Introduction: Cheap Headset for Playstation 3 (Update 7.10.13)

About: Hi! I'm a bachelor of science in electrical engineering trying to get by. Music and audio are my main interests, but just about anything can be interesting if given a chance.

Update: Added an all-in-one graphic at the end. Check it out!

Hi! This is my first instructable. Hope you guys like it! :D

I'm pretty sure you gamers out there have seen all the accessories for use with the PS3. USB microphones are pricey. Bluetooth headsets rely on batteries. Playstation Eye is a bit much, if you're only using it for the mic. Gaming headphones are ridiculously expensive.

You can play some games without one or the other, but it is almost essential to have a mic and headphones to play first-person shooters. Many claim that with the expensive brands, you can hear every little sound. You can use any headphones, and still get similar results without losing an arm and a leg in the process. With this simple solution, you can use any microphone or headphones you want!

Don't skip over this instructable. Some of this info applies to other game consoles!

Step 1: Requirements

Playstation 3 and television set are a given.

You will need:
- USB Sound Card
- Stereo RCA to 3.5mm Female to Female Adapter
- Speakers with headphone jack and volume
- Any microphone with 3.5mm plug
- Headphones of your choice

The adapter, sound card, and a mic can be found for less than $5.00 each online.

Use your favorite search engine. There are plenty of online stores that carry cheap items.

Be sure to read my notes on the images.

Step 2: Headphone Setup

Let's start with the meat of this instructable.

First you take your composite cable, and connect the red and white RCA audio connectors into the adapter. This step may be difficult if you decide to plug in the video to your TV and then try and connect the audio. It's much easier if you completely disconnect the cable from your television.

Next, connect the 3.5mm audio in cable for your speakers to the adapter.

Easy, right? Now for some important information.

The audio signal from the PS3 must be amplified. In my particular setup, I've used these very basic computer speakers to increase the volume to my liking. If you have a stereo system that you want connected, but doesn't have RCA jacks, this is one way to get your PS3 connected to it. Similarly, if you simply hate the speakers on your television, this is the way to go!

If you're using a display with HDMI, you can still output audio over RCA simultaneously. Check under the audio settings for the option for multiple output. This leaves potential for having that killer display with the headphones of your dreams.

Final step, connect your headphones!

Step 3: Microphone Setup

Setting up the microphone is just as easy.

First, plug in the USB sound card to an available port on your PS3. Yes, it may be a downside to have a USB port always occupied, but it's a sacrifice that saves you money. ;p

Next, take the 3.5mm plug from your mic and connect it to the sound card. That's it.

The final and most important step is setting up the input through the PS3's settings.

Start up your console and go here:
Settings > Accessory Settings > Audio Device Settings

From there, go to input and select USB Headphone Set or USB Device. It should be possible to output the mic through the sound card, but the output is horrible and full of static. If you followed this instructable and decided to use headphones, you'll realize doing so is pointless. For that reason, keep the output on System Default Device. The option is still there if you want to voice chat through some light headphones and still have the game audio go out through the speakers or television.

I bet you're asking yourself, "why did this guy go through all this trouble, when he could have just plugged his lousy headphones into that crummy sound card?"

The PS3 does not output audio over USB, smarty pants. Only voice chat.

This particular USB sound card, which can be found in many online stores, has a red LED that blinks when data is being transferred. It is particularly useful to see if your mic is still on or not. You can switch off the mic by going through the same audio device settings and selecting Do Not Use for the input, unplugging it, or unplugging the card itself.

Step 4: Final Thoughts and Improvements

If you insist on having really good quality headphones that will last, do what I did. Save some cash, buy some audiophile grade headphones, and use them for everything.

The same applies with the mic. You can spend as little or as much as you want.

One improvement that I'm planning, is building a small headphone amplifier instead of using the current speaker setup. There are many variants of the cmoy amp online, and there are many Instructables to get ideas. One can supposedly make one for around $20. Alternatively, there are headphones out there that have in-line volume control, but the selection is very limited and they may sound too quiet without amplification.

The method I have described is not just useful for connecting headphones to a PS3, but other game consoles as well. If you noticed the picture down there, it's also useful for connecting speakers to a television that only has mono sound. I find it ironic that my TV has a headphone jack, but only one audio input. :p

If your television already has a stereo headphone jack, you can still save some cash by getting a cheap mic and the sound card for about $10.00.

Do yourself a favor and save the $100+ dollars you would've spent without my help and spend it on some games, movies, or a really generous date with that special someone.

Thanks for reading! :]

Update: I built a cmoy headphone amp. It works great with my Playstation 3. I also built an "acoustic simulator" to go along with it. Together, they work great when playing games online. Check my instructable on how to build the simple acoustic simulator crossfeed circuit and try it for yourself. :D

Step 5: Update

July 10th, 2013

After years of using my PS3 audio setup and continuing the struggle of explaining the benefits of "good" headphones, I have gone ahead and made a single graphic that I have used to pass around to my friends. Expensive namebrand "gaming" sets still persist in the market and, after testing some of them out, I am not impressed. I'm all about finding the price vs performance sweet spot, and a lot of the headsets catered towards gaming are either about looks or don't live up to audio quality or durability expectations.

On the image, I have included some quick information on different types of headphones.

Be sure to see the original image size as some of the text is fairly small.

I have occassionally gotten new subscribers. Thanks for taking the time to read. :D