Sony's related audio system take goal at Sonos, however come up brief
In relation to related audio system and multi-room audio, Sonos is the clear chief within the clubhouse. Its units are additionally sometimes costlier than the competitors. Sony, a reputation with lots of house theater expertise, is providing its personal Sonos-like system with a set of three audio system. The corporate’s “SRS” line was introduced earlier this yr, and whereas the trio additionally options the bigger SRS-X88 and SRS-X99, I’ve spent the previous few weeks with the entry-degree mannequin, the $300 SRS-X77. With Sonos being the go-to call for gear like this, Sony has fairly the uphill climb. That stated, it at the least makes a valiant effort.
Earlier than I get to the SRS-X77, let me get this out of the best way: I am an enormous fan of Sonos’ audio gear. I’ve used the Playbar and Sub in my front room and to play music and deal with TV audio. I at present have two Play:1s in separate rooms to deal with lullabies for my 15-month-previous and audio whereas I work. All of it seems to be good and sounds wonderful, and Sonos is regularly enhancing its units via software program updates. I do not imply to gush, however I say all of this to elucidate how I judged the Sony SRS-X77. In my expertise, Sonos presents the most effective choices for multi-room audio and related audio system, so any firm that tries to do the identical faces fairly the problem.
The SRS-X77 has a minimal design that I actually like. Apart from the WiFi antenna that pops up round again (extra on that in a second), it is somewhat unassuming. That is not at all a knock on the gadget; I am simply saying it blends in properly on a shelf. It is a comparable aesthetic to what Sonos went for with its newest Play:1 colours, which are supposed to complement different gadgets you are more likely to personal. Likewise, Sony’s speaker is a rectangle with no branding on the entrance. The truth is, the one factor seen from head-on is the speaker grille that drapes that panel in silver. The identical colour continues on the edges with brushed aluminum, although the again is black.
All the controls are located up prime on a shiny, black plastic that is a magnet for fingerprints. The truth is, I discovered myself reaching for a material to tidy up each time I used the contact controls. Talking of which, there’s just one bodily button on the highest aspect for energy. A faucet of your finger permits you to regulate the quantity, Bluetooth, WiFi and aux jack. Round again, from proper to left, are the facility connection, three.5-mm aux enter, Ethernet port and a USB socket, whose solely objective is to maintain your smartphone juiced up when you’re streaming music. As well as, you will discover WPS and reset buttons and a community on/off change close by. Up prime there’s that WiFi antenna that pops out and rotates up for added reception. When in use, although, it takes away from the in any other case streamlined design.
To its credit score, Sony’s SRS-X77 does supply one thing that Sonos does not: Bluetooth. Whereas Sonos connects to your house WiFi community to stream music, Sony’s speaker can make use of each an web connection and Bluetooth. Because of this you should use the SRS-X77 as a pc speaker ought to the necessity come up. I discovered myself solely utilizing Bluetooth for that purpose, or to play tracks when WiFi connectivity wasn’t an choice. When it comes to sound high quality, each carried out admirably, however utilizing an web connection usually sounded higher, particularly since I sometimes stayed inside vary of my router. The Sony speaker additionally works nicely with AirPlay, Google Forged and Spotify Join, and has NFC for straightforward pairing. The SRS-X77 additionally contains a rechargeable battery, so you should use it even when there is not an influence outlet close by.
Whereas some might discover the SRS-X77’s design extra engaging than the Play:1, it is the companion software program the place Sonos actually shines. The Sonos controller app permits you to hyperlink all of your streaming providers and play regionally saved music with ease, accessing it with a number of faucets. For the Sony SongPal app, every time that you must play or management music from Spotify, it boots you out to the streaming software program. In contrast to Sonos, the quantity controls aren’t located proper on the primary participant display both, so you need to swipe or faucet greater than as soon as to make an adjustment. After getting used to having all the controls in a single spot, particularly quantity, I discovered this beautiful inconvenient. With Spotify particularly, whenever you’re listening to a track, it’s a must to faucet the speaker’s identify on the backside of the display to tug up the Spotify Join record the place the quantity management lives. It is both that or heading again into SongPal to regulate the extent.
So, how does it sound? Fairly good. In that regard, truly, I feel the SRS-X77 manages to carry its personal towards the Play:1. There’s a great deal of bass, and whereas it helps bass-heavy songs like Huge Grams’ “Drum Machine” shine, it is by no means overpowering both. Mids and highs are nicely-represented and make for some usually properly-rounded sound. The audio is obvious, with the standard staying constant even at excessive volumes. Whether or not it is hip-hop, metallic, bluegrass or the occasional podcast, the SRS-X77 dealt with every part I threw at it.
When listening on my porch particularly, I tended to choose Sony to Sonos. It tasks sound a lot better in such a large-open area, so I did not should crank it up an excessive amount of to listen to Punch Brothers whereas sitting across the hearth pit. When it comes to the general high quality, although, the Play:1 is the higher speaker. There’s not an enormous hole between the 2, however the readability you get with Sonos is tough to beat. It additionally handles bass notes a smidge higher, too.
After spending a number of weeks with Sony’s newest, I am not prepared to surrender my Sonos setup. When you’re in search of options to Sonos’ expensive gear, the SRS-X77, at $300, prices $one hundred greater than the Play:1. For the sake of comparability, LG’s H-collection Music Stream audio system begin at $one hundred eighty, should you’re on a price range. I have never been capable of check these devices, nevertheless, so I can not vouch for them aside from to say they help Google Forged and multi-room audio. When you think about the additional value with the subpar software program expertise Sony gives, the size ideas in Sonos’ favor. The truth is, in case you’re prepared to spend $300, throwing in one other hundred can get you two Play:1s for a stereo setup or audio in a number of rooms of your home. That being stated, this speaker from Sony is among the first I’ve used that places up a battle towards Sonos. Maybe future releases from the corporate and others will proceed to shut the hole, however for now, the champion hasn’t been dethroned.