Today, Sony announced its latest wireless speaker, the $350 LSPX-S3, a quirky-looking Bluetooth speaker that features a transparent glass rod sticking up from a circular base. It resembles a candle, which is no accident. That glass rod serves two purposes: It acts as a 36o-degree tweeter nd also as the housing for the speaker’s built-in light, which can get bright enough to read by, or dim enough to serve as a candle replacement. The LSPX-S3 will hit stores in August.
The LED light source has 32 brightness levels and there’s even a Candlelight mode, which causes the LED to flicker just like a candle. In the mood for something funkier? The LED can be set to synchronize to the music.
Standing just shy of 12 inches in height, the glass cylinder employs what Sony calls “Advanced Vertical Drive Technology,” which uses three actuators that discreetly attach to the end of the glass, vibrating its entire length to spread high-frequency sound in every direction. High-frequency sounds are usually very directional, which makes Sony’s glass-based cylindrical tweeter intriguing.
In the LSPX’s base, you’ll find a 46mm full-range driver and a passive bass radiator for better low-end performance. If you own an Android smartphone that is compatible with Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec, you can send much higher quality wireless sound to the LSPX, although it’s worth noting that even though LDAC is considered a wireless hi-res audio codec, the speaker isn’t capable of reproducing hi-res audio.
You can pair two LSPX-S3 speakers for stereo playback, and it’s compatible with Sony’s Party Connect system which lets you connect up to 100 compatible wireless speakers over Bluetooth: The music and lights sync up on each speaker.
The internal rechargeable battery gives the speaker a claimed eight hours of wire-free operation, but Sony hasn’t said if the LSPX can withstand any moisture, so you’d best not take it poolside or to the beach. Charging is done via USB-C, but you also leave it plugged in if you want.
You can control the whole show from Sony’s Music Center app for iOS and Android, and if you’d like to use the speaker as a bedside accessory, there’s a timer function so you can drift off without needing to turn the tunes or the light off manually.
Despite its 360-degree sound and clever candlelight feature, we’re a bit stunned by the LSPX’s price. $350 is what we’d expect to pay for a high-performance multiroom wireless speaker from Sonos or perhaps a big and powerful Bluetooth speaker for outdoor parties. So while we give Sony big props for having the guts to make something that breaks the Bluetooth speaker mold, we’re not entirely sure there’s a market for an expensive LED light with a speaker in its base.
Although, if that’s what you’re into, check out the Ikea/Sonos Symfonisk Table Lamp. It doesn’t flicker, and it’s not portable, but it does combine high-quality wireless sound with an elegant indoor light.