Sony Multimedia Player
It is clear that increasingly the design motivation for motor vehicle head units has been to provide devices that do all things for all people. Music, yes! Of course! But video too, both for entertainment and practical purposes (eg. for use with a reversing camera). Navigation to get you where you want to go, and hands-free telephone calls.
Sony, of course, does that with the best of them. However with the RSX-GS9 it has gone back to the roots of car stereo, delivering a device designed only for pure, high fidelity audio.
Actually, not just high fidelity, but high resolution. That is, this unit supports such formats as ALAC (Apple Lossless) and FLAC, plus uncompressed (Mac friendly) AIFF and (Windows friendly) WAV. It can handle resolutions up to 24-bits and 192kHz. Plus Sony’s own Direct Stream Digital format. It can play the standard version of this, with 2.8MHz sampling from USB, and both that and the double rate 5.6MHz version when in USB DAC mode. Of course it also plays MP3, WMA and AAC, so your not-so-high resolution audio is fully covered. USB DAC? Yes indeed. We will return to that.
Why high res? Will you get any real advantage out of that in a car? Likely, but if you want to, you’ll need to get some high resolution super tweeters. And indeed a suitable amp, because the RSX-GS9 really is a source device and sound processor only, not an amplifier. Sony provided the high powered XM-GS4 four channel bridgeable power amplifier ($499) and a pair of XS-GS1 super tweeters ($399) – capable of delivering over 40, 000 Hertz – to assist with the review. But even if one doubts the sonic advantages, it’s damned convenient because it means that you can play the exact same files that you have in your high-fidelity system at home in your car, without having to convert to MP3. But let’s get into the details.