Kubota: The moment I first saw a Sountina prototype, it cleary embodied Sony Design to me. There's a sense of surprise and uniqueness from Sony. We wanted to convey the same sense of originality and excitement about this new listening style in the user manual.
Awatsuji: Manuals are something users see after their purchase. Our readers already know why the product is compelling and valuable to them. That's why normally, all we need to do is describe how to use it. But this time, we described how to enjoy the system and explained details of the technology at work because the Sountina can make a great centerpiece of conversation. Besides informing owners how and why the system works, we saw the manual as an opportunity to enliven conversations with guests, as owners respond to questions about the Sountina. We think that's a purpose we might expect manuals to fulfill. After all, manuals cover instructions and tips for enjoying products, but they're also a resource owners keep for future reference.
That's why we rejected a stiff, formal style and would not settle for regular, single-color printing. The slim format recalls the shape of the unit itself. This size is ideal for having full-page product photos on one side when you turn each page. This reflects our regard for nonverbal communication—conveying the product's interesting points without relying on words. After layout, we focused on printing, where it's essential to capture product details. Here we sought meticulous support at all stages, on a level rivaling the production of books of photography. It involved many refinements at the printer and five-color printing, but the quality is tangible and worthy of admiration.
Kubota: As we met with the developers to learn details, we put together a manual that's really worth reading, in ways unlike other speaker manuals to date. But at the same time, it's not a brochure, so there was no point in praising the Sountina with beautiful descriptions. Thorough editing led to an effective, clear, and concise manual. And the English in the manual is not a slavish, unnatural translation of the Japanese. We made sure the English version describes this appealing product well.
We invested this much effort in the manual hoping it would be a thoughtful gesture from Sony that even benefits the guests of Sountina owners, through owners' hospitality. A manual that invites owners to rediscover what they appreciate about the Sountina after purchase. A manual that inspires communication, bringing owners closer to their guests. These are the roles we'd like the manual to fulfill.
Matsuoka: Omnidirectional speakers haven't gained widespread acceptance yet, in my opinion. That's a good reason to hope the Sountina catches many people's eye, and reaches their ears. When people who first hear it in a public setting decide to take it home, I'm sure it will expand the market. It will also encourage this new listening style.
Audio entertainment has been caught between two extremes for years. On one hand there's the indulgence of setting up exclusive "front-row" seats in your home, in front of imposing speakers. On the other hand, with portable audio players, people are immersed in their own private zone of music. Neither of these is necessarily the wrong approach, but I would like to see audio entertainment also take a turn in the direction of inviting many people to listen freely at the same time.
And it is with the hope of popularizing this listening style that we present the Sountina.