The Panasonic SoundSlayer. It has the vibes and demeanor of a warrior heading into battle to slay the beast. You might not be slaying any monsters with this speaker, but it certainly implies good quality sound. It’s a speaker that is very unique. The Panasonic SoundSlayer is a wearable neck speaker. Is is what is sounds like – a speaker for your neck!
We got our hands (or rather neck) on this latest wearable device to test out. After trying it out for a couple of weeks, here’s what I thought.
Panasonic SoundSlayer FFXIV edition
First up, you’re probably wondering why the packaging and the speaker is branded with Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) Online game. The Panasonic SoundSlayer is available in a limited edition FFXIV Online version. Not only does it look great with the FFXIV Online logos, it includes sounds direct from the game. When you plug in the speaker for the first time, you’ll hear the FFXIV Online startup sound. This startup sequence also occurs if the speaker is plugged into a device and the device is powered on.
The first time I turned on the computer with the speaker plugged in, I thought FFXIV Online had been set to auto start on boot! When you switch between sound modes – I’ll talk about this more below – you hear the inventory switch sound from the game. As a Warrior of Light and a Final Fantasy fan-girl these sounds put the biggest smile on my face.
But enough about the awesome co-branding, what about the speaker itself?
Wearable devices are becoming increasingly popular. You can wear also everything from air filters, to fitness technology, and more. Headphones are probably one of those things that have been a standard wearable for quite some time. The Panasonic GN01E SoundSlayer however is different. It’s not a set of earphones. It’s not designed to be worn on your head. Nor is it designed to deliver sound directly into your ears. Instead, it’s a wearable speaker. It has all the bells and whistles of a standard speaker, but with a personal touch.
Like many speakers, the Panasonic SoundSlayer comes with four built in speakers. This is similar to the four speakers you’d have in a sound surround system: two front and two rear. They are positioned in a way as to provide you with immersive sound.
The speaker is worn around your neck and thus the speakers provide that perfect balance of sound. Like an external sound system, you can still have a conversation while wearing them. They aren’t designed to completely block out external sound. Rather give you an immersive experience whilst still being aware of your surroundings. It’s more like watching a movie. You have the sound around you, but you can still interact with people. The SoundSlayer however is a PERSONAL speaker. This means that unless someone is standing right next to you, they won’t be able to hear the sound. I tested it out with almost full volume and my housemate wasn’t able to hear it in the next room.
It sounds great, so what about the three Cs? Control. Comfort. And Compatibility.
If you have a fancy new TV or decent sound system, you’ve probably seen various sound settings. Many devices have modes like “TV quality”, “movie mode”, or even things like “optimised” or “balanced”. Being a speaker rather than a headset, the Panasonic SoundSlayer comes with some pretty cool modes. There are three to chose from – Voice, Role Playing Game (RPG), or First Person Shooter (FPS). You can switch between these modes using the controls on the side of the speaker.
As mentioned above, when you switch these modes the Panasonic SoundSlayer FFXIV Online edition plays the inventory switch sound. There’s a noticeable difference between these modes. Voice or chat mode sounds very unidirectional and ‘shallow’. RPG mode has a lot of depth and immersion, and FPS provides directional sound. If you have a Windows computer, you can also use the built in “Speaker” control to switch between two modes “Chat” and “Game”. Chat mode is great for using Discord, or listening to Zoom recordings (yep you know what I do with my days), whilst game mode worked well for most types of games. For better game sound however, I recommend using the controls on the speaker to change between FPS and RPG.
There’s also controls to mute your voice – yes there is a microphone built in too! – and volume controls on the speaker. The right hand side has the volume and mute audio. The left has mode switcher and mic mute buttons. These controls are so well embedded into the speaker that I almost missed them completely. It does mean they seamlessly fit into the design of the speaker, but takes a little getting use to. It’s a different muscle memory from reaching for the volume controls on a headset.
One of the things I’m always conscious of is comfort. I spend hours at my computer, either working, streaming, or playing games. There are a lot of really comfortable headsets out there but with my tiny, boney head, I always find that I’m needing to constantly adjust my headset. This is probably a good thing as it forces me to get up from my desk often. However, I find it nice to ditch the headset some days of the week and work in silence – especially on a day with no streaming or meetings.
This is where the Panasonic SoundSlayer really shines for me. I love wearing this around my neck and for the past couple of weeks it’s been great to tap away on my keyboard and listen into video calls, a podcast, or catching up on the latest news. It’s so comfortable and I can wear it for hours without feeling any pressure. I also like the way the four speakers are positioned. They provide a bit of vibration through the shoulders for an even more immersive experience.
I’m a fairly small person – yes I’m tall, but I have rather narrow shoulders, and not a whole lot of muscle. The size for me is perfect and it fits nicely around my neck. The light weight nature of the speaker is also perfect for me, weighing in at just 244 grams. Whilst I’m not really an average sized person, the overall size and weight of the speaker is designed to fit most people. The speaker is very wide, measuring 209mm and the rubbery middle attachment is flexible. I just love the overall design as it’s sleek, unimposing, and modern.
If you’re a gamer of any kind, you’ll be happy to hear that the Panasonic SoundSlayer is compatible with most devices. It has both AUX and USB. This means it can be used with Windows, PlayStation (PS4/PS5), Xbox (One, Series S/X), and Nintendo Switch. I haven’t tested it on macOS (why would you have a mac? Jokes, this is just my personal preference), and I haven’t tested it on mobile (what phones these days have AUX anyway?). However, since both these devices have AUX (at least older mobiles) or USB, one would assume they would still work, however the capability might be limited.
The SoundSlayer is a great overall wearable speaker. You might not be able to use it in an office or co-working space, but it’s perfect for gaming at home and still being able to hear the doorbell ring for the postie. I love sitting at my desk and being immersed in the game sound but also aware of my surroundings. I can game or work for hours without having to adjust or rip off my headset. Plus the added FFXIV Online game sounds give me constant excitement. I also like not having to charge the speaker as it’s wired. This does mean that I can’t jump up and run around doing chores while on Zoom meetings. And I need to make sure I have a spare USB slot in my computer – starting to run out!
As with many innovative devices, the Panasonic SoundSlayer doesn’t come cheap. At $329.00 AUD it’s not the most affordable gift to purchase this Christmas. But it’s also not the most expensive! I believe it’s good value for money and definitely something to try out if you’re starting to get tired of wearing a headset 24/7.