One of the problems that you are likely to face if you go out looking for a headset is that, for the most part, they are very uni-purpose and you are more often than not going to have to have a separate headset for gaming/VOIP etc at home, and another for listening to music on the go.
Having said that they are definitely getting more compact and discrete (such as the Steel Series Siberia V2 we looked at a while back) and now Sony’s two releases — the Sony DR-350USB headset and the Sony DR-320DPV headphones — are testament to this dual purpose aim.
Claiming to be the “stylish alternative to flimsy, drab looking headsets” they certainly fulfil the first part of that with the slim, smooth and ultimately quite discrete design, and the DR-320DPV comes in the usual Sony range of colours namely red or black — which as they suggest you could choose to match your Sony VAIO laptop, although to be honest the fact that they have decided not to do that in the advertising material suggests it may look a little odd!
The earpads appear to have been designed with comfort in mind (possibly at the expense of sound, but that is hard to tell) with foam pads and a lightweight, but hopefully sturdy, adjustable headband which aims to put as little pressure as possible on your head — there is in fact few things more annoying than a headset that sits too tightly!
But it is the microphone that makes the two headsets really multipurpose. As opposed to having a permanent ‘boom’ microphone, these Sony models sport an omnidirectional microphone embedded into actual headset, with a removable ‘voice tube’ that routes your voice directly to the mic to remove as much background noise as possible.
Whilst I’ll admit that I don’t know exactly how well this works, I do have my reservations as to how well the ‘tube’ will be able to carry the sound, and how good quality the microphone will ultimately be. I would personally prefer the solution used in the aforementioned Siberia V2 in which the microphone slides back into the headset, but for a change Sony may well be looking at the lower end of the market at more casual users in which case this would be a lot better for that particular demographic!
As you may have noticed both headsets are almost exactly identical — the only difference really comes in the colours (the DR-350 comes only in gold whilst the DR-320 gives you the choice of red and black) and the actual cable that makes the headset useful!
It won’t surprise you given their full names that the Sony DR-350USB uses a USB adapter (shock!) which of course means you can have it plugged in at the same time as speakers, whilst the DR-320DPV uses standard 3.5mm connectors but does still come with inline controls and the extended length of 2.5m — whilst the DR-350USB has a combined length equal to that, if you wish to use it without the USB you will be limited to 1.2m which is far from massive.
The last real thing of note is the small clip on the mic plug on the DR-320DPV which allows you to attach it to the headphone jack when the former is not in use, meaning you don’t suffer from the cable-clutter that I for one am plagued by and would ordinarily require use of something like a Cable Drop!
I think even Sony would admit that if you are going for some hardcore gaming you will probably want something more robust and sound quality orientated, but for most ordinary folk that wish to combine the use of the microphone and the need for some headphones then these could well be for you!