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We've recently released our Test Bench 1.6 update for Headphones! Read the Latency R&D Article to learn more.

Sony INZONE Buds Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Dec 06, 2023 at 09:44 am
Latest change: Writing modified Feb 06, 2024 at 03:23 pm
Sony INZONE Buds Truly Wireless Picture
7.0
Neutral Sound
7.6
Commute/Travel
8.0
Sports/Fitness
7.1
Office
7.2
Wireless Gaming
5.5
Wired Gaming
6.8
Phone Calls

The Sony INZONE Buds are wireless earbuds designed with gaming use in mind. Sony have manufactured a number of gaming headsets under the INZONE name, but this is the first pair of earbuds they've released as part of the line. They feature active noise cancelling (ANC) and spatial sound technologies and a purported 12-hour battery life. While they use the same drivers as the Sony WF1000-XM5 Truly Wireless, the manufacturer claims they have a unique design that reduces ear contact for a more comfortable fit. They also support Bluetooth via LE audio and use the LC3 codec for lower energy and lower bandwidth audio data transmission.

Our Verdict

7.0 Neutral Sound

The Sony INZONE Buds are decent for neutral sound. They have a tilted bass response that overemphasizes low-bass and exaggerates the high-bass frequencies. As a result, footsteps are clearly audible, but explosions and cinematic sequences lack rumble and punch. Our unit also has mismatches in the mid response between the left and right drivers, making dialogue sound unevenly present in the mix. That said, they feature Sony's Spatial Sound immersive audio technology, and you can adjust the sound through EQ and presets in the Sony INZONE Hub app.

Pros
  • Robust customization options via INZONE Hub.
  • Consistent audio delivery.
Cons
  • Poor passive soundstage.
  • Only support Bluetooth LE Audio.
7.6 Commute/Travel

The Sony INZONE Buds are good for commuting and travel use. Their noise isolation performance is good enough to block out most external sound, but some noise, especially bass frequency noises like engine rumble, will find their way into your audio. You'll also need to use the wireless transmitter to connect them unless you own a device that supports Bluetooth LE audio. Nevertheless, these buds are portable, decently comfortable, and their solid battery life will get you through everything from commutes to long journeys.

Pros
  • Very good battery life.
  • Good noise isolation performance.
  • Lightweight and portable design.
Cons
  • Loose fit won't be for everyone.
8.0 Sports/Fitness

The Sony INZONE Buds are great for sport and fitness even though they aren't designed with this use in mind. They're portable, lightweight, and decently comfortable. However, if you don't have a device that supports Bluetooth LE, you'll need to bring the wireless transmitter with you on your runs.

Pros
  • Robust customization options via INZONE Hub.
  • Good noise isolation performance.
  • Lightweight and portable design.
Cons
  • Loose fit won't be for everyone.
  • Only support Bluetooth LE Audio.
7.1 Office

The Sony INZONE Buds are decent for office use. Their ANC performance does a good job of blocking out background conversations and office chatter, and their battery life performance is enough to get you through even the longest work days. That said, you'll need to use the wireless transmitter to connect them unless you own a device that supports Bluetooth LE audio. Users who are used to buds that create an in-ear seal might also not like their unique, loose fit.

Pros
  • Robust customization options via INZONE Hub.
  • Good noise isolation performance.
Cons
  • Loose fit won't be for everyone.
  • Only support Bluetooth LE Audio.
7.2 Wireless Gaming

The Sony INZONE Buds are a decent choice for wireless gaming. Their wireless transmitter offers low-latency gaming performance on PCs and PlayStation consoles. Their loose fit takes some getting used to, but combined with their very good battery life performance, these buds can get you through some marathon gaming sessions. While the lack of low-bass means explosions sound less vivid, fans of first-person shooters will enjoy how the boosted high-bass response brings out footsteps.

Pros
  • Very good battery life.
  • Robust customization options via INZONE Hub.
Cons
  • Loose fit won't be for everyone.
  • Poor passive soundstage.
5.5 Wired Gaming

The Sony INZONE Buds are truly wireless buds and they can't be used with a wired connection.

6.8 Phone Calls

The Sony INZONE Buds are okay for phone calls. The integrated mic's recording quality and noise handling are adequate, but your voice will sound fuzzy and obfuscated in moderately noisy environments. However, they have a good noise isolation performance that lets you hear the other person on the line without distractions. You'll also need to carry around the wireless transmitter to connect them unless you own a device that supports Bluetooth LE audio.

Pros
  • Good noise isolation performance.
Cons
  • Only support Bluetooth LE Audio.
  • 7.0 Neutral Sound
  • 7.6 Commute/Travel
  • 8.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.1 Office
  • 7.2 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.5 Wired Gaming
  • 6.8 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Feb 06, 2024: Compared them to the Sony PULSE Explore Truly Wireless in Bluetooth connection.
  2. Updated Jan 10, 2024: We've updated Test Settings to reflect the Windows settings we used to test these buds. We've also added a note regarding their noise floor to Sound Profile.
  3. Updated Dec 06, 2023: Review published.
  4. Updated Nov 30, 2023: Early access published.
  5. Updated Nov 27, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  6. Updated Nov 03, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  7. Updated Oct 27, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony INZONE buds come in two color variants: 'Black' and 'White. We tested the 'Black' variant but we expect all color variants to perform similarly. You can see our model's label here. If you encounter another variant of these headphones, please let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Sony INZONE Buds are Sony's first wireless earbuds designed specifically with gaming in mind. They're manufactured by Sony Electronics, as opposed to their PlayStation subsidiary. While they use the same drivers as the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless, some key differences in features make them more suited to gaming. Like the Razer Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeed True Wireless, they have a wireless transmitter for a low-latency gaming experience with PCs and PlayStation consoles. They also have a fit that minimizes contact with your skin, so you can game all day without ear fatigue. However, their noise isolation performance isn't as exceptional as the WF-1000XM5.

Check out our picks for best earbuds for gaming, the best noise cancelling earbuds, and the best Sony headphones.

Sony PULSE Explore Truly Wireless

The Sony INZONE Buds Truly Wireless are better for most uses than the Sony PULSE Explore Truly Wireless. The INZONE have a longer battery life, a better mic performance, and a better noise isolation performance, thanks to their ANC feature. They also include a dedicated app with sound customization features. On the other hand, the PULSE support Bluetooth, so you can use their dongle to connect with PlayStation consoles and stream audio from your phone simultaneously.

Razer Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeed True Wireless

The Razer Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeed True Wireless are better earbuds for wireless gaming than the Sony INZONE Buds Truly Wireless. While both buds have similarly comfortable fits and lightweight, portable designs, the Razer have a more neutral sound profile and more accurate bass response. They also have better mic performance and better Bluetooth connectivity options as they use the SBC codec by default. In contrast, the Sony only use LE audio, which is newer and has limited compatibility. However, the Sony have a considerably longer battery life.

Sony INZONE H9 Wireless

The Sony INZONE H9 Wireless are better for wireless gaming than the Sony INZONE Buds Truly Wireless, but the buds are more versatile overall. They both have a similar build quality, and their ANC features offer a similar level of noise isolation. The H9 Wireless have an over-ear, close-back design that some users may prefer. As a result, they have a longer battery life and a better passive soundstage performance. They also have better controls and better Bluetooth connectivity than the Buds, which only support Bluetooth LE audio. However, the Buds have a more neutral sound profile, making it easier to get consistent audio delivery.

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro

The Sony INZONE Buds Truly Wireless are better for wireless gaming than the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro. While the Razer have a more neutral sound profile and better mic recording quality, they're Bluetooth-only and don't have a dedicated wireless dongle like the Sony. They can only connect to PCs via Bluetooth, and even with their "Game" mode enabled, the latency is still too high for many games. The Sony also have a superior noise isolation performance and a longer continuous battery life.

EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Truly Wireless

The Sony INZONE Buds Truly Wireless are better for most uses than the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Truly Wireless. The EPOS are more comfortable, better built, and support multi-device pairing through Bluetooth and their wireless dongle. However, the Sony have a more neutral sound profile overall, and their battery life performance is significantly better. There have also been reports about users encountering issues with the EPOS' dongle connectivity after updating to the latest firmware.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Transducer Dynamic

These buds have a sleek and minimalist aesthetic. Unlike the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless, they have a stem design that protrudes from your ear. There's a touch-sensitive surface at the end of each stem that you can use to input controls. They come in two color variants: 'Black' and 'White'. The black variant features a monochromatic, all-black look, including matching ear tips. With the white variant, white is used around the edges of the stem to accent the rest of the buds, which are black.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.03 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Sony INZONE Buds are decently comfortable. The manufacturer designed them to have a looser fit that doesn't go fully in your ear canal, so they don't sit as deep as the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless. The lighter ear contact is intended to create a more comfortable fit. However, this means they also stick out from your ears and can get snagged if you move around. Fortunately, they come with four sets of ear tips, making it relatively simple to achieve a good fit.

6.7
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control On/Off
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls No

These buds have simple, reasonably intuitive controls. There are distinct controls for each bud, so you won't be able to input some controls if you only have one bud in. The touch-sensitive surface is also easy to accidentally tap. There are useful chimes that sound when you engage the ANC or mic, as well as when you increase or decrease the volume or hit max/min volume. There are no playback controls by default, but you can map these via the companion app.

On the left earbud:

  • Single tap: Toggles ANC and Ambient Sound mode on/off.
  • Hold Toggles mic on/off.

On the right earbud:

  • Single tap: Raises the volume.
  • Hold: Lowers the volume.

9.5
Design
Portability
L 1.4" (3.5 cm)
W 1.5" (3.8 cm)
H 0.7" (1.7 cm)
Volume 1.38 inยณ (22.61 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required Yes

These buds are very portable. They're lightweight and won't take up much space in a bag or pocket. However, you'll need to bring the transmitter to pair them with most devices. Thankfully, the included carrying case has a section for the transmitter and can protect the buds when not in use.

7.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 2.2" (5.6 cm)
W 1.9" (4.9 cm)
H 1.6" (4.1 cm)
Volume 6.87 inยณ (112.50 cmยณ)

They come with a good carrying case. It has magnets to secure the buds and prevent them from moving in transit, and there's even a dedicated nook for storing the wireless transmitter. However, the all-plastic design feels both weak and bulky. It lacks the heft of more premium cases, and its awkward shape takes up more space in a bag than other cases from this manufacturer. The hinge is also quite weak and won't stay shut if you accidentally drop the case.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

These earbuds are decently well-built. Apart from the silicone ear tips, they're made entirely of plastic that doesn't feel as dense and high-quality as some of the manufacturer's other earbuds. While they lack an official IP rating, Sony says they're IPX4 equivalent for protection against water splashes.

7.0
Design
Stability

The stability is satisfactory. Their looser, shallower fit means that you can easily dislodge them if you move your head sharply while gaming, and they'll require readjustment afterward.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Sony INZONE Buds Truly Wireless
  • 4x tip sizes
  • Charging case
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • USB-C transmitter
  • Manuals
  • Warranty
  • Strickers

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-2.19 dB
Treble Amount
-2.14 dB

These buds use the same drivers as the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless. While they have slightly similar sound profiles, we can largely attribute some key differences to the difference in fit. The response across the bass range is tilted, resulting in an underemphasized low-bass that strips some of the intensity from explosions. Conversely, an exaggerated high-bass to low-mid can help bring out footsteps. The right and left drivers also deviate from each other across the mids: a large mid-range dip in the right ear is followed by a smaller dip in the left ear. This results in mid-range instruments and voices sounding inconsistent in their presence. There are also some slight inconsistencies in the treble range, but sibilants sound bright rather than piercing overall. You can adjust their sound profile with the EQ and presets in the Sony INZONE Hub app.

We obtained our sound results with the transmitter set to 'PC' mode, using 'INZONE Buds - Game' on Windows. However, we also ran an extra sweep set to 'PS5/Mobile' mode and found no difference in frequency response. You can see the results here. It's worth also mentioning that these buds have a higher noise floor than most earbuds. However, it's not unusually high or annoying.

8.6
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.29 dB

The Sony INZONE Buds have excellent frequency response consistency. Despite their looser fit, you'll achieve consistent bass and treble delivery each time you use them.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.8
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.07 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
46.21 Hz
Low-Bass
-3.52 dB
Mid-Bass
0.98 dB
High-Bass
4.52 dB

These buds have a titled bass response. The low-bass is slightly underemphasized, so in-game explosions lack rumble and thump. However, the high-bass is a touch over-emphasized to compensate for the lack of low-bass, which helps bring out the sound of footsteps.

8.2
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.4 dB
Low-Mid
3.12 dB
Mid-Mid
0.01 dB
High-Mid
0.76 dB

The Sony INZONE Buds have great mid accuracy. There's some overemphasis in the low-mid, which is a continuation of the boosted high-bass, cluttering the mix somewhat. The frequency response of the left and right drivers also deviates between the low-mid and mid-mid, and there's a dip in the right driver that nudges dialogue and instruments to the back of the mix. It can also make it more tricky to pick out the whispered dialogue between NPCs in games like Ghost of Tsushima. However, the high-mid range is fairly neutral and flat across both drivers, so the upper harmonics of vocals and lead instruments sound detailed and present.

8.2
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.74 dB
Low-Treble
0.46 dB
Mid-Treble
2.56 dB
High-Treble
-7.23 dB

These earbuds have great treble accuracy. The response in this range is fairly neutral, with some slight deviations. A small, narrow dip in the low-mid dulls the upper harmonics of vocals and instruments. A peak in the mid-mid adds brightness and character to sibilants, like cymbals.

7.1
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.04 dB
Dips
0.98 dB

The Sony INZONE Buds have a decent peaks and dips performance, meaning they generally follow their own sound profile with some deviation in certain ranges. A peak in the high-bass to low-mid helps bring out footstep sounds in-game. The mismatched response in the low and high-mid means that the right driver's response dips sharply in the mid-mid, while the left driver has a smaller dip in the high-mid. This dip in the high-mid and another dip in the low-treble causes dialogue and instruments to lose presence and detail. While the response is matched in the treble range, a sharp peak in the mid-treble makes higher-pitched sibilants sound bright and piercing.

8.2
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.17
Weighted Phase Mismatch
4.25
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.9
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.47

The imaging performance is great. Sony has a reputation for good quality control and ergonomics in their earbuds, and the imaging performance of these buds indicates this. Our unit's drivers are well-matched in terms of group delay and phase. There's a sharp peak in both group delay and phase response at the very top of the range, but this is tough to hear, considering we lose our sensitivity to this range over time. There's also an audible phase mismatch in the low to mid-mids that causes the placement of sound objects to vary between the left and right driver in the soundstage. This can be distracting during cutscenes that feature characters with differently-pitched voices, as the placement of their voices changes in stereo width depending on who's speaking.

0.7
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
2.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
0.7

These buds have a bad passive soundstage, which is normal given their in-ear design. Audio needs to interact with your outer ear to create a wide and spacious soundstage; this isn't possible with closed-back buds. As a result, audio sounds like it's coming from inside your head and isn't spacious or immersive.

2.0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
On/Off
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
Sony Spatial Sound

The Sony INZONE Buds are compatible with Sony's 360 Reality audio and Spatial Sound features. The app can analyze your ear shape and creates a custom profile that helps deliver a more immersive listening experience via a virtual soundstage.

7.9
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.292
WHD @ 100
0.098

These buds have a very good weighted harmonic distortion performance. While there are increased levels of distortion between the mid-mid and treble frequencies, it's difficult to hear in real-life content, even if you crank the volume to high levels. Otherwise, audio reproduction is clean and pure.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
01.001.000
Power
On
Connection
Wireless (Proprietary)
Codec
PCM, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Flat
ANC
On
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test the Sony INZONE Buds. The Windows setting we used was 'INZONE Buds - Game', but some computers may default to 'INZONE Buds - Chat', which has worse sound quality. Our results are only valid when used with these settings.

Isolation
7.7
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-21 dB
Noise Cancelling Yes
Bass
-14.98 dB
Mid
-17.18 dB
Treble
-30.86 dB

The noise isolation performance is good. While the loose fit doesn't provide much passive isolation, the ANC can block out a wide range of ambient noise. It does a great job of blocking out higher-frequency noises, like fridge hum. It can also block out bass frequency noises to a lesser degree so you won't be distracted by the engine rumble of buses and cars passing by your window.

9.4
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
24.89 dB

The leakage performance is superb. Audio bleed is mostly concentrated in the bass and treble ranges, but levels of leakage are generally very low. Consequently, you can crank up your in-game audio without worrying about disturbing others around you.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
Mic Yes
6.5
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
195.85 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
4.34 dB
HFE
6,001.45 Hz
Weighted THD
5.012
Gain
-6.54 dB

The integrated mic's performance is okay. Your voice will be understandable to your teammates but sound thin and distant.

6.8
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
17.3 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
7.0
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
6.5
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The noise handling performance is reasonable. In moderately noisy environments, your voice will be fuzzy but still understandable. Noisier environments can easily drown out your voice, but if you plan on using these to game at home, this won't be an issue.

Active Features
7.8
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
12 hrs
Additional Charges
1.0
Total Battery Life
24 hrs
Charge Time
1.5 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The Sony INZONE Buds' battery performance is very good. The manufacturer advertises 12 hours of battery life when using the transmitter with ANC on, and we measured slightly less than this. The included charging case also provides an extra full charge if you need to top up your battery in a pinch. The manufacturer advertises an even longer 24-hour battery life when connected to an LE Audio-compatible device. However, we measured this at closer to 18 hours. Battery life varies depending on use, so your experience may differ.

8.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Sony INZONE Hub
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows Yes
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
On/Off
Mic Control Adjustable Level
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping Yes
Surround Support
Yes

The Sony INZONE Hub app is excellent and provides many customization options. It lets you adjust sound profile presets, EQ and ANC, map additional controls, enable spatial audio, and even create volume/chat mixes for individual games or apps, to name just a few.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Wired Connection
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable
No
Length
N/A
Connector
No Wired Option
Latency - Analog
N/A
Latency - USB
N/A
Recorded Latency
N/A
Recorded Latency Connection No Wired Audio

These buds come with a USB-C to USB-A cable for charging their carrying case. You can't use them with a wired connection.

3.3
Connectivity
Bluetooth Connection
Bluetooth Version
5.3
Multi-Device Pairing
No
Quick Pair (Android)
No
Quick Pair (iOS)
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Latency - SBC
N/A
Latency - aptX
N/A
Latency - aptX Adaptive (High Quality)
N/A
Latency - aptX Adaptive (Low Latency)
N/A
Latency - LDAC
N/A
Recorded Latency
N/A
Recorded Latency Codec N/A
AAC Support
No

The Sony INZONE Buds have poor Bluetooth connectivity. They only support Bluetooth LE audio, which uses the LC3 audio codec. Currently, only a select few phones are compatible with this codec. As a result, we couldn't test the Bluetooth performance using our usual methodology. However, if you have a compatible device, you'll benefit from LE audio's higher-quality wireless transmission, and your buds' battery will last longer than traditional Bluetooth. It's also possible to connect to a smartphone by plugging the included transmitter into your phone's USB-C port and setting the switch on the transmitter to 'PS5/Mobile'. Check out the Sony PULSE Explore Truly Wireless if you want gaming earbuds that can connect to any Bluetooth-compatible device.

8.9
Connectivity
Wireless Connection (Dongle)
Line Of Sight Range
219.82 ft (67.00 m)
Latency - Dongle
30 ms
Recorded Latency

These buds have an amazing, low-latency performance when connected via their USB-C dongle.

We used the 'PC' setting on the wireless transmitter to test for this but also used the 'PS5/Mobile' setting and found there was no significant difference in latency. When connected wirelessly on either setting, you won't encounter sync issues between your video and audio. The wireless range is slightly lower when using the 'PS5/Mobile' setting, but this won't be an issue if you're gaming from your couch.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
No
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
Audio + Microphone

These earbuds have full voice and audio compatibility with PCs via the wireless transmitter when set to the 'PC' setting. However, you can connect with the 'PS/Mobile' mode if your PC supports LE audio.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
No
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
Audio + Microphone
PS5 Analog
No
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
Audio + Microphone

When connected with the wireless transmitter on the 'PS/Mobile' setting, these earbuds have full voice and audio compatibility with PlayStation family consoles.

Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
No
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No
2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Wireless USB Dongle + Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

The Sony INZONE Buds come with a carrying case that holds one extra charge. There's no wireless charging, so you'll need to charge the case using the USB-C to USB-A charging cable.