There are many wireless speakers on the market today. In choosing one you must look at the portability, build quality, connectivity, and sound quality. With the Sony H.ear Go SRS-HG1 wireless speaker, you can put a checkmark in all four of those boxes.
Design & Build Quality
Measuring 2.5 by 8.0 by 2.4 inches (HWD) and weighing in at roughly 1.7 pounds, the H.ear Go has good portability. You can easily throw it into a backpack or overnight bag. This rectangular device is solid and well built. The black one that I received is a little matronly, especially compared to the other bright colors that it comes in. It is also available in cinnabar red, Bordeaux pink, lime yellow, and viridian blue. At first glance, the unit looks pretty plain. A closer look, however, reveals a plethora of buttons on the back and top of the unit.
The control panel on the top of the speaker includes a power/pairing button, plus and minus buttons that handle the volume, an extra bass button, and a dedicated speakerphone button. The extra bass button and the power have light indicators. The front edge also has tiny lights that give the status of the Link, Network. Bluetooth, USB, and Audio In. Unfortunately these names are written in very tiny gray text at the edge of the back. The lights themselves, fortunately, can be seen when viewing the unit from the front.
Connectivity is where the H.ear Go excels. It includes Bluetooth 4.2. It can play music directly via USB. You can hook it up to a radio or other device by the 3.5mm Aux input. It has NFC. It has Spolify Connect and is also Chromecast-enabled. So you can use it with Google Home and other Chromecast devices.
The H.ear Go’s back also has several ports and buttons. There are two micro USB ports, one for charging, one for playing music directly from a computer or storage device. A 3.5mm aux input is also available here. At the other end of the back are three buttons: Stereo Pair, Setup, and Update/WPS above those three buttons is a Function button that switches between Link, Network (for Wi-Fi), Bluetooth, USB, and Audio In (for 3.5mm Aux input).
A button releases the screen on the front if you are inclined to do that. A reset hole is also on the bottom.
Sony touts this H.ear Go speaker as the smallest Hi-Res audio speaker in the world. It uses Sony’s new audio technology, LDAC for audio transmission at a higher transfer rate than Bluetooth. Although there is no standard yet for Hi-Res audio, most Hi-Res content reaches the specifications of 24bit/96kHz and 24bit/192kHz, making it better than CD audio. Comparing Hi-Res to an MP3 is like comparing a 4K television to a regular Hi-Def television. The quality of Hi-Res is exceptional. Actually Hi-Res audio content is the first digital audio format that starts to rival vinyl.
The speaker box has separate chambers for left and right channels. Sony boasts about things included technology like S-Master HX digital amp technology, a DSEE X enhancement engine for upscaling music, and ClearAudio optimization.
All-in-all, I amquite pleased with the audio quality of the H.ear Go speaker. I keep the Extra Bass button on all of the time and with that on all ranges are robust and full sounding. Not surprisingly, the best sound quality is found when using the Wi-Fi connection, which is how the Chromecast connection works. With the built-in Chromecast, you don’t need a Chromecast Audio device. So the speaker plays Chromecast content without any dongle or wall connection needed. The word that keeps coming to mind when listening to the H.ear Go is “rich.”
You can easily have multi-room audio when you add other devices. Two H.ear Go speakers can also be setup as left and right speakers for stereo speaker sound.
Setup and Apps
Setup is easy. It works with the free Sony SongPal app. The app allows you to update the speaker’s firmware, pair the speaker with Bluetooth devices, manage network settings, and adjust EQ. The app also lets you control multi-room listening. The SongPal app performs all of these functions, but it is a bit cumbersome. If you are using the H.ear Go speaker with the Google Home or other Chromecast devices, you can control the multi-room audio from the Google Home app. This give you the ability to play all the speakers or only specific ones. It also gives you the ability to control the volume of each device. You will, however, need the SongPal app for renaming devices and adjusting EQ.
Sony rates the H.ear Go for 12 hours of battery life. In my trials, I was able to get even a little more than 12 hours at what I consider normal volume. Although I have read reviews that say the unit will not play while charging, my H.ear Go played seamlessly while charging when plugged into the wall.
I love the connectivity choices, sound quality, size, and portability of this device. It is especially impressive when used with other Sony devices. If you have a Sony Chromecast-enabled television or receiver or a Google Home device, it is definitely worth a look. The current retail price is $149. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this speaker.