While I’ve noted before that wireless Bluetooth neckbands are having a revival, little did I expect Sony to release two in the second half of 2021. Wireless neckbands do make sense in the Hybrid Work milieu, as we usually don’t use the air conditioner in the day, and you can comfortably wear a neckband far longer than a pair of wireless headphones, especially ANC cans that needed to fit snuggly to block out the renovation noises from an apartment upstairs.
The SRS-NS7 Wireless Neckband Speaker, on the other hand, isn’t actually aimed at WfH use. Its the first ever neckband speaker to incorporate Dolby Atmos and Sony’s own 360 Spatial Sound Personaliser for immersive surround sound, and the reason why Sony sent us a review unit is because these speakers are meant to be paired to any of Sony’s 2022 Bravia XR TVs, which just came on market in Singapore – this is why these speakers came with a WLA-N7 wireless transmitter for easy connectivity to Bravia XR TVs.
Now I didn’t ask Sony for a new TV to test out these speakers, but they work fine over a normal Bluetooth connection, and you can access 360 Reality Audio on Deezer and Tidal (which I don’t subscribe to) and there are 360 reality audio tracks on YouTube. On the first occasion you use these speakers, you’re encouraged to download Sony’s Headphones app and run a 360 Reality Audio setup where you have to take in-app images of both ears so Sony’s cloud service can tune the speaker to the shape of your ears!
The SRS-NS7 comes in a silicon body that’s soft to the touch and surprisingly sits easy on you shoulders, and I had zero issues learning back on my business chair while wearing them. There’s two upward firing X-Balanced speakers located just below your ears, while two passive radiators located at the back provide good low frequency responses, so you can feel rumbles and beats on your shoulders. Performance takes a little while to get used to – with a normal stereo track you hear sound coming from slightly behind you, and while someone sitting besides you can hear what you are listening too, the volume is surprisingly quiet, and can’t be heard outside a couple of metres. You are basically immersed in your own bubble of sound.
To test out 360 Reality Audio, I found a David Bowie 360 Reality Audio video remaster of four tracks from his A Reality Tour that was streamed in January on YouTube, and the experience was different – the soundstage is expansive, swirling around you like you are sitting in the audience, with distinctive beats and instruments, while Bowie’s unique voice shines through.
Speakers 2 x 33mm, passive radiators
Features 360 Reality Audio, Dolby Atmos, microphone Output Power 55W
Frequency Response 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz Connectivity BT 5.0, SBC, AAC, LDAC, USB-C Dimensions 244 x 53 x 186 mm
Battery Life Up to 12 Hours
While this works as a ‘normal’ neckband speaker, listening to 360 Reality Audio or pairing with Dolby Atmos on a Sony Bravia XR is a very immersive experience.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars