What is a Sony PS-HX500?
This innocuous-looking record actor has one thing that creates it mount out from a vinyl-spinning throng – a Hi-Res Audio logo. Yes, a Sony PS-HX500 will take your vinyl and feed a tunes to your mechanism to be saved as stately high-resolution files. So unequivocally 2016.
That pretence aside, this is a surprisingly normal plug-and-play turntable. It’s belt-driven, comes pre-fitted with a moving-magnet cartridge, and has a built-in, overridable phono stage.
Related: Rega Planar 3 2016 review
Sony PS-HX500 – Design and Features
The PS-HX500 is totally black and minimalist in a design. If it were an album, it would be Spinal Tap’s “Smell The Glove”. If it were a spaceship, it would be Disaster Area’s attempt boat from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Only that Hi-Res Audio trademark on a front of a plinth breaks adult a routine – and that can be peeled off, if you’re not a fan.
The MDF plinth has a vinyl cloaking with a matte-black finish that follows by to a tonearm. Even a cosmetic on a cartridge and a heatshrink tubing on a cartridge tags are black.
On a front left of a plinth lay a total speed control and on/standby switch. It too is black, obviously. The pre-production indication we saw during CES in Jan didn’t have a On option, that has presumably been combined so we can energy adult a phono theatre to comfortable adult a wiring though a need to spin a motor. It’s a good hold for critical hi-fi geeks.
The platter hardly protrudes from a recess on a tip of a plinth, and it’s an threadlike die-cast aluminium item. Sony has granted a 5mm-thick rubber pad to assistance revoke toll and to supplement some mass.
The tonearm is an all-new pattern that looks flattering decent. It facilities a admirably done integrated headshell with a corpulent finger lift, and a bottom with anti-skate, and an arm lift is built-in. The corpulent temperament housing roughly creates it demeanour like a unipivot model.
Pre-aligned on a arm is what looks suspiciously like an unbranded Audio-Technica AT-91 cartridge, that is a bill moving-magnet indication with a conical tip. They can be picked adult for reduction than £20. It’s a fun-sounding, low-pitched cartridge and variants of it can be found on entry-level turntables such as a Flexson VinylPlay and Rega RP1.
Under a behind corner of a plinth is where you’ll find a small box of electronics, housing a phono theatre and analogue-to-digital converter. It has a energy socket, RCA phono connectors, a belligerent terminal, and a USB port.
There’s also a line/phono outlay switch, that means we can possibly use a built-in phono theatre to block a HX500 directly into any line submit – such as that on a Bluetooth orator or many hi-fi systems – or we can bypass a phono theatre and block it into a dedicated phono pre-amp that’s connected to your hi-fi; a audiophile option. It’s another good hold that leaves a doorway open for after upgrades.
The whole shebang sits on 4 chunky, rubber-bottomed feet, and a lid is granted too. The lid’s hinges container into brackets on a behind of a plinth, so we can use a PS-HX500 lid-free though it looking messy. Also in a box is a 45rpm record adapter.
Sony PS-HX500 – Performance
Setting adult a PS-HX500 is comparatively simple. One you’ve placed a platter onto a spindle, stretched a expostulate belt around a engine pulley, and forsaken a thick rubber pad on top, it’s time to set a anti-skate and a tracking force for a cartridge. Sadly, no VTF sign is supplied, though there’s a scale around a counterweight to assistance get a tracking force roughly correct.
I started out regulating a built-in phono stage, plugging true into a line submit on my amplifier.
The sound peculiarity is flattering good – low-pitched and fun, with a far-reaching soundstage – though it lacks a small in detail. It sounds unequivocally identical in many regards to a distant cheaper Flexson VinylPlay, that carries roughly a same cartridge. Disappointingly, a Sony sounds a small thinner, and lacks warmth.
Switching to an outmost phone pre-amp – a glorious Leema Acoustics Elements Ultra – suggested that it was a Sony’s inner phono theatre that was holding it back. The Leema helped it to sound warmer and also combined a refinement that isn’t seen in a Flexson.
It’s a contrition that a built-in phono theatre proves to be a hindrance, though during slightest a choice is there to upgrade; this isn’t an choice in a Rega-built Flexson.
Using a PS-HX500 is a joy, however. The finger lift is a decent size, it all feels solid, and a speed-switching dial is good when you’re swapping between 33s and 45s.
Having downloaded Sony’s Hi-Res Audio Recorder software, we attempted plugging a PS-HX500 into my Mac (PCs are also supported) and creation some hi-res files from vinyl.
The program provides dual options here: we can possibly import in Sony’s possess DSD format, or as 24-bit WAV files. Both record forms are upheld by Sony’s line of Hi-Res Audio Walkmans.
The software’s interface unequivocally is splendidly intuitive. Compared to Audacity, for example, it’s only so most easier and slicker – it doesn’t feel like we need to be a veteran sound operative to grasp a decent recording. It’s still no fun manually bursting out and fixing each track, though it’s been done as accessible a routine as possible.
As for recording quality, we overtly couldn’t hear a outrageous disproportion between 24-bit/192kHz recordings from a PS-HX500 and 16-bit/192kHz recordings from a Flexson VinylPlay prisoner by Audacity. Perhaps with a cartridge able of digging additional fortitude from a record grooves, a aloft fortitude of a Sony’s recordings would stir more. And given there isn’t that enchanting burst in quality, we do consternation how many people will worry going by a routine of recording some-more than a handful of appreciated records.
Should we buy a Sony PS-HX500?
If you’re shopping a Sony PS-HX500 utterly to play annals afterwards there are improved buys during this price. But, of course, that’s given a apportionment of a income has left towards that crafty hi-res analogue-to-digital “electrickery”. Sadly, it feels a small wasted, given a PS-HX500 fails to puncture out utterly adequate fact from vinyl to aver creation hi-res recordings from it.
That said, this is still a grand turntable. But if we can live though a elementary speed changing and don’t mind a lower-res recordings, a Flexson VinylPlay represents most improved value – it’s a whopping £200 cheaper – and indeed sounds improved from a utterly plug-and-play perspective.
Related: Clearaudio Concept MM review
A neat turntable, though one that doesn’t utterly strech a potential.