PlayStation VR is the most comfortable high-end virtual reality headset, but its lack of integrated headphones holds it back. Sony is planning to address with a new PSVR model that will include attached earbuds, but that could get groddy if you share the device with enough friends and family. But that’s where Bionik’s Mantis VR headphones come in. They snap onto any PSVR and act like integrated headphones, and you don’t even have to scrape them against your earwax.
The Mantis headphones are now available for $50, and I’ve spent some time with them. They sound nice, and they complete the PSVR. The Mantis is also easy to attach, and they hold securely without you having to get out any tools or even make much of an effort.
If you’ve used an Oculus Rift with its integrated headphones, the Mantis headphones are nearly identical. They hand down from the side and directly over your ears. You can adjust the position to aim the sound directly at your ears. The Mantis also works like a flap where it can angle down against your ears or angle up to let you still hear the world around you. That is my favorite part because I like to hear the people around me or if a baby is crying, but I don’t like the way it feels to have traditional headphones pressing against my head while I’m wearing a VR head-mounted display. That’s uncomfortable and distracting. Mantis eliminates that problem. And you can still hear the game audio with the Mantis headphones tilted away from your ear — you’re just letting in more room audio. It’s a great solution.
Hooking the Mantis onto the PSVR is as simple as pulling down a plastic latch apart. A spring-like mechanism pulls it back into place and a pair of grooves ensure the headphones stay in place without wiggling or falling off. The headphones will look and feel like they are screwed into place or a part of the device, but the installation process is so easy that I feel weird calling it an “installation process.”
As for the sound quality, it doesn’t sound as good as the $50 Koss PortaPros, but it isn’t atrocious. Instead, you get pretty clean highs with some decent bass tones. It’s about equivalent to the headphones built into the Oculus Rift.
Even if I got the new PSVR with the built in earbuds, I’d still want the Mantis because I don’t like things in my ears and these look better. I don’t know if the integrated earbuds will sound better (I’m guessing, but I doubt it), but even if they did — PSVR is a social device. The Mantis is so much better for letting a lot of people use it in one night without having to worry about people passing their ear crud on. That alone makes the Mantis VR headphones worth $50.