Important Specs Overview
Speaker type: powered, back ported
Continuous power handling: 34.5 W*
Peak power handling: 115 W
Frequency response range: 28 – 200 Hz
Driver size: 10 in
Unit weight: 25 lbs
Cabinet dimensions: 11.5 x 16 x 13.5 in (width x depth x height)
Warranty: 2 years
*When nominal/RMS power isn’t specified by manufacturer, we use an approximation of ~30% of the specified peak/dynamic power for comparison purposes.
Review And Discussion
In the audio world Sony is mostly known for its ancillary a/v equipment, but they do produce a handful of home theater speakers, including a single budget-tier subwoofer, the SA-CS9 reviewed herein.
At its initial release and MSRP, we honestly wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s since been significantly discounted and is currently a legit competitor amongst budget subwoofers. It has the highest peak handling power spec that we’ve seen at the low price it’s gone at.
Though it advertises itself as a “compact” subwoofer the cabinet is quite large, and the woofer is 10 inches. This isn’t necessarily bad – bigger subwoofers with larger drivers generally perform better, but logistics do obviously come into play when subs get large and heavy. The SA-CS9 is only 25 lbs though, which is relatively light for a 10+ inch sub.
A ~35 W rms subwoofer is good for augmenting similarly powered mid/near-field desktop speakers – and adding a sub to budget bookshelf speakers is usually a good idea – but it will probably not match higher end speakers suited for a home theater system in a full sized room.
Further reading: is adding a subwoofer worth it?
The response range is quite good, in particular the 28 Hz floor, but with a quoted 10% harmonic distortion and no standard +/- 3 dB differential, it’s reasonable to expect the volume will drop off considerably before that.
The driver material is a woven fiber, which isn’t all that common in subwoofers. Paper/cloth woofers have very high performance potential but are more prone to wear and tear or environmental damage. This isn’t so much an issue with brands that offer 5 year warranties, but Sony unfortunately only offers a 2 year warranty so it’s a slight point of concern.
The cabinet is a pretty plain vinyl mdf with a removable foam-grill front, a boilerplate look for budget speakers. A convenient feature is a back facing port, so you don’t have to worry about placing it on a hard surface for the port to do its job.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
Before the discount? We’d take a hard pass on the SACS9 because there are many far superior alternatives at that price point. Now though? It’s definitely a contender, quite on par with Polk’s similarly popular PSW10 (reviewed here), the latter of which has a better warranty but less peak power output.
If you’re looking for a very cheap subwoofer to sufficiently augment similarly cheap bookshelf speakers, the SACS9 is definitely a solid choice. Speaker prices do fluctuate though, so the best “choice” often boils down to what’s the best deal at the time.
We will say, though, that if you’re willing to spend a little more, a lot more options and potential performance become available. See the links below for some such recommendations.