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RMAF12: Sony Style and Pass Labs

Prototype loudspeakers from Sony? With over/under super-tweeters? That's cool! That's ... style? Style ... Sony style. Uh oh.

Some very interesting combos here — and aside from the EMM Labs SACD player, some actually reasonably priced gear. Not like “affordable” in a way that’s going to keep the Affordable$$Audio guys from crying foul, but still. Not bad.

Oh, and the sound? Very much the opposite of bad. I actually really liked what I heard here — wish Sony had more details to offer on the new loudspeaker, but I suspect that we’ll be hearing more at CES. While I was in the room, the EMM Labs unit was pushing the tunes, but I’m told that DSD files came courtesy of the Mytek for most of the weekend.

I’ve been nothing but impressed with Pass Labs, and here, their entry-level amp was very ably throwing sound around, with deep bass and great treble extension. Or was that the loudspeaker? Or the cleverly put-together dual chassis Pass preamplifier? No idea, and I didn’t much care — I’d be very happy to play with this rig here at Chez Moi. Sony is really on to something — Mal tells me it’s probably time to get over the whole Sony-isn’t-audiophile thing, and he’s absolutely right. Regardless of the source, the Pass + Sony combo does seem to be a great matchup. Looking forward to hearing a lot more from (and of) Sony.

  • Pass Labs X150.5 stereo amplifier: $5,500
  • Pass Labs XP20 dual-chassis preamplifier: $8,600
  • EMM Labs XDS1 SACD/CD player/DAC: $25,000
  • Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC: $1,695
  • Fosgate Signature phono preamplifier: $2,499
  • Clearaudio Innovation Wood Compact w/Clarify tonearm $8,500

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1 Comment on RMAF12: Sony Style and Pass Labs

  1. Sony also made the MDR-R10 headphones, still regarded by many as the finest sounding dynamic headphones in history. Then they made the Qualias, perhaps the most divisive. love/hate response headphones in history. Now Sony can’t be bothered to make even competent level headphones. They can do audiophile if they want to. The problem is Sony is so big and does so many things that they will often get bored with whatever they are doing and do something else. How long will they continue to make these types of speakers? How long will whatever team is working on them have before corporate decides that their R&D money would be better spent on cameras or TVs?

    Maybe its just me, but I prefer speaker companies where one person or at most a very small team is running the show. Rockport, NOLA, Vandersteen, Joseph, Wilson, etc are the result of the passion of a tiny group of people, not some international conglomerate monster that decides hey it might be neat to do some audiophile speakers in between stamping out Playstations.

    Granted it doesn’t always work, Talon ended up folding and was bought out because their designer proved to be much better at building loudspeakers than running a business. Still, the Firebird Diamond was sweet. The story was pretty similar at Stax, but they are still building the best headphones in the world. Sony isn’t.

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