Sony makes cinematic audio personal with Dolby Atmos neckband speaker
A few months ago, Sony unveiled a wireless neckband speaker aimed at folks working from home. Now that device has a new sibling that works with a transmitter plugged into the company's Bravia XR TVs to immerse the wearer in Dolby Atmos surround sound.
To become immersed in cinematic surround sound while wearing speakers around your neck, there are a few pieces of the puzzle that need to fall into place. And it does look like a mighty complicated setup process, but could arguably be less of a pain than precisely arranging floor speakers around the room.
You'll need a Bravia XR television, which you'll then need to cable up to the setup's WLA-NS7 transmitter. The transmitter connects with the SRS-NS7 neckband speaker over Bluetooth, and then Sony's Spatial Sound Personalizer app will need to join the party to optimize the experience. This involves the user snapping a photo of their ears to be analyzed by the app so it can estimate the ear's three-dimensional shape and then create a custom virtual Dolby Atmos speaker arrangement around the user's head.
Sony says that this setup should nip wireless lag in the bud so that the onscreen action isn't out of sync with the audio playback. And you'll get a few blockbusters in before needing to top up the neckband speaker's battery, with up to 12 hours of use per charge at around half volume, or 5 hours at max. A 10-minute quick charge does offer up to 60 minutes of play time if you're caught short though.
The SRS-NS7 features an up-firing speaker unit and passive bass radiator that deliver "crisp sound directly to the user," and as with July's NB10 model, Sony reckons that you can get away with listening to audio without disturbing those around you. Indeed, the new the unit can perform similar work-from-home duties to the NB10 too, facilitating hands-free call taking with echo canceling onboard to minimize annoying feedback, and up to two source devices can be connected simultaneously.
If users fancy listening to some music instead of watching movies, Sony says that they can experience its 360 Reality Audio immersive music via compatible streaming services like Deezer and Tidal.
Oddly, a firmware update for the Bravia XR TV models is required in order for all of this immersive cinematic magic to work, but that won't be available for download until January 2022. The SRS-NS7 neckband speaker and WLA-NS7 package is available now though for US$299.99.
The WLA-NS7 transmitter is also available on its own for a $59.99 price tag, for folks who want to tap into the company's 360 Reality Audio listening experience using select Sony headphones, including the excellent WH1000XM4 wireless ANC cans we reviewed back in October last year.