Sony SRS-NS7 Wireless Neckband speaker review — Unique but too niche for 2022
Business Insider India
Sonylaunched the SRS NS7 wireless neck speaker in India earlier this year.
- A neck speaker is a completely new segment that sits somewhere between a headphone and a Bluetooth speaker.
- The NS7 offers crisp audio and great 360-degree sound, but is it something you need? Find out in the review.
AdvertisementSony launched its first
There are several neckband speakers available online, but most of them are unreliable China-made products and only a couple of them are from known brands. But the
The neckband speaker is priced at ₹24,990, and it works best with Sony Bravia XR TV models because that's the only instance when the Dolby Atmos kicks in. Before we move on with the review, it's important to make it clear that it's not something you can buy because it's cool. It's primarily meant to be used with specific Sony TVs and any other use of the neck speaker does not justify the high price.
The SRS NS7 neckband is a unique looking gadget, that would definitely make people notice it. But since it's a personal entertainment device, you're unlikely to wear it in public. It looks like a big horseshoe, meant to be rested around the neck. While it sat well around my neck, it might struggle to keep in place for someone with a tinier neck and shoulders. Not that its audio performance will suffer, but it might get difficult to stay in place for certain body types.
Some elements of the U-shaped design of the speaker are worth praise. First is the weight distribution, which keeps it intact at the right position even if you move around a lot. Another tiny design element is the thinner back, which not only ensures the weight is dropped on the front but also allows space for your head to bend it in any direction needed. Overall, you do not feel stuck or restricted to move.
Sony has used a good quality mesh fabric on the outer part and soft-touch plastic on the sides and inside. It's the same material we've seen on some Sony headphones and speakers in the past. The inside of the collar resides the microphone, mute and power/pair button on the right-hand side, and the volume controls on the left. If you grab them as you might your collar, the controls will fall under your left and right index fingers respectively. That’s a nice bit of ergonomic design, but it comes with a learning curve as you can't see what you're pressing unless you are used to doing it. I had to take it off to see the controls before operating it.
Weight-wise, I found it lightweight enough to wear for long hours comfortably, but I did not use it for more than 30 minutes even in over ten days of use. It's also splashproof, which means it can bear accidental water spillage but that doesn't make it safe from pools and showers.
Is the performance worth the premium?
There are two things that Sony has always kept the standard - quality of build and audio. The same is retained on this product as well. The audio experience has all the bells and whistles to blow you away - be it clarity, soundstage, sound profile or loudness.
My first audio experience on the SRS NS7 was the song - Blinding lights by the Weekend. I was amazed, so much that I immediately passed it on to the friend next to me with a smile. As expected, he enjoyed it too. But the real experience was while watching a movie where it excels and gives a proper feel of a home theatre on your shoulder with sounds coming from left, right, front and back.
The 360-degree surround sound is solid for cinematic background, and accurate but what's missing here is the room-filling boom of gunfire or a bomb blast as experienced on a premium home theatre setup. Watching a cricket or football match is another interesting experience where you can actually feel like you're sitting in the stadium among the crowd.
For gaming, I paired it with my OnePlus Q1 Pro TV running games through the PlayStation 5. While it would be unfair to say this neck speaker is better than headphones, I can safely say it does a good job at games like a first-person shooter where you need to know where the enemy is approaching from. It's somewhere in between good headphones and a home theatre system. Simply put, I can recommend these for gaming to those who don't like to block their ears while gaming and still don't want to miss the details. With this, you don't need to have features like passthrough or ambient mode to know what's happening around you.
The downside is that despite having Atmos support, the NS7 doesn't let you use it if you are not using a Sony TV. So to get the most out of your ₹24,990 investment, you might also need to invest a lot more into a supported TV. It uses a wireless transmitter that comes in the box, which plugs into your TV with an optical-to-USB cable, and pairs to the neckband speaker wirelessly over Bluetooth. The transmitter supports TVs other than Sony Bravia XR models, but it won't minimise the audio latency as it will on Sony.
The Sony SRS NS7 delivers around 12 hours of battery life on medium volume and around 6 hours at maximum volume. It gives around one hour of charge with 15 minutes of charging. This means you can easily get through an eight-episode series or a couple of movies.
While the audio quality is great, Sony has also taken good care of the microphone performance. It is important as you would want to use it while gaming where a good mic is a must. The microphone works very well. Also, the multipoint connectivity allows it to connect to two devices simultaneously. So you can connect it to your TV and smartphone at the same time, and take calls on it with ease.
Is it the future of personal entertainment and should you invest in it?
The Sony SRS NS7 does give a glimpse of the future but I'm still unsure of the possible use cases for this. The most logical one I could think of is for those who live in flats or apartments where you can't blast the sound to have a theatre-like experience as it may be a problem for the neighbours. It's phenomenal to think that Sony has managed to find a way to deliver sound straight into the ear without covering them up. It's not the first to do, but it's certainly the best to do so.
The downsides, however, are more than the benefits. It's as expensive as a mid-range home theatre system, which is a more sensible option if you live with a family and want to enjoy movies in groups. For music, it fails to match the precision of a headphone and the fullness of a big speaker.
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