The app requires you to create an account with Sony
You can use this neckband speaker with any Bluetooth source, but pairing it with a Sony Bravia XR TV makes for a unique and fun surround sound experience.
If you own a Bravia XR TV, you might want to consider Sony’s $300 SRS-NS7 Bluetooth neckband speaker over headphones. The SRS-NS7 takes advantage of Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, a spatial audio technology found in the aforementioned televisions. The neckband speaker is also more comfortable than most headsets for long listening sessions.
While its audio performance is just mediocre for critical music listening, it’s fabulous for surround sound playback while watching movies, and that doubles for gaming; our test listeners reported a marked increase in long-term enjoyment and comfort.
A different approach
Neckband speakers aren’t anything new (see Monster’s Boomerang and the since-discontinued Bose Soundwear Companion), but they haven’t taken off. That’s largely because it’s hard to squeeze top-notch sound out of it. Shooting sound waves at a 90 degree angle to your ear canal and relying on what your earbuds can indirectly pick up isn’t a great recipe for sonic success.
Despite these limitations, neckband speakers are an attractive solution as they are very comfortable. Rather than putting pressure on your sensitive pate and ear, they rest lightly around your neck. During my hands-on testing, the 12-ounce SRS-NS7 proved so comfortable that I found myself wandering around the house, with no sound, forgetting they were still on my neck. Cross my heart.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best Bluetooth speakers, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide to features to consider when buying this type of product.
Design and specifications
Inside the SRS-NS7 are two 32-ohm, 33mm speakers that radiate sound toward your ears and two passive radiators that radiate toward your body. There is also a microphone on the right side near the end of the unit.
The controls are located inside the collar: the microphone mute and power/pairing button on the right side, and the plus/minus on the left. If you grab them like you would your collar, the controls will fall under your left and right index fingers respectively. It’s a nice ergonomic design.
The SRS-NS7 comes with Sony’s WLA-NS7 Bluetooth transmitter. The company’s Bravia XR series TVs can specially use the transmitter to deliver 360-degree sound, including Dolby Atmos. Any Bravia XR TV will recognize the transmitter plugged into its USB port and guide you through the neckband binding process.
Communication is based on Bluetooth 5.0 and A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, SPP, SBC, AAC and LAD profiles are all supported. The SRS-NS7 are IPX4 rated, which means they probably won’t die if you spill a small amount of liquid on them. You can read all about IP codes at the previous link.
The SRS-NS7 can be controlled with two apps: the Sony Headphone Connect app used by other Sony Bluetooth products to adjust equalizer and other settings, and the new 360 Spatial Sound Personalizer app. Both require a Sony account, although you can sign in using your Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, or Sony credentials.
Jon L. Jacobi
Personally, I think you should be able to use any product you buy without having to create an account with the company that made it, and in the case of the Personalizer, sharing pictures of your ears. I persevered for you, dear reader, and followed voice commands to have my ears analyzed. But I wasn’t happy with it, and there didn’t seem to be a huge difference in the sound after said analysis
As stated earlier, the sound quality of the SRS-NS7 is hampered by the fact that the sound waves from the device emanate at a 90 degree angle to your ear canal. Only what is picked up by your atria reaches your eardrum. This lack of a direct pathway means lower sound pressure levels and some amount of absorption through your skin and other parts of your anatomy.
That explains the somewhat contested high end, but the SRS-NS7s are also in contact with your neck and collarbone, and I think Sony could have taken advantage of that acoustic coupling to add more impact in the bass register . The Result In terms of pure audio pre-production, the SRS-NS7 sound just fine for normal stereo content.
Where speakers hit their stride is when you feed them surround sound. This part of the experience eliminated most of my complaints, even though it’s fake surround. There’s always an added sense of dimension and spatial placement that simple stereo lacks. It’s not like true surround, but Doppler trickery never is.
Unlike headphones, which move with your ears, the SRS-NS7 and other neckband speakers stay in place. Therefore, head movement changes the way sound waves interact with your ear cups, changing the amount of high end that enters your ear. It’s a relatively benign phenomenon and could actually be fun if you’re the gamer type. But for serious listening, some will find it annoying.
On the other hand, where the headphones tend to shift position with more than moderate movement, the SRS-NS7 feel like they’re here to stay. This is because unless you lean well back, they stay where they are.
Because there is no physical barrier to ambient sound, the SRS-NS7 keeps you connected to your outside environment. Not completely, as there is some cancellation of intersecting waves, but much better than conventional headphones. There’s a benefit to this, too: it’s easy and enjoyable to sing along to your tracks without blasting your vocal chords or drifting desperately out of key. In fact, I think aspiring singers, and just about any other type of musician, will find the SRS-NS7 extremely useful for playing along. Okay, maybe not violinists, but just about everyone.
The SRS-NS7 can certainly be heard by others, but the leakage isn’t as significant as you might think due to the low sound pressure levels. I wouldn’t recommend them for use in bed while your partner is asleep, but using them on the couch while your other important putters shouldn’t bother them. Tolerance levels vary.
Low sound pressure levels also make neckband speakers a healthier long-term listening choice, and I found battery life to be very close to Sony’s claimed 12 hours.
A note. Although neckband speakers are more comfortable than headphones, I think they could be even more comfortable with some padding. It could also allow for larger speakers, and done correctly, increase the acoustic coupling with your body for more emphatic bass.
yin and yang
Sony has something in the SRS-NS7. At the moment they are best suited for anyone with a Bravia XR TV who likes surround sound while gaming or watching movies, but they are also great for those who like to sing along to music or for long sessions. listening to music. where merely decent sound is an acceptable compromise for comfort.
More bass, a bit of padding, and perhaps a more reasonable price would have earned the SRS-NS7 another half star. That said, I enjoyed my time with them, and our resident player/facility guy is chomping at the bit to get them back.
Jon is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and lifelong computer enthusiast (late 70s) living in the San Francisco Bay Area.