Sony INZONE H9 review: Great sound, bulky design
Sony recently announced their INZONE line of gaming peripherals, including the Sony INZONE H9 gaming headset, which boasts all the premium features from their flagship noise cancelling headphones, with a gaming flavor.
When Sony announced its INZONE line of gaming peripherals, we were tentatively excited at the prospect of the well-known electronics manufacturer taking gaming a little bit more seriously, Sony makes some of the best TVs and headphones in the world, so surely, their INZONE H9 gaming headset is a sure-fire winner? Well, there’s a bit more to unpack.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB-A dongle (2.4Ghz wireless)
- Driver diameter: 40mm
- Frequency response: 5Hz – 20 kHz
- Weight: 330g
- Compatibility: PC, PS5, Bluetooth devices
- Features: 32-hour battery life, active noise cancelling, transparency mode, spatial audio, multichannel mixing, INZONE HUB software
- Price: $299.99/ £269.99
- Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy
Included in the box: Sony INZONE H9 gaming headset, USB Reciever, USB-A to USB-C cable, cleaning cloth.
The Playstation 5 has quite a divisive black and white design, but Sony seems to be pushing this colour scheme forwards for all of their gaming-related peripherals. We saw it in their Pulse Wireless Headset, and the same is carried forward for the INZONE H9. The headset is encased in matte white plastic which feels premium to the touch, with additional black trimmings on the earcups and the headband.
However, the looks come into their own when you see the wide, rounded design of the earcups, in addition to headphone steams, which are able to pivot and extend. This makes the Sony INZONE H9 look bulky in practice, and noticeably less sleek than its high-end headset counterparts like the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. The black and white colors only go further to accentuate how bulky and large it is.
The flip-to-mute microphone is not detachable, and we would have liked to have seen a solution such as having it be magnetically detachable, like on the EPOS H6 PRO headset, or easy to hide away, like on the aforementioned Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
However, it’s all quite rigidly built, we had good clamping force, and the cushioning on the headband felt great. The materials on the earcups are slightly less premium than we would have hoped, with plastic or rubber-like material in place of leather.
All of the functions on each earcup feel easy to find whilst wearing it, and our only gripe with comfort comes from the padding on the earcup, which made our ears feel quite hot very quickly.
It’s slightly disappointing to see Sony lose out on the design front, as the headset, while on, feels high-quality, but it is just too big and bulky for our tastes.
Sony’s INZONE H9 gaming headset might not have the looks, but it certainly has an oomph. It sounds fantastic over both Bluetooth and 2.4Ghz connections and has a decently wide soundstage for most applications, whether that be playing a game, watching a movie, or listening to music.
The bass isn’t too overpowering, though we did find that it was slightly boosted when compared to the EPOS H6 PRO, which possesses a much more neutral soundscape. In addition to this, since the bass is boosted, it makes the highs take a bit more of a back seat in the soundstage, which leads to us having the noodling guitars of Rainbow’s Gates of Babylon pack a little less punch.
You can also receive audio from multiple sources at once, and we found them both to work clearly and effectively when hooked up to both our phone and PC.
The headphones have excellent noise-cancelling, in addition to a transparency mode. The seal the earcups create means that you can effectively block out noise, and it managed to completely silence our fan, in addition to the howl of our PC in the midst of a heatwave.
You certainly won’t be disappointed with the INZONE H9 if you choose to pick it up, and it manages to perform on a similar level to their other noise-cancelling headphones, especially since we directly compared it to our now old and aged Sony MDR-1000X headset.
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Through the INZONE Hub software, you can configure the headset to have spatial audio, streak the EQ, and also enable a higher dynamic range option. However, you cannot customize between different audio sources like on the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. The software works, and we didn’t run into any issues while using it, or configuring our audio personalization using a companion app for spatial audio purposes. It isn’t quite as feature-packed as Steelseries GG, but it’s certainly a valiant first attempt.
We honestly expected much better out of Sony’s INZONE H9 gaming headset microphone. The flip-to-mute function is handy, though its not detachable, and manages to pick up audio clearly, though the quality won’t blow anyone’s mind. It comes off as being slightly tinny and is suitable for chatting to your friends, but we would avoid using this headset for anything that requires a bit more oomph behind it.
For the asking price, we were expecting near to best-in-class performance. But, once again the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless edges it out and manages to beat the slightly cheaper Sony INZONE H9. It’s nothing too special, and we did expect more, considering the steep asking price.
Is the Sony INZONE H9 good for gaming?
When you take a look at the INZONE H9 as a cohesive package, it’s quite a compelling option. You get great audio, with additional noise-cancelling, and it manages to work flawlessly via 2.4Ghz on either PC or PS5.
We did attempt to use it over on our Xbox Series S, but the wireless receiver just wasn’t able to make it work, which is something that we kind of expected, considering this is a Sony product. Using it on PS5 however is a breeze, you just have to flip a switch on the wireless receiver. Swinging through Elden Ring and shooting down foes in Warzone was excellent, and you could clearly hear your enemy’s footsteps.
The noise-cancelling isn’t quite as strong as Sony’s flagship XM series of headphones, but it effectively removed all ambient noise, allowing us to fully get immersed in the game. Spatial audio is a neat feature, however, it still remains to be a bit of a gimmick in our eyes, and didn’t really impact our gaming experience in any way.
We did once again find that the headset got quite warm after a couple of hours of use, and it did feel quite large and bulky when standing up to get a snack, or doing anything else but sitting down, pretty much.
Should you buy it?
The Sony INZONE H9 occupies a premium segment of the gaming headset market, and we think that for the price, it falls just a little bit short of its promise, especially considering that if you just spend a few bucks more, you can get the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, which is almost certainly one of the best gaming headsets that you can buy today.
However, the sound quality and features are still a step above what you’ll be finding in many gaming headsets, it’s just a bit too expensive for us to justify when you can get similar options on the lower-end, and a much better option if you were to stretch just a little bit further. Combined with the bulky, aviation-esque design which doesn’t look great, the Sony INZONE H9 becomes a tough sell. It’s great and better than many other gaming headsets, but it comes with a fair few caveats, that we would not expect in this price range.
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