Sony Shines

One of the final rooms I visited at the 2012 RMAF was Sony’s. An as-yet-to-be-named floor-standing speaker was being demmed with Pass Labs amplification, Kimber Kables, and a Mytek DSD-capable DAC, taking data over USB from a laptop. The speaker has much in common with the superb SS-AR2 that I reviewed in October, but is shorter and, as can be seen from Jason Serinus’ photo, has an intriguing array of two supertweeters above and below the tweeter.

Blue Coast Records’ Cookie Marenco was playing some of her superb DSD recordings when I was in the room. Later, in the Marriott’s lobby, I bumped into Home Theater magazine’s Technical Editor, Thomas Norton, who for many years was Stereophile’s Technical Editor. “What did you think of the Sony room?” I asked Tom. “Best Sound of the Show!” was his reply. One of mine too.

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Allen Fant's picture
SONY IS BACK!!!

SONY IS BACK!!!

Pro-Audio-Tech's picture
Loved these!

I bet there gonna be expensive, $30+

Probably worth it compared to some speakers I heard in this price range.

However at $40+, humm don't know about that one maybe yes maybe no.

But they certainly put it ball together, bass, mids, and a lovely high end even with multiple tweeters.

John Atkinson's picture
Price?

Pro-Audio-Tech wrote:
I bet there gonna be expensive, $30+

I was given to understand that they will be less expensive than the $20k/pair SS-AR2.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

jmsent's picture
Where's the Sony in the Sony?

Sony used to be a major vertically integrated company. They designed and made their own drivers, their own cabinets, their own electronics. What I see here, is a cabinet design that I've seen many times before from other high end makers. The drivers are all ScanSpeak. The amplification is Pass Labs. There's nothing Sony in any of these new speakers except the name.  And why 2 supertweeters that narrow vertical dispersion? Strange.

John Atkinson's picture
Sony's Philosophy

jmsent wrote:
What I see here, is a cabinet design that I've seen many times before from other high end makers. The drivers are all ScanSpeak. The amplification is Pass Labs. There's nothing Sony in any of these new speakers except the name.

See my SS-AR2 review for the designer's decision to use OEM drivers. And the cbainet is actually quite special. See Kal Rubinson's review of the larger SS-AR1 and my SS-AR2 review for more info.

jmsent wrote:
And why 2 supertweeters that narrow vertical dispersion? Strange.

Indeed. But perhaps the module acts like a D'Appolito array to give controlled dispersion in the top octaves. Whatever, the sound was simply superb.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

jmsent's picture
Ok....

but it doesn't change the fact that these speakers represent a major shift from a company that used to take tremendous pride in originality and basic R & D. While they are certainly "competent", I'm not as blown away as you are with the sound of these Sony speakers. They strike me very much as "me too" products that could have come from any competent high end speaker manufacturer. They are basically on the same playing field as products from companies like Sonus Faber, Aerial Acoustics, and countless others using more or less the same formula and even the same parts. As for the cabinets, yes they're nice, but hardly earth shattering in their design. Wilson, Magico, YG, Thiel, all build extremely high quality, rigid cabinets too, so this is just expected at this price point.  I worked for Sony in the late 70's and early 80's. The pride they had and the resources available to them in those days would have meant an entire room full of Sony speakers with Sony drivers, driven by Sony amplifiers that were built with all Sony transistors, with music being played on a Sony turntable or a Sony CD player. It's a very different company today, and to me anyway, much less innovative.  Sony used to be a leader. Now they seem more like a leading follower.

 

bachMan's picture
agreed

I wanted to love them because they are "sony" high-end but they are not..Not to mention that the sound was very typical and can be heard on scores of other power hungry overly crossed speakers. I like some of the new guys like dc10audio thoes big wooden horns gave me a woody!

chwen's picture
SS-NA2ES

It seems like SS-NA2ES in japanese market, which cost around one third of SS-AR2.

 

"SS-AR1/AR2 reference model was developed to speakers play sound pleasant, rich sound of music. Inherits the design philosophy and technology, SS-NA2ES (Natural Acoustic SpeakerSystem) was born asking for more natural music reproduction. The basis of sound with a rich amount of information a reality, with "(TM) System I-ARRAY" of new development, pursuing more natural texture, the feel of the music. It is a speaker system that can sit down and enjoy the high quality music while relaxing at home."

volvic's picture
Glad to see them

I am glad they are still around and innovating, hope they never leave the hi-fi scene.  You know what would be a good idea? Come out with a 35th anniversary commemorative CDP-101.  Of course upgraded for the 21st century but with the same design and case.  Just for ol' times sake.  

Jason Chang's picture
different

I was able to hear only about slightly more than half of the rooms.

The vast majority of systems' sounds can be assessed with pros and cons per the usual indicia such as detail (minimal overlap), low-level resolution, dynamics, tone, etc, with the system that receives the most pros and the fewest cons wins.

While listening to these Sony speakers, the normal indicia did not come to mind.

corrective_unconscious's picture
Does that mean to say "outhouse" or "outstanding"?

"While listening to these Sony speakers, the normal indicia [sic] did not come to mind."

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