Headset provided by the manufacturer
DISCLAIMER: Okay, this is a biggie. One of the founding fathers of Prif used to write for Critical Gamer. Not only that, but we stay in contact, and some of the reviews published on their official blog are written by my good self. No contracts are involved however, and I am not paid for any of my work there. For better or worse I’m being entirely honest in my opinions here, and going forward I intend to get others on the CG team to review any Prif products we cover in future. With that out of the way, let’s get to it…
New kids on the block Prif have finally started to release real products, which you can buy with real money. Having been informed about the company in the very early stages, taking the PlaySonic 3 out of the box was an odd experience for me, almost like the birth of a firstborn child; albeit a child fitted with a removable microphone and a 3.5mm jack connection.
First impressions are good. It’s priced somewhere in the lower mid area of the headset market (less than thirty quid at Amazon at time of writing), but has the appearance of a pricier model. The earcups and headband are both cushioned in a lush and disturbingly attractive manner, and the microphone is a feature all by itself. It swivels round a bit and sits upon a flexible cable. Okay, nothing special there; you could say the same of flippin’ loads of headsets. This mic has a cushion on the end though and, although this serves to give it a vaguely phallic appearance, that is (surprisingly) not the distinguishing feature.
Why is the mic always on the left hand side? Okay, don’t tell me, I’m sure there’s a logical and prosaic reason behind it. But with the PlaySonic 3, you can switch the mic between the left and right cups should you so wish, you rebellious devil. I’m not entirely sure why you would want to do this – nor am I sure why you’d want to take advantage of the fact that each earcup can be swivelled 180 degrees so that it’s facing away from your ear – but, each to their own.
Okay, so it looks good (I’m a particular fan of the red metallic highlights on the cups). But does it… er…. headset good? Going back to that luxurious-looking cushioning, it really does make the headset comfy to wear. Possibly the comfiest one I’ve tried so far, in fact, and no overly sweaty cranium from extended use either. The headband doesn’t extend quite so far as some others, but it certainly looks like it easily stretches wide enough to fit any ordinary human. I don’t have a particularly bloated head (even if I do say so myself), so I can’t give a first-hand account of how it would fit a steroid-fuelled monstrosity.
One thing you most certainly do not have to worry about is the outside world intruding on your aural pleasure. Even before you plug it into anything, the PlaySonic 3’s earcups block noise from the outside world with surprising efficacy. Having spent many years working on factory floors, I genuinely think that they would work as moderately effective ear defenders (though I hasten to add that you really shouldn’t try testing this out). The volume can go darn loud too. Sound quality is great, with a deep earthy bass that’s perfect for action games or music with a booming backdrop.
As for the mic that can promiscuously insert itself into either earcup, it picks up your voice very well, and you don’t need to fiddle with it for perfect positioning either. If you purposefully pull it far from your mouth, then yes, you’ll come through fainter. Short to mid distance provides consistent voice pickup though. Even when I purposefully moved the mic much too close, my voice didn’t come through muffled or distorted. It’s perfect for game chat; but not quite to the level perfectionists who regularly record, say, podcasts or Let’s Plays might want. It does a good job of excluding some (but not all) background noise; it deserves credit for that. There’s a very, very faint background hiss though which, if not propped up by music or sound effects, will irk the pedant.
It’s ready to go for pretty much any gaming machine. You can plug it into your 3DS or Vita but, of course, you’re not going to have much use for the mic there. Just as well it’s removable, eh? You can use it with your PC and, while it doesn’t run through a USB connection, it comes with a Y cable; hurrah! You’d be surprised how many headsets don’t. Plug it into a home console’s controller and, thanks to the built-in rechargeable battery (which charges via USB in a few hours), you needn’t worry about a cable trailing across the room to power the thing. Plug it into your DualShock 4, fiddle with the headset settings in the PS4 menu should you so desire, and job’s a goodun. Similarly, you can plug it straight into an Xbox One controller – if you’ve got one of the newer ones. If you have the original design, when Microsoft were still expecting you to buy a headset adapter in their non-stop mission at the time to make everybody hate them, you’re out of luck. Same with any other headset there, though. It’s also compatible with Wii U but, again, not a big demand for chat functions there…
The switch on the cable leading from the left earcup is, basically, the PlaySonic 3’s control centre. It’s where you plug the micro USB cable in to charge it; it’s where you have the volume control; it’s where you have the on/off switch; it’s where you have the mic mute/unmute button. Heck, there’s even a clip so you can attach it to your baby’s ear for easy access while you play*! I’m old fashioned, me, and I like having everything to hand like this rather than on the earcups, or on top of the headband, or on a noseclip or something.
I feel confident in saying that the PlaySonic 3 can comfortably rival headsets selling for twice the price. It’s comfortable to the point of quickly forgetting it’s even there, it’s plug and play for the latest machines, it roars sound into your ears with pleasing power, it grabs your voice and holds on tight, and it looks sexy. It’s a keeper.
*If you actually see anybody doing this, you have my permission to slap them. Hard.