During Gamescom, Panasonic added another gaming sound system to its catalog: a wearable speaker.
The SoundSlayer Wearable Immersive Gaming Speaker System, or WIGSS, goes around your neck and sits on your shoulders. It's supposed to bring us the convenience of a headset without the need to cover our ears or mess up our hair. What it looks like, though, is one of those exploding collars they wear in the Fallout games. I can't help but feel like the marketing images look like they're showing the explosion radius rather than sound waves.
The SoundSlayer WIGSS features four speakers that blast sound upwards toward your head, providing 360-degree surround sound. It's supposed to act as an alternative to wearing a headset all day, relieving the pressure on your head and ears, which can be especially bad if you have a tight, on-ear headset. At 244g, the collar is around the weight of most gaming headsets and, in some cases, even lighter. So if you ever wore a headset around your neck, it should feel like that.
Unfortunately, the WIGSS isn't wireless, so it won't turn you into a human boombox at parties. There is a built-in noise-canceling dual-channel microphone so you can chat with teammates without the sound of your WIGSS bleeding through the mic, at least in theory.
I'm curious to see how these sound to people in the same room who aren't wearing the speaker collar. According to the press release, Panasonic wants this speaker to make "gamers feel as though they are enveloped by sound in all directions," which sounds terrifying and also kind of awesome. Sometimes, though, the point of wearing headphones is to avoid disturbing others, so the relative loudness between the wearer and someone nearby the wearer feels like an important factor.
The team at Panasonic developed the SoundSlayer WIGGS with Square Enix, so one of the three game sound modes ("roleplaying" mode) is optimized for Final Fantasy XIV Online, the same as its desk-sized SoundSlayer soundbar (opens in new tab), which came out last year. "First-person shooter" mode focuses on 360 positional audio, and "voice mode" prioritizes dialogue audio over anything else.
There is no price yet for the SoundSlayer WIGSS, but it will be available for purchase in October.