Sony has a long history with their Walkman brand. The latest in their Walkman headphone series is the NW-WS623. This is a Bluetooth wireless earphones with built-in MP3 music player. Built for sports, the NW-WS623 is salt-waterproof, and supports an ambient sound mode that gives listeners situational awareness of their surroundings.
For the most part, the NW-WS623 is very similar to last year’s popular NW-WS413. They are both in-ear style headphones with a neck band connecting both earpieces. The earpieces themselves aren’t the inconspicuous, svelte, sort. They stick out of the ears somewhat, and hook around the top of the ears for support and a secure, stable, fit.
It took me a while to figure how to put on the earpieces. I’m familiar with most in-ear style headphones, including those custom in-ear types, but I did find myself grappling around with the NW-WS623, trying to orientate the earpieces into my ears. I eRe: Do you accept guest posts?ventually figured out how to work them, and once fitted, they stay put very securely. I don’t expect to have any worries about the NW-WS623 falling off.
After putting on the NW-WS623, the next challenge is to actually use it. Unfortunately, there are too many buttons. There are Bluetooth headsets out there where you can just turn them on, figure out the pairing instantly, and get to use it right away. Unfortunately, unless you’re familiar with some other previous Sony Walkman headphones, there will be a short learning curve initially. I actually had to refer to a setup guide to get me started. Good thing that it wasn’t really difficult to figure out how to get the NW-WS623 going.
Taking a quick tour around the NW-WS623, you’ll find the power button on the right side earpiece. It’s solely used for switching on or off the device. There’s a LED indicator on the right of the power button. It blinks a variety of colours to indicate various status.
Moving along on the right earpiece (left in the photo below), you’ll find one button for play/pause, and a rocker for skipping to the previous or next track.
A similar rocker on the left earpiece is used to control volume. The volume rocker has a raised dot on the “up” side so you can easily feel for the correct side for “up” (or “down”).
The standout metal button is used to control Ambient Sound Mode and Bluetooth functions.
Last, but not least, the final button on the left is the mode button which is used to switch between various playback modes when using the built-in MP3 music player.
Bluetooth functions work well on the NW-WS623, but you can’t pair with multiple devices simultaneously, a feature I’ve come to love from other Bluetooth headsets. It may be a hassle to switch between multiple audio sources, though perhaps this isn’t an issue if you just use the NW-WS623 for sports.
Music coming from the NW-WS623 is very pleasant. I don’t have high expectations on headphones that are designed for sports, and particularly ones that are waterproof enough to be good for swimming with. The NW-WS623 does exceed my expectations.
The bass is light, but well-controlled. The mids are strong and detailed. Stereo separation and the soundstage is decent for an in-ear type headphones. Overall the NW-SW623 will work well with most genres of music. In particular, when you consider listening during sports, the quality is more than sufficient.
The Ambient Sound mode is awesome. Internal microphones in the NW-WS623 pick up surrounding sounds and play them back so clearly in your ears that you hear better. I could like eavesdrop more easily on conversations from a few tables away at the cafe. There is a bit of an annoying delay, though, when turning the mode on and off. In fact, there is generally a bit of an audio lag when playing music over Bluetooth, which becomes quite obvious when watching videos.
Battery life isn’t a strong point of the NW-WS623. Sony says you’ll get 4 hours of Bluetooth music, and 12 hours playing from the built-in MP3 music player. It’s probably shorter in real-life. I did most of my testing over Bluetooth, and I didn’t get near 4 hours. If Bluetooth is your main use case, expect to need frequent charging.
To charge the NW-SW623, you’ll need the provided charging dock. This is a bit troublesome, since this is yet another thing you need to bring around, yet another thing that might get lost. The dock itself has a standard Micro-USB port, and you use it to both charge the NW-SW623 as well as to transfer data.
The built-in MP3 music player stores 4 GB of music. It’s not much space, but I suppose it would be more than sufficient for your swim or whatever wet activity you get into that you can bring your smartphone along.
Sony provides two sets of ear tips, used for either dry or wet conditions.
The Sony Walkman NW-WS623 retails at S$199 at all Sony authorised retailers.
The Sony Walkman NW-WS623 is an excellent Bluetooth in-ear style headphones for sports. With a built-in 4 GB MP3 music player, you can take the headset out for a swim, even in the sea, without needing your smartphone around.
- Comfortable, secure, fit
- Ambient Sound mode works well
- Pleasant sound quality
- Charging dock asking to get lost
- Bluetooth audio lag