Sony releases smart speakers that immerse you in all-around sound
Sony offered a glimpse of its first 360-degree audio speakers back at the online-only CES 2021 expo in January, with two units based around the company's 360 Reality Audio spatial audio tech that's reported to create "ambient room-filling sound that immerses listeners in their favorite music." Now the SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 are up for pre-order.
The 360 Reality Audio spatial sound technology is kind of like Sony's own Dolby Atmos, aiming to envelop listeners in all around sound. "Introduced in 2019, Sony's 360 Reality Audio makes it possible for artists and creators to produce music by mapping sound sources such as vocals, chorus and instruments with positional information and placing them within a spherical space," reads Sony's press release.
There are currently around 4,000 songs available for listeners on sources like Tidal, Deezer and Amazon Music HD, from artists such as Alicia Keys, Megan Thee Stallion, Noah Cyrus, Zara Larsson, Paloma Faith and so on.
"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," said Sony's Mike Fasulo. "Today, we're pleased to introduce two new products in the 360 Reality Audio family, giving customers even more ways to experience music like never before, wherever they choose."
The SRS-RA5000 is the more capable of the pair, and has the look of a giant's electric shaver. It measures 9.2 x 12.9 x 8.8 in (235 x 329 x 225 mm) and tips the scales at 10.8 lb (4.9 kg), and features seven drivers in all – three 1.8-in upfiring speakers throw out sounds vertically, while three 1.8-in drivers in the middle take care of the horizontal, and a built-in 2.75-in subwoofer looks after the low end.
This model comes with Hi-Res Audio certification for better-than-CD-quality audio, and there's a button onboard to engage a detailed sound calibration adjustment so listeners get optimum performance whatever room it's placed in.
The 5.7 x 9.7 x 6.1-in (146 x 247 155-mm), 5.5-lb (2.5-kg) SRS-RA3000 features an omnidirectional diffuser that spreads output sounds from the full-range speaker and tweeter throughout the room, with bass duties performed by a dual passive radiator. Sound calibration on this model is undertaken automatically. And it is resistant to humidity, meaning that it can accompany your shower karaoke or help you get in the groove while you cook.
Both speakers have Wi-Fi on board, and are compatible with devices rocking Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for hands-free operation. They can also be controlled using a companion app from anywhere in the house, and come with Chromecast built in too.
Bluetooth is present and correct, and they can wirelessly connect with compatible Bravia TVs. And an auto volume feature normalizes output level on a track-by-track basis so that listeners don't get blown away by one song and struggle to pick out the detail in the next.
The RA5000 carries a price tag of US$699.99, while the RA3000 comes in at $299.99. They're up for pre-order now, with availability expected on April 6.