At the beginning of last year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there was something about the Sony booth that stood out and sounded very different, despite the din from the world’s largest tech show. Sony’s SRS-RA3000, the premium wireless speakers that stole many hearts at CES 2020, is now available in India … priced to make the premium accessible to all.
The Sony SRS-RA3000 clearly falls into the genre of the Apple HomePod and the Echo Studio, albeit with a different kind of intelligence. The design is cylindrical to help with the ambient room that fills Sony’s 360 reality audio technology.
The speaker offers the same sound output wherever you choose to keep it in the room and you don’t even need to calibrate it to do this. And wherever you store the SRS-RA3000, it fills the room nicely.
The controls are at the top of the speaker, where the touchpad houses volume buttons surrounded by power, source, Bluetooth, and a button for surround audio. Sound changes distinctively when you press the immersive audio button, and music flows from floor to ceiling as the combination of side-firing tweeters and upward-facing radiator do their part. The finish of the fabric is elegant, but in the Indian state it ends up being a magnet for dirt.
The Sony SRS-RA3000 isn’t exactly a smart speaker. Certainly not one that can answer a query on its own. But you can set it up alongside an Echo or Google Home Nest device to give it some assisted brains. Also, the speakers can be configured using the Google Home app to connect to your Spotify account and play music directly without the help of a smartphone. All this while playing music like a simple Bluetooth speaker connected to a smartphone or TV.
This also means that the speaker is not interrupted by calls and alerts on your phone when streaming directly from the web. Otherwise, a room-filling alert or ringtone can be very scary. In fact, this is a loudspeaker when the need arises and it keeps volume levels in check.
The audio quality is excellent, but the profile is different than many of the speakers I tested recently. The Sony SRS-RA3000 is perfect for when you listen to Sid Sreeram on a Sunday morning waiting for the food delivery to arrive with your Masala Dosa. The audio profile is more casual and not very sharp. Yes, it becomes more focused when you turn off the immersive audio button.
But with 360 reality audio turned on that’s when this speaker kicks in on its own. When playing Toca Toca on Spotify, you can feel your room boom, even at lower volumes. And when you switch to jazz classics, you just want to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee … pleasures that pandemic times can no longer allow us to work with home runs.
What I really enjoyed, though, was hearing some heartwarming Carnatic tunes and tunes. For example, the experience of listening to Gahana Kusuma was out of this world, although I turned off the immersive audio for a sharper profile. Remember, the bass has Sony’s signature signature, but not put off.
Given its immersive audio capabilities, the Sony SRS-RA3000 is also ideal for taking over the audio tasks of your cinema experience. Pair it with your TV or the Amazon Fire Stick and you can take your home theater experience to a whole new level since there isn’t much to expect otherwise. I loved the layered feel of the audio as I watched The Witcher again, with the background music also behind the rattle of the monsters. And you can also do this with any Chromecast-enabled app on the phone or tablet, but just by tapping the cast button.
This powerful bundle from Sony is priced very competitively at Rs 19,990, making it one of the best premium audio experiences available in India right now. Even when it doesn’t come built-in with smart assistant capabilities, when it comes to audio quality this is on par with Echo Studios and Apple Homepods. Now you decide.