Sony’s confusing product names are going away

When Sony debuted and last week took the first step towards a major change in the naming of its products. For years, the company has used a rather confusing mix of letters and numbers, some with only one letter appearing on products with completely different designs. You’ll no longer have to remember something like the WH-B910N to find the headphones you’re looking for, as the new names make it instantly clear about the product you’re reading about.

The ULT line of audio transmitters replaces the Extra Bass brand that Sony has used for several years. Described as the “ultimate step in the evolution” of portable audio devices, ULT Power Sound is an improved development of the low-end amplification of the offered Extra Bass products. ULT is further divided into Tower (large party speakers), Field (smaller, portable Bluetooth speakers) and Wear (headphones). Admittedly, Field is a bit obscure at first glance, but at least Tower and Wear accurately describes the products that carry these labels. All three are massive upgrades from the SRS-XV900, SRS-XG300 or WH-CH720N, three model names used for previous versions of three similar models.

Sony is also revising the names of both its home audio and TV products, using the existing Bravia moniker here. of the company new televisions Instead of old names like XR-65A95L, there are Bravia 9 (mini LED), Bravia 8 (OLED), Bravia 7 (mini LED) and Bravia 3 (LED). For soundbars and speakers, the company will use along with more descriptive terms. For example, the new soundbars are the Bravia Theater Bar 9 and Bravia Theater Bar 8, and the new four-speaker setup is the Bravia Theater Quad. Earlier comparable models had names like HT-A7000, HT-A5000 and HT-A9. Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure how Sony will differentiate the next-generation models from these. Maybe it will add “second generation” or maybe a different number. Either way, it’s better to stick to living room devices from Bravia and add “theatre,” “bar,” or even a number than the old jumble of letters and numbers.

Although they may seem random, there was a method to Sony’s madness. As far as I know, the company never released any kind of key for alpha-numeric confusion, but some of the terminology was easy to understand. “HT” in the names of home theater products is pretty straightforward, “WF” in true wireless models probably means “wireless” and “WH” for headphones probably means “wireless headphones”. What came after the dashes were created by Sony’s mind, but thankfully things like the “1000X” have become mainstays over the past few years. That consistency certainly helped keep things on track.

Sony WF-1000XM5 and WH-1000XM5 headphones and earphones side by side.Sony WF-1000XM5 and WH-1000XM5 headphones and earphones side by side.

The WF-1000XM5 and WH-1000XM5 are a letter apart, but they are very different products. (Billy Steele for Engadget)

Speaking of the 1000X series, here lies the biggest confusion in Sony’s naming scheme. The company’s flagship headphones, the WH-1000XM5, are literally one letter different from its flagship headphones, the WF-1000XM5. If you search for “1000XM5 headphones” or “1000XM5 headphones”, you probably won’t have any problems, but you should be careful when both are discussed.

For audio gear, the two letters before the dash describe the type of product. Immediately following the dash, you get an indication of the product family or brand, whether it’s “XB” for Extra Bass or “1000X” for flagship headphones and earphones. Then you will get a model or generation number like “910” or “M5”. If you don’t follow Sony’s product news, these can be hard to decipher. Even if you pay attention, it can be difficult to remember the exact names. I would even argue that there is confusion among Sony’s own employees. It’s a terrible naming scheme that causes massive headaches.

“The main reason for Sony’s new naming convention is to increase recognition by adopting a name that is more memorable and understandable for customers,” a Sony spokesperson told Engadget. The company did not elaborate on the timing of the change or whether other product lines will be renamed as new models are introduced. Perhaps the company has shifted the task of naming products from engineers to the marketing department. Sony already uses it for several true wireless models. So, if the company continues what it started with the ULT and Bravia series, the (likely future) WH-1000XM6 and WF-1000XM6 could be easily distinguishable names instead.

Let’s hope it happens.

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