Product Review – Sony SRS-DB500 2.1 active speakers

I am reviewing the Sony SRS-DB500 2.1 active speaker system which is the first multi-purpose high-quality active speaker system that I have reviewd for this blog.

This piece of hardware may not be to do with the home network but I am reviewing these speakers because they may end up being used as PC speakers, speakers for use with personal-audio equipment or simply as extension speakers for most of the Internet radios that I have reviewed here. User groups like churches may be interested in this speaker system as a separately-controlled “overflow speaker” for use with their public-address systems.

Description

This set of active speakers is based on a 2.1 speaker setup where there are two speaker units capable of reproducing the midrange and treble frequencies working alongside a bass unit that reproduces the bass frequencies. Here, the bass unit has all the amplification for this system and provides 75W (4 ohms 10% THD) per channel amplification for the speaker units and 150W (2 ohms 10% THD) for the bass speaker.

There are two inputs for this unit – one pair of RCA jacks located on the back and one 1/8” jack on the front. This is so you can connect two different signal sources like a PC and an iPod.

Fit and finish

The bass unit does feel very heave even though it uses Class-D amplifiers, which usually indicates that the equipment is of very good quality. This also influences the sound, especially with the subwoofer because what you hear from this unit is just whatever is in the recording.

When you operate the controls, there is a feeling of them being smooth, which is another hallmark of good-quality equipment.

Controls

There is a main control knob that is a rotary encoder with orange “halo” ring. Here, the orange marker indicated current position when it is adjusted or can be set to act as a VU meter or decorative halo at other times.

This control and the controls on the remote offer local volume and tone control, which is of use for line-level sources such as a CD player, or the Zone 2 or 3 outputs on the STR-DA5500ES receiver that I have reviewed. There isn’t a setting to set the speaker to bypass or “home” these controls for use with preamp-level outputs that have their own tone and volume controls.

When you adjust the ton settings on the bass unit, you have to press BASS or TREBLE then adjust the main knob. It is hard to know which settings are “tone-flat” for proper assessment and there aren’t any preset tone curves like “bass boost”, which may disappoint younger people who want to instantly “pump up” the bass.

Sound Quality

I have played “Café Del Mar” albums amongst other music material through this speaker and it handles the bulk of the music – the midrange and treble notes – properly without any “breaking up”.

The bass does exist but doesn’t “boom” or sound like an old juke box even if you turn the system up. Therefore I find that this system is capable of yielding a “mature” sound with any recording you throw at it.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This speaker system would be useful as speakers for a desktop or laptop computer or can work as extension speakers for an MP3 or network-media player, a Discman or one of the Internet radios that I reviewed. I would also recommend using it as supplementary-area speakers for the Sony STR-DA5500ES home-theatre receiver that I reviewed or other amplifiers that expose a volume-independent line-level output.

The only limitation is that there isn’t an ability for them to make them easily work properly as pure active speakers for a pre-amplifier, where there is tone adjustment at the amplifier. This could be facilitated through a “power-only” mode which bypasses the controls.

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