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Home / Reviews / Audio / Headphones / Sony Inzone Buds review: best buds?

Sony Inzone Buds review: best buds?

Sony’s new gaming earbuds are a great audio companion to most, but not all devices

Sony Inzone Buds lead

Stuff Verdict

Connectivity is more of a puzzle than it should be, but the Sony Inzone Buds are a strong option for true wireless audio on PC and console.


  • Attractive design, and comfortable to wear
  • Great sound and effective ANC
  • Strong battery life


  • Fewer customisation options for PS5 players
  • Bluetooth LE excludes a number of devices


For the last year, Sony sub-brand Inzone has steadily expanded its range of gaming headsets and monitors that aren’t directly associated with PlayStation, but naturally play nice with the PS5 too. The Inzone Buds are the latest addition. These true wireless earphones borrow some of the best tech from Sony’s excellent WF-1000XM5 headphones. 

Given Sony’s audio chops it’s no surprise that the Inzone Buds do a lot of things extremely well. But they’re also a slightly confusing product. Despite going on sale in PS5-matching colours, they offer more to PC gamers than those wedded to their console. They don’t work with the PlayStation Portal handheld, and there’s a chance they won’t work with the phone in your pocket either. Not without stealing its USB-C port anyway.  

I’ve been using the Inzone Buds for several weeks now, and I’ve found them to be delightful and frustrating in equal measure. Let’s get into why. 

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Design: It’s black and white

Sony Inzone Buds buds and dongle

In my opinion the best gaming headsets are generally the ones that don’t look like they’re designed for gaming. To their credit, the Sony Inzone Buds absolutely fall into this category. They’re sleek, minimalist, and very comfortable thanks to the range of ear tips that let you get just the right fit. I actually slightly prefer the pill-shaped stem of these buds to the more bulbous design of the WF-1000XM5s that have garnered Sony so much praise. 

My all-black review sample is the more subtle of the two colour options. The white/black version makes them look like an official PS5 accessory, even though they aren’t really. As with most of its products Sony keeps the branding tasteful, with just a small logo etched onto each bud.

The Inzone Buds’ touch touch-sensitive panels have a glossy finish, rather than the smooth matte feel of the rest of the earbuds, making them easy to locate. You can reassign single taps, and program double- and triple-tap gestures using the Inzone Hub software. Out of the box the left bud cycles between ANC and transparency modes, and the right handles volume. A tap increases it and a tap-and-hold turns it down. 

The Inzone Buds have an IPX4 waterproof rating, which means they’ll withstand a few splashes or light rain, but you’re best not using them in the bath (the same advice we’d apply to using almost any paired gaming device in the bath). 

The fairly chunky USB-C charging case has a pairing button at the back and an indicator LED on the front. Other than a small charging cable, the only other thing you get in the box is the 2.4Ghz USB-C dongle, which is as important as the earbuds themselves. This is what you’ll plug in to your PS5, PC, phone or any other device with an available USB-C port when gaming (unless your phone supports Bluetooth LE, but more on that in the next section).

A little slider on the front of the dongle toggles between PS5/mobile and PC, with each setting getting its own light indicator to show you that it’s paired. It’s all very well designed stuff. There’s a spot for the dongle in the charging case, which as a serial dongle misplacer I very much appreciate. 

Features: Fully equipped, with caveats 

With the USB-C dongle, the Inzone Buds can be used with PCs, laptops, your PS5 and mobile devices. The PS5 recognises them immediately, so you’ll see things like the volume indicator and remaining battery level on your TV as you play. Latency is less than 30ms, making them perfect for gaming. It’s when we get to Bluetooth connectivity that things get messy. 

The Inzone Buds support Bluetooth LE via Bluetooth 5.3, which should result in better gaming performance – but only if your phone supports it. Modern Android blowers like the Samsung Galaxy S23 and the Google Pixel 8 are along for the ride, but older handsets likely won’t be. Nor is my iPhone 15 Pro or Nintendo Switch. The Inzone Buds can’t default to the standard Bluetooth connection if LE isn’t supported, so you have no choice but to opt for the dongle if your phone won’t play ball. This meant I couldn’t, for example, use the Inzone Buds at all while playing my iPhone connected to a Backbone One, as that requires the phone’s USB-C port. 

While the PS5’s Tempest 3D Audio standard is compatible, you’re going to get more 360 audio functionality if you’re playing on PC. Here you can get personalised hearing profiles by uploading pictures to a companion app on your phone. There are a range of other tweakable settings too, including an EQ and a game/chat balance slider. 

None of the above features are available on the PS5. Beyond tweaking your default 3D audio settings, you can’t customise your experience in the same way. It’s worth noting, too, that the Inzone Buds were released before Sony debuted its new PlayStation Link standard, so they don’t have that tech baked in. This means that you can’t use them with the PlayStation Portal, which offers no Bluetooth support of any kind. It’s all a bit messy, really. The new Pulse Explore wireless earbuds, which are an official PS5 accessory, cost slightly more than the Inzone Buds, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to test them yet so I can’t compare performance between the two.  

Performance and battery life: Game on  

After unboxing and charging the Inzone Buds for the first time, I decided to christen them with a bit of the newly released God of War Ragnarok DLC on the PS5, and I was immediately taken by their sonic muscle. The splitting flesh on the wrong side of one of Kratos’ axe throws sounded suitably gory and the buds did a great job of amplifying his gravelly dialogue in the quieter moments. 

The Inzone Buds perform well across the frequency range. Mids and highs come off particularly well, owing to the headset employing the same 8.4mm dynamic driver as the more mainstream WF-1000XM5 earbuds. You get a wider, more detailed soundstage than many rival gaming earbuds can offer, and with the dongle I was able easily get them connected to my PS5, Steam Deck OLED, Lenovo Legion Go and Nintendo Switch. 

I’m always a bit skeptical about virtual 360 audio built into in-ear headphones. It’s definitely more impactful when used in conjunction with the Inzone Hub on PC than on the PS5. In the right game, though (shooters in particular tend to benefit), spatial sound adds an extra layer of immersion. 

Noise-cancelling is as strong as you’d expect from Sony, which helps when you’re trying to game on the sofa while someone else is watching TV. The Inzone Buds are less impressive when used for general music listening, though – despite sharing architecture with the WF-1000XM5s. Low end response in particular is a bit muddy and unrefined, with the whole presentation feeling off. You can tell these buds weren’t tuned with music in mind and I won’t knock them too much for it.

The microphone is absolutely fine for taking phone calls and good enough for in-game communication. But if you play a lot of team-based competitive shooters you might struggle to be heard above all the noise. Over-ear headsets that position a physical mic right next to your mouth are always going to have an advantage here.

Sony quotes up to 12 hours of battery life with the USB-C dongle and I was definitely impressed by the stamina on show. Expect them to comfortably see you through a long-haul flight, and you can get an hour of juice back into the buds from a five-minute charge. 

Sony Inzone Buds verdict 

Sony Inzone Buds case and dongle

The Sony Inzone Buds are a strange one. They’re a great choice if you mainly hop between the PS5 and a PC for gaming, thanks to great sound, 360 audio support, effective noise cancelling and strong battery life. I can’t say they’re the best true wireless earbuds for the PS5, though, as I haven’t tried the Pulse Explore ‘buds yet. You also get fewer customisation options on Sony’s own console than you do on PC. 

I’d also generally expect near-£200 Bluetooth earbuds to pair with pretty much any phone or Bluetooth device, and that’s not the case here. Unless you’re gaming on an iPhone 15 with a free USB-C port, Apple owners are out of luck. Android blowers more than a few years old aren’t invited either. I won’t be using these for music either, so if you’re after a pair of do-it-all earbuds, you may be disappointed.

As gaming earbuds, the Inzone Buds have a lot to offer. Just make sure your devices meet the required specification if you want to get your money’s worth. 

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

Connectivity is more of a puzzle than it should be, but the Sony Inzone Buds are a strong option for true wireless audio on PC and console.


Attractive design, and comfortable to wear

Great sound and effective ANC

Strong battery life


Fewer customisation options for PS5 players

Bluetooth LE excludes a number of devices

Sony Inzone Buds technical specifications

Drivers8.4mm dynamic
Connectivity2.4GHz wireless via USB-C dongle, Bluetooth LE
Bluetooth versionBluetooth 5.3 (LE only)
Battery life11/12hrs (USB-C, ANC on/off), 24 hours (Bluetooth)
Weight6.5g (buds)
Profile image of Matt Tate Matt Tate Contributor


I'm fascinated by all things tech, but if you were going to leave me on a desert island, I'd probably ask for my Nintendo Switch, a drone, and a pair of noise-cancelling cans to block out the relentless seagull racket. When I'm not on Stuff duty you'll probably find me subscribing to too many podcasts, playing too many video games, or telling anyone who will listen that Spurs are going to win a trophy this season.

Areas of expertise

Video games, VR, smartwatches, headphones, smart speakers, bizarre Kickstarter campaigns