Sony SS-NA5ES loudspeaker Page 2

Tue, 07/19/2016

BradleyP's picture

The dealer network for these primo Sonys seems a bit, um, unconventional. $6k standmounts are the purview of high end brick-and-mortar shops, but these are not available in such shops. Perhaps the distributors are custom installers, but I can't quite tell from the Sony ES website. That's quite a hindrance.

low2midhifi's picture

I am sure that these speakers sound fine. But we are to pay $6,000 for some Scanspeak drivers in a laminated wood enclosure?

I hope we can see a test of these--reportedly outstanding--speakers for $2,500 less:

Or for roughly the same price, we can afford ourselves of a tried and true design, with some elements of advanced materials science:

And for less than 1/2 the price, it might be time for a very long overdue test of these speakers that boast plausible technology, perhaps better than this product under review, and the same billed weight:

If I were so endowed financially, I might save my pennies for another year or so and get these highly decorated stalwarts:

And, based on my actual experience of listening at a show, we might, again, save a few more dollars and get this speaker which has some proprietary technology to bring to the table:

It might be time for Stereophile to emulate our friends from the UK and do some head-to-head group testing of products. $3,500 for this product? Maybe. $4,000 is a stretch. But $6,000? I don't know.

Allen Fant's picture

Nice job! AD
it is good to see Sony ES back in the speaker facet of our wonderful hobby. Most will snub Sony for making speakers, this is just one reason why there is not better representation in the B&M world. Sony knows their customer base and has corresponding dealer/retailers strategically placed across the USA.
Further, back in the early 1990's Sony has a set of "ES" marqued speakers that were for home Audio and car Audio too.
A very fine return to form, IMO. Happy Listening!

Anton's picture

First, great post, low2midfi! I am with you!

Regarding these new Sony speakers.

I hope they are great and wish Sony the best. The main problem I would say "I have" with makers like Sony or Technics is that they disappear from the hobby for X number of years, then 'mount an assault on the state of the art' with products like this, then disappear again shortly thereafter.

I have not seen a tradition of models evolving or being improved over time, no evolution of a model (think Vandersteen, Thiel,) etc... These models are hit and run, which I think diminishes their value.

If you look at the history of many (most?) of the most esteemed speakers in this category, they have a history of incremental improvement and of ongoing product support, even trade ups!

So, I don't give this new Sony as much credibility as its price wants me to, because this speaker will be out of production in a cycle or two. I know this because I know Sony's history in this regard.

So, enjoy the speaker now, but it's a bit of a 'one night stand mount' product when compared to models that have traditionally 'stand mounted by their man' over time.


funambulistic's picture

I bought a pair of Sony ES SS-M5 speakers in '97 from my local brick-and-mortar store at a VERY large discount. The discount was primarily because of the Sony badge (though they were hardly a Sony speaker). I was shopping around with the various brands this retailer carried in my price range (Definitive, Paradigm, B&W, etc.) and, for the price, the Sony's were a clear winner; in fact, they were some of the best speakers I have ever owned (how I parted with them is rather tragic). They were shortly discontinued and only the SS-M9 (with the new "super tweeter") continued on for a year or two. I am glad Sony, Technics and Pioneer (or TAD) have new "SOTA" speakers, but, for what they do, their prices are too dear. I would rather stick with a manufacturer that constantly improves their product (as you mentioned, Vandersteen, for example) than what most certainly will be product on a limited run.

avanti1960's picture

I have heard these speakers on a few occasions and immediately noticed that they have a distinctive, somewhat unique character when compared against other stand mounts of similar size. A few listens with familiar program material and you know what they are all about. It is very obvious.
Yet a terse (or any) description of their sound was nowhere to be found in the text. A few words about it would have been most helpful because these speakers are not neutral and their sound flavor might be construed as polarizing.
Being familiar with their sound and then reading the review has given a unique perspective- one that makes me wholly disappointed in what I have read because it failed to communicate their essence.

Anton's picture

Would you be willing to elaborate on your impressions?

This is interesting!


Sony SS-NA5ES loudspeaker

Your little car gets in and out of traffic better than minivans or monster trucks. Your little dog runs rings around the other dogs at the park. Maybe it's time to get a couple of little loudspeakers, too?

The reasons for doing so are pretty much the same: little speakers deserve consideration not because they sell for little prices—although some of them do—but because they're nimble, they're fast, and they get out of the way of the music they play.

Tue, 07/19/2016

Charley Hansen: The Wizard of Boulder

Twenty-three years ago, in 1993, Charles Hansen cofounded Ayre Acoustics, Inc., in Boulder, Colorado. On Ayre's website, Hansen is named as Research Director for Ayre, and it seems an apt description. Along with experimenting in and developing audio-electronics hardware and software, Hansen has strongly hewn to certain design principles, among them fully balanced operation, an absence of loop negative feedback, and solid-state circuitry. Ayre's current flagship preamplifiers and amplifiers, the twentieth-anniversary R Series, have received reviews and accolades, while at the other end of the budget spectrum, Hansen's design work was a key element of Neil Young's widely publicized and crowdfunded PonoPlayer project.
Tue, 07/19/2016

Listening #162 Letters

Tue, 07/19/2016

mink70's picture

Dear Art—

I always look forward to your cogent, smart, funny and elegant articles, but in this month's column I find myself confused by a single sentence.

You write: "And in the second movement's upbeat second theme, the color and texture of the woodwinds and strings were to die for (a sentiment with which P. Tchaikovsky was okay, I'm sure)."

I've read this sentence many times, and remain puzzled by what "sentiment" refers to. Attempting the close reading thing, I wondered whether P. Tchaikovsky might have been "okay" with vivid woodwind and string colors and textures, but of course "color" and "texture" here refer to qualities of electro-mechanical sound reproduction, which didn't exist in his lifetime.

I also considered whether "sentiment" might instead refer to "were to die for," an expression that sounds stereotypically gay, at least if you go by some American movies of the 1980s. Of course P. Tchaikovsky was known to be gay, so for a moment I wondered whether you were being humorous. Then I remembered that P. Tchaikovsky was tormented by and persecuted for his homosexuality, and that this persecution probably caused him to commit suicide, and that coming from a straight man a joke on this subject might be construed to be, at the very least, gauche. And so I realized that a writer of prose as cogent, smart, funny and elegant as yours would never joke about a thing such as this.

I remain puzzled, but will keep trying to figure it out. Reading comprehension was never my strong suit.

Art Dudley's picture
Thanks for reading that column, Mink70, and for your kind words. By "sentiment" I was indeed referring to the fact that Tchaikovsky might've been okay with the idea that something of great beauty could be "to die for." I used that phrase with no thought in mind of sexual orientation - every February we publish our annual Records to Die For issue of Stereophile, and I confess that have never thought of it as our "gay issue" - and with no thought of suicide or other human tragedy. I meant only that Tchaikovsky was, by all reports, not the most light-hearted guy in the world, and thus would have no trouble signing-off on a superlative steeped in morbidity.
AaronGarrett's picture

Thanks for reminding me to listen again to Oh Yeah. Kirk is particularly brilliant. And I love Doug Watkins bass playing so much -- his intonation and solidity in the groove is addictive. So sad that he, his friend Paul Chambers, Scottie LaFaro, Jimmy Blanton and so many others died so young. Only trumpeters seem to have been as cursed. But glorious that at least we can still hear him on so many records.

Ruxtonvet's picture

It is not just ORG that issues releases of old recordings where tape deterioration has occurred. Most companies do the same. Chad Kassem at one of last year's Axpona lectures said that increased dynamics and better bass response are reason enough to reissue an old recording even if ambience and high frequencies have been lost due to the tape deterioration. Speakers Corner is also guilty of the same plus they add transistors to the brew. Reference Recordings has refused to reissue some of their old recordings due to problems with the tapes but they are the exception to the rule. In my experience almost all reissues if they are older than 50 years have tape deterioration issues and sound inferior to an original clean pressing although their dynamics and bass response may be improved.

John Atkinson's picture
I have added Ying Tan's August issue letter to this Web reprint of Art's June column.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile


Fred Hersch

New York, NY—News Bar Cafe, Union Square. It's 11am. Low jazz can be heard playing on the overhead speakers, along with background chatter and the occasional ambulance. Caffeinated beverages and breakfast sandwiches are present. I take a tentative sip of cappuccino, reach under the table for my trusty Zoom H5. Across from me sits jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch. A man who has meant many things to me in my lifetime—a musical role model, a source of inspiration, a friend, a set of frequently played digital music files... I sit anxiously—is it the awe or the beverage? I think to myself: he's now entering the realm of debatable audiophile and breakfast co-conspirator. Cappuccino sip. Let us begin.
Mon, 07/18/2016

Musicians As Audiophiles: John Hébert

John Hébert's experiences unearthing precious oddities have served him well as an adult musician, particularly when extracting deep bass sounds as one of New York City's most in-demand jazz bassists. From his 1990s-era Romanian and Hungarian upright basses and exotic stereo gear and LPs to the Baldwin grand piano that adorns the living room of his Jersey City, New Jersey home, Hébert is a perfect example of audiophile as musician.
Mon, 07/18/2016

A Visit to the Pops Home

In New York City or more specially Corona, Queens, July is the month when thoughts turn to the legacy of one Louis Armstrong. Last weekend, I made the pilgrimage with my patient wife to the Pops home in Corona, to view what is now the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
Sat, 07/16/2016

Dahlquist DQ-12 loudspeaker Specifications

Fri, 07/15/2016

Dahlquist DQ-12 loudspeaker Measurements Redux

Fri, 07/15/2016

Dahlquist DQ-12 loudspeaker Thomas J. Norton

Fri, 07/15/2016