Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones are arguably the current gold standard in audio, and Sony’s PlayStation 5 is the console to get this generation. So what happens when they aim to bridge the gap between the two?
The Sony Inzone H9 gaming headset is the crossover of those two different ideologies, aiming to bring high-quality audio to the console audience. But how does it fare? Sony sent over a headset for me to try. Here’s what I thought.
- Strong Battery
- Great Spatial Audio
- So-so ANC
Setting Up the Sony Inzone H9 Gaming Headset
Most gaming headsets are connected to a given device in one of two ways: either via Bluetooth or through a USB dongle. The Inzone falls into the latter, with a stick-like USB-A hub that I needed to plug into either my computer or my PlayStation 5.
The dongle that arrived with the Inzone is shaped similar to a thumb drive, which makes it easy to find when you’re looking for it and doesn’t crowd other USB-A ports (some headsets I’ve tested recently use a USB-C dongle that’s more horizontal than vertical and can crowd a few of the other USB-A ports on the PS5).
All that to say, plug in the USB-A dongle, power on the headset itself, and you’re good to go. I didn’t charge the Inzone out of the box, but you can certainly do that if you’re so inclined prior to setup to ensure you’ve got a full battery right out of the gate.
Sony Inzone H9 Gaming Headset Design
The Izone H9 pulls from a few different bits of Sony technology in its construction. The swiveling arms, cushioned headband and earcups all remind me of the XM5 noise-canceling headphones in how they manage to sit comfortably on my head. Also, much like the XM5, a handful of critical controls all sit right below the earcups; the left side includes the ANC button, a volume scroll wheel, and a USB-C port for charging, while the right features a game/chat toggle, a Bluetooth button, and the power button.
Notably, the H9 draws a lot of inspiration from the PlayStation 5’s color scheme. There’s an overwhelming amount of white that’s accented by blue LEDs when the device is powered on. The little flourishes are a nice touch to help bring the headset in-line with the overall look and feel of the powerhouse PS5.
Sony Inzone H9 Gaming Headset Features
The biggest features worth mentioning on the H9 are two that gamers will definitely appreciate: Spatial Sound and noise canceling. The former is a digital effect that provides a full level of immersion in a given game, letting you know when a foe is behind you or around the corner. That, combined with noise cancelation, allows you to fall deeper into games like God of War or The Last of Us. Sony also provides a 360 Spatial Sound Personalizer to help you better tailor the experience to your own personalized needs.
On the noise-cancelation front, Sony is actively leveraging the same sensor technology found in the 1000X series, meaning the power of the cancelation is best-in-class. Naturally, there is an ambient mode should you let the outside world in for a minute or two.
Additionally, the headset can connect to a PC, PlayStation 5, or even a Nintendo Switch, adding a lot of variety in its functionality. No support for Xbox, however.
Using the Sony Inzone H9 Gaming Headset
The H9 boasts a lot of exciting features, but how does it actually fare when it’s time to perform? The answer is good — but with some caveats. Let’s start with the big features. Upon using the app to set up Spatial Sound, I found that feature to be very impressive.
Testing it on my PC, where I played a few competitive matches of Destiny 2 and Fortnite, provided excellent directional identification all around me. That extended to non-online games like God of War: Ragnorak, which was helpful to avoid blows from foes who were behind me.
The noise cancelation is just decent, which is a bit of a letdown considering the inclusion of the 1000X series tech. I found the noise cancelation on the Nova Pro, for example, to be far superior to that of the H9. It’s a nice added feature, but those looking for a purely dedicated ANC headset might want to look elsewhere.
Additionally, the microphone itself is probably just fine for use on PlayStation 5, but I found it to be lacking compared to the mic quality on other PC headsets. It works in a pinch for a PC device, but you can find a lot better for a price that’s not quite as steep as the H9.
I do, however, appreciate the flippable functionality on the mic; you position it up, and it mutes the headset and toggling it down when you want to speak. There’s no question as to whether or not the device is muted, which is sometimes an issue I’ve run into with other devices. If you need to vent about a bad teammate to yourself, it’s extremely easy to know you’re definitely not talking.
However, where the H9 excels is in its battery life, which I found to last an impressive 20+ hours on a single charge with noise cancelation active. That’s pretty good for a device like this. On the overall sound quality side, it’s well-suited to gaming but less to listening to music or watching videos. Oh, and it’s supremely comfortable, as I found I could wear it for hours without ever feeling like I needed to take it off.
The Verdict: The Sony Inzone H9 Gaming Headset Is a Solid Choice for Consoles
Truthfully, it’s hard for me to recommend the H9 for PC gamers, as there is a bevy of different (and frankly, better) options on the market, but I did enjoy using the headset on my PlayStation 5 quite a bit. At $300, I don’t think the H9 performs well enough to warrant the price.
If you’ve yet to get a Spital Audio headset (or you’re a console and a PC gamer), there’s a bit more value to be had. Otherwise, the H9 is a good starting point for Sony to iterate on in future versions. Get the noise cancellation on par with the XM series, and it’ll be quite a compelling package.