If you want a set of wireless earbuds made expressly for gaming that plug in via USB-C, you’ll be met with frustratingly few options that are worth your money. Compared to over-ear headsets, where it’s easier for companies to fit handfuls of features, knobs, and buttons, it’s more of a challenge to cram all of that — or even some of it — into a pair of earbuds.
Sony’s new Inzone Buds are the best ones yet that I’ve had a chance to try because they don’t feel compromised in a major way. They come in a small enough charging case, which can also fit their clever USB-C audio transmitter. These were made for use on the PC and PS5, and the transmitter’s switch can be physically toggled between the two depending on which device you’re using. The Inzone Buds can also be connected to a phone either by using the USB-C dongle, or by entering Bluetooth mode by holding your fingers on both earbuds for a few seconds.
Most of what’s inside of the Inzone Buds can also be found in Sony’s latest flagship earbuds, the WF-1000XM5, which The Verge’s review describes as “excellent on multiple fronts.” The Inzone Buds utilize the same drivers, and they borrow the XM5’s active noise cancellation and mic transparency capabilities. Sony claims up to 12 hours of battery life per charge (28 total when you consider the extra juice stored in the charging case), and my experience with the Inzone Buds accurately reflects that estimate.
The headphones include a microphone, as well as touch controls for muting the mic, adjusting the volume of your audio, and toggling between noise cancellation settings. Those features are a must for headphones you pair with your phone, but they’re especially welcome here in earbuds that you use for gaming. The Inzone Hub for PC actually provides a ton of customization options, including letting you remap up to four touch gestures (single tap, double tap, triple tap, and press to hold) per ear bud, in case you don’t like the default gestures mapped to them.
The Inzone Buds come in at $199.99, which I won’t say is affordable, but is considerably less expensive than Sony’s WF-1000XM5s. It’s actually the same price as Sony’s Pulse Explore wireless earbuds, which tout the new PlayStation Link audio codec that Sony claims is both lossless and low latency. One big difference (aside from the cooler slide-out charging case) is that the Pulse Explore earbuds feature planar magnetic audio drivers, which typically sound much better than other types of headphone drivers, including those in the Inzone Buds.
On both PC and PS5, using the Inzone Buds is a great experience. Once I got accustomed to the touch controls, I enjoyed using them as my daily driver for work and for play. They sound fantastic in use with all sorts of games, whether you want to hear the obsessive granularity of car sounds within Gran Turismo 7, or the otherworldly audio mix in Alan Wake 2.
The Inzone Buds include multiple sizes of silicone ear tips to make them as comfortable as possible. There’s even a feature within Sony’s Inzone app for PC that can play a sound to test whether you’ve got the right ear tip installed for your inner ear shape. I found this particularly useful as I’m one of those people who, after some time, realized they need a different ear tip size for each ear, as sticking with one size for both made my left ear feel awfully fatigued after a while.
I’ve had success using the Inzone Buds with my Nintendo Switch, where they connect via the USB-C transmitter and work automatically. They work on my Steam Deck, too, but only after I manually set them as the output device within the handheld’s settings. This is the kind of flexibility that I want in wireless gaming earbuds, and I’m glad these can deliver it.
If you’re in the market for something that sounds even a little like this, I can recommend the Inzone Buds purely from a sound performance and convenience standpoint. However, you’re not alone if you want to wait to see how Sony’s similarly priced PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds fare before pulling the trigger. Thankfully, you won’t have to wait long, as those will debut on Dec. 6.