Published on September 23rd, 2016 | by Chris Ramirez, Editor
Hyperkin SIREN PS4 Headphone Amplifier Review
Editor’s Note: We received an early version of the unit. Experience with the final retail version may be different.
There are a few gaming accessories that are a must buy for most casual and hardcore gamers. One accessory is having a good headset. Having a good set of headset is almost a requirement with multiplayer online sessions and game streaming commentary that dominant today’s gaming scene.
If you are the type of person who enjoys the benefits of having the stereo surround sound during your game sessions or using them in multiplayer shooters to determine enemy positions but do not care to chat with any one, the investment of buying good quality headset made for the console becomes mute. With the current generation consoles now providing 3.5mm headphone jacks, on the controllers itself, allows you to use any headphones you may have laying around.
However if you use normal headphones well gaming, you will notice the sound is simply transmitted to the controller. This will give you little to no benefits you compared to using a dedicated headset.
To help those who may want to use their own headphones instead of investing in a dedicated headset, Hyperkin is releasing the SIREN Headphone amplifier. The Hyperkin SIREN Headphone Amplifier attaches to the controller’s 3.5mm headphone jack to amplify. The devices simulates sound out of your normal headphones to simulate a dedicated console headset.
Can the Hyperkin SIREN Headphone Amplifier provide the same benefits of a dedicated console headset? No, it cannot.
However, the SIREN is an excellent cost efficient alternative for causal gaming and possible travel opportunities.
The SIREN is a clip on amplifier with the adjustable backing to allow the device to clip into both the 3.5mm headphone jack and micro USB charging port on the controller. The device is fitted with a lithium battery that last about 8 to 10 hours. However, despite the device having a micro USB port to replace the one use, you have to remove the device to charge the unit independently. The same is true for the Duel Shock 4 controller, you have to remove the device charge to charge your controller. As far as I can tell, leaving the unit on the controller and plugging in the charging USB cable simply provides power to the amplifier. The device is lightweight and provides no noticeable weight to the controller.
Headset reviews often follow the basic criteria of 1) sound quality and 2) comfort. Where the SIREN fails is the sound quality. The amplifier does what it advertises, it amplifies the sound. The unit allows you to change the volume and bass of the sounds independently. Sound is clear but not crystal clear. Some white noise can be heard but nothing that you will find annoying. Maxing the volume and the bass does not distort the sound which is excellent for a device that pushes a great amount of sound out of your headphones.
Unlike expensive headset, the SIREN does not provide a true immersive experience. Where dedicated headsets allow you to pinpoint the bullet shot direction or hear footsteps on an enemy behind you, the SIREN allows you to hear sounds you would not normally hear through the television or monitor but the direction of the sound is muffled and mostly undetectable. Having the adjustable volume and bass buttons allows you to adjust the sound output to fit your play style. For example, in Star Wars: Battlefront, I would lower the bass to hear better hear footsteps and gun fire directions. However, for Batman: Arkham Knight or The Uncharted Collection I would increase the bass to get a more cinematic feel.
There is an advantage of having the sound amplified, but it is not the same advantages and benefits you would normally get from a dedicated headset.
One of the key aspects of the SIREN is you are able to use your own headphones making the comfort based on your preference of headset used.
The SIREN’s advantage is the portability. Majority of people carry a set of headphones. The SIREN is a small, compact device that can easily be taken with you to your gaming event. If it was just a friend’s house or to an local tournament, this is an easy solution to give you the slightest advantage or to draw out environment noise.
Summary: The Final Truth The SIREN is a great inexpensive alternative (MSRP $24.99) to have for your PlayStation 4. This device is not going to replace your dedicated headset but it useful for quick gaming sessions. I personally use the device with earbuds that allow me have one earbud in and having one ear available to be aware of my family surroundings. I also take the SIREN with me during friends and family gaming sessions. The SIREN provides a slight advantage compared to simply plugging in your headphones into the controller itself. The adjustable volume and bass buttons is a welcoming addition allowing the ability to adjust the sound output based on the type pf game you are playing. The amplified sound is not crystal clear but it avoids distorting the sound on high volumes. Hyperkin SIREN is not a needed accessory but it is a nice niche device to have if you cannot game with a dedicated headset all the time.