Many audiophiles often mention the term “immersion” when experiencing speaker products. This seemingly mystical term is actually easy to understand. When a speaker product can accurately reproduce the sound, position, and other information in the music, it will make you feel like you are at a concert, recording studio, or music hall. This feeling is the immersion that the speaker brings you. In this post, the product we will review is the Sony SRS-RA5000 wireless speaker.
As the first 360° speaker product, Sony positions it as a “flagship” high-resolution Bluetooth speaker. A single speaker can create a fully immersive music experience with a surround sound atmosphere.
The Sony SRS-RA5000 is a flagship high-resolution Bluetooth speaker. In addition to supporting the decoding of high-quality music, it also features several exclusive audio technologies from Sony. It claims to be able to create a wide sound field, bringing a 360° immersive sound experience.
It is worth noting that it is not easy to achieve such an effect in a Bluetooth speaker with a limited volume. We have heard of many multi-channel surround sound systems, but this is the first time we have experienced an “immersive” single Bluetooth speaker, and we are very much looking forward to this trial to see what surprises it will bring.
Many people are likely to be attracted to the distinctive appearance of this speaker when they first see it. The three circular sound modules on top, combined with the concave waistline, really do look like a razor. The classic black and gold color scheme and streamlined design blend harmoniously into the home decor and almost go unnoticed.
Of course, the size of the speaker, measuring 235 x 329 x 225 mm and weighing 5 kg, also indicates that it was not designed to be portable.
Sony’s unique appearance is actually inspired by the design of home theater systems. By combining multiple speakers, the music flows out from around and above the speaker and is then optimized through sound calibration algorithms to achieve a surround sound effect.
In the field of home theaters, “immersive sound” is a topic that has been discussed for a long time. After all, from the original source recording to the layout of a home theater, it is basically based on Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D, and DTS:X, these three mainstream three-dimensional sound technologies.
This object-based 3D surround sound can provide users with more accurate sound positioning and a realistic experience. However, due to the limited popularity of traditional home theaters, some manufacturers of TV speakers, such as soundbars, use certain audio algorithms to create a multi-channel surround sound effect for highly integrated all-in-one speakers.
So, how does the Sony SRS-RA5000 achieve an “immersive” sound effect? In terms of the unit structure, it borrows from the design concept of home theater systems and has a total of 7 units built-in, 3 on top, 3 in the middle, and a 70mm downward-firing woofer unit on the bottom. The main purpose of these many speakers is one thing: immersion.
Combined with the sound field calibration technology (Sony Immersive Audio Enhancement) built into the speaker, the RA5000 can detect the structure, shape, and space of a room through the sound waves emitted by the built-in speakers and optimize the sound performance through algorithms.
It can then use algorithms to optimize the sound and create the best musical experience for the environment and location, and regardless of where you are, you will hear the same sound effect.
In order for the sound field above to spread in all directions vertically, the three full-range units on the top of the SRS-RA5000 are slightly tilted at 120°. The upward-firing unit is very common in home theater speakers, and through ceiling reflection and bouncing the sound back down, combined with Sony’s own audio algorithms, the horizontal speakers create a sound field effect and the vertical speakers give the sound field more powerful expression, ultimately achieving a multi-directional surround sound experience.
The Sony RA5000 speaker uses high-performance neodymium magnets and mica fiber diaphragms to reduce sound distortion. Sony has also equipped the RA5000 with an advanced version of its S-Master HX digital amplifier technology and the DSEE HX digital sound enhancement engine. The S-Master HX technology can support higher sample rates for music, while the DSEE HX engine enhances non-Hi-Res audio sources to a level close to Hi-Res.
These allow sound information to be digitally processed and improved upon. In practice, even ordinary stereo sound sources can be enhanced by digital technology to further improve the sense of spatial sound and make the details of the sound more complete.
The buttons on the Sony SRS-RA5000 are located on the top, with only three touch function buttons. From left to right, they correspond to the power/pairing, input source, and sound mode buttons. The machine supports a 3.5mm wired connection, can also be connected via Bluetooth (SBC, AAC), can play music over Wi-Fi, and can also quickly connect through NFC.
The accompanying Sony Music Center allows for basic operations such as adjusting the equalizer, speaker level, automatic volume, and standby functions. In terms of Bluetooth decoding, the Sony SRS-RA5000 supports the two common codes of AAC and SBC. If you are a high-quality sound demanding audiophile user, it is still recommended to connect via Wi-Fi or wire.
We listened to the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” and the opening sound of instruments, applause, and cheers all rang out at the same time, allowing us to truly feel the music rushing towards you from all sides. The sound field is wide and expansive without feeling oppressive, with the lead vocals, guitar, and drum beats all separated just right in the prelude.
Especially when the sound field calibration is turned on, even if you move your position, the sound will not be distorted, as if you were listening to a live performance in person.
In terms of sound resolution, we switched to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” The opening drum sound was very thick and powerful, and you could feel the vibration of the drum surface. The subsequent piano sound was clear and pleasant, and the sound was clear. In the middle of the vocal part, Taylor Swift’s rich voice was full of interpretation, but it did not appear too prominent or abrupt and did not confuse the accompaniment sound.
When we switched to Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” this speaker perfectly portrayed Beyoncé’s powerful voice. The output of the human voice at the beginning was stable and emotional, and the coloration still had Sony’s warm style, with a thick atmosphere. It is very energetic to listen to this type of pop song.
The Sony SRS-RA5000 is a speaker that has focus on pop music. The song “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day is a classic rock song and it performs exceptionally well on this speaker. The vocals by lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, are clear and bright, and the separation between his voice and the guitar is strong, creating a sense of depth.
The chorus is where the speaker really shines, with its strong and solid low frequencies bringing the atmosphere of the song to a climax and effectively conveying the emotion of the track.
The Sony SRS-RA5000 wireless speaker delivers excellent sound performance, with a surprising level of immersion. While its main selling point, 360° Reality Audio, for most people, it is a high-quality speaker that has the potential to deliver even more with time. Overall, the SRS-RA5000 is a compelling choice for anyone looking to upgrade their audio experience.