Inside Sony’s Speakers

How Sony engineers select the right wood to create natural sound

What do grand pianos and speakers have in common? Sony believes they have more similarities than the average person would believe. To Sony engineers, speakers are a musical instrument and should receive the same level of care as a baby grand piano.

Music lovers want speakers that sound like the artist is performing in the same room. Sony’s audiophile equipment is calibrated with that thought in mind. From the initial design of the speaker to the exact climate of the wood, every detail is finessed to ensure the highest quality listening experience.

When creating the SS-AR1 loudspeaker, the Sony engineering team went above and beyond in their search for the perfect type of wood, as well as the craftsmen that would be constructing the speakers. The shape, grain, texture and assembly of the wood all play a large role in the audio quality and sound.

Selecting Timber for Balanced Audio

The hand-selected wood for the SS-AR1’S baffle board comes from the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The climate of the island made it a great candidate to collect wood from because the winter months are very cold. This environment is reflected in the tight grain, hardness and rigidity of Hokkaido’s local maple.

The trees selected by Sony and local wood specialists were harvested in November when their grain is tightest. Although this wood was perfect for the baffle board of the speaker, building the whole enclosure of the speaker from the Hokkaido maple would have resulted in rigid and hard sound. That’s why Sony engineers selected another kind of wood to complement the Hokkaido maple.

Pairing with Birch to Achieve Pure Audio

Sony engineers carefully chose the softer cold-climate wood, the Scandinavian birch, for the rear and side panels of the SS-AR1. The panels of this birch are then curved to a sculptural shape. This power duo of the Hokkaido maple and Scandinavian birch result in zero unwanted vibrations and a natural, balanced and expressive tone.

Workmanship that Produces Sound Quality

The challenge of assembling the SS-AR1 was taken on by a cabinet making company that provides precision components for musical instruments. Sony wanted an unglued prototype from the company to ensure that it would be up to Sony’s standards. When the project leader visited the workshop, he thought the cabinet had already been glued together. But he was mistaken because the prototype was so precise that it could hold together with no glue at all!

Sony engineer Yoshiyuki Kaku finished the SS-AR1 with a design that controlled resonance that radiates from the front of the speakers drivers to maintain a balanced and natural design. The speaker cabinet is divided inside by two pieces of the Scandinavian birch to create two separate enclosures for the woofers and the mid-range/tweeter. This ensured that the sound pressure did not radiate back into the cabinet from the woofer.

With the right materials and expertise, Sony was able to create a speaker that was made with all the care and artistry that you would expect of a finely tuned musical instrument. And that means the SS-AR1 brings all of the rich sounds of an orchestra and other favorite music right into your home.

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