Ameya DalviMar 02, 2022 12:47:11 IST
When I got a call from Sony’s representative inquiring about my interest in reviewing their ‘Wireless Neckband Speaker’, my reaction was probably similar to yours when you read the title of this review – wireless neckband or wireless speaker? Turns out it was a combination of both. While it did sound weird at first (and it still does somewhat), we know better than brushing aside a new audio product category that Sony indulges in. I am sure the first Walkman had its fair share of naysayers back then.
The Sony SRS-NB10 did pique my interest but obviously, I had a lot of questions about it. While some were answered by the company in due course, the others I managed to figure out once I had the product in hand. I am sure you are curious about this unusual product too, and I will be happy to demystify it for you in this review by answering the most common questions about this wireless neckband speaker. So let’s begin.
What exactly is a wireless neckband speaker?
It is pretty much everything the name suggests. Think of it as a wireless neckband that you wear around your neck, but instead of earphones, you have portable speakers. The Sony SRS-NB10 has an interesting design that somewhat resembles a horseshoe. Despite weighing in excess of 110 grams, it sits comfortably around your neck with absolutely no discomfort. The weight distribution is spot on.
It has a pair of speakers towards the backend, with a microphone and controls located towards the front. Just like your wireless earphones, you need to pair it with your source device over Bluetooth and listen to the audio or manage calls wirelessly. The build quality is quite solid with a polished, soft-touch matte finish. We got the charcoal grey variant for review, and it is also available in white. The SRS-SB10 is IPX4 splash resistant.
What is the primary use case of the Sony SRS-NB10?
The primary use case of this Sony wireless neckband speaker is to manage long calls without the discomfort of having earphones in your ear all day. This product is primarily targeted at people working from home who have to engage in frequent calls. Being a wireless product, it doesn’t limit your mobility, and at the same time keeps your hands free for other work. It is also meant to reduce listener fatigue and let you be aware of your surroundings.
Can it be used for listening to music or when watching movies?
Yes, it can be used for listening to music, and it is enjoyable too to a point, but do not expect as much detail or punch in the audio as any proper earphones. It perfectly suffices for some soft music or nighttime listening. The audio output is fairly clean and clear, but understandably the bass lacks thump. You get support for AAC and SBC codecs over Bluetooth 5.1.
The performance is similar when watching videos too. If the content is vocal-heavy, the NB10 does a good job but is found wanting in action sequences or when the audio has a medley of instruments. I tried watching the new Lord of the Rings – Rings of Power trailer, and it was a fairly enjoyable experience with a pretty good stereo effect. I wouldn’t use it to watch the whole thing once it’s released though.
How well does the Sony SRS-NB10 perform?
This wireless neckband speaker is quite adept at its primary responsibility – handling calls. The call quality is very good with the person on the line clearly audible, and the microphone conveys your voice across equally well. It was indeed liberating to not hold the phone to your ear nor have an earbud in it during a call, and yet not missing any part of the conversation.
The sound quality is better than that of phone speakers given that the neckband speakers are located a lot closer to your ears at all times. The neckband also has a dedicated button to mute the microphone, which is quite handy when you are on conference calls or online events where you don’t need to speak much. The wireless range is quite impressive too with absolutely no stutter till at least 10 metres. The specified range is 30 metres but I didn’t go that far.
The only major catch here is the lack of privacy. The person sitting next to you or behind you can easily eavesdrop on the conversation. You can always lower the speaker volume (the controls are present on the neckband itself), but below a particular loudness level, you would struggle to hear the caller clearly too. So for important calls or private conversations, one simply cannot use the Sony SRS-NB10, unless you are alone in the room.
What is the battery life of the Sony SRS-NB10?
The battery backup is quite solid on the Sony SRS-NB10. The company promises close to 20 hours on a full charge, and it does get close. Of course, I did not have such long conversations all week but did play a lot of music on it during the course of my testing. It has a USB-C port and you can use any standard phone charger with it. The neckband supports fast charging too, and when the battery is completely drained, a 10-minutes charge can give you an hour of playtime, which is good to see.
What is the price of Sony SRS-NB10 in India?
The Sony SRS-NB10 wireless neckband speaker is priced at Rs 13,990 with a one-year warranty. It is often spotted for Rs 2,000 less on Amazon India. Since this is a one-of-a-kind product, it is hard to comment on the pricing. At this moment, it is a niche product with limited appeal and application. However, I wouldn’t write off this product category just yet.
Should I buy the Sony SRS-NB10 wireless neckband speaker?
By now you know what this product is meant for. If you are someone who doesn’t feel comfortable using earphones or headphones for long, especially for calls, then you may consider this product. I would like to reiterate that the Sony SRS-NB10 is more work-oriented than an entertainment device. This is not meant to replace wireless earphones when it comes to consuming music and movies, not yet.
Sony has been known to create new product categories in the consumer technology space. Some ideas work, some don’t, but it’s never wise to write them off too soon. And at some point, we have all wished for a personal audio device that could deliver sound quality similar to good earphones or headphones without having to stuff it in or over our ears. The SRS-NB10 is not that device but a big step in that direction.
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