Sony SRS WS-1 Wearable Speaker Review: Feel the music with wireless immersion [Video]

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If you just saw the SRS WS-1 without any context for what it is, you might be pretty confused – wearable speakers aren’t super common yet. Sony has come up with a pretty interesting device in the $250 SRS WS-1 wearable neck speaker. It provides immersive audio around your neck without wearing anything over or in your ears. It uses a wireless transmitter to take an analog or optical signal and send it to the SRS WS-1 that you wear draped over your shoulders. Be sure to watch the video below to hear some more thoughts on the SRS WS-1.

We’ve been seeing some interesting audio devices from big names lately. Last year we took a look at the Bose Frames which offer Bluetooth audio from a pair of sunglasses, but the SRS WS-1 is a totally different kind of wearable audio device. Let’s get it out of the box and check it out.

Out of the box

Included in the box, we find the SRS-WS1, the transmitter, a charging cradle, a couple of ac adapters to power the transmitter and cradle, and a vast assortment of cables.

Checking out the wearable speaker itself, it has a very unique shape. The whole thing is pretty flexible, with the two 1.18-inch drivers housed in the large left and right enclosures. Where the WS1 rests around your neck, there is a bit of padding with a status LED light on top and the charging cradle contacts on the bottom. The speaker enclosures have a bit of padding on the bottom where they would rest on your collar bones. Volume control is located on the inside of the left speaker with two tactile buttons along with a micro-USB port for charging, or connecting to a mobile device.

On the right-side speaker, we have the power button and the All of the buttons are raised, which makes them easy to find, and they produce a nice clicky feel when pressed so that you know when a button is being actuated. Since it’s hard to see the buttons, this tactile feel makes it easy to find the buttons and know that you’re actually pushing them.

Sony SRS WS-1: Video

Setup

Getting up and running with the SRS-WS-1 is pretty straight forward. There is a transmitter with two inputs for standard analog 3.5mm and optical. So depending on what your source is, just run one of the included cables into the transmitter. There is a light on the transmitter that will turn green when a signal is detected but will display red when no signal is present.

How does it sound?

Overall, the SRS-WS1 sounds really good. The 1.18-inch full-range drivers dish out some clear highs and decent low end. The drivers have great stereo definition and no perceptible latency for the most part thanks to the wireless connection.
Next to the power button, there is a button to change vibrations, but this seems like it also just changes the EQ. When off, the SRS-WS1 loses the low end and sounds muffled. The middle setting brings some of that back but having this in the highest setting is definitely the best way to listen to the SRS-WS1. It also does vibrate more, I don’t know if that’s just from the added bass or if there is something else making the speaker vibrate.

It will get pretty loud when you turn the volume all of the way up – and then with the vibration turned on, the speaker shakes a lot. For me this is too loud for normal listening anyways so the crazy vibration isn’t an issue for me. There are 30 levels available for volume and I did most of my listening between 10-15.

Wireless Range

I was also happy with the wireless range that I could get out of the SRS-WS1. I could walk around most of my house with the transmitter connected to my computer in my upstairs room without the signal dropping.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a pretty interesting piece of audio equipment. If you hate headphones and don’t want to have a full-blown speaker system, this might be a good option. It’s unfortunate that they don’t have Bluetooth connectivity along with the signal from the transmitter.

But it does sound surprisingly good, the battery seems to last for about the 7-hours that Sony estimates and the range is really impressive. It’s nice to be able to listen to audio free of anything placed over or in your ears, but for $250, you can get some other good speaker systems like the Logitech Z606 we checked out last year, or a pair of headphones like the Marshall Major III Voice we took a look at.

But the Sony SRS WS-1 is great for specific uses. If you want a personal listening experience without having to wear headphones, they are a great option that gives good stereo sound without any latency.

There are some other more affordable options like the JBL Soundgear wearable, or the more expensive Bose Soundware Companion, but I haven’t tried those out myself yet.

Buy the Sony SRS WS-1 Wearable Speaker

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