More of us are opting for quality multi-room speakers in our homes. These speakers are easily moveable, they can pair up to multiple speakers in rooms all over the house, but do need to be plugged in to operate. Sony’s foray into this type of speaker is the SRS-RA range. In this review I’ll look at the SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000 Bluetooth speakers. I’ll show you what they both have and what sets them apart, test out their audio quality, and let you know about any special features they have.
These speakers are wired multi-room speakers; that essentially means they need to stay connected to AC power at all times. You can connect each speaker to the others for all over sound, or play different music in different rooms.
Let’s take a look at the common features of each speaker, then we’ll break down where they differ.
Sony SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000 Bluetooth speakers: common features
Both these speakers will connect to Google and Alexa if you want to add digital assistant smarts. They can be grouped together, paired in stereo pairs, and they have support for 360 audio. You can also connect either one to your compatible
Sony Bravia TV for better TV sound. They will both use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or hardwired connections. Where they differ is in size and design, price and power.
The SRS-RA3000 is smaller and looks a little more like a traditional Bluetooth speaker with a cylindrical design. It comes in either black and gold or white. When I say smaller, it is smaller than the 5000, but this is still a sizeable speaker. It measures 5 3/4 x 9 3/4 x 6 1/8 inches. And it is heavy. Fortunately it is good looking. With a gray fabric wrap and gold tone panels, it blends in nicely.
The SRS-RA5000 is the big option: It has more of a fluted design measuring 12.19 x 11.06 x 15.5 inches with three upward firing speakers on top.
Speaking of those top speakers, the RA5000 has a total of 7 speakers inside the case; that trio of up-firing speakers spreads music vertically while three side speakers spread sound horizontally. There’s also a woofer, to help deliver on deep bass.
The 3000 by contrast has fewer speakers with five; two Tweeter Units, one Full-range 1, and two Passive Radiators
SRS-RA-3000 is listed for $299USD and the RA5000 is listed at $698USD.
Set up: SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000
Getting the speaker set up was pretty easy—well, one of them was. You just need to plug in the power and turn it on. Then download the Sony Music Center App. The app will walk you through getting it connected to Wi-Fi, and can also link you up to Google Assistant, the Google Home, or Amazon Alexa. It took me just seconds to pair to the RA3000 and get access to the Sony Music Centre app. Then I was able to use my voice assistant to stream music directly to the Sony RA3000 speaker.
When I went to add the RA 5000 however, it did not go so well. While I was able to get a direct Bluetooth connection from my phone, I was never able to add the speaker to the Sony music Centre app after half a dozen attempts at adding it, I gave up, since I was still able to play music to it—but I didn’t get any additional functionality with this one.
Using Apple Music with Sony SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000
Similarly, with the RA 3000, playing music from Apple Music was not that straightforward. While Apple Music is listed as a service inside the Sony music centre app, the app does not appear to help you establish a connection between Apple Music and the speaker. When I hit play on Apple Music after being directed there through the Sony Music Centre app, nothing happened. I could not see any cast buttons and nothing would happen.
In subsequent testing this seemed to resolve itself, so maybe it was a quirk of the initial set up. Either way, if you’re struggling with Apple Music on these Sony speakers, There is a workaround. Go to the Bluetooth settings menu on your iPhone and connect to the Sony there. Then go back to Apple Music and hit play. IN this case you need to cut out the Music Centre app altogether.
Calibration for better performance
No matter where you set up your Sony speakers they’re designed to calibrate themselves for your space. Just turn it on, play music, and it automatically calibrates for optimum audio performance using an internal microphone and unique Sony algorithm.
With the RA 3000, Sony says There’s no manual measurement or “annoying test tone” (that’s totally a dig at Sonos)—just perfectly positioned ambient room-filling sound, says Sony. Hilariously though the RA 5000 does use an “annoying test tone”.
It plays laser-cats-style tones and measures their acoustics in your space, then supposedly makes automatic adjustments to make the speaker sound perfect for your space. You can re-run the calibration any time if you move it around by just hitting the button. Overall all this calibration and how well it works is kind of hard to measure and prove, so I’ll take Sony’s word for it.
Sound quality: SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000
These speakers purport to be “room filling” according to Sony’s market and for their size, they should be able to fill just about any space. Good thing in my testing I found that seems true. These speakers are both powerful and get plenty loud; you’re definitely in for noise complaints from the neighbours with these.
Both speakers have support for 360 Reality Audio. Because 360 Reality Audio tracks incorporate three-dimensional sound location data, they’re said to be able to deliver more ambient room-filling sound. But if you don’t have access to 360 audio, no problem—the speakers will simply adapt an use Sony’s Immersive Audio Enhancement, a unique Sony algorithm, which effectively delivers your favorite stereo tracks as ambient room-filling sound.
At this price point, either speaker should sound really great… and I’m happy to say they do.
The RA5000 is the biggest and most powerful of the duo with seven —three of them upward firing speakers. , but the RA3000 despite its smaller size is still able to crank. Both have a well balanced sound, and the RA5000 in particular has killer bass. I listened to a bunch of different music on these and I was pretty happy with how everything sounded.
The SRS-RA3000 an RA-5000 works with Alexa and Google Assistant, giving you the ability to control the speaker with your voice using compatible Alexa or Google Home products. Worth noting is that you can’t talk to this speaker directly, you have to speak to your designated Google Assistant device, and it will then control the Sony RA3000 re,otely through Wi-Fi.
Either speaker can easily be added to a speaker group in the Google Home app. You’ll then be able to play different songs in different rooms, or the same music throughout your house, using the app or via your Assistant speaker.
Some tracks play too loud and some are too quiet—so you might end up adjusting the volume from song to song. Both the RA3000 an RA5000 solve this problem by analyzing every track and automatically playing them at a consistent volume—so you don’t have to keep mashing the volume. This is another feature that is hard to tell when it’s working, but since I never really noticed any tracks that came out blaringly loud, I’ll assume this feature is doing its job.
Humidity resistant: RA-3000 only
The RA3000 is humidity-resistant, so you can use it in potentially humid environments such as the kitchen or even the bathroom. I couldn’t find any specs about this for the RA 5000 so let’s assume this one should stay in drier areas.
How to choose: SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000
So…Which speaker should you choose?
Slight design differences aside, which of the speakers will come down to your budget and the size of the space you want to fill. If you need more power in a bigger room, opt for the RA 5000. If you’re trying to shave something off the budget and trick out a smaller room, the RA3000 will probably get the job done very well for you.
Overall review: Sony SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000
Overall both of these are very great sounding and capable speakers. They get plenty loud, can easily fill any space, and are easy to connect to and use with mobile devices.
When it comes to the downsides, both seem kind of comically large. Particularly compared to a Sonos Play, they’re huge. I also had difficulty connecting the RA 5000 to a Sony music centre app, so I was not able to get all of the functionality, and playing Apple Music through Sony’s Music Centre didn’t work. Fortunately I was able to dump their app and just use my phone to control it.
One last thing… These speakers are not inexpensive. The Sony RA 3000 sells for about $200USD/$350CAD while the RA 5000 is a whopping $699US/$899CAD. Evaluating these two side-by-side on price alone, you’d probably be just as happy with the RA3000 thousand and saving yourself hundreds of dollars.
I can definitely recommend either of these two Sony powerhouse speakers for you if you’re looking for a large room filling speaker.