Review: Sony SS-M7aes Speaker

Category: Speakers

Speakers are by far the most subjective piece in the average person's system and the one that tends to create the most excitement, whether positive or negative.
A multitude of evils can be overcome with the right speakers or every fault in the system can be made glaringly obvious. Let the mudslinging begin!
Several years ago I happened to wander into the local audio emporium to see what was new, exciting and due to my budget constraints, affordable. I glanced around at the latest offerings from B&W, Magnapan, and others of their types. Nothing caught my eye but one of their eager young salesmen felt the responsibility to show me the item they were currently trying to unload on unsuspecting customers. Of all things, a Sony speaker!
Being the savvy shopper that I am I would have no part of it. Everyone knows Sony does not make good equipment especially speakers.
Several years later I was in another store and the owner tried the same thing with the same speakers. On this occasion I must have had more time because I listened to his pitch and actually listened to the speakers. Much to my surprise they did not sound anywhere near as bad as I thought they would.
The salesman explained that Sony hired a reputable American speaker designer, gave him the checkbook, and told him not to come back till the job was done.
One of the models he developed was the SS-M7es. It was the first model released but in the middle of what would eventually become a three-model set of speakers. The SS-M3 was a two-way bookshelf speaker, and the SS-M9es was a floor standing four (or later a five driver) model which would eventually end up on Stereophile's class A list of recommended components.
The SS-M7es is a three way, three driver, stand-mounted speaker. None of the cabinet walls are parallel which greatly reduces the possibility of standing waves within the cabinet. The cabinet is made of 1" MDF and comes in many finishes.
The crossover is a third order Thiel type. The drivers were made for Sony but I do not know where they came from or who made them. The speakers themselves are made in the USA.
The speakers come with two sets of binding posts to facilitate bi-wiring, or bi-amping. I would like to see better metal binding posts instead of the plastic which comes stock.
The owner of the store offered to let me take them home and listen. Since no one else was in the store at the moment and no one would ever know I was going to listen to Sony speakers I took him up on the offer. How bad could they be, I wondered to myself.
I used them in place of the Focus .7's I had bought about five years earlier. The Focus impressed me with their overall tone and soundstaging. Alas I don't think the Canadian Company is still around.
I did not expect the Sony’s to compare very well with the Focus speakers, but since installing the Sony’s they have not been out of my system. Everything the Focus speakers did well, the Sony’s did better. Overall tone was as good as what I had been hearing and the soundstage was much tighter and better defined. The treble was audible to my ears to about 14 kHz, but Sony claim’s to go all the way to 20 kHz. Not that it matters to be since I can’t hear it anyway.
When playing LPs I have noticed on many occasions that there was sound coming from outside the spread of the speakers. The soundstage is much wider than the speaker placement. I know some think this is impossible, but I have heard it, as have others. The soundstage is also taller than the speakers are. One of the most pleasant improvements was the front-to-back depth of the soundstage. There is a palpable image presented in front of the listener. Instruments are tightly defined and located within that soundstage. Sound emanates from both the front of the speakers and from behind them.
I have listened to everything from heavy metal to chamber music with these speakers and they handle everything well. They are not perfect, the listener will not be fooled into thinking there is a flute player in the room, but nothing else will do that either. Natural timbre is very important to me, and the Sony’s do it well, but I know it is just recorded music. The biggest factor in musical enjoyment is still the listener’s imagination, not the electronics or speakers!
As I have replaced pieces in my system the Sony’s have continued to improve. I am on my third amp. When I bought the speakers I had a Forte amp, I sold it to buy an Aragon 8008st, and now am in the process of buying a Krell FPB 200. I also have had three pre-amps. Since buying the SS-M7es. I began with a Counterpoint SA 5.1, which I replaced with an Aragon. After a few weeks with the Aragon I bought the first of two Krell pre-amps. I am now using the KRC 2. I am only now thinking that it might be time to look at something better. I have listened to many friends system with much more expensive speakers and still did not think their speakers were better.
The only real fault to point out was also true of both speakers. Using the test CDs I own I was only able to discern bass down to about 45-50 Hz. Neither of the speakers will reproduce the deepest bass.
As I listen it is hard to fault these speakers. The worst attribute they possess is the anchor of the Sony label. People have decided that they cannot build a good speaker. I know from experience that these speakers would be very popular if it were not for that label. No one who has heard the speakers has said anything bad about them. The fact of the missing low bass registers has been mentioned, not as a complaint as much as an observation. Audiophiles have to say something you know.
If you want to buy a great sounding set of used speakers for a little cash investment you owe it to yourself to listen to these speakers. A buyer can spend a lot more money and not get a better speaker. Take the Sony label off of them and lie to your friends (if you must), they will be impressed by the sound.
These speakers might truly be one of the best bargains in Hi-end audio.

Associated gear
Benz Micro Glider Cartridge
Sota Star Sapphire sIII Turntable
Rega RB-900 Tonearm
Sony SC-D777es CD Player
Krell KRC-2 Preamplifier
Aragon 8008st Amplifier
Krell FPB-200 Amplifier
Sony SS-M7aes Speaker
Purist Proteus Interconnect
Purist Colossus Interconnect
Cardas Golden C Interconnect
Kimber Kable KCTG Interconnect
Tara Labs Pandora S Interconnect
Monster Cable M 2.4 Speaker cable
Nakamichi RX-505 Tape deck
Home made power cords Power cord
Tice Audio powerblock 2 AC filter

Similar products
Focus .7
Okay Nate, you've convinced me. How much do you want for them? Can I run them with my 2 watt Berning?
I use a pair of the Sony 7s in my bedroom system (2 channel, both music and movies). I picked them up 5 years ago for $700 at one of the Sony outlet stores and I consider them one of my most astute purchases. As Nrchy points out, they don't do deep bass, but they do the mid-bass very well, they are also tonally smooth and overall very quick sounding. They work best with solid state amps and they like power (100w minimum). People don't believe it when I say it, but they are comparable to the smaller Avalon models. I don't remember the reviewer, but these speakers were raved about in "Fi" magazine.
Tom I don't think I will ever own anything you would actually want, but I can always hope. I don't think the Sony's are sensetive enough for your amp. They are about 87 db. What are the lothar's?
I can't sell these speakers. After the amp purchase (of which I'm sure you would not approve) I am going to be broke for a long time!
Onhwy61 I agree with your assessment. This is a name issue. If these said Avalon, Theil, or any number of other good names they would have sold very well. The name kills them.