Sony has turned up the volume in dock speaker refinement, thanks to outstanding work by Sony Design Centre Europe (DCE). The sculpted speakers are poised to generate some noise around the world. A locally relevant yet globally appealing standard of Sony Design.
The new X series was showcased at CES* in Las Vegas in January.
This series is the high-end dock speakers that many have been waiting for. The top two models, of the five on offer, incorporate newly developed audio technology, which produces an immersive soundstage and vibrant bass. Sony has invested considerable effort in this range as part of our drive to offer world-class next-generation wireless audio systems. That's why we were so rigorous in the design development.
The design process began with a competition among Sony's global design centers; in Europe (which is a primary market for the series), Shanghai (near production and engineering centers), and Japan (at the Creative Center). We were sure that through the ideas of designers representing diverse sensibilities and environments we would find the right direction for this global design.
The designers in our studio were chosen to take on the design development. Their original proposals reflected a typically European preference for austere styling, thus we were involved in product meetings in North America and elsewhere to substantiate the design sensibilities in the global sphere.
It's especially challenging to reach and satisfy consumers in the European market, where many existing brands excel in design and audio quality. Success requires not only that we convince people of the audio quality but also that we impress them with iconic design that builds Sony brand presence.
*CES: The International Consumer Electronics Show is the world' largest comprehensive exhibition of electronics and appliances.
Ishii: As soon as the competition revealed which direction we'd be taking, we began studying our competition in the crowded European market and embarked on market research to better understand the user's needs and preferences.
This research took the form of user interviews across Europe. In one particular exercise, we asked participants to choose their preferred finish in a variety of common audio equipment materials - plastic, metal, wood, cloth, etc. - and to combine them as desired. Their choices revealed a surprisingly clear tendency.
By far, the majority of participants preferred a gleaming metallic finish, which would be a perfect match for the speaker proposals from DCE. Along with a low-slung look, which embodies the powerful bass and expansive soundstage, the controls of brushed aluminum would feel luxurious.
The research not only substantiated our original design proposals, but helped to form a clear vision and understanding between the engineering, design and marketing departments moving forward.