Review of the Sony NW-WS623 Sports MP3 Player

Introduction


Sony's Walkman brand has come a long way. Starting with portable cassette players in the early days, the product lineup has evolved into smartphones, portable digital audio players and even headphones. Regardless of time, the Walkman brand has consistently given customers the assurance of high quality audio and ultra-portability. We have the latest Sony Walkman NW-WS623 Sports MP3 player for review. Does the Walkman of today still live up to the name of its predecessors? Let's find out more.


The Sony Walkman NW-WS623 is a portable music player that is designed in the shape of a stereo Bluetooth headset. It has built in storage capabilities, and can perform even without the need to pair to a smartphone for songs (Walkman mode). Of course, this headset is still Bluetooth enabled, and can work with any smartphones for wireless audio streaming (Bluetooth mode). The Sony Walkman NW-WS623 differentiates itself from other products by specifically focusing on providing a great experience for their target sportsmen/sportswomen audience. Here's how they do it.

Specifications and Design

Size & Weight
Approx. 32 g (1.2 oz)
Charge
3 min Charge, 60 min Playback (Quick Charge)
1.5 Hours (Full Charge)
Battery Life
Continuous playback:
12 Hours(MP3 128kbps, Ambient Sound Mode Off)
10 Hours(Linear PCM 1411kbps, Ambient Sound Mode Off)
4 Hours(Bluetooth Playback, Ambient Sound Mode Off)
Storage
4GB
Connectivity
Hi-Speed USB(USB 2.0 compliant)
Bluetooth®
NFC
Playback
Supports:
AAC (Non-DRM), FLAC , Linear PCM, MP3, WMA (Non-DRM)

Modes:
Normal / Repeat / Shuffle / Shuffle All / Repeat 1 Song Playback Order (Folder / Playlist / Album)
Software
System Requirements:
macOS™(v10.8-10.12)
Microsoft Windows® 10
Microsoft Windows® 8.1
Windows® 7
Proofing
IP65/IP68 (IEC 60529) or equivalent
Salt Waterproof, Dustproof
Price
SGD 199.00 (inclusive of GST)
In the Box
USB Cradle
USB Cable
Earbuds (1 set of 4 sizes)
Swimming Earbuds (1 set of 3 sizes)
Adjustment band
Startup Guide
Colors available in
Lime green, Blue, Grayish white, Black


The Sony NW-WS623 is designed for the active users. It ensures a secure fit by going around the back of your head and hooking onto your ears. The earbuds can then be fitted comfortably into the ear openings. Moreover, the earbuds area are also interchangeable between different sizes for the best possible fit to different ear sizes. 

It was also noted that the NW-WS623 is rated IP65 and IP68. This means that it is both dust proof and water proof. These features are fundamental for a sports related product. Being IP68 rated also means that the NW-WS623 is protected against long, durable periods of immersion in water. It opens up a new usage scenario, where you can now even listen to your music while training in the waters. However, we also realised that the headset can only operate in Walkman mode while under water, as Bluetooth transmission gets ineffective under water.


Media and control buttons are found on both sides of the earbuds. The power button and media controls are on the right side, while the volume buttons are on the left. The activation for Ambient Sound mode and selection of source (Bluetooth/Walkman) is also found on the left. 

Ambient mode... What's that? The in-ear design of the NW-WS623 also creates a passive noise cancelling attribute to the earphones. This could be undesirable during sports that requires situational and environmental awareness. For example, while riding a bicycle on the streets, we would want to hear the horns from other cars or stay alert to any abnormal sounds. A noise cancelling headset will decrease the alertness of the user. Therefore, Sony built in the Ambient Mode into the NW-WS623. The active microphones on the headset will be able to pick up surrounding sounds and relay them directly into the listener's ears. Of course, Ambient Mode is optional, and can be turned off selectively a push of the button.


Battery life varies on the NW-WS623 depending on the mode it is operating in. As bluetooth streaming utilizes more power significantly than simply loading and playing audio from the local storage. We achieved a total playback time of about 4 hours on Bluetooth mode, as opposed to 10 hours on Walkman mode. Battery life perhaps isn't the strongly selling point of the NW-WS623, as we constantly found a need to charge the headset before it runs out of juice for the next trip out.



Audio Quality


When it comes to the listening experience, Sony's NW-WS623 does not disappoint. Music mostly felt great, with bass-heavy songs being the ones that was able to take advantage of Sony's hallmark of bassy audio profile.

Sony's independent Walkman does come with a Bluetooth functionality. This allows users to not only listen to music, but also to make or receive calls. This adds versatility to the Walkman, while also allowing users the freedom to listen to songs from any Bluetooth-enabled devices for up to 10 meters - i.e. Smartphones. This can be handy for users who have more than 4GB worth of audio files. However, there is a catch. Audio quality does drop while in Bluetooth-mode, causing calls and songs to sound a tad worse.

When it comes to listening to music in Ambient Mode, the feature worked amazingly in semi-quiet environments. There is, however, a downside. The listening experience was not great in places that had constant ambient noises. The headset played the ambient sounds a little too loud to be pleasant. Not to mention, the Ambient Sound mode made the battery drain understandably quicker than expected.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Sony NW-WS623 is a great pair of headset for enjoying different genres of music while on-the-go or when doing sports. It lives up to the Walkman brand of great portability and high audio quality, and even goes a step further with its waterproof and dustproof qualities. We will recommend the NW-WS623 to anyone who has an active lifestyle. 

Factor
Description
Score
Innovation
- Able to listen to songs even under water
- Ambient mode increases awareness
- Comes with Walkman mode and Bluetooth mode
8.5/10
Design
- Highly Portable and fits securely
- Waterproof and Dust Proof
8.5/10
Value
- At S$199, it could be slightly more expensive than any other bluetooth headset 
7.5/10
Performance
- Strong bass that suits well for sports
- Somewhat poor battery life
- Ambient mode disrupts audio experience
7.5/10
Final Score
8.0/10


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