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Review and Measurements of Sony RSX-GS9 Car Receiver

Headphonaholic

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#41
I think this depends on what you like.
For me speed and power are great factors along with gas mileage and space.
I care little for "how quiet it is" unless its obscenely loud.

"materials" vary so wildly today that even 90k vehicles don't contain materials that are as nice as what was available for ~30k around 20 years ago.
I entirely agree. I generally don't even think about noise levels when test driving or considering a car. I did test drive a bone standard 2018 Nissan Sentra for my girlfriend that had such an anemic engine that attempting to merge at highway speeds caused a horrid low frequency droning sound.

I too look for performance and styling when shopping for cars. My gf doesn't care about such things and instead wanted something more economical that felt right to drive to her. Noise I don't think was ever a consideration. Personally, I'm all about the german cars :) I will say Hondas are a good economical option.
 

VerusMaya

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#42
Hey everyone, owner of the GS9 here. Thanks to Amir for testing it and accommodating a quick turn-around while we are working on my car. I wanted to reply to a few points and express my perspective on things a bit. It came out a bit longer than anticipated, so...

TLDR:
A car is a harsh, complex environment for accurate sound reproduction. Getting a car to sound amazing is a fascinating and rewarding challenge combining critical listening, music appreciation, acoustics, electronics, signal processing, and fabrication in order to be effective.


Yeah, the design of the unit may seem a bit strange at first with the large volume control and a small screen. It is usually not referred to as a "head unit" but as a "receiver". Pretty much all of the installations with it I have seen also have a tablet or phone used as the control interface, either playing directly in DAC mode or using the Sony Music Center app to control playback. Physical unit controls at that point are mostly just volume and sometimes source selection. It is a pain and limited to use on its own without DAC mode or the app.

I use the GS9 in DAC mode with an Android phone with USB Audio Player PRO for bit-perfect output (and Tidal integration). I have it mounted in the lower center dash, where a lid/pocket thing used to be. I have a 2015 Honda Accord EX-L, and like mentioned the factory control system integrates with some vehicle diagnostics and features I did not feel comfortable giving up. So it is still there and remains off almost always, and the audio system control is all the GS9 below it and a mobile device (wired hidden through center console to USB-C Power Delivery hub and charger for data and charging). I also have steering wheel controls integrated, which is nice.

The DAC mode was one of my primary reasons for picking the GS9 over a traditional head unit. I come from more experience with desktop digital audio, so having a generic USB audio input compatible with many source devices seemed like the best idea. Additionally, I have yet to see a head unit with a quick, responsive interface and effective media management system. Having to wait for clicks to register and screens to change is absurd. I really do not understand why there seem to be zero quality units when powerful mobile devices are so common.

Yes, road noise is loud. When I first designed the system, I did a lot of research into acoustic treatment, and ended up treating the whole vehicle (as possible) with Sound Deadener Showdown, CLD tiles to reduce resonance and MLV sound barrier decoupled with CCF. It definitely both reduces road noise and improves audio performance. The doors feel nice and solid and heavy too. The weak point, as mentioned, is the glass. Unfortunately, I do not have acoustic glass.

Regarding high-end audio performance versus background noise... This is probably a bit weird, but I actually use the system in the garage with the engine off a fair bit. We installed an Anderson quick-connect port in the back underside connected to the power system, and I have a charger with a matching connector. So, I can fully appreciate high-end performance. When we first built the system, it sounded great. Now that I have learned to optimize the DSP configuration, it sounds awesome. Great instrumental separation, clarity and details, good staging and imaging and placement. Definitely better and more fun than my living room or headphone setups (not that they have anywhere near the level of investment though).

This car has become a personal project and hobby. Yeah, I am definitely a fringe case enthusiast. I did not ever think I would be a car guy. Audio though... A car is a harsh, complex environment for accurate sound reproduction. Getting a car to sound amazing is a fascinating and rewarding challenge combining critical listening, music appreciation, acoustics, electronics, signal processing, and fabrication in order to be effective. I expect others whom are as involved as I am feel the same. I have learned a great deal about acoustics and measurement and sound reproduction and many other things in the year or so I have been doing this seriously, and I feel I am just beginning. It has also spread my interest out to other aspects of audio, such as studio recording and mastering, and video production.

I have heard some cars do incredible things. Stage and space beyond the bounds of the vehicle, height above the speakers, center imaging from both seats... The two-seat ones are impressive. It almost seems to transcend what should be possible.

There are even organized car audio competition leagues with objective judging and different divisions and points and yearly finals. Some of these people have the best ears I know, and they consistently give helpful advice on what issues they can detect and what could be done to improve things.

And then at the end of the day, I drive home and my music sounds incredible. Every drive is fun now.


As for the rest of the system... The GS9 connects to an Arc Audio PS8 processor, then to Mosconi AS 200.4, 200.2, and 300.2 amplifiers, then to Morel Elate Ti three-way front stage and Morel Ultimo Ti subwoofer mounted infinite baffle. We are currently working on a few things, though.


As for the GS9 test results, I am not too surprised really. I was hoping it would do better, yes. Many people in the industry/community do not like the GS9 too much though.


Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/19evoMgtnVYMHlkeDKgnHqMZsOfAZQHmj
 

Sal1950

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#43
And then at the end of the day, I drive home and my music sounds incredible. Every drive is fun now.
That is the important part and why do got into it in the first place right.
Glad to hear it's brought you satisfaction.
Thanks for contributing your unit for measurement.
 

amirm

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#44

VerusMaya

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#45
That is the important part and why do got into it in the first place right.
Yep, that was my original motivation and is still the primary factor.

I have been pleasantly surprised by how much of a tool for learning about audio it has become as well. Now I am reading acoustics textbooks and such, haha.
 

VerusMaya

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#46
That is a great install. Our normal cars come with pretty good systems but our Sprinter Van RV is horrible. That is part of the motivation for me to test more car audio systems.
Thank you, it really is. The installation was done by Soundscape Car Audio in Dallas. It is physically, electrically, and aesthetically great. Acoustically... the midrange is positioned too close (we were trying to get it out from behind the driver dash hump) and it substantially limits staging, depth and dimensionality specifically. That was the original motivating factor in the changes we are making right now, putting the speakers in optimal places.

Ahh yeah I see. I have heard of some really nice van/RV installs. Let me know if you ever have any car audio questions. The rabbit hole goes deep :)
 
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#47
I wanted to say that this device fulfills a very specific niche: It's the only name-brand head unit with a classy basic look. When I was buying a new stereo for my 1992 Miata I literally just wanted a volume knob with an aux input connected to a passable amp. This is the only thing that came even close. The Kenwood I actually bought is so vulgar and needless...
 

VerusMaya

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#50
Thank you! They really are beautiful. The fabrication work was done by Dan at Soundscape Car Audio in Dallas. The whole installation is beautiful, really.

We are in the middle of changing some things up right now. It is coming along well. I will post more photos in a few weeks once we finish.

http://soundscapecaraudio.com/
 

amirm

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#52
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#53
My pleasure. Amazing how cheap these things have gotten. I went ahead and ordered the Pioneer.
You, Amir you are spoiling us :D, have you ever hapened to measure your pioneer head unit after or befor making the switch to dual ? I recall having read somewhere online that most headunits form pioneer had decent line outputs but but integrated amps are in the "terrible" teritory.
 

amirm

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#54
You, Amir you are spoiling us :D, have you ever hapened to measure your pioneer head unit after or befor making the switch to dual ? I recall having read somewhere online that most headunits form pioneer had decent line outputs but but integrated amps are in the "terrible" teritory.
I have not measured it but could do. Mine is very old though.
 

Skonopik

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#55
I just joined this forum (first audio forum ive really enjoyed reading and learned a lot from already so thank you for that!) Sadly I purchased the RSX-GS9 late last summer and it has been a world of confusion ever since
I had it professionally installed bit they insisted pairing it with a Rockford fosgate DSR1 via a idatalink maestro and while it was a big improvement in sound compared to my kenwood unit I really wanted to be able to either hook up the center channel that came with the 2013 VW CC or maybe anyone has some suggestions where I could find a good aftermarket one? I've had a devil of a time tracking down a remote control which is absolutely necessary to do any firmware updates and I'm sure that will be a real headache as well. I only have a mac laptop so dont know about how update even the DSR1. AS YOU CAN SEE I'm probably in over my head all I wanted was some real quality car audio for once it seems "more powah" is the name of the game for cars. And although I'm running 2 amps and have plenty o' power I kind of really wanted quality and seems I really wasted my money on this one. Feeling rather stupid
 

Sal1950

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#56
I just joined this forum (first audio forum ive really enjoyed reading and learned a lot from already so thank you for that!)
Just wanted to give you a quick welcome to the forum and thanks for the kind words.
Wish I could help you with you questions but I haven't a cue on anything to do with car audio.
Hopefully one of our members will come along that can be of assistance soon. ;)
 

amirm

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#57
I had it professionally installed bit they insisted pairing it with a Rockford fosgate DSR1 via a idatalink maestro and while it was a big improvement in sound compared to my kenwood unit I really wanted to be able to either hook up the center channel that came with the 2013 VW CC or maybe anyone has some suggestions where I could find a good aftermarket one?
If you mean the center speaker, those are special drivers that have dual inputs. I looked for a bit to find a better one for my Mercedes Sprinter Van/RV and did not find an alternative. I thought someone said Crutchfield has them.

And oh, welcome to the forum. :)
 
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