Sony SS-NA5ES Speaker System Test Bench

Test Bench

Satellite Sensitivity: 87 dB from 500 Hz to 2 kHz

Center Sensitivity: 89 dB from 500 Hz to 2 kHz


This graph shows the quasi-anechoic (employing close-miking of all woofers) frequency response of the SS-NA5ES satellites (purple trace), SA-NA9ES subwoofer (blue trace), and SS-NA8ES center channel (green trace). All passive loudspeakers were measured with grilles at a distance of 1 meter with a 2.83-volt input and scaled for display purposes.

The SA-NA5ES’s listening-window response (a five-point average of axial and +/–15-degree horizontal and vertical responses) measures +2.12/–3.84 decibels from 200 hertz to 10 kilohertz. The –3dB point is at 49 Hz, and the –6dB point is at 45 Hz. Impedance reaches a minimum of 4.24 ohms at 208 Hz and a phase angle of –59.60 degrees at 98 Hz.

The SS-NA8ES’s listening-window response measures +2.76/–2.39 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. An average of axial and +/–15-degree horizontal responses measures +2.98/–4.20 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The –3dB point is at 48 Hz, and the –6dB point is at 39 Hz. Impedance reaches a minimum of 4.04 ohms at 203 Hz and a phase angle of –57.11 degrees at 98 Hz. The SA-NA9ES’s close-miked response in Passive Radiator mode, normalized to the level at 80 Hz, indicates that the lower –3dB point is at 27 Hz and the –6dB point is at 25 Hz. The upper –3dB point is at 158 Hz with the Cut Off Freq control set to maximum. —MJP

Sony Electronics
(877) 865-SONY

CW's picture

The Sony speakers reviewed in this article are not the most efficient speakers and probably have not reached its full potential based on the reference components used by the reviewer. It is also unlikely that anyone who is willing to spend $19,000 on a set of speakers will be pairing the speakers with an $1,100 receiver. If the reviewer does not own suitable matching reference components it may be best if some else in the Sound & Vision staff write the review. Writing a review with inappropriate reference components does not do justice to the speakers or more importantly, the reader. 

While not doubting the speakers deserve a top pick recommendation, what point of reference does the reviewer base his recommendation on? Similarly priced or category of speakers are not mentioned in the article. I appreciate the several paragraphs describing different types of audio played through the speakers, it may be more usefully to the reader to include a paragraph comparing the Sony speakers to other speakers. Otherwise the review may come off as more of a advertisement then any form of critical buying advise.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
The SS-NA5ES has a rated sensitivity of 86dB, well within reach of my reference receiver. The reason I use the same amp to review everything is to have a stable frame of reference so that I am certain of how the product sounds relative to other products.
CW's picture

Yes, the speakers are rated at 86 dB but with an independence of 4 ohms. Do you think your receiver is capable of obtaining the full potential of the Sony ES speakers? In a professional review the full capabilities of a speaker should be explained. If the Pioneer receiver is capable of obtaining the speakers full potential then please disregard my comments.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
The receiver had no trouble powering the speakers. It did not clip noticeably. Nor did it have to run anywhere near the top of its volume range. If the receiver had not been capable of powering the speakers, I would not have proceeded with the review. In general, if my reference receiver could not handle challenging loads, I would find myself a new reference receiver.

When I visited Sony in Japan recently, I had an opportunity to meet with Takashi Kanai, who designs Sony receivers. He developed the Sony STR-DN1040 (and predecessors) using B&W Matrix 801 speakers as his longtime reference. He gave us a demo which was quite convincing: the receiver dominated the speakers handily. The speakers cost thousands more than the $599 receiver, but in practice, price differential is not a reliable predictor of whether two products will work well together. I have spent much of my career combating this misperception. What matters is how the two products interact, not how much they cost.

CW's picture

Thank you Mark. I appreciate your honesty regarding cost and its relationship to sound quality.

javanp's picture

"The reason I use the same amp to review everything is to have a stable frame of reference so that I am certain of how the product sounds relative to other products." Frankly I take more of an issue of Sony speakers being priced so high (why on earth would anybody consider Sony over Triad or Dynaudio is beyond me) than using an $1,100 receiver to drive them; that being said, it would be nice to know how they perform with higher-end gear that is more suited to their potential... assuming the Sony speakers have any, that is. However, on to the main point--I'm not sure if you guys are acutely aware of this (if you are, I'm sure there's a reason you all don't do this) but it's actually really hard to gain an idea of how the majority of the items reviewed compare with other products. YOU may know how the Sony speakers here compare with other $20,000 speakers, but we, the reader, don't. Nor do we know how they compare to $5,000 speakers.

To date, the only audio review entity I've known to give a reliable, well-rounded, and informative insight into what each product is like and how it compares to its peers is Stereophile. Unfortunately for us home theater folk, they pretty much stick to two-channel audio. Seeing as how that's a sister publication of yours, I don't see why adopting similar methods of review would be prevented.

Typically when I'm trying to get a feel for a system, I have to go through several different reviews to get the whole picture. There are many facets to how a HT system performs that I want to know before taking the dive. Usually a review covers a few aspects, but almost never all of them (it flabbergasts me when a review of a home theater system leaves out timbre-matching between different types of speakers and how well the speakers work together to make a cohesive soundfield--to be fair it was vaguely mentioned here and the front and rear speakers are identical, but imaging is still an important factor that could be elaborated upon.)

I imagine reviewers face the difficultly of choosing between sounding like a broken record, judging the same movie scenes over and over and over vs reviewing the system under new films and coming up with new ways to describe the same characteristics they've identified in numerous other speaker systems. Frankly though, I'd prefer the monotony if it meant getting a real feel for how the speakers compare to others you've reviewed. Just my two cents.

daylightdon's picture

I enjoyed your review Mark. I have listened to a lot of speakers in my day all the way from AR-2's, Bozak, Bose, to University 312's and more.....
Very few came into the classification of "I want to own them!"
Many years ago attending a "HI-FI" show in New York City with the owner of a "Hi Fi" store, I heard what sounded to me like live music coming from one of the rooms where a vendor/manufacturer was displaying its wares. I said "Hey, they have a live band in that room!" We entered to see the Audio Empire 9000M speakers. (Round or Octagonal with a marble top). Long story short; I purchased a set of those and was happy with them for many years.
About 2 decades ago I auditioned Definitive Technology BP-10 and 20's. My budget at the time would only allow for the BP-10's, which I owned up to the time I auditioned, (after reading the review in Home Theater magazine), the Golden Ear Triton 2's. A pair of the Triton 2's now proudly take up space in my living room.
Those Golden Ear speakers come as close to "Live" as I can afford.
I would love however to put my Triton's against the Sony speakers you have reviewed here in a double blind test. My thoughts based on over 50 years as an Audiophile are that the Triton's would win hands down/no contest!
Big sound from small speakers just does NOT happen.
Keep on reviewing!!!