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The Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore are technologically and sonically powerful with tight PS5/Portal integration. This makes them a brilliant option for dedicated PlayStation gamers, despite a design that’ll split opinion. However, if you’re only going to own one pair of wireless buds, a music-forward alternative may be better.


  • Tight intergration with PS5/Portal via PlayStation Link
  • Rapid connection to consoles
  • Brilliant, roomy in-game audio including 3D sound


  • Mediocre music performance
  • No noise cancellation
  • Awkward design

Key Features

  • PlayStation Link integrationRapid connection with the PS5 and PlayStation Portal thanks to new PlayStation Link technology. Delivers hi-res, lossless audio wirelessly with practically zero latency
  • 3D Audio compatibleAdd some immersive spatial audio to your PlayStation gaming on supported games and feel the sound coming at your character from all directions
  • Multi device connectivityAs well as PlayStation Link to PS4/PS5, Portal, Mac and PC, you can connect to mobile via Bluetooth simultaneously
  • Integrated microphonesPowerful mics concealed within the design with noise reduction tech, ensuring you come through clearly in multiplayer sessions and during phone calls


PlayStation is becoming portable again in 2024. Or, at least, more portable.

The PlayStation Portal handheld is now on the scene, albeit with the limitations enforced by a simple Remote Play remit. Beyond that, Sony has some PlayStation-branded true wireless buds available for the first time.

Sony already has arguably the best pair of wireless earphones around – the Sony WF-100XM5 – and while the Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore earphones are sonically sound, the Pulse Explore set is designed with gaming at the fore.

Promising rapid connection with PS5 and its Portal handheld counterpart, low-latency gaming, and powerful integrated mics for team chat and voice calls, PlayStation loyalists will find a solution tailor-made for the way they love to experience gaming. Let’s put the Pulse Explore buds to the test.

Design and Features

  • Awkward design, but feel secure in ear
  • Requires bundled dongle for PS4/PS5 connection
  • Five-hour battery, with case providing extra two charges

The Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds, like the PS5 console itself, are an acquired taste. They suffer somewhat from an awkward design that’s impractical for the sake of standing out.

Although slightly larger, the sliding case looks sleek from the exterior, and it’s a nice change from the identikit AirPods-style housings.

Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore with PlayStation Link dongle
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

However, the buds don’t feel like a natural and seamless fit in the case. The angled earbud itself doesn’t just glide into the ear. There’s an insert-and-twist style action that takes some adjusting to, and somehow it doesn’t look like a natural fit in the ear. In saying that, once inserted, the fit feels secure and lightweight.

Aside from the PlayStation branding and PS5 design synergy (awkward or not), the key feature is the PlayStation Link technology that enables instant pairing with a PS5 console and promises the low latency, lossless audio and ‘lifelike sound’.

Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore in ear
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

To connect with the PS4 or PS5, the Link tech requires an additional USB-A dongle that ships with the Pulse Explore buds – or is £25 to buy separately if you have multiple machines you’re hooking up to.

Once you pop the dongle into the PS4 or PS5 and power on the console, pairing is automatic and consistently rapid. This seamless audio synergy is useful if hooking-up your PS5 with a speaker-less monitor, for instance.

However, didn’t Sony announce these buds around the same time it launched a major hardware refresh for PlayStation 5 consoles? I find it very strange that PlayStation Link hasn’t been integrated within the PS5 Slim editions, as it has with the PlayStation Portal handheld. This would have meant you wouldn’t need to bother with the dongle.

Anyhow, the dongle is only about an inch long, so inoffensive enough. It also works with a Mac or PC if you like to use your laptop or desktop for Remote Play. Pairing with mobile devices is through Bluetooth.

Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore in-game menu
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There are manual volume controls on both buds, while pressing the multi-function button on the underside of the Pulse Explore three times brings up an EQ menu on the PS5 for more granular audio controls and various audio profiles.

Sony promises five hours of battery life from the Pulse Explore and you can get an additional two charges from the case. So, 15 hours of play in total with some intermissions for recharging. This played out in my testing.

However, when connecting to Bluetooth devices for music, I found that the battery drained much slower, probably getting around 7 hours of podcast listening on Spotify. Recharging is rapid too. Just ten minutes will get you 90 minutes of gaming, and I was able to fully replenish my buds from 0-100% in the case in just 35 minutes.

Audio and microphone

Sony says the planar magnetic drivers are behind what it says can reproduce in-game sound with “near perfect accuracy across the entire audible spectrum.”

In this context, I was genuinely impressed with the Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore, and it wasn’t surprising considering this particular tech is usually the preserve of higher-end headphones.

In-game audio feels genuinely immersive and wide-ranging when exploring the vast and intricate world of Horizon Forbidden West, for instance. Things kicked up a notch further when I enabled 3D Audio on the console, which works in tandem with Pulse Explore.

For supported games (most of the big first-party hits), there’s a clear sense of spatial awareness when combatting enemies, which enhances the realism. I could also hear extra details more clearly such as the sound of the water rushing beneath your feet, the sound of incoming fire, and machines lurking ominously overhead.

In-game dialogue is extremely crisp and perfectly clear and I was particularly excited about that. You’re not going to miss any of that important cutscene dialogue.

Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore charging case
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

However, these probably aren’t the earbuds for you if you’re seeking to shut out the outside world. There’s no noise cancelling (active or otherwise) on board which, at this price point, is a miss. The physical design isn’t such that your entire ear canal feels totally shut off either. I was gaming in the office at high volume, but I could hear my wife chopping veg and talking to the dog in the kitchen.

For music I was mildly satisfied with the sound while streaming Neck Deep’s new album on Spotify via Bluetooth to my iPhone. However, the soundscape was a little lightweight, distorted and nowhere near as full and rounded as my AirPods Pro 2. Bluetooth connectivity was choppy at times too.

The absence of ANC and a mobile app for fine tuning the EQ also means they’re limited earphones for music. Beyond that, the Pulse Explore skimps on basic features.

It doesn’t detect when you take out the buds and hence won’t pause the music automatically. The onboard physical volume controls didn’t even play nice with my iPhone. These are basic features for earbuds in this price category and those much below. You can probably look past their absence if PlayStation gaming is the predominant use case with a bit of music on the side.

However, not everyone is going to want (or be able to afford) a set of wireless headphones for gaming and another for music, so weigh up your priorities before purchasing.

Interestingly, music from the Spotify app from PS5, when connected to the Pulse Explore via PlayStation Link, was on a different planet to the Bluetooth connection. A truly detailed soundscape that felt spatially aware and intricate and interesting across the high and low ends.

Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore with DualSense
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The microphones are concealed within the buds themselves, so you aren’t going to get the same experience as you would from a boom microphone on the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset, which launched alongside the Explore.

The company is also using an AI-powered “noise rejection” system designed to capture only your voice and none of the sounds around you. I was told the microphone sounded good and clear during multiplayer sessions and voice calls.

Speaking of voice calls, Pulse Explore can be connected to your PlayStation device via PlayStation Link and your phone via Bluetooth at the same time, meaning you can be alerted to an incoming call while playing games. This is handy if you want to stay alert, or a nightmare if you want to just focus on gaming.

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Should you buy it?

You’re a dedicated PlayStation gamer

If you’re a PS5/PlayStation Portal gamer looking for a tailor-made solution for gaming on those machines, the Pulse Explore is the perfect portable option.

You want a balanced set of buds with better music features

If you game, but want a set primarily for music, look at Sony’s WM-100HM5 earphones on Android and AirPods Pro on iPhone. There are plenty of sets with better audio, noise cancelling and other staple features that are MIA here.

Final Thoughts

The Sony PlayStation Pulse Explore wireless earbuds bring rapid and reliable connectivity through PlayStation Link, and high-quality audio transmission with no noticeable latency. In-game audio sounds rich, full and spacious, elevated further on games supporting 3D audio.

Yes, the design, build, and in-ear positioning is unnecessarily awkward, but it’s very much in-fitting with the PS5’s style. Even at £200/$200 these get a big ‘yes’ for dedicated PS5/Portal gamers who will use this product mostly for that purpose.

While there’s handy dual-device connectivity and OK performance, those seeking a music-first, gaming second approach are much better off looking at the Sony XM5 earbuds or AirPods Pro for a full-featured wireless earbud experience that can also hook up to your console. Check out our Best Headphones and Best PS5 Headset guides for further options.

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How we test

We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

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Tested on PS5 console as main gaming headset

Played a variety of games with the headphones.

Used with an iPhone to test music performance and smartphone connectivity features


Does PlayStation Pulse Explore come with PlayStation Link dongle?

Yes. There is one USB-A dongle included. Others can be purchased separately

Does the PlayStation Portal have PlayStation Link built in?

Yes it does. There is no need to connect the dongle to the handheld Portal machine

Full specs

IP rating
Battery Hours
Wireless charging
Fast Charging
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Frequency Range
Headphone Type

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