Sony’s latest introductions in personal audio products – its new EXTRA BASS wireless speaker series and Truly Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Sports In-Ear-Style Headphones – were announced at CES 2018, but began their retail rollout journeys on first day of Spring, with a series of demos held in New York City March 20, ahead of a very un-Spring-like Nor’easter storm.
The newest wireless headphones are aimed at active music-lovers while the socializing party-lover is the customer target for the speakers. J.P. Torres, Sony spokesman who ran the models through their paces at the event, said Sony’s 1000x flagship premium noise-cancelling headphone line, introduced last year, continues on the market, and adds Google Assistant informational capabilities. As for these new headphones and speakers, the emphasis, he said, is on both “great audio performance – a continuing tradition – and lifestyle integration – how they fit into daily life,” he said.
The new wireless headphone line includes three models: WF-SP700N ($179.99), WF-SP600N ($149.99) and WI-SP500 ($79.99).
The top model, WF-SP700N (end-of-May availability), consists of two discrete earpieces that are held in the ear with what Sony is calling “arc supporters” – crescent-shaped silicone slivers that nest snugly inside the outer part of the ear canal, providing a comfortable and secure fit. Each system comes with four sizes of ear tips and two sizes of the silicone arc supporter. These in-ear ’phones come with an easy-open charging case; they offer three hours of battery life and the case provides two additional charges, for nine hours in total of play time.
The step-down models, WF-SP600N ($149.99) and WI-SP500 ($79.99). offer a different form factor in that the two earpieces are tethered by a band behind the neck; the 600N offers six hours of battery play time in total. All models are IPX4 splash-proof and have Ambient Sound mode settings that allow the user to selectively block out surrounding sounds, or allow them in, for safety’s sake, when jogging outside.
The new three-model EXTRA BASS Bluetooth wireless speaker series is directed at aficionados of the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) craze, so their engineering emphasizes live festival sound replication, through the implementation of certain settings on the speakers. The line is headed up by the SRS-XB41 flagship ($249.99), followed by the XB31 ($149.99) and XB21 ($99.99). Sony says that the new series boasts NFC connectivity and wider dynamic range performance than in earlier series. A feature called Live Sound Mode, a defeatable DSP setting, enhances the spatiality of the speakers’ newly positioned (for this year) drivers, which are now angled outward.
The flagship XB41 speaker makes use of 58mm drivers on either side with a passive radiator in the middle. It features 24-hour battery life and is IP67-certified waterproof and dustproof. It also features a wide array of multicolored LED lighting features that pulsate to the music, and are also controllable with Sony’s Fiestable app. The two other speakers offer different battery life lengths and more limited LED lighting pattern and configuration options.
All the speakers offer an interactive Party Booster feature, whereby the listener can tap on the speaker at any of several different spots on its chassis to initiate up to 13 different sounds – including cow bells and drums, in tune to the music playing. All three are also pairable with up to 100 compatible speakers, said Torres.