Feature Design

Definitive Outline

Photo of wireless speakers SRS-X5

new music experience
with wireless

Listen freely without cords, by streaming music from the Internet or other devices.
Imagining iconic speakers to unleash advanced technology was
where this design project all began.
Along the way,
a perfect new wireless listening experience took shape.


〈 SRS-X9 / X7 / X5 / X3 〉

A new wireless icon

Listening to music is an ever-evolving experience. Now that smartphones are so common, more of us enjoy streaming music than listen to CDs or other physical media. A convenient way to enjoy digital downloads and streaming has also emerged: wireless speakers. Advances in Bluetooth and other wireless technologies have made speakers that can stream music on your phone or music player in higher quality—wherever you happen to be in the room—more attractive than ever. But what exactly should these new speakers look like, without past restrictions in media or players? Imagining iconic wireless speakers was where this project all began.

X-Series sets
a new standard

The wireless speaker market is growing rapidly. For us, this project was a good opportunity to create a new standard in design. In this dynamic product category with multiple approaches to design, it was too early to challenge convention. We had to establish our own path, by defining people’s aspirations for the optimum wireless speakers. From small, entry-level models to larger, high-end models, it was important that they spoke the same language of design. Consistency would make Sony wireless speakers immediately identifiable.

Suzuki, senior producer

Poised and quiet,
in appearance

Approaching new design for a global market began with fieldwork in London. Home to many in the music industry, this cosmopolitan city is where much music enjoyed worldwide originates. Several streaming services are available, and the music creators and avid listeners here continue to shape audio trends. London set the scene for designers from Europe, Tokyo, and Shanghai to meet and collaborate with others in acoustic and mechanical design and product planning. Through a series of discussions, the designers considered their approach.

In the field, the designers also met frequently with design-savvy consumers and music industry professionals. Reexamining some rough design ideas through the lens of keywords from these talks would surely yield insight—hopefully, in a pure and simple form. One compelling concept that emerged was speakers that blend in. Not assertive design, but understated design that blends harmoniously into rooms; quiet and composed. By expertly erasing all traces of typical electronics, we would reveal iconic design.

Harmonious blend

In order to explore the blend-in concept, we looked for inspiration in the rooms where speakers are used. Essentially, most rooms consist of vertical and horizontal surfaces. As for music itself, we can imagine wirelessly streamed music that is no longer bound to specific physical media as somehow permeating rooms. Along these lines, we sought to extract space, symbolically. By seemingly slicing away part of the space, vertically and horizontally, we create a form where the music already seems to have merged, rather than adding a new presence to the rooms.

Redefining the existence of technology

After arriving at the concept of slicing out a space, we recognized once again how we should present this technology. I believed that the wireless sound source and indeed, all of this technology should be unseen. Technological refinements bring things to a purer form. When we reach some pure, irreducible essence (such as the box that produces music, in this case), we redefine its sense of presence. Ultimately, this process of redefinition—distilling things to their irreducible essence and minimizing them— is what matters most in product design.

Ishii, art director