You know the sense of anticipation before a live performance and the catch of your breath as the lights dim and the music begins. You also know the pleasure of carefully, deliberately selecting an outstanding recording; then listening to it with complete attention.
The same passion for music motivated us to create the SS-AR1 and AR2 Loudspeakers. We developed them to recreate, as faithfully as possible, your favorite music – just as it was originally recorded.
We invite you to take a moment to discover why the SS-AR Series is being embraced by enthusiasts and professionals alike and to be reminded why you care so much about music.
Next: The Wood
Like a priceless piano, the SS-AR1 and AR2 Loudspeakers are chiefly crafted out of wood. The wood for the baffle board comes from Japan's island of Hokkaido where winters are extremely cold, a condition reflected in the tight grain, hardness and rigidity of the indigenous maple. The trees are hand-selected with the assistance of local wood specialists and felled in November, when their growth slows and the grain is at its tightest.
However, building the entire enclosure from a single type of wood can result in an excessively rigid and hard sound. For this reason we selected another, somewhat softer cold-climate wood, Scandinavian birch, for the speaker's side and rear panels.
This unique choice of woods insures exceptional freedom from unwanted vibrations, as well as a natural, balanced, musically expressive tone.
Next: The Build
The dimensions of a speaker cabinet are rarely perfect. For easier assembly, designers typically make a slight allowance for error and can leave loose joints resulting in an acceptable if ever-so slightly imperfect cabinet.
For the SS-AR and AR2, Sony demanded nothing less than the highest possible accuracy in woodworking. Our engineers reached out to a cabinet-making company that provides precision components for musical instruments and asked them to build a prototype. The prototype was so precise that all of the pieces held tightly together without any glue at all.
In addition to meticulous accuracy, this cabinetmaker is also responsible for the loudspeakers' exquisite piano finish. But you'd expect no less from craftsmen who help build grand pianos.
Next: The Design
The contoured shape and meticulous construction of the SS-AR1 and AR2 enclosures help to control resonance and maintain a balanced, natural sound. What appears from the outside to be a single enclosure is actually divided inside by two thick pieces of birch separated by an air cavity. This creates two separate enclosures: one for the woofers and one for the midrange/tweeter.
Each sub-enclosure is also vented with a bass reflex port that's been carefully tuned and positioned to mitigate distortion and coloration.
From your listening chair, you can't see any of these extraordinary measures. But you can certainly hear them.
Next: The Drivers
Fabricating precision drivers for the SS-AR1 and AR2 required particular expertise. So the Sony team reached out to a transducer specialist in Scandinavia. Working in close collaboration, they produced a four-unit/three-way system that exceeded our high expectations.
The twin aluminum woofers are remarkably strong, with a robust magnetic circuit. A copper ring optimizes the symmetry of the magnetic field, reducing distortion. The SS-AR1 employs a pair of 200 mm woofers while the AR2 uses two 165 mm units.
The 130 mm midrange driver incorporates an exclusive sliced paper cone. The material is deliberately cut and re-adhered to suppress resonance and realize flat response.
The 25 mm soft dome tweeter includes a special back chamber, which smoothes out the air pressure behind the diaphragm and around the magnetic circuit. Six neodymium magnets arranged concentrically also produce high flux density in minimal space.
All of this results in a more realistic soundfield, helping music achieve an almost life-like presence.
Next: Interactive 3D Demo
Get an in-depth 3D view of the SS-AR Series from the inside out and visually explore the woodwork, accuracy of build, interior components, drivers and finish.
The SS-AR Series Loudspeakers have elicited the enthusiastic support of these high-end audio label owners and luminaries. Click to discover their impressions of the SS-AR Series.
The heart of every Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) is its one-bit Direct Stream Digital® (DSD) technology. And from the format's inception, the point man on DSD recording has been Gus Skinas, who has worked on countless SACD releases. His credits include reissues of nearly two dozen Rolling Stones titles, plus numerous classics from Nat King Cole to Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Sheryl Crow and George Harrison. Skinas is the driving force behind today's premiere DSD recording system, the Sonoma multi-track workstation.
"Once a recording artist experiences high resolution audio, they can't go back," says Skinas. "The SS-AR1 brings this high resolution music home. I've listened to some great recordings on the AR1 and they're very impressive."
More than three decades ago, Ray Kimber started braiding audio cables to prevent strobe lights from causing interference with commercial sound installations. He never looked back. Today, Kimber Kable is famous for their reproduction quality and Ray's IsoMike record label is a showcase for his unique four-channel microphone technique.
"We put on our music and every time we listened to the AR1's, I had a greater level of appreciation," Kimber stated. "They reproduced every nuance from the original recording session. We've used them in our recording studios and shipped them to trade shows everywhere. We've even turned up the volume to the limits of insanity and they do everything we ask."
We invite you to audition the SS-AR1 and AR2 Loudspeakers at any one of these specially selected retailers. Hear for yourself their unmatched quality, depth, dynamics and three-dimensionality of sound.
"No other speaker impressed me as much as this one did at the show."
– Thomas J. Norton, Home Theater, January 2011
"Driven by Pass electronics and EMM Labs sources, the speakers were dynamic and engaging as all get-out (in Ray Kimber's IsoMike room)."
– Alan Taffel, The Absolute Sound, January 2011
This will be a contender.
– John Atkinson, Stereophile, January 2011
Astonishing in its clarity and definition of each sound in the dense mix.
– Scott Wilkinson, UltimateAVmag.com, January 2011
"I heard a short demonstration of them and they sounded astonishing."
– Adrian Wittenberg, Secrets CAVE, January 2011
The Sony SS-AR1 Stands Out at CES
– Steven Stone, AudiophileReview.com, January 2011
Sony Unveils High-End Home Speaker
– Stewart Wolpin, TWICE, January 2011
Audio Highlights from CES
– Custom Retailer, January 2011
CES 2011: Sony Showcases Flagship SS-AR1 Speakers, on Sale this Summer
– What HiFi?, January 2011
Click on thumbnails to view and/or download larger photos of the SS-AR1 Loudspeaker.