Oct 01, 2023

Inzone Buds review: Sony's wireless earbuds are my new favorite

Wireless gaming earbuds have been hit or miss for me. Really, it all comes down to comfort. I loved the Logitech G Fits but couldn’t use the HyperX MIX Buds for very long. But with ANC, huge battery life, and a comfortable fit, the Sony InZone Buds are my new top recommendation for wireless gaming earbuds. And it top it all off, they come in at just $200. Be sure to hit the video below to see all of the details.

Designed for PS5, PC, and mobile gamers, the Sony InZone Buds take some of Sony’s best technology and put it into a small, sleek, and comfortable gaming package.

The charging case is simple but does everything it needs to with a small LED light on the front and a USB-C port on the back for charging.

In between slots for both earbuds, the case has a place to hold the USB-C dongle. The Dongle itself has an asymmetrical shape and a switch to go between PC and mobile/PS5 modes.

The earbuds themselves have a unique shape that puts a large portion of the body outside of the ear. According to Sony that helps with comfort but also, I imagine, helps to put a big battery in there that allows for the 12-hour run time on 2.4gHz wireless.

There is a single-touch button on the outside of each earbud that has customizable controls. There is an audible cue every time a button is successfully activated which takes the guesswork out of fumbling with the touch buttons on earbuds.

Comfort is subjective when it comes to wireless earbuds but personally, I’ve found the InZone Buds to be some of the best when it comes to comfort. That unique shape ensures that there isn’t too much plastic that has to sit inside the ear canal. They don’t feel heavy or cumbersome, either.

Sony provides a wide variety of ear tips to ensure the Buds get a secure seal in the ear canal. While not form-fitted like the Logitech G Fits, the InZone Buds are plenty comfortable for long-term use.

I still find earbuds to be more fatiguing overall than over-ear headphones and headsets. It’s just inherent to the design that has something pressed inside your ear canal rather than resting over your ears. The InZone Buds are just about the best implementation that I’ve tried, though.

Spec-wise, the InZone buds are using the same Dynamic Driver X from Sony’s WF-1000XM5 earbuds.

From first listen I’ve been loving the sound of the Sony InZone Buds. I’ve done most of my listening with the “flat” EQ from the InZone app, which we’ll talk more about further down.

This EQ mode is right where I like it. Punchy, tight lows that are never overwhelming. Smooth mids that have plenty of presence for both listening to guitars in metal tracks and picking up audio cues in FPS games.

On the high end, there is plenty of presence without anything getting harsh or tinny. I wouldn’t call the earbuds muffled or dark in this flat EQ but I found myself dialing just a bit more high-end from the EQ when listening to music to bring a bit more dazzle to the cymbals.

What really blew me away, though, was the imaging of these earbuds. With both music and gaming, it’s incredibly clear to pick out distinct instruments and in-game audio cues.

While playing the new season of Battlefield 2042, I felt like I had a great grasp on what was happening around me and the location of nearby enemies.

When it comes to imaging and positioning, I feel that these earbuds go up against some of the best flagship wireless headsets that we’ve seen on the market recently. I’m absolutely loving them when playing Battlefield 2042.

My only complaint with audio is that there seems to be a small amount of white noise when there is no audio playing through the earbuds. Generally, it hasn’t been an issue for me when gaming or listening to music, but it is a bummer.

One of the most impressive spec features of the Inzone Buds is the 12-hour battery life when on 2.4gHz wireless. That’s nearly twice the 7-hour battery from the G Fits and the HyperX MIX Buds. On Bluetooth, that life is extended to 24 hours in the earbuds alone and the case can give the buds an additional full charge taking the total time up to 48 hours.

Besides incredible battery life, another thing that sets this apart from the competition is the addition of active noise cancellation. At the $200 price point, I was really surprised to see this considering that the $230 G Fits do not.

Sony is known for impressive noise cancellation like those found on its over-ear XM5 headphones. It works well on the InZone Buds, but I wasn’t blown away by the performance. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it lets through a bit more of the higher frequencies than I expected. Still, it is a welcomed addition when I have fans or AC running in the room where I do most of my gaming.

Another benefit of ANC is that when using earbuds, much like earplugs, I find that my voice is amplified and boomy in my own head and I hear a lot of myself when taking in game. But ANC helps to remove some of that lower-end sound and lessen that boomy effect that I get with earbuds.

Sony has put plenty of software control on the Buds through the InZone PC app.

InZone Buds also work on PS5 with Tempest 3D Audiotech, but there isn’t quite the same level of customization found in the PC InZone app.

On PC, there is a customizable 10-band EQ with a few presets like bass boost and music/video but the presets are pretty lackluster. Luckily, the earbuds sound incredible with the flat EQ setting, but the Music/Video mode leaves the sound flat and lifeless with too much low end in my opinion. I would love to see some more effort put into useful EQ modes.

The reason I’m labeling this a first impression rather than a full review is that I haven’t spent enough time testing the additional audio features like dynamic range control, sound field personalization, or sound toe personalization to give full complete thoughts on how those perform. We’ll be using the InZone Buds quite a bit more in the near future to test these out.

The biggest downfall here is the microphone, but I’m not surprised. While mics on wireless over-ear headsets have been making huge gains lately like the BlackShark V2 Pro 2023, wireless earbuds are still struggling.

It sounds distant and echoey – much like any other wireless earbud I’ve used. If mic quality is of huge concern, I would recommend getting a separate microphone like the affordable HyperX Solocast that can be greatly enhanced with a few cheap accessories.

It’s nice that the InZone Buds have a mic and it will get by in a pinch, but I would not recommend using it if you are planning on streaming or recording your voice.

In my opinion, Sony could have charged more for InZone Buds. $250 would even seem reasonable to me given its specs and performance. At $200 MSRP, these seem like a great deal to me.

Sony really nailed all of the main pillars for wireless gaming earbuds. They’re comfortable, sound great out of the box, have a crazy-long battery life, and pack ANC. Of course, you can get all of those things and typically something more comfortable in an over-ear headset, but if you’re after the small sleek earbuds look, the Sony InZone Buds are a home run.

I’ll be using these more in our live YouTube streams, so make sure you are subscribed if you want to join in and ask any questions about them!

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