Having a good gaming headset is almost mandatory if you do any online console gaming. The stock earpieces that come with the consoles get the job done, but really aren’t anything to write home about. The chat clarity and improved sound quality that comes with a good headset makes them a worthwhile investment for hardcore gamers. The tricky part in buying one comes down to what you want from a headset and what you’re willing to spend, since some of the higher end ones can end up costing a few hundred dollars. PDP recently released the LVL50 Stereo Headset for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and is available in both wireless and wired models.
The LVL50 Wireless and LVL50 Wired are identical at their basic level with some additional features to mention on the Wireless. Both headsets feature 50mm Neodymium Drivers, cushions made of breathable mesh, easily accessible volume dial on the right ear cup, bi-directional noise canceling microphone with passive noise filter that can quickly be muted when the mic boom is flipped up. The headsets are rather lightweight, weighing in at 0.7 lbs or 300 grams. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions are officially licensed which personal experience has taught is that when it comes to electronics, there tends to be less problems down the road with licensed products compared to unlicensed ones. These headsets have underwent testing to meet first-party quality standards and claim to hold up to thousands of hours of gaming. During the review process I unfortunately did not have thousands of hours to test the accuracy of this claim, but the license makes the claim more believable.
The LVL50 Wireless has a few extra features worth mentioning. There are two different audio modes, pure audio and bass boost which activated at the touch of a button. The wireless range reaches up to forty feet and is connected through a USB dongle featuring 2.4gHz for a consistent connection. Battery life expectancy is sixteen hours, which is on a respectable time for a wireless headset. The Xbox One model features a game/chat mix dial on the left ear cup. The PlayStation 4 model lacks this feature but the mix can be adjusted in system settings. The technical reasons for why the PlayStation model doesn’t include this are unknown to this writer, but could speculate this is based on hardware differences.
The LVL50 Wired is a basic no frills passive headset with a sticker price of $49.99 that connects to the controller with a 3.5mm input jack. It has no bells and whistles, but it does deliver high quality sound that is a noticeable improvement over the standard TV speakers. People looking for digital surround sound or some of the other audio tricks that come with more expensive headsets won’t find any of that here. This is just simple stereo sound headset and it’s a very good one. Chat clarity and mix is well balanced without having to do a lot of messing around in the system settings. The volume is easy to adjust with the one dial and the mic is easy to mute and unmute. The plug and play simplicity, sound quality and price point make the LVL50 Wired a great value for someone who just wants their games to sound good without needing any fancy extras. The 3.5mm jack also means that even though the sound is optimized for the respective console this can be used to listen to any device with a 3.5mm jack such as a PC or iPod, though they are a bit bulkier than the earbuds most people wear at the gym.
Most of what is said about the LVL50 Wired can be applied to the LVL50 Wireless. The Wireless costs a bit more at $79.99. The other features offered are more control of the game/chat mix and the bass boost option. The bass boost does give a noticeable but subtle increase to the low frequencies in game. The bass won’t become thunderous and make your head shake, just a slight increase in the rumbling. Having more control over the balance between chat and game audio is always a nice feature, but the default levels are well balanced. Because of the dongle attachment, the LVL50 Wireless is limited to console use and can’t double as a listening headset for other devices. For the price point this is a great sounding headset, but between the two variants, the LVL50 Wired seems like the better value based on the limited additional features with the wireless and the price difference.
The LVL50 headsets deliver high quality gaming audio that is on par with more expensive headsets, provided the user does not care about some of the other bells and whistles like digital surround sound or active noise cancellation. For someone who is only concerned about getting a headset with high quality sound, the PDP LVL50 headsets are a great option. The lightweight design and foam padding allows the headsets to remain comfortable for a couple hours of gaming and the earcuffs do provide some passive noise cancellation by deadening some of the outside sounds. If I were to recommend one over the other, I would say the LVL50 Wired is the better value, but both provide high quality audio.