REVIEW: HUAWEI Sound Speaker - Solid Sound
When it comes to buying a speaker of any sort for my apartment, Huawei wouldn’t have been a brand that came to mind first. Looking at our site, you’ll see we’re big fans of their mobile phones, laptops, earbuds and other smart devices but now, with their new Sound Speaker, in partnership with leading French audio company, Devialet, Huawei are offering an impressively compact audio experience that packs a punch.
Let’s address the elephant in the room, there’s no denying the similarities between the Huawei Sound speaker and Apple’s now discontinued HomePod speaker. It has the same sleek, elegant cylindrical design. It comes in full black colour with the speaker part covered in mesh towards the bottom, while the top is more shiny and polished. It looks great on any surface and would make a great addition to any room. The speaker doesn’t only look good, it feels well-built too.
The Huawei Sound does not have any physical buttons, however, the top surface is touch-sensitive. It allows users to turn it off and on, mute it, control the sound, and control Bluetooth pairing. It is very simple and straight forward. The top is also equipped with light rings that change between blue, red and colours based on the various setting and controls you can change on the device. The colours also help users to know the volume level and identify when the speaker is on mute.
For the Sound Speaker, Huawei teamed up with Devialet to produce a device that competes with the top players in the game. We previously reviewed one of Devialet’s Phantom speakers and were blown away buy the audio quality so knew we’d be in for a treat with this, albeit smaller, speaker from Huawei. The entire device is actually made out of a four-speaker design. That, mixed with the four-inch 40W woofer and the three full-range 5W loudspeakers, results in an outstanding listening experience. You can actually see the speaker in action in the GIF below (with Huawei’s little red dash design on both cups making the effect even clearer.)
The speaker packs a punch when it comes to bass notes. You would not expect it to, but this small thing has the power to shake a table. It also does a great job of playing the higher notes and lyrics. With some speakers that have good bass, that is done by sacrificing the higher notes. Luckily the Devialet Technology made sure the speaker performed great on both ends and provided and well-rounded audio.
The Huawei Sound performed great when I placed it in the middle of a room. It manages to fill the entire space and provide the illusion of a more immersive experience. Devialet achieved this by using their in-house ‘Space SoundStage’ technology that works by placing three full-range tweeters at a 120-degree angle from each other. This allows the speaker to provide a 360 surround sound type experience where the sound fills the room around you.
For this particular audio setting, you’ll need to ensure it’s enabled on the device when using the Huawei AI Life to control the various settings of the speaker. Bass response on the device is managed by Devialet’s own Speaker Active Matching (SAM) technology.
What this does is customise the sound in real time to match the speaker’s characteristics. Huawei says that the unit can reach 90 dB and remain distortion free and, while we only rarely turned the volume up to the max, we didn’t hear any distortion at the highest volume levels which is great.
Huawei did a great job on this front providing a number of different options including Bluetooth (LDAC), UPnP, and 3.5 mm AUX-in connections. One connectivity option we do wish was included was support for Spotify’s ‘Connect’ feature, which many of you would use to ‘cast’ music from the Spotify app on your phone to a smart speaker over WiFi. With this option, you’re basically telling the smart speaker to communication directly with Spotify’s servers to play the requested track or podcast but, unfortunately, this isn’t something you can do with the Huawei Sound Speaker.
That said, there are still a number of connectivity options for playing music and audio on the device. Using the app, you’ll see an option called ‘Audio Cast’ which is broken into two sections.
The first is the ‘OneHop’ feature. This allows users to control audio playback from phones to the speaker by simply tapping the phone on the speaker to pair with NFC and then using WLAN to cast high quality audio if using a Huawei running EMUI 11.0 or later or, if you’re not using a Huawei device, will use a Bluetooth connection instead. Unfortunately, this only works with Android phones that run 5.1.1 or later. This means that for iPhone users, this ‘OneHop’ or tapping to connect functionality isn’t available.
The other ‘Audio Cast’ feature is called UPnP, which stands for ‘Universal Plug and Play’ which, using WiFi, allows you to directly cast locally stored files to your Sound speaker using third party apps such as HiFi Cast.
In a time when music streaming, rather than music storing and playing, is more common, this is more of a niche feature but, given the speaker’s Hi-Res Audio playback credentials, some users will definitely want to utilise this particular option to ensure they’re listening back to their locally stored audio tracks and albums in the best quality possible. When casting via Bluetooth, users should still expect LDAC playback, if their phone supports it, which is more than respectable for most users.
If you’re interested in learning more about the various Bluetooth codecs, you can check of TheSoundGuys comprehensive breakdown here.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with just how good the new Huawei Sound speaker is for its size and it has now become the main speaker in my living room. Partnering with Devialet really was a very smart move by Huawei as, together, they’ve created an extremely impressive speaker. If they manage to include support for Spotify Connect in a future firmware update, it would make the overall package even better so hopefully this is something Huawei implements.
The Huawei Sound will be available in Ireland from May for €189.