Keen to show some love for the so-called “vinyl revival” (it never really went away!), one of the industry’s biggest players, Sony, have released a brand new turntable, and true to recent form, it’s an absolute stunner. Say hello to the PSHX500.
It’s probably reasonably shallow to judge a book by its cover, but when the cover is as gorgeous as the PSHX500, it’s only fair! Showing the clean lines and minimalist styling that has been a cornerstone of the Sony ethos for decades, this latest deck is a serious looker. Kitted out all in black and with a wooden base and die-cast platter, Sony have set this up to be a real heavy-hitter. From the moment it’s removed from its packaging, the PSHX500 leaves you in no doubt as to Sony’s aspirations.
Fortunately the beauty isn’t only skin-deep, with Sony making sure that the specification on offer is class-leading, too. A straight tone-arm is fitted for superior tracking, whilst a good quality cartridge and head-shell are also included to get into all of the detail on your records. A 5mm rubber mat is included, one of the chunkiest on the market, helping to minimise resonance during playback. Sony have even made the internal circuit board out of epoxy resin, bringing with it improved sound quality through greater stability. The PSHX500 has a built in phono-stage, meaning that no extra boxes are needed to plug it into your amplifier or active loudspeakers.
One of the standout features is undoubtedly its USB output. Sitting alongside the standard phono outputs, this increasingly more common socket allows users to copy their records onto a PC or Mac. Sony have an ace up their sleeve. As well as the ability to record in high-resolution FLAC, it will also record in DSD! Direct Stream Digital (DSD) is effectively Sony’s old SACD format without the disc, and is capable of giving a much wider and deeper soundstage, as well as much more detail. What this means for your vinyl collection is the ability to keep all of the lush sound and depth of your best recordings, but being able to keep a portable digital collection, too. Many vinyl releases are superior to their CD or digital counterparts, and now the PSHX500 lets you have the best of both worlds with no compromise.
Obviously all these features are just gloss if the performance isn’t up to scratch, but happily Sony have managed to make this an excellent sounding bit of kit as well as a forward-thinking one. Cueing up a copy of Aphex Twin’s Syro album, the Sony picked up every last detail and nuance that this modern masterpiece held in its grooves. Bass depth was superb, with the Sony giving a reassuringly solid performance when it came to the lower registers. The many rhythmic shifts from track to track were handled with aplomb, with even the most fast-paced songs kept in check. Tonally the Sony was well balanced, too, with a more neutral and less warm sound that can often be associated with vinyl. This was much welcomed, particularly on tracks that need real insight and clarity to be appreciated. Never sludgy, the Sony always seemed more than capable of keeping up and playing along.
Vocals were expressive and had a very natural air about them, also. Shifting gears slightly, the 2012 vinyl release of Alanis Morissette’s 1995 debut Jagged Little Pill sounded every bit as good as its 33 million worldwide sales would suggest. Morissette’s singing was pronounced and clear, and the post-grunge, pop stylings bounced out of the speakers with ease. Everyone’s favourite mauling of the word ironic, Ironic, again showed the Sony able to keep a tune sounding cohesive, even as it switched from the quiet verses to the more upbeat chorus.
Overall, Sony have shown that they can still crank out a great hi-fi product when the mood takes them. As nice to look at as it is to listen to, and with a decent feature count for such old tech, the PSHX500 is a must audition for anyone looking to get back into vinyl or for those just starting out.
To find out more about the Sony SPHX500, click here.
Author: Chris, Liverpool store