Audio Reviews

Sony adds XS-163ES & XS-692ES to Mobile ES range

We’ve covered all of Sony’s new additions to the Mobile ES line of car speakers, head units and car subwoofers over the last year and a half. Most recently, their new Mobile ES amps and 12-inch subwoofers. Both exceeded expectations.

But Sony doesn’t stop there. The rapid expansion of their flagship range of automotive audio products continues with the introduction of two new fantastic speakers – the XS-163ES 6 1/2″ 3-way component and the XS-692ES 6×9 2-way component. Both component-style products indicate a performing or competitive lineup of speakers, so they fit well with that lineup’s mission – “to provide an unmatched audio and visual experience”. Up to this point, Sony only offered a coaxial design for a 6×9 speaker (although they also have 6×8 and 5×7 coaxial cables). And the only one to offer a component and coaxial design for a 6 1/2″ speaker in its lineup. So, the addition of the 3-way 6 1/2″ and the 2-way 6×9″ makes the range even more competitive with other brands targeting the same audiophile consumers looking for a unique and powerful audio experience in their vehicle.

Well, the underlying technology in these speakers is very similar (if not identical) to that detailed in our previous MobileES speaker review and lineup announcement. So if you haven’t already familiarized yourself with some of the cool technologies, please take a look at this article! What mainly differs between these two speakers are the components that they come with. Sony was kind enough to provide us with some demo products, so in this article I’ll open them up and give you a close-up of the two. I also show you what’s new and different from the other existing speakers in the lineup.

To start, here are some photos from the unboxing process. I have to say that opening this Mobile ES range makes me feel like opening an Apple product. It just feels good. These speakers were packed in layers. It was almost like peeling an onion to get to the speaker! Very well packaged and protected I must say.

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XS-163ES

XS-692ES

XS-163ES 6 1/2″ 3-way component system

Sony XS-163ES speakers

The XS-165ES has three components included in the system, so the 3-way.

  1. 6.5 inch driver (it actually has a 6 5/8 inch woofer). This is on the same platform as the XS-162ES and has relatively the same technology.
  2. 3.5″ flat midrange driver. This is a mains speaker that is new to the lineup. It’s a compact design for tight spaces (e.g. if you want to install one in a custom A-pillar or in your dash). This is a great addition to better round out the mid to high frequencies. It allows your main driver and tweeter to work in a more dedicated frequency range. Midrange drivers are definitely an asset in a high-performance stereo, providing much-needed coverage and clarity in specific frequency ranges. They also allow you to fine-tune the soundstage, I’ll cover that in more detail below.
  3. 1″ tweeter. This is the same 1 inch soft dome tweeter that we covered with the 162ES (and now the 692ES).

One of the main benefits of adding a third speaker to your 6 1/2″ component system is to set the soundstage. When properly installed, you can use them to reproduce a soundstage closer to your ear level, essentially “boosting” the sound. This is what Sony’s DSO (Dynamic Stage Organizer) tries to achieve artificially by modifying the output frequencies of its main units. With the 163ES, there’s no need to artificially raise the soundstage. You create the soundstage.

Sony XS-163ES woofer closeup
Close-up of the midrange driver and phase plug

With the addition of a third midrange driver, it’s not uncommon to see some additional improvements in bass performance as well. The 6 1/2″ driver doesn’t need to produce frequencies that the extra midrange does, allowing them to play a little lower than a 2-way component system. In general, however, a high-performance 3-way component like this will outperform a traditional 2-way or coaxial configuration in almost all frequency ranges.

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Also, as expected, the crossovers supplied with the 163ES are a bit different than the 2-way systems. For one, they’re much larger – about 6″ wide and 4.25″ long. Almost three times the size of the other 2-way crossovers, which are roughly 2″ x 4.25″. So make sure you think this through when planning your installation.

They also have dedicated inputs for both the woofer/main driver and the midrange/tweeter. You can Use a single input bridged across the two dedicated inputs if you wish, but I would recommend using two separate channels from your car amp to power them if you want to use the speakers to their full potential. And similar to the 2-way component crossovers, you can adjust the treble volume with a switch directly on the crossover itself. With the 3-way crossover, it ranges from +3dB, 0dB and -3dB, just in case you need to adjust the tweeter output level.

XS-692ES 2-way component system

Next Up! The XS-692ES consists of two components and is slightly more straightforward than the 163ES 3-way system.

  1. 6×9 inch driver. This is similar to the XS-690ES design, but instead of the integrated soft dome tweeter (coaxial design) the 692ES has a phase plug instead. As a result, there are also slight differences in the frequency ranges and the performance.
  2. 1″ tweeter. Again, this is the same soft dome tweeter used across the range of component speakers.

What I like about the 6×9 design with 2-way components is that it actually makes a great intermediate replacement for an OEM speaker in many vehicles without the need for adapter plates or custom builds. There are a lot of vehicles out there, more like trucks I’d say, that have a 6×9 inch speaker in the front door panel and tweeters in the dash or A-pillar. My 2021 F-150 is a great example of this. Although it also has a 3.5″ in the center of the dashboard.

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And similar to some of the benefits of a 3-way speaker, the separation of driver/woofer and tweeter can improve bass, but also overall coverage of frequencies in general. The coaxial design in the center of the speaker is obtrusive and can change the way a manufacturer designs and tunes the speaker.

With a 2-way 6×9, adjusting the soundstage also becomes an option. With a coaxial setup like the 690ES, on the other hand, you’ll have to rely on other speakers to enhance your soundstage. The 6×9 coax cables are better suited for rear door speakers or places you mount them at stage level.

Despite their advantages, 6×9 component systems are not nearly as common as coaxial systems. You usually only find them in the top-of-the-line car speakers alongside other speakers designed for high-performance, high-demand systems. So it’s fitting to see the 692ES in the lineup of Mobile ES speakers.

The crossover on these 6x9s is on the same platform as the 160ES (although they’re tuned differently) – roughly 4.25″ x 2″. And like the 160ES, they’re bi-amp compatible, giving you more control over volume and frequencies if you want. But if you don’t want to bother with bi-amping, you can still use just a single input to power both the tweeter and driver, and use the tweeter’s volume control to boost the high frequencies with one built-in switch back 0dB or -3dB toggle switch.

Conclusion

In summary, I think these two speaker models are a necessary and welcome addition to the Mobile ES speaker lineup. While they serve a much more nuanced, high-performance application and use case, their inclusion in the lineup tells me that Sony is committed to meeting the demands of a competitive, high-performance stereo system. I’m curious to see where Sony follows this line!

Joshua Elliott
Bacon practitioner. Certified coffee fan. Lifelong food junkie. Web trailblazer. Typical internet fanatic.

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