In its effort to make gameplay experiences more immersive, Sony is turning to a familiar and somewhat kitschy concept—rumble feedback headphones. Last week, it introduced the PlayStation Pulse wireless stereo headset Elite Edition, a $149.99 simulated surround sound headset that pairs with the PlayStation 3 via USB dongle and just about any device with a 3.5mm headphone port. Despite its somewhat gimmicky marquee feature, however, the Pulse is actually a great looking and decent sounding solution. Like the $99 wireless stereo headset PlayStation introduced last year, the Pulse uses stereo drivers and Sony's own simulated 7.1 surround sound audio but offers a superior build and more visual flare with gloss plastic casing and metal accents. The audio quality, though competing with the roar of the E3 show floor, was surprisingly robust, offering some decent bass punch with some limited three-dimensionality when sampling surround sound sources.
The rumble feature seems to emanate from the edges of the earcups and on the sides of the headband, vibrating to coincide with low-frequency sounds, like gunshots, explosions, and other combat situations. The effect adds another layer of engagement during action sequences, though one can't help but wonder if will become fatiguing in larger doses. Of course, those who prefer a rumble-free experience can turn the feature off or dial it down by adjusting a slider along the side. But even if users hate the rumble feature, the Pulse offers a solid array of features for a comparatively affordable price and should give Sony's accessory business a nice shot in the arm when it hits stores this fall.