A stylish wireless speaker with high-resolution audio support and excellent connectivity
Sony has been keen to promote high-resolution audio across its range of headphones, Walkman MP3 players and hi-fi audio systems, as well as its latest wireless speaker, the SRS-X9.
There’s no real definition of high-resolution audio, but most people accept that it’s digital audio recorded at a 24-bit bit depth and a sample rate of 192KHz. This is a higher resolution than CD audio, which is recorded at a 16-bit bit depth and 44.1KHz sample rate. The higher bit depth and sample rate of high-resolution audio means that more of the original sound is recorded than with CD audio, so voices, sound effects and musical instruments sound more natural.
One thing’s for sure, the Sony SRS-X9 is beautifully constructed and you’ll be more than happy to let it take centre stage in your living room. It has a minimalist, rectangular design and measures 430x133x125mm. It has a glossy glass top panel on which you’ll find touch controls.
While the SRS-X9 is undoubtedly attractive, it does attract fingerprints and dust. Sony provides a microfibre cloth to keep the speaker looking its best, but constantly wiping it down does become irritating.
The SRS-X9’s buttons are backlit, and let you switch between various input sources. The buttons are only illuminated when the speaker is powered on and you’ve triggered the proximity sensor. Otherwise, they fade to discreet black. This effect is incredibly elegant and is certain to impress your guests. The power and volume touch controls are located to the right of the unit.
The SRS-X9 has many connection options. You can connect to it wirelessly via Bluetooth, and if you have a compatible device you can even make use of the higher-quality aptX codec, or connect via Wi-Fi. You can also connect it to a network physically via Ethernet. Other connection ports include a 3.5mm auxiliary input and two USB ports, one type A and one type B.
Connecting a device to the SRS-X9 via Bluetooth is simply a matter of putting the SRS-X9 in pairing mode and search for it on your device. Alternatively, you can use the SRS-X9’s NFC feature to pair a compatible device by pressing it against the top of the SRS-X9.
Once connected to your network or device, you can stream music using Apple’s AirPlay, or from a DLNA server on your network. You can either use the Sony SongPal smartphone app to connect the SRS-X9 to your Wi-Fi network or use the WPS button if your router supports it.
The SongPal app is a useful way to stream music from your DLNA server, as well as a number of other sources such as flash drives connected to the USB-A port or music streaming services such as Spotify. You can also use SongPal to adjust the EQ settings of the SRS-X9 but we found the default flat setting the most pleasing.
The SRS-X9’s file format support is pretty good, and you can play FLAC, WMA and L PCM (WAV, AIFF) files at resoltuions up 24-bits and 192KHz, as well as MP3s. However, you will need to connect the SRS-X9 to a computer using its type B USB port, and a cable isn’t supplied.
You can also connect a high-resolution Sony Walkman, such as the NWZ-F886, to the SRS-X9 via the type B port, but this requires the use of a proprietary cable that’s sold separately.
The SRS-X9 has an impressive seven-speaker design that includes two passive radiators, two magnetic fluid drivers, a central woofer and two tweeters, with another two tweeters located on top. These combine to output 154W of sound and the SRS-X9 did not struggle to fill a large room with sound. You can even remove the front grille to expose the speakers, which look great.
The SRS-X9 has digital sound enhancement, and is designed to upscale compressed audio files, such as MP3s and AACs, to near high-resolution by restoring audio signals and high-frequency sounds. The SRS-X9 has a dynamic range of 45Hz to 40kHz and it performs well right across the range. We were impressed by the sound quality. Santana’s Samba Pa Ti sounded crisp and delightful, with the guitars really resonating and the song taking on an airy quality.
Our high-resolution Ulver test tracks also sounded as good as expected, with fantastic transparency and clarity. It was very easy to listen to the detailed sound of the SRS-X9 comfortably for long periods of time.
The Sony SRS-X9 is an excellent wireless speaker system with a wide array of connectivity options that can play nearly anything you throw at it. Its sound quality was impressive and its design is particularly attractive. We like the SongPal app, and the SRS-X9 is a wonderful object to behold and hear. It’s just a shame it doesn’t come with a USB cable that lets you connect it to your computer, as it seems a miserly omission given the price of the unit.
|RMS power output||154W|
|Audio inputs||3.5mm, USB-A, USB-B,|
|Wireless||Bluetooth (aptX), Wi-Fi|
|App support||iOS, Android|
|Price including VAT||£599.95|
|Warranty||One-year parts and labour|