Sony Debuts New Signature Series SA-Z1 Near-field Music System – RMAF 2019

Sony SA-Z1 near-field music system

Sony Electronics Inc. was debuting their latest addition to the heralded brand’s Signature Series of loudspeakers. The star of the show, the new SA-Z1 near-field powered speaker system.

The SA-Z1 (estimated $9,000 USD) speaker system is a self-powered hi-resolution near-field audio-delivery system for music, movies, and video gaming. The included inputs cover the gambit of digital: USB, Optical, along with a specific digital input designed to get the most out of Sony’s Walkman® and other Sony Signature Series DAPs.

Sony also included various ways to tailor the sound experience with “blend ratio of the digital and analogue amplifier”, “control of the assist woofer motion”, “cut-off frequency of the assist woofer”, “the ‘assist tweeter’ time alignment.” 

The acoustic design concept of SA-Z1 is that of an ideal point-source. The physical driver layout along with the time alignment, is how this point-source sound is achieved. Time alignment of the sound waves is handled by Sony’s unique algorithm on the FPGA processor. This precisely controls the timing of every driver unit’s output so that the leading edge of the sound waves align in real time. Unique to this system design is the Tsuzumi layout for the opposing dual-woofer alignment. Each speaker gets two woofers, one facing forward behind the I-ARRAY, the other loaded in reverse direction, surrounded by slot-ports. This type of back-to-back driver loading cancels out unwanted vibrations and eliminates unwanted distortions.

The active D. A. Hybrid Amplifier circuit type is of the Gallium Nitride (GaN) power semiconductor family of Class-D, while inherited technology from the TA-ZH1ES Signature Series headphone amplifier was built-upon to achieve other-worldly frequency extension and lower-than-low distortion figures for this design.

The cabinet is all-aluminum and assembled from six milled slabs of metal, all joined with unique damping systems in place, to isolate not only drivers from unwanted vibrations and resonances, but also amplifier and control circuit boards.

How’s it all sound? Firstly the frequency range and tonal balance is distinctly dynamic and rich for small speakers. Bass is powerful and large in scale, the I-ARRAY (three-tweeter-array) play smooth treble frequencies with lots of detail retrieval and without being overbearing or bright in color. The soundstaging here with the new SA-Z1’s is where things get crazy good. Landscapes of sound are deeper than the walls of the next room over, and stretch as wide as the neck can turn. With side-to-side sounds nearly breaching the 180-degree mark.

Imaging in the center stage of the speakers is precise, foreground present, and balanced against the background. Amplifier noise and cabinet distortion are non-existent. Trust me, I looked hard for both during and in-between songs. The remote intuitive, a breeze to use, and a classic Sony design.

Sony Walkman 40th Anniversary

Also on display was a “Sony Listening Lounge” that included a lot of the existing and NEW Sony DAP’s, headphone amps, and IEM’s.

Just announced at RMAF 2019 were two new DAPs which feature USB type C, MicroSD, Android operation, Wi-Fi capability, 3.5mm and balanced headphone outs. Along with a few cool cassette tape screensavers to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Walkman. 

by Eric Franklin Shook

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