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Sony Unveils High-End Home Speaker Pair

1/24/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Looking to break back into the lucrative
high-end audio business in the U.S., Sony took
the wraps off its first U.S. high-end
audiophile speaker, the SS-AR1, due
in April for $27,000/pair.

The speakers, shown at International
CES, are not new speakers,
however. They’ve been on sale in
Japan for about two years, as has a
slightly smaller and less expensive
sibling, the AR2.

“Millions of people still care about
music,” said Neal Manowitz, Sony’s
director of home audio and video,
during CES. “It’s collegial, compelling,
controversial and extremely important
to us. Sony believes in highquality
music. We’re the inventor of
CD, the co-developer of SACD. We
wanted to make a statement, to bring
high quality back for people who truly
enjoy music. It’s a Sony product, but
it’s not intended to create a new branding or a new
product subset. But it’s a positioning for Sony, to
show the breadth of the product line.”

Standing 42.5 inches tall and weighing a hefty 125
pounds, the floor-standing SS-AR1 is a four-driver,
three-way vented system with Sony-designed 1-inch
dome tweeter, 5-inch sliced-paper
cone midrange drivers — paper-cut
once then glued together to reduce
resonance — and twin 8-inch aluminum
cone woofers.

The front baffle on the meticulously
constructed cabinet is cut from special
maple trees grown in Hokkaido
and harvested only in November after
the summer but before the frost arrives
to warp the wood. The rest of
the largely unglued cabinet is made
from a lighter Finnish birch. They’re
finished in a sheer glossy piano
black. They deliver 28Hz to 60kHz
frequency response and handle up to
200 watts per channel.

Sony signing up dealers and has
signed five: David Lewis Audio in
Philadelphia; Goodwin’s High End
in Waltham, Mass.; Music Lovers in Berkeley, Calif.;
Definition AV in Santa Monica, Calif.; and AV Worx
just north of Salt Lake City.