allows you to make way more adjustments including selecting a preset, or adjusting an equalizer manually, all of which is fully accessible using the PS5’s screen reader.

The negative I have to bring up, though, isn’t necessarily a negative for everybody. As a rule, I generally don’t like earbuds much. I have, apparently, oddly-shaped ears, and I have yet to find a single earbud that will rest comfortably in them. The Pulse Explore earbuds are no exception. While they did sound great, as crisp and clear as I described before, I lost a run of No Return in The Last of Us Part 2 remastered because one of them fell out during combat. This is just me reporting my personal experience though. Earbuds just aren’t for me, though in the time I used them, I couldn’t deny their quality.

Now, the pulse Elite Wireless Headset. This is where I truly got into things. I love a good headset, and this is a good headset. It sits comfortably on your head with a headband that automatically expands as you slide it on and over your ears. This was true in the previous iteration of the Pulse headset, but it’s still a good idea that works well. There have been significant changes, though. Now, instead of the controls being on the earcup, they are located on the little arm that extends down from the right side of the headband. And, on the left side, there is now a retractable microphone that you pull directly from the arm on that side. It extends outward, coming closer to your face, meaning you no longer have to rely on the oddly-placed internal mic of previous headsets. It’s also adjustable from there, as the thin material of the mic extension can be bent slightly to ensure the mic is where you need it to be.

The controls on the right side arm are the same controls as the earbuds. Volume, and power/pairing. And, just like with the pulse earbuds, pressing the power/pairing button 3 times quickly brings up the headset’s menu, which does seem to have more options than the Explore. Here, you can not only apply a preset or adjust your equalizers, but you can also adjust separate balances between music, video, and game chat. The music option here is, I believe, related to the fact that you can pair the headset with a Bluetooth device, such as your phone, while also gaming with it, but the instructions were not clear on how to actually do this, so I wasn’t able to test this either. Still, once again this menu is fully accessible.

The left side of the headset does contain 1 control, that being the button that mutes your mic. It is actually located on the mic itself, on its underside, and when pressed, a helpful notification will inform you of its muted or unmuted status.

I should also add that the Pulse Elite comes with a hangable charging stand, in case you wanted to charge it separately from your PS5 while it hangs from a mount. Personally, I found this unnecessary. There is a USB-C port in the right arm of the headset next to the controls, allowing you to simply connect this directly to your PS5, or to any USB-C charger, and charge it that way. However, if you do choose to use this mount, the headset docks to it through a tiny port on the underside of the headband.

If I had one criticism about the hardware, I’d say it was the dongles used to connect the devices to your PS5. Each device is, as far as I understand it, paired to its individual dongle. If you’re in a situation like me where you have both, or if you had a previous iteration of the Pulse headset, you must take care to keep the dongles separated as, physically, they are exactly the same. Just something to keep in mind.

The last thing I want to mention here is that the little bit of setup for both devices is also fully accessible using the PS5’s screenreader, with the exception of the description of the controls for each. Unlike with the PSVR2, the controls are not described in detail. The screenreader simply reads their names, but does not tell you where they’re located. Images on screen likely do show you, but of course this is unhelpful if you’re totally blind. Still, in general, the process is accessible, including updating both devices. Everything there is narrated as you’d expect.

In conclusion, I truly think both of these devices are nice. High-quality audio combined with 0 latency really does make for a great experience. The pulse Elite is definitely the one for me between the 2 of them, but I think you could have a great experience with either one depending on your preferences. The Pulse Explore earbuds are out right now, and the Elite is going to hit stores in about a week or so as of this writing. If you want to upgrade your Playstation audio experience, one of these devices may be the way to do it. Thanks again to Playstation for providing me with these review units, and thank you for reading!
You can preorder the Pulse Elite Wireless Headset here, and you can purchase the already-available Pulse Explore Wireless Earbuds right here.


  1. SLJ says:

    Thanks for a great review. I really like the audio reviews. It’s great to have those in both audio and text. big credit for doing that.
    When connecting the earbots to the phone via Bluetooth, can you then check the battery on the phone like Apples Airpods, or can you check the battery level in other ways when pairing them via Bluetooth?

  2. Clement says:

    I’m curious… what would be the best way to, say, use the pulse elite while streaming to OBS at the same time? I’d love to use the headset while streaming, but doesn’t putting the ps5’s audio through one source disable it on another one, IE my capture card?

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