Sony Walkman NWZ-A10

General Information

Introducing the A10 Series High-Resolution Walkman®. The greatest name in portable music meets the latest standard in premium audio, with up to 30 hours of playtime (approximate) and a microSDXC card slot for expandable memory. As the smallest and lightest Hi-Res Audio digital music player, you get portability, convenience, and style.

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Pros: Fluid UI, Refined, resolving sound, Class leading battery life, Super defined bass response, Form factor, Design
Cons: Mediocre buttons, Creak and flex under back button, Average driving power, Proprietary port, Missing a few simple features
Introduction –

Sony took a risk with the A25. It bears no touch screen, no smart features and really, no particularly standout features at all. What the NW-A25 is instead, is a very refined, streamlined take on the classic audio player. With a full focus on audio quality and as a pioneer of the new Hi-Res audio standard, Sony panders to a large but very specific audience. Does the Sony bring enough new features and audio performance to the table to compete with Apple’s iPod Nano line-up and is it a companion or replacement for smartphone listening? Let’s find out.

 

Accessories –



The A25 is well packaged, the light coloured box showcases the A25 in corresponding colour on the front along with some basic specifications on the rear. Two trays slide out, one containing the A25 itself and the other containing the USB cable and manual. It’s a pretty barebones setup, even Apple provide more accessories. Though I rarely use the included earphones, Sony does include some decent noise cancelling in-ears in certain regions, however mine did not come with any.



The included cable is of average quality, it’s not as bad as Apple’s rubbery cables, but it doesn’t help that Sony employ a proprietary connector as well. Sony is pretty renowned for their proprietary standards, for instance, Sony’s $150 64GB Vita memory card… In all fairness, the Walkman port is a decent connector, it’s sturdier than micro-b whilst remaining slender, but finding replacement parts is very difficult, especially line-out and otg cables.



I would have liked Sony to include some kind of case or pouch with the A25, maybe even a screen protector and Walkman cables should be easier to purchase. As it is, you’ll have to go down to a Sony store or e-mail them directly to order in a replacement, and I’m guessing it won’t be cheap either.

 

Design –



The A25 is a super sleek and attractive player, I think Sony design some really nice products. The form factor reminds me of a shaper 4thgeneration iPod Nano, it is a little larger than the Nano range, especially the newer touch-based 6th and 7th generation models, but the Sony still fits snugly within my running shorts and I often forget it’s in the pockets of my regular trousers.



This is partly due to the A25’s very light weight, weighing in at only 66g, making for easy handling. It’s also not too cumbersome when jogging but the smaller Nano’s and Shuffles are still more ideal. One thing to note for active users, is that the A25 does not support remote commands, making track and volume changes cumbersome, especially since the buttons are quite flush with the front of the player. Otherwise, the A25 is an intuitive player, it only took me about a minute to figure out the controls and UI.



Whilst the majority of the build is plastic, the entire front face is metal and the A25 actually feels very nice in the hand. The rear has a nice soft touch finish whilst the front carries a subtle concentric texture that radiates in the light. The hybrid metal/plastic build feels solid enough, there are no creaks with torsion and everything is well joined in general. That being said, there is a lack of reinforcement around the back button that results in a terrible flex and creak whenever the button or housing around that area is pressed, it also doesn’t help that the back button is incredibly stiff. Other than that, the build is solid and ergonomic, the A25 is easily used with one hand.



The screen quality is also pretty decent considering that the player is dedicated towards audio playback. It’s a 2.2” 320×240 LCD panel, definitely not IPS or OLED, but colours are accurate and well calibrated, whites are white and contrast is above average. I would put it on a similar level as the iPod Nano 7G, it’s more saturated but the nano does benefit from a slightly higher pixel density. Of course, the small screen is not ideal for watching videos but will do in a pinch, album art looks nice and crisp and text is plenty sharp. Wallpapers can be changed from the in-built photos app, adding just a touch of personalization to the player.



Instead of a click-wheel, Sony have implemented a diamond rocker which functions mostly identical but takes some time getting used to. Otherwise, there are the usual back and option buttons which function well, even if they feel a little stiff and holding these buttons down allows for some shortcuts around the UI; holding back returns you to the home screen whilst holding the option button powers the player off. Of note, the A25 never really powers off, it just goes into a sleep mode. The player wakes very quickly when any button is pressed and barely drains the battery when off. All of these front facing buttons feel a little off, they have very shallow travel and a hard press. The back and option buttons are especially firm and only press in the middle, making them feel mushy when pressed on the side.



The volume buttons on the side are nice and clicky, however, and the volume up button also has a little protrusion for easier differentiation. The right side also houses the hold button (prevents accidental button presses in pocket) along with the micro sd card slot to augment the 16GB of internal storage. The A25 will accept even the largest cards out there, I’ve been using a 128GB card without issue.



Down the bottom is the proprietary walkman port with the headphone jack adjacent on the left. Again, the A25 will not accept remote commands and music does not pause when headphones are disconnected, two small but very aggravating omissions.



So all in all the A25 has a very nice form factor. It’s portable and light-weight, a solid alternative to the iPod Nano. While the iPod’s all metal body does feel more solid (Apple really nail the build quality), Sony’s more extensive button array does allow for more fluent navigation. The Sony player is just as eye-catching as the Nano if not more so, it’s slightly larger size also makes it more manageable; I often drop my Nano because it is so slim (a positive and a negative). The Sony is therefore best for commute, better than the Nano in my experiences, but is on the periphery of what is acceptable for use whilst exercising, where the Nano tends to be a better bet. The A25 can also be easily operated from within your pocket, something we’ve lost with touchscreen interfaces.

 

Usage – 

Sony’s UI is very good, it doesn’t quite have the same level of polish as Apple’s Nano line-up, but is mostly comparable to Android players such as Poweramp if less feature rich. For a dedicated audio player though, the A25 is up there with the best, it’s immediately more refined and mature than Fiio’s players and mostly any Chinese DAP for that matter but is still missing a few essential features that would make it that much more convenient. The UI is very smooth for one (even with a large library), and animations are super slick. The UI is also very visually pleasing with a dark/gold colour scheme that sounds gaudy on paper, but looks great on my black A25. In addition, albums don’t split, tags are mostly well read and the text is all correctly scaled considering the size of the display. The navigation system is also intuitive; since the A25 doesn’t use a clickwheel, users can instead press the left and right buttons to scroll through the albums via their starting letter/year rather than manually scrolling through each and every one.

Click on images to expand











There are a few connectivity options as well such as Bluetooth, which enables you to discover, pair and connect to paired devices. You can also receive files which is a nice added bonus. Sony allow users to decide which Bluetooth codec they wish to use, from Sony’s own LDAC to Apt-X and SBC. The device will automatically choose one for you, but you can manually set which one if you experience stuttering or signal loss with a particular codec. Strangely enough, despite all of these options, connecting to my Bluetooth earphones (Syllable D900 Mini) took much longer than usual, it’s a little less streamlined than most newer devices. But once connected, the Sony actually produced a very strong signal, with much more range than my Laptop, iPod Nano or HTC. Still, the connection process is not ideal, my iPod Nano paired to my earphones about 3x faster.



SD card settings are simple as described, allowing you to unmount the micro SD for removal, format and to choose the source for USB connection; essentially you can only access either the micro SD or internal storage of the A25 when connected to a PC. The player mounts like a flash drive, allowing for simple file management, you also don’t need to install any software to use the player, it’s very much, plug and play.











Otherwise you have your basic settings menu, a notable feature includes an option that decides whether to auto connect to Bluetooth devices or allow the user to manually decide, very handy. Sony include their usual plethora of audio settings and enhancements, some of which are useful, some of which do nothing and some that thoroughly ruin your music entirely. Sony’s DSEE HX technology is probably the most controversial, basically said to upscale MP3’s to lossless quality, which is technically impossible. And honestly, if Sony are saying things like:

  • Listen to the same part of that source with DSEE HX™ on. Do not switch DSEE HX™ on / off while listening to the source!

Then it probably doesn’t do much at all, they’re practically saying, it makes a huge difference just don’t directly compare with the setting on/off. So what it does instead is add just a hint of sparkle to upper treble notes and perhaps a little more clarity to upper mids. It’s okay but it really doesn’t affect listening that much. Clear Audio+ is similarly just an eQ, though it also has some soundstage effects. With Clear Audio+ turned on, I find bass to become boomy and overwhelming so I prefer to keep this turned off too. Onto the more useful features, the Dynamic Normalizer is actually pretty good, it basically scales all your songs to the same volume which is great since the A25 doesn’t support Replaygain. It works well but you can tell it only adjusts within a specific range as some of my quieter song are still about 1 volume notch softer than my louder/more modern songs.













Sony also implement their signature 5 band eQ. There are a few presets along with 2 custom options that the user can set. The eQ works well, the additional clear bass slider is a great bass boost which adds body to the bass without distortion, though I would have liked to be able to reduce bass as well. There are also a few more soundstage effects that simulate being in a studio, club and concert hall, they’re fun to play around with but again, I wouldn’t use them in normal listening. In addition, Sony have a feature called clear stereo which is said to analyze the right and left channel and accentuate the differences between them, more or less enhancing the soundstage. Whilst it does make a subtle difference, I feel that this setting is best left off too.

In daily usage, the UI is perfectly fluid, though it does take some time to reconstruct your library when you copy new songs over to the device. Stutters are rare and the player does well to keep up with my rapid button presses. I did not experience any crashes or freezes, the A25 is every bit as reliable as an iPod. Battery life is also great, rated at 50 hours for 128kbps MP3’s and closer to 40 for FLAC’s. In my testing, I got around 42 hours of battery life from mixed FLAC/320kbps MP3 playback at low to medium volumes which is very, very good. Battery life is about twice as good as my iPod Nano 7G, especially at higher volumes where the A25 will get closer to 3x the battery life. File support is also a lot more flexible than the iPods which don’t even read FLACs (have to convert to ALAC). The ability to drag and drop music is convenient; I usually use Anytrans with my Nano, but Sony’s system is that much easier. Sony’s MediaGo software works surprisingly well, it pretty much just compiles your music library, allows you to alter tags and download album art and otherwise functions a lot like itunes, only it’s much faster.



I would rate the software and daily usage experience of the A25 as comparable to an iPod. Whilst the UI is a little less slick and I do sometimes miss the touch screen, the more flexible file support, drag and drop file transfer and ability to use a micro sd more than redeem the minor software stutter or missing album art (over 1000×1000 art is not supported). The player also remains swift even with a large sd card and library, something that plagues most Chinese players though it does take a while to build the library when copying new songs.

 

Sound –



So sound is where it all comes together, especially for the Sony which bets so much on its superior sound quality. Listening through my Sony MDR-1A’s and Sennheiser IE800’s, I can tell you immediately, that the A25 sounds good for a portable device, and is definitely one of the better players priced around $200 AUD. When compared to other consumer players such as the iPod Nano 7th Gen and iPod Nano 3rd Gen (which uses a Wolfson DAC), the A25 sounds noticeably better. The iPods, whilst pretty clean and clear sounding, tend to lose composure with complex tracks; they lack the refinement and detail retrieval of the Sony player, the 3rd Gen Nano to a lesser extent, but the difference is appreciable. The 7th Gen Nano, in particular, does get a little grainy in the highs and the soundstage is quite intimate. It’s also quite a bright sounding source, certain tracks can sound overbearing, whereas the 3rd Gen Nano is more balanced, even slightly dark with a larger soundstage. The A25 is in between, combining the fuller low end of the 3rd Gen Nano with the clear, crisp high end of the Cirrus powered 7th Gen then adding a layer of refinement on top. The A25 also has both iPod’s bested when it comes to output power, the A25 gets louder than both and also provides more current to my portable headphones. Sound staging, in particular, is a lot better on the Sony, with more space and much more accurate imaging, in fact the imaging is some of the best I’ve heard from any source. This is an achievment since the iPod Nano’s sound as good as most non-audio orientated premium smartphones. My HTC M8 for instance, whilst more powerful than the iPods, was also less composed, darker and far less detailed.

But things get a little more competitive when comparing to modern smartphones which have such a focus on audio quality. My newer, much more expensive, but also much more fully featured HTC 10 often sounds better and rarely worse than the A25. The 10 immediately has a lower output impedance, my sensitive Hybrid Oriveti Primacy’s sound tighter and more coherent from my 10 and Oppo HA-2. They still sound great with the Sony, but not quite the same. The 10 also has the better amp section, it seems to be providing more current, though I can’t objectively quantify how much, whilst producing less noise (the 10 is essentially silent). The A25, whilst very quiet is still noticeable in quiet passages or when no  music is playing. On very sensitive monitors this is something to consider, but the A25 does still produce slightly less noise than the Oppo HA-2. While the NW-A25 is a super clean sounding source, the 10 sounds even cleaner and more refined. The Sony retrieves a lot of treble detail without sounding too thin or crystalline; the 10, by comparison, is a little smoother in the high end but can glance over these micro details. The upper midrange on the 10 is more detailed than the A25 which is strangely lacking a bit but the lower midrange is more comparable; The 10 just being fuller than the A25, otherwise both are similar in resolution and definition. Bass is also slightly fuller on the 10 but slightly more textured on the A25, it’s a fair trade-off. I suppose this is why Sony’s headphones have such great synergy with the A25 as the tighter low end somewhat offsets the looser bass responses of Sony headphones such as the MDR-1A and Z7, whereas the MDR-1A tended to sound too full on my HTC 10.

Considering that the 10 is a very good sounding source and that the A25 is mostly comparable at a much lower price, I’m inclined to say that the A25 is pretty good value. It’s a large improvement over the iPod Nano’s for sure, even the older Wolfson models though to a lesser extent. Compared to the Fiio X1 or Fiio E17K, the Sony doesn’t quite compare as favourably, though I don’t think the Fiio players are that much better either, they just have a lot more output power. That being said, the UI on the Sony is that much better and the form factor is similarly much more versatile, it’s a fair trade-off. Whilst the A25 doesn’t possess amazing value, in the luxury world of audio it is a good buy, and users with a weaker sounding smartphone or those who need a small portable player for exercise or travel will not be disappointed with the Sony A25.

 

Verdict –



So whilst one could complain that the A25 lacks features and is overpriced for what it is, the reality is that the A25 was never intended to compete with smartphones and other media players such as the iPod Touch. It is, at its core, a luxury product, something intended for those with enough disposable income to own both a smart device and a dedicated audio player. It’s no more expensive than an iPod Nano and sounds better whilst being much more feature rich. But therein lies the problem, because as I’ve found through extensive comparison to the HTC 10, premium smartphones are now sounding better than the A25 anyway and such devices are more feature rich and convenient, omitting the need for any kind of audio player like this. While Sony’s UI is very good for a dedicated player, it still does suffer from the occasional stutter and tagging is not perfect. Poweramp is also much more feature rich, though what features are on the Walkman, function pretty well. The form factor is definitely appealing, but it is still on the larger side compared to the Nano’s and Shuffles of the world. In the outdoors, where minute sound differences and details are lost, the considerably more compact iPods are an easier listen, they also support remote commands and the Bluetooth system is a little less clunky.

 

Accessories – 2/10, Appalling, Sony only include a proprietary cable which is only of average quality. Would be nice to receive a case or screen protector, preferably both for the price. Some players come with noise-cancelling earphones.

Design – 8.5/10, Lightweight and visually pleasing. The controls work well but are a little shallow and stiff (might loosen up over time). The screen is bright and colourful enough. Battery life is class leading, the hybrid metal, plastic build feels very nice in the hand. Creak and slight flex when pressing the back button only.

Usage – 8/10, Fluid, refined and visually impactful UI. Dynamic normalizer and eQ function well. Wide file support, drag and drop file transfers. Supports many Bluetooth standards. Has a few extra features besides pure audio playback. Can’t delete files or make playlists from the device.

Sound Quality – 7.5/10, Very clean extended in either way. Very accurate imaging, great separation and soundstage size. Bass is super tight and defined, lower mids are slightly thinner, upper mids lack that last bit of detail but treble has great resolution in return. Slight hiss, not very powerful. Output impedance is low, but higher than most other dedicated sources.

Overall – 8/10, If you have a premium smartphone and are looking for better quality, you won’t necessarily find it here. But if you are looking for a nice sounding, portable dedicated audio player, granted that you have a relatively easy to drive earphone/portable headphone, the A25 almost provides the best of both worlds between the slick UI of the $200 iPod Nano and the audio quality of a $200 Fiio player.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my review, please have a look at my blog for more articles like this:

https://everydaylisteningblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/sony-nw-a25-review-dead-media-or-niche-luxury/

shahkhan
shahkhan
can you compare it to xduoo X3? thanks
ryanjsoo
ryanjsoo
@shahkhan Sorry, I haven't heard the X3, I remember quite a few comparisons in the Sony A10 thread, you might get some more info there. 
D
davidcotton
Very nice review.  However one thing about the sony proprietary comment, are not the apple ones also proprietary?  There just happens to be more of them.  Not a common micro usb one anyway:p  If it wasn't for the stupid eu volume cap I would have picked one up.
Pros: 1-superb sound ... it is the best sounding non-android walkman. 2- size ,slimness,style and build quality. 3- finally walkman with micro sd c
Cons: 1- weak output power 2- not the sony standard quality finish
                                                                                                                  Sony walkman A-10 review
 
PACKAGING :
so simple .. just the player,cable and some manuals . very straightforward unboxing and logical.

 
design and build quality :
-the player looks gorgeous ,stylish,slim,light and(looks) sturdy ...
-the front facing is aluminum and rear is plastic .. my only gripe on the build there is a small gap between the metal and plastic side which contain the volume buttons and hold button ...
it is nothing to worry about ..just not the usual of sony flawless finishing .

 
9ad9eb30.jpgHANDA-HIKAKU.jpgwaklman_bunkai.jpgsony15.jpg
 
 
 
SO, what makes that one so special and different from the other previous walkmans ?
 
1- First non android one that has S-master HX amplifier circuit that has more power and cleaner signal 
2- using of the quality Sanyo POSCAPs .. for cleaner sound and more stable power supply
3-using thickened power cables .
4-thickened power supply section .
5- Aluminum frame structure and chassis that hold its components .
6- the expandable memory slot 
7-  used a solder that is Lead FREE 
 
 
 
Usability & Ui :
 
Usability :
the best so far ... only can be beaten by another walkman with touch screen and hardware control buttons !!
with the screen closed .. one single click to play/ pause .. volumes up and down ... forward an backward tracks ... and in playing screen you can shuffle between the albums instantly by the up and down buttons.
the blind control in your pocket with all controls is very easy and fast with the big marked play button and volume buttons ... always sony is the best in that aspect with all devices i had before except the walkman F because the lack of hardware buttons!

 
UI :
in few wards .. simple,fast,bug free .. not the most beautiful and customization ui in the world ( android and ios of course the best ) but it is the most straight forward,easy and dedicated for playing music.

other features : 
 
1-Bluetooth (APTX supported )for better bluetooth transmission and better quality sound & also supports file transfer and data exchange between the walkman and othe mobiles or any bluetooth enabled device .
2-NFC  
3-can play podcast .
4-FM radio
5-actually this thing can play videos :D !!
don't now who in 2015 with those gigantic mobile phones screens will watch any thing on that screen but it is there if needed and always will not hurt :)

                                                                                             

 
*****micro sd slot*****
The most important feature that separates that one from the previous line is : the micro sd slot that accepts memory to 128gb ....
in my case 64 gb almost full and scanned it in about minute or minute and half max 
  some important steps you can forget when dealing with memory card in that player :
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         
 
 you must read the manual for them because i am lazy to rewrite them again while already exists!!
 
 
Battery life :
the official announcement is : 50 hours with mp3 128kb & 30 with hi-res files .......

-my experience : with variety of files : some flac 24/96 - wave 16/44 - flac 16/44 - AAC - mp3 320 and full volume with sound enhancements always on it gives me from 30 to 35 hours till the battery starts blinking !! .... that was unimaginably good .

                                                                                                                               ***SOUND***
                                Actually i don't know how to start that section of my impressions so there are some points i want to clear ..

 
1-I had before & listened to - in the digital era - some walkmans ,some ipods , some creative players then ipods with amps .. and the last one i got was the Fiio X3 .
 
2-i am an equalizer user .. i love equalizer and sound enhancements not always , not with all genera .. but i use them frequently 
 
3- i am an iem user mainly because i want my music to be with me everywhere : sitting in the house ..walking..running ..waiting friends in the cafe.. even when going to bathroom ! 
 
4-this impressions with relatively the new player not burned in like my fiio x3 .. yes i belive in burning in .. and i belive that any electronic device contains caps (specially quality ones )need to run for a period to give its optimal performance even if the difference is small and not noticable some times .
 
5- all my listening done by SHURE se-535 as i don't have quality iems other than those .
                                                                                                   
                        (A)SOUND ENHANCEMENTS :
 

a) equalizer : powerful and effective ...    Clear bass can really deliver
 
b) DSEE HX :adds smoothness to the treble region .. small difference but noticeable and  some times is very welcome .
         
c) Clear Audio+ : the best enhancement in the player ... actually i can leave it on most  of the time .. it adds hefty low end and sparkling treble ... without     washing out the details or distorting the sound .. may sound  artificial to some but for me it is perfect.
           
d) VPT surround : adds reverb to the sound i love only the studio effect .
           
e)Down sampling : it is for converting the    hi-res files to normal ones !! why would any body do that??!! ... to use the sound enhancements with those files    as the  enhancements not working with high-res materials .
 
NOTE : sound enhancements and equalizers and  clear bass in the android walkman almost useless ... the non- android original  sony FW ALWAYS the best .
 
 (B) THE sound quality impressions ( without enhancements ) :
 
1- HISS :
 
first of all i am not a hissy guy and i don't bother with the hissing .. simply it don't disturb me  but i can confirm that there is very very small amount of hiss   with that player with shure se535 ... my ipod touch hiss more !!
it is in the same league with fiio x3 and may be quieter too.
 

*in comparison to F806 : that walkman is the most noisy thing i put my shures in .. hissing and making noises as hell !! 
 
 *with E013 & E375 : those players are hissing   so much too not in the A-10 league !
 
 *sansa clip + : slightly more hissy than the    A-10 .
 
NOTE : hissing increase with the equalizer and VPT surrounds ON .
 
   UPDATE 6-4-2015 ****
after playing with silence track ... playing some very good attention .. i managed to detect a small amount of hiss ... very small as i said before ... don't affected by increasing or decreasing the sound withSE-535 

 
 
2-sound signature : 
 
its sound signature is hard to describe ! it is not warm like the x3 .. not bright like the F806 ... and not boring and dead like ipod .... may be it could be described as   "on the fun side of neutrality" .. or " ipod's sound done right " 
 
neutral with nice bass .. and more lively treble ... very smooth ... due to its relative neutrality the details are more apparent than the X3 .......
 
also X3 has more attacking and obvious treble than A-10 ( high gain ) .. on ( low gain ) no much difference but slight smoothness on the walkman.
 
the A-10 is better in mid-range and vocals .. its more forward sig. than x3 which has slightly recessed mids covered with the bigger bass attacks 
 
as for the treble : they are smooth and very detailed not like my previous F806 which had metallic and piercing treble due to its relatively high amp noise that characterize th S-MASTER MX generation walkmans .
 
for bass : fiio x3 has the most enjoyable bass attack then the A-10 with its neutral sound then comes the F806 with the least bass of them.
 
for clarity: F806 & A-10 are in the same league and may be there is an edge to the F806 .... then X3.
 
LOUDNESS : A-10 is the loudest walkman i tried .. but comparing to other players it is only suitable to iems and very easy to drive portable headphones.
 
 
      conclusion & fast points : 
 
                            * what is good :
1-superb sound ... it is the best     sounding non-android walkman.
  2- size ,slimness,style and build quality.
  3- finally walkman with micro sd card slot :D
  4- The sound enhancements
  5- superb battery life 
  6- great usability and blind control.

 
                       * what is not good :
 1- weak output power
 2- not the sony standard quality finish

 
............................................
wow !! that was big !
.. never imagined that i can write that much!! specially this is my first review !! ... but i kept in mind people like me ..who don't have the chance to try before buy .. and depends only on reviews .. tried to be honest as possible and transfer my experience as it is ... feel free to ask 
sbregudal
sbregudal
Last night I saw a video about replacing the battery of an older Walkman: I'd say that it's not easily replaceable, but you can do it, as long as the A10 battery isn't soldered (and if your warranty is expired, you can find the right part, and you've already baked the graphic card of a laptop in your oven, with success :wink: ).
Mmet
Mmet
hahahaha :D
Rambam
Rambam
Great review!! go on and review some more gear! 
Pros: Battery Life, Sound Quality. ability to play 24-bit flac, UI, microSD up to 128GB
Cons: Method of selecying just one drive to transfer music
This player got it a week ago, Sony mexico charged me the amount on Mondaya nd on tuesday was already at my home upon returning from work (my mom received the FeDex guy)
 
My Model is the international version intended for Mexico as o¿in it's back it has the mexican certification agencies, is made in Malasya (Hecho en malasia), The box comes with lots of papers on it, did not need to read any as I already owned 2 walkmans in the past with the same UI which is extremely friendly to use. The box has also the walkman and the USB cable, there are no earbuds included nor a SD card.
 
Mexico only gets the A17 which sports 64GB as internal memory (once formatted in windows mine has 56.8GB useable), I had this MicroSD from Sandisk class 10 UHS I (128GB, formatted 119.1GB), I formatted the SD using the player's built-in format uitlity, this player uses exFAT as default format for the microSD card and FAT32 for the internal system memory.
 
Works with MusicBee music management software, I did not even bother to check the "Detect MTP Devices" checkbox and worked just as fine, transfer speeds on the player are still on USB 2.0, but this walkman is faster than my other previous walkmans (A818 & X1060), Took 1 hour 50 minutes to transfer 42GB (Entire Mozart collection), Card speeds are the same if it's inside the walkman slot, so I used my 2014 Sony VAIO FIT MULTIFLIP built-in card reader which is USB 3.0, the same amount of music (Beethoven, Louis Couperin and Boccherini) took 30 minutes.
 
I have not experienced any card-readout errors as some one reported when he or she used the PC reader/writer..
 
Library creation process took 4 minutes for 176GB, I did connect it to the Pc to delete the songs I already listened and this time takes like 5 to 10 seconds. Speed of the player is fast, responsive, browsing a massive list of 9700 FLAC files is fast and smooth.
 
I cannot comment on Bluetooth as i don't like wireless audio quality (I use wired headphones) nor on video or picture playing as i won't use it for this purpose, fro that i Use my VAIO
 
FM Radio is good if your station is good, here the classical music station is on older analogue so it osunds like **** with lots of static, but is handy to have a radio in case of emergency situations like power failures during storms or so.
 
SensMe and podcast i don't use that as well
 
The Music "app" is very intuitive and easy to use, the diamond shaped D-pad is cleverly designed, pressing lef or right functions as FF or REW, long-pressing those buttons cues to any point of the currently playing song, pressing either up or Down takes you to the cool Jacket scroll (Sony's coverflow) which is nice only if and only if you have the jackets on your files. Haven't tested if it works with a Folder.jpg instead of embbeding the photo in the file.
 
The Option/Menu button serves a s a menu when pressed once and ppower-off when long-pressed (saves the point of time), I like the fact when you turn it on it does not start autoplaying the song like the fiio x3 i had.
 
Sound quality out of the box is pretty good, neutral and clean-sounding little player, mine has a louder volume than previous generation walkmans, I didn't note any difference in sound when using DSEE HX on 16/44.1 FLAC files, just when playing back Harpsichord music files i can note a more smoothed-out sound and less harsh if i Turn on DSEE HX For certain Harpsichord recording in 16/44.1
 
With 24-bit files this shines so good, the level of detail is very good, very enganging and enveloping, my 24/88.2 album of Striggio Grand parody mass "ecco beata di giorno" sounds superb and so realistic, I closed my eyes and i was inmediately involved in the recording as I was with the players there (Label Glossa / Herve Niquet, SACD ISO Rip to 24/88.2 FLAC)
 
switching to Franck's Organ works 24/96 sounded euqally good and enganging, the reverb of the venue was pretty good and the greatness of the organ regsters sound pretty good, even the most feeble pipes could be heard easily. Natural sense of sound decay esp in reverb.
 
Vivaldi 6 concertos for Anna Maria 24/88.2 (CPO) sounded very enganging, the playing of carmignola is very detailed as he was with me, the orchestra was overall balanced with the soloist,, you could heard a little error (Carmignola's bow somehow slipped a little bit) , the lute stood out form the orchestra too., very 3D imaging and very enveloping surround experience.
 
Then to try out 192KHz i had a Vynil rip of Vivaldi's 4-season on the organ, equally enganging and pretty natural sound, great bass rumble of the  deep bass pipes of the organ, nice crisp mids and highs, the pedals were als sometimes heard so nice, i felt like I was there except when the crackle and *pop* of the vinyl came out (very feeble but audible at times) 24/192
 
I turned off all other enhancements as they tend to ruin the sound of the player, such as clearAudio+ and the VTP technology
 
I used mostly the MDR-1R which i consider to be fairly neutral, slightly a bit mid-centric but fine, Using the XBA-H3 totally destroys the sound of this player as those have a mid-bass bump defect. I have tamed the Bass of the H3 using the A17 EQ but not that successfully to make sound like my MDR-1R.
 
I have not detcted any hiss so far, not even with the EQ activated, battery life so far almost 28 hours and syill has two bars left on the battery icon
 
Compared to my Fiio x3 I find this to have Better sound Quality despite the weaker amp section, the bass of the A17 is cleaner and soft lie a vinyl yet it goes deep as hell with Organ recordings and Harpsichords that Have 16' Stops
The sound stage is even wider and accurate than the Fiio x3. The walkman fixes the problem i ahd with the fiio x3 imaging , basically the fiio x3 presented the above striggio mass album with the female singers as "floating above" me, pretty annoying.. A17 walkman presents this a correct female singers at the front at the correct distance due to the huge recording venue ( a cathedral, to fit 60 voices, 40 human, 20 instruments).
 
Battery life is stellar, for a first charge and constant playing with the screen and setting of SQ, it lasted 39 hours 36 minutes, so impressive
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shady1991
shady1991
Thanks for the great review.
I've been using Sony walkman x1060 for 5-6 years already and it still sounds lovely especially with my MDR 1R. Do you think that it's worth to upgrade to A17? 
Can you describe what are the differences between them sound quality wise? (Soundstage, overal sound signature, details etc...)
Do you here details when listening to classical music? I find X's sound very organic and I hope it's the case with A17 also.
gerelmx1986
gerelmx1986
A17 is worth as an upgrade
robiceli
robiceli
I got my A15 today and I can confirm that it sounds better than my old x1060. Very happy!

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