Sony Inzone H9 review: Excellent wireless gaming headset with ANC
Sony recently launched its Inzone series, which is primarily aimed at PC gamers. Besides two gaming monitors, you will find three different headsets. In the Sony Inzone H9 review, we took a look at the manufacturer’s top wireless model, which features active noise cancellation (ANC) taken directly from the manufacturer’s legendary over-ear headphones. The result is impressive in many areas.
Inhaltsverzeichnis / Table of contents
|Driver||40 mm (dome)|
|Frequency range (headphones)||5 – 20,000 Hz|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0, Wireless (USB dongle)|
|Microphone type||bidirectional, with noise reduction; Circum-aural|
|Frequency range (microphone)||100 – 8,000 Hz|
|Range (Wireless)||Circa 10 meters|
|Battery life||Up to 32 hours|
|Charge time||3 hours|
|Compatibility||PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Smartphone, Tablet|
|Special features||Active noise cancellation (ANC); surround sound; flip-to-mute microphone|
|Price||€ 228.00 *|
Sony Inzone H9 review: the scope of delivery
The Sony Inzone H9 gaming headset comes in a purple-colored box with white details. Visually, the entire packaging is strongly reminiscent of the peripherals from manufacturer NZXT, such as the mechanical function keyboard (our review).
But we are more interested in the inner workings anyway, right? Besides the headphones themselves, Sony includes a whole bunch of manuals and booklets, as well as three stickers in the box. The whole thing is rounded off by a comparatively large, just under 5 cm long, USB-A dongle, as well as a 150 cm long USB-A to USB-C charging cable.
Design and finish
- Elegant, sleek design in the style of the PS5
- LED lighting
- Easily accessible controls
When it comes to the design of the Sony Inzone H9, the manufacturer obviously took inspiration from the look of the PlayStation 5 console. Thus, the headset top model also relies on a matte white color scheme complete with black details, and at first glance it looks like a mix of the Pulse 3D headset and the current ANC headphones WH-1000XM5.
In any case, the headband design has been largely adopted from the XM5. From a purely visual standpoint, the Inzone H9 certainly makes quite an impression and looks minimalist and classy at the same time with its black and white mix.
What stands out directly are the lush pads of the ear cups, as well as the headband. The ears are embedded in a two centimeter thick cushion, while the head rests in the thickest part (in the middle) under a cushion of the same size. This already promises a high level of wearing comfort.
The two ear cups can be folded completely inwards and angled slightly outwards. They also sit in a movable holder that allows them to be angled.
The numerous controls are also striking. Let’s start with the left side. Here you’ll find the black volume dial on the inside, behind the ear. This is followed by the “NC/AMB” button, which allows you to switch between active noise cancellation, transparency mode and normal sound.
The USB-C port for charging and the status LED are on the bottom, while the microphone boom is on the outside. On the right is the “Game/Chat” button on the inside, which you can use to switch the balance between the two spectrums. This is followed by the Bluetooth pairing button and the power button. Everything is well thought out and easily accessible.
The drivers are easy to see through the mesh fabric in the ear cups. Another visual detail are the ribbed surfaces on the outer sides, which, however, do not only serve the optics. These are, according to Sony, to control and improve the bass response.
How good is the workmanship of the Sony Inzone H9?
- Almost entirely made of plastic
- Relatively wobbly
- Prone to fingerprints and grease stains
However, Sony has to take criticism in terms of workmanship, because there is room for improvement in terms of haptics. For a price of just under 300 Euros, the high-end headset does not feel as valuable as I am used to from many competitors in this field.
This is mainly due to the fact that the H9 is mainly made of plastic. Including the headband. As a result, everything doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as, say, a Razer Barracuda Pro (our review) or EPOS H3PRO Hybrid (our review). With the Sony, everything is a bit more wobbly, seems less robust and durable.
However, this is of course a purely subjective impression that cannot yet be confirmed after the short Sony Inzone H9 review. Otherwise, the build quality is good. The artificial leather cover, which replaces the nylon of the cheaper H7 and H3 brothers in the H9, is also not free of blame and magically attracts fingerprints and grease stains.
How good is the wearing comfort?
- Very good wearing comfort
When it comes to wearing comfort, however, the headset again delivers a better performance. Of course, the choice of material also plays a role here, thanks to which the Inzone H9 only weighs around 330 grams. A good average value.
Especially thanks to the soft and comparatively large (6.5 cm in height, 4 cm in width) ear cups including generous pads, the gaming headset rests comfortably on the head even over several hours without pressing.
Practice test and handling
- Dual connection: 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth simultaneously
- Microphone not removable
- Not usable on Xbox and Nintendo consoles
In practice, the Sony Inzone H9 comes up with some exciting features. For example, there is the dual connectivity, because like many other gaming headsets, the headphones connect optionally via USB dongle in the 2.4 GHz wireless band and Bluetooth 5.0.
However, unlike many of its colleagues, dual connectivity is also possible here. What does that mean? The headset can be connected to a PC or notebook or PlayStation 5 (the dongle has a dedicated switch for this) AND to the smartphone via Bluetooth at the same time.
The result is the simultaneous use of both sources – for example, phone calls via smartphone and music via PC. The connection in both modes works flawlessly and quickly. You can also quickly adjust the volume to game or media sound or chat with the Game/Chat switch, which proves to be quite practical.
However, the fact that the microphone boom cannot be removed – unlike in the aforementioned competition – is a point deduction in the B grade. Thus, the H9 is only suitable as ANC headphones for on the go or at home to a limited extent and less than the EPOS H3 PRO, for example, whose microphone can be removed and the opening covered.
On the other hand, I like the controls. All buttons are sensibly and logically placed and thus very easy to reach even during gaming. Haptically, the feedback of the plastic control elements could still react a bit more tactilely to my inputs.
In addition, however, the headset responds to inputs with various beeping noises that indicate, for example, reaching the maximum volume or switching from ANC to transparency mode.
However, it is annoying that the headset simply refuses to work on Xbox and Nintendo consoles. While it is recognized and works without problems on PlayStation consoles, it is simply not recognized on devices from the competition, even in Windows mode on the dongle or via Bluetooth.
Range, battery life and charging time
- Good Bluetooth range (12m), disappointing via dongle (less than 6m)
- Maximum 32 hrs runtime
- No battery level indicator or information
Sony speaks of an effective range of 10 meters in Bluetooth mode. We could surpass this by about two meters in the indoor test. It does not look quite as good in 2.4 GHz mode, because it already comes to unsightly sound dropouts after about six meters.
The battery life of about 32 hours (without ANC) is okay, but not on an earth-shatteringly good level. Most other, even cheaper headsets, offer more here. Charging is relatively fast in return. 10 minutes on the power is enough for one hour of playback, and a total charging process takes around three hours.
I think it’s a shame that the headset doesn’t offer any kind of indicator or audible signal when the battery is running low. A battery indicator is only found in the accompanying software. On the other hand, it’s convenient that you can continue to use the H9 while charging it.
Recording and playback quality
- Excellent, dynamic sound across all frequencies
- Very well suited for gaming, music, and media
But let’s get to the sound. How good does the Sony Inzone H9 sound? First of all, the basics: Sony installs 40 mm large, specially developed drivers. These cover a comparatively large frequency range of 5 Hz to 20,000 Hz, which already indicates that you can look forward to rich bass here.
And that’s how it turns out. The Sony Inzone H9 sounds simply outstanding. And impressive. Even without fine-tuning, the headset scores with powerful and precise bass tones. However, the expertise from the headphone segment has also been noticeably incorporated, because even the mids and highs are in no way inferior to the basses.
This makes the H9 very suitable for podcasts and audio books, as well as music of various genres. Even at maximum volume, the gaming headset realizes a clear sound that comes along completely without over-exaggerated mids or unpleasantly sharp highs.
If I had to compare the H9’s sound to Sony’s over-ear headphones, I’d say it’s somewhere between the WH-1000XM4 (our review) and the XM5 – which is an absolute statement for a gaming headset. Definitely one of the best sounding wireless gaming headsets on the market.
However, the maximum volume could be a bit louder in 2.4 GHz mode. Here, other competitors get significantly louder. There are also clearly audible differences between 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth. Not in terms of sound quality, but in volume and sound image.
In Bluetooth mode, the headset sounds richer, more powerful in the basses and not quite as open in the trebles. At the same time, it gets considerably louder, which makes listening to music via Bluetooth sound much more pleasing than via PC or dongle.
How about the surround sound?
- Very good spatiality on the PC (360° Reality Audi)
- Excellent spatiality on PS5 (Sony Tempest 3D)
I also very much like the spatiality of the sound, which comes across nicely open in the highs (at least for a closed design). However, you can then expand the sound image once again with a virtual surround sound. Sony’s 360-degree reality audio, which we already know from the Linkbuds S (our review), is used for this on the PC.
For this, you have to take photos of your ears using the smartphone app 360 Spatial Sound Personalizer and upload them. This results in an even more spatial sound image, but a few details are lost in the mids.
Things look even better on the PlayStation 5, which uses Sony’s Tempest 3D sound engine for surround sound and delivers an even more immersive experience. Here, the spatial sound image seems even more detailed and allows for positionally accurate localization of even the smallest details. Absolutely impressive.
ANC and Transparency Mode
- Best ANC yet in a gaming headset
- Clear, true-to-life transparency mode
- Rare airborne noise (transparency mode)
The fact that Sony is considered the market leader in active noise cancellation in the headphone segment is also evident in the Inzone H9 gaming headset. The ANC is not quite as effective as that of the XM4 and XM5 models, but it is not particularly far behind.
A slight background noise is perceptible in a completely quiet environment, but you won’t notice it when gaming, listening to music or consuming media. The ANC is very effective in suppressing all frequencies.
This does not only apply to uniform noises like fans or similar. Even conversations between my wife and our son or the TV sound in the home office are excellently suppressed and reduced to an absolute minimum. It’s simply the best ANC I’ve heard in a gaming headset so far.
Of course, there is also a suitable counterpart in the form of a transparency mode, which, for example, clearly emphasizes voices and lets them pass through. If you are at the PC, you can also fine-tune the amount of ambient noise with the help of a slider and activate the “focus on voice”. Here, too, the H9 convinces with clear details and a realistic sound.
However, the external microphones sometimes pick up movements in the air in transparency mode. This is even though the microphone boom is raised and the mic is muted. This sounds like someone breathing briefly into the microphone again and again. However, this only happens rarely and – in my experience – only when you have just booted up the PC and turned on the headset. Does not disturb also further and disappears quickly again.
How good is the Sony Inzone H9’s microphone?
- Flip-to-mute function
- Sound little dynamic and detailed
- Good volume
The microphone is automatically activated as soon as you flip down the arm of the Sony Inzone H9. A pleasant “click” sound then symbolizes readiness. You can also activate an automatic voice amplification within the software and control the amount of sidetone. The higher the value, the more you hear yourself talking.
Original rating with old firmware
Basically, the quality offered is absolutely okay, although I would have expected much more here considering the high price and excellent sound. The voice transmission is not as clear and dynamic as we are used to from other representatives.
What I cannot confirm, however, is the low maximum volume that other Sony Inzone H9 reviewers complain about. I find the volume absolutely sufficient, which my interlocutors also confirmed in the test.
Nachtest des Mikrofons mit neuer, verbesserter Firmware
Sony recently released a firmware update for the Inzone H9 and H7 to version 01.002.005 (Firmware update to version 01.002.005 | Sony DE), which is supposed to improve the microphone quality.
Reason enough for us to take a look at the gaming headset again and try out the improvements ourselves. We actually noticed a noticeable improvement in the sound in a direct comparison, both on the PC and the PlayStation 5.
The microphone improves in terms of dynamics and clarity of the user’s voice as well as the volume of the voice transmission after the firmware update. At the same time, the microphone is less susceptible to noise when connected wirelessly. Sony thus eliminates one of our biggest criticisms of the Inzone H9 gaming headset, which ultimately leads us to raise the rating and give it the coveted Gold Award.
Software connectivity: INZONE Hub
- Overwhelming software
- Limited setting options
The companion software is the new Sony INZONE Hub, which visually echoes the purple packaging. On the main page, in the sound settings section, the software informs you about all the important details.
Here you can select different equalizer presets or individualize the sound in a 10-band EQ. You also have the option of activating the surround sound in the first place, as well as adjusting various volumes of individual frequencies under “dynamic range control”.
You can also switch between ANC, transparency mode or normal sound and fine-tune the amount of ambient noise coming through, as well as focus on the voice.
In addition to the controls on the headset, you can also adjust the overall volume and the play/chat balance, as well as adjust the microphone volume including gain and sidetone. In the device settings, you can set an automatic shutdown of the LED illumination and determine which modes are available for the NC/AMB button, as well as which mode should be set when switching on.
The software is clearly laid out, but is severely limited in terms of its range of functions. On the other hand, there are no functions that I would miss in any way. However, it should be mentioned that the settings only take effect when you use the H9 via USB dongle on a PC or notebook. The settings have no effect on Bluetooth operation or the sound on the PlayStation 5.
Sony Inzone H9 review: conclusion
With its gaming headset debut in the PC segment, the manufacturer does a lot right, at least with the top model Sony Inzone H9. The wireless device offers outstanding sound quality, excellent active noise cancellation and a really high wearing comfort.
The design leans heavily on the PlayStation 5 console and looks both simple and chic. However, I think the build quality is not good enough for the high price. For around 300 Euros, I expect a lot more than just rather wobbly plastic.
The battery runtime is also not completely convincing. However, I find it really weak that the headset cannot even be used on competing consoles. On the other hand, the H9 scores with its dual connection and a convincing virtual surround sound.
All in all, the Sony Inzone H9 offers a top sound, the best ANC in a gaming headset and a really high wearing comfort. While it still had to take criticism for the microphone and build quality in August, which simply do not do justice to the price, the microphone has been significantly upgraded with the new firmware update.
Sony Inzone H9
Value for money
Sony's new Inzone H9 is especially convincing in terms of sound, ANC and wearing comfort. Points are deducted for the somewhat "cheap" build, the battery life and the only average microphone.
Sony Inzone H9 price comparison
Buy now at Amazon
Buy now at Coolblue
By purchasing via the links from our price comparison, you support our editorial work without incurring additional costs. We thank you for your support.
Gehört zum Inventar