Born for music, Sony audio changes and remains unchanged

Speaking of Sony's Walkman, I believe it will arouse the nostalgia of many readers. They may not help but recall the days when they carried CD players, cassette players, and even digital music players that were later collectively known as Walkmans, and wore headphones to immerse themselves in the world of music. time.

In a sense, the Sony Walkman created the "headphone era" of portable music, led the music walkman lifestyle, and continues to influence us to this day.

In fact, Sony, which has music engraved in its corporate DNA, not only launches consumer-grade audio terminal products, but also makes great achievements in music creation, music distribution and other fields. Sony Music Group is one of the largest music copyright owners in the world.

It can be said that Sony has already completed a full-link industry layout in the music ecological field.

Recently, with the release of Sony WF-1000XM5, Sony has renewed its brand slogan for its audio product line – "For The Music", which means "born for music."

Behind this slogan is Sony's complete and huge music ecological industry chain from creation to dissemination to listening.

In this music ecosystem, Sony has become an important "bridge" between creators and music lovers. By fully supporting the creators' vision, Sony attempts to bring more beautiful, more authentic and more beautiful music to more music lovers. Comfortable music experience.

Transmitting beautiful music from the singer's mouth to the listener's ears is something Sony has been doing for more than 70 years and is very good at it.

With a new brand look, Sony China recently held a "2023 Sony Audio Sharing Conference" at the BEACH NO.11 Music and Art Space in Shanghai.

Compared to the Sony Expo, which provides a one-stop overview of Sony's main business lines, this Sony audio exchange feels more like a "small charm" focused on Sony's music sector. It mainly shows us Sony’s comprehensive strength in the field of music ecology.

Voice for creation, everyone is a creator

Sharing and communication are the two core keywords of this Sony audio event. After three years, we once again had the opportunity to communicate face-to-face with Sony Japanese engineers. They also shared some industrial details and innovation needs of Sony audio products from the perspective of product development engineers.

It is not difficult to see that in the era of increasingly developed new media and social networks, user needs and scenarios have undergone earth-shaking changes, which has directly promoted many changes in Sony audio products.

Both microphone design engineer Kazuo Shinohara and headphone acoustic design engineer Shiomi Shunsuke from Sony headquarters admitted that in the face of the increasing demand from individual creator groups, Sony is also willing to embrace new product development concepts to provide individual creators with It is also a professional creative tool and can be adapted to the usage scenarios of individual creators.

Kazuo Shinohara, who has been in the industry for nearly 35 years, was the first to share with us the birth story of the condenser microphone C-80.

He said that Sony has also noticed in recent years that with the popularity of UGC video content and the popularity of working from home, more and more people are beginning to use microphones at home to record music, video commentary, etc. . Therefore, Sony wants to develop a compact microphone for these individual creators that can be used in small spaces like homes.

While making the microphone smaller, Sony also hopes that this microphone can provide clean, warm and clear vocals, reaching a professional level.

Therefore, the C-80 naturally integrates Sony's more than 60 years of research and development experience in C-series microphones. It uses the same diaphragm material of the C-800G microphone, which is known as the "legendary" in the industry, and continues the legacy of the master-class microphone C-100. The same pickup head structure is equipped with a large diaphragm condenser pickup head with a diameter of about 25mm.

I also bought this microphone at the beginning of this year. The first impression it gave people was that it was very exquisite in workmanship. After experiencing it, I found that the vocals recorded by it will become more magnetic and better-sounding.

The cardioid pattern allows the C-80 to focus on the vocals in front and then block the sounds behind and to the sides. The dual-diaphragm design effectively suppresses the possible sound distortion caused by the proximity effect. For recording vocals, the C-80’s cardioid pattern has highly sensitive pickup characteristics, allowing the host to record clear vocals at a lighter volume.

In the face of dynamic interference that may occur in the home environment (some ambient noise and large dynamic sound input), the C-80's fixed value attenuation (PAD) can provide 10 decibels of dynamic margin, which can reduce the impact caused by excessive sound input (instantaneous sound input). The distortion caused by the dynamic peak) can help users record large dynamic music while the audio can still be input stably and achieve relatively excellent restoration.

The C-80 is equipped with a Low Cut filter that can eliminate unnecessary low-frequency noise (cutoff frequency 70Hz) and reduce the impact of surrounding environmental sounds on sound recording, allowing creators to obtain studio-level results in a simple environment. Recording effects.

Voice actor, audio worker, Fat Snowman Ozu, the host of Bilibili UP, is also a user of Sony C-80 condenser microphone. As an audio worker, he believes that sound interpretation is the foundation of his life, and the microphone is an important tool for sound presentation.

Fat Snowman, who has used many microphones, finally chose the Sony C-80 condenser microphone as one of his commonly used recording equipment. he thinks:

The C80 is a good-sounding microphone that conforms to the mainstream aesthetics of the current human voice. Like Sony's other audio products, it has various designs that are meticulously designed from the user's perspective, using the power of creativity and technology to give a full sense of happiness at work.

Overall, the C-80 implements the product concept of "everyone can be a sound creator" with a more lightweight, flexible and affordable price, so that audio collection is no longer limited to professional studios.

Next, Shunsuke Shiomi, who has been engaged in headphone acoustic design, shared the background of the birth of MDR-MV1, Sony's first open-back monitoring headset newly released in 2023, from sound quality, wearing comfort, connectivity and ease of use, etc. It introduces audio black technology in detail and describes how to achieve the effect of traditional 13-channel speakers in spatial audio creation through a headset.

Like the C-80, the application scenarios of the MDR-MV1 are also those individual creators who use their homes as studios. The trend of music production is also changing from large-scale recording studios to home recording studios, and music publishers are also changing from Labels change to individuals.

On the other hand, the production of spatial audio has also revolutionized the workflow of producers. In order to meet high-quality spatial audio production, a 13-channel speaker monitoring environment is required. The MDR-MV1 provides a solution for enriching the spatial audio production environment through headphones. It uses a virtualizer integrated in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) plug-in to produce higher-quality stereo audio sources, allowing creators to move from the location to the other. The constraints are liberated, allowing for more efficient spatial audio creation.

In terms of product definition, Sony describes the MDR-MV1 as follows: "This is an open monitoring headset suitable for creators who use spatial audio production." Compared with previous classic models of Sony monitoring headphones, the MV1 has better sound quality and It has been optimized for comfortable wearing and practicality.

For monitoring headphones, the pursuit of sound quality performance is to accurately reproduce the creator's intention, so MDR-MV1 adopts an open-back design, so the sound is no longer significantly changed due to the sealing of the headphone shell.

Whether facing stereo Hi-Res high-quality sound sources or 360RA Object sound sources that support spatial surround, the MV1 open design can effectively reduce the reflected sound inside the headphone cavity, suppress the influence of reflected sound given by signal processing, and correctly Restore the sound field and reproduce the effect of spatial audio signal processing to the greatest extent.

In addition, the openings connecting the front and back of the driver unit are designed to be wider to achieve the most effective ventilation control for headphone damping. It can eliminate unnecessary spatial resonance, and can also perform natural and substantial low-frequency reproduction without sound coloration, and restore the sound field originally intended by the original author.

In order to meet the higher requirements of spatial performance and over-frequency response range in audio source production, Sony has specially developed a headphone driver unit that supports 5Hz~80000Hz, and directly connected the audio inverter tube to the back of the driver unit to optimize the action of the diaphragm and improve the low frequency. Excessive characteristics.

After auditioning with the player on site, and even walking into the recording studio to briefly listen to a demo of a song sung live, I felt that the sound of MDR-MV1 was very pure, and provided a good three-dimensional sound without any modification. The frequency connection and dynamic display have a good sense of warmth, and there is a very good separation between the three frequencies. The sound field is extremely wide, and the sound also has a good sense of positioning, which is very suitable for listening to give a sense of space and presence. music.

On the other hand, as productivity tools, monitoring headphones need to meet the needs of long-term wearing. For this reason, Sony has made extreme lightweight processing of MDR-MV1, and finally reduced the weight of the whole machine to a light level of 223g, with relatively comfortable earphones. Cover, can meet the needs of long-term comfortable wearing.

Speak for listening, leading the upgrade and evolution of users’ listening habits

For most people, Sony Audio's consumer end products will be more familiar. Including headphones and players are popular products among consumers.

From the perspective of development history, Walkman has also led consumers' listening habits. From the beginning, they could only listen to music in fixed places with complicated devices, then Sony Walkman created the "Walkman" habit, and then catered to the mobile Internet. In the streaming media wave, Sony can be seen active in it.

In the era of streaming media, although Sony is not the most radical and the fastest-changing one, they still choose the path of innovation and change. An example that has been mentioned repeatedly is that Sony's proud "Golden Brick" player NW-WM1 series models introduced Android OS when the second-generation product was updated.

Sony also explained the purpose of this very directly:

In order to allow audiophiles to easily enjoy their favorite music with high quality anytime and anywhere, we brought the Android system into the NW-WM1M2.

With the Android system, users can enjoy streaming music services such as Apple Music, NetEase Cloud Music, QQ Music, and Sony Selections. At the same time, despite using Android, the Signature series' pursuit of high sound quality shows no signs of compromise.

Sony engineers told us that after the introduction of the Android system, more radio frequency modules had to be introduced into the fuselage, such as WiFi network modules, higher-specification Bluetooth modules, and even GPS. Coupled with a bigger and better screen, it will inevitably bring greater interference and have a great impact on the sound.

To this end, Sony uses the S-Master HX chip to reduce the number of sound processing links. Before the amplifier output, the sound signal will all exist in digital form, minimizing the infection of component operation noise, making the signal output cleaner and maintaining accuracy. The ultimate pursuit of high-quality sound quality.

I have to say that among Sony's many audio products, Just ear should be the most attractive to me. Even if I unplug the 4.4mm balanced headphone cable and replace it with a 3.5mm headphone cable to connect to the mobile phone, it still has an extremely attractive effect. I was extremely impressed by the comprehensive sound performance.

More than 40 years of Walkman, Sony’s changes and changes

As the saying goes, everything is changing, and change is the unchanging eternity. There are constants that need to be adhered to, and there are also changes that adapt to the changes of the seasons.

For Sony Audio, what is constantly changing is the innovation and iteration of products and technologies, the improvement of service experience and functions, and the openness and tolerance of the system. What has never changed is Sony's ultimate pursuit of products and services.

▲ This is a "gold brick" player

The "Gold Brick", "Black Brick" and even my favorite ZX700 player also confirm the changes and changes in Sony audio. What has changed is the Android system ecosystem that follows the trend of the trend; what remains unchanged is the core pursuit of high-quality music listening.

Behind the slogan "For The Music" is actually a grand blueprint that Sony has been building for a long time. From the beginning of the creation of sound content, to the production and distribution of the process, and finally to being heard on consumer terminals, it can all be attributed to Sony. technical equipment and service system.

Well-known producer, arranger, and professional musician Jia Yinan also shared his views on Sony at the event:

To a certain extent, Sony (products) hear too much music and sounds in this world first, and then are heard by the world.

When his daughter Jia Ziye recorded her first EP album after signing with Universal Music, she also used the classic C-800G microphone and MDR CD900-ST monitoring headphones. This is also Jia Yinan’s favorite microphone and monitoring headset.

When asked about Sony's advantages in the music field, Chen Wei, senior director of Sony's audiovisual product marketing department, believed that Sony's long-term accumulation and complete industrial chain in the music industry are relatively rare.

Adhering to the brand concept of "For the Music" (born for music), relying on the advantages of the complete music industry chain and accumulated Sony audio business, in today's digital streaming era, Sony will use benchmark-level products and black technologies to build creators, A bridge for seamless communication among music lovers.

Leading by technology and supplemented by ecology should be a prerequisite for Sony to build this communication bridge.

From creation, recording and production, to copyright distribution, playback and listening – Sony, which has been immersed in the music field for more than 70 years, will continue to make indispensable contributions to the music field with its own technology, content, products and services. strength. We also look forward to Sony continuing to bring new surprises to the industry and consumers, so that Walkman, a brand that symbolizes youth and vitality, can last forever.

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