Sony’s Pulse Explore Wireless Earbuds Are So Close To Perfect

The dawn of a new high-end PS5 audio ecosystem

Alex Rowe

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PlayStation Pulse Explore ear buds sitting on a laptop on a table in a coffee shop.
Photo taken by the author.

The PS5 already has several huge sonic advantages over competing console platforms, and with the launch of the new “PlayStation Link” ecosystem and their purchase/use of Audeze’s planar magnetic driver technology, they now have two more.

While Microsoft has flailed about trying to lock down the types of audio peripherals you can use with Xbox consoles, Sony’s console is much more open. Most standard wireless USB-dongle-based gaming headsets will work just fine on the PS5 platform. When paired with the Sony’s hardware accelerated Tempest 3D system, you can get a great audio experience without having to buy additional software licenses or a bespoke headset for your console.

A major issue with USB dongle headsets is that they can only provide so much bandwidth for audio. They use most of their precious wireless transmission juice to provide as much quality as they can for gaming sound, with little room left for your mic to also sound good. There’s one or two exceptions out there where a larger dongle with more power allows for better mic sound, but those have sadly been rare.

Now, Sony has once again leapt into the USB dongle arena with a brand new platform called PlayStation Link. Just like many other non-Xbox headsets, Link-compatible gear works on both PS5 and PC — and it’ll even talk to a docked Nintendo Switch. The Link dongles don’t look especially new compared to others on the market, but they’re custom engineered to provide lossless high quality audio — while sacrificing some transmission range, as we’ll get into in a bit.

The first two PlayStation Link compatible headsets are the Pulse Explore Earbuds ($199.99 and now available) and the Pulse Elite over-ear headset ($149.99, launching about a week from now). Both of these come with one Link dongle in the box, and you can buy additional dongles for $24.99 if you want to easily switch to more than one device, or if you happen to lose/break one. The two headsets mentioned above are the only products that will currently talk to the Link platform, so older Sony headsets don’t work with these. If you own a PlayStation Portal, that has a Link dongle built right in.

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