Sony has a long history with its Walkman music players though in recent years the brand Walkman has also been used for its earphones with built-in MP3 player. I reviewed the NW-WS413 previously and only lamented at the lack of Bluetooth connectivity of it. With the NW-WS623, Sony has included everything that was good with the NW-WS413 but with the added goodness of Bluetooth connectivity.
In terms of design, the NW-WS623 needs no introduction. Sony introduced the W-series Walkman headphones way back in 2010. Over the years, the Walkman has evolved with more colors and features added. Specially targetted at the active consumers, the NW-WS623 is ultra lightweight at only 32 grams and comes with a flexi headband design that conforms well to give a comfortable fit.
You can find all the controls you need on the earphones itself. On the right side of the NW-WS623, you have the music controls (play/pause, forward/rewind) and power button which makes sense as most users are right-handed. While on the left, you get the slightly more complicated controls namely the sound modes, Ambient Sound Mode/Bluetooth, and volume buttons.
The mode button allows you to change the playback mode on the NW-WS623 from the default normal playback mode to repeat play, shuffle play and shuffle all. Holding down the Mode button for 3 seconds changes the playback range from Folder Mode to Playlist or Album Mode. Lastly, double tap the button to play the current track on the one-track repeat mode. It honestly took some getting used to when using the mode button but I suspect most people would just choose the normal playback or shuffle mode. Do note that this button will only work with songs that are stored natively on the NW-WS623.
The Ambient Sound Mode is a feature which Sony carried forward from the NW-WS413. Turning the Ambient Sound Mode will allow you to hear the ambient noises around you even when your music is playing. Basically, the mic on the earphones would amplify the noises around you (which also makes it a great, discreet eavesdropping tool 😉 though I find this feature limited in its usefulness as your music sounds terrible when mixed with the ambient noises.
Similar to other Walkman earphones (like NW-WS623/625), the NW-WS623 can only be charged using the supplied charging cradle. The obvious pain point here is that you have to carry an additional accessory even when traveling. But I guess it’s a decision Sony has taken to reduce the size and weight of the earphones and also to keep it waterproof.
You can charge the earphones via a USB wall charger or the computer. The NW-WS623 also has a Quick Charge function that gives you 60 mins of playback time (though I only managed to squeeze in 35 mins of playtime before it goes dead). For a full charge, Sony says that it will take 90 mins, which is pretty accurate in my own testings.
The one feature I was really excited about on the NW-WS623 is the Bluetooth connectivity. While some might find the built-in MP3 player useful as you no longer need to bring a smart device out with you on a run, all my music now resides on Spotify and I use the Nike Run app to track my run so definitely the wireless connectivity will appeal to the more *cough* connected users. To pair, simply press and hold the Bluetooth button to turn on Bluetooth and put the earphones in pairing mode. Sony says that the earphones can last for up to 4 hours of audio playback on Bluetooth. In my tests, the battery life ranges from 3.5 hours on the average on Bluetooth, somewhat short for a Bluetooth headset.
The NW-WS623 is in no way an audiophile pair of earphones. Yet I found the audio on it to be pretty decent. It can get really loud with tight boomy bass – the kind of audio quality you need to push yourself into going that extra mile during your workout. That said, the NW-WS623 is definitely an upgrade from the stock earphones you find bundled with your phones.
One key selling point of the NW-WS623 is how adventure proof it is. Besides being IP5/8 waterproof, it is also dust proof, heat-cold proof (5°C – 45°C) and salt waterproof to a depth of 2 metres. That probably covers all the scenarios one could possibly use the earphones in.
However, do note that to use them in the pool, you would have to switch from the normal earbuds to the swimming earbuds. Bluetooth functionality will also not function in water.
The NW-WS623 is the perfect sports MP3 player for you if you lead an active lifestyle and can’t be without your music at any given moment. The earphones are built ruggedly and it functions perfectly with or without a smart device, giving you the freedom to embrace your active pursuits.
The retail price of S$199 and rather short battery life of 4 hours for Bluetooth playback might deter some from getting it, but if you over look these minor flaws, the NW-WS623 will greatly benefit those who value comfort, fit and functionality during work out.