Sony Walkman NWZ-A10


Reviewer for The Headphone List
ryanjsoo's Reviews
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:

can you compare it to xduoo X3? thanks
@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. 
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.


1000+ Head-Fier
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
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 .

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 .
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 .

                                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 
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: ).
hahahaha :D
Great review!! go on and review some more gear! 


Headphoneus Supremus
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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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.
A17 is worth as an upgrade
I got my A15 today and I can confirm that it sounds better than my old x1060. Very happy!


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: size, battery life, quick reacharging, UI, oled display
Cons: lack of power to drive more demanding headphones
Compared to Fiio x3, there is no big differences in terms of sound to me. It has different sound signature, but i would say its on same quality level. Compared to Fiio X3, it has less bass and its bass is more soft ("vinyl like"). There is also less sub bass. X3 feels more live and engaging, whether this player feels more balanced. Clarity and details are on pair, if not slightly better with A15. There is no hiss. Its sound qualities are very surprising to me, considering its size and battery life. I would presume though, that due to its small amplifier, it will have trouble with more sensitive and power demanding headphones. Beside good SQ, you can also expect quick and easy to use UI, nice oled display, quick recharging, one microSD card support, nice look, very small weight, battery life of +-30 hours with flac without dsp, eq or bluetooth . I wont write about all specs. You can find it on official website. One thing i would be careful there, is their marketing talks about miracle EQ and DSP functions and night and day difference between high res and "ordinary" music.
I would recommend this player, if:
a)you want to use it with portable headphones
b)size and battery life are more important to you, than power output, functions or big display
c)you care about high res
Few notes:
1.EQ and DSP "enhancements" cant be turned on, when playing high res!
2.there is no volume limit for EU (there is, but can be turned off in settings).
3.if you want to copy file in podcast folder, you have to put it into one (not more) folder for player to recognize it.
4.A10 marks series of 3 players: A15, A16, A17. Differences are in build-in memory size: 16/32/64G.
5.volume output is cca 2/3 of  Fiio X3's. With es10: 15/30 for loud mp3, 25/30 for DR 14 symphony in flac.
6.i was testing this player only with single headphones and only with single pair of ears.
Maximum card size should be 128GB by some internet sources (cant confirm) and A10 should have plenty of power to drive hd-25. But i cant confirm that from my own experience.
i found the A15 dull sounding compared to the X3 like you has not got the attack and fast speed i like even my old Samsung R0 had more bite to it most be the weak amp but the battery life is amazing!! i might get the Japanese version for the extras..
I use this to run beyer dynamic t90's which are planar and rated at 600 ohms. A17 powers them fine. With room to spare. really surprised me because I didn't expect any volume. What is more shocking is the a17 can often sound better than my fiio x5 using the the t90's because of the clear bass function which gives much needed boost using these big phones. X5 sounds thin in comparison.


Sound Science Forum Moderator
Pros: µSD, huge battery life, nice file compatibility, the legen---dary sony UI, all physical buttons.
Cons: the usual sony weak amp section, the usual sony little background hiss, the proprietary USB cable, mp3 isn't gapless.
help!! I'm fallling!!!!!!!(photoshop lvl expert)​

For any Sony DAPs, the letter goes for a kind/category of DAP. The first numbers for the model and the last number is always for the onboard memory. And then you might have some letter again for the color of your Walkman. So you don't want a sony A10, you want to get a Sony A15 with 16gig, A16 with 32giga, or A17 with 64giga.
I mention it because I've been asked twice in a week.

My vision of a good DAP is one that responds to my own list of needs. Sound honestly being close to the bottom of my list of needs. If I want the good sound I don't look for it in a DAP, I look for it in a good amp and a good headphone. To me most DAPs sound good enough once plugged into the right amp(deals with impedance, often improves crosstalk and power). So if my problem was “only” sound, I wouldn't keep trying new DAPs.
If you want nice overall specs get an iPod(fast), if you want power, get a brick like a X5 or maybe a DX100 or simply an amp(again). If you just run after some “best sound” and subscribe to “monthly upgraditis magazine” get a good headphone and be ready to run all your life. But while you run you might have a need for a smaller DAP with good battery like the A10 ^_^.
This DAP has a few nice perks, but it's not perfect. I hope this review will let you know if it is the right one for you.
To me the closest to an ideal DAP is almost a Sansa clip. I used lots of those and keep using them. A great EQ(once rockboxed), the super small form factor and an OK sound, made it my back up/sport DAP of choice for years. Lately I had been replacing it more and more by the Sony E585. No µSD, no great EQ, no 1ohm output, but I traded this for nicer UI, more than 35h of playback, a line out, and still really small form factor. So it could go on my amp for real sound, and then have more than enough battery to unplug the E585 and take it for a trip in the mountain. And that for almost a week. I really cared only about charging my amp every other day. So more of a side way than an overall upgrade from a Sansa clip, but it could work for my all in one DAP.
The same way, I feel like that A15 is the secret kid of E585 and clip+, and it will take over the job nicely. It has a µSD (for real!!! On a Sony!!!! it's not april fools). Has great battery, you can expect to reach up to 40hours with mp3 and no DSP with normal use(my experience, not Sony specs). It's not very small but still really much more portable than most modern DAPs. It plays aac flac and most PCM type files up to 24/192. In a word, it's a Walkman. Something you use without thinking about it, not a bother that happens to sound good like most “audiophile” bricks I've tried.
A10 series:
A few questions might find an answer in the online help, but don't expect any deep explanation for anything:


Sony and the µSD(at long last):


Short version: As long as you put your music in a folder called “MUSIC” it's gonna be great! If you put it anywhere else, it's still gonna work except for browsing by folder(artist/album is ok).

If it's in a folder called "MUSIC", however you put it in, using a µSD, from a card reader, a phone or the A10 itself, with drag&drop or with MediaGo, the DAP will recognize it and let you browse it seamlessly after updating the library(something it does anytime you add/remove a µSD or unplug the USB cable from a computer).
The library update took about 1mn30 for 18giga added to the card(who needs more than Stevie Wonder?).
Now a piece of advice:
If you have a lot of files to put in the µSD, take it out and use a card reader, it will be much faster.
But if you don't have a lot of files, keep it in the DAP, as it will rescan anytime you take the µSD out or put it in. making the DAP useless for between 20sec to probably more than 5mn with something like a full 64giga card. So to add only one or 2 albums, do it from the DAP.
To make it clear, the µSD works nicely anyway you want, but it's not a Sansa clip ^_^.

When you connect the A10 series to a computer, it will show you only one drive. Either the µSD or the internal memory. You cannot go from one to the other from the computer, you'll have to unplug the DAP go into the µSD settings and change the upload destination. a little dumb and not so practical, but it's also not a major problem. You'll just hate yourself the first 3 times. 

Sense Me:
To those not familiar with Sony "Sense Me" is a way to shuffle your songs while keeping a rhythm and a certain ambiance (slow mellow to fast punk tripping on speed). I find that to be really excellent and one reason I keep getting Sony DAPs. BUT!!!!!!!
For the DAP to know what song is what, it needs to scan them all and it takes like 2.4 times forever to be done and of course(where is the fun otherwise?), your DAP can't do anything while it's scanning.
I'm not joking so much , for 64 to be scanned it would take several hours, you can stop when you want but that's still too long for a gadget. so the other solution is yet another evil. you install Media Go on your computer and pre-scan your library. it's just as bad and will take 3.14 eternities if you have a big library, but at least with the computer you can do something else while the scan goes on.
I suggest you put what you plan to upload on the DAP(and only that) in a folder and give only that as your library path to Media GO, that way it should take less that a day(I'm laughing simply reading this, but sadly it's all true). once Media GO has scanned your files, if you upload them using Media GO(be stong!) then the DAP will get the information and never bother you with scanning the files to use them in Sense ME.
Or you can do like some many people and just forget that gadget ever existed. I sure would understand.

Not on mp3! It's flawless to my ears with flac files, but sadly still not working with mp3. the gap isn't big, but it still a clear cut.
So I recommend going flac for your live and classical albums. Else you do like I do, you make any live album into 1 mp3 file. A little extreme but I've been doing this for years now. it's annoying only if you like to shuffle. But let's be honest, if you shuffle you don't need gapless ^_^. still it's not cool Sony, we started to believe.
Replay gain:
Still not available on this one. On a F886 or other android DAPs you can just use whatever app you like to play your tracks so replay gain can be used. On the A15 and non android walkmans, if you want your files to all play at about the same loudness, you'll have to activate dynamic normalizer(Sony’s own way to deal with tracks loudness), there isn't any real downside to that except some battery usage. Count a few hours less for total play time, not really a problem on the A10.

my .m3u files were detected as playlists, so I didn't really try other methods but you can also make some using media go(the crappy windows media player's unwanted brother from sony).

The sound:
The A10 sounds more like the E585 or F886 than like an old Z or A series. It has lost the warm house sound of the old boys, and is turned toward more neutrality and clarity. It's a matter of taste, I appreciate both the old Sony sound and the new one depending on what I'm listening to.
As I said details are good, the sound is for me a good balance between crispness and harshness, but clearly enough to make you get rid of a few bad recordings that would have melted in your ears on the older models. You can't expect sharp and soft at the same time and in quantity. People allergic to clean and relatively neutral sound, will probably be ok with a little EQ or one of the DSPs. But if you actually don't like neutral and detailed sound (maybe a tube amp lover?) , and at the same time refuse EQ and DSPs, then it's not a DAP for you.
I really enjoy using it a lot, be it from the headphone out or from the line out, and I plan to keep it, when I did let go of DAPs like the X3, the DX50 and the F886. But I also honestly can't pretend that the A15 is better than any of those 3DAPs. Because depending on your own personal needs, they all can be great or totally lame. Still the closest one to the A15 in sound would clearly be the F886. I sent it back too long ago to claim they sound the same in term of audio qualities and power, but the kind of sound (signature, wide positioning, maybe lacking a little in depth without DSP) obviously comes from the same mold.

Now here are the 2 possible skeletons in the A15's closet.
1/ Power:
Like any Sony DAP, it's a portable DAP for IEMs or really easy to drive headphones, it will be just fine for most people with most products. But who am I kidding, we're on head-fi, the place where people wanna know if they can go run outside with a DAP and a pair of LCD2 duck taped on their head.
Well no, they can't with the A10 series. Seriously it can drive my hd650 loud. But can it drive it well? In my opinion, nope. And I wouldn't expect any portable gear to do so, except that both the DX50 and the X3 where pretty close to giving me a tight controlled bass response on the hd650. So there you have one reason to reject the Sony, if you want power you'll need to add an amp. and same for some demanding multi driver IEMs(usually those with the widest range of impedance over frequencies).
Volume limitation for European model also falls under the same “problem”:
ClieOS measured around 0.4V max for the headphone out, and 0.245V for the line out on the international A10 series. I would need to ask him what load value he used(if any), but still that should give you a little idea of the EU volume limit I measured on mine. 
0.3V into 100ohm and 0.254V into 22ohm for the headphone out maxed out.
and 0.245V from the line output.
so the EU version would seem to have the same LO(good news), but when using the headphone out it will be about 2.5db quieter(from 0.4 to 0.3v).
2/ Hissing/background noise/humm/cellphone waves and other uninvited sounds:
Short version: there is some little hiss audible at low volume, it's slightly above the noise from the F886 and from memory I would say still below the noise from the F806.
To me a DX50 hisses, an AK100 hisses, a Colorfly CK4 kind of … “humm” I guess? The first studio V was horribly noisy(in all possible ways), and all sony DAPs I have ever owned did also hiss. In fact outside of a few Cowons, an old Samsung P3, and the X3, most DAPs I've owned had some audible hiss of different magnitudes.
I use sensitive IEMs, I listen to music very quietly,, I live in a very quiet and small little village, and I'm very very aware of noises whatever they can be. So now for the A15:
From the headphone out, the A10 has more hiss than my A865, that has more than my E585. E585 that hisses more than the pretty quiet Sansa Clip or my Cowon I10. Themselves still with a really tiny but detectable hiss on the very most sensitive IEMs(plus the little buffering noise every now and then on the Sansa). Last but not least, my Odac/O2 and Leckerton UHA760(both DAC/AMPs) are very much noise free whatever IEM I use, be it at normal listening levels or on silence passages.
So all this to say what? Well a lot of people with sensitive IEMs will be able to detect the background noise on the A15. People with a togo! 334 or a SE535 or SE846, just forget about the A15 without an amp right now. Some might not care, just like some people are ok with vinyls crackling like mad, and some amps hissing. Some will listen loud enough to cover the noise completely and will never think about noise again. Some will simply not have sensitive enough IEMs with good enough isolation to hear it. It's always a matter of perspective and priorities.
If you owned a Sony DAP and never heard hissing, then you're clear to get an A10 series. That's pretty much what I want to say. But pretend like the Sony sounds heavenly when I can hear some little hiss in the background, that I cannot do. And I find it even more frustrating when Sony's advertising is talking about how they work toward having lower noise... arrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't mind not doing better than most other brands, as I said they almost all hiss somehow. But at least don't advertise on how low your noise is when the headphone out is nothing special(noise wise). That's a little messed up.
As I have no idea how to quantify noise, and me saying a DAP hisses could has well be someone calling it totally silent, here are a few IEMs that might give you a hint:
I can't really hear anything with sony MH1, with Etymotic MC5, ER4S, Sony XBA-C10, NC31(the packaged noise canceling intra given with the E585 walkman).
I can notice something on silent parts when I'm not on the move with my jh13, and sennheiser IE80.
It's more obvious with the Etymotic HF5. And the HF5 are way less sensitive than a Togo 334 or shure SE846 that's why I warned people who have those.

Now don't get me wrong, as I said I like this DAP and will keep it. Stick a cellphone next to a X3 DX50 CK4 etc and cry. When with the A15, connecting to my voicemail and moving the phone around the DAP, I couldn't hear a thing! Something usual on sony DAP that too many people seem to disregard. I sure don't, and do value shielding a lot. So keep up the almost great work sony ^_^.
Again it's a matter of perspective and priorities, it's up to you guys to know what your own needs are. But to me the best sounding DAP in the world doesn't mean anything if all I'm hearing when commuting is “tzac tacatzac …..” every other minute from someone's phone. And while I'm unhappy thinking that once again I'll have to use my amp for the most sensitive IEMs I will buy, I'm also very much satisfied compared to the existing competition when it comes to external pollution.

A few words about hiss and the F886, the hissing on the A15 is very slightly louder than on the F886, but then there is a little “TAC” noise on the F886 every 2 seconds as soon as the DAP is turned ON. So if overall the A15 does more noise, it's a lot less annoying to me as it's homogenous. One of the reasons why I didn't keep the F886 when I really did enjoy the sound.





So here we are, a little long to answer the question “does it hiss?” , but I feel like that notion needed a little reality check. To avoid starting some unjustified witch hunt form my comment being misunderstood.
Now when I'm not using a sensitive IEM or when I'm using my external amp, yes I find the sound to be really good, very clean and at this point in time, one of my favorites with the F886.


Line out:
It is the usual sony proprietary USB cable that serves as a line out.
                                                              with UHA760
The line out isn't as loud as on my other DAPs(I'm guessing it's a battery choice as this DAP is focused on long battery life), it won't change a thing for most people, but for those already close to max volume with their actual amp, having something like a X3 with 1.7v might be better for you. old ipods have about 0.5v, a fiio X1 is 1.5v, the A15 is around 0.25v. so to get the same loudness you would need +6db gain on the amp to reach the loudness of the ipod, and about +15db to reach the X1's loudness(for reference 10db feels twice as loud).
so obviously for low sensitivity headphones, think about it before buying that walkman.
now for IEM and portable headphone users, it's not a problem, but it might even be a solution. I use the -12db gain value on my amp with all my other sources for my IEMs to be able to set the volume nicely, so if you reach channel imbalance with your amp plugged into your actual source, maybe you'd get enough room with the sony to push the volume knob out of imbalance and get the same loudness.
so technically it's not great to have such a weak LO, but with many high end IEMs/CIEMs, and many amps that don't offer unity gain or a voltage divider(negative gain), this sony might just be the best choice for you.
Again if you expect a warm sound with the old Sony signature, this is not the right DAP. I have zero complains about the sound using the lineout. I was also very much in love with the F886's LO.
NB: the DAP is longer than say an old A or E series.
                A15                E585                 A865
Check the size to know how it's gonna go with your amp, and remember to add some more space for the dumb proprietary usb plug (come on Sony make an angled/shorter version of that thing already!)


Battery: \o/
I'm close to running 40hours in one charge using mp3 in my real actual life. So no “sony” 40h, real possible achievable 40h.
Now as an important note, whatever DSP/EQ you will use, will drain your battery from 30 to 45% faster. So keep in mind that I don't use any to get to my 40h. Then hi-res will also drain more battery.
I'm not trying to scare anyone, it has a great battery life for real, just don't expect 40hours with EQ, 24/192 files and using “sens me” to get a shuffle by genre. Because that is more likely to give you about maybe15hours (I didn't try, I only have a Chesky album in 192khz for test purposes).

several settings including APTX. it can be set to activate with NFC or to simply alway look for a device on startup. but in practice I use a cellphone instead because depending on the device, just having a big chunk of castleofargh in-between is enough to cut the signal.

DSPs (effects):
Short version:
Clear audio+ makes for an enjoyable and impressive sound and imaging
Surround studio setting is like a nice surround crossfeed
The rest doesn't make much sense.

-Clear audio+:
That option is the “surprise me” setting of sony, it will throw at you a bunch of effects and EQ depending on your track. It will supposedly be the best setting, and I have to admit if it's clearly parting ways with the original track signal, it often gives a more “lively” and foot kicking feeling to the music.
For my personal tastes, it almost always adds a little too much bass boost, so unless I'm using some Etymotic IEMs, or really have a fitting album, I tend to avoid it.

I looked all over the internet for something a little bit meaningful about DSEE HX, and here is what makes technically the most sense. It's quoted from reddit about DSEE:
sunamumaya: “this is like claiming you finally have the ability to seamlessly polish a turd”
I hope you'll forgive the wording, but this is by far the most accurate description I could find.
The fact is simple, if you can hear high up in the frequencies (above 16khz). Then you notice sometimes in some songs that mp3 can cut off the sounds. With little differences in the cut depending on the codec and bitrate you're using.
If you're in that situation, you will simply not use mp3 right?
Now if you're like me and most sounds above 17khz are a long gone reminder of your youth, then you're enjoying your mp3 just fine because it makes no audible difference anyway. There are also all those using IEMs that roll off long before 16khz, that's most IEMs in fact. They also won't care because they physically can't hear a difference.
So this DSEE setting is made for the guy that hears well above 16khz and notice mp3 are not sounding good, but keeps using mp3 anyway...
I'd venture that it's not the majority of us guys on head-fi ^_^.

In all seriousness, DSEE takes a mp3 or aac(don't know for anything else) extracts it as a pcm signal, oversamples it like … well any DAC would do.
Then when we have that signal, Sony is supposed to take all that nothingness from 16 or20khz to 40khz and create the missing sound from scratch. Unless you're very open minded on data retrieval, you know that once data is lost, it cannot really be retrieved so what has been cut out by a lossy codec is out of the picture. Result: DSEE must be adding some “fitting” noise that goes along with what is already in the music.
To me mp3 320 or vbr0, using my usual IEMs, DSEE or no DSEE, it doesn't make a huge difference if any. But for a few youngsters on headfi with the right headphone, it might make for a nice experience.
Still to me it's one of those hard achievements for no purpose(should I call that DSP art?). If mp3 isn't good for someone, he'll use something else. Not add paint over crap to make it look new again.

From the range of surround settings available, “matrix” can be fun for some musics, but really only the “studio” setting is good for me. I already liked it on the F886, while it sounded like a soup on my older A865, Sony keeps the names, but changes a few things model after models.
The studio setting is as you can guess a surround effect supposed to simulate virtual speakers in a studio, so it sounds like some kind of advanced fancy crossfeed, trying to cheat a little with the surround to make up for the usual loss of “soundstage” width that goes with crossfeed.
If I take a very basic sound presentation with the lead singer in front of me and some music mostly at 90° on both sides coming from the headphone like this:
                 my big nose
  guitar         my head        something


Then with “studio” it's gonna be a little like this:

   guitar       my big nose     something
                    my head


And going down in the surround settings will keep moving away in front of you, and add reverb(a lot!), So the sound, while supposed to sound like a stadium of sort, will at best show you that live performances in stadiums must sound real bad:

    g-u-i-t-a-r              s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g


          (who took my nose?)
                 my head


Hi-Res Audio Effects:
This is pretty much just a switch to decide if you downsample your hires music or not.
If you don't select downsampling, then some DSPs will not work on the hi-res file, but pretty much any kind of hires (PCM type no DSD) will be played, untouched.
Now and that's the funny part. If you decide to activate the downsampling of your hires files to be able to use some audio effects, here is the result:
1/ you have wasted a huge amount of space on your DAP or µSD to put a 24/96 or 24/192 album that will be read as 16/44 downsampled on the fly.
2/ That process will eat your battery about twice as fast.
3/ you can reduce again you battery by up to 10% depending on what sound effect you then decide to activate.
So here is my advice, If you like the effects, don't use hires and encode some nice little 16/44 flac or mp3, and if you decide to use hi-res files, then don't activate the downsampling as it's a waste of everything.

It's the very same EQ you have on all non android Sony DAPs. With the bass being a custom Sony boost and not just another slider on the EQ. It works ok, not great, you can't pick your frequency, you can't lower the bass (last slider to lower a value is at 400hz). So if you have very specific needs to EQ an IEM, the A15 might not be the right guy and you should seek anything with parametric EQ instead.


Overall DAP situation:
F886 and a A15, are like yin and yang of Sony when it comes to features. They aren't upgrade of one another, they are very different products(sounding mostly similar). If you don't know which one you prefer to have, I guess you don't really need anything and both will do just fine.
If you wonder if it's “better” than a X5, you also clearly don't know what you need. X5 is a powerhouse with an amp section that can very much challenge other portable amps. It's big and heavy and has little battery. The Sony is a little DAP with lot of battery and pretty much no amp section, so no it's not the best sounding DAP, because as soon as you'll plug in a slightly hard to drive headphone, the X5 will demolish the Sony. But that like blaming a motorcycle for not being good at carrying 5 people. Buy what you need! Don't ask for a small, long lasting, powerful DAP, because science will still have some troubles with that for a few more years.
I for one can't see myself carrying a X5 around every day, it's not about sound. When the A10 is more like a 2D pono ^_^.
On a side note, if you don't care for hires, µSD, and the maybe slightly better sound on the A15, you can get a E585/6 instead. It's cheap, has the same crazy long battery life(you will charge it like once a week and never think about it). It is even smaller with the same UI and a pretty nice line out. Again to each its qualities, money and size can be as good a reason as any.
Make your own choice for your own needs, and don't trust unknown internet dudes making reviews ^_^.
+ µSD
+ Size
+ Hires and overall improved compatibility
+ Mecanical buttons
+ NFC/bluetooth
+ Line out
+ EMI shielding
+ Huge battery life
Not so good:
- amp section. very slight hiss and inability to drive most fullsize headphones, both come from a poor amplification section.
- the ludicrously long scan you have to activate if you want to use "Sense Me".
- Media Go software for your computer, it's not as bad as sonic stage, but it certainly isn't amazing(you don't really have to use that software)
- I anticipate average measurements. but again an amp would make up for most problems and it's really still a size you can carry with an amp from time to time. I imagine a very nice look and transparent sound together with an apex glacier.
- MP3 isn't gapless.
- bluetooth signal is a little weak.



Random fact:
My A15 has the same 5pin female jack that is on my E585(with noise canceling). So is noise canceling inside the DAP and just hidden by the firmware? Or did they find another use for the extra pins? Or were they just too lazy to change the female plug? I really have no idea and feel kind of curious.
with the old crew:
    clip+           A15               cowon i10        samsung P3
Seems it can not display album artwork from itunes AAC fiiles with Apple embedded PNG artwork.
Works only if artwork converted to JPEG. Little joy if you have 20,000 files that need editing.
Shame, even sony budget phones handle PNG artwork. And no Gapless for AAC files a shame too.
Otherwise generally nice player to own and use. SensMe really useful once the scanning over and done with.
Are the SOny USB for MP4 player cables you can get on ebay compatible, I need another USB cable!
@Headmusic sony has been using the same cable for several years now on many different DAPs, so anything supposed to work with a not too old model will be fine with any model.