Audio, Console, Gaming, PlayStation, Review

Sony INZONE H9 Review: Fantastic Gaming Headset, Average Headphones

Sony has been in the headphones market for quite some time now, but it’s not until the INZONE series where we see the Japanese company’s commitment to release a premium line of gaming headsets for the PC and PS5. Sitting at the top of the series is the Sony INZONE H9, a pair of wireless gaming headsets with active noise cancellation (ANC).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve tested the INZONE H9 on both PC and PS5, and I thoroughly enjoyed using it for gaming. Not only does it have good imaging, it also has ridiculously long battery life. However, while it’s an excellent gaming headset, it’s not the most ideal headphones for general use.

What It Is

As the highest-end model in the INZONE series, the H9 is a feature-packed headset. It comes with the aforementioned ANC, 360 Spatial Sound (only for PC), up to 32 hours of battery life, and of course, a boom microphone that can be flipped up to mute. The H9 also supports the PS5’s Tempest 3D AudioTech.

Of course, with all of these features, it’s no surprise that the H9 carries a RM1,299 price tag. Compared to the other headsets in the series, the INZONE H7 – also wireless, but without ANC – goes for RM1,099, while the wired INZONE H3 costs RM439.

The Good Stuff

One of the most important features of a gaming headset is how it handles “imaging” – that is, how well can the headset emulate the location of a gunshot in a game, for example. In this regard, the Sony INZONE H9 performs admirably; I definitely feel like I have an added advantage when gaming with this.

Aside from that, the noise cancelling performance of the INZONE H9 is also above average. Even though it has the “deafening effect” – and its ANC is still not quite as good as, say, the Sony WH-1000XM5 – it can still cancel out most ambient noise, especially the sound of an air-conditioner or a loud PC fan.

Another aspect of the H9 that I’m very impressed with is its long battery life. Sony quoted up to 32 hours of use on a single charge (with ANC switched off), but in my testing, the headset was still going strong well past this estimate. If you want a long-lasting gaming headset, the H9 will not disappoint.

Comfort is one of the INZONE H9’s strong points as well. Even in longer gaming sessions – especially when I was sweating bullets playing The Last of Us Part I – the headset remains comfortable, thanks to its soft ear pads. The pressure is also just right, where I don’t feel like it’s clamping too hard on my head.

As for the microphone of the H9, it’s quite good. My teammates had no issue listening to my voice in-game, and I love the fact that I can hear my own voice through the headset. The convenience of just flipping the microphone up to mute it is neat too.

Not surprisingly, the INZONE H9’s sound signature is tuned for gaming, which is to say it has very emphasised bass. This (somewhat) makes sense for a gaming-centric headset, as a bass-heavy tuning will make explosions and gunshots sound extra exciting.

But this also comes at the expense of audio quality; I’ll elaborate in the next section.

The Bad Stuff

While the overemphasised bass of the INZONE H9 makes for a more exciting gaming experience, it doesn’t translate well to music listening. The boosted bass bleeds into the mids, so as a result, it sounds “muddy.” Bass guitars on certain tracks will sound overly loud as well because of this.

And then there’s the bulky design of the H9. Yes, it’s a comfortable pair of wireless headset, but it doesn’t look particularly sleek when worn. The non-removable microphone further contributes to the general bulkiness of the headset. Suffice to say it will look out of place to use the H9 in public, in my opinion.

Last but not least is the USB dongle of the INZONE H9. Most of the time, the wireless connection works just fine, but there at times where I get a weird static noise. I can’t quite replicate this issue often enough, so I won’t say this is a major problem – it’s still worth a mention, of course.

Is It Worth It?

If you want a pair of comfortable wireless gaming headset with good imaging, extremely long battery life, and active noise cancellation, then the Sony INZONE H9 is an easy recommendation, even with its RM1,299 price tag. I’m not a big fan of its bulky design, but you may not share my sentiment.

It would’ve been great if the INZONE H9’s tuning isn’t so bass-centric, but hey, it does make for a more exciting gaming experience, especially if you’re into action games. Nonetheless, I’m hoping Sony will change up the tuning of the next H9 to be a better-rounded pair of headset – the company has proven itself to be more than capable of this.

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