When Huawei announced Sound X, I was really excited, thinking that budget consumers like myself could own a piece of Devialet tech in our humble homes. Devialet is known for its outrageously powerful Phantom speakers. The speaker retails for S$498 in Singapore.
Huawei Sound X is the result of a joint design by the two technological heavyweights, featuring Devialet’s proprietary acoustics technology. So what does Devialet bring to the table? It’s the SAM (Speaker Active Matching) technology and the Push-Push structure. SAM enables the Sound X system to achieve perfect temporal alignment between the recorded signal and the acoustic pressure generated by the loudspeakers. The Push-Push symmetrical design benefits small-sized high-power speakers, in which backwave vibrations from both powerful sub-woofers cancel each other out, resulting in very stable speaker output at high volumes. With six full-range speakers surrounding the structure and two sub-woofers, Sound X deliver 144W of maximum power and 93 dB of sound.
Let us move on to the overall speaker design. The main body is crafted through use of an advanced non-conductive vacuum electroplating process, to create a smooth surface that is as bright and transparent as that on a mirror. The top panel is touch-sensitive and features multi-colour indicators. Besides the 4 touch icons, placing the palm over the panel also pauses the audio, while tapping the phone via NFC transfers the audio smoothly to the speaker.
Huawei supports the usual Bluetooth connectivity as well as via WiFi through UPnP. Streaming audio through WiFi delivers Hi-Res Audio, allowing the speaker to process audio with sampling frequency of at least 96kHz at 24-bit or higher. Android casting and iOS Airplay are not supported, so most music streaming apps like Spotify with built-in casting features can only play through Bluetooth. I manage to use third party apps like BubbleUPnP to stream Tidal and local files to the speaker. Besides that, there are no direct cable connectivity, depriving consumers of listening to lossless audio from their audio players.
The speaker operations felt somewhat buggy. Occasionally I cannot connect to the Sound X on the AI Life app to adjust settings. I also face issues getting BubbleUPnP to work properly at times, but since it is not officially supported, I could not complain much. I do not like the loud tones when devices are connected to it, and it would better if I can adjust volume by gliding around the circumference instead of tapping the +- buttons multiple times.
360-degree speakers are very hard to review objectively. That is because these speakers are not directional, so you cannot get consistent listening results, unless you audition them in an acoustically-treated room. My reference for this subjective analysis is the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 2.
In general, the Sound X is tuned with a somewhat neutral signature. This means that despite having two subwoofers, the sub-bass levels do not exaggerate like a multi-channel sound system. Depending on the different listening levels and distance from the speaker, you might either get an elevated bass with warm balanced treble (close range), or a light-rumbling bass with stronger treble. Thanks to Devialet Push-Push design structure, the speaker unit does not vibrate excessively from the intense bass.
Unlike normal front-facing speakers, the Sound X does not project towards the listener, hence there is practically no sound staging nor stereo imaging. The source seems to come straight from the unit, with much of the softer instrumental details withheld around the speaker. Like most 360-degree mono speaker unit, Sound X is not for critical listening. Their purpose is only to fill up your senses and the room spaces.
The Aura Studio 2 offers a more massive sub-bass feel, but the treble gets buried. The Sound X offers just a notch less intense bass but better treble presence. This makes it a better balanced speaker, so modern pop tracks do not sound too boomy, yet the treble do not sound too shouty and aggressive. If you need a brighter sound, the Geneva Acustica/Lounge works better. For an event more elegant sound, the Sony Glass Sound Speaker would achieve an even higher level of satisfaction.
Given the relatively compact size, the Sound X offers a pretty gratifying bass and warm treble. The Sound X is not an ideal speaker for critical enjoyment, but it certainly wins on design and the ability to deliver lows without breaking a sweat. I enjoy them more as a personal speaker in my study room playing at moderate levels than to put it in my living room playing at loud volumes, as the sub-bass does not resonate as freely at the Aura Studio 2. But for that use case, there are other speakers at a lower price point that could offer similar results.
Will this be a one-off between Huawei and Devialet, or will it be an ongoing collaboration? It depends on how well the Sound X is received. It sells for S$498 in Singapore.