Noise cancelling headphones and open-audio earphones aren’t all Sony has in store for 2022, as it turns to gaming for something a little different.
If you’ve ever wondered “where to next” for a headphone company, a totally unexpected category could well be it.
Sony already has one new pair of high-end headphones this year, arriving in the pricey WH-1000XM5, a follow-up to the previous benchmark XM4 model, with this one holding their own despite the high price tag.
You can use headphones pretty much anywhere, of course, but there’s one category that might demand a different style: games.
While any pair of headphones should be able to plug into a computer or games console, including the aforementioned Sony headphones, video games may need a little more from the mic, which is why the boom arm is often there. That’s one change Sony looks game to add in a range of headphones being released for gamers, coming in the “InZone” headphones.
They’re something a little different, offering two wireless headphones — H7 and H9 — while a wired-only option will pop up in the H3. All come with a boom arm mic with mute control, plus ducts in the design to keep the bass solid.
The wireless H7 and H9 will apparently be the better of the range, with the top-end H9 using noise cancelling microphones to cancel noise as you speak, relying on some of the same technology from the 1000X headphones to do just that.
There’s also support for spatial audio in the Sony InZone headphones, though surprisingly, it’s a little like Razer’s THX app in that it requires a Windows PC, using a virtualised environment to turn stereo into 7.1 surround, and optimising the spatial sound much like Sony 360 Reality does by analysing your ear using a mobile app.
Weirdly, Sony Australia confirmed its spatial audio technology won’t work with your phone, a Mac, or even another mobile gaming system, such as the Nintendo Switch. We’re told the focus here is entirely on Windows gamers, while PlayStation 5 support is there, too, perhaps unsurprising given Sony makes that gadget, too. We suspect owners of an Xbox Series X will be fine, but mobile support seems to be missing.
Sony Australia did note that unlike Nura’s approach to spatial audio in the NuraTrue Pro, the technology is something Sony has made, and is based on ear shape, making it very similar to 360 Reality Audio, yet for games, not music.
Overall, it’s a very unique release for Sony, and one that is a touch surprising, especially given the limitations. A lack of support outside of Windows and PlayStation is a surprise, especially when you take into account the pricing. In Australia, you can expect the wired InZone H3 for $149.95, while the wireless models aren’t far from Sony’s proper noise cancelling headphones, retailing for $349.95 for the H7 and $449.95 for the H9.
As to whether Aussie gamers will buy what Sony’s selling, that remains to be seen, but if they’re interested, they’ll find them in stores in late July.