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Heard them on 2 seperate occasions in very different systems at RMAF and both times the SS-AR1's more than held their own against the other big dawgs especially in the Kimber room setup in a multi-channel system.
Cabinet construction is up there with the latest efforts as the cut away demo that was on display last year at RMAF clearly showed. For those interested, go to Google Images and type in Sony SS-AR1... plenty of images there.
I too was skeptical with the Sony name being attached to 27k speakers but that was quickly dashed upon listening.
Of course, anyone with pockets deep enough to spend 27k on speakers should carefully weigh all their options but the Sony SS-AR1 should'nt be ruled out without a serious consideration/listen.
I heard them in Ray Kimber's room with 4-channels driven by Pass X350.5 amps at RMAF 2010. On a male choral piece, it was the most convincingly real presentation I have ever heard. The room boundaries disappeared and I was in the church listening to those singers. Incredible.
I also heard them in a smaller room, but the system overwhelmed the dimensions of the room and it was less impressive. The cut-away cabinet sample showed real quality. IMO, these should be considered contenders in the $25K-$30K range.
Thanks for the feedback, guys. I really was shocked by these speakers. I really think they sounded better than the dynaudio temptations that cost 50% more and have a way bigger footprint. Its a bit
more than I wanted to spend, but I'm actually considering buying these speakers. (i'll just need to cover up the Sony logos). They really had no weakness that I could tell, detailed, dynamic, tight and powerful bass, and a huge soundstage. When I closed my eyes, I really could not tell where the speakers were located. Anyway, I'm eagerly awaiting the reviews in TAS and Stereophile.
Why would you need/want to cover up the Sony badge??? Sony makes some damn fine products that compete on all levels of the high end audio scene. The issue is that most people associate Sony Audio with mid-fi and judging from the Sony products sold in the big-box stores, they are dismissive when presented with one of their high end products such as the SS-AR1.
Me personally, I would want to proudly display the SS-AR1's and then sit back and enjoy as I watched the jaws of unsuspecting/dismissive listeners hit the floor as so many did at RMAF... :-)
It is funny, when I started reading this thread I was thinking that the best way to market these would be to create a sub-brand because Sony although probably one of the very most recognized brands is not known for high-end audio. I would find/create an eccentric engineer at Sony and come up with a story of how he had been secretly working on this design for years and then they caught him or he unveiled his creation on the executives and they were stunned at how amazing it was and they all had to have it in their own houses, so they decided to release it to the public.
Here is the result of his secret labor of love and genius - I present to you the Sony "Arinori"!
I was just kidding about hiding the Sony logo (I think). Apparently, Sony was considering giving the speakers a different name, but decided against it. I'm not familiar with it, but doesn't Pioneer have a fairly high-end
speaker under a different name?
I mean a Lexus is still made by Toyota, but would people really buy a $100k+ Toyota? I guess Toyota didn't think so, or else they wouldn't have called their high-end cars Lexus.
Personally, I just want to enjoy music as accurately and close to a live experience as possible on my system. At the end of the day, whatever brand of equipment that gets me there is fine. But, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have certain biases and pre-conceived expectations of products based on the company.
Sonys high end digital has always held up well against just about anything. Scd-1 for example. They also had the ssm3,7,9 speakers which were acclaimed by audiophiles. Ssm9 was on the cover of stereophile. Then they had ssm9ed which played in the real big leagues. They have also had some real killer amps in their time.
I would buy their products without hesitation.
I've owned the Sony SS M9ES and currently own the SS M9ED speakers.
Sony can build a reference speaker if they choose, which is evidenced by the SS M9ED.
I would jump on the SS-AR1 if I were you and had the chance. Kal's review was awesome.
Where cana you even hear the new SS-AR1? Aren't they producing a limited number of them for sale in the US as the did with the M9ED?
Apparently not all are ATC. A couple of years ago John Marks related the story in Stereophile of Sony going to the trouble of ordering Duntech Princesses from OZ for a NYC studio. Also the Sony SACD introduction I attended used the SS M9ED mentioned by Mr Bill. Now I must believe some of the SS-AR1s will show up in their studios.
Like Pioneer, Kenwood, and perhaps others, from time to time Sony has made attempts at the higher end in audio. And why not? They certainly should have the resources.
Rgs92, you picked a bad example with Duntech. They are still in business, albeit without a US importer (which I feel gave more weight to my Sony story). The person who bought my Duntechs just had a midrange driver fail and was able to get matched replacements directly from Duntech in Australia. That was for a now 21 year old speaker. And owners of Dunlavy Audio Labs should not have difficulties with replacements even though DAL is out of business since they utilized non-esoteric drivers.
Shadrone, no disrespect to ATC speakers. I was just pointing out that Sony does use other brands too. Also, no confusion with the All Terrain Carriage Company.
Rgs92, the (somewhat) quick history is that John Dunlavy started Duntech in Texas, I believe in the '80s, then moved to Australia in the mid-to late '80s. Most of their speakers were large and heavy so long-distance shipping was expensive. My Princesses were 180 pounds apiece and the Sovereigns weighed twice that. Sometime in the mid-'90s John returned to the US to set up production of a new Duntech model, mainly intended for the American market, thus reducing shipping costs to allow more competitive pricing. That model failed sales expectations but John remained in the US and started Dunlavy Audio Labs (DAL). The degree of his attachment to Duntech at that point was not made public. With DAL he introduce several similar models to the Duntech line and added an even larger top-of-the-line model. He continued to design and operate DAL until selling it shortly before his death. The new owner lasted less than a year before folding the company. Duntech Australia remains in business, selling world-wide but without a current US importer.
I brought up DAL because you are not the only one confused by the sibling brands.
Sorry onhwy61. Didn't mean to offend you with my audio ignorance. Nor did I think that my comments would be taken out of context by an audiophile policeman such as yourself.
Back to the discussion, James63. I wouldn't say the Sonys sounded better than the temptations, but they were extremely close in my opinion, given that the Temptations cost about 60% more and are a much larger speaker. I thought the Sonys just didn't have any weaknesses. The bass, was extremely tight and accurate. The midrange was beautifully detailed. The soundstage was amazing. With my eyes closed, I was unable to localize the speakers. After a short while, I just found myself enjoying the music, rather than listening critically for flaws. I'm not knocking the dyn Temptations, which are obviously a top notch speaker. Just thinking the Sony may be a better value to my ears.
Thanks for taking the time for that great history lesson Pryso. I appreciate it. Good stuff.
I only heard Dunlavys once and then I wondered why they weren't as big a name as Wilson. Great speaker. Amazing what can be done with old-technology cones & domes.
Actually, getting back to the thread, I think the Sony uses a traditional design.
For those who read the Stereophile review of the Sony SS-AR1, it is one power hungry speaker. As indicated, Kal Rubinson first used the Mac MC-303 300 watt per channel amp and had to leverage up to the 500 watt Bel Canto's Ref1000m too get the speakers to open up and sing. The Mac was not enough. Several phile's I have been in touch with who first heard them at the Newport show were floored, including Bijon, the owner of Definition Audio in Santa Monica. He is one of the six dealers in the states.
Same issue. He had to hook them up to Sim Mono blocks at 500 watts per side to perform their best. He mentioned that you would have to spend over $ 50K to better the Sony's, their that good. Be prepared to use muscle amps to drive these babie's. I have not heard them, but those I have spoke to who have, descibe them as very rich, with a warm full silky mid range and a killer bottom end that is tight and deep. The tweeter design is very unique, custom built by Scan Speak with six large button size magnets that are formed in a circle on the rear of the tweeter frame. The tweeter performance is anything but sterile or bright. It is the speaker I have decided to purchase when I move into my new home in several weeks. I will be using the Bel Canto Ref1000M's with the Luxman C-1000F Pre and the Luxman D-08 SACD player.
Thanks for your input Audiozen. I read the stereophile article, and as mentioned above heard them at David Lewis in Philly, and was pretty much blown away. They are at the top of my speaker list, but I'm also going to consider the Dynaudio C4s and Sasha Wilson. My amp is a Simaudio Evolution W8 that is rated a pretty conservative 250wpc, but after hearing how power hungry these babies are, I am a bit concerned. Anyway, my dealer has invited me to a semi-private demo for the Sony AR-1s with the speaker designer in attendance next month. He has also offered to allow me to demo them in my system so hopefully I'll know if they will work with my setup and amp. Congrats on your decision, and let us know how they sound!
I would recommend anyone evaluating these to listen to the ATC20s and ATC40s. They are much cheaper, and because they are actives, eliminates the need for electronics. The Sony speakers are impressive, but they also has $200k in electronics in the room powering them at the Show. They remind me of the ATC40s.
Active speakers such as the ATC's do present a problem. Your stuck with the amp that is built in. The ATC amps run very hot. If the amp has a problem and needs repair, you have no speaker. Kal Rubinson at Stereophile did not have $ 200K worth of gear to evaluate the Sony's. He got outstanding performance from the 500 watt per side Bel Canto Ref1000M mono blocks that are $6K a pair. With an active speaker amplifier there is limited space internally for a large power supply. Your better off using an outboard amplifier that gives you the choice to experiment and match which amp best suits your taste.
Disagree. ATC speakers are perfectly balanced and optimized, and you eliminate racks of gear and interconnects. They are bombproof and they stand behind their product, since they make the units. 1,000 studios would not rely on them if it was not the case, as there is hard costs for down time, with idle musicians and engineeering staff.
As for my $200k statement, that what was reported from the Show in Newport.
Bongofury..Your missing the point. Having known an ATC speaker dealer in New England for the past five years, he informed me that he has had them break down and had to repair them since they run hot and can't be pushed to hard or they will clip, but not often it happens. I use to own a pair of Paradigm Active 20's years ago. Had the same problem. They clipped on me several times and went into safety shutdown. Ran vey hot. Many speaker brands and cables are used in studios. Companies take advantage of that for marketing purposes. ATC makes great speakers. Accurate as hell but very neutral. The issue is not about cost but performance. Heck, if you want to eliminate racks and interconnects, go buy a big Bose radio.
Based on hearing SS-AR1 at a few shows as compared to my recollection of a demo of the $20K ATC active model with an ATC preamp set up by an ATC dealer, that ATC does not begin to approach the refinement of Sony. I also have trouble justifying that ATC on a price-adjusted basis relative to other speaker/amp combos to $20K. The ATC had a "pro sound" that isn't to my taste, but surely appeals to some studios. There is clearly a divided opinion on ATC.
For the record, as I stated in my first posting, I am very impressed with Sony's effort. They recreate music with beautiful nuance and clarity. I also want to state that their demo rig costed $230,000, so it better sound fantastic. I also agree that many different speakers are in use in studio environments. With that said, the top of the line ATC 150s cost around 60,000 and the majority of the music you probably listen to was mixed on them. May not be your cup of tea, but that is a sound endorsement.
It is true that ATC was the exclusive speaker used for the remaster of Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" in recent years, and has its place in 50% of Studio's globally. That also applies to Genelec, M&K, B&W, JBL. But ATC does have the Pro Monitor sound which can be very unforgiving with the wrong material. The Sony SS-AR1 is a true statement reference masterpiece which will bury the KEF 207.2's, the B&W 801's, the Magico V3 and the Wilson Sasha's. They don't stand a chance against the Sony's. As I stated earlier, I am days away buying the Sony's to coincide my moving into my new home. Sony has slated only 60 pairs for the U.S. market this year and sales have picked up due to the attention they have drawn during the past three months.
Sony's SS-M7 was proclaimed by Barry Willis as a Wilson Audio performance at Vandersteen prices, and I agree. Coincidentally the very woofers used were also used in the Watt/Puppy 5.1 and 7. Each driver was tamber matched for seamless sound. I have little doubt that Sony has done a good job here. Previously they used Peerless but now ScanSpeak perhaps as Peerless is no longer made in Denmark. All too often we judge by name, especially if it's Japanese. They also made the SS-M3 and SS-M9 along with the SS-M7, all highly praised for color musicality and ease of listening.
ATC speakers are fantastic, bar none. They can be too much for some people's gear, however, and are very honest and high resolution as a monitor should be. If there is something in there, you will hear it. They won't fit everyone's needs or preferences, and even less so everyone's rooms.
I responded on another thread regarding owner's of the SS-AR1's, but it was improper of me regarding my comments which are better suited on this thread. I heard the Sony's
in California in late summer and was extremely impressed.
It was the speaker I was going to purchase but that changed last month when I heard the Aerial Acoustics 7T's at Fred's Sound of Music in Portland, Oregon. There transparency, 3D imaging and hall effect and decay was superior to the Sony's which I couldn't believe coming from a pair of speakers that only cost $10K a pair. Sony uses stock tweeters and midrange drivers from Scan-Speak,
Aerial's tweeter is designed by their engineers and built by Scan-Speak. The tweeter has two massive magnets for its size and a long throw one inch voice coil which will handle much more power than the Scan-Speak D-3004/660000 tweeter thats in the Sony. The reason the Aerial has better transparency and imaging is due to their mid-range driver. Both Aerial and Wilson Audio use custom designed mid-range drives made by SB Acoustics in Wisconsin. SB Acoustic mid-range drivers
are superior to Scan-Speak's which is why the Wilson's and the Aerial 7T's have such remarkable transparency and clarity and great depth. The sound quality coming out of the Aerial's is what you here from speakers in the $30K to $40K range. For $10K a pair they are an outright steal and no speaker at there sell price can touch them.