Sony SRS-RA3000: Chromecast, Bluetooth and immersive sound

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The Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker is a residential WiFi model with a built-in Chromecast module and a Bluetooth receiver. This Sony wireless speaker allows you to enjoy all music streaming services such as Deezer, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music and Qobuz from any smartphone, tablet or computer connected to the same local network or via Bluetooth. It is also compatible with voice control from a speaker or audio device integrating Alexa or Google Assistant. However, it has no battery and therefore requires a power outlet to operate.

The main advantage of the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is its ability to deliver music in an omnidirectional way thanks to Immersive Audio Enhancement technology. Is this process effective and convincing? Sold for €349, can the Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless loudspeaker compete with its numerous competitors?

With its black finish enhanced by a few copper touches, the Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker knows how to be discreet in a living room.

Sony SRS-RA3000: the brand

Founded in the spring of 1946, the Sony company was initially involved in repairing electronic equipment. It was during the 1950s that the company experienced strong growth by starting to produce a basic but essential electronic component: the transistor. The Japanese company then became increasingly influential and in 1955 marketed the first radio receiver using exclusively transistors.

At the forefront of innovation and often an initiator of new trends, Sony has been a driving force in the audiovisual and consumer electronics industry since its inception. Among its major inventions, the Walkman, which appeared in 1979, revolutionized our relationship with music and foreshadowed the success of the portable devices we know today. In 1981, Sony introduced the world’s first digital camera, the Mavica (Magnetic Video camera) and then the first camcorder in 1983 (the Betamovie, a portable camera in Betamax format). Sony is also at the origin of the Blu-ray disc which was launched in 2006.

Today, Sony is still a major player in the audio and video electronics market, both for professionals and the general public. For many years Sony has been a leader in the field of mobile and wireless products, with portable Bluetooth speakers, digital audio players and Bluetooth headphones in its catalog.

Its expertise also covers the television (OLED TVs, UHD 4K TVs and UHD 8K TVs) and projection (UHD 4K projectors, UST projectors and HD projectors) markets.

Sony SRS-RA3000: packaging & accessories

Sony France lent us a demonstration model for this review, and it came in an unmarked white box. The box you receive when you purchase this speaker is the same size, but features visuals and the brand logo.

The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is wrapped in a synthetic film and carefully protected by two polystyrene wedges (one above and one underneath). A power cable is included, as well as a promo code to discover Tidal’s 360° Reality Audio offer.

The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker simply comes with a power cable. It doesn’t need anything else to be functional.

Sony SRS-RA3000: presentation

Immersive ambient sound

The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker uses several technologies to deliver 360° sound throughout the room, regardless of its location. Its two vertical-beam tweeters produce sound waves that overlap to form an upward-facing sound wave. This technology fills the room with immersive ambient sound.

The sound from each tweeter is channeled through an acoustic tube with multiple perforations through which the high frequencies are diffused vertically to immerse the listener.

Unlike other omnidirectional speakers, the Sony SRS-RA3000’s midrange driver is directed upwards and topped by a diffuser, a sort of acoustic lens that disperses sound across 360°. Regardless of where the speaker is placed in the room, the music reaches the listener’s ears wherever they are, unaffected by furniture or any decor that may be an obstacle to the sound waves.

Lastly, to optimize the presence in the lows, the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker uses two elongated passive radiators placed on either side of the cabinet.

The unique design of the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker allows it to deliver 360° sound throughout the room.

The specific configuration of the Sony SRS-RA3000 drivers is exploited by an algorithm developed by Sony to automatically adapt the sound to the environment in which the speaker is located. This algorithm uses a microphone located under the hole on the top of the speaker. By analyzing the sound in real time, the speaker’s DSP produces an immersive ambient sound perfectly adapted to the acoustics of the space.

This technology is not unlike the Sonos Auto Trueplay acoustic calibration technology found on the Sonos Move speaker, which automatically calibrates itself based on the music it is playing and its location.

Bluetooth, WiFi, Chromecast

The Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker is equipped with a Bluetooth receiver to stream music directly from a compatible smartphone or computer without going through the local network. It can even be connected via Bluetooth with a TV to wirelessly stream movie soundtracks.

The WiFi connectivity of this Sony speaker is put to good use by its built-in Chromecast, which allows you to stream music, web radios or podcasts from a smartphone, tablet or laptop. The speaker must first be registered via the Google Home app so that it can be used as an audio device. Once this is done, simply press the Cast button in your chosen audio playback app to enjoy your content on the speaker with optimal sound quality.

The Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker also has a mini-jack analog audio input that can be used to connect an audio source by cable (a wired DAP for example). Unfortunately, the USB port at the base of the speaker is only used for maintenance (product support) and therefore cannot be used to listen to music stored on a USB flash drive or to charge a smartphone.

Touch interface and application

The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker has a touch interface on its top panel that provides access to the main functions, such as turning the speaker on and off, putting it in standby mode, playback control (play/pause), volume control, selecting the analog input (mini-jack on the back of the speaker), selecting Bluetooth and activating immersive sound.

The top of the Sony SRS-RA3000 features a touch control interface.

The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker can also be controlled using the Music Center application, provided that it is connected to the same local network as your smartphone. This app allows you to select the auxiliary input as an audio source, launch Deezer, Qobuz and Spotify directly, and access several settings.

The Sound tab allows you to access the equalizer (5 preset modes plus a customizable mode) and to activate or not the Immersive audio Enhancement mode as well as the automatic volume which adapts the sound volume of the audio tracks in order to put them all at the same level.

You have to go into the Sound tab in the app to deactivate the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker’s immersive mode.

The Power Option tab is used to force the speaker to shut down after 15 minutes of inactivity. The Other Settings tab lets you activate the auto mode for Bluetooth or to impose SBC playback, but also allows you to activate the system sounds.

In the System tab, you can choose to activate or deactivate the network standby. When operational, this feature “wakes up” the speaker simply by starting playback from a device connected to the same WiFi network. Otherwise, the speaker must first be manually taken out of standby mode before it can be used on the local network.

Voice control

If you have a device with Google Assistant or Alexa built in, you can use it to control the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker vocally. Simply add it to your speaker group using the Google Home or Amazon Alexa app. You can then ask the Sony SRS-RA3000 to start playing music. You can even adjust the volume and switch audio tracks by voice.

Multi-room

Once the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is connected to the home’s internet modem and added to a group of wireless speakers via the Google Home or Amazon Alexa application, it is possible to play the same music in perfect sync on all the speakers or different music on each of them depending on the room in which it is located. However, it is not possible to pair two speakers together for stereo reproduction.

Sony SRS-RA3000 : enceinte multiroom
You can set up a multi-room audio system by installing several Sony SRS-RA3000 speakers in your home.

Sony SRS-RA3000: key specifications

Speaker

  • 2 x 0.6” tweeters
  • 1 x 3” wideband driver
  • 2 x 4 x 1.5” passive radiators
  • 360 Reality Audio compatible
  • DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine)
  • Preset equalizer: OFF / BASS / EXCITED / BRIGHT / VOCAL
  • Customized equalizer
  • Automatic volume (ON/OFF)
  • Automatic sound calibration
  • Immersive Audio Enhancement

Wireless connections

  • Works with Google Assistant
  • Works with Alexa
  • Built-in Chromecast
  • Spotify Connect
  • Bluetooth: SBC, AAC

Connectors

  • Audio input (3.5mm mini-jack)

Power supply

  • Power consumption: 20W
  • Power consumption (off mode): 0.5W
  • Power consumption (network standby mode: 2.0W (WiFi) / 2.0W (Bluetooth) / 2.0W (all terminals and networks connected)
  • Standby mode: after 15 minutes (WiFi) / 15 minutes (Bluetooth)

General

  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 146 x 247 x 155mm
  • Weight: 2.5kg

Sony SRS-RA3000: setup

The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is pretty simple to set up. Once it is plugged into a power outlet, simply turn it on and press and hold the Bluetooth button to start the pairing process with a smartphone or other player. Once the speaker is paired, you can immediately enjoy your music.

Connecting the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker to the router via WiFi takes a little longer but is still very simple, even for those who are not familiar with new technologies. From the Google Home app, all you have to do is follow the instructions on the screen. The speaker is detected as soon as you open the app. You just have to click on “Configure Sony SRS-RA3000” to launch the procedure and validate the few steps of the configuration. You can specify in which room the speaker is located and give it a personalized name.

Once this is done, the speaker is operational and can be selected as an audio playback device from any music application (streaming, web radio, podcast) from a smartphone or tablet. In Qobuz or any other audio streaming app, simply tap the Chromecast icon at the top right of the screen and select the speaker from the list of available devices.

The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker can also be used to cast music or the audio from a video from the Chrome browser of any computer connected to the same network. But there may be some image/sound lag with videos! For music videos, it’s not too distracting, but when streaming movies, it’s more problematic.

It is possible to “cast” the sound of a YouTube video or a streaming service to the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker from a computer via the Chrome browser.

Once the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker was connected to our home’s modem, we were able to listen to the web radios and our playlists on Qobuz, Deezer and Spotify very easily, and were able to experiment with different areas in the house: in the living room in front of the sofa, in the kitchen, on a bookshelf…

Sony SRS-RA3000: listening impressions

Spatialization

The Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker can be placed almost anywhere, provided that it is not at ground level, in which case the sound is rather flat and lacks fullness. But when placed on a piece of furniture or a shelf at a height between 1m and 1.60m, the result is quite impressive. Installed on our TV cabinet, the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker was able to effectively diffuse music in our living room, which opens onto the dining room and the kitchen (about 40m²).

When the Immersive Audio Enhancement mode is off, the sound remains quite centered around the speaker. When it is activated, the sound expands with more magnitude, both in width and height. However, don’t expect a reproduction comparable to a system consisting of two separate speakers. The stereo effects aren’t very pronounced, whether the immersive mode is activated or not.

This Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is not designed for stereo listening, but rather to offer a pleasant and balanced listening experience regardless of the speaker’s and the listener’s position in the room. The speaker does this very well, especially when it is placed on a piece of furniture and not too close to a wall. Placed on the TV cabinet in the living room or on the kitchen worktop, it distributed the sound extensively so that we could enjoy it without becoming frustrated when we moved around the room.

Placed on the kitchen counter, the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is a little cumbersome but it is very useful for listening to music or a podcast while cooking.

Unsurprisingly, when the speaker is placed on a shelf (bookshelf for example), the sound is more “centered” on the speaker but is still pleasant.

When the Sony SRS-RA3000 is placed on a bookshelf, the sound is more “restricted” and is less extensive, but remains pleasant.

Sound signature

The sound delivered by the Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker is characterized by a V-shaped response curve. The presence in the upper lows was quite pronounced, from approximately 70Hz to 120Hz, and the low mids were more timid. We then noticed an accentuation in the upper mids and especially in the highs, which sometimes generated some sibilance depending on the tracks we listened to.

This character trait disappeared when we activated the immersive mode, which balances things a bit. The Sony speaker’s response curve can also be modified by using the equalizer in the app. The Bright and Excited modes should be avoided in our opinion as they accentuate the clarity of the speaker even more. The Bass mode improves the presence effectively without generating distortion as long as you don’t push the volume too high.

The 5-band equalizer in the application allows you to modify the response curve of the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker, with 4 preset equalization profiles and 1 customizable profile (“Custom”).

We were able to enjoy a slightly more balanced listening experience with our playlists by customizing the equalizer to move the slider up a bit in the 250Hz band while moving it down in the 4kHz and 16kHz bands. However, the default emphasis on the upper midrange and high frequencies proved to be quite appreciable when listening to radio broadcasts, making the speakers’ voices clearer and more intelligible.

Ergonomics

In terms of everyday comfort, the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker is almost flawless. The Bluetooth pairing is fast and makes you forget the absence of NFC. The control app is easy to use and responsive. We only regret that the activation of immersive sound is not accessible directly from the home menu of the speaker. You have to go through the Settings/Sound menu to access it. However, it can be activated and deactivated directly from the speaker’s touch interface (music note icon).

The integration of Chromecast technology also significantly contributes to the ease of use of this speaker. Those who own several Google Cast-compatible speakers or audio devices will be able to manage them all from the Google Home app. In addition, Google Cast compatibility greatly simplifies wireless audio streaming from any streaming app, whether you’re using an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.

Sony SRS-RA3000: compared to…

Bose Home Speaker 500

The Bose Home Speaker 500 offers a generous response curve quite similar to that of the Sony SRS-RA3000, with an emphasis on the low frequencies, a slightly withdrawn midrange and clarity in the high frequencies. However, the sound of the Bose is less immersive and more centered around the speaker. That said, it has a nice color control screen to display album covers and other information.

Braun LE03

The Braun LE03 impressed us with its balanced sound with a nice energy in the bass. It knows how to pack a punch when you turn up the volume, with almost no saturation. However, as it is intended for close-range listening, it can’t beat the Sony speaker when it comes to distributing the sound in large spaces. As a result, it is more suited for listening to music in the kitchen or the bedroom.

Denon Home 250

We were seduced by the Denon speaker’s ability to project music quite extensively throughout the room during our test, even though the stereo effects were not very pronounced. Its fairly balanced reproduction puts a slight emphasis on the midrange, with somewhat subdued high frequencies and more modest lows than the Sony model. The Denon Home 250 offers a softer listening experience overall.

The Denon Home 250 offers a more balanced sound than the Sony SRS-RA3000, but it doesn’t project music as extensively throughout the room.

The Sony SRS-RA3000 is far superior in terms of spatialization. Its tonal balance also offers more substance and energy in the lows.

Sony SRS-RA3000: who is it for?

The Sony SRS-RA3000 wireless speaker is for anyone who wants to enjoy music and web radios with consistent sound quality no matter where the speaker is placed in the room. Simply put, it’s an easy-going speaker. You simply install it where you have room, launch a streaming service or a podcast and enjoy the experience. The sound remains audible and well articulated, with no directionality problems when you move around the room.

Sony SRS-RA3000: conclusion

Its ability to deliver immersive ambient sound is the Sony SRS-RA3000 speaker’s main selling point. The manufacturer is not exaggerating: its Immersive Audio Enhancement technology is quite impressive and allows wide spatialization in rooms up to 25-30m² (at reasonable volume).

Ergonomics are also a serious advantage for this speaker, which is very easy to use on a daily basis, whether via Bluetooth or through the local network (WiFi) to exploit the built-in Chromecast. Voice control is also a plus, whether you use Alexa or Google Assistant. As for its touch control interface, it proved to be very responsive, as did the Sony Music Center app.

The distinctive sound signature will appeal to fans of clear sound and energetic bass. Those who want something more neutral can correct the tonal balance using the equalizer present in the application.

What we liked

  • The ease of use
  • The omnidirectional sound
  • The textured lows
  • The control via Google Assistant

We would have liked

  • A more balanced sound signature
  • To have been able to create a stereo pair with two speakers
  • A remote control


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