The wireless speaker market has taken off in the last few years, with more new wireless speakers all the time in every price range. Not to be outdone, Sony launched their SRS line of wireless speakers within the last year. At the top of this line is their SRS-X9 premium speaker. I was able to test one out and was very pleasantly surprised by what I found. It is much more attractive than most wireless speakers I’ve seen, has plenty of power, and is full of excellent features. A nice combination!
When I pulled this Sony speaker out of the box I just about dropped it because it was a lot heavier than it looks like it should be. It is a very solid unit, in the way it looks and how it feels! I immediately liked this speaker because of its’ attractive simplicity. It is a perfectly rectangular black box that has a very elegant look. A glass top with two tweeters pointing upwards, a metal screen in front with several midrange and bass speakers behind it, and a very solid resin case around the rest of it. Even the remote control is designed to match the speaker perfectly, with a similar rectangular shape and quality resin casing.
The controls also have a simple elegance to them. They are all touch controls located on the glass top. You can’t really see the controls until you need to use them, then they appear. As soon as you touch the glass anywhere the buttons light up so you can see exactly what you need to. When it is off there is a little red light by the on/off button, but other than that you cannot see the other touch screen buttons behind the glass. On top is also an NFC marker, which allows you to instantly connect to an NFC device. It made it really convenient to pair my Smartphone with the speaker, by just waving it over the NFC marker.
In order to improve the wireless range of the speaker, it has a small antenna that stores nicely right into the speaker. It pops up when you need it by folding it out of and swinging it up for better reception.
In the back of the speaker are various connections, most of which you likely won’t need to use very much because of all the wireless capabilities. After all, you can use your WiFi home network, Apple’s Airplay, or Bluetooth to wirelessly stream music or other content. Nevertheless, it has an Ethernet port, a couple of USB ports, and an audio-in port. These ports can be used to play content from a flash drive or other USB compatible device. I found the wireless options gave me so much content to play through all my regular devices (Smartphone, computer, and tablet), plus it comes with a free Sony app that can stream a ton of content.
The Sony app called Song Pal is available for both IOS and Android, which I found to be a pretty good app. It has some simple menus that allow you to first select your music source, and then play your content from that source. If you have a music server on your home network you can use it to play directly to your Sony speaker. I particularly liked the “TuneIn” music source, because it would allow me to stream music directly from the Internet and search by pretty well anything I wanted: genre, location, talk, sports, radio station, etc. I could store favourites, so if I liked something I could easily find it there. The location search was by continent—all seven (including Antarctica) were available.
Once I hefted this solid speaker unit out of the box, setup was extremely easy and worked without a hitch. Plug the power cord in, download the Song Pal app, and then connect to the speaker using Bluetooth. Since my phone is an NFC device all I had to do was wave it across the top of the speaker and it was connected, but if you don’t have an NFC device pairing is as simple as hitting the pairing button on the speaker and making sure Bluetooth is turned on your phone.
Once I was connected, the Song Pal app led me through connecting it to my WiFi network. That was it! Took a few minutes and I could now stream content from any of my devices using their easy-to-use app.
The sound is where this fairly small speaker unit is impressive. Considering how reasonably compact it is, the sound was extremely rich and much bigger than it looks like it should. The bass in my mind was just right—not too much but enough to really provide the full sound that a proper bass does. There are quite a few solid speakers jammed into this wireless speaker unit, which is why it sounds so good. I removed the metal screen on the front to see what was inside and was surprised at all the speakers. There are 7 in total, including the two on top.
Sony has done an excellent job in making this a high fidelity wireless speaker box. It has an amazing 154 watts with 8 separate digital amplifiers built-in. No wonder it is so heavy! The electronics are engineered to provide high-res audio quality, and in fact it can upscale some of your poorer quality recordings to near high-res quality. If you are looking for a compact wireless speaker that sounds extremely good, the Sony SRS-X9 is a good choice.
I have already talked about most of the SRS-X9’s best features, enormous wireless flexibility and great sound, but there are a few others worth mentioning. For instance, although I like the wireless capabilities, when my phone or tablet is running low on power I can plug it in the USB port and continue streaming music while it charges up. Another feature I liked is when a software update is available for the speaker, the control panel has a box that turns red letting you know it is time to download the update. Handy!
It plays a variety of formats: MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, AAC, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, and DSD. The unit is DLNA compatible as well, so the variety of content to play should not be an issue.
The Sony SRS-X9 Wireless Speaker is a higher-end speaker that will cost a bit more than most wireless speakers, but you get what you pay for. This unit looks good, sounds great, and is extremely easy to use. It provides all the flexibility you want in a wireless speaker, as it will wirelessly connect to just about any other wireless device. In my opinion, Sony has a definite winner of a product here.