Consumer reception of the new Sony Mobile ES speakers has been incredible. These solutions were designed to offer benchmark performance at very accessible price points. A while back, we looked at the 6.5-inch component set and coaxial speakers. In this BestCarAudio.com spotlight, we’ll check out the features of the XS690ES 6-by-9 and the XS-680ES 6-by-8-inch speaker sets.
Sony Mobile ES XS-690ES
The XS-690ES speaker set is a drop-in replacement for the most popular speaker size of all time – the ubiquitous six-by-nine. Sold in pairs, the set includes mesh grilles for custom installations. These two-way speakers feature a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter and a mica-reinforced cellular aramid fiber matrix woofer cone. The tweeter uses a synthetic fiber diaphragm that balances mass and rigidity to deliver excellent clarity and extension to an as-claimed 40 kHz. The woofer cones are well-damped and rigid to ensure uncolored midrange performance and great bass production. The rubber surround features Sony’s Separated Notch Edge Surround design that helps to damp unwanted oscillations that add distortion at high excursion levels. In addition, Sony notes that the progressive spider is designed to deliver “rapid and precise” control over the woofer for crystal clear performance.
Physically, the speakers are based on a five-beam composite basket that offers both rigidity and excellent damping characteristics. This construction allowed Sony to integrate a cooling system around the ceramic magnet that they call the Dynamic Air Diffuser. As a result, hot air from the voice coil can escape from under the spider to optimize power handling and reduce compression and rarefication at high excursion levels.
In terms of specifications, the XS-690ES speakers are rated to handle 110 watts as per the CTA-2031 specification and efficiency is specified as 90 dB at 1-watt, 1-meter, with a tolerance of 4 dB. When choosing these speakers for upgrades in vehicle doors, note that the mounting depth is 2.875 inches with a protrusion height of just 0.50 inch from the mounting surface. Last but certainly not least, the speakers have a nominal impedance of 3.2 ohms.
Sony Mobile ES XS-680ES
The XS-680ES speakers are explicitly designed as an OE speaker upgrade solution. These drivers share the same five-spoke composite basket with their integrated Dynamic Air Diffuser cooling technology. The woofer cones feature the same balanced-performance mica-reinforced cellular aramid fiber matrix construction. It’s worth noting that the mica mineral not only improves damping but it also increases thermal stability. This physical robustness is crucial around the joint with the voice coil.
Sony has done its homework in terms of delivering smooth output between the midrange and tweeter. Aside from the high-quality polypropylene capacitor that serves as the crossover, the XS-162ES 6.5-inch coaxial speakers and these XS-680ES six-by-eight drivers use the same 13/16-inch (2.0 cm) tweeters. The XS-690ES uses the larger, more efficient 1-inch design used with the XS-160ES component set. The crossover in the component set includes attenuation circuitry, so the output efficiency matches that of the woofer while offering improved low-frequency output.
In the case of all three coaxial driver solutions, the tweeters are mounted atop a custom-tooled composite post that extends up through the center of the driver. The post features a smoothly tapered shape and finned outer edge to help control midrange-information reflections. Likewise, the top of the tweeter is positioned so that it doesn’t extend past the front edge of the woofer surround. Other drivers aren’t always like this, and their tweeters can present issues when mounted behind factory grilles. It’s clear that every square inch of these drivers is optimized for the best possible performance.
The XS-680ES drivers also use a progressive spider at the base of the driver and Sony’s new Separated Notch Edge Surround for compliance at the top of the cone. In terms of specs, power handling is rated at 75 watts (CTA-2015 compliant), efficiency at 89 dB with a tolerance of 4 dB, and nominal impedance at 3.2 ohms. The mounting depth for these six-by-eight speakers is 2.125 inches.
Distortion-Reducing Shorting Ring
With respect to both the XS-680ES and XS-690ES, we’ve already mentioned the woofer cone material as well as the notched surround as crucial factors in delivering clear sound at high volume levels. However, another vital feature that Sony included is an aluminum shorting ring inside the motor assembly. This seemingly simple addition helps damp unwanted magnetic fields that are created as the voice coil moves forward and rearward from rest. Those fields would oppose the efforts of the fixed ceramic magnet and dramatically reduce output at the top end of the midrange and add distortion. The aluminum shorting ring, quite simply, acts as a short-circuit to those unwanted high-frequency magnetic currents, allowing the drivers to deliver uncannily clear midrange clarity.
If you haven’t heard car audio speakers with this technology, it’s well worth making a special trip to audition them. Quite simply, they sound different and better than speakers that don’t include this technology. Oh, and most products that include shorting rings cost at least twice as much, if not three times.
Experience Sony Mobile ES Speakers Today!
If it’s time to upgrade the audio system in your car or truck, drop by your local authorized Sony Mobile ES retailer and audition the new XS-690ES and XS-680ES. Be sure to bring your favorite music with you and give the volume on the display a good crank. You won’t believe how great they sound!