Sony Inzone H9 headset review: Sony’s ambitious entry into high-end gaming audio

If the remote relationship of the Inzone H9 to the WH-1000XM5 for a while makes us hope for equivalent audio performance between the two models, the first few seconds of listening invite us to dismiss this expectation. The sonic philosophy of headphones play from Sony is not hi-fi, far from it: its return is on the contrary very colorful, with a strong “W” signature, especially when noise reduction is activated.

The voice message is transmitted as divided into 3 frequency zones different from each other, separated by two hollows visible in the frequency response range of 700 Hz and 4 kHz. If not “honest” or transparent, this interpretation is also not interesting: it develops a sense of spectral breadth in a way that is definitely artificial, but undeniably effective; such as some products dedicated to home cinema, which are believed to provide a smaller amount of unique sound quality than it actually is. Obviously this doesn’t have to be liked by everyone; and unfortunately, the equalizer in the Inzone Hub application can’t do anything about it: it uses extremely narrow bandpass filters, making it impossible to apply significant adjustments. there is no change in frequency response to a real roller coaster.

EQ preset effects on frequency response: default (black), “bass boost” (dotted green), “music/video” (dotted red). The red curve in particular indicates the inaccuracy of the filters, making this equalizer less usable.

On the other hand, less mobile audiences, are very easily accustomed to this profile. To be honest, we might even see a certain appeal to it, if the return hasn’t already suffered from the slight lack of treble accuracy. The slight lack of discipline in the membranes of the transient results in details that sometimes seem a little confusing, and a slight lack of overall dynamics – which is sadly in contrast to the unique character mentioned above. . On the other hand, there is nothing to report on the bass side, at a satisfactory intensity.

Above all, this relative inaccuracy of the treble of grief plays against the virtual spatialization treatment of headphones. In fact, it is precisely above all through high frequencies that the human brain understands the direction of sounds; the processing therefore works, in a very logical way, to emphasize these frequencies, and to do so sadly emphasizes their shortcomings. It should be remembered, however, that this problem does not have to be understood to have the same intensity for everyone, since not everyone is faced with the same virtualization filters. This is even the whole principle of HRTF customization offered by the helmet.

What is it about? This is a practical application of the fact that understanding the exact origin of sounds in the human auditory system is based on the interactions of sound waves in our head and in our auricles. However, because each of us has our specific morphology, these interactions are unique to us. Therefore, in order to better mimic the spatialization of sound, Sony headphones suggest to consider this uniqueness. This is the whole purpose of the ear photographs we discussed above: the shape of our auricles can be analyzed to identify filters that are closer to reality. The concept is not new; Sony even uses it for its 360 Reality Audio spatialized sound music ecosystem. It’s also similar to what Creative is offering under the name Super X-Fi.

Precisely because of the morphological uniqueness of all, it is impossible for us to judge with absolute certainty and in a universal way the effectiveness of this personalization. However, for all the people we tested, the effect turned out to be convincing, especially a significant improvement in the difference between the front and back parts of the soundstage. Similarly, people whose personal HRTF is far from common, and for whom “ordinary” virtual spatialization treatments are often unconvincing, are able to feel a very clear difference in sound perception. envelopment provided.

Finally, we conclude by ensuring that this personalized spatial audio system is only available on PC. On the PS5, the H9 is clearly compatible with the console’s native Tempest 3D audio system, just like any other headset. But then, it’s really the console that creates the spatialization, and not the helmet itself; the usual filters are no longer active.

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