If you’re in the market for serious stereo speakers, you want to be certain you’re getting something great. After all, cheap and easy speakers abound. Convenient Bluetooth speakers are getting cheaper, and you can pick up second, third, and fourth-hand cabinets at garage sales for five bucks each.
But new stereo speakers are different. Whether it’s your first pair or an upgrade, you need something that will pick up on all the excellent advances in sound engineering from the last decade. You need your music to sound perfect and your movie soundtracks to pulse with excitement.
So, let’s go through our in-depth Sony SS-CS3 3-Way 4-Driver review and find out how well these speakers fit the bill…
Introducing Sony Speakers
If you’re like us, you probably don’t think of Sony when you think of the best high-end audiophile speakers. After all, Sony is famous for killing it with cheap consumer electronics like the 1979 Walkman, which blew the competition out of the water.
Over the years, Sony has pushed into the TV market, making some excellent screens. They also branched into music production, creating the label Sony Music. But, at the same time, none of that screams HiFi speakers, does it?
However, you might know that Sony was at least partly responsible for the development of High-Resolution Audio (HRA) in the mid-2010s. HRA is lossless, high-quality audio that reproduces all the rich detail from the highest quality of audio mastering. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Sony has a few dark horses in the home stereo speaker race after all.
Sony SS-CS3 Overview
The Sony SS-CS3 speakers come from the Core Series (that’s where the CS comes from), which is Sony’s take on the “inexpensive yet surprisingly good-sounding speaker.” We’re looking at wooden cabinets here that stand 9 1/8 inches wide and 36 3/8 inches tall and measure 10 ¼ inches deep.
These are 3-way speakers, which means they break the overall sound production into three different, distinct ranges. Here we’re looking at a super-tweeter for the ultra-high-end, a tweeter for the high-end, and two woofers for the mid-range and low-end. We’ll look at these four speakers in greater detail below.
What else can we tell you about these speakers?
They’re floor-standing speakers and come with four rubber feet to isolate the cabinets from your floor. The slick black cabinets are covered with cloth fiber grilles for protection, though these can be left off for a different look. They are some of the best floor standing speakers around.
Despite their moderate size, one speaker weighs just 11 pounds (5.0 kg). They can handle a maximum stereo input of 145 watts and have an impedance rating of 6 ohms. The speakers have a great sensitivity level of 88dB and a frequency response of between 45Hz and 50,000Hz.
Now that we’ve got the specs out of the way, let’s look at each of the components and how they contribute to the overall sound of these loudspeakers.
Starting from the top, we run right into Sony’s super tweeter. This is a ¾-inch (19mm) soft dome, teeny-tiny speaker with wide directionality. It’s designed to precisely reproduce the ultra-high-end of the sound spectrum, pushing these speaker’s frequency range up to 50,000 Hz.
Now, that’s, of course, way higher than what the human ear can detect (about 20,000 Hz). But it’s required as part of that High-Resolution Audio we talked about earlier. It helps to reproduce all sounds precisely.
You hear even what you don’t…
Besides, there is a solid argument that these high-frequency sound waves interact with other frequencies and give character to them, even though you can’t hear them directly.
We found the ultra-high-end of these speakers nicely detailed without being too harsh. You’re always walking a tightrope between detail and listening fatigue in the high-end. But here, we think Sony has managed to keep the balance clear.
Coming down the tower, we meet the tweeter. At 0.98 inches (25mm), this is again a soft dome speaker made of polyester fiber, just like the super tweeter above it. Furthermore, these two speakers are stacked so closely together that the super tweeter is right in the orbit of the tweeter, helping to keep a nearly single sound source from two different drivers.
We found the tweeter to be very clear without being overly analytical. Vocals shine from this speaker, especially female vocals. Voices sound natural and warm, rather than cutting. High instruments and high-pitched sound effects in movies can sometimes cut through, but in general, things sound smooth here.
Overall, the sound pouring out of this tweeter is authentic and precise. We aren’t surprised that these are some best balanced sounding speakers. That’s because Sony tends to ensure a natural soundstage in their products.
Sony is building speakers with the metric system. The two stacked woofers in the SS-CS3 cabinet have a diameter of 5.12 inches each, which only makes sense when you realize that it equals a rounded 130 millimeters. These are cone-type speakers, but they’re not you’re grandma’s paper cones.
These woofers are made from MRC, which is mica-reinforced cellular fiber. In contrast to paper cones, these woofers are rigid and durable. They barely distort in shape, even when pushed hard. This means you can push this speaker way up, and the cones are going to keep working. They’ll also keep their shape, rather than slowly distorting over time.
Dynamic and room-filling…
Combined with a front-facing sound port, these two woofers spread a very dynamic sound across the room. The low-end is powerful yet detailed enough to make lower instruments and male vocals shine. Dialogue comes across well in shows and movies. They’re clear and natural sounding, with no noticeable distortion.
The downside here is we’re only getting frequencies down to 45Hz. That means that you’ll want to pair these speakers with a sub-woofer to get the most out of your movies, especially if you’re a bass-head.
Yes, the four drivers in these speakers are generating the sound, and that’s all-important. However, without quality, well-designed cabinets, even the best speakers can sound terrible.
The Sony SS-CS3 has slick black-painted wood cabinets for a warmer, truer sound. However, the interior joints are reinforced with precisely cut medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
The MDF is great for absorbing a lot of echo and distortion that can be generated in wooden cabinets, and the result is a much smoother, clearer sound. Furthermore, this makes these some of the most durable floor standing speakers on the market.
Better sound quality by design…
Sony even points out the specially tapered faceplates on these speakers. Rather than forming straight 90 degree angles, which could deflect and diffract sound, these are beveled slightly, leading to a clear and natural sound.
This really takes the edge off (sorry, we had to).
So far in our review, we’ve looked at all of the components of these speakers individually to see how each contributes to the overall sound. Now we’ll examine the top features of these floor standing speakers.
The 4 drivers…
They work together to provide a full sound with nothing missing (except the ultra-low-end). They’re stacked well to provide a soundstage that is broad and full. As a result, they are some of the best immersive 3 way floor standing speakers out there.
In these speakers, it is quality. When we moved around the room, listening from different angles and heights, there was very little change in the sound. This represents a well-designed crossover that doesn’t leave any discernable gaps in frequencies, which you might pick up in cheaper speakers.
The super tweeter…
It seems to add a whole level of clarity to the high-end. Despite it being tiny, it’s doing a big job by adding clarity without harshness to the top-end. It expertly grabs the details that make these speakers produce the HRA sound that Sony is becoming known for.
Sony SS-CS3 3-Way 4-Driver Review – Pros and Cons
- The price is really on the money for this quality of build and the sound you get.
- The soundstage is great, with a very clear, natural, and dynamic sound across all frequencies.
- The speakers can pull up to 145W but still don’t get all that loud.
- The bass is not strong, and these speakers are meant to be paired with a sub-woofer, which represents an extra cost.
Looking for Something Else?
We have a wide selection of audio equipment. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best 6.5 Speakers, the Best Party Speakers, and the Best Powered Speakers you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Bookshelf Speakers, the Best Karaoke Speaker, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, the Best In Ceiling Speakers, and the Best Wireless TV Speakers currently on the market.
Sony SS-CS3 3-Way 4-Driver Review – Final Thoughts
After a full Sony SS-CS3 3-way 4 driver review, we’re ready to summarize these floor standing speakers in three simple words: affordable great sound.
Now there are speakers out there that are bigger, louder, bassier, and/or more analytical. However, if you’re in the market for some floor standing speakers that won’t break the bank but will impress with sound quality, we think you could do a lot worse.
Get 1, get 2, get 4 for ultimate surround sound. Once these speakers are paired with a sub-woofer, they’re going to be an excellent addition to anyone’s home theater or dedicated listening room.
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