We finally had the opportunity to spend some time with this one. The Sony SRS-RA3000 is a wireless Bluetooth speaker that does more than just play sound. It turns up the experience by filling the room with immersive sound that can help bring what you’re listening to alive (depending on what you are listening to).
Its overall design offers something that would look like as though Google sat down with Sonos to develop something together. That, or someone took a typical 360-degree speaker and blew it up top be much larger. It looks nice enough to place anywhere without having to worry about it sticking out and comes in two color options–black with gold, or a two-tone gray (light and dark). It’s just less than 10-inches in height and around 6 inches in width.
Inside are two passive radiators, two beam tweeters, and one full-range speaker. All used to deliver the audio experience that it does.
All of the controls are located at the top with touch-sensitive buttons and you can also control the speaker via the Sony Music Center app, where you can also adjust EQ and more. It also supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa so that content can be controlled via voice command. You just have to have one of those devices handy as it doesn’t have a digital assistant built-in (which is too bad). This would have been great if it had one of the assistants built-in. The kind of finishing touch that could have made it a flagship device.
It automatically runs through a calibration when you first set it up (or move it to a new spot) so that it can properly match the environment you place it in and provide you with the best sound. It also has volume normalizing so that tracks don’t come at you at different volumes and surprise you. The auto-calibration feature kind of gets you excited and raises your expectations a bit.
Then it comes time to use it. Performance-wise, it does feel like a cross between a Google Home and a Sonos or Bose speaker. The highs are crisp and the lows are more than noticeable. Not bad coming from a one-speaker performance. Also, not bad coming from Sony since we haven’t always been a fan of their speaker design over the years (with the exception of the company’s headphone models which have usually performed quite well).
You wouldn’t be buying into this to use it as a Bluetooth speaker. It can function as one just fine, but the audio quality does take a noticeable hit when doing so. Instead, stick to using Wi-Fi to send audio to it. Use the app to control what music is playing or use your digital assistants to control it. Again, we are kind of disappointed that Sony didn’t build one of these assistants into it as this would have really brought the speaker to life in the realm of user-friendliness and versatility.
In order to get the “360 Reality Audio” to function, you do have to subscribe to a compatible HD service. This includes Tidal, Amazon Music HD, as well as a few others. Without this, you will notice a difference in performance and kind of puts a limitation on it as not everyone is going to want to subscribe to these services. This isn’t a feature that works with anything you throw at it. Therefore, Pandora and SiriusXM users (for example) will be left on the sidelines and forced to take the hit in what they experience.
There is a 3.5mm connection as well so that you can connect your wired devices to it. The experience runs within the realm of average in our experience, thus you’ll likely stick to using Wi-Fi for everything for convenience and selection, and one of the HD streaming services if you subscribe to one.
It isn’t waterproof or heavily resistant. This isn’t portable, so you won’t be taking it out into the rain or anything. So this is fine as it is, at least, “humidity resistant”. Which allows it to be placed in humid locations, like a bathroom.
Its MSRP is $299, although it can now be found for around $199, making it far more worth the price. It was released a little earlier in the year, so it can be easily be found at multiple Sony certified retailers.
It is an impressive-sounding speaker if you know how to use it. The fact that it can auto-calibrate is a big plus and it offers plenty of volume and presence to fill most rooms within your home. The sound quality is great, but again, if you know how to use it. Bluetooth is ok, wired is a little better, but Wi-Fi is where all of your flexibility and experiences come out to play. Especially, if you subscribe to one of the mentioned HD streaming sources.
Of course, having to be forced into a smaller pool of streaming options in order to take advantage of the full capabilities of the speaker does limit its consumer niche down to users who subscribe to these services. For everyone else, you might find going with another speaker.
It’s also too bad it doesn’t have a digital assistant built-in. This would have been the finishing touch that could have turned it into one of the hottest selling wireless speakers this year. Sadly, you are forced to control it from another Alexa or Google device. This is still fine, but it limits you in voice access if the two devices aren’t in the same room.
Thankfully, as mentioned, the current $199 price tag (price drop) does help a lot in its final score. This could be due to Black Friday though, so if this falls within your realm, you may want to snag it before it jumps back up in price.
|Available from the following retailers:|
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| Our Rating|| Average Price*|
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP (Absolute Volume), SPP
- Supported Codecs: SBC, AAC
- Power Consumption: 20W
- Input and Output Terminals: Audio in (3.5 mm)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 5 3/4 x 9 3/4 x 6 1/8 inches
- Weight: 5 1/2 lb
- 360 Reality Audio
- Auto sound calibration
- Auto volume (can be turned off)
- Custom EQ (via Sony Music Center app)
- Digital Sound Enhancement Engine
- Immersive Audio Enhancement
- Speaker Design: Tweeter Unit 2, Full-range 1, Passive Radiator 2
- Speaker Size: Tweeter Unit 11/16″, Full-range 3 1/8″, Passive Radiator 4 x 1 1/2″
- Preset EQ: Yes (OFF/BASS/EXCITED/BRIGHT/VOCAL)
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