Sony SS-A5

Sony SS-A5S

Sony La Voce

1 9 8 9 1989
1 9 9 2 1992
1 9 9 6 1996

Naturally, whenever one says "japanese loudspeaker", everybody laughs.
Sure, there are oodles of european and american and italian and english and etc manufacturers, all with reputations auras the size of Florida within which some really are producing outstanding music transducers.

However, a few japanese loudspeakers did stop everybody laughing.
Among others, the Yamaha NS-1000 which still is a reference and very much sought after. The 1977 NS-10M is -controversially- another one but if said japanese brands had decided to export some of their ultra models (Victor Sx-1000, Diatone DS-5000, Yamaha GF-1 etc), the story could have been different...

Well - Sony did export the Voce series but as all things high-end Sony, it was kept very discreet.
Although, mind you, France, for once, decided to award it a Diapason d'Or - it was the first japanese 'speaker to ever receive that coveted award, much like the SCD-1 SACD player was the first Sony product to receive a Stereophile award.
In fact, the SS-A series was built very much like any "cottage industry" loudspeaker : hand-built, hand-tweaked, using only premium materials and almost no high-tech stuff the japanese often dig.

The most high-tech element of the SS-A series is... natural : the Bio-Cellulose tweeter is threaded by acetobacteriae aceti, giving in the end a driver which is stiffer than anything although thinner and lighter than anything, with a resonance peak which is way above that of Beryllium for instance.

The raw bio-cellulose "pad" is then pressed to become the actual diaphragm, bonded with thermosetting epoxy adhesive to the pure aluminium voice coils.
The thickness of the bio-cellulose diaphragm is 1/1000 that of paper and 1/300 that of silk ; its weight is 1/2 of a silk diaphragm.

Bio-Cellulose was a joint development between Sony and Ajinomoto Co., Inc. and three corporations of the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology Research Institute for Polymers & Textiles in Japan.

The rest of the SS-A5 naturally is on par otherwise it wouldn't be as musical and supremely coherent as it is : little pieces of felt and rubber placed here and there, real wood enclosure, isolated filter made of strictly high-end components, time-aligned drivers, layout of the 18dB/octave filter, respective Qs of the components etc.

The result is a supremely distinguished sound, somewhat reminiscent of the V-FET units and especially the TA-N7 masterpiece : pure musical bliss, with a soundstage as wide as the Grand Canyon but precise, stable and very energetic. However, they need a lot of room to breathe and an amp not shy in the mids (and not shy in current, either).

The smaller of the series (SS-A3) sold well enough to remain very easy to find and beats the pants off most small-size 'speakers nevertheless - british, european and japanese included.

Europe saw an even smaller model, the SS-A1L, which was a take on the famed Rogers LS3/5 BBC monitor (and quite better at that, too) ; the SS-A1L was developed as such, like a smaller A5, and not like a pared down SS-A3.

The SS-A5 initially sold extremely well in Japan - at 89,900¥, it represented an unbeatable bargain of musicality/price ratio.
The revised version, SS-A5S, didn't as much, perhaps because the improvements seemed fairly slight after all : mainly filter changes, different placement of the felt/rubber pads on the drivers and enclosure (blue rubber for the A5, black for the A5S) and the recessed enclosure's top sides for even less diffraction at the edges.

An SS-A7 super topper was introduced alongwith the A5S but unfortunately sold quite poorly ; its production run was set very low anyway and its price very high. Unseen & pricey = unsold.

Mostly : by 1994, the "refined audio" market was going down and Home-Theater was already lurking loudly at the horizon.
Boom-boom always sold better than utter refinement, which is why all of the SS-A can be found easily and for very little money in Japan - too refined to cut a groove in the ambient noise.
(like this very website :)

And here is a very interesting thread - read all three pages !

Sony SS-A5, image 1 Sony SS-A5, image 2 Sony SS-A5, image 3 Sony SS-A5, image 4
Sony SS-A5 specifications
Title Value
System : 2-Way bass-reflex
Enclosure : solid north-America pine wood + teak veneer
Bass /mid driver : 1x 20cm 3-ply long-crush pulp cone + urethane coating
strontium-ferrite magnet, aluminium diecast frame
High /mid driver : 1x 2,5 Bio-Cellulose dome tweeter
Nominal impedance : 6 Ohm
Maximum input power : 60W / 100W
Sensibility : 89dB /W /m.
Frequency response : 40Hz...30Khz
Crossover : 2,5Khz
Dimensions : 61,5 x 31,5 x 31,5cm
Weight : 13kg.
Accessories : WS-A5 40cm stands
Listprice : 89,900¥ (SS-A5, 1989)
120,000¥ (SS-A5S, 1992)
35,000¥ (WS-A5)
nb. The front grilles are part of the design and should not be taken off when listening to music.
Sony SS-A5 : 1 topic
(last updated topic shows up first)
  • Sony SS-A1L (mini Voce)                             (1)last updated by Axel - 27/11/2016, 00H14
page online since : december 2006
page updated : september 2016
page type : LGT / KNB
page weight : 462.47 Kb / 257.93 Kb

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