Tech review: Huawei Sound X offers superb audio at affordable price

The top two-thirds of the Huawei Sound X has a glossy finish, while the bottom one-third is finished with a mesh grille.
The top two-thirds of the Huawei Sound X has a glossy finish, while the bottom one-third is finished with a mesh grille.PHOTO: HUAWEI

Huawei's Sound X (available on Lazada and Shopee) 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, which starts from $1,890. So audiophiles must be rubbing their hands in glee when they heard about the Sound X, which goes for $498.

In terms of design, the Sound X feels 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 all-black, minimalistic and exquisite design.

The top two-thirds of the speaker has a glossy finish, while the bottom one-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 turned on. To mute the speaker, 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 exactly how the audio 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 lag-free and pristine 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 so if you have a Huawei smartphone running EMUI 10, such the latest P40 Pro.

With such a 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 on 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 turn it discoverable, enable audio cast and update the speaker's firmware. However, the app has no equaliser setting for you to adjust the sound.

While Huawei Share Audio supports any smartphones running Android 5.1.1 and later, you don't get the seamless pairing experience with them.

For instance, when I tried pairing the Sound X with a Samsung Galaxy Note10+ via NFC, it starts the pairing process but you have to go to Settings, open up the Bluetooth menu and tap on 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 the 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 could readily pick out the different instruments of a track, with the highs packing details and sparkle, the mids and vocals sounding sharp and clear, and the bass resonating smoothly in my room. Plus, the sound was 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.


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-woofer, 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

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