The Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore Wireless Earbuds are a new set of earbuds designed specifically for use with the PlayStation 5 gaming console. Released in late 2022, these earbuds aim to provide high quality audio and seamless connectivity for PS5 gamers. In this in-depth review, we’ll take a close look at the design, features, sound quality, battery life, and overall performance of the Pulse Explore earbuds.
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As gaming becomes more immersive and graphics more realistic, audio quality is increasingly important for the best gaming experience. The Pulse Explore earbuds are Sony’s solution, leveraging innovative driver technology to deliver detailed soundscapes that enhance gameplay.
But are these earbuds all style and no substance? Or do they provide great audio for both gaming and everyday listening? Read on for a hands-on evaluation.
Design and Comfort
The Pulse Explore earbuds sport a sleek design clearly inspired by the aesthetic of the PS5 console and accessories. The earbuds themselves are fairly small and lightweight, with an ergonomic shape that fits comfortably even during extended gaming sessions.
Several eartip options are included to allow you to achieve the best fit for your ears. Once situated properly, the earbuds feel quite secure and stable. The matte black surface helps them blend in discreetly too.
Overall, the design is understated while retaining some PlayStation flair. And the fit is comfortable enough for long term wear.
Features and Connectivity
As you would expect, the Pulse Explore earbuds connect seamlessly to PS5 consoles via a proprietary wireless dongle. But they also support standard Bluetooth connections, allowing you to pair them with other devices like smartphones and laptops.
Key features include:
- Dual noise cancelling microphones for clear voice chat
- On-earbud controls for volume, playback, and more
- Customizable sound profiles for different game genres
- Simultaneous connections to PS5 and another Bluetooth device
- Qi wireless charging case
Pairing is a breeze with the PS5 console and mobile devices. And the ability to connect to both simultaneously is convenient for taking calls or listening to music while gaming.
The on-earbud controls do take some practice to use reliably without pressing them into your ear. But they provide quick access to common functions.
Here’s where the Pulse Explore earbuds really shine. Sony has equipped these earbuds with large 12mm dynamic drivers featuring a unique layered diaphragm design. Together with optimized tuning, this allows the Pulse Explore to deliver surprisingly powerful and precise sound.
The sound profile caters nicely to games, with emphasized mids and highs that help surface important details like enemy footsteps or reloading sounds. Explosions pack a satisfying oomph while environmental ambient effects remain clear.
You can tweak the sound with presets for different game genres too. For example, enhancing bass creates a more cinematic experience for narrative adventure games.
Beyond gaming, the Pulse Explore earbuds sound fantastic with music and other media. Clear treble, dynamic bass, and a fairly balanced default tuning. Honestly, they rival earbuds double the price for pure audio fidelity.
For voice chat, the noise cancelling mics work decently well to isolate your voice from background ambient noise. Friends reported my voice came through clearly while gaming. Just don’t expect active noise cancellation on par with Sony’s premium WF-1000XM4 earbuds.
The Pulse Explore earbuds are rated for about 5 hours of continuous playback, less if you crank the volume to higher levels. The charging case provides roughly an additional 10 hours of charge. So you can expect up to 15 hours before needing to recharge.
This battery life is fairly typical among true wireless earbuds. The case charges via USB-C or wirelessly using Qi charging pads. A quick 10-15 minutes in the case provides around an hour of extra playback if the earbuds run low mid-gaming.
Serious gamers may want to consider getting 1-2 additional charges from the case for very long play sessions. But for most users the battery life is sufficient. Standby time is also good, with the earbuds maintaining charge even after several days resting in the case.
Performance and Latency
Connecting wirelessly to PS5 consoles, latency is impressively low for true wireless earbuds. Sony uses optimized wireless protocols to achieve robust connectivity with perfectly synced audio.
There is no noticeable audio delay whatsoever while gaming. Action on-screen lines up exactly with accompanying sounds. Explosions, gunshots, and dialogue all sound precisely timed. This lag-free audio makes a big difference for gaming immersion.
The solid wireless performance does come with some trade-offs though. The range is decent but not exceptional – you can move around comfortably within 15 feet or so from the PS5 console before audio occasionally cuts out.
And connecting to phones or laptops via regular Bluetooth does introduce a small degree of latency, as is typical with most Bluetooth headphones and earbuds. So the Pulse Explore earbuds are really best suited for dedicated PS5 gaming use.
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What Could Be Improved
While the Pulse Explore earbuds excel in sound quality and connectivity for PS5 gaming, there are a few areas that could see improvement:
- Battery life – At just 5 hours per charge, battery life is average but could be longer for extended gaming sessions.
- Noise isolation – Given their size, the earbuds don’t block external noise as effectively as some competitors.
- Charging case – The case feels a bit cheap and plasticky for such a premium-priced product.
Additionally, lack of proper controls for media playback and volume adjustment limits their usefulness with non-PlayStation devices.
But these are mostly minor complaints given the purpose-built gaming focus of the Pulse Explore earbuds. And none of the cons notably hinder the best-in-class audio performance.
Who Are These Earbuds For?
Considering the premium $200 price tag, proprietary PS5 wireless connectivity, and gaming-first features, the Pulse Explore earbuds cater specifically to dedicated PlayStation gamers wanting an audio upgrade.
Specifically, the Pulse Explore earbuds are ideal for gamers who:
- Play PS5 games regularly and want lag-free precise audio.
- Care about hearing details like enemy movements and weapon reloads.
- Want rich immersive sound for action games and adventures.
- Plan to use headphones for extended gaming sessions.
- Appreciate great audio fidelity for music listening too.
For general use with phones or other Bluetooth devices, the missing playback controls and latency make other wireless earbuds preferable though. And the high price tag is harder to justify without regularly using the PS5 gaming features.
Casual gamers happy with TV speakers may not find the Pulse Explore earbuds worth the investment. But enthusiasts will notice and appreciate the difference, especially in competitive multiplayer titles.
With the Pulse Explore wireless earbuds, Sony set out to provide the best audio experience for PS5 gaming. And they’ve largely succeeded with the help of proprietary wireless technology and innovative driver design.
The final product offers detailed immersive sound, intuitive console integration, and all-day comfort for gaming marathons. Competitive gamers will gain an advantage detecting in-game audio cues missed by TV speakers while casual players can simply enjoy improved immersion.
While the battery life could be longer and noise isolation better tuned, the audio performance itself is difficult to criticize, especially at this price point. For regular PS5 gamers the Pulse Explore earbuds warrant a whole-hearted recommendation. They deliver audibly better gameplay without breaking the bank like some ultra-premium headphones.
To summarize, pros and cons of the Sony Pulse Explore Wireless Earbuds:
- Superb sound quality for games and music
- Lag-free wireless connectivity with PS5 console
- Lightweight and comfortable fit for long gaming sessions
- Convenient simultaneous connections to console and phone
- Fun PS5 aesthetic matches the console
- Battery life limited to about 5 hours per charge
- Noise isolation just average against external sounds
- Some latency when used with non-PS5 devices via Bluetooth
- Lack of playback controls limits phone device usage
So if you want a wireless audio upgrade purpose-built for your PS5, the uniquely capable Pulse Explore earbuds check all the boxes. They deliver key audio advantages over PS5’s built-in virtual surround sound too.
Just don’t expect them to replace your everyday earbuds for all scenarios – think of them more as a special gaming headset augmenting the incredible experiences possible only on PlayStation 5.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is the mic quality for voice chat?
A: Thanks to dual beamforming microphones and noise cancellation, voice chat comes through clearly. Friends reported minimal background noise pickup even in noisy environments.
Q: Can the earbuds connect to the PS4 or Nintendo Switch?
A: Unfortunately no, they only work wirelessly with PS5 consoles. You can connect to other devices via regular Bluetooth though.
Q: Do the earbuds support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format?
A: At launch no 360 Reality Audio support is included. However, Sony may push firmware updates in the future to activate support for more audio formats.
Q: How customizable are the sound profiles?
A: There are two baked-in genre presets with sliders to tune bass vs treble emphasis. An EQ option down the road could provide more customization freedom.
Q: Can I use just one earbud if needed?
A: You can use a single earbud independently. Doing so automatically enables pass-through audio mode allowing you to hear ambient sounds from your surroundings.
With superb audio and seamless PS5 integration, the Pulse Explore earbuds are a must-have accessory for devoted console gamers. They deliver tangible competitive advantages along with added immersion across action games, adventures, RPGs, and more.
Factor in surprisingly great sound quality for music and videos too, and the Pulse Explore earbuds make an compelling case as your default earbuds.
Minor shortcomings around battery life and noise isolation do leave some room for future iteration. But overall these purpose-built wireless earbuds excel at bringing PlayStation games to life through precise world-class sound.