Sony SRSX9 Review

Superb Sound With A High Price

It won´t get more convenient than a smooth wireless all-in-one speaker placed on a bookshelf or on a TV shelf. Compared to a larger hi-fi system, it is a delicious compromise. Though many of them unfortunately doesn't sound very good.

This is not the case with Sony. Therefore, they have stuffed their little SRS-X9 full of lavish components. It plays high-resolution audio and is heavy and sturdily built, given its compact dimensions.

​A woofer in the middle is helped by two passive drivers to give extra deep bass. Two midrange drivers are also in place, one on each side of the front. Above them sits so-called super tweeters, plus two super tweeters on the top to give a great spread of harmonics up to 45 kHz and thusly painting a huge soundscape.

​High Definition USB

​A USB digital input on the back decodes high-definition audio formats from PC or Mac up to 24 bit/192 kHz, and even Sony's DSD format.

​DSD

​In 1999 Sony launched the SACD format as a better alternative to CD. SACD discs had music stored in DSD format, and were rivals to DVD-Audio. But while DVD-Audio uses PCM technology that was closely related to the CD, but with higher resolution, SACD used Direct Stream Digital. It's utilizes a 1-bit signal with enormously high frequency (2.8 to 5.6 MHz). Many audiophiles prefer SACD over DVD-Audio. Nowadays you can buy and download music files in DSD format, and it's for such files the USB port on the SRS-X9 is intended.

​Basic Streaming

​If you want it wirelessly and simple, you can use bluetooth directly from your mobile phone or tablet device. The speaker supports both aptX and AAC for it to sound as good as possible. If you have an NFC-enabled phone, just hold it next to the speaker, linking the two together allowing the music to be played. As an alternative, it has AirPlay built in too, giving lossless music streaming from Apple devices and iTunes. For AirPlay to work, the SRS-X9 needs to be connected to the network, either wired or wirelessly via Wi-Fi.

Sony SRSX9 NFC

​Mobile App

​The Mobile app SongPal is needed to plug in the wireless network. It can also be used to play music from your mobile phone, and you can add both Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. But those services work whether you access them via SongPal or directly on your mobile and streams via Bluetooth or AirPlay. The only exception is Spotify, since SRS-X9 have Spotify Connect natively. It is activated by the app and Spotify is opened the regular way - so you think you're playing Spotify from your mobile phone, but in fact it is the speaker that plays music directly.

​Streaming music in CD quality via Wimp HiFi can be done either from the iPhone or iPad via AirPlay, or from a PC or Mac via the USB port.

​Ease Of Use?

The Sony SRS-X9 fits easily on a shelf and you will never be confused about what you’re doing. With a small remote control, select audio source and set the volume, easy and painless. The volume can also be set directly from the mobile phone or tablet device when used to stream audio from movies or music, but also stops the maximum volume a bit below what the speaker´s actually capable of. If you want to play even louder, you have to use the included remote control.

​Well Balanced Sound Image

​When I hooked up the speaker for the first time I wasn´t aware of its price. Around $500 I guessed in advance. And with that in mind, I was really impressed by the sound quality. The first thing that struck me was that there was no 'swag factor'. No hump in the bass which was trying to emphazise more bass out of the sound. No withdrawn midrange to emulate a more airy treble. Instead the music flowed openly and naturally from the speakers.

​For example, electronic pop music with a resolved and large soundscape with many layers of timbre and tonal colors. Voices emerges clearly, and the same applies to percussion and overtones of synth and guitar. Furthermore, there is a nice 'substance' in the bass, but it never becomes excessive.

​Saxophone is mellow and simultaneously delicate and airy. There is good momentum here - if you do not play too loud, then it sounds a bit flat. But staying within normal listening levels, it sounds both effortless, transparent and tidy.

Sony SRSX9 drivers

Deeper bass is achieved thanks to two passive radiators. Super Tweeters above the midrange drivers and also on the top gives an airier sound.

​Electro Alarm

The Swedish electro duo “The Knife” plays a rather messy electronic music, and the album ‘Shaking The Habitual‘ is using percussion extensively. While the Sony speaker probably felt more comfortable by recounting the more low-key Kashmir sounds, “The Knife” doesn’t sound bad at all. If you’re very fond of deep bass you will miss a subwoofer output, but SRS-X9 fare impressively well on its own. Sony specifies that it goes down to 45 Hz and I find that believable.

​Funky

Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories‘ is a really funky recording, with real drums, guitar and bass guitar that gives it an extra organic touch. The production is very well-made and in 24 bit/88 kHz resolution it sounds unusually large and airy. The little Sony speaker actually manages to produce a good dose of this, although it obviously does not provide an equally wide and deep soundstage as two separate speakers a couple of meters apart. Nevertheless, I think it’s nice to listen to.

Conclusion​

​SRS-X9 takes true hi-fi audio and scales it down to a smaller size, without immediately missing something. The most important is that it balances the sound as well as it does. I wrote that at first I thought it cost $500. For that price it would have been a good buy and gives any other iPod speaker a hard match. But now it costs ~$700. Now we´re suddenly talking about a lot more money.

​Altogether, Sony SRS-X9 is a very good speaker, with exquisite balance in the sound and more power than you´d think. A splendid compromise for anyone who does not want a speaker to take up a lot of space. You do sacrifice the deepest bass and a great stereo width. And some power and punch. SRS-X9 should perhaps have been cheaper, but if it had meant that one had to live without a few features or had a worse sound, we´d rather pay the extra few dollars.

GET IT ON eBay!

Sony SRS-X9 Hi Res Audio Wireless Bluetooth Speaker w/ NFC
  • Current Price: CAD $495.00
  • Ends: Mar 10, 2017 21:11:43 CET
  • FEATURES
  • SPecIFICATIONS
  • IN ThE bOX
  • High-Resolution Audio compatible

  • DSEE HX upscales your existing music to nearly High-Resolution-Audio quality

  • S-Master HX digital amplifier for pure sound quality

  • 7 speakers (2 magnetic fluid), 8 amplifiers

  • Easy Bluetooth® connectivity with NFC One-touch

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