Huawei has followed the steps taken with the previous model of Sound X smart speaker, manufacturing this new model which turns out to be smaller and cheaper than the previous one, despite the surprising price reduction suffered by the His X, which is half of its usual price.
The one analyzed here still looks surprisingly good, as we’ll see below. However, it has certain peculiarities to be taken into account in the use and the way of interacting which do not go unnoticed.
Design and quality
Although the sound is smaller than the His X, which we also had the opportunity to analyze at the start of the year, the first thing you notice when you take it out of the box is its weight, a mark of good speakers.
The weight speaks volumes about these devices, as it confirms the size of the controllers inside, with heavy magnets weighing 2.2kg, forcing it to be used on a sturdy surface or shelf.
In terms of design, the shape is similar to that of the HomePodAlthough the fabric only covers the bottom and not the entire speaker as with the Apple product. It’s understandable that Huawei doesn’t want the appearance to be similar, with a glossy top that attracts the presence of fingerprints.
It is for this reason that Huawei includes a cleaning cloth inside the box. Already on the sides, we can detect the holes that show the passive units inside.
At the top, it has a circular section with a multi-colored light ring around the edge and four tactile buttons in the middle. The small logo on the front is where the NFC chip is located to touch your phone and sync.
The tactile buttons light up when your hand comes close, quite a feat if you find yourself in a dimly lit room and want to detect them by touch. Visually, you will locate them instantly.
While music is playing, you can control pause or play using the microphone mute button. It is also possible to quickly turn off the speakerphone by covering the button area, as long as you touch 3 buttons with the palm of your hand.
However, the multi-function button doesn’t seem to respond to any press, giving us an idea that the speaker has some additional functions that are not used in this European version.
It should be borne in mind that although this speaker has a 360 degree design, the sound should be connected to the mains and even have an external power source like that of a laptop.
Huawei’s marketing material shows it on a small table in the center of a room, failing to show the cable, something totally necessary for its operation, as it does not have an internal battery that guarantees freedom of movement.
Design quirks aside, the Huawei Sound is a wireless speaker. It’s a bluetooth speaker, but it also has Wi-Fi connectivity and one of those touch buttons is used to mute the microphone.
In this way, Huawei omits the fact that it does not have a smart voice assistant, so it is mainly a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker that can be used with the AI Life app and gives you one more way to use it.
It seems that in China the Sound X is compatible with Huawei’s virtual assistant known as Celia, but in the European version the microphone does nothing, with no possibility of being compatible with Google Assistant or Alexa d ‘Amazon.
The setup is not complicated, but it is also not intuitive. The getting started guide, like most tech products, is basic, just asking you to ask the Huawei AI Life mobile app to follow the prompts.
We tried to connect Android mobile through phone bluetooth settings to link the two devices, then you got the recommendation to get AI Life app through Huawei AppGallery app store.
Obviously, users who have a Huawei mobile will have a more natural and easier experience. Otherwise, you need to create an account on AppGallery to access the brand’s ecosystem of apps.
Generically, it is possible to scan a Bidi code located at the top from your smartphone’s camera, which gives you a list of compatible Huawei devices to choose from.
Oddly enough, the Huawei Sound X model appears on the list, but not the one we are testing, as it is a newer product. This requires us to add the product manually.
Sound quality and features
While you can use sound as a basic Bluetooth speaker, if you use it without Huawei’s AI Life app, you will miss out on some benefits and functions.
This gives you alternative connection methods, as well as other features like different sound profiles, as well as a dedicated dial to control the bass. OneHop lets you touch the speakerphone with your phone to connect, which is the method I use the most.
Of course, you’ll need a phone that supports NFC, and it’s worth noting here that Huawei’s audio is currently not supported by Apple AirPlay.
The other wireless option is UPnP, which should let you stream to the speaker from music apps. Although this is advertised on the Europe page for Sound, as well as in the app, Huawei has confirmed to me that it is not available outside of China.
Huawei also includes a 3.5mm jack at the bottom of the speaker, which is a good option if you have something like a turntable that you want to connect. However, the cable is not included in the box.
The weight of this speaker and the fact that it has an external power supply are indicators of its power. It’s easily one of the most powerful Bluetooth speakers we’ve ever tested.
It has half the drivers of the Sound X model, so there is one woofer that pulls down and then three full-range speakers mounted around the bottom outward in different directions.
As we mentioned before, the holes on both sides of the speaker give us an idea of the size of the two passive SAM (Speaker Active Matching) units which are in a “Push-Push” configuration.
This essentially means that they are bass radiators and resonate with the woofer to “provide robust bass while removing diaphragm distortion to produce unfiltered sound.”
As you would expect from a loudspeaker developed in collaboration with Devialet, the sound is really impressive. You might want to think of this as a compact subwoofer that has other additional drivers as well.
Many speakers have good bass, but the ones that can compete with Huawei’s sound in this section are several times the size. At this size, the speaker tops the list for the highest quality, with powerful bass without distortion.
This is the kind of bass you can feel in your chest, and certain sounds push against your eardrums with a physically apparent force of atmospheric pressure; many people will appreciate the power of audio.
All of this with the bass set to the default level, so you can even crank it up from the settings offered by the app, and surprisingly, the plastic casing doesn’t resonate either.
There is so much potential inside that in a home you will rarely need to turn up the volume beyond 30% of its level. The setup and tuning means that Huawei Sound is ideal for music with lots of bass and any EDM (electronic dance music).
Nevertheless, it behaves frankly well with all other genres. You won’t have to make constant sound adjustments to get the best sound quality with every musical genre.
The three small speakers provide excellent clarity at the top end, so delicate instruments like a classical guitar sound perfect.
However, the midrange is a bit less noticeable, so fans of rock, heavy metal, and derivative musical genres will likely be more critical of its outcome.
You can play around with the sound effects in the AI Life app and turn down the bass, but I don’t think that helps enough. There are three options to choose from: “Hi-Fi”, “Vocal” and “Space SoundStage” from Devialet.
The speaker often rings when switching between them, which is not ideal, and personally Devialet’s special SoundStage option is my least favorite, which makes the music sound like is contained in the speaker.
The voice option is good, but Hi-Fi is by far the best sound profile for me with a warm and spacious feel. Huawei Sound does not support codecs like aptX, but it has LDAC developed by Sony and allows lossless audio playback.
This is great news for hi-fi fans and has the right files to play from services like Tidal HiFi, Deezer Hi-Fi, or Amazon Music HD.
If you’re only streaming from YouTube, it doesn’t make much sense to have a speaker like this. Eventually, Spotify users will benefit when Spotify Hi-Fi launches later this year.
Pricing and availability
Priced at just $ 159 during the promotional period ($ 179 for regular sales), the Huawei Sound offers a lot for its price. Plus, it gives you a free subscription to Huawei Music for 3 months with access to 60 million songs.
Now, the Huawei Sound has become a serious competitor within the house, as Huawei markets the Sound X at a reduced price of just $ 149. It is neither better nor worse, but its larger size makes the sound power much higher.
The Huawei Sound is a quality speaker, but not very intuitive, as it has been adapted to work from China with some limitations, without a smart voice assistant. That doesn’t prevent us from seeing signs of smart hardware and software.
Huawei doesn’t seem to be clarifying all of this, which can be confusing, so it’s understandable that you would think about buying a smart speaker with a microphone, Wi-Fi, and smart sharing.
The reality is far from it and it will take time to find out how it works and what you can do. It’s basically a simple Bluetooth speaker with NFC and you’ll have to remember that the microphone mute button is actually for playback.
It’s not a great user experience at all, but if you can overcome these issues then this is an incredibly powerful and well-made speaker in a compact size at an affordable price.
The sound quality of the device is second to none, at least for speakers of the same size you can find on the market, with very well balanced factory settings for any kind of music worthy of the name.
- Black finishes
- Frequencies 55 Hz – 40 kHz
- 1x bass speaker
- 3x pilots
- 2x passive units
- 360-degree quality sound
- High resolution audio support
- MediaTek MT8518 CPU
- Bluetooth 5.0 with LDAC and Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac
- NFC and 3.5mm auxiliary input
- 4 tactile buttons
- Dimensions of 147 mm x 187 mm
- 2.2 kg weight