Sony SA-Z1 nearfield active speaker system Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Digital sources: Apple 27" iMac, 2017 model with 3.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 16GB RAM; Apple 15" MacBook Pro, 2017 model with 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB RAM; both running Roon 1.7 (build 667). Mytek Manhattan II D/A Converter; Arris SB8200 modem and Linksys MR8300 v 1.1 mesh router with HDPlex 200 linear power supply.
Loudspeakers/Amplification: Dragonfire Acoustics Mini Dragon DFA 2.1 desktop playback system with Mini Dragon Satellites (2), SB-8P subwoofer, MD-4 amplifier, and SHD. Dynaudio Focus 200XD wireless active speakers.
Cables: Digital: Nordost Valhalla 2 (USB) & Frey 2 USB C adapter & Odin 1 and Odin 2, Wireworld Platinum CAT8 (Ethernet). Interconnect: Nordost Odin 2. AC: Nordost Valhalla 1, Odin 1 & Odin 2.
Accessories: Tweak Geek Dark Matter Stealth power conditioner, Nordost QB8 and QV2 AC power accessories; Nordost Sort Kones, Grand Prix Apex footers; Wavelength USB to S/PDIF converter; Dynaudio/IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R55 speaker stands.—Jason Victor Serinus

Sony Electronics Inc.
16535 Via Esprillo
San Diego, CA 92127

jimtavegia's picture

I wish they would get creative about another under $1K SACD player. "If you build it, they will come."

JRT's picture

You can extract the DSD layer from SACDs and store that data on an inexpensive network attached server (Kal knows how to do this).

teched58's picture

JVS is very excited at the performance of these $8K desktop speakers, although he's clearly puzzled that Sony doesn't use power conditioners in their labs. (Fortunately, Mr. Carlsson doesn't disabuse him of the benefits of power cords and cables.)

Meanwhile, from deep in the recesses of the audiophile equivalent of the Federal Reserve, JA1 provides his perspective in plain language that's accessible to longtime readers of his valuable measurements:


Sony has an impressive pedigree in conventional loudspeaker design (footnote 3), so I was intrigued to see how a specialized design like the SA-Z1 would perform in the test lab.

stereophileuser2020's picture

What's the significance of that quote?

tonykaz's picture

... not made in JAPAN ?

Who is the intended customer for these things ?

Did SONY see a pair of Devialet Phantoms and decide to compete by making something in Malaysia selling at 2 to 4 times the price with a two year warrantee but no beautifully designed packaging?

The SONY Brand is no longer 2D4, besides these things are ugly. ( doncha think ? )

Will our wonderful whistler be keeping these Demo's for extended evaluations ?

Tony in Venice Florida

ps. frequency range : 10hz to 200khz ---- 200,000 hz -- wow, it's almost RF. is this a Class D rig with large heatsinks ?

JRT's picture

Some radio transmission frequencies can also get pretty low. The ITU designates "ELF, extremely low frequency" band of radio frequencies as 3_Hz to 30_Hz. While the low bandwidth forces slow transmission of information, the extremely low frequencies are capable of penetrating ground and sea water.

tonykaz's picture

Ok, thanks, I might've been attempting a bit of exaggeration concerning the propensity of Japanese to exaggerate dubious performance properties.

It might seem appropriate for an $8,000 Asian desktop device to have a bit more bragging rights than a modest Genelec Active 820 system costing about $1,000.

Thanks for writing back with a bit of science related to wave propagation, it's nice to know that proper Scientists read Stereophile too!

Tony in Venice Florida

Jack L's picture


Good question! Who really wants to drop $8,000 for a pair of desktop loudspeakers !?

Only some very few rich & famous would want to put those not-so-handsome
looking loudspeakers on their desks assuming they were sound crazy like some of us !

There are far smarter & less costly way to enjoy music on one's workdesk. Why $8,000 made-in-Malaysia Sony? Where would Sony stand on the really Hi-end audio wagon anyway ?

Jack l

tonykaz's picture

Thanks for writing back,

Who is the intended ? Maybe these things are designed for some industrial build application like the ceiling of a Bus or the interior of a small Corporate Jet.

It's puzzling !

Tony in Venice Florida

Long-time listener's picture

For anyone who would like a deep soundstage on their desktop at a lower price, I can enthusiastically recommend the Buchardt Audio S300 speaker. Provided you can accommodate its larger size, it's ideal. It has a very even off-axis response, which gives you a wide (and deep) sweet spot as you move around while working at your desk. I find its sound comparable to the Dynaudio Special 40. The Special 40 is slightly better at resolving midrange textural detail, but the Buchardt has a more even response (especially off-axis), and sounds a little more open, with equally good bass weight. I have no connection with Buchardt Audio; I just really enjoy these speakers whenever I listen.

jimtavegia's picture

I have certainly enjoyed my pair of 305's for way less money for years now.

Ortofan's picture

... have something completely different?

Start with a pair of LS3/5a-esque near-field monitors.
Take your pick from Graham, Harbeth, Spendor, Stirling, etc.

Add a tube-type integrated amp - the PrimaLuna EVO 100, for example.

Complete the system with a DAC, such as the Chord Qutest or the Schiit Yggdrasil.

For a similar total cost, have JVS see (and hear) how such a combo might measure up - in a manner of speaking.

Charles E Flynn's picture

I hope to see a review by John Atkinson of the KEF KC62 subwoofer used with the LS50 Metas. It would be interesting to see how this combination handles the bass on the Seattle Symphony's Also Sprach Zarathustra.

I would also like to see Mr. Serinus review this recording:

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

not by me. By the time I asked about reviewing it, it had already been claimed. So I chose other goodies. Stay tuned...


Charles E Flynn's picture

Thanks for the preview of coming attractions.

Jack L's picture

......... Also Sprach Zarathustra."quoted C E Flynn

Why should I spend $3,000 for these 3 KEFs minis to play Also Sprach on my workbench ASSUMING these minis could make miracles on tabletop environment.

For serious music performances as such, I would definitely play them properly on my audio rig - no less ! We should show some respect to its composer: Richard Strass !

I've 4 or 5 LPs on the Also Aprach title & the best 2 out of those are the DGG label: Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. Only one of these two sounds to my satisfaction: starting with some clean deep deep low crawling bass notes followed immediately by the CLEAN & powerful beating of the kettle drums !!!

An acid test of transient response of any sound system: clean low low crawling bass notes, IMMEDIATElY followed by CLEAN & forceful kettle drums beating of Also Aprach Zarathustra on LP.

Listening is believing

Jack L

stereophileuser2020's picture

if they weren't so boxy. Sony's industrial design is usually as good as Apple's, but these speakers are not in that vein.

JRT's picture

RAAL Requisite SR1a ribbon headspeakers and Schiit Jotunheim R amplifier (the set, $4.0k from Moon) in combination with an Okto Research Dac8 Pro (sub-$1.2k direct) and a pair of SVS SB16 Ultra powered subwoofers ($2.0k/each, $3.8k/pair, direct), and the alternative system comes in at a little under $8k. Everything mentioned has been reviewed here at Stereophile in the not too distant past (oldest being the subwoofer back in 2017).

The use of headphones or headspeakers avoids the myriad of issues with interference from reflections from objects on and near the desk and nearby room boundaries, as well as interference from diffraction around edges of those objects.

The RAAL ribbon headspeakers are at or near the top of the headphone game, the weaker aspects being lack of isolation and limited low frequency output. The lack of isolation is a problem that is also shared with loudspeaker setups. The limited low frequency output can be solved with use of subwoofers. The subwoofers could also be utilized to augment a loudspeaker setup, when not using headspeakers/headphones.

SVS SB16 Ultra is a low distortion powered sub capable of high volume velocity on wide bandwidth (for a sub) from a sealed alignment exhibiting much lower group delay relative to bass reflex, and includes significantly capable DSP.

If applying separate upstream DSP to the RAAL headspeakers, the subs could receive a separately processed or unprocessed stream through the Okto 8 channel DA converter while the Okto also provides a master multichannel volume control.

That leaves four channels on the Okto which could be utilized to feed another pair of power amplifiers and loudspeakers plus another different headphone amplifier and headphones. Or the four channels could be used to integrate a pair of small satellite monitors (eg. KEF LS50 Meta) with a pair of bespoke woofer bins (maybe talk to Lee Taylor or Jim Salk about what they can build for you) either some side firing midwoofers located behind the computer monitor if used with desktop monitor loudspeakers, or some woofers in bass bins used as floor stands for your stand mounted monitors setup elsewhere in the room.

The Okto multichannel DA converter with multichannel volume control, especially in combination with upstream DSP and/or external AD converters, enables much system flexibility.

Jack L's picture

....... with interference from reflections...." quoted JRT

Maybe so in theory. I don't experience such "interference from reflection" in my 700sq ft basement audio den withOUT any elaborated acoustic treatment at all !

So yr acoustics 'science' can't blind my critical ears !

BUT, headphones or headspeakers FAIL to deliver the same live 3-D spartial environment offered by any floor/stand loudspeaker. You may not worry about it but many live concert goers, like yours truly. do !

That's why I personally do not go for any headphone music !

You know why? Hint: this is the nature of our ears BOTH sharing the same soundwaves !

Listening is believing

Jack L