Sony InZone H9 Gaming Headset Review: Great for PC and PS5, for a Price
Sony's flagship headset for its InZone gaming accessories launch stands out in a crowded field.
Updated June 28, 2022 2:00 p.m. PT
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Reviews ethics statement
Lori GruninSenior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
ExpertisePhotography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Really comfortable, even with glasses and noise canceling
Very warm-sounding mic
Solid battery life
Simultaneous Bluetooth and PC connections
No analog or wired connection
No mic noise cancellation
Randomly turned off on Bluetooth
It looks like a PS5 headset, but as part of the new InZone gaming accessories family -- out of Sony's entertainment and sound branch of the family tree, rather than the PlayStation clan -- the InZone H9 is primarily a PC-intended gaming headset with close ties to the console.
It's better and more flexible than Sony's Pulse 3D, but at $300 (£269, AU$449) it's also a lot more expensive than its kin -- the wired $100 InZone H3 hits closer to home -- but the H9 works hard for the money against less expensive PlayStation-compatible gaming headset competitors like the SteelSeries Arctis 7P Plus. It's really, really comfortable and thoughtfully designed, has effective proprietary spatial sound (with Tempest 3D support), excellent audio quality, solid battery life and simultaneous Bluetooth and 2.4GHz connectivity.
There's a slightly cheaper model, the $230 InZone H7. It's the same headset as the H9, with nylon-covered ear cushions like the H3 and without the noise canceling, plus longer battery life. The nylon actually feels a bit cooler, if slipperier than the leatherette, and if you're indifferent to digital noise canceling they're probably a better buy. And based on the manufacturer price, I'd expect to see them hit below $200 once the holiday sales roll around.
Given its sound-division roots, it's not surprising the H9 adapts some technology from Sony's highly rated WH-1000XM5, including the DNC and 40mm drivers. The H9 uses "low pressure" DNC, which means it tries to not increase the pressure in your ears as much as typical cancellation does, in order to reduce fatigue and other related discomforts. And it does feel less head-squeezy. But I also find it less isolating; even at its best, I can still hear some ambient noise and voices.
In fact, the headset is one of the most comfortable and least fatiguing I've tried -- up there in HyperX territory. There's ample give in the width and the height, with a cushy headband and well cushioned, soft leatherette covered ear pads that didn't put too much pressure on my glasses. They don't seem to be replaceable, though, and if you get the ear sweats they might not be the best option. The cups can rotate to hang the H9 around your neck, a lot more spaciously than usual.
Unlike many other gaming headsets, the H9's mic doesn't optimize for clarity -- depending upon your needs, that's either a plus or a minus. It means it doesn't have the clipped frequency range that makes your voice sound crisp. Instead, it sounds more like a traditional mic, with a natural voice quality that sounds really good, and might be a better choice for streamers than squadmates. It could use a pop filter, even a cheap foam one, though.
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There's no mic noise canceling, which means mechanical keyboards come through loud and clear. For the money, I'd have liked some, as well as equalization controls over the mic, especially separate profiles for gaming and for nongaming, like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has. The flip-down mic gives it a little less street-friendly look, if that matters to you.
And the audio is really top flight. Music has a broad soundstage with good separation. They can get quite loud, but it seems like they can't be pushed past the point where distortion will kick in at either the high or low end.
They connect as easily to a PC as they do to a PS5 via the dongle. For the latter you have to use the PS5's Tempest 3D audio settings; you can't use your ear optimization. In either case, I could hear a better than average, decisive division between sounds coming from the rear right and left, and from the center right and left, as well as accurate tracking while spinning in circles.
I didn't experience noticeable lag on either platform, and both the 2.4GHz and Bluetooth range are quite good; I got more than 70 feet in an unobstructed area just from Bluetooth. In an annoying glitch, though, it would randomly go to sleep while listening to music over Bluetooth. Battery life is rated at 32 hours, and it can definitely last a long session. You can use it while it's charging, but the connection is charge only. I really miss having a wired connection for emergencies, even if it's just a dumb analog option.
In addition to Tempest 3D, on a PS5 it should show you connection status, volume, battery level, mic mute/unmute and game/chat balance. In practice, only a few of those worked for me; I couldn't find a battery level, for one.
The InZone Hub software is some of the least annoying I've encountered -- I really dislike the utilities, for some reason. Customizing the spatial audio is annoying but pretty typical: You have to create a Sony account or link it to an existing one, launch an app on your phone that scans your ear shape and it automatically generates a profile that somehow optimizes the surround.
You can also set the dynamic range (off, low, high) to increase clarity of individual frequencies, set defaults for headset startup (like the noise correction settings and whether to reconnect to a Bluetooth device automatically), the degree of ambient noise to let through and more. There's also a 10-step graphic equalizer with a couple of presets, but oddly none for gaming, plus game/chat balance and sidetone (mic monitoring) sliders.
For Bluetooth, you can set the connection quality to prioritize sound or stability; I couldn't create a situation in which the Bluetooth became spotty enough to test it. However, the Stable option doesn't work properly with iOS devices, which don't use the A2DP protocol.
The InZone H9 is a great first outing for a rookie to PC gaming headsets, and though I experienced some glitches they're probably easy fixes.