Monday, March 24, 2014

Pulse Elite Edition Wireless Stereo Headset

Pulse Elite Edition Wireless Stereo Headset




Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?) These are really incredibly nice headphones. They have a feeling of quality that reflects their price.

I take off part of a start however for two things:

1) It's not possible to charge the headphones out of the box as a mini-USB cable is required and none is included. Grated, these are sold primarily as a PS3 peripheral and so you should be able to use the same cables you charge the regular controllers with, but as the headphones are advertised as working with Windows and Vita platforms, it is very disappointing to find that, for the price, they can't actually include the cable you need to charge them up and use them.

2) Documentation is terrible. It's a typical folded up sheet of cheap paper with tiny type that gives only a vague description of how all the controls work. Yes, this is on par for other game console accessories, but these headphones have so many controls and so many usage scenarios, that a little more in-box description would actually be useful here.

Ok, with those minor things out of the way, let's talk about what's great about these things.

Wireless. It's not standard Bluetooth unfortunately but it works well and is bi-directional. The headset DOES include a mic (something not obvious from the photos since it's built into one of the ear cups and there is no "boom" etc.

Can be used wired as well. A 3.5mm standard mini four-conductor cable (straight plug on one end, right angle on the other) is included which will plug into an iPhone or similar device and into a similar jack on the headphones. The headphones will work passively without power in this mode (in case the batteries are flat), but power is required to get the rest of the features to work (volume control, impact etc.)

There's interesting stuff going on with an iPhone in wired-mode. When you power them on, the iPhone changes to a different volume level (which seems to be remembered), and then goes back when you power them off. I'm not sure if this is the headphones or the iPhone being clever. The headphones seem to want the phone to be putting out full volume which can then be attenuated using the volume control on the headphones (and they seem to work best this way).

Note that while there is a mini-USB jack, it is only used for charging as far as I can tell (the documentation of course says nothing).

They feel good on my head. They fit reasonably tightly providing pretty good isolation from the surrounding environment, and while definitely not light, they have good balance and comfort (no goofy suspension system for the headband etc. like some). In warm environments over the course of a few hours they can get a bit sweaty though.

There are controls for everything. You have three large sliders for Volume, Bass Impact, and a fader for Sound to Voice balance (PS3 only). Slide switch for power (with a blue led on indicator) and momentary push-buttons for Mic Mute, Mode, VSS On/Off (PS3 only).

The ear-cups pivot a bit to fit your head, and the headband has a conventional pull-out size adjustment. They do not otherwise fold, rotate, etc.

The audio sounds first-rate, and even when used for music with an iPod, the Bass Impact slider lets you adjust from no effect to full cranium-thumping impacts. Will add a whole new dimension to gaming experiences (at the possible risk of your hearing and/or sanity.

They're fully closed ear cups which, again, provide pretty good isolation between the listener and the surrounding environment (in both directions). Don't expect to hear the phone, your parents/kids, the dog, or that oncoming train while wearing them. But on the other hand they probably won't be able to hear your tunes (or nuclear explosions) either.

The Mode button cycles through the following sequence, each of which is announced by a female voice: Game, Music, Movie, Shooter, Fighting, Racing. While listening to music I can't tell the difference between the different modes, so there's a chance this is also PS3 only, but of course the documentation is silent on what the MODE button does.

For wireless use, either with the PS3 or Windows, a two inch long USB dongle is included. It worked on Windows without any drivers. The dongle has a mini-plug input to allow TV audio to be fed in allowing you to listen to other (non-PS3) audio (so, TV audio out / headphone mini jack -> cable -> jack on wireless adapter which is itself plugged into the PS3 (or maybe Windows, haven't tested it).

My main Windows system has a USB Wireless Lan adapter which prevents me from using any USB audio devices (constant dropouts of audio) and these headphones are no different. On another Windows system they worked great, and the experience is wonderful.

So the overall experience is really five-stars, but the terrible documentation and the lack of a cable to charge them means I can only justify giving them four on this review.

The fact that they can be used in so many ways with so many different devices, ranging from quality music listening to full-impact enhanced skull-shaking gaming is going to make these hugely popular I think.


UPDATES: per one of the commenter's suggestions, I tested and discovered that you can use the wireless dongle as a standalone wireless transmitter to use the headphones without a computer. THIS IS VERY COOL!

As long as the wireless adapter has power, it will link to the headphones and you can plug a cable into the audio jack on the adapter and it will broadcast that to the headphones. I just plugged the adapter into a USB power outlet that's part of a wall-mount power strip, and used the included mini-plug cable to go from my iPhone to the wireless adapter, and the iPod signal from the phone was broadcast to the headphones and sounded great! The range was excellent, working 40' away through walls, etc.

So that's yet another cool way to use these anywhere you have USB power available.


I'm getting approximately 4-5 hours on a charge, which means they frequently bit the dust in the middle of a gaming session. You get five loud beeps as a low battery warning, and then only a couple minutes later five beeps followed by a long beep and they flat power off and will not come back on until you plug in the mini-USB cable with power.

This isn't the end of the world on a PC, where you can easily have a cable long enough to reach from the computer to the headpnones (though now the "wireless" advantage is out the window), but with the PS3 you may have a harder time arranging for power on the couch. If you do have power to plug in you can immediately turn them on and continue using them. I think they're charging while in use, but have not confirmed that yet.

The sudden (announced) power cut out suggests the headphones have a fairly active and conservative battery management controller which is probably good for long term reliability of the batteries, but the around four hours between charges is pretty annoying.