A powerful headset that punches above its weight.
- Manufacturer: PDP Gaming
- Model: LVL50 wireless for PS4
- Release date: Available now
- Price: £69.99/$79.99 RRP
- Supported Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Reviewed on: PS4
- Supplied by: PDP Gaming
Having spent most of my current-gen gaming using Turtle Beach PX24’s, and occasionally trying much more high-end expensive headphones from friends and at events, I really wasn’t sure where on the scale of things the PDP’s LVL50 gaming wireless headset was going to fit. There seemed to be a lot of hype around them, but could such a cheap headset really deliver top-end performance?
The initial set up isn’t as straightforward as it should be, as the instructions supplied within the box are vague and uninformative. To get started you simply just plug in the dongle, turn on the headset, wait a few seconds and the headset automatically pairs with the console. Unfortunately, the supplied instructions on the leaflet didn’t explain just how simple it really was, and they encourage you to press buttons on the dongle and wait for a beeping noise that never comes. You can download the instructions from the PDP website, though, which offers a much more in-depth explanation of the features and functions, including how to connect your headset to the PS4, as well as showing how to operate the two different sound modes available..
Visually, the headset looks sleek, smart, and most importantly expensive! Detailing is fantastic, with design cues that will especially appeal to fans of Horizon Zero Dawn. In that game, character designs incorporate bright blue wires laced through people’s skin. Here, on the headset chassis of the LVL50’s, just above the ear cups, they have added a cutaway that allows you to see the coiled blue wires interwoven through the sturdy plastic. This bright blue colour combined with the subdued metallic grey and black framework and blue detailing stands out even more.
The headset felt a little heavier, chunkier, and much more solid than I expected, but that conveyed a sense of a quality, well-built product, which it is. Weighing in at 0.7lbs (317g) I was initially concerned with how heavy this would feel once fitted, but I needn’t have worried, as this was negated by the next outstanding feature, the ear cup fit.
The soft padded cups fitted completely over my ears, but with enough tension and grip in the chassis that I didn’t need to adjust the headband to the top of my head if I didn’t want to. Wearing the headset simply sitting over my ears and not resting on the top of my head for long periods of time, it felt like all I had on was a comfortable pair of ear warmers. The weight of the headset, therefore, wasn’t noticeable even after prolonged periods as the fit was so comfortable. In short, the fit is remarkable.
But, the main aspect of any set of headphones is the quality of sound, and the LVL50s are excellent. For the first time, I could truly get a real sense of depth perception through my headphones, especially in games like Battlefield 5. This is mainly because the depth of the range of sound from bass to high is superb. Cranking the volume up to its highest levels, the only bit of distortion I got was from the higher tinny notes of drum cymbals in rock music, but this is noticeable only at an extremely high volume setting. With its closed-back construction, the Level50 offers decent noise isolation, although the fabric covering of the earpads does allow some ambient noise to pass through.
Microphone quality is good: Using this headset for the first time, talking to friends who had only ever heard me through my normal headset, they commented on how clear and crisp my voice had now become over the system, and I too could hear them with greater clarity.
Feature-wise the LVL50s are simple but very very effective. The mute function is operated by moving the mic arm from in front of your mouth upwards until you get a beep in the headphones and a comfortingly sturdy click of the arm. A volume control dial is located on the right ear cup and the ergonomic design means it is easy to locate without looking.
It turns out (no thanks to the supplied instruction sheet), that the headset has two modes. Normal and Super Hearing. When you press the mode button, it switches between these EQ presets, with one beep indicating Normal mode, and two beeps for Base Boost. Knowing how it operates, it is simple to change. The difference between the two modes was very pronounced as, for example, it improved the separation of noises such as advancing footsteps from the background battlefield noise, and adds a much deeper resonance to the gunfire, especially the bass-heavy tones of cannons.
The headset is supplied with a charging cable and a USB dongle to pair to the PS4. PDP’s LVL50 headset has been officially licensed by Sony for the PlayStation 4, and after using it, it’s clear to see why. However, unlike many other headsets, there is no 3.5mm jack connection, meaning there is no cross-compatibility with other devices.
Battery life is an excellent 16 hours, and if this isn’t sufficient, you can still use the headset while it is charging. It’s unclear, however, how long the full charging time is, as there is no visible or audible cue to indicate a full charge and no way of determining how much battery life is remaining.
PDP claims the LVL50s have a 40-foot wireless range, though in testing I found this not to be the case. About 20 feet on a full charge with no clutter in the way seems to be about my limit, however, this is dependent on local interference, so your results may vary. The only other niggle of the headset was that the foam covering the mic constantly kept sliding from its position over your mouth down the length of the arm, so much so that frankly, it seemed pointless to have it at all.
Available for £59.98 from Amazon or $59.99 in the USA, this headset sits comfortably at the upper end of the budget range and offers excellent value for a wireless headset. However, with such excellent all-round sound quality, superb comfort, build, outstanding ergonomic features, and long battery life, it could be argued that the LVL50s are punching well above their weight, and can certainly challenge much more expensive headsets for performance, let alone value for money. If you are thinking of taking that step up from a basic audio experience, without breaking the bank, this is the headset to purchase.