We've been covering all of Sony's latest additions to their Mobile ES lineup of car speakers, head units and car subwoofers over the past year and a half. Most recently, their new Mobile ES amplifiers and 12 inch subwoofers. Both exceeded expectations.

But Sony isn't stopping. Their quick expansion of their flagship lineup of automotive audio products continues with the introduction of two new awesome speakers – the XS-163ES 6 1/2″ 3-way component and the XS-692ES 6×9 2-way component. Both component-style products are indicative of a performance-grade or competitive lineup of speakers, so they fit well into the mission of this lineup – to “provide an unmatched audio and video experience”. Up until this point, Sony only offered a coaxial design for a 6×9 size speaker (although they have 6×8 and 5×7 coaxials as well). And the only offered a component and coaxial design for a 6 1/2″ size speaker in their lineup. So the addition of the 3-way 6 1/2″ and 2-way 6×9″ makes the lineup even more competitive with other brands who are targeting the same audiophile consumers seeking a unique and powerful audio experience in their vehicle.

Now, the underlying technology in these speakers is very similar (if not identical) to that described in our previous MobileES speaker review and lineup announcement, so if you haven't already familiarized yourself with some of the cool technology please take a look at those articles! What's primarily different with these two speakers is the components that they come with. Sony was gracious enough to provide us with some demo products, so in this article I'll open them up and give you a closeup of the two. I'll also show you what's new and different from their other existing speakers in the lineup.

To start, here's a few photos of the unboxing process. I have to say that opening up this Mobile ES lineup of products makes me feel like I'm opening up an Apple product. It just feels good. These speakers were packaged in layers. It was almost like peeling an onion trying to get to the speaker! Very well packaged and protected I have to say.

XS-163ES

XS-692ES

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XS-163ES 6 1/2″ 3-Way Component System

Sony XS-163ES speakers

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

  1. 6.5″ driver (it actually has a 6 5/8″ woofer). This is on the same platform as the XS-162ES and shares all of the same technology, relatively.
  2. 3.5″ shallow mid-range driver. This is a net speaker new for the lineup. It's a compact design for tight locations (e.g. if you're looking to install one in a custom a-pillar or in your dash). This is a great addition to better round out the mid-high range frequencies. It enables your main driver and tweeter to operate in a more dedicated range of frequencies. Mid-range drivers are definitely beneficial in a high-performance stereo and provide much needed coverage and clarity at certain frequency ranges. They also enable you to better set the soundstage, I'll cover this in more detail below.
  3. 1″ tweeter. This is the same 1″ soft dome tweeter that we covered with the 162ES (and now the 692ES) comes with.

One of the key advantages of adding in a third speaker to your 6 1/2″ component system is to set the soundstage. When installed properly, you can use them to reproduce a soundstage that's closer to your ear level and essentially ‘lift' the sound. This is what Sony's DSO (Dynamic Stage Organizer) tries to artificially do by modifying the output frequencies on their head units. With the 163ES, you don't need to artificially lift the soundstage. You create the soundstage.

Sony XS-163ES woofer closeup
Closeup of the mid-range woofer and phase plug

By adding a third mid-range speaker, it's not uncommon to see some additional improvements in bass performance too. The 6 1/2″ driver doesn't need to produce frequencies that the added mid-range does, which allows them to play a little deeper than a 2-way component system does. In general though, a high-performance 3-way component such as these will outperform a traditional 2-way or coaxial setup across almost all frequency ranges.

As expected, the crossovers that come with the 163ES are a little different than the 2-way systems as well. For one, they're a lot larger – about 6″ wide by 4.25″ long. Nearly three times the size of the other 2-way crossovers that are about 2″ x 4.25″. So make sure you think that through when you're planning your installation.

They also have dedicated inputs for both the woofer/main driver and the mid-range/tweeter. You can use a single input bridged across the two dedicated inputs if you'd like, but I would recommend using two separate channels from your car amplifier 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 tweeter volume with the flick of a switch directly on the crossover itself. On the 3-way crossover network, it's between +3 dB, 0 dB and -3 dB just in case you need to adjust the tweeter output level.

XS-692ES 2-Way Component System

Next up! The XS-692ES has two components and is a little more straight forward than the 163ES 3-way system.

  1. 6×9 inch driver. This is similar to the design of the XS-690ES but instead of the integrated soft dome tweeter (coaxial design), the 692ES features a phase plug in it's stead. There are slight differences in the frequency ranges and performance as well because of this.
  2. 1″ tweeter. Again, this is the same soft dome tweeter that's used across the lineup of component speakers.

What I like about the 2-way component 6×9 design is that it actually makes for a great intermediate replacement for an OEM speaker in many vehicles without having to use adapter plates or custom fabrication. There are a lot of vehicles out there, more commonly trucks I would 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 that. Although it also has a 3.5″ in the center of the dash as well.

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

Setting the soundstage also becomes an option with a 2-way 6×9. Whereas, with a coaxial setup like the 690ES, you need to rely on other speakers to lift your soundstage. The 6×9 coaxials are better suited to rear door speakers or locations where you're mounting them at the soundstage level.

6×9 component systems aren't nearly as common as coaxial, despite their benefits though. You'll normally only find them among top-tier lineups of car speakers, alongside other speakers that are designed for high performance systems with high demands. So it's fitting to see the 692ES in the lineup of Mobile ES speakers.

The crossover network 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 so that you can wrap some more control over the volume and frequencies if you wanted to. But if you didn't want to go through the trouble of bi-amping, you can still just use a single input to power both the tweeter and driver, and use the tweeter volume adjustment to dial back the high frequencies with a built-in 0 dB or -3 dB toggle switch.

Conclusion

Wrapping up, I think both of these model speakers are a necessary and welcomed addition to the lineup of Mobile ES speakers. Although they serve a much more nuanced, high-performance application and use case, by adding them to the lineup tells me Sony is dedicated to satisfying a competitive and high-performance stereo's needs. I'm excited to see where Sony continues to take this line!