Sony NWZA-15 A Series High Res Walkman 16 GB, my other main criteria when testing was that it must sound at least as good as the iPod Classic. My shortlist were this, the Sony NWZ-ZX1 and Neil Young’s Pono player. I’m now about three weeks in with the Sony NWZ-A1.
Sony NWZA-15 A Series High Res Walkman 16 GB Review
I should first say that I did not buy this player due to it’s ability to play “Hi-Res” files. About these, I remain open mind, but yet to be convince. The majority of my music is CD quality Apple Lossless files.
My player did come with a £25 voucher (this offer may have ended) to download music from the Qobuz “Hi-Res” music store. Yes, these files do sound fantastic, but I bought things I did not have so cannot compare. I do not intend to start buying “Hi-Res” downloads in place of CDs and Vinyl. A short list of pros and cons is immediately below, read further for more details
In short what I love is:
- Great Sound
- Reasonably simple to use
- Reasonable price
- Small physical size
What I don’t like:
- UI both on-device and for transfer still has room for improvement
- Supplies software could stand to be improve significantly. It seems unreasonable at the point to make one piece available to PC users, but not Mac users.
- Not much by way of cases available at the moment. Have reduce to a silicon case and screen protector to fend off scratches.
My main impressions:
So far, are that the sound is much improved over the iPod, soundstage is much improved and dynamic nuance is much more apparent. Though it does cope admirably with compressed files, if you feed it uncompressed audio, it really comes in to it’s own. I have really encourage to listen to a lot more music with this little player.
The UI is pleasant
Useable, but ultimately not quite as polished as the iPod (but that’s being picky). I would like it if the hold switch would lock the device completely in it’s ‘off’ state, rather than just stop it from responding to button presses.
Loading up music has been fairly straight forward. From a Mac, music can be dragged directly from iTunes to either the device in Finder (though this resulted in very little Album Artwork being retained), or via Sony’s “Content Transfer” App. This retained much more (though not all) of the artwork, but was also a little slower to transfer.
You must decide ahead whether files are being transferred to the internal or removable storage, though once loaded files are treated as one library regardless of storage location. Sony do make a piece of software called “Media Go” that works with this player which may make file management a little easier, though at the time of writing it’s not available for Macs.
So far I’ve been using it with my B&W P7s predominantly, but have also tried with my Audio Technica ATH-M50 and my Audio Technica ATH-M40x. All of which it appears capable of driving well. Things are improved with a headphone amplifier (I have a Bravo Audio Ocean Valve Headphone Amp and a Fiio E17 Headphone Amp), though in the main I use it just with the P7s.
It has to be said
Provided you have some decent headphones (don’t waste this player on a pair of earbuds) the experience is intoxicating. You’ll find yourself looking for excuses to listen to music. Even over bluetooth the sound is surprisingly good (I usually find the sound quality over bluetooth like broken glass in my ears), again provided you’re using a good quality system.
Ultimately you probably looking at headphones at least 75% (and upwards) of the cost of this player to really do it justice. If you don’t have those, or aren’t willing to invest, then this probably is not the player for you.