So over the last 3 weeks I’ve been using both the Sony Pulse 3D and the Astro A20 Gen 2s.
Both are compatible with the PS5, and both are at a similar price point. So before buying these I couldn’t decide which I wanted, and as there were no reviews online comparing them both side by side, I bought both to test out for myself.
I’m going to do a quick unboxing, then compare the main features, microphones and sound. Plus the pros, cons and the overall style, and finally which one I would buy.
So first up, the Pulse 3D headset, these were £90 or $100.
Inside the box we get the headset, we get the manual and quick start guide, a USB C charging cable that you can plug into the PS5, a 3.5mm headphone cable to plug into your controller and a wireless USB adapter. So this is everything you’ll get with the Pulse 3D kit.
Inside Box ASTRO A20
So next up, the Astro A20 headset, these are the Gen 2 version which cost £100 or $120.
Now I have previously had the A50s, and the only reason I’m not using the A50s is because the HDMI adapter they’ve released is limited to HDMI 2.0, rather than 2.1.
So inside the box we get the setup instructions and manual, the USB C cable to charge it, a USB dongle and the headset. And that’s it. So that’s everything inside the A20s box, no 3.5mm jack with this one as it’s a wireless only headset.
Look and feel: PULSE 3D
Taking a closer look at the two headsets. Starting with the Pulse 3D, ok so first impressions are that it looks really nice, and obviously looks on brand with the black and white console and controller theme we’re familiar with.
So the outer edge is a hard plastic, no movement or flex at all here.
This inner piece here is a soft rubber texture. This is the part that will rest on your head and move up and down to accommodate your size, there’s no sliding parts on the side as such. So as you stretch it, the headset will increase in size, there’s also a small L and R letter on each side to make sure you’re wearing it the correct way.
The outside of the cups are a hard plastic as well, with some soft foam or almost a fake leather ear cups. Nice branding on the side here, we’ve got a small PlayStation logo, you can just about see it as I turn it here.
But yeh they look nice, looks really clean and minimal actually, almost looks like a steelseries headset. Build quality though, they don’t feel all that great, I mean they definitely look better than they feel.
Look and feel: ASTRO A20
Now looking at the Astro A20s, this looks totally different. I mean they clearly looking like a gaming headset. It’s got a white and black theme, and as these are the PS5 version it’s got the blue accents instead of green too. It looks fresh but very gaming focused.
There’s plenty of branding on it, there’s the Astro logo on the top, which is on this hard plastic band. On the sides there’s more branding, but the colours look nice here with the small blue details.
Now to adjust the band on this headset is the same as what we’re used to seeing, the band just moves up using the sliders on the side. So you pull it up or push it down to find the size that fits best.
The ear cups on this headset are fabric rather than foam, so they are really soft and feel so much nicer when you’re wearing them compared to the Pulse 3D.
On the inside once again we’ve got some small letters to indicate which way you should be wearing these.
Comparing the two side by side, you can really see the difference in style. What do you think to them? I like them both for different reasons, so the Pulse looks proper clean, I like the minimal branding, the black and white theme and the shape. It looks nice.
But the Astros do look like a gaming headset, and it has a nice PlayStation theme to it, I just think they’ve gone overkill with the logos. I prefer the look of the Pulse 3Ds though, but the build quality and feel of the Astros are so much better. It actually makes the Pulse 3Ds feel really cheap.
Buttons PULSE 3D
Taking a quick look at the buttons, so on the side of the headset you can control the sound from these small buttons.
There’s a button to control the volume between the chat or party chat sound and the in-game sound too, just pressing this up or down.
Here you can decide whether you want to monitor or hear your own voice. I usually have this on, as it stops me shouting when I’m talking.
Then there’s the overall volume control of the headset here.
The mute button can be toggled on and off by pressing it, visually you can see it’s muted by the orange accent, but as it’s popped out you can also feel it when you’re gaming too.
USB C port here, we’ll use this to charge the headset.
And the 3.5mm jack which we’ll use to plug into the controller.
And finally the power button. Once it’s on you’ll see a small LED light up on the side.
Buttons ASTRO A20
Now looking at the A20 buttons, there’s also the power button on the side here, which lights up the small LED under when on.
There’s also the button which switches between the 3 EQ presets. Just tapping this will swap between the three options. You can hear a beep each time you press it, so you know which preset you’re using, so it either beeps 1, 2 or 3 times as you press it.
At the bottom there’s a infinite scroll wheel to control the voice to game sound, and under that there’s the USB C charging port too.
And that’s it for buttons on this headset.
Wired vs Wireless PULSE 3D
So with the Pulse 3D headset you can either use it wired or wireless. If you choose to use it wired, you need to use the provided cable and plug it into the controller instead, nothing needs powering on this way as it’ll use your controller.
Or if you’d rather use it wirelessly you just plug the USB adapter into the front of the PS5, turn the headset on and it’ll connect. Pretty easy, and you can see the headset icon and battery icon appear on screen.
Now one thing to note, when you’re using the wired option, you can’t control the headset using the buttons on the side anymore. They won’t let you change the volume now, you’ll need to use the console settings instead.
Whereas if you’re using it wirelessly, you can obviously use the headset buttons, and while you press them, you will see the options on screen too, so you can see the volume and the game to voice chat slider too.
Same if you mute it, that’ll show on screen at the top. And if you turn the headset off, it’ll show it’s been disconnected.
One thing that’s annoying when using it wirelessly though, is the mute button on the controller won’t control the headset. This should work in my opinion, maybe they’ll update it in the future, but it’s far easier to mute using the controller than trying to fiddle about with the headset.
But when you use it plugged into the controller, the mute button does work, which is useful and something I prefer.
Wired vs Wireless ASTRO A20
Then with the Astro A20s, there’s only wireless available, there’s no option to use these plugged into your controller.
So it also comes with a USB adapter which needs to be plugged into the PS5. Once plugged in it’ll turn blue, there is a sync button on the top, I didn’t need to use this as the headset did connect straight away with no issues.
Now I mentioned that while using the Pulse headset in wireless mode, the mute button on the controller had no control over the headset, in fact it showed an error on screen. Whereas the A20s can be muted using the controller, which is pretty weird considering the Astros are third party and allow this.
Then controlling the volume of the A20s, you can do this via the microphone tab on the PS5.
But using both headsets in wireless mode has caused no issues, at no point have either dropped connection or dropped sound during games. I’ve been impressed with that.
Now I understand that the Astro headset may need the wireless USB adapter, that’s fine I guess, but I think it’s a real shame that the Sony headset wasn’t developed without the requirement for this USB adapter. It looks pretty poor having either of these sticking out of the front of the console.
Charging both of these headsets is straight forward, just take the provided USB C cables and plug it into the console or any USB port.
The Pulse 3D has a 12 hour battery life, and the Astro A20s come in at 15 hours.
One thing you’ll notice about the two headsets, is only one of them has an external microphone.
So the A20s have the usual microphone arm here, this just moves up and down as you’d expect, if you move it all the way up it will turn the microphone off, so it’ll mute it this way when you’re not using it. It means you can adjust how close or how far away to have the mic from your mouth.
Whereas the Pulse 3D doesn’t have a microphone arm at all, the microphone is built into the headset using these small holes instead. This will have an impact on the sound it creates, and I’ll start by saying now that the voice it picks up from the Pulse 3D is not as good as the A20s. Everything sounds further away, a little bit echo-ey and overall just not as good. So if you’re coming from using headsets with a microphone arm, you’ll be disappointed with the sound on this one.
The A20s also does a far better job of minimising other noises in your room, so if you’re in a room with other people talking while you game, the A20s are better for this. But your voice will sound very compressed.
Now onto the sound, the only reason you’d buy one of these headsets. So I really only use my headset when I’m playing online, I very rarely use them for single player games as I’d rather use my speaker setup.
Sound is also subjective, so what sounds good to me, won’t be the same for you. Just know that I’ve been using the Astro A50s for a couple of years which sound incredible, and these are obviously in a totally different price category.
Sound Pulse 3D
Ok, so as I’m comparing these two headsets, I’m going to try and highlight the pros and cons of both in terms of the sound, and this is from playing games like Spider-Man, Cold War and Need for Speed Heat.
The only way I can describe the Pulse 3Ds is they sound very flat. There’s very little bass on these, which you might think is fine, but there’s just no punch to them.
So during games like Cold War, I could hear footsteps, I could hear where they were coming from and it was very directional. There’s no denying that they are precise and can clearly pinpoint where footsteps or gun fire is coming from.
But anything that you’d expect bass from, whether in wireless or wired mode, there was nothing there. If there was the ability to edit the EQ settings, you’d think the bass was set to the minimum as it’s that flat.
Voice chat in games were quite poor as well. So while I was playing online with a few mates, all of us had these Pulse 3Ds on, we could hear echos of our own voices, and our voices sounded really distant. This is obviously down to the mic not having an arm so the quality wasn’t going to be as good.
Also the Sony Pulse 3D are marketed as being 3D sound, which would make you think that the 3D functionality is part of the headset itself, but it actually isn’t. It’s a console setting, not the actual headset.
Overall I was massively disappointed with the Pulse headset, which is why I then, within a few days, went and bought the Astro A20s to compare them to.
Sound Astro A20
So, now looking at the A20s.
As soon as I turned these on, these sounded so much better. They were full of bass and they instantly changed the entire experience of the game.
The sound is clearer, it’s punchier and it’s a lot sharper. It just sounds so much more full too. It’s obviously nowhere near as good as the A50s I used on the PS4, but this is 100% better than the Pulse 3D. They can go pretty loud too, so no problems with turning this up to hear those quiet footsteps.
So as you’d expect the sound is very precise, you can pinpoint all of the sound around you such as footsteps and gun fire. I’ve been really impressed with this. For the price point, this is a great headset.
The microphone is better as well, as there’s the mic arm you can have it closer to your mouth.
The ability to swap between the 3 EQ settings on the headset, just by pressing the button is great. I’ve no idea what each of the 3 settings do, but you can toggle between each one which will change the bass and overall sound.
EQ – Laptop settings
Coming from using the Astro A50s, where I could use the Astro command centre to customise the EQ settings, it’s disappointing that these Gen 2s aren’t yet supported. So I’ve tried plugging them in, but the command centre doesn’t recognise them. I’ve read online that they might be supported in the future, but at the time of making this video, nearly a month after picking them up, they still aren’t supported. I’m not sure they ever will be either, so if they are let me know in the comments.
So overall, if you’re wanting a headset that looks clean and minimal, go for the Pulse 3D. Right now that’s literally the only reason you should choose this headset.
But if you want better sound, better build quality, better microphone, just an all round better headset, you’ll want to go for the A20s.
Price wise, I think the A20s are worth the £100/$120 price tag, they could even be worth more than that. Whereas the Pulse 3D, you really are paying for the brand here, you’re paying for the PS5 branding. You’re not paying for the quality at all.
Now I like Sony, I really like PlayStation, but the A20s are better.
So yeh if you can, go for the A20s. That’s what I’m now using, I’ll sell the Pulse 3Ds at some point.
Hopefully we’ll see some PS5 compatible A50s soon, and as soon as we do I’ll be ordering those. I really need that Dolby Digital sound again, but until then these A20s will do.