Will my expensive gaming headset work on PS4/Xbox One?
We try and find out.
By Robert Purchese Published Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Gaming headsets don't come cheap. They can cost hundreds of pounds. It's understandable, then, that there was concern when we heard that some existing headsets wouldn't fully work with PS4 and Xbox One.
I canvassed the major manufacturers - Turtle Beach, SteelSeries, Astro and Razer - as well as the platform holders, to find out what was going on.
The good news is that it sounds like all headsets will play audio straight away, and eventually their microphones will work as well. In the meantime, both consoles come bundled with headsets and/or cameras that have microphones you can use for chat instead.
The obstacle on Xbox One is the new proprietary headset port on the controller, which is different to the one on Xbox 360. Microsoft is working on an adaptor to enable headsets with the old connection-type to plug in, but it won't be released until early 2014.
"Legacy headsets will not be compatible with Xbox One at launch," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "The Wireless Controller has been redesigned to allow for higher data transfer speed between the controller and the console. This also required creating a new expansion port design for headsets and future controller add-on devices which is different from a standard audio plug input.
"Xbox plans to develop solutions in the near future to allow consumers to connect many brands of wired gaming headsets to the Wireless Controller for gaming and chat audio."
Again, headsets you currently use for Xbox 360 should receive Xbox One audio just fine. That's what SteelSeries, Razer and Astro all told me.
Turtle Beach's Microsoft-licensed XO Four and XO Seven headsets will be compatible with Xbox One "out of the box", but were delayed along with the Xbox One chat adaptor to Q1 2014. "We will work closely with Microsoft in 2014 to continue to advance next-gen audio and may explore alternatives," Turtle Beach added.On PlayStation 4, a launch day firmware update - version 1.5 - should see most USB headsets used on PS3 up and running just fine."All our USB headsets should receive both game and chat audio once Sony pushes an update to the PS4, which it says will be available on day one," Turtle Beach said. SteelSeries' director of audio, Dan Radin, nodded: "This is the situation for all USB headsets, not only SteelSeries'."
He then teased: "We're going to be introducing something very exciting, very soon - especially for console players - that will enable cable-less PS4 chat once Sony issues its USB headset update."
Turtle Beach headsets that use an optical connection will receive audio but "not all" can be used for chat. But Astro has stated that its optical headsets like the A50 will be "fully compatible" with PS4 following the 1.5 update.
The PS4's DualShock 4 controller does now have a standard 3.5mm headset port that can be plugged into to enable voice chat, and it can even push through game audio as well.
What's most bizarre about PlayStation 4 is that it won't support chat from existing Bluetooth headsets. At all.
"Existing wireless headsets from third-party companies that use a Bluetooth connection will not be supported on the PS4 system," stated Sony in its large PS4 FAQ.
"Just Bluetooth chat won't work," clarified Turtle Beach. "Our wireless headsets have a mobile adapter cable that can be used for chat, even though Bluetooth will be disabled. Most headsets will be able to receive game audio."
What makes it bizarre is that there are Bluetooth headsets being made for PS4 that will support audio and chat, as confirmed in the PS4 FAQ.
So what's the problem - Bluetooth incompatibility? No, said a spokesperson from Bluetooth itself: "The two standards, 2.0 and 2.1 are not incompatible. In fact, all Bluetooth updates are backwards compatible with each other." It's different for the new, low-power Bluetooth 4.0, but we're not talking about that.
PlayStation 4 also supports PS3 Move controllers, which use Bluetooth 2.0 to connect. So why don't existing Bluetooth headsets work? "This could be as simple as they don't have the Bluetooth profiles on the box at launch, and that Sony will update at a later date," answered the Bluetooth spokesperson.
I asked Turtle Beach the same question. "That is a business decision made by Sony, and questions regarding that decision should be directed to Sony," was the answer I got.
I tried directing the questions to Sony but after multiple attempts still had no answers. Consider the time of year for Sony, however, and you can understand it has a lot on its plate.
In other words, sit tight: your expensive headset should carry over onto the new generation of consoles, eventually, just fine.