Xperia, tuned for audiophiles with Mark Wilder 

To deliver sound as the artist intended, we brought in Mark Wilder, sound mastering engineer at Sony Music's Battery Studios, to tune and review speaker and headphone quality. See how our audio engineer, Kenichi Matsumoto, collaborated with Mark to make this Xperia one of the best smartphones ever for music.

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In collaboration with legendary mastering engineer, Mark Wilder
Mark Wilder in studio

Tell us a bit about yourself, Mark?

I'm a senior mastering engineer at Battery Studios, part of Sony Music Entertainment in New York. I've been with the company for 33 years and have worked on over 3,000 albums. I've been nominated for 11 Grammys, won six of them and continue to make great records to this day. It's amazing to me that I get to work on music that I loved while growing up.

“This is a smartphone specially tuned for audiophiles“

Matsumoto-san, how would you describe your passion for this project?

Most music lovers enjoy music on mobile devices in casual quality. As a music lover myself, I wasn't happy with that. I wanted to preserve the joy of listening to authentic sound, even if I'm away from my Hi-Fi system at home. My passion is to give people great sound quality, anywhere. 

Kenichi Matsumoto listening through headphones

What do you want music lovers to experience with Xperia?

Whether they are listening through headphones or a built-in stereo speaker, I want them to hear music as the artist intended. I think music can be reproduced accurately and I would like those who love music to turn to Xperia for that experience. To bring out the true essence of a song through its lyrics, melody, groove and other elements, we had to understand the importance of spatial expression for immersive listening. I think this emphasis on sound creation makes Xperia unique.

“I couldn't believe we could get such clarity out of a smartphone”
Mark Wilder reviews the Xperia 1 II

So how does the speaker sound, Mark?

What I really noticed about this Xperia is that it has a very clear voice. The detail, the ambience, the space between instruments is much clearer than anything I've heard from any other cell phone. It has more power and impact, it's more exciting. The dynamic movement, from the small changes in dynamics to the more dramatic ones, are like those coming through a larger full-range speaker. That's impressive because this sound relates to a much bigger listening experience.

How about when you listen through headphones?

Listening through wired headphones for the first time, I was really surprised by the sonic impact of this Xperia. The audio quality, the space, the clarity, the volume – everything about it seems much more together than I've ever remembered in a cell phone. I'm someone who travels with a Walkman® and I've been looking forward to the day when I could choose whether to enjoy music on my Walkman or my smartphone when out and about. That day has come I think.

How do you feel about the 3.5mm audio jack?

I'm excited to see the return of the headphone jack. I like my headphone experience wired. I feel more, in an odd way, connected. I really want the amplification coming from the phone and when I first saw this phone had a headphone jack, it put a smile on my face!

“With this Xperia, you get a truly authentic acoustic experience”

Kenichi Matsumoto

“It was a joy working with the mobile engineers, we make a great team”

Mark Wilder

So Matsumoto-san, how has the collaboration been?

Working with Mark has been very helpful to us. We kept his words in mind while we were tuning in Tokyo. But our goals were high and it took me a long time to get this sound right. There were moments when I thought I couldn't do anything more and then Mark's face came to mind and I told myself over and over, he would never be satisfied with this quality. So I kept going.

Mark Wilder and Kenichi Matsumoto collaborating on Xperia sound quality

And Mark, did the partnership work well for you?

Yes, definitely. And it's good to hear I was haunting the engineers! I guess with all collaborations you have a concern that everyone may not be moving in the same direction. That was never the case with us. From the first prototype to the second, it made me very happy to see how similar our ideas were on how the phone should sound. Our discussions led to big audio improvements for this Xperia.

What about the future, Matsumoto-san?

I’m confident this collaboration has produced the best Xperia sound ever. Of course, there are still a few ideas that we could pursue to make the phone do even more awesome things. That may be difficult to achieve at this point, but we will work hard and I would like to continue benefiting from Mark's unique knowledge and expertise.

Final words from you, Mark?

I appreciate being included in the process of designing each and every new Xperia smartphone. It's a great honour and brings me a lot of joy.