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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 20, 2016 2 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
CI focus, including eight-port Ethernet hub
9.1 channels for 5.1.4/7.1.2 surround
Redesigned setup mic
Minus
No Bluetooth, AirPlay, Wi-Fi, or DLNA

THE VERDICT
The Sony STR-ZA5000ES combines a hard-kicking amp with custom-install-friendly features.

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “Silver Blaze,” from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the great detective has this conversation with a police inspector, who speaks first:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Just as the dog that didn’t bark enabled Holmes to identify a killer, the features that the Sony STR-ZA5000ES doesn’t have are clues to its identity. This $2,800 receiver doesn’t have Bluetooth, AirPlay, Wi-Fi, or any other wireless connectivity or network audio option—not even DLNA to work with its Ethernet jacks.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
Two Sony events two days in a row told two radically different stories about what you might want in an amplifier. In Monday's press-day event, news of the STR-DN1050 surround receiver arrived in a single run-on sentence that also referred to several other products. Wish we knew more; ship date and price were unavailable. But Sony has been on a roll with its receivers and we hope to get this one in for review ASAP. Afterward we jumped onto the stage and disrupted someone's video shot just long enough to grab a pic. In a special event Tuesday, reporters were treated to the extraordinary story of how amplifier genius Nelson Pass resurrected the VFET, a nearly forgotten 40-year-old Sony technology, and built a couple dozen pairs of them into a 250-watt mono-block design which he promptly turned over to Sony as an apparent gesture of audiophile love and respect, probably mixed with a healthy practicality. Again, marketing details were scanty, but that does not diminish the story's cool factor. As a kicker, we were also told that our long-awaited sample of the HAP-S1 high-resolution DAC-amp will soon arrive. It's been an eventful couple of days!
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 23, 2007 0 comments
Sony will offer replacements for 20 defective glitch-prone DVD titles. The cause of the defect is yet another digital rights management scheme that's gone wacky.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 29, 2010 0 comments
Sony is taking the wraps off a streaming music service called Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity.

The new service will operate via subscription, like Rhapsody, versus download, like iTunes. It will enable owners Sony TVs, Blu-ray players, HTiBs, and PS3 gaming consoles to enjoy a catalogue of six million songs. Eventually it will also cover Android phones, Sony portable devices, and other things.

While the service is making its debut in the U.K. and Ireland, it will expand in 2011 to the U.S. and other countries. Pricing will be four euros a month (about $5) for basic service and 10 euros a month ($13) for premium service. The latter lets you hear every song on demand, create personal playlists, and access the premium Top 100 channels.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 09, 2010 0 comments
The Sony SS-AR1 has been around since 2006 but we didn't notice it till this show. The three-way, four-driver floorstander features a chambered enclosure with a baffle of Hokkaido-grown maple and side panels of Finnish birch, both of which the designers prize for their "generous reverberation." Drivers include aluminum woofers, sliced-paper midrange, and a tweeter backed with six concentric neodymium magnets. Pricing in mid to high four figures. This is the kind of thing a big manufacturer will do just to prove it can. But don't scoff. We've reviewed other Sony SS-series speakers in the distant past and they were, in fact, superbly musical.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 08, 2007 1 comments
The Sony Vaio WA1 Wireless Music Streamer ($350, availability TBA) looks like a boombox. A real smart boombox. It streams music from a PC via wireless home network or wireless P2P connection. Compatible file formats include MP3, AAC, unprotected WMA, and Sony's own massively popular ATRAC codec.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 08, 2007 1 comments
The HD-capable Bravia Internet Video Link (pricing and availability TBA "within the next few months") will bring free a/v content to the majority of Sony's 2007 TV line, starting with Bravia LCDs. It is intertwined with content partnerships involving AOL, Yahoo, and of course Sony's own music and motion picture divisions.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 23, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Built-in noise cancellation for supplied earbuds
Selectable DSD rolloff filter
Up to 70 hours per charge
Minus
No MQA
Challenging headphones will need more power

THE VERDICT
The Sony Walkman NW-ZX100HN delivers beautifully balanced and transparent sound in a not-too-bulky form factor with excellent ergonomics and the unique plus of built-in noise cancellation, but only for its proprietary earbuds.

With the iPod classic gone, smartphones in almost universal use, and streams elbowing out downloads, is the dedicated music player obsolete? Or could it possibly be a retro survivor that mocks its replacement, the way the resurging turntable mocks the CD player? With emerging specialists like Astell & Kern, FiiO, and Questyle being joined in the market by old-school manufacturers like Onkyo and Sony, there seems to be growing interest in building high-quality players that do a better job of delivering highresolution audio than a phone does.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 03, 2015 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Deluxe build quality and beautiful design
Plays DSD and files up to 192/24
128 GB plus microSD slot
Minus
Heavy
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Sony’s top-of-the-line Walkman music player is comfortingly overbuilt, loaded with bells and whistles. And it sounds fantastic.

The new top-of-the-line Sony Walkman is not the smallest or lightest dedicated music player out there. But is smaller always better? The smallest music player in my possession is the sixth-generation iPod nano. The tiny touchscreen device has about the footprint of a postage stamp, but that doesn’t make it easier to use. There’s not much room for a fingertip to move. For the seventh and final generation, Apple moved to a larger form factor, similar to early nanos except with the touchscreen replacing the clickwheel. Likewise, Sony went for an old-school nano-like form factor in its Walkman NWZ-A17. But that was a relatively lightweight device in more ways than one. For the top-drawer Walkman NW-ZX2, reviewed here, Sony decided on more substantial build quality—and more of it.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 08, 2013 0 comments
Lacking the high-end street cred of a boutique brand, Sony probably won't get much credit for producing the best sound of CES 2013 (at least so far) with its new ES speakers. The NA-2 tower ($10,000/pair), NA-5 monitor ($6000/pair), N-8 center ($3000), and matching sub ($4000) have the same Scandinavian-made multi-chambered birch cabinetry of the existing AR-1 and AR-2. Note the triple tweeter configuration, shown here on the center but present on all the new models. No, you're not seeing two super-tweeters flanking a tweeter, just three tweeters, though they're not the same size and are not all getting exactly the same frequencies (we'll have to get into the intricacies some other time). Fed by Pass amps and high-res sources including vinyl and DSD, the tower established an instant comfort zone with its super silky sweet top end, fatigue-free and convincing midrange, and controlled bass. In addition to today's press announcement at the Venetian, Sony is also showing the ES speakers in a 9.2-channel configuration at its gigantic booth in Central Hall.

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