I am seeing a lot of superlatives being thrown around in these reviews. It can make it difficult to determine if this is the right product for you. I would say that for MOST audiophiles and nearly all other ps3 owners, this is a worthy purchase. There is however a segment of highly discerning audiophiles that this will simply not suffice.
I struggled at first to determine what I thought about the product. What I ultimately concluded was that for convenience and ease of use alone, this is a worthwhile product that is close to the correct price point. I locked in when the preorder price was $65 here on amazon, so I am definitely satisfied with the value. $100 may have been close to the high point, but I still think it is a decent value for what you get here. Here is the breakdown:
- The virtual surround is not going to blow you away. Like others have pointed out, it makes the low end sound a little thin, and some realism is lost in the process. I have a difficult time determining which I prefer, stereo or virtual surround. For sports games, I prefer stereo. For shooters, virtual surround does offer a little bit of directional recognition, so it is useful, but again, nothing impressive.
- I am a borderline audiophile. I have spent upwards of $500 on headphones before, and have considered the purchase completely worth it for the fidelity provided. My current favorite is the Shure SE 535: [...]
I would say that high end headphones have spoiled me to the point that I could never consider this sony product as exceptional sounding. It is not. I can't really listen to this product at high volumes without getting ear fatigue very quickly and noticing the sound signature short comings. I prefer to listen at a very low volume (~25%) because it still provides a degree of immersion that I was not able to achieve at night, or even during the day, if I didn't want to be blasting the home theatre. Which brings me to my next point:
- For pure convenience and reliability, this purchase was worth it. If I want to watch a movie with headphones on, I will be using my shures, no doubt. If I am going to sit down to a long session of an epic single player game, I will probably plug in the shures (I use a 25 ft headphone extension cable to reach the couch BTW). But if I'm gaming online, or just playing a quick game of Fifa or NBA 2K11, or any other casual session of gaming or online browsing, I am definitely not going to put myself through the inconvenience of tethering myself with cables from my ears to the receiver. It's just not practical. And that is where this headset will earn its value in spades. It's so easy to just pick the headset up, turn it on, and get a fairly immersive gaming experience. To be honest, since receiving the headset in the mail last friday, and a weekend of gaming, I have not had the desire to use anything except this wireless headset. It's so nice to not have anyone in the house even know I'm there, whereas before I would be getting constant requests to turn the sound down.
- Comfort is a huge plus. These are among the most comfortable headphones I've ever placed on my noggin. The leather used is plush and of suprising quality. I'm impressed. They are lightweight and just barely noticeable. Another valuable aspect of this product that makes me happy I ordered them.
- Being able to use this wirelessly with my laptop is also a plus. Plug the dongle into the usb, press play, and listen to some tunes. I won't be doing this much, since the shures are already so minimalist. But it's nice knowing I can.
- The ability to have crystal clear chatting is the icing on the cake. Can't do that with the shures. I had not used voice chat since the original Xbox days, and I forgot how fun it can be when gaming with friends. It's like they are right there with you.
So, even for audiophiles, I would say this is a product to consider. However, there is that 10% segment of audiophiles that constantly get upgrade-itis, and only want the highest end product out there. If this is you, you already know that you should be seeking out a better headset.
For me however, I'd much rather save the extra money for a worthwhile audio upgrade that isn't specifically tied to gaming or a computer. Why spend an extra few hundred dollars or so on a gaming headset when that money could be used more effectively to upgrade some other area of your audiophile life. Unless you game an unhealthy amount, the money can be better spent elsewhere.
*****Update (9/13/11): I just wanted to mention something that I am noticing about the negative reviews. Some people are complaining of static. I have absolutely none. In fact, you would think the headphones were off completely during loading screens it is so quiet. The people complaining of that are experiencing interference with some other device, probably a wireless router near their ps3. There may be other devices that create interference. I have experienced none whatsoever. I use a powerline adapter to get internet to the ps3 from the computer on another floor rather than a wireless router, so it is not an issue for me.
*****Update (9/21/11): I just wanted to say I now prefer the virtual surround exclusively when gaming. Maybe I just had to get used to the sound. It's still not very convincing, but the sound stage is wider and more realistic than the stereo, even on games that don't require much directional recognition of sound.
I hope this review helps customers to better evaluate whether this is the right headset for them. Feel free to leave comments or questions and I'll do my best to provide more information.