The Power of Sound (or Fenix 7X notifications)

Some may say this is only a rant or not a real issue, but I noticed it several times and even though the aspect is tolerable, it still led me to do some checks just to get a confirmation.

So … it was my impression that the volume of sound notifications during workouts with my Fenix 7X is low, or at least lower than what I used to have with my Vantage V2 and even I’d say my Fenix 6X. Since I don’t have the 6X anymore, I couldn’t just to a side by side comparison, but I did it with my Vantage V2 and confirmed that my ageing ears are not wrong, the Fenix 7X is not stellar in this area.

Basically, I’m not bothered by this low volume sound during my recovery or long runs, but when you’re trying some intervals or speed work, you just want to know when to end the 20 seconds peak effort and hearing the watch is not easy when the arm is moving and actually the sound is not distinctive enough in the ambient noise. Some may say that the vibration should help, but that’s only partially true since the vibration is also not very strong and when your arm is moving fast, you might not feel it so well.

Then I decided to do a comparative test, defining a short structured workout to allow the notifications to come and measure the sound in the same environment with the same device (my iPhone) and the same app (Decibel X). It isn’t a lab testing, but for my purposes I think it might work well.

For Polar, you can define a setting of “loudness” for each sport, nice but sometimes a bit too much since you have to do it on the Flow app and re-sync (which remembered me why I’m annoyed by Polar’s slow sync).

You can define levels of sound for Vantage V2 from Quiet to Very Loud

After syncing, I defined a structured workout to allow the watch to notify me about the interval’s start/end, while measuring the sound intensity at 10 cm with my phone and Decibel X. I don’t claim that this a very good measurement, but since it was performed the same for both watches, it may tell a story.

The results are below and even though those are not movies, looking at the max value, you can see that Vantage V2 is significantly louder than the Fenix 7X, on both settings (Loud and Very Loud).

It was a surprise for me to see that in terms of decibels the difference between Loud and Very Loud was not significant 58.4 vs 58.2 db (at least the way I managed to captured the data), but it was clearly louder than the Garmin – keep in mind that the sound intensity is not linear, so those 7db make a difference when you run.

This “discovery” won’t change my decision to wear the Fenix 7X, since the volume of sound notifications was not a criteria for selecting the watch, but it was nice to perform this analysis somehow. Fenix 7X has a phenomenal battery life, great GNSS accuracy and the sync with the mobile app is so much smoother than with Polar, but still struggles with sleep analysis and doesn’t (yet) have support for native running power. Anyway .. this post is not about the two devices, it’s just a confirmation for the Fenix 7X (I’d say the whole 7 series) users that the volume of the notifications is a bit low, if that counts.

For reference (or fun), you can hear some recordings with the same iPhone of the sounds performed in the same environment at the same distance from the devices. It sounds awful, it’s only mono, but you can hear the tone of the Polar higher than Garmin’s [at least I do].

Polar Sounds
Garmin Sounds

With that, enjoy your exercise (regardless of watch choices)!

Author: Liviu Nastasa

Passionate about software development, sociology, running...definitely a geek.

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