Sony is well known for making quality audio gear, but we got mixed results from our listening panel for this wireless speaker. The connectivity options are impressive and include compatibility with smart speakers that use the Google Assistant. You send audio to this speaker via Bluetooth, Google Chromecast, Wi-Fi or via a wired connection with the aux input. There are also some unique and useful physical ports. An HDMI port allows you to connect an AV receiver to the SRS-ZR7 and play music from a record player or CD player. There are also two USB inputs for playing lossless files from a flash drive, external hard drive or directly from your desktop or laptop computer.
The Sony Music Center app is the most frustrating companion app we tested. It crashed multiple times, so we downloaded it on two devices to make sure it wasn’t an issue with the hardware. Once we were able to get the app to run for more than five minutes, the setup process was average in terms of ease-of-use. The Sonos PLAY:1 and Bang & Olufsen M3 have much more user-friendly apps with more comprehensive audio controls.
The Sony SRS-ZR7 has a few redeeming audio qualities. The vocal clarity was great, but was drowned out by high frequency instruments like cymbals, so we suggest turning the high frequency EQ down in the app. There are two passive radiators in the enclosure that did a good job of projecting accurate bass. We played a variety of musical genres for a panel of reviewers with a range of experience comparing speakers. This speaker received a mixed bag of results. Some of the inexperienced panelists enjoyed the overall sound quality, but most thought it had a hard time competing with the best speakers we tested.
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The Sony SRS-ZR7 has a great selection of connectivity options, and the black rectangular enclosure fits in well with most home furnishings. Hopefully Sony does some work to improve the functionality of the companion app because it was frustrating to use in our tests and lacks the audio controls found in the best apps we tested.