Panasonic SoundSlayer is a comfy alternative to gaming headsets

Posted on June 6, 2024

I’ve covered my fair share of gaming headsets in my time, but up until the Panasonic SoundSlayer, I’d never had the opportunity to properly test out a wearable gaming speaker. Providing an alternative to the classic “cups on the ears” approach, this speaker system sits around your neck, resting on your shoulders, providing a more comfortable gaming experience when it comes to a long session. The audio isn’t as deep as your premium gaming headsets but otherwise is a sleek and effective device that really gives your head and ears a break.

Wearable speakers aren’t a hugely new technology, but Panasonic is really targeting gamers with the GNW10 SoundSlayer. It’s compatible with PCs, along with PlayStation consoles and Switch, and comes with multiple sound modes to make sure you can properly enjoy gaming, along with movies and music of course.

As a bloke with a big head and large neck (not a brag, just a regular bear thing), headphones often bother me during long sessions of playing video games with my squad. After an hour or so, I find myself slightly moving them, fiddling with them and adjusting their positioning. Don’t even get me started on hot Australian days during Summer, either. I avoid multiplayer games during that time just to avoid getting sweaty.

The SoundSlayer sits on your shoulders, with 4 speakers positioned on either side of a fairly flexible but solid rubber casing to still provide a surround-sound effect as if you’re wearing a gaming headset. It’s comfortable and pretty light, even for long sessions, and I quickly found it to be a good alternative to having my lounge speaker set up running, particularly while my partner was asleep at the other end of the house. Its comfort is its main selling point, and it’s a pretty big one. I can see this becoming a go-to for less intense gaming sessions, like kicking back with a single-player RPG or a narrative adventure.

“It’s comfortable and pretty light, even for long sessions, and I quickly found it to be a good alternative…”

Removing the pressure on your head and ears is a game-changer, particularly during warm weather, but the audio needs to be able to stack up as well. Thankfully, the SoundSlayer doesn’t slack in this regard. It offers “True Majestic Augmented Gaming Environment Sound System (TRUE MAGESS)” technology, which is a large acronym that basically means it uses 3D audio to immerse you in whatever game you’re playing. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it sounded; while playing, I generally didn’t miss having a headset on, although it doesn’t get as loud as I sometimes want to get those little details or completely immerse me in an intense horror experience, for example.

It offers different Gaming sound modes as well, including RPG, FPS, and Voice mode, but I didn’t find a super noticeable difference between the three when I was testing them. There are also modes for Music, Cinema, and Stereo. The Echo Canceling Microphone certainly does the trick though, coming through clearly for the squad on the other side and not picking up other sounds around me, like my excitable dogs or sometimes-intense washing machine that sits in the nearby laundry.

I would say that the audio quality is not going to be as adaptable or premium as a top-of-the-line gaming headset. The wearable speakers sound a lot clearer and punchier than I expected, but when testing in a shooter like XDefiant where footsteps of enemies can give away their position, or an adventure with a thrilling sound implementation like Hellblade II, it didn’t capture the same level of immersion and detail. It still sounded good, just not quite as crisp and without as much depth.

Where the SoundSlayer also falls down a little bit is with its lack of Bluetooth. It’s a bit of a weird one, as so many devices just have it nowadays, but the SoundSlayer instead comes with a mid-size transmitter that must be connected to your device of choice via a USB. Once it’s plugged in, the wearable speaker works rather quickly; but, taking up a USB port means one less controller that’s charging, and moving it from device to device can be a hassle. It also means it can’t be used for your mobile phone, or for the Switch when it’s in portable mode, let alone handheld PC’s which are all the rage lately.

This makes its functionality a step behind many other gaming headsets on the market that boast the ability to switch from console to mobile phone to PC at the touch of a button, making them diverse enough to juggle work and play seamlessly. The flip side is that the SoundSlayer supports subwoofer output because of this quirk, but I’m not sure the trade-off is worth it.

There are teal blue LEDs on either side of the device, and on the front of the transmitter, which help confirm that it’s working as it should. Muting your voice turns the lights red, or you can also choose to turn the lights off completely. There’s also the SoundSlayer Engine App so you can configure your sound settings, create customised sound modes, and test your mics.

At the end of the day, you’re going to have to make a call on whether or not the comfort factor is a big enough benefit for it to replace your traditional gaming headset. There’s a lot to like about the SoundSlayer; it puts very little pressure on you physically so it’s great for long sessions, its noise-canceling is decent, considering its position on your body, and the audio is crisp and clear across long gaming sessions. I’d still recommend having a gaming headset for more intense experiences while using the SoundSlayer as a supplement for single-player titles. Of course, with a $349ish AUD price tag, that might not be the extra investment you want to make.

As far as wearable speakers for gaming go, Panasonic’s SoundSlayer still manages to measure up pretty well and should be a consideration for anybody looking to free their ears from discomfort during long gaming sessions.

You can find out more about the SoundSlayer here.

A Panasonic GNW10 SoundSlayer was sent to Checkpoint Gaming for the purpose of this coverage.