PlayStation recently revealed that we'll have to wait until December to get the platform's very first in-ears, the Pulse Explore. They should set you back $199, but what if I told you that you don't have to wait until December and can pay the same for a product that I find very hard to top - in any way.
Funnily enough, I'm talking about another Sony product, but this time from the InZone family. They debuted with various headsets last year, and now we've reached the InZone Buds, which support both PC and PS5 and are modelled after the hugely successful WF-1000XM5.
The case is large, and that's partly because the case itself has made room for the 2.4GHz wireless dongle. It's great to see that you can take the case with you without having to worry about forgetting anything vital, and what's more, the devices last a full 12 hours over 2.4GHz and can be topped up with something like 36 hours from the case, so there are many hours of use between real charging time.
The devices are based on the aforementioned WF-1000XM5s, but naturally have a white colour scheme and a more curved profile. They are quite large and heavy, but due to a funny curvature in the centre, the weight in the ears disappears and is replaced by comfort and dexterity. These are seriously comfortable. There's also Bluetooth, so they automatically pair with your phone for your run, and then automatically prioritise the PS5 or your PC when you're gaming.
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There's no RGB, thank you for that, there are four extra tips for your devices, thank you for that, and via Bluetooth, usage increases to something like 24 hours on a single charge. There are minor annoyances, no doubt about it - the hinge on the case is far too slack and loose and would be unacceptable for a pair of in-ears at half the price, and Sony's InZone Hub is only available on Windows. And yes, this is the shortest USB-C cable I think we've ever got for a piece of electronics of this type.
InZone Buds use Sony's Dynamic Driver X at 8.4mm and the result is simply amazing. Whether it's blaring Baldur's Gate III, blaring Marvel's Spider-Man 2 or a Third Ear podcast on a run, there's balance, signature and attitude in the InZone Buds, and while they obviously can't replace the breadth of massive headsets, we're closer than you might think.
There's also Spatial Sound (which requires you to photograph your ears with your phone, which is a ridiculous process to say the least) but this feature didn't quite impress. There's actually pretty good separation between layers and distance in the sound without Spatial Audio, so the effect was very mild... to say the least.
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There's good touch controls on each, a reliable microphone that stays clear under most conditions and zero connectivity issues throughout the testing period. On the other hand, the InZone Buds are a little picky about which USB-C ports it will connect to. It works on PS5, PC and Switch, but not an Xbox Series, nor a Steam Deck (this could be a bug). There's also no iOS/Android app so you can make changes on the go, which is also odd.
But all in all, the InZone Buds are a pretty big win, and are a set of in-ears that I have a hard time seeing the Pulse Explore beating at the same price point.