Sony 360 Reality Audio SRS-RA5000 & SRS-RA3000 Wireless Speakers Unveiled. Sony srs ra3000
Sony SRS-RA3000: Chromecast, Bluetooth and immersive sound
The Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker is a residential Wi-Fi model with a built-in Chromecast module and a Bluetooth receiver. This Sony wireless speaker allows you to enjoy all music streaming services such as Deezer, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music and Qobuz from any smartphone, tablet or computer connected to the same local network or via Bluetooth. It is also compatible with voice control from a speaker or audio device integrating Alexa or Google Assistant. However, it has no battery and therefore requires a power outlet to operate.
The main advantage of the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is its ability to deliver music in an omnidirectional way thanks to Immersive Audio Enhancement technology. Is this process effective and convincing? Sold for €349, can the Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless loudspeaker compete with its numerous competitors?
Sony SRS-RA3000: the brand
Founded in the spring of 1946, the Sony company was initially involved in repairing electronic equipment. It was during the 1950s that the company experienced strong growth by starting to produce a basic but essential electronic component: the transistor. The Japanese company then became increasingly influential and in 1955 marketed the first radio receiver using exclusively transistors.
At the forefront of innovation and often an initiator of new trends, Sony has been a driving force in the audiovisual and consumer electronics industry since its inception. Among its major inventions, the Walkman, which appeared in 1979, revolutionized our relationship with music and foreshadowed the success of the portable devices we know today. In 1981, Sony introduced the world’s first digital camera, the Mavica (Magnetic Video camera) and then the first camcorder in 1983 (the Betamovie, a portable camera in Betamax format). Sony is also at the origin of the Blu-ray disc which was launched in 2006.
Today, Sony is still a major player in the audio and video electronics market, both for professionals and the general public. For many years Sony has been a leader in the field of mobile and wireless products, with portable Bluetooth speakers, digital audio players and Bluetooth headphones in its catalog.
Its expertise also covers the television (OLED TVs, UHD 4K TVs and UHD 8K TVs) and projection (UHD 4K projectors, UST projectors and HD projectors) markets.
Sony SRS-RA3000: packaging accessories
Sony France lent us a demonstration model for this review, and it came in an unmarked white box. The box you receive when you purchase this speaker is the same size, but features visuals and the brand logo.
The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is wrapped in a synthetic film and carefully protected by two polystyrene wedges (one above and one underneath). A power cable is included, as well as a promo code to discover Tidal’s 360° Reality Audio offer.
Sony SRS-RA3000: presentation
Immersive ambient sound
The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker uses several technologies to deliver 360° sound throughout the room, regardless of its location. Its two vertical-beam tweeters produce sound waves that overlap to form an upward-facing sound wave. This technology fills the room with immersive ambient sound.
Unlike other omnidirectional speakers, the Sony SRS-RA3000’s midrange driver is directed upwards and topped by a diffuser, a sort of acoustic lens that disperses sound across 360°. Regardless of where the speaker is placed in the room, the music reaches the listener’s ears wherever they are, unaffected by furniture or any decor that may be an obstacle to the sound waves.
Lastly, to optimize the presence in the lows, the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker uses two elongated passive radiators placed on either side of the cabinet.
The specific configuration of the Sony SRS-RA3000 drivers is exploited by an algorithm developed by Sony to automatically adapt the sound to the environment in which the speaker is located. This algorithm uses a microphone located under the hole on the top of the speaker. By analyzing the sound in real time, the speaker’s DSP produces an immersive ambient sound perfectly adapted to the acoustics of the space.
This technology is not unlike the Sonos Auto Trueplay acoustic calibration technology found on the Sonos Move speaker, which automatically calibrates itself based on the music it is playing and its location.
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Chromecast
The Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker is equipped with a Bluetooth receiver to stream music directly from a compatible smartphone or computer without going through the local network. It can even be connected via Bluetooth with a TV to wirelessly stream movie soundtracks.
The Wi-Fi connectivity of this Sony speaker is put to good use by its built-in Chromecast, which allows you to stream music, web radios or podcasts from a smartphone, tablet or laptop. The speaker must first be registered via the Google Home app so that it can be used as an audio device. Once this is done, simply press the Cast button in your chosen audio playback app to enjoy your content on the speaker with optimal sound quality.
The Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker also has a mini-jack analog audio input that can be used to connect an audio source by cable (a wired DAP for example). Unfortunately, the USB port at the base of the speaker is only used for maintenance (product support) and therefore cannot be used to listen to music stored on a USB flash drive or to charge a smartphone.
Touch interface and application
The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker has a touch interface on its top panel that provides access to the main functions, such as turning the speaker on and off, putting it in standby mode, playback control (play/pause), volume control, selecting the analog input (mini-jack on the back of the speaker), selecting Bluetooth and activating immersive sound.
The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker can also be controlled using the Music Center application, provided that it is connected to the same local network as your smartphone. This app allows you to select the auxiliary input as an audio source, launch Deezer, Qobuz and Spotify directly, and access several settings.
The Sound tab allows you to access the equalizer (5 preset modes plus a customizable mode) and to activate or not the Immersive audio Enhancement mode as well as the automatic volume which adapts the sound volume of the audio tracks in order to put them all at the same level.
The Power Option tab is used to force the speaker to shut down after 15 minutes of inactivity. The Other Settings tab lets you activate the auto mode for Bluetooth or to impose SBC playback, but also allows you to activate the system sounds.
In the System tab, you can choose to activate or deactivate the network standby. When operational, this feature “wakes up” the speaker simply by starting playback from a device connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Otherwise, the speaker must first be manually taken out of standby mode before it can be used on the local network.
If you have a device with Google Assistant or Alexa built in, you can use it to control the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker vocally. Simply add it to your speaker group using the Google Home or Amazon Alexa app. You can then ask the Sony SRS-RA3000 to start playing music. You can even adjust the volume and switch audio tracks by voice.
Once the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is connected to the home’s internet modem and added to a group of wireless speakers via the Google Home or Amazon Alexa application, it is possible to play the same music in perfect sync on all the speakers or different music on each of them depending on the room in which it is located. However, it is not possible to pair two speakers together for stereo reproduction.
Sony SRS-RA3000: key specifications
- 2 x 0.6” tweeters
- 1 x 3” wideband driver
- 2 x 4 x 1.5” passive radiators
- 360 Reality Audio compatible
- DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine)
- Preset equalizer: OFF / BASS / EXCITED / BRIGHT / VOCAL
- Customized equalizer
- Automatic volume (ON/OFF)
- Automatic sound calibration
- Immersive Audio Enhancement
- Works with Google Assistant
- Works with Alexa
- Built-in Chromecast
- Spotify Connect
- Bluetooth: SBC, AAC
- Power consumption: 20W
- Power consumption (off mode): 0.5W
- Power consumption (network standby mode: 2.0W (Wi-Fi) / 2.0W (Bluetooth) / 2.0W (all terminals and networks connected)
- Standby mode: after 15 minutes (Wi-Fi) / 15 minutes (Bluetooth)
Sony SRS-RA3000: setup
The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is pretty simple to set up. Once it is plugged into a power outlet, simply turn it on and press and hold the Bluetooth button to start the pairing process with a smartphone or other player. Once the speaker is paired, you can immediately enjoy your music.
Connecting the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker to the router via Wi-Fi takes a little longer but is still very simple, even for those who are not familiar with new technologies. From the Google Home app, all you have to do is follow the instructions on the screen. The speaker is detected as soon as you open the app. You just have to click on “Configure Sony SRS-RA3000” to launch the procedure and validate the few steps of the configuration. You can specify in which room the speaker is located and give it a personalized name.
Once this is done, the speaker is operational and can be selected as an audio playback device from any music application (streaming, web radio, podcast) from a smartphone or tablet. In Qobuz or any other audio streaming app, simply tap the Chromecast icon at the top right of the screen and select the speaker from the list of available devices.
Review & Comparison: Sony SRS RA3000 RA5000: do they NEED to be this big??
The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker can also be used to cast music or the audio from a video from the Chrome browser of any computer connected to the same network. But there may be some image/sound lag with videos! For music videos, it’s not too distracting, but when streaming movies, it’s more problematic.
Once the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker was connected to our home’s modem, we were able to listen to the web radios and our playlists on Qobuz, Deezer and Spotify very easily, and were able to experiment with different areas in the house: in the living room in front of the sofa, in the kitchen, on a bookshelf…
Sony SRS-RA3000: listening impressions
The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker can be placed almost anywhere, provided that it is not at ground level, in which case the sound is rather flat and lacks fullness. But when placed on a piece of furniture or a shelf at a height between 1m and 1.60m, the result is quite impressive. Installed on our TV cabinet, the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker was able to effectively diffuse music in our living room, which opens onto the dining room and the kitchen (about 40m²).
When the Immersive Audio Enhancement mode is off, the sound remains quite centered around the speaker. When it is activated, the sound expands with more magnitude, both in width and height. However, don’t expect a reproduction comparable to a system consisting of two separate speakers. The stereo effects aren’t very pronounced, whether the immersive mode is activated or not.
This Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is not designed for stereo listening, but rather to offer a pleasant and balanced listening experience regardless of the speaker’s and the listener’s position in the room. The speaker does this very well, especially when it is placed on a piece of furniture and not too close to a wall. Placed on the TV cabinet in the living room or on the kitchen worktop, it distributed the sound extensively so that we could enjoy it without becoming frustrated when we moved around the room.
Unsurprisingly, when the speaker is placed on a shelf (bookshelf for example), the sound is more “centered” on the speaker but is still pleasant.
The sound delivered by the Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker is characterized by a V-shaped response curve. The presence in the upper lows was quite pronounced, from approximately 70Hz to 120Hz, and the low mids were more timid. We then noticed an accentuation in the upper mids and especially in the highs, which sometimes generated some sibilance depending on the tracks we listened to.
This character trait disappeared when we activated the immersive mode, which balances things a bit. The Sony speaker’s response curve can also be modified by using the equalizer in the app. The Bright and Excited modes should be avoided in our opinion as they accentuate the clarity of the speaker even more. The Bass mode improves the presence effectively without generating distortion as long as you don’t push the volume too high.
We were able to enjoy a slightly more balanced listening experience with our playlists by customizing the equalizer to move the slider up a bit in the 250Hz Band while moving it down in the 4kHz and 16kHz bands. However, the default emphasis on the upper midrange and high frequencies proved to be quite appreciable when listening to radio broadcasts, making the speakers’ voices clearer and more intelligible.
In terms of everyday comfort, the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is almost flawless. The Bluetooth pairing is fast and makes you forget the absence of NFC. The control app is easy to use and responsive. We only regret that the activation of immersive sound is not accessible directly from the home menu of the speaker. You have to go through the Settings/Sound menu to access it. However, it can be activated and deactivated directly from the speaker’s touch interface (music note icon).
The integration of Chromecast technology also significantly contributes to the ease of use of this speaker. Those who own several Google Cast-compatible speakers or audio devices will be able to manage them all from the Google Home app. In addition, Google Cast compatibility greatly simplifies wireless audio streaming from any streaming app, whether you’re using an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.
Sony SRS-RA3000: compared to…
Bose Home Speaker 500
The Bose Home Speaker 500 offers a generous response curve quite similar to that of the Sony SRS-RA3000, with an emphasis on the low frequencies, a slightly withdrawn midrange and clarity in the high frequencies. However, the sound of the Bose is less immersive and more centered around the speaker. That said, it has a nice color control screen to display album covers and other information.
The Braun LE03 impressed us with its balanced sound with a nice energy in the bass. It knows how to pack a punch when you turn up the volume, with almost no saturation. However, as it is intended for close-range listening, it can’t beat the Sony speaker when it comes to distributing the sound in large spaces. As a result, it is more suited for listening to music in the kitchen or the bedroom.
Denon Home 250
We were seduced by the Denon speaker’s ability to project music quite extensively throughout the room during our test, even though the stereo effects were not very pronounced. Its fairly balanced reproduction puts a slight emphasis on the midrange, with somewhat subdued high frequencies and more modest lows than the Sony model. The Denon Home 250 offers a softer listening experience overall.
The Sony SRS-RA3000 is far superior in terms of spatialization. Its tonal balance also offers more substance and energy in the lows.
Sony SRS-RA3000: who is it for?
The Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker is for anyone who wants to enjoy music and web radios with consistent sound quality no matter where the speaker is placed in the room. Simply put, it’s an easy-going speaker. You simply install it where you have room, launch a streaming service or a podcast and enjoy the experience. The sound remains audible and well articulated, with no directionality problems when you move around the room.
Sony SRS-RA3000: conclusion
Its ability to deliver immersive ambient sound is the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker’s main selling point. The manufacturer is not exaggerating: its Immersive Audio Enhancement technology is quite impressive and allows wide spatialization in rooms up to 25-30m² (at reasonable volume).
Ergonomics are also a serious advantage for this speaker, which is very easy to use on a daily basis, whether via Bluetooth or through the local network (Wi-Fi) to exploit the built-in Chromecast. Voice control is also a plus, whether you use Alexa or Google Assistant. As for its touch control interface, it proved to be very responsive, as did the Sony Music Center app.
The distinctive sound signature will appeal to fans of clear sound and energetic bass. Those who want something more neutral can correct the tonal balance using the equalizer present in the application.
What we liked
- The ease of use
- The omnidirectional sound
- The textured lows
- The control via Google Assistant
We would have liked
- A more balanced sound signature
- To have been able to create a stereo pair with two speakers
- A remote control
Sony 360 Reality Audio SRS-RA5000 SRS-RA3000 Wireless Speakers Unveiled
Get Sony 360 Reality Audio at home with Sony’s new wireless Smart speakers via music streamed from Amazon Music HD.
Sony has announced two table-top wireless speakers with a unique feature dubbed Sony 360 Reality Audio. The new spatial audio format is not your typical surround sound or an acoustic EQ approximation. It requires specially mastered music which maps vocals, chorus and instruments in a spherical space. Sony has been pushing this format since 2019, although it doesn’t seem to require Sony products to hear a difference. Music encoded as 360 Reality Audio can be heard through regular headphones. However, it seems enabling such audio effects through regular speakers requires a special design. That’s what makes Sony’s new speakers intriguing.
0 Reality Music
Although Sony 360 Reality Audio has a lot of potential, there are some limitations — mainly where to access the music and the amount of it. Previously users could only access 360 music through Sony’s app. As of today, Amazon Music HD will begin offering 360 Reality Audio tracks. TIDAL, nugs.net and Deezer are expected to follow by summer 2021. However, music selection is limited to about 4,000 songs from artists including Alicia Keys, Megan Thee Stallion, Noah Cyrus, Zara Larsson, Paloma Faith and more.
“360 Reality Audio has emerged as a powerful audio format for the industry, with the ability to virtually transport listeners to their favorite live venues and performances for a truly immersive experience.” Mike Fasulo, President and COO, Sony Electronics Inc.
Although you’ll pay a premium for Sony’s new SRS-RA3000 (299.99) and SRS-RA5000 (699.99) wireless speakers, it’s the latter that looks most interesting with its array of drivers. Both speakers offer 360 Reality Audio and Immersive Audio Enhancement technologies that fill a room with sound — both vertically and horizontally – to create a broad and wide sweet spot. With non-encoded 360 Reality tracks, each speaker is capable of what Sony calls Immersive Audio Enhancement. It’s a unique algorithm that transforms any two-channel stereo track to fill a room with sound to further enhance the listening experience.
The SRS-RA5000 features a trio of up-firing speakers that spread music vertically, while the three middle sited speakers spread sound horizontally. The speaker unit incorporates high-magnetism neodymium magnets and a mica reinforced cellular diaphragm that gives strength to the speaker while still maintaining a compact size. These are complemented by a subwoofer, which helps to flood the room with rich, deep bass. This speaker is also Hi-Res Audio certified.
Seamless Home Integration
The RA5000 and RA3000 both feature Sound Calibration that offers optimal sound performance wherever they are used. Simply hold the Immersive Audio Enhancement button on the RA5000 and it will conduct a detailed sound calibration adjustment for optimum audio performance for the room it is placed in. The RA3000 provides effortless auto adjustment, which takes place in the background while you are enjoying your favorite tracks. To activate the RA3000’s automatic recalibration, simply turn the speaker on wherever it is placed in the home and it will recalibrate itself to the new position.
Gone are the days of fiddling with the remote to create a consistent volume; the Auto Volume feature on both the RA5000 and RA3000 takes the stress out of finding the perfect volume for each track. The speaker adjusts the sound, track-by-track, to make the listening experience stress-free.
With a compact size and small footprint, the RA3000 fits just about anywhere. Since it’s humidity resistant (not waterproof) users can even enjoy the RA3000 in the kitchen and bathroom. Whether it’s used to enjoy some relaxing music in the bath or dance around the kitchen while cooking, the RA3000 is the perfect companion.
The SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 are compatible with Google Assistant-enabled devices with Chromecast built-in and Amazon Alexa enabled devices. Customers can now start or stop music, adjust the volume and other actions, all hands-free.
Control the speakers from anywhere in the house with the Sony | Music Center app on a smartphone, allowing users to customize various settings for a personalized listening experience.
The RA5000 and RA3000 also wirelessly connect to compatible Bravia TVs (requires Bluetooth A2DP support) to easily enhance the audio performance and make movie night even more exciting. Both speakers are Wi-Fi enabled, feature Bluetooth technology, have NFC, are compatible with Spotify Connect and have Chromecast built-in to easily pair the speaker with a smartphone or tablet.
Both products are expected to start shipping on April 7, 2021. Pre-orders are now being accepted.
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Sony SRS-RA3000 Review: Immersive audio with some hitches
The Sony SRS-RA3000 is a well-built, feature-laden wired speaker that offers a lot for its price. It even competes with Amazon Echo or Google Home speakers due to its ability to morph into a voice-controlled speaker when connected to a Smart speaker.
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020, Sony launched premium speakers with its 360 Reality Audio technology, differentiating them from what was already on the market. The company has now launched the Sony SRS-RA3000 and Sony SRS-RA5000, boasting of this technology, in India. The former is priced pretty competitively at Rs 19,990, seeing that the speaker is massive, comes equipped with 360 Reality Audio and Immersive Audio Enhancement, and tons of connectivity options. There’s no dearth of large, loud speakers on the market but what Sony does differently with these speakers is offer room-encompassing sound technology that attempts to fill the entire room with ambient sound by bouncing sound from the floor to the ceiling. Here’s how the speaker fared in our review.
Build and design
The Sony SRS-RA3000 has a rather imposing build being almost 10 inches tall and weighing a whopping 2.5kg. Nevertheless, this is a wired speaker and the company never really markets it as portable, so it’s something you would set up in one designated place in your home and forget about it. Even if you do move it, the speaker auto-calibrates itself to the dimensions of the room in order to fill the room with sound adequately. We didn’t really test this out in a bunch of different sized rooms, but the speaker easily filled a larger-than-standard-sized room with its sound. The speaker can also adjust volume automatically according to the track that’s playing, to ensure that it’s not too loud or quiet.
The Sony SRS-RA3000 is pretty classy and elegant to look at. It comes with a fabric finish that contrasts against the copper-coloured grilles. The fabric finish, however, ends up being quite a dust magnet. The speaker is sturdy and stands firmly in place due to rubber grips at the bottom. Sony also claims that the speaker is humidity resistant but there’s no official IP rating attached to it, so we would advise against using it in the washroom or at a pool.
On the top of the speaker, you have a touch panel that houses the speaker’s controls. The buttons allow you to pause/play music, increase or decrease volume, power on or off the speaker, connect via Bluetooth, Audio In (AUX input), and Wi-Fi. There’s also an Immersive Audio Enhancement button that changes the sound profile of the speaker significantly and fires music from the floor to the ceiling to provide a more immersive sonic experience. At the back of the speaker, you have an Audio In jack and a power jack.
There are three ways to connect and play back music from the speaker. You can connect the speaker to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, use a Wi-Fi connection to stream music since the speaker comes with Chromecast built-in or you could simply connect the speaker via an AUX cable. Alternatively, you can even connect the SRS-RA3000 to a compatible Sony Bravia TV via Bluetooth.
As we mentioned above, the Sony SRS-RA3000 has auto calibration and auto volume adjustment capabilities that come in pretty handy. Apart from these, the speaker also comes packing Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology that can play supported tracks by incorporating three-dimensional sound location data to deliver room-filling, immersive audio. Unfortunately, there is only one 360 Reality Audio platform available as of now, and it’s paid, so many users may not use it. If you still want to try it, there’s a 30-day free trial you can avail to try nugs.net, the streaming app that houses a few 360 Reality Audio tracks. It’s a shame there aren’t more options at the moment, since 360 Reality Audio is a big selling feature of the speaker.
Nevertheless, Sony has also incorporated Immersive Audio Enhancement technology that turns regular stereo tracks into ambient room-encapsulating sound. We found there to be a marked difference between regular stereo audio and Immersive Audio Enhancement, which we will discuss in the Performance section below.
While the Sony SRS-RA3000 is not a Smart speaker by itself, the device can be set up alongside an Echo or Google Nest device to give it some Smart brains. This will allow users to control the speaker with their voice. Additionally, the speakers can also be set up via Google Home to connect to a Spotify account and play music directly without using a smartphone.
There’s also Sony’s Music Center accompanying app that allows users to tweak EQ settings and configure Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. Lastly, using the Google Home app, one can pair multiple Sony SRS-RA3000 speakers together and play different songs in different rooms, or even play the same track throughout your house where the speakers are placed.
Sony SRS-RA5000 Vs. SRS-RA3000 | Sound Test
When it comes to hardware, the Sony SRS-RA3000 packs two 17mm tweeters alongside a full-range 80mm speaker and two passive radiators. The speaker supports SBC and AAC audio codecs. We primarily tested the speaker in normal stereo mode and Immersive Audio Enhancement Mode. We did try 360 Reality Audio and the results were pretty impressive, with the soundstage being full and dynamic, however, since not many users will get to use this service since the only option at the moment is paid, we will be concentrating on the above two modes.
Firstly, with Immersive Audio Enhancement Mode, we found the performance to be slightly polarising. The speaker certainly emits room-filling audio with a wide soundscape, but the bass does get boomy, especially at higher volumes. Also, there’s a certain lack of clarity in comparison to regular stereo listening. The bloated bass was slightly problematic in tracks that were already bass-heavy with there being a constant floor-shaking, boomy bass response that wasn’t pleasant to the ear. Nevertheless, this mode is certainly more immersive and almost makes you feel like you’re in a concert or a movie theatre. It definitely makes more sense to use Immersive Enhancement Audio when you are watching TV series and movies rather than listening to music since the bloated bass and cramped details can hamper the listening experience slightly.
In the regular stereo setting, the speaker delivers clean, crisp vocals, well-rounded bass response, and pleasant highs. Listening to Hi-Fi music on nugs.net, we found the soundstage to be more open and the details were even more prominent. The sound quality in this mode was quite delightful irrespective of the genre of music we played. The bass response is still slightly dominating, but it is much tamer and allows the other frequencies to flourish.
Priced at Rs 19,990, the Sony SRS-RA3000 is a powerful package that comes equipped with a plethora of features and good sound. At this price, it allows users to experience a premium audio experience without breaking the bank. While 360 Reality Audio isn’t as usable due to the lack of apps supporting it, Immersive Audio Enhancement does the trick to provide users with encapsulating sound that fills even large rooms. However, the regular stereo setup provides slightly better details in the sound and better bass response. Overall, the Sony SRS-RA3000 is a well-built, feature-laden wired speaker that offers a lot for its price. It even competes with Amazon Echo or Google Home speakers due to its ability to morph into a voice-controlled speaker when connected to a Smart speaker
Sony SRS-RA3000 Key Specs, Price and Launch Date
Rs. 19990 BUY
- Playback Time
SRS RA5000 and 3000: Sony speaker review
Sony has released new wireless speakers. Dubbed SRS RA5000 and SRS RA3000, they hail from the same family. The catch is, they’re neither portable nor compatible with one another – but they do sound good on their own.
Before we jump straight into testing, let me introduce the speakers so you can get to know them a bit better. The product names SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 give you the impression that the speakers are similar. But they’re actually not. One of the speakers is round, while the other is triangular. One of them can do more than the other. There’s also a difference in price point. So far, that’s nothing out of the ordinary. The thing is, they’re not compatible, despite the fact they’re both Sony products. What it comes down to is that they’re two distinct speakers for different requirements. Full stop.
- Dimensions (W×H×D): 146 × 247 × 155 mm
- Weight: 2.5 kg
- Features: 1× full-range speaker, 2× passive radiators, 2× tweeters
- Streaming: Google Cast, Spotify Connect
- Audio ports: AUX in (3.5 mm)
- Wi-Fi standard: Wi-Fi 4/802.11n
- Dimensions (W×H×D): 235 × 329 × 225 mm
- Weight: 4.9 kg
- Features: 3× upfiring speakers, 3× mid-range speakers, 1× subwoofer
- Streaming: Google Cast, Spotify Connect
- Audio ports: AUX in (3.5 mm)
- Wi-Fi standard: Wi-Fi 4/802.11n
In terms of price, the SRS RA5000 is at the higher end of the scale. Compared with the Harman/Kardon Citation 300, which, while admittedly smaller, can do the same amount, the Sony speaker will set you back more. The smaller SRS RA3000, on the other hand, can keep up with the likes of the Sonos One speaker. And unlike the Sonos One, it’s Bluetooth-enabled.
Wireless but not portable
I assumed that both speakers were portable. «Wireless speaker» features prominently in Sony’s product description. The only thing is, when it says «wireless», it’s not referring to the power cable. The SRS RA5000 and 3000 don’t have a battery, which means they have to be powered by a cable from the mains. The «wireless» phrase that Sony’s trotting out is a bit deceiving. I wouldn’t want to carry the larger SRS RA5000 around anyway given it weighs almost 5 kg. If you’re looking for a portable speaker, you can stop reading here as this isn’t for you.
But what these speakers lack in portability, they make up for with other benefits.
0 Reality Audio and what it sounds like
360 Reality Audio delivers surround sound as though you’re right in the middle of a live concert. It’s a feature Sony is terribly proud of.
I tried it out recently in my home office and I can report that 360 Reality Audio is good. But it didn’t blow me away. Who’d have thought it? My living room didn’t morph into a live gig. What it did do was transmit the music to my ears so it seemed richer and reverberated more. I can see what Sony’s trying to do.
Interestingly, 360 Reality Audio isn’t available with Spotify or Apple Music. You can only use it with Tidal, Deezer or nugs.net. And you’ll need a paid premium account for all of those music streaming services. One thing to point out is that with every SRS speaker, you get a code that gives you a free six-month trial of one of those services.
I opted for Tidal and I’m only semi-satisfied with it. The issue being that your song choice is limited. Take my favourite music, for instance. Those tracks are underrepresented in the 360 selection. While it’s not as though Sony can do anything about that, I still find it a shame. I’d have expected more. On the plus side, it meant I discovered new tunes. Unsurprisingly, live tracks sound particularly good with the 360-degree technology that’s designed to make you think you’re listening to live music. I feel like I lose myself in the music a bit more. It rekindles that concert feeling we’ve been missing for over a year. But it doesn’t last long. The details in the sound are lacking. As are the nuances. And I notice the music only comes from one source.
The other sound
If you don’t want to limit your song choices, you can choose to just stream «normal» music. In both models, the highs sound sharp and piercing. While the mids are good, I find them cold compared to the sound from my Sono system. Both speakers feature a lot of bass, although this can also be reduced or cranked up to suit your taste.
I personally don’t find the sound that rich and full – but given the speaker’s construction, that’s not unexpected. When I do a side-by-side comparison of the Sonos One and the Sony, I’d have expected more from the latter. That explains why I listen to more podcasts than music on the 3000 SRS. And it’s perfect for that.
Moving on to the SRS RA5000, the sound is rich in all directions. You can tell sound calibration works well. No matter where I am in my living room, the sound is equally loud.
As I explained above, these speakers aren’t compatible with each other. While you can use Google Cast to play music on them simultaneously, I wouldn’t recommend it. The tone and quality of the sound on these two speakers are just too different. In any case, I’ve split them into Multiroom groups using Google Home. That way I can play the same music source in various rooms at the same time and control playback via the Google app rather than in the unwieldy Sony one.
In terms of outward appearance, both speakers look great. Having won the Red Dot design prize, the SRS RA5000 is even certifiably good-looking.
In terms of the SRS RA3000, the top of the speaker acts as a touch-sensitive surface with individual buttons. These are integrated into the top so they don’t protrude next to the touch surface. The RA3000 goes well with your furniture and can also be placed in the bathroom. Although it doesn’t come with IP certification, Sony claims that moisture doesn’t affect it.
As for the SRS RA5000, the button names are listed on the top of the speaker, but when it comes to actually pressing them, you have to do that on the side. The buttons protrude a bit, which makes the user experience more comfortable. Design-wise, the copper elements on the top of the speaker look fantastic. In fact, the shape of the whole product is aesthetically pleasing.
The large one only comes in black, while the small one is available in grey and black.
What’s a shame is the fact you need to keep the speaker next to a plug. I say this because Sony’s marketing photos suggest it can also go in the middle of your home – using electricity from the air or something. Of course, that’s not how these things work. So, if you’re not keen to have cables trailing across the room as a trip hazard, you need to put the speaker next to the wall. To be fair, that’s not so bad. After all, the wall reflects the sound well, which is advantageous for the sound quality.
To stand up, the RA5000 has three small legs on each of the three corners, while the power cord connects underneath the speaker. The RA3000, on the other hand, stands on its own base, where it features a small cut-out for the cable.
Connection: sometimes faltering
To connect wirelessly to a music service, you can use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. That’s an instance where these speakers really are wireless and live up to their description. You can also use Chromecast and Spotify Connect to play music through the speakers. If the power cable doesn’t do the job, it also comes with a 3.5 mm AUX port.
My playback via Spotify Connect falters every now and then – usually when I skip a song or want to go back to the previous track. That’s when both speakers react with a certain lag. There’s even a big delay in the volume adjustment. Sometimes Spotify completely loses the connection, which means my neighbours get treated to my music blasted at full volume on a Sunday morning before I manage to re-establish the connection a minute later and turn the volume down.
The speakers have their own app: Sony Music Center. You can find it here for Android and here for iOS. The app is only slightly remiss, as it keeps faltering. What’s more, the app isn’t particularly user-friendly, with a lot of features being hidden or arranged in an illogical way.
Conversely, the Bluetooth connection is very quick, easy and reliable. The only snag is the sound quality isn’t the best. That’s because in this set-up, audio is only sent via SBC or AAC Bluetooth Codec. Bear in mind that 360 Reality Audio is only available on Wi-Fi, not via Bluetooth.
Verdict: cables, small issues and good sound
The SRS RA3000 and the SRS RA5000 are exciting speakers. They pack a punch, but they do also come with their own issues. You can’t class them as hi-fi speakers. But they make up for that with impressive design and diverse features, including Bluetooth, Multiroom, Spotify Connect, Google Cast and 360 Reality Audio.
What’s annoying is the fact Sony has a different definition of wireless to the rest of us. Especially in the case of the smaller speaker, which would be great if it was portable. The 360 Reality Audio feature is nice but not a must. Given the larger speaker is priced at the higher end of the scale, you expect it to almost be perfect. But it’s not. That’s why the smaller speaker is more worthwhile if you look at it from a price point of view.
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