Earlier today at the launch of the Sony Xperia XZ2 we also got a chance to check out what Sony has been developing in the audio space. Launched alongside the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact is the company’s new “open-ear” stereo wireless headset called the Xperia Ear Duo.

Unlike noise-cancelling headphones, this pair of wireless headset makes use of Dual Listening technology, which lets you listen to music or receive notifications from Google Assistant or Siri while also being able to hear what’s happening around you. Sony’s own in-house technology incubator Future Lab Program developed what they call a Spatial Acoustic Conductor that lets sound generated behind the ear by the unit’s driver be directly transmitted into the ear.

It comes with a Daily Assist feature that can recognize time, locations, and other activities and relay these important information to you throughout the day. It can alert you of the time and remind you of activities you have scheduled for the day. The Xperia Ear Duo makes use of the company’s ultra-low power consuming processor, the CXD5602, and a multi-sensor platform. It comes with quad-microphone beam forming for clearer voice, four-hour battery life, its own charging case (which promises to charge the headset three times more before needing to be charged), and IPX2 splash proofing.

I got to try them on at the launch and was instantly fascinated by the design. The under-ear approach is a nice touch. Sony’s Marketing Specialist for Mobile Micaela Que explains one of the reasons for this design decision is to make it easier for women (or men) to put it on even with earrings on.

The first try for me was a bit of a struggle, though. Que admits she had to put it on in front of the mirror the first time to get it to lock into her ear. I have a couple of fresh piercings in one ear and it definitely was tough to get it in and out of that earlobe. The best thing to do for those with ear piercings is to put your earrings on after securing the headset in.

I did like how snug these felt but they weren’t uncomfortable to wear. Of course, I can’t say yet how they’d feel for extended periods of time. But at least it didn’t feel like it’ll dislodge itself anytime soon once you get it in properly.

Charging case for the Sony Xperia Ear Duo

Volume wasn’t maxed out when I was using the pair but you could hear music or the alerts from Google easily through the Xperia Ear Duo. It’s not going to be as immersive as other audio accessories but that is the point with this pair of headset. It’s something that can keep you safe if you want to use it outdoors. And since it works with your voice assistant of choice, it helps out a bit with making sure you stay on schedule or help you with navigation or have it read messages to you and the like.

Gestures and taps can be used to control both music and your voice assistant. The left earpiece is for music controls, while the right is used to interact with your assistant. As we’ve seen from the promo videos for the headset, head gestures can also be used to control the headset. And it can adjust volume according to the surroundings you find yourself in. If it senses you’re out on the streets, it’ll lower the volume so you can hear your surroundings. It’s something Que says the device will learn in time as it observes your habits.

Sony plans to launch the Xperia Ear Duo app that will let you know things like battery status, what you can do with the headset, and use the Anytime Talk feature. That last feature we liken to a two-way radio. It’ll let you voice chat with up to four other Xperia Ear Duo users. It works over the internet so there is no limit to the communication range. You can even send pre-recorded messages to the chat group.

We were told we can expect the Xperia Ear Duo to drop next month. Sony will be bringing in the black variant and pricing is pegged around P11,000 to P12,000.