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Sony INZONE H9
July 7, 2022
Sony has put out gaming headsets associated with its consoles for a while. Usually, they launch around the same time as the PlayStation 5 or PlayStation 4, but now Sony is changing tack a little. The company is moving away from something like the Pulse wireless gaming headset to the new INZONE gaming headsets, which are actually good. The Sony INZONE H9 is the top-of-the-line option, and it’s priced accordingly, but it comes with the whole kit and kaboodle you’d expect of a high-end gaming headset.
We spent a week with the INZONE H9 to really kick the tires and see if this is actually the step up it purports to be.
PlayStation gamers who don’t mind the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a gaming headset will get exactly what they’re looking for here, with premium features like ANC and Bluetooth support. People who work from home may find a lot to like here too, given the microphone quality, battery performance, and overall comfort.
What is it like to use the Sony INZONE H9?
Sony’s newest entry into the gaming headset market does what many have been requesting for years—the company already makes some of the best headphones on the market, so why not take that acumen and apply it to gaming headsets too? The INZONE line of gaming headsets sports a new rounded design that feels like an adaptation of Sony’s flagship WH-1000XM5 for a gaming audience—there are similar stemmed hinges with Sony branding in exactly the same spot, and similarly tilted ovalesque ear cups. Sony even touts the design pedigree of the WH-1000X line of headphones on the store page of the H9.
However, this is definitely not something like the Bose QC35 II Gaming Headset, which just adds a mic to an existing premium pair of headphones. The Sony INZONE H9 is a gaming headset in its own right, for better and worse. The headset lacks the comprehensive on-ear controls and mobile app experience of the WH-1000X headphones, and that’s probably for the best—that stuff isn’t going to do much good for gaming.
Despite its bulk, the INZONE H9 is fairly lightweight at about 330g. The headset is made entirely of plastic, with leatherette covering the ear pads and headband cushion. And while the plastic feels a little flimsy and the ear pads feel a little cheap, the headset is comfortable. The ear pads are wide and deep enough that even larger ears shouldn’t feel smooshed, and the headphones can rotate to lay flat and also tilt a little bit, so the headset is comfortable for plenty of different head sizes.
How do you control the INZONE H9?
Actually using the headset is pretty straightforward. The INZONE H9 features a series of buttons along the bottom edges of the headphones. There are buttons handling game/chat balance, power, and Bluetooth pairing on the right headphone. On the left headphone, you’ll find a button for toggling between active noise cancelling, ambient sound mode, and regular mode, along with a volume dial and the headset’s USB-C charging port. The microphone is permanently affixed to the left headphone, and you can mute it by flipping it up.
Should you get the Sony INZONE Hub?
Sony offers a desktop companion app for when you want to use its INZONE peripherals on PC, including the H9 headset. INZONE Hub is a pretty simple app, it adds EQ presets and the ability to set a custom EQ, but it mostly just offers a visual way to control everything you can do with the headset’s buttons.
INZONE Hub also adds a spatial sound feature, which the PlayStation 5 handles on the console side. Here, the process is just like setting up Sony 360 Reality Audio on another pair of high-end Sony headphones using the Headphones Connect app. It has you take a picture of your ears, upload it to Sony’s servers, and it will generate a custom HRTF profile for personally tailored spatial audio. If you don’t feel like doing that, the headset still works with Windows Sonic—the spatial sound feature built into Windows—it’s a lot less involved, but it works well enough.
How is gaming with the Sony INZONE H9?
The Sony INZONE H9 offers a great gaming experience, even over long sessions. It’s comfortable, and the leatherette ear pads don’t make heat build-up an issue (though they can still get a little warm). The headset is easy to connect to PC and PlayStation 5 with the USB dongle—it’s basically a plug-and-play affair.
Playing games like Final Fantasy XIV and League of Legends on PC, the INZONE H9 manages the balance of background music and in-game sound effects very well. On PlayStation 5, the punk rock soundtrack of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 sounds great, and the headset handles the console’s spatial sound feature very well, too.
How do you connect the Sony INZONE H9?
There are two ways to connect the Sony INZONE H9 to your platform of choice. The primary connection method is the headset’s included 2.4GHz USB-A RF dongle, which can connect to PC, PlayStation 4 or 5, and Nintendo Switch (when it’s docked) for lag-free wireless audio. This is a pretty typical connection method for wireless gaming headsets.
However, like many other high-end gaming headsets, the INZONE H9 also supports Bluetooth connections. The headset uses Bluetooth 5.0 and supports the default SBC and AAC codecs. There’s no multipoint, but you can connect using Bluetooth and the USB dongle at the same time, and get audio from both simultaneously.
How long does the Sony INZONE H9 battery last?
Sony advertises 32 hours of battery life with ANC turned off for the INZONE H9, but in our testing, we’ve found it well exceeds that. With ANC turned off, the headset lasted 58 hours, 52 minutes on a single charge with a consistent output of real music peaking at 75dB(SPL). Obviously, this won’t last as long if you listen at louder volumes, turn on ANC, or keep the headset paired over Bluetooth simultaneously (or do all those things at once), but this is still a pretty impressive result. It’s not HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless, but it’ll do quite nicely for more than a couple of lengthy gaming sessions.
The INZONE H9 charges over USB-C, and with quick charging, 10 minutes plugged in will get you 60 minutes of audio. A full charge will still take around 3.5 hours, but it’s nice to get a quick bump if needed. Unfortunately, you can’t play over the wired charging connection.
How well does the Sony INZONE H9 cancel noise?
The Sony INZONE H9 joins a burgeoning group of high-end gaming headsets sporting active noise cancelling, and it offers pretty good performance. There’s very little attenuation in the sub-bass range, which means the lowest parts of rumbling droning sounds will still come through pretty noticeably, but sounds from 100-400Hz should be substantially quieted. The passive isolation performance is also pretty good, at least above 1000Hz.
ANC performance like this isn’t going to make you miss someone speaking to you from a few feet away (at least, not without also playing media). However, if you happen to be living through a heatwave in an apartment without air conditioning, this will quiet the dull roar of stationery fans on full blast pretty well.
How does the Sony INZONE H9 sound?
The Sony INZONE H9 outputs sound pretty close to our consumer target curve, with a very glaring exception. Sounds in the upper-bass and lower-mid range (70-200Hz) are significantly boosted. Apart from that, there’s a little added emphasis in the sub-bass range, and in the high end around 5-6kHz, but otherwise things stay pretty close to our curve. Sony claims it incorporates aspects of the WH-1000 series of headphones here, and that makes sense, given the INZONE H9 frequency response is very similar to the default output of the Sony WH-1000XM3 (The H9 has a little more restraint in the sub-bass range).
Highs, mids, and lows
A frequency response like this means most music sounds fine coming through the INZONE H9, but bass guitar parts are overly loud in some rock and pop tracks. In Persistence by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, the kick drums and bass guitar make the already slightly quiet vocals genuinely hard to hear sometimes, and you’ve got to pay pretty close attention to pick the rhythm guitar out from the mix.
In game, audio output like this won’t cause too much issue—video games don’t layer audio in the same way as most music, so one part of the frequency spectrum getting boosted like this shouldn’t make anything terribly difficult to hear most of the time. In intense firefights, you may find that the rumble of explosions and gunfire make subtler sounds like footsteps in Valorant a little harder to hear.
Does the INZONE H9 have a good microphone?
The Sony INZONE H9 features a fine microphone for a gaming headset. It attenuates low frequency noise and rumbles so voices come through loud and clear as they should. This is no podcasting microphone, but if you need something reliable for work meetings and you want a step up from the mediocre mic in your AirPods, this could be just the ticket. Have a listen for yourself:
Sony INZONE H9 microphone demo (Ideal):
Sony INZONE H9 microphone demo (Office):
Sony INZONE H9 microphone demo (Echo):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Sony INZONE H9?
If you want a gaming headset with all the typical premium features and you want it to match your PlayStation 5, you should consider the Sony INZONE H9. However, it’s very expensive, and if you don’t need everything it offers, you can find most of these features in a gaming headset for a whole lot less.
The INZONE H9 is a good gaming headset. It has good ANC, decent enough sound, and a good microphone. Its battery life is great, and it’s comfortable enough to wear for extra-long sessions. The inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity and simultaneous audio output is quite nice too. However, you can say the same thing about many other gaming headsets, and they don’t all cost $299.99 USD.
If need the first-party option, this leaves the previous Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset in the dust—that shouldn’t surprise anyone, given how that headset is pretty bad, and this one cost three times as much money. All the same, if you don’t mind spending that much, it’s hard to imagine coming away disappointed with the INZONE H9.
What should you get instead of the Sony INZONE H9?
Lots of wireless gaming headsets that run for a lot less money can cover most of what the INZONE H9 offers quite well. If you don’t much care about Bluetooth connectivity, the obvious first stop is the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless. This follow-up to a classic wired gaming headset looks, sounds, and feels great, and comes with the best battery life you’ll find in a gaming headset (or any other kind of headset, for that matter), clocking in at over 327 hours of playback on a single charge—it’s also $100 USD cheaper than the H9.
Great wireless options can get even cheaper, too. Headsets like the Razer Barracuda X and SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless will run you just $100 USD. They both sound great, feel comfortable, and use USB-C dongles, which makes for improved compatibility with the Switch.
And if you really want something that can cover all the INZONE H9’s bases, check out the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid. The headset checks virtually identical boxes, plus it supports wired connections over 3.5mm (which means Xbox consoles are compatible, too), and it costs around $20 USD less.
Frequently asked questions about the Sony INZONE H9
It’s not a perfect 1:1 match, but that upper-bass emphasis looks pretty familiar.