The PlayStation Pulse Explore has been unveiled by Sony as the company's first-ever dedicated set of high-end wireless gaming earbuds for the PS5 console. There's a fair amount to go on, so we're bringing you all you need to know in a digestible and easy-to-read manner.
Announced in a recent PlayStation Blog post, and a corresponding teaser trailer, the PlayStation Pulse Explore is aimed at audiophiles on the PS5 console, as well as those looking ahead to the PlayStation Portal.
Sony has a solid track record in the audio world as can be evidenced through some of the best PS5 headsets, and also unveiled the PlayStation Pulse Elite, a high-end gaming headset, in the hardware reveal. All three of these (Pulse Explore, Pulse Elite, and the Portal) products are tied together through the company's new wireless technology PlayStation Link.
Below we're going over the PlayStation Pulse Explore's hardware, features, price, and everything else we know.
PlayStation Pulse Explore: Price and release date
According to the hands-on report on the PlayStation Blog which accompanied the reveal, the PlayStation Pulse Explore will retail for $199.99 / £199.99 (around AU$311). Pre-orders have yet to be revealed, however, we'll be updating you with this information and a dedicated pre-order page as soon as this happens.
This $200 / £200 price point puts the PlayStation Pulse Explore at the premium end of the spectrum as far as gaming earbuds are concerned. The main competitor for the system in this price range is the Razer Hammerhead Hyperspeed for PS5 which retails for $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$259. That means these Sony-made earbuds are a full $50 / £50 (around AU$78) more than Razer's officially licensed offerings that were released in March 2023.
Back in February, it was rumored that Sony was working on gaming earbuds for the PS5. Now that the PS5 earbuds have been officially unveiled, it seems like this set is closer in relation to some of the company's best earbuds than a typical gaming product. Price-wise, the PlayStation Pulse Explore is far closer to the asking prices of the WF-1000XM4 earbuds ($279 / £199.99 / AU$449.95), however, this model is regularly discounted to below the $200 mark in the US with the launch of the WF-1000XM5 earbuds ($299.99 / £259 / AU$499).
PlayStation Pulse Explore: Design and Features
The design of the PlayStation Pulse Explore gaming earbuds features a color and design scheme that matches the PS5 system - a black and white monochrome aesthetic adorned with a black PlayStation logo. The pair looks clean and should fit right in with one of the best PS5 accessories, so your setup will look neat and satisfyingly uniform.
Hideaki Nishino, Senior Vice President of Platform Experience at SIE writes: "Pulse Explore is our first set of wireless earbuds, providing a premium portable audio experience with dual microphones and AI-enhanced noise rejection capable of filtering background sounds". He continues: "It also offers lossless audio and comes with a charging case". Also confirmed are dedicated volume and link buttons to make adjustments on the fly.
The charging case is very different from what Sony has done previously with the likes of the WF-1000 earbuds as instead of a small rounded case, this one is elongated with a slide cover. "The white cover can be slid back to reveal the earbuds themselves. Notably, the magnetic sliding action of the cover has a satisfying click to it when opening and closing". It's possible this change is due to needing to support a larger battery to charge the buds in the pod, but the battery life and size have yet to be confirmed, however, it will charge by USB-C, so the front port on the system can be used.
Tim Turi, Content Communications Manager at SIE, writes how the PlayStation Pulse Explore "sports planar magnetic drivers, which are more commonly found in the high-quality headsets game audio engineers use". He continues: "Put simply, unlike typical cone-shaped drivers, these flat (planar) drivers convey a wider range of nuanced sounds. Combine this with PlayStation’s potent 3D audio and players are in for a crisp, immersive experience". That means some of the best PS5 games can be enjoyed even more with the company's proprietary audio technology.
These are bold claims for sure, and only testing will tell whether the audio drivers found within the PlayStation Pulse Explore will deliver a truly better experience. One of the more exciting things regarding the new audio gear coming from Sony is the introduction of PlayStation Link. According to the Japanese hardware giant, this "new tech allows the PS5 console, PlayStation Portal, Pulse Explore wireless earbuds, and Pulse Elite headset to achieve low-latency, lossless audio". It appears to be a 2.4 GHz connection, however, support has been confirmed for Bluetooth and dual-connectivity in both upcoming buds and the new PS5 headset.
PlayStation Pulse Explore: FAQs
Do the PS5 Pulse Explore gaming earbuds support 3D Audio?
Yes, it's been confirmed that the Pulse Explore gaming earbuds do support Sony's 3D audio meaning you'll be able to enjoy all the benefits of this feature with the buds. The effect may be more muted due to the smaller audio drivers than than can be found in a soundbar or dedicated over-ear headset, though.
Will the PSVR 2 support the PS5 Pulse Explore gaming earbuds?
Sony has not confirmed yet whether the PSVR 2 will support the PS5 Pulse Explore gaming earbuds. Currently, the gaming headset does not directly support Bluetooth. It remains to be seen whether this is compatible, which would bring 3D audio and a smaller form factor to the virtual reality gaming headset.