The importance of sound in any given virtual reality (VR) experience is one that is often underestimated. Good sound design can elevate a VR experience from merely ‘good’ to ‘excellent’. So with that in mind, it’s important to have a good set-up for sound when immersed in VR. Enter Bionik’s Mantis VR headphones for the PlayStation VR.
Prior to the Mantis VR, PlayStation VR users would need to either plug in a pair of earbuds, or try and wrestle over-head headphones over the PlayStation VR headset. The Mantis VR, however, snaps effortlessly onto the headband of the PlayStation VR headset, matching so well with the PlayStation VR aesthetic that it’s as if they were meant to be there all along.
Some adjustment is necessary to get the headphones into the right position, though they do offer a surprisingly broad range of movement, up to and including the option to flip them out of the way if you need to hold a conversation. The cups can be adjusted horizontally and vertically, and once adjusted to user preference, they stay in place perfectly.
For a device which most closely resembles the kind of foam-padded headphones that came with 80s-era Walkmans, you would not expect superb sound quality, but that would be an error. The depth of sound from such small, unassuming speakers is astonishingly good, and though not up to the standard of high-end headphones, still offers an excellent dynamic range, from deep bass to high treble. The surround sound experience is also very good, excellently synthesising the feeling of sound happening all around you, particularly effective in horror titles such as Resident Evil 7.
One small issue is that due to the design there is little to no noise-cancellation, so outside sounds can bleed in quite easily. This is not necessarily a problem unless you are trying to play in a a loud environment, but can disrupt the immersion slightly if, say, you phone rings in the middle of an intense gun battle.
Bionik’s Mantis VR is an excellent accessory for the PlayStation VR, offering good functionality, good sound and perfect aesthetics. It is comfortable and lightweight and works perfectly alongside the PlayStation VR headset. Though the lack of noise cancelling will be off-putting for some, for most users this is a superb solution for sound in VR.