I saw Techmoan review several of these neck speakers a while ago. Up until then I had never heard of this type of listening device, but as he explained what they were all about, I was intrigued to try one out. I like the idea of listening to music without having earbuds in my ears, while not annoying those around me too much. Usually such devices easily cost over $100 and more. This LANNIU HS910 seemed to tick all the boxes without breaking the bank at under $50.
The sound quality of the speakers is OK, and the volume is remarkable when worn around your neck. While you can hear things perfectly, a person next to or across the room from you can barely hear what you’re listening to. There’s also the natural experience of speaking while not wearing anything in your ears. These neck speakers are practical when you want to hear the world around you plus music, but still want to participate in conversations. You can still be aware of traffic – unlike with some headphones. What a concept!
The device is a combination of a bluetooth speaker/microphone unit, but it also has its own internal 8GB of memory for MP3 storage. Hence it is not strictly necessary to use it with a mobile device and can be used standalone. To use it that way, connect it with the included Micro USB cable to a computer (Windows or Mac) and drag over some MP3 files. They start playing automatically and immediately when the unit is turned on. Internal memory mode is the default when the unit is switched on, and when no other files are present, a variety of genuinely ghastly music is played for a few beats. I recommend adding an MP3 file with silence to stop this from happening.
To enable bluetooth mode, the unit needs to be paired first. Thankfully that’s very easy: pick HS910 from the list of devices on your favourite bluetooth host and you’re connected. Oddly enough, it is necessary to switch to bluetooth mode explicitly on the device by holding down the little key with two arrows, otherwise you’ll stay on internal MP3 mode. I wish it was the other way round.
Several controls on the device let you change the volume (long-press on the plus/minus icon to do this), summon Siri, answer/reject calls and switch music playback modes. During phone calls, I can hear the other party fine and they can hear me, but the quality isn’t as good as using wired headphones (it sounds like limited frequencies, or in other words, a telephone from the 1960ies). The software could do with an update or a re-think: when I made a call and ended it, the device immediately started playing my MP3 file although it was still connected to my phone via bluetooth. It’s sometimes difficult to convince the HS910 to stop playing MP3s and play Spotify instead. Perhaps I haven’t worked out how to do it, or perhaps it’s a little unintuitive.
On the whole I like the idea of this device. It sounds good, it’s a new idea of listening to music, it’s lightweight and doesn’t move when I’m wearing it. I am however a little disappointed with how the internal MP3 function gets in the way of the bluetooth control I have from my phone. I wish they had made it a little easier.