Sony's baffling wearable speaker heads to the US for $300

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At least the Immersive Wearable Speaker comes with a charging stand, so it can look pretty when it’s not in use.

The speaker sounds fine for music, TV and movies, but for the price it left me wanting. FKA twig’s “Fallen Angel” enveloped me with its luscious soundscape, but the haptic vibration couldn’t make up for the fact that I was losing a considerable amount of detail. I’ve listened to that song several times on pricey headphones and my home theater setup, and the Wearable Speaker simply didn’t feel as satisfying. And it was similarly dispiriting while watching HBO’s Watchmen, a show that’s driven by a thumping Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score. I couldn’t wait to put on a pair of headphones to finish the episode.

The Immersive Wearable Speaker could be useful for older users who want to hear their favorite shows without donning headphones, and without cranking up the TV volume. It’s also ergonomic enough to wear comfortably for hours on end. But the vast majority of consumers are better served with wireless headphones, earbuds, or in the case of TV viewing, a decent soundbar. I’ve had better audio experiences walking around with cheaper Bluetooth speakers, like the UE Megaboom 3 ($200).

Sony Immersive Wearable Speaker

What’s truly infuriating, though, is the $300 price. That puts the Immersive Wearable Speaker at just $50 less than Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM3 headphones, which are still my favorite pair of noise canceling cans. Sony, seemingly aware of its limited appeal, is only selling the Immersive Wearable Speaker through its Direct site. That’s not too surprising, because I’d imagine most Best Buy shoppers wouldn’t know what to make of it. (At the very least, I’d expect plenty of returns once people realize it doesn’t support Bluetooth.)

Making things even stranger is that third-party sellers have been importing the Immersive Wearable Speaker for a while now. The top Google search result for “SRS-WS1” is an Amazon listing for $219. Sony tells us that’s an unauthorized reseller, so buyers won’t get an official warranty, but I’d imagine anyone really interested in this thing would rather save $80. But seriously, if you’re actually considering it, maybe have a friend try to talk you out of it first.

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