Last week we shared with you a few teaser photos of a new Sony audio product and today, the time has come to pull the curtain back and reveal the rest of the story. Tonight, Sony introduced its brand new HT-ST7 Sound Bar. This audio gadget is a first for Sony, making its entry into the premium sound bar category. Available now at Sony Stores for $1,299, the new Sound Bar is packed with a feature set that fits right into Sony’s signature superior sound quality. The sleek aluminum chassis incorporates nine independent drivers and seven discrete amplifiers. A product worth checking out:
To celebrate this day in Sony sound history, we thought we’d answer a few of the questions you asked last week when we posed the question: “What would you ask a Sony Sound Engineer?” We spoke with some of our very own engineers to get their thoughts on the matter. If this Q&A sparks your interest, feel free to drop us a note in the comment section below and keep the conversation going!
Q1: @wjjones (Jeff Jones) asks “Besides the Walkman & Compact Disc, what is the single greatest Sony Audio product of the past 50 years?”
A1: Good question, Jeff, and one that has us embroiled in an internal debate. Innovations come out every year. Early on, Sony created both an audio tape recorder and audio tape, the first ever in Japan – its success paved the way for future innovations. Sony helped spark the early days of transistorized high fidelity and led the way with amplifiers using Field-Effect Transistors (FETs) and Vertical FETS (VFETs). Sony helped drive the PCM revolution, co-inventing the Compact Disc, and we launched the Direct Stream Digital revolution, which lead to co-inventing the Super Audio CD. And, of course, there was Walkman.
Recently, just last year, Sony introduced the STR-DN1030 AV receiver, the world’s first AVR with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and AirPlay, giving a nod to the way so much of music is delivered today. Then, there is our high resolution lineup, headlined by the critically acclaimed SS-AR1 loudspeakers and new products coming up. At the end of the day, it’s like asking our engineering team which child is their favorite. We might have one, but we’re not telling!
Q2: @MusicCellar brought us one of the most unexpected questions from the bunch: “How would you prepare for an underwater gig?”
A2: We’d start with swimming lessons and exercises to increase our lung capacity.
Q3: Emmett Brown (@BrownTnasel) asked “Is the single ended call A amplifiers better than the class AB push-pull even if they are less energy efficient?”
A3: Good question, Emmett. Here at Sony we like to look at the advancements in amplifier technology and to state one is better over another is a hard distinction to make. Each offers benefits and numerous companies including Sony have adopted a range of amplifier typologies; today you can find introductory receivers using chip amps to audiophile grade class D amplifiers powering Sony’s Legendary AR1 speakers. The design and engineering that goes into any amplifier design has a large influence in the performance.
Q4: Ryda Joes “Share one store that got you hooked on sound or music”
A4: Our story is a story within a story. It starts with Yoshiyuki Kaku, our sound engineer who developed the Sony SS-AR1 loudspeakers. When Kaku-san was a small boy, he fell in love with classical music and made numerous recordings. After he graduated with a degree in physics, Kaku-san joined Sony as an engineer in our semiconductor group. However, before long, his passion for music led him to persuade management to move him into speaker design. Here’s where the story gets interesting.
Kaku-san embarked on a decade-long pursuit to create the AR-1 speakers, using his love for music to drive his quest to faithfully recreate what the artist intended. His search for the proper wood cabinet led him to maple found in Hokkaido. Closer to Siberia than Tokyo, Hokkaido features a magnificent natural environment and a cold climate. The cold gives Hokkaido maple a tight grain which makes a marked contribution to the beauty of the sound. Each hand-selected tree is felled in November, when its growth slows and the grain is at its tightest, enabling us to achieve close to optimum sound.
Kaku-san’s passion for music is shared by Sony’s sound engineering team, and his quest to produce the very best has proven to be an example for us all to follow.
Q5: Daniel Holt asked “How do you determine when a product is finished?”
A5: Great question! Lots of factors are considered. First, what do consumers want and at what price? Then, can we actually make the product that we designed – can we manufacture and ship it within the parameters ultimately established by you, the customer? Mostly, we strive to deliver the most faithful reproduction of sound possible. We strive to make every product cycle better and better with respect to sound performance. To that, we A/B test every component and material, and tune the products much like a musician tunes an instrument. Believe it or not, how tightly torqued a screw is will affect sound quality.
Also, it’s important to consider factors other than sound, like ease of use and connectivity to music sources, like mobile phones. This year’s STR-DN1040 AV receiver has a graphic user interface taken directly from our ES line of custom install products. We’re committed to making your home theater and sound experience the best.
Q6: In relation to the new product, Anwaar Samai asked “Will it be able to withstand any type of sound from rock to rap to hip hop to R&B to classics and have all crystal clear and huge bass but not overpowering?”
A6: This new product has a mode not just for music, but for movies as well. You’ll be impressed with both sound modes, and if you want the bass settings changed, no worries – you can control that easily yourself with the remote control. Audition it at Sony Store and electronics retailers nationwide.
And if your questions didn’t get answered this time around, drop us a line in the comments section below – yours might show up next month