Bionik Mantis Headphones For PlayStation VR Review
For all the good things PlayStation VR does, one place the headset has been sorely lacking is in the audio department. Most users, like us, have been content to slap on whatever headphones we have around the house to enjoy a more immersive experience than just relying on the experience television or surround sound speakers provide. Bionik noticed an opening in this space, and earlier this summer released the first headphones build specifically for use with Sony's PlayStation 4 virtual reality accessory. The Mantis headphones are a welcome addition to the complete package, and make enjoying PSVR easier than ever.
Though a good percentage of dedicated gamers likely have a headset they use for chatting online already handy, there aren't very many dependable budget options out there. The headphones packed in with the PlayStation 4 are probably the worst offenders in the modern era. The little ear buds Sony included with the PlayStation VR aren't quite as impractical, but they too barely get the job done. Sony does indeed sell wired and wireless first-party headphones if you've got the budget for them, but that's not necessarily a fair investment option for players.
We've been using our Astro T40 headset, which is our default for just about every gaming platform in the house. Still, the bulky design doesn't exactly complement the PSVR headset. That's not what Astro designed them for, but we made do with them while waiting for something a bit more focused for the already large headset. That's where Bionik's Mantis comes in. Designed from the ground up to work and align specifically with the PlayStation VR headset, the Mantis headphones are a terrific piece of engineering that give you quality sound at a fraction of the price of larger, more elaborate headphones.
The small left and right pieces connect to the halo of the PSVR, slotting in just perfectly in the gaps between the forehead padding and the rear head padding. They situate right over your ears, and lay on top lightly and without much fuss. While over-the-ear headphones do offer a bit more immersion given their ability to seal off outside noise, the Mantis speakers still provide enough volume to keep you in the moment in a quiet gaming session. If you're using the PSVR headset in a more social environment, some of the audio will be lost to the background.
That's not necessarily a bad thing though, as some PlayStation VR's most enjoyable titles are meant for more of a cooperative/party experience. Games like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes are perfect for Mantis as you can flip either of the phones up and out of the way to better hear your teammates directing you. You can't really do that with other headphones, which you'd either have to take off entirely, or awkwardly rest behind your ear if you wanted to keep them on. Even if you're using ear buds, pulling one out of your ear means it's dangling precipitously with a horde of other wires already attached to the headset. More cluster is not what anyone using PSVR is looking for right now.
Aside from ease of use, the design of the Mantis is a large part of what makes them so appealing. They fit in with the PSVR seamlessly, almost as if they were intended to be part of the device from the beginning, and they don't add much bulk to the headset either. Bionik's headphones are also very light, which was a nice change of pace from using our larger headset. Not that there's anything wrong with a little heft, but all that added weight on your head while gaming starts to take its toll after a short time playing. And they get fairly sweaty depending on the game of the moment. Mantis cuts that all out of the picture, and with the vinyl/leather-like padding on the phones themselves, the pieces are easy to maintain and wipe off after extended sessions.
The sound provided by Mantis is suitable for most of the virtual reality games on PlayStation 4 right now. You get solid performance in stereo, with everything from conversation to ambience coming through nicely. Mantis doesn't hit bass tones quite as hard, and it doesn't have quite as much versatility in separating a lively game world's dynamic range. As such, it won't provide you with as much depth of sound as a more expensive over-the-ear headphone. Games like Thumper might not come through as strongly on Mantis, but you'll otherwise find the audio suitable to most of your gaming needs in virtual reality.
Bionik's Mantis headphones establish a new standard for what audio accessories for home VR stations should be, and does it at a price point lower than most competitors. Mantis is stylish and versatile, and most importantly it syncs and works with the PlayStation VR wonderfully. They're easy to store, they're easy to travel with, and there's no reason why any PlayStation VR owner should go without them.
The Bionik Mantis Headphones for PlayStation VR are available now for $49.99. A sample set was provided for the purposes of this review.