Sony's Neckband Is the Perfect Walk-Around-at-Home Speaker

Just don’t take it to the office

Key Takeaways

  • Sony’s new SRS-NS7 neckband is a $300 wearable home-theater speaker system.
  • Wearable neckbands are perfect for using around the home or home office.
  • Comfort trumps flexibility—these won’t work well outside or in public.
Man wearing Sony's SRS-NS7 neckband speaker

Sony

What if you could carry your podcasts and music around the house with you, without using headphones or a bulky speaker?

Sony’s neckband speakers are marketed as home-entertainment accessories, bringing surround sound to individual listeners, and avoiding the ear fatigue of headphones. Smaller and much less intrusive than a full surround speaker setup, they’re pretty good for this purpose, if you’re watching alone. But why limit yourself to movies? Neckbands are the perfect walk-around speaker for home. 

"If you have sensitive ears or don’t like how headphones fit or feel, you might [like] a neckband speaker option. These can take some getting used to and aren’t as convenient in every situation, but they have a niche that works really well if it’s right for you," audiophile and tech writer Jessica Carrell told Lifewire via email.

Neck Tech

The new SRS-NS7 is Sony’s first neckband with Dolby Atmos support, though you’ll need a Sony Bravia XR TV and a wireless transmitter adapter to make it work. Like many wireless audio-visual setups, the gear synchronizes the pictures and sound by delaying the video slightly to match the Bluetooth latency—just like with your iPad and AirPods, for example. 

It also includes a microphone, and hooks up to your phone so you can answer—or ignore—any calls that come in during the latest episode of Squid Game. The speaker also can run for up to 12 hours on a charge (five hours talk time when used as a phone accompaniment). 

It all sounds great, but it also misses some of the biggest benefits of the neckband form. 

Home Help

Neckbands are the ideal replacement for both speakers and headphones when working at home. Or just when at home in general. Speakers are fine, if you’re always in the same room. And headphones are best in the office, because they can both cancel others’ noise and keep your own sounds to yourself.

But headphones get uncomfortable after a while. Over-the ear models get hot and sweaty, and if you wear glasses, they press the arms of the glasses into your head until they get sore. And earbuds are even worse for some people, causing pain after wearing them for a long time. 

Sony neckband speaker resting near a TV

Sony

A neckband solves all of this. You can carry your podcasts around with you, or your audiobooks, or your music, from room to room. Perhaps you listen to soothing music or ambient soundscapes while working. These, too, can stay with you as you move, and you can also keep the volume lower than you would with speakers, minimizing annoyance for people in other rooms.

"I like using a neckband speaker when I do things around the house and don’t want to keep earbuds in all day. After about two hours of listening to regular headphones, my ears get sore, but a neckband allows me to listen as long as I want," says Carrell.

For the home, then, they seem ideal. I like to listen to podcasts while cooking and cleaning, but I don’t like to wear headphones at home. I also don’t like blasting out the latest episode of my favorite nerdy tech podcast for everyone else to hear.

"These can take some getting used to and aren’t as convenient in every situation, but they have a niche that works really well if it’s right for you."

But in the office or in other public spaces, you might reconsider. First, they don’t block out noise, and noise-cancelling without sealing your ears off is almost impossible. But perhaps even more important is you’ll be super-duper annoying to everyone around you. 

"Why don't we see more neckband speakers? Perhaps because everyone would hate you if you used them," wellness journalist and author Brooke Siem told Lifewire via email. "It's bad enough that we live in a world where people think it's socially acceptable to have private conversations in public, on speakerphone, as if the rest of the world wants to hear the intimate details of your life." 

Don’t hold back, Brooke. Say what you really mean.

The good news is you don’t need to spring for Sony’s $300 home-entertainment neckband to get into your dorky new reality. Coming soon is the distinctly svelte-looking SRS-NB10, in black or white, for $150, or the already-discounted, but much bulkier SRS-WS1, which can be had right now.

Neckbands aren’t for everyone, and are definitely not suitable for some situations. But when they’re right, they’re very right.

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