As one of the world’s largest and most versatile electronics manufacturers, Sony needs no introduction. However, they are brand new as a supplier of gaming headsets.
The Sony Inzone H9 is the top model in the new Inzone sub-brand, which for the time being has headsets and gaming monitors in its range. It is also the most expensive headset in the test. So expectations are high in advance.
Design-wise, expectations are met straight away. Instead of giving the world another black-on-black headset for 30-year-old teenage boys, Sony has opted for a retro-futuristic design that evokes the EVE robot in the Pixar film Wall-E. The ear cups are grey-white and perfectly rounded, as is the headband. And with jet-black ear pads and headband lining, they almost seem to float in mid-air. Narrow rings of LED lights complete the sci-fi look. The microphone sits on a flexible but fairly rigid microphone arm that tilts up.
The Sony Inzone H9 has built-in automatic noise cancellation; something we’ve only seen on a few gaming headsets so far, all of which were on the expensive end – like the Beoplay Portal PC and Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
Like most, the headset comes with a USB adapter for delay-free audio transmission on the 2.4 GHz band. It also has Bluetooth for mobile gaming.
The app actually works!
The Sony Inzone control application sets itself apart from the many other gaming headsets by being both stylish, comprehensive and working as intended. Most competitors have to make do with one or two of those things. In addition to the almost obligatory 10-band equaliser and virtual surround sound, the program has a function for adapting the sound to the listener’s ears.
This is done via a mobile app (iOS and Android) that scans the shape of the ears using the mobile camera. The app instructs step by step how to hold the phone to scan the ear. The instructions are in English (curiously with a thick Danish accent, which I didn’t expect from a Japanese manufacturer) and quite easy to follow.
Finally, the application has a dynamics enhancer that increases the dynamics of the sound in two steps. It sounds like a poppy idea, but it works fine!
A hi-fi company with more than 75 years of experience should have the sound under control. And Sony does! The sound is present, clean and really dynamic. The dynamics amplifier gives explosions and shots extra punch. But even with all the jokes and fuss turned off and in neutral, the Inzone H9 is classes better than most in the test.
Noise reduction is an added luxury, giving you peace and concentration with the touch of a cap – and ambient sound with another touch. The noise reduction does not affect the sound to any degree that can be felt in practice. However, Sony must have a slight minus in the grade book for the fact that ANC adds a distinctly audible background hiss.
Sony are debutants on gaming headsets, but what a debut! The Inzone H9 is successful on almost all counts: the sound is engaging and clear, the controller is the best in the field, and the headset even looks really nice and stylish. The noise reduction is an added bonus on an already packed score sheet. Although it should be possible to reduce the background noise.