Why Sony's new In-Ear Stereo Headset sounds like the best solution for console voice chat

Sony In-Ear Stereo Headset
Credit: Sony

To casual observers (aka non-gamers) the Xbox One and Playstation 4 probably seem fairly similar, and in many ways they are. But as we spend more and more time with our consoles, we start to notice that little things.

Take voice chat. Both Sony and Microsoft offer peripherals to improve on the fairly awful chat gear that comes with the consoles. Microsoft has the Xbox One Stereo Headset, a $60 pair of headphones with a boom mic. It connects to your Xbox One controller via a cable to an (included) adapter that plugs into the original Xbox One controller (I'm not sure if the adapter is still needed with the new and improved controller). The headset is powered from the controller.

Sony has the $100 Playstation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset. This headset has an internal mic rather than a boom, but it sounds great (as long as you don't put them on backwards, which is easy to do). As stated on the tin, this is a totally wireless headset but it inexplicably requires a dongle in one of the USB ports on the PS4. You'll also need to keep it charged of course.

Technically speaking, Sony offers the better gear, and yet I prefer voice chat on the Xbox One. Why? Because of the required adapter. While it sounds like an inelegant requirement, it actually adds a nice feature: a big, easy to see Mute button for when you want to mute the microphone. It also has buttons to balance voice and game volume. Plus I don't have to worry about charging the Xbox One headset.

The Playstation Gold Wireless Headset has a mute button too, but I always have to fumble for it because it's on one of the cups. Without going to look at the headset, I couldn't tell you where it is; to me that's a problem. Add to that the issue of having to charge the headset and the fact that I find my ears get hot wearing them, and I just prefer the Xbox One's chat solution even though the Xbox has less 'advanced' hardware.

On Monday Sony announced a new device for the PS4: the In-Ear Stereo Headset. This is a set of earbuds with AudioShield noise reduction technology and an integrated mic. The In-Ear headset plugs into your controller and there's a Mute switch (as well as volume controls) on the cable which should be easy to locate quickly. There're only two downsides to the new headset. First, it needs to be charged. The EU Playstation Blog post announcing the product says you'll get 15 hours of use off of a charge, so that, at least, is good news. The second issue is the price: £77.99/€89.99; that's about $120 US.

The In-Ear Stereo Headset launches in the UK and Ireland on December 4th and across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East and Africa on December 9th. So far there's no official announcement of a North American launch date but hopefully we'll get one soon.

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