Heir to the TA-E1000ESD and TA-E2000ESD bestselling legacy : not as cheerfully welcomed but selling quite well nevertheless and worldwide, too.
The problem was the same as Marantz faced with its PS-17SA (2000) : mixing audiophilia and surround-sound soudfields which are by essence the exact opposite of the "straight wire with gain". If the E9000ES is a preamp and the Marantz an integrated amp, the equation was just as difficult to resolve.
In the Sony, this took shape of the maintained necessity to convert analogue sources to digital - although performed in a much better way (a/d-wise), this was a "benefit" already frowned upon in the previous 1000 and 2000ESD.
The only way to use strictly analogue signal paths necessitates to get the expensive and x-rare TA-P9000ES multi-channel analogue preamp addendum - that's expensive product planning !
Also a bit silly, the complex EQ section which doesn't allow to fiddle anything below 100Hz - the 2000ESD allowed to twiddle-dee down to 18Hz.
The absence of any display OSD output is even stranger as surround-sound = movies = TV.
The Sony Control-S link, almost previsibly, wasn't compatible with older versions of said Control-S, too (Sony all the way !), and the "analyzer" input never saw the necessary accessory it called for.
Although a futuristic feature then, the stylus-operated bi-directional remote was difficult to use, couldn't learn other IR codes and suffered from dim backlighting. No macro-programming either.
Several software updates addressed some of these issues and menu quirks (through the RS-232 plug) but, when launched and reviewed, these points made many regret the "old" TA-E2000ESD and its more straightforward and coherent structure.
Componentry-wise, the E9000ES was and still is a fairly luxurious engine, centered around a big R-Core trafo (really big), massive heatsinking of all power-supplies and multiple 32bit LSI ICs (very Low Scale) coming from Sony for the most and crucial parts (CXD-2712R, SHARC DSP) and Crystal for the 96kHz/24bits PCM interface.
There is however no chassis copper-plating or G chassis and the volume pot activates an all-digital path for volume control of the six (possible) channels and therefore of six separate d/a sections - this isn't a TA-ER1, but a multi-channel digital preamplifier.
The video section has a 6dB signal booster with a 12MHz bandwidth.
Sound-wise, everybody agreed to put it directly into the Top 3 of such digital surround-sound machines, whether the user fiddles with sound fields or not. But to get rid of all the digital conversions, one has to have a TA-P9000ES and that made the total price a bit stiff.
Japanese listprice was at 200,000¥ in 1999 - 50k¥ more than the TA-N9000ES power-amp, or the same as the contemporary TA-FA777ES.
However, today, E9000ES go for fairly little money (and there are many of them around) so this may be a better investment today than it was... ten years ago.
Especially the TA-P9000ES with its four analogue inputs and beautiful (copper-plated) construction and power-supply :)
As surround-sound isn't really my cup of tea, you can find on the following pages absolutely everything regarding the TA-E9000ES's various modes, ROM updates, specifications, MENU info, what input goes where and all of these labyrinths which surround sound calls for :) :
- TA-E9000ES (general)
- TA-E9000ES (tech)