In a sea of speakers, Sony products have often stood out. While others often worry about things beyond the calibre of music reproduction, this storied Japanese brand has a long legacy of providing excellent quality from its wide range of products. The Sony SRS-RA3000 is yet another Sony example of a sturdy, well-crafted product, ideal for use as a single-source speaker for streaming audio, podcasts, and life via its robust wireless capabilities.
With its listed capability of “360” audio, it even promises to compete with multi-speaker systems in creating a large soundstage. Does that add up, or is it hype that gets in the way of a solid sonic solution? Let’s find out.
Specifications of the Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker
- Size: 15.61cm x 24.77cm x 15.56cm
- Weight: 2.49 grams
- Wifi and Bluetooth wireless reception
- 5mm mini-jack input
- Google Assistant/Alexa support
- Chromecast and Spotify are directly compatible
- “360 Reality Audio” and Immersive Sound Enhancement settings
First impressions of the Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker
With so many speakers feeling cheap and plastic-y it’s heartwarming to find the Sony SRS-RA3000 feels robust and substantial. Weighing in at a reasonable 2.49g, the pill-shaped unit feels luxurious. Fabric wraps the sides, making it easy to carry, and the gold plastic grills hide the beam tweeter elements that broadcast high frequencies.
Within the unit is a metal cage that provides stability, as well as a down-firing woofer that provides a generous amount of bass from such a small package. On top there are touch-sensitive controls for power, volume up/down, track changes, and the various modes including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a 3.5mm analogue jack.
I say it in every review, but kudos to Sony for providing this old-school input, at it immediately helps future proof the system and allows the likes of vinyl users to get the most of the connection.
Connecting to the Sony SRS-RA3000
Recently I’ve had some headaches simply connecting to new devices, so it was satisfying that within seconds of removing the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker from the simple cardboard box I was up and running. Bluetooth connection was a breeze, and after downloading the Sony App I was able to quickly configure Google Assistant, connect via Tidal and other streaming services for playback of 360 enhanced audio, and broadcast from Spotify as easily as I can to my main Chromecast ecosystem.
Because the unit itself has built-in Wi-Fi it means I’m not tethered the way I would be for the much shorter Bluetooth range, making this an ideal party speaker. Add in the ability to pair with other speakers from Sony and you’ve got a very effective multi-room solution for those times you want to be blasting beats from every corner of your house.
Sound quality from the Sony SRS-RA3000
Sony Engineers have once again done an excellent job in wringing the most out of a relatively diminutive speaker. It delivers loud, clean sound in its regular playback mode without any major rattling or overt distortion. Everything from the thunderous bass of a Hans Zimmer soundtrack through to delicate strings of a Hayden concerto sounded rich and full.
Bypassing the wireless by using the analogue input illustrated that the speaker array was of good quality, and the built-in digital amplification was superior to many other implementations that falter on this front. The end result is that whatever you throw at it, from almost any genre, you’re likely to be pleased with the model’s performance.
360 Reality Audio: going beyond the hype
Emblazoned on the box is the 360 Reality Audio badge, indicating that this model supports the format that promises a virtual surround sound experience from a single speaker. Some streaming services such as Tidal or Amazon Prime allow you to playback specially mixed versions of a number of tracks. This ambition is called “ambient room-filling sound” and it can be delivered from one small speaker, giving you the feeling they’re no longer coming from a point source.
The end result could use a bit of improvement. First of all, my opinion of these reprocessed versions of 360 tracks is that they are pretty awful to listen to. They crank the treble to piercing levels and add enough compression and reverb to make even the most dense of mixes feel more bloated and fatiguing. There’s a mode on the Sony app titled “Immersive Sound Enhancement” that does the same trick from any track, and in some ways, I think this tweak sounds a bit better than the purposely redone 360 versions.
Either way, I preferred listening to regular tracks as I don’t think the 360 tracks added anything to the sound quality. In large, open-concept kitchens the 360 audio sounded pretty back, but in a sound-treated home theatre it was rough, with piercing high-end and muddy bass. For me, it never really created the audio illusion of immersion.
My advice? The solution is simple—deactivate the settings, listen to the original mixes, and enjoy the inherent qualities of this otherwise remarkable unit.
Placement of the Sony SRS-RA3000
Many people think of wireless speakers as synonymous with battery power or use outdoors, and the Sony SRS-RA3000 is decidedly an indoor breed. There is a certain level of moisture protection, but unless you’re plugging it in away from the splash zone I wouldn’t recommend placing this poolside. Still, the advantage of being fully powered means that when it’s time for that bass punch there’s quite a bit there, and I found the built-in antennas to have a considerable range over multiple floors.
Thanks to the way the tweeter grills are arrayed I found placing it on a countertop near a wall to get good results, but had almost the same level of quality when placed in the middle of a large room. As long as you disable all the silly surround processing, this is a perfect speaker for wherever you’re planning on doing some casual listening.
Final thoughts on the Sony SRS-RA3000
There’s so much to recommend about the Sony SRS-RA3000 for users that are simply looking for a rock solid wireless performer, so it would be a shame to focus on the easily defeatable surround modes.
Place this model on a kitchen counter, or get a bunch of them through the house, and you’ve got a fantastic platform for playback, with a rich tapestry of streaming options to choose from. Its functionality and connectivity is class leading, its construction is robust, and its capabilities as a standalone single speaker are commendable. While an Ethernet port would be another bonus, we may be getting greedy for wringing even more out of this fine speaker.
You can find your own Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker on Best Buy right now.