Audio

Elegant, affordable wireless speaker

Huawei's Sound X is a wireless speaker that the Chinese tech giant co-designed with French premium audio company Devialet.

Devialet is famed for its superb but expensive Phantom series of speakers, with prices starting at $1,890. Audiophiles must have been rubbing their hands in glee when they heard about the Sound X, which goes for $498.

In terms of design, the Sound X looks like an amalgamation of Apple's 2013 cylindrical Mac Pro and its smart speaker HomePod. This is a compliment: I love the Sound X's minimalist, all-black design.

The top two-thirds of the speaker have a glossy finish, while the bottom third is finished with a mesh grille. But, while nice to look at, the glossy surface is a smudge and fingerprint magnet, hence the included micro-fibre cloth for keeping it clean.

On the speaker's top is a circular control panel with four touch-sensitive icons - for volume up, volume down, mute and multi-function. Colour indicators surround this control panel when the speaker is switched on. To mute it, cover the control panel with your palm.

The Sound X has two partially exposed 3.5-inch sub-woofers and six full-range tweeters, driven by a combined power output of 144W.

More importantly, the speaker features Devialet's patented signal-processing Speaker Active Matching (SAM) technology, said to achieve perfect temporal alignment between the recorded signals and the acoustic pressure generated by a product's loudspeakers.

In other words, you should be hearing the audio exactly how it was recorded, instead of with the possible minute delays caused by most bass diaphragms.

Apart from a power port at its base, the speaker has no ports or cable connectivity to external devices. So it might not be ideal for audio purists who want the pristine, lag-free audio quality of a wired connection.

Instead, it only works wirelessly with mobile devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It also supports apps with the UPnP audio casting protocol. However, the popular Google Cast and Apple AirPlay streaming options are not supported.

As you might expect, the Sound X plays best with Huawei smartphones with the Huawei Share Audio feature. This is especially if you have a Huawei smartphone running EMUI 10, such as the latest P40 Pro.​

  • FOR

    • Exquisite design

    • Superb audio output

    • Affordable

    AGAINST

    • No voice assistant

    • No ports

    • No equaliser setting

    TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $498

    DRIVERS: 2 x 3.5-inch sub-woofers, 6 x 1.5-inch tweeters

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 40Hz to 40KHz

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 3.5kg

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3.5/5

    DESIGN: 4.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

With that combination, one nicety you get is a seamless, Apple-like pairing experience. Just place your Huawei smartphone's rear on the Near Field Communication (NFC) icon near the top of the speaker, wait for the Sound X window to appear, and tap it for instant pairing and to play music.

Once paired, you can use Huawei's AI Life app (Android only) to manage the speaker's Bluetooth options, such as making it discoverable, enabling audio cast and updating the speaker's firmware. However, the app has no equaliser setting to adjust the sound.

While Huawei Share Audio supports other smartphones running Android 5.1.1 and later, you do not get a seamless pairing experience.

For instance, when I tried pairing the Sound X with a Samsung Galaxy Note10+ via NFC, it started the pairing process, but I had to go to Settings, open the Bluetooth menu and tap the Sound X option to pair.

For the iPhone, you have to manually make the Sound X discoverable by pressing and holding the multi-function button until you hear a tone from the speaker. Then, go to Bluetooth settings and select the speaker.

All the devices I used streamed music seamlessly once the pairing was secured, with no drops or lags.

Audio quality is superb. I can readily pick out the different instruments of a track; the highs are sparkling and detailed, the mids and vocals were sharp and clear, and the bass resonates smoothly in my room. The sound is never in danger of breaking up even at maximum volume.

On the downside, the Sound X is not a smart speaker like the Apple HomePod or the Google Home, so you cannot ask it to read out the weather or your appointments for the day.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline 'Elegant, affordable wireless speaker'. Print Edition | Subscribe