XSories Sonic Walk Wearable Sound System Review

Have speakers, will travel thanks to XSories' Sonic Walk

Tech Review

2

Recommended
XSories Sonic Walk Wearable Sound System Review
SRP: £90.00

Hot on the back of our recent review of XSories’ Aqua Note waterproof headphones, we immediately moved on to their Sonic Walk wearable speakers. One of the points we raised in the review of XSories’ Aqua Note headphones was that if you wore them whilst jogging or cycling, you couldn’t hear the traffic. The Sonic Walk has been specifically designed to address this issue by allowing you to listen to your music whilst still being aware of your surroundings. In addition the Sonic Walk is designed to direct sound towards the wearer whilst not being audible to others, so you don't need to worry about annoying passers-by. Looks like it’s time to break out those running shoes again...

Design and Setup

The Sonic Walk looks like the shoulder straps on a backpack, except without the backpack. It is composed of a neoprene and spandex harness, with straps that can be used to adjust how the Sonic Walk fits when wearing it. Within spandex pockets, on either side, there are small built-in speakers and on the right-hand side there is a control unit. The build quality of the harness is very good and the Sonic Walk has a robust feel to it, weighing about 240g. The speakers and control unit can be removed to allow for easy cleaning of the harness and straps.

XSories Sonic Walk

The control unit contains a rechargeable battery and the controls which are composed of an on/off button and volume up and down buttons. There is also a mini-USB connector on the control unit and the Sonic Walk comes with a mini-USB to USB cable that is used to recharge the built-in battery. On the control unit there are three LED lights, one shows that the power is on, one shows when the unit is charging and one shows when the unit is fully charged. Once fully charged, the battery will have a life of about 8-10 hours, depending on the loudness and type of music being played.

The two speakers are in spandex pockets on the left and right hand side of the harness and they each have 1.5W of power. On the left hand side there is a spandex pocket into which you put your MP3 player or smartphone and a 3.5mm jack for connecting your device to the Sonic Walk. All the cables are hidden within the harness so once the MP3 player or smartphone is attached there is nothing hanging out and everything is safely stored in one of the spandex pockets.

The Sonic Walk also includes a plastic strap with an LED light on it that can be used for night-time visibility. The LED light strap can be attached using a popper on the T at the back of the harness and can be turned on using a button on the strap. One press sets the light flashing slowly, two presses sets it to flash fast and a third press sets the light to be on continuously. The LED light uses a replaceable battery and will last about 200 hours when flashing and about 100 hours when on continuously.

Audio Performance

First of all we charged the battery in the control unit and then we picked up our iPod Touch and running shoes and headed for the door. We attached the 3.5mm jack to the headphone socket in the iPod Touch, put it in the spandex pocket on the left hand side of the harness and then put on the Sonic Walk. When you're actually wearing the Sonic Walk it is quite comfortable, the harness fits easily over the shoulders and the you can use the straps to tighten the fit if needed. However, you need to make sure that the 3.5mm jack is securely in the headphone socket and the MP3 player or smartphone is tightly in the spandex pocket before you turn on the control unit, otherwise you can get an unpleasant crackling.

Once you have everything attached and the harness on, you can turn on the control unit and begin to listen to whatever is currently playing on your MP3 player or smartphone. When you press the on/off button on the control unit, music will start playing through the speakers and, if you need to, you can turn the volume up or down with the buttons on the control unit. Unfortunately there are no skip buttons on the control unit so you essentially have to listen to whatever is playing on your device. If you want to choose a different album or skip tracks you need to get your player out of the spandex pocket. However doing this disturbed the 3.5mm jack and caused crackling, so if you're going to do that, turn the control unit off first. We tended to find the best approach was to choose an album to listen to on our iPod Touch before going jogging and leave it at that. This worked quite well because once we were running we didn't want to stop to change albums or skip tracks, although another solution is to just leave the device on random play.

In terms of sound quality, the small speakers built into the harness actually sounded reasonably good. Given the size of the speakers, there is obviously very little in the way of bass and the sound is rather thin but vocals and instruments are clearly audible and there is an openness to the sound. Of course, no one is really expecting sonic excellence, despite the name, but the speakers are designed to deliver the audio to the wearer and not be heard by anyone else and in this sense they worked rather well. We tried the Sonic Walk on a friend to see if we could hear the speakers whilst they were wearing it and, although in a quiet room there was some noise, it was much more difficult to hear anything outside. If you wear the Sonic Walk whilst running or cycling, you certainly won't be disturbing anyone else whilst out on the street.

We found that we quite enjoyed wearing the Sonic Walk whilst we were out running, especially once we realised that other people couldn't hear the speakers. In fact we preferred the more open sound of the speakers, compared to the effect of wearing in-ear headphones. Perhaps more importantly, unlike with headphones, you could still hear the sounds around and especially traffic, which made the Sonic walk much safer. For those who like to listen to music whilst running or cycling, the Sonic Walk provides an easy, effective and safe way of doing so.

Verdict

7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Easy to set up
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Simple to use
  • Good build quality
  • Effective performance

The Bad

  • Need to make sure cable is connected properly
  • No skip buttons on the control unit

XSories Sonic Walk Wearable Sound System Review

The Sonic Walk looks like the shoulder straps on a backpack, except without the backpack. It is composed of a neoprene and spandex harness, with straps that can be used to adjust how the Sonic Walk fits when wearing it. Within spandex pockets on either side there are small built-in speakers and on the right hand side there is a control unit. The control unit contains the rechargeable battery and the controls which are composed of an on/off button and volume up and down buttons. On the left hand side of the Sonic Walk there is a spandex pocket into which you put your MP3 player or smartphone and a 3.5mm jack for connection. The Sonic Walk also includes a plastic strap with an LED light on it that can be used for nighttime visibility, it is attached using a popper on the T at the back of the harness.

When you're actually wearing the Sonic Walk it is quite comfortable, the harness fits easily over the shoulders and the you can use the straps to tighten the fit if needed. However you need to make sure that the 3.5mm jack is securely in the headphone socket and the MP3 player or smartphone is tightly in the spandex pocket before you turn on the control unit, otherwise you can get an unpleasant crackling. Whilst you can turn the volume up or down on the control unit, there are no skip buttons so you essentially have to listen to whatever is playing. If you want to choose a different album or skip tracks you need to get your MP3 player or smartphone out of the spandex pocket but doing this can disturb the 3.5mm jack and caused crackling, so if you're going to do that turn the control unit off first.

In terms of sound quality, the small speakers built into harness actually sounded reasonably good. Given the size of the speakers, there is obviously very little in the way of bass and the sound is rather thin but vocals and instruments are clearly audible and there is an openness to the sound. The speakers are designed to deliver the audio to the wearer and not be heard by anyone else and in this sense they worked rather well. In fact we quite enjoyed wearing the Sonic Walk whilst we were out running, especially once we realised that other people couldn't hear the speakers. In fact we preferred the more open sound of the speakers, compared to the effect of wearing in-ear headphones and we could still hear the sounds around and especially traffic, which made the Sonic walk much safer. For those who like to listen to music whilst running or cycling, the Sonic Walk provides an easy, effective and safe method of doing so

Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Ease of Use

.
.
.
7

Sensitivity

.
.
.
7

Design and usability

.
.
.
7

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Value For Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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