Sony Hi Res - HD for your ears - #HighResVIP
The email from Sony promised something special. They weren’t kidding.
Mrs DannyUK is a Sony fangirl. Always has been and, I suspect, always will be. Everything in her house is Sony, from the tv to the DVD players, through to the game machines. (Until I introduced an XBox into the household, of course.)
As she says, they are a quality name, have quality products and have never let her down. When I mentioned that I was being sent “their new hi-res (the best quality in the market) technology” to try, I thought she was going to explode with excitement.
When the parcel arrived, I have to admit that when I unboxed the Sony delivery, I wasn’t sure what to think. Inside was a new Sony Walkman and a pair of headphones.
I’d had a Walkman back in the 80s and 90s, so I was surprised to see the brand name still in use. The box for Sony’s newest music machine was bulky - an immediate turn-off.
However, I delved in to see what was inside.
My immediate thoughts: Wow, it’s small! The box made me think that the unit itself would be chunky, but it’s slim and portable. I could slip this in my pocket alongside my wallet or phone and it would fit neatly.
The look is old school cool. Alongside the stylish slim design of the hardware, there is an almost retro feel to the software. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, then it occurred to me: The graphics resemble the early days of colour screen mobiles.
What’s more, it’s not a touch sensitive screen. Call me old-fashioned, but the tactile use of buttons has always appealed to me and it works well on such a small unit. I know I can get to the right area of the Walkman with accidentally clicking the wrong thing as I am so prone to do with my touchscreen phone.
The charger unit is probably my biggest immediate annoyance. It’s yet another different charger to add to the new iPhone charger, the old iPhone charger, the Android charger, laptop charger and various other charging devices that already sit at home.
That said, although no charging plug is supplied, a USB charging cable is, and not only can you plug it into your laptop or PC (or Mac) to charge it, but it allows you to drag and drop your music between the two. This is infinitely better than having to use iTunes which, having used it on and off for a decade now, still makes me want to weep with frustration.
The Walkman also has Bluetooth which allows wireless connection to other devices.
So why is the packaging so bulky for such a small device? Primarily because of the instructions that are supplied with it in a dozen or so different languages. The Walkman itself, as I’ve already said, is tiny in comparison to the box it comes in.
The NWZ-A15 (catchy name, huh?) has High-Resolution Audio compatible, 16GB Internal Memory (and also a card slot allowing for expansion), an option which restores quality to compressed files and up to 50 hours battery stamina.
The headphones are the type that cover your ears entirely, and although I am more used to in-ear earphones, I wore these without any discomfort at all.
The MDR-1A headphones (equally catchy, I’m sure you’ll agree) offer High-Resolution Audio compatible, are smartphone-compatible with an in-line remote mic, have the option to reduce heavy bass distortion and has foldable earcups for easy portability.
Once I’d got the Walkman up and running, with some songs loaded onto it, I gave it a go.
The first thing to point out was that this equipment is Sony Hi Res. In other words, it’s the audio equivalent of HD.
Can you notice the difference?
I could. Massively so.
The sound was crisp and clear, and although I’ve never really had a problem listening to music in the resolution I currently do, I know that I’ll notice the difference if I go back to it after this.
Costing £170, the NWZ-A15 is considered entry-level for those wanting to make the step up to high-resolution. As such, the unit doesn’t offer much in the way of frills. There is no wi-fi, for example, though to balance that out, loading songs onto it from your main computer is easy enough.
The Walkman itself is eye-wateringly small for those of us that remember either the old-fashioned tape-playing Walkmans or even going back ten years or so had one of the original iPods. Sony claims that it’s the smallest high res player on the market. Seeing as it measures 109 x 43.6 x 8.8mm (and yes, I had to look that up), that’s a very believable claim.
The 16GB internal storage is enough for the casual music fan, but Sony’s inclusion of allowing external memory means that you can easily add more without breaking the bank.
There is an in-built karaoke mode, which allows you to reduce the volume of the vocals so you can warble along, and there are even ways to get lyrics to appear on the screen.
I haven’t been this excited about music hardware in years, and to be honest, I’d never even heard of Sony Hi Res before I got to review this product.
It’s a game changer for me. In the same way that I grimace when I watch standard definition TV channels these days, I fear that I will now have the same reaction to standard resolution audio.
At £179, the Sony NWZA-15 Walkman isn’t cheap, but if you want to experience Hi Res, it’s one of the cheapest entry points you’ll find. Fortunately, the expandable memory means that you’ll probably get a lot of use out of the Walkman in future.
The Sony MDR-1A headphones retail for £169, but again are excellent quality and can be used with any hardware that has a standard headphone jack.
You can follow Sony on their Twitter account.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some crystal-clear, high-resolution music to listen to!