A few weeks ago, I walked into my local Best Buy and saw the PDP Airlite Pro Wireless gaming headset. I had never heard of it before. It turns out that it’s just a new name for PDP’s “LVL 50” headset, which has been out for a few years and is available for both Xbox Wireless and Playstation/PC.
The second version works with more games and also with a Nintendo Switch that is docked. Microsoft’s audio licensing garbage makes it so you have to choose the right version for your chosen console.
Both versions have different colors that go with their respective consoles, but the way they work is the same. I used my own money to buy the PS5 version and have been trying it out for the past few weeks. Usually, this is where I’d post a link to their official product page, but since I bought this, both PDP’s and Best Buy’s official product pages have been taken down. Here’s a link to PDP’s site where you can find the Xbox version. We hope that the PS5 listings will be back soon.
The standard colorway of the headset is listed on PDP’s site for $79.99, but Best Buy charged me $84.99, which is still a good price for what it can do. The battery is supposed to last for 16 hours and charges over USB-C. The flip-to-mute mic has a built-in sidetone monitoring function. The ear cups can be turned flat so that they can be worn around the neck while taking a break. There is no way to connect these to anything but the USB dongle that comes with them.
At this price, the official headsets from Sony and Microsoft are the clear competition. The Pulse 3D headset is one of my favorite-looking ones on the market, but it doesn’t sound as good as it looks. The Microsoft Xbox Wireless headset has a lot of sound problems, which is a shame because for the price, it has a lot of great features.
Luckily for PDP, the Airlite Pro Wireless sounds better and costs less than either of the official first-party console options. It doesn’t have the style of the Pulse or the Xbox headset’s Bluetooth and nice padding, and it’s boring to look at, but it sounds good where it counts.
With a mode button on the back of the left ear cup, you can switch between the Airlite Pro Wireless’s two different sound signatures. The default “pure audio” mode has a tone that is more flat than usual for a gaming headset, but it is surprisingly well-balanced. The bass is there, but it doesn’t take over. The mids are a little bit cooler than they would be in a neutral presentation, and female vocals in music sound a little bit harsh. But that edge is good for games because it helps you figure out where things are. The treble is well-balanced and easy to hear for long periods of time.
When you turn on the bass boost mode, these headphones sound much more “gamey,” with a strong, thumping low end that gives explosions a lot of rumble while still sounding better than the official Xbox headset’s horrible bass boom. Unfortunately, the bass boost adds to the sound, so when I turned it on, I heard some digital clipping artifacts. I quickly fixed this by turning down the digital source audio on my PS5 or PC, but if you don’t know how to do this, the bass boost mode is full of distortion from the internal amp going past its hard internal clipping limit.
Wireless works well. There isn’t any noticeable latency, and the range is good. Even though there were two walls in the way, I was able to get about 10 meters away from my console before the signal stopped working. The battery estimate seems to be right, especially if you don’t listen to music at a very loud volume. At this lower price, it would be nice to have some kind of app support for more accurate battery estimates than just waiting for the headset to go crazy.
The sound quality of this headset is much better than that of either of the official options for my console, and it’s cheaper, which is great. This is a great choice if you want a wireless gaming headset with good sound quality and you want to spend as little money as possible.
But if you’re willing to spend just a little bit more, you can get something better, at least on the PS5/PC side. One of my favorite things this year is the Razer Barracuda X 2022. It has a removable microphone, Bluetooth and wired backup modes, a metal-reinforced headband, and a much longer battery life. And it only costs twenty dollars more, or fifteen dollars more if you paid an extra five dollars for the PDP model at Best Buy like I did.
I’d love to be able to send you to the product page for the Airlite Pro for PS5, and I’m wondering what happened to it. It’s also strange that PDP dropped the “LVL50” brand after so many successful years on the market for no reason other than “new product must come out.” From what I can tell, this is more of a cosmetic update than a whole new platform. If you already have a pair of PDP headphones that you’re happy with, you probably don’t need to upgrade.