Reviewed by: Tim Corcoran ([email protected])
Okay, think back. What was the first piece of audio gear you ever owned? I can remember mine. It was a hand-me-down cassette player from Philips (Model# N2205). Not one of those new-fangled Walkman-style things either, this machine was one of the first cassette decks; a stylish, expensive, barely portable battery-hoggin beauty, and I loved it.
Why am I dragging you down memory lane? Well, there was one feature of that cassette machine which I enjoyed and have yet to discover in it's latter-day successor, Minidisc. No, I don't miss the 8kHz frequency response, but I do remember the sweet sounding mono speaker. A huge heavy speaker but what sound.
Why does current audio taste dictate that we choose between ear-buds and boom-boxes. Whatever happened to simple high-quality portable sound in a tidy package. I travel a lot for work and want a sound system that's as easy to pack as to listen to. My quest has led me to dozens of "portable sound solutions" but until now , good sound and portability have been unwilling bedfellows.
Enter the Sony SRS-T1 Active Speaker System. In a compact portable package you can get clear sound, pretty good bass & economical battery life. Wow. All this and stereo too? Well about as much stereo as 5.5 inches of separation can produce. Styling is cute but straightforward, a single active woofer (~3 inches) and two tiny flip-out tweeters (~1 inch). Mickey-Mouse anyone?
As to frequency response, Sony is careful not to be specific on the blister-packaging, but what can we expect from those speakers. I'd guess at 300Hz-15kHz, but could be way off. [On the Sony US page for the unit Kiran Wagle finds: Frequency response: Tweeter: 7k - 20kHz, Woofer: 100 - 7Hz ]
The unit is a single piece about 6.5 x 4.5 x 1.25 inches. A miniplug at the end of 3 feet of cord is the only way "in" and power comes from 4 AA batteries or external 9v power (not included). Weight with batteries is about 12ozs. The life of those batteries by the way is a pretty impressive 15-30 hours depending on type and the volume you play at. The power rating is 20mW/channel by the way. I use the AA-sized NimH's I share between my Minidisc player and digital camera and have no complaints.
How does it sound? Overall I'd say excellent. This is a near-field type of unit and the sound is best close-up, like a hotel nightstand or alongside your laptop at what the hotel laughingly calls a desk. Remember, I'm looking for company at these times, not high fidelity. What I've wanted is an easy way to listen to my minidiscs without headphones while I read, shave or stare at the wallpaper and I think I've found it. The unit feels reassuringly solid. The pop-out stand holds it at a good angle and the bright LED up font reminds me to turn it off when the minidisc ends. I'd have liked an auto-off feature, but that's a minor quibble.
So am I satisfied yet? Well almost. I still think it should be possible to blend a minidisc player, full-range speakers and alarm clock in a portable package. Oh yeah, throw in a radio too. Any takers Mr Sony, Kenwood or Sharp? I'd be happy to provide photos of that Philips N2205 which could STILL teach you a thing or two about styling... Any interest? No, I thought not.
PS: Originally I had trouble finding this unit. Minidisco used to carry them but not last time I looked. Eventually Amazon cam to the rescue but only at list-price ($60). One Sony-specific store tried to steer me to an SRS-T10 but it's rubbish by comparison.