Best Products Audio 47 47 people found this article helpful Sony SS-CS5 Bookshelf Speakers Review These mid-range speakers deliver high-end audio—but not without a few drawbacks. by Brent Butterworth Writer A former Lifewire writer, Brent Butterworth's lifelong passion for audio and music has taken him from building DIY speakers to searching for the hottest new audio technologies. our editorial process Brent Butterworth Updated on January 06, 2020 Jorg Greuel / Getty Images Audio Speakers Headphones Earbuds Home Theater Instruments Accessories Tweet Share Email The idea behind Sony's SS-CS5 stereo bookshelf speakers is to deliver high-resolution sound at an affordable price. Their 3/4-inch super tweeters extend the frequency response and deliver mid-range clarity that's hard to find for less than $200. Whether or not high-res audio ever achieves mainstream appeal is still an open question, but if you're an audiophile on a tight budget these speakers need to be considered. Sony SS-CS5 Features and Specs Sony • 0.75-inch fabric-dome super tweeter• 1-inch fabric-dome tweeter• 5.25-inch foamed mica woofer• Five-way speaker cable binding posts• Dimensions: 13.1 x 7 x 8.6 in• Weight: 9.4 lb What's unusual about this speaker is the super tweeter, of course, but also the foamed mica woofer cone. Seeing this material in a woofer cone is unusual, but it's still light and stiff—just as a woofer cone should be. Even though the grills are attached with old-school grommets instead of magnets, the speakers look great with the grill on or off. Sony SS-CS5 Performance Sony The SS-CS5 reveals its strengths and weaknesses quickly. Its real strength is voice reproduction. Its weakness is that the 5.25-inch woofer doesn't put out much bass. The overall sound was nice and full, even on non-vocal recordings, but the treble sounded comparatively unrefined. It has some peaks and dips in the response above about 4 kHz. For a $150 speaker set, the woofer performed about as well as expected. Purists will find there isn't enough bottom end to get their foot tapping or head bobbing, with the low-end dropping off at 53Hz. The SS-CS5 has a fuller sound, and maybe a slightly smoother midrange than the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, but its treble is softer. If you want a fuller sound with more bass, get a subwoofer or spend the extra for the SS-CS3 tower. If you want a more detailed, audiophile-pleasing sound, get a more audiophile-oriented mini speaker like the Music Hall Marimba. Sony SS-CS5 Measurements Lifewire This chart shows the frequency response of the SS-CS5 on axis (blue trace) and the average of responses at 0, ±10, ±20, and ±30 degrees horizontally (green trace). Generally speaking, the flatter and more horizontal these lines look, the better the speaker sounds. The SS-CS5's response looks pretty smooth, especially for the price range. On-axis, it's +/-3.4 dB from 70 hertz to 20 kHz, which is an extremely good result for a speaker at this price. There's a slight boost around 1.1 kHz, which may make voices stand out a bit better. Plus there's a slight downward tilt in the tonal balance, which means the speaker is unlikely to sound bright or trebly or thin. Averaged on/off-axis response is close to the on-axis response, which is good. Impedance averages 8 ohms and dips to a low of 4.7 ohms/-28° phase, so no problem there. Anechoic sensitivity measures 86.7 dB at 1 watt/1 meter, so figure somewhere around 90 dB in-room. This speaker should work nicely with just about any amp with 10 watts or more per channel. Sony SS-CS5 Final Take Sony The SS-CS5 is one of the smoothest-sounding speakers you can buy for under $200. It can compete with many of the decent $200 mini speaker pairs, although most of those have a 6.5-inch woofer and an extra 10 or 20 hertz of bass. If you want a $200 mini speaker pair for light pop, jazz, folk or classical, the Sony SS-CS5 is a great choice.