Sony’s new heart for PC gaming isn’t just limited to new monitors. Three new headsets should please gamers, starting with a wired headset for €99 all the way up to a high-end wireless model for €299. Sony kindly provided us with the latter for a test. However, those who expect perfection will be a little disappointed, because here and there the INZONE H9 flagship headphone weakens a bit.
High praise first: the packaging of the INZONE H9, which costs 300 euros, has almost no plastic or foam. Unfortunately this is still a rarity and should therefore be mentioned.
At first glance, the headphones, which are however securely packaged, look like a cross between the Playstation 5’s Pulse 3D headset and the well-known Sony WH-1000XM5 headset. The ear cushions, head cushions and suspension are all black, with the rest in Sony white, visually matching a PS5 console. In our opinion, the feel of the headset leaves a bit to be desired and doesn’t necessarily feel like a high-end $300 gaming headset. But that doesn’t change the fact that the workmanship seems pretty solid overall.
The headset, which weighs around 330 grams, has spacious oval ear cups with a soft leatherette cover. However, we like it quite semi-well. For one thing, it’s relatively sensitive and quickly shows grease and sweat stains, and the longevity of the fine synthetic leather also worries us a bit. Especially in relation to the fact that there is basically no ventilation and sweat flows in streams at today’s temperatures. Overall wearing comfort isn’t bad, especially thanks to the swiveling ear cups, which fit well.
Fortunately, the controls cannot be called overloaded. On the left you will find a volume control, the type C connection for the 1.5m long charging cable and a switch for active noise cancellation. To the right is a switch for game and chat sound, which allows you to control the volume separately. Then there was the power button and a multifunction button for BlueTooth operation and that was it.
The connection is made wirelessly at 2.4 Ghz using a USB dongle that can be operated on a PC or Playstation. Added to this is BlueTooth 5.0, which can also be used in parallel with normal wireless operation. However, wired operation is not possible, the USB cable is actually only used for charging, an optional jack connection is not available. Thanks to a battery life of up to 32 hours (getting close) and a quick charge feature (60 minutes of runtime after 10 minutes of charging), this shouldn’t pose any problems anyway, especially since you can charge the INZONE H9 with a cable in parallel to wireless operation.
Also on board is a foldable boom mic with a mute switch with a noticeable switching point. Unfortunately, the microphone turns out to be the headset’s biggest weakness. Voice transmission, while largely clear, is fairly quiet and lacks a bit of richness. In addition, a relatively large amount of background noise is picked up – we have already experienced significantly better microphones. A typical trap in which many manufacturers have fallen. You just have to expect more from a 300 euro headset.
On the other hand, the active noise cancellation, which can be activated at the push of a button or via software, is good. Sony says it uses the same dual noise sensor technology as the 1000X series noise canceling headphones. When enabled, it actually does a pretty good job of filtering out ambient noise, no matter the frequency range. If you still want to get a feel for the surroundings, you can activate an ambient mode. Very useful when you’re waiting for the pizza delivery guy to call.
40mm drivers from our own production work in the headphones, covering a frequency range from 5 to 20,000 Hz. On PC, 360° spatial sound is supported in software, not on the console. Playstation 5’s Tempest 3D Audio is also supported. Some channels in the case, which act a bit like bass-reflex vents, provide additional boom in the deep end.
This is remarkable, the INZONE H9 scores particularly well in games with very rich sound even on default settings. The basses are powerful, but not exaggerated: the filigree sounds are not lost. The headphones also work well with music or movies. Spatial Sound and Tempest 3D also give you very good directional perception, which is a huge plus, especially for shooters of all kinds. But you can get even more out of your headset, at least on PC.
Thanks to Sony INZONE Hub, a free PC software, you can make many settings. Bass Boost, Music/Video, and Standard are available as presets, and you can set your own presets thanks to a 10-band equalizer. You can also configure game chat balance, noise reduction, and microphone, as well as enable 360° space. There’s also the option to take pictures of your ears thanks to an app to generate individual sound profiles for surround sound (you should definitely do this too).
It should be noted that the settings you make in the PC software don’t come into play when connected to a Playstation 5. Another little tip: the H9 appears twice in the Windows sound settings, as “Inzone H9 – Chat” and as “Inzone H9 – Game”. The latter is what you want, because you get sound in the chat channel, but the software settings don’t work there.
Overall, we were very pleased with the sound of the headset while gaming, especially when things got a bit more brutal, like in Destiny 2 or Outriders. The perception of the direction in spatial mode is really elegant. Music and movies were fine. Even the longest sessions were easy to handle thanks to the high wearing comfort, only the heat development under the fully closed ear pads caused us a little problem.
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