With the release of the latest PS4 firmware on Tuesday, Sony added support for their wireless headsets. These don’t use Bluetooth but rely on a USB dongle that transmits surround sound to the headsets via RF.
Well, I can report that it works. To a point. There appears to be two issues being reported, the former being experienced by myself.
Using it on my PS3 I could happily walk to the other side of the house without the sound dropping. Plugged into my PS4 it didn’t work in the next room. Which was a problem as my PS4 is actually in the next room to my TV (although it is literally behind the wall, behind the TV). So, less than 1.5 metres away I was getting regularly drop-outs and interference.
I’ve resolved the issue by passing a USB extension cable through an existing hole in the wall (I had to pass the PS4’s HDMI to the TV) and then connecting the USB dongle to this – now it’s “dangling” behind the TV.
But, it does raise a question as to whether the range of these devices have been impacted by their move to the PS4. The hardware hasn’t changed and I’m assuming the USB ports are a standard voltage. Having said that the PS4 uses USB 3 instead of USB 2 and there is a different range of power output necessary to meet the standards – it’s perfectly possible that the power has dropped between consoles (although wattage and amperage increases between USB 2 and 3 this isn’t the case for voltage – only the tolerances have changed for that).
In fact, how the PS4 distributes USB could also be a factor as power is divided between all output. If the PS3 had seperate USB chipsets for each port (which I doubt, but bear with me for this example) then they might have greater power available to them than if they’d been shared.
However, it’s more than likely that it’s a firmware issue. The move to x86 means that even the most basic drivers have been re-written, so have they got this wrong?
A number of users, relying on the PS4’s WiFi, are reporting poor connectivity when using the headset. This could be a clash between hardware drivers or, more simply, between the WiFi output of both.
There’s a possibility that both could be linked. Because I have a Vita, even though I don’t use WiFi, it’s still active on my PS4 for the purpose of them connecting together. Could the WiFi signal be interfering with the headset? Indeed, with a WiFi connection on my TV and a WiFi extender in the next room it could be these. So, last night I turned them all off. And the drop-outs continued.
However, I don’t still discount this as, after an evening of playing BF4, I still kept getting random sound drop-outs – this is with the USB dongle on the extension lead just a metre in front of me. Which begs the question as to whether it’s just range (it is to some extent as it drops out entirely if I plug the device back into the PS4 behind the wall) or interference as well.
Personally, I’m no re-considering using them. They sound amazing when they’re working but the issues are too much of a bother – my other headset may be just stereo but, plugging into the controller, they just work.
In both cases, Sony have said nothing officially although I have raised a support query with them – as soon as I hear anything I’ll update this article.
Sound drop-outs solved
Kind of. I’ve extended the USB cable so that the USB dongle is now below the bottom of the TV, in a pure line-of-site. I’ve now not have any further issues and will be looking to secure it to the TV more permanently. None-the-less such line of site was never needed on the PS3, so there are still issues here. Sony Support got back to me but that was to say I need to ring them when I’m by the PS4 so that they can go through some diagnostics. When I get a chance to do this I’ll provide a further update.
But still problems
Even with a direct line-of-sight, just a metre away I still – occasionally – get drop-outs. Most of the time there are no problems but sometimes it’s quite bad. Interference would be the most logical explanation but there’s no different between Bluetooth and WiFi usage in my house between the times when it works and doesn’t. Take for instance, yesterday. I spent the entire afternoon <ahem> playing Campaign. The audio was rock solid. Last night I went on and it was dropping out all over the place.
But, here’s something even more curious. If you sometimes notice, whilst playing BF4, 4 overlaid boxes appearing on the right hand side of the screen then this means the game is lagging. Most of the audio drop-outs in BF4 last night occurred when that icon also appeared. Why should server lag affect the audio? DICE are looking at the lag issues so, maybe, this will also reduce the wireless issues. BUT, and this is important to remember, this doesn’t explain why the audio was affected on the PS4 menu as well. It’s all very odd and I really can’t pin-point a cause.
My suspicions right now are down to driver issues on the PS4.