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Sony NWZ-A810 Full Review

post #1 of 110
Thread Starter 
Design

The Sony NWZ-A810 is just plain sexy. The elegant black casing is accented with chrome along the edges for a sleek look. It is quite small, but don’t let the diminutive size fool you. This player is built solid. Absolutely nothing about this player feels cheap. The unit houses a 2” QVGA screen that is typically portrait orientated. This is especially useful for long lists of artists/ songs since it will display more lines of text. The A810 automatically plays your movies in landscape mode however. The controls utilize a 4 way directional pad with a center play button plus an option and back button located beneath the screen. The controls are extremely well designed. Not only are they intuitive, but also you can access almost any other screen with less then three clicks. Sony decided to also include the most overlooked and underestimated feature on any DAP; a dedicated volume rocker. It is located conveniently on the right edge. The hold button is somewhat awkwardly located on the back. The 3.5mm headphone jack and proprietary USB connection are located on the bottom edge. Sony even added an automatic door for the USB connection to eliminate any dust or dirt from ruining the connection.

Features

The Sony NWZ-A810 contains only a simple list of features that you will find in most DAPs. It supports music, video, and pictures, but the codecs are limited (MP3, WMA, AAC-LC, Linear PCM, MPEG 4, M4V, Jpeg). The lack of Lossless codecs and gapless support could turn-off a lot of audiophile purists. The A810 does support DRM protected media though and can be used with online subscription services like Napster and Rhapsody. The A810 can be connected to your PC in either MSC or MTP mode, meaning that it can be used as a USB flash drive or synced through WMP, Winamp, Media Monkey, etc. Sony also provided their own Media Manager software in the package. modes work well, and the A810 can simply be disconnected by removing the USB cable; no computer operations necessary. Transfer speeds were average for both modes, but were quite slow using Napster. The unit refreshes the music library when disconnect, but only when there has been a file added or removed. The update is very fast. One of the major downfalls of the A810 is that the USB connection is proprietary meaning you cannot use a standard USB cable. Although this means you may have to carry around the cable, or pay extra if you lose it, it also allows after market accessories to control the unit. Sony has already release a cradle with several extra features.

Performance

The Sony NWZ-A810 is the best sounding DAP I have ever tested. The soundstage is wide and clear. The signature is warm, but not overwhelmed by bass. I have experience no hiss with A810, which is extremely important for those who listen at low volumes. The lack of gapless playback on the A810 is very disappointing. Sony has included several sound enhancements; Custom EQ, Clear Bass, VPT surround, DSEE, Clear Stereo, and Dynamic Normalizer. The custom EQ has only 5 bands with +/- 3 dB at each tone. With the A810 sounding as good as it does though, the EQ is only needed to offset the downfalls in your headphones.

The A810 turns on instantaneously. Press play and blink it is already playing. The transitions between screens are also lightning fast. There is a slight delay when scrolling through a long list of album art, but it may only seems like a delay since everything else is so fast. Sony Has rated the battery life of the A810 at 33 hours for audio and 8 hours for video. I have used it to burn in some of my newer headphones and it lasted through three nights of pink noise.

The screen of the A810 is extremely crisp and detailed. The frame rate is a full 30 frames per second. I have not played many movies on it, but it seems to be more then sufficient for occasionally watching short shows. I would not expect many users to be watching full length movies on a 2" screen, but it will play them nonetheless.

Summary

The good: Design, build quality, intuitive controls, volume rocker, and of course sound quality.

The bad: No lossless support, no FM radio, no OTG playlists, max 8gb

The bottom line: The Sony NWZ-A810 is easily the easiest to use and best sounding flash DAP I have ever tested.

Sony NWZ-A818 8gb

Sony NWZ-A816 4gb
post #2 of 110
Another very detailed, and accurate review.
post #3 of 110
Linear PCM means a kind of wav

it's a lossless format .
post #4 of 110
if only it had a sleep timer. then i'd make it mine.
post #5 of 110
I think it handles lossless WMA too.
post #6 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelJ View Post
I think it handles lossless WMA too.
My Sony 616 will not play WMA lossless
post #7 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by DKaz View Post

The Sony NWZ-A810 is the best sounding DAP I have ever tested. The soundstage is wide and clear. The signature is warm, but not overwhelmed by bass. I have experience no hiss with A810, which is extremely important for those who listen at low volumes.
Just curious, what other daps have you listened to by way of comparison, and what is it about the Sony that you prefer?

Thanks.
post #8 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowon_1 View Post
My Sony 616 will not play WMA lossless
My 808 does. Hmm I just thought they removed atrac from the newer players. Anyone with 818 who can confirm or deny?
post #9 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelJ View Post
My 808 does. Hmm I just thought they removed atrac from the newer players. Anyone with 818 who can confirm or deny?
They have removed Atrac/SS from the newer players. They're all drag and drop now.

I've had my 808 since May, but because it still used SS, no one here had one. Now they've 'remade' the 808 into an 818 using drag and drop - more people are willing to try one.

I don't mind SS as gapless is a priority for me, and it's not available on the 818. What I'd really like to see is the 808/818 use the same firmware, so we could have the option of either drag and drop or SS.

But it doesn't look it will ever be a possibility, at least not on these models.
post #10 of 110
sorry I wasn't clear enough I meant confirm or deny that 818 can not play WMA lossless. Sorry for that.
post #11 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkm365 View Post
Just curious, what other daps have you listened to by way of comparison, and what is it about the Sony that you prefer?

Thanks.
I agree with him about the NWZ series being one of the best sounding daps ever. However Sony does cheat

RightMark Audio Analyzer test: comparison

Here is an RMAA of the NWZ-S616F driving 16ohm headphones. You will notice a few things. In this test the player is at flat eq and still has +1db boost around 30hz and +1db at around 10khz. However this one of the very few players that can back this up with a superior quality amplifier. Keep in mind in this test it is driving 16ohm headphones.

I use Shure E4C and Ety ER4P mostly. Also HD497 and HD280 pro. All the those headphones sound first rate. Honestly this is the best DAP i've heard going against:

iPod Photo
iPod Nano 1st & 2nd gen
iPod Video 5.5
Creative Zen V Plus
iAudio X5
Sandisk Sansa Express (another excellent sounding player.. almost as good as the sony. Almost a tie NWZ series edges out the express by a bit)
Sansa Clip (sounds almost same as express, but I find express is a tad better)
Samsung YP-P2

I heard few more DAPs. But this one honestly made a huge impression on me. Then again I was expecting it because I used NW-A1000 before which also sounds very good.
post #12 of 110
Ah, so a bit of pleasing coloration it seems. Probably good synergy for IEMs that need a little kick in the low end.
post #13 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkm365 View Post
Ah, so a bit of pleasing coloration it seems. Probably good synergy for IEMs that need a little kick in the low end.
I used it with HD497 and HD280 and HD595 and it sounds excellent with all these headphones. Of course 497 and 595 are fairly neutral. Except the HD280 Pro which have a rather rolled off bass to start with. But basically yes the sound is clearly not netural. But you simply have to give this DAP a chance to see just how good it sounds.

Another thing with this DAP is that it sounds good at extremely low volume. I find other players loose definition at low volumes while this Sony sounds very good with all detail/bass/mids/highs are there. (As did the NW-a1000 and the Sansa Express). I usually listen to E4c at between 8/30 to 12/30 on the NWZ-S616F.

In addition to all that this player really features the best 'soundstage' of all players i've tried. I can only guess due to it's superb crosstalk performance.
post #14 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkm365 View Post
Just curious, what other daps have you listened to by way of comparison, and what is it about the Sony that you prefer?

Thanks.
I currently own: Cowon iAudio U2, Meizu M6 SL, Sony NWZ-A818

I have listened to: Sansa E200, iPod 4g, iPod Nano 3g, iPod shuffle 2g

The Sony's sound is intriguing. It is clear and detailed even at very low volumes. The slight coloration that was shown in the RMAA may be what brings the background to life. It makes the music effortless to listen to.
post #15 of 110
Hey in my book anythings thats +/- 1 db under a headphone load is pretty damn good
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