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Old 03-25-2010, 10:52 AM
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shigzeo shigzeo is offline
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: South Korea
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Default SQ Review - Sony A845

I will update this thread as time permits and will approach it on a SQ basis only. NOTE: my definition of SQ isn't 'oh gawd, that's so clear', and for many reasons; SQ is a measure of how well a device can reproduce sound, not how it can make it sound a certain way.

The A845 has a cool EQ, but it invites a lot of compression which is unfortunate. I'll show that later. First and foremost though, the same great warm, fun Sony sound is present and in full bloom. It is the same mid-oriented, bottom heavy sound which has been in full effect since about 5 years ago from the Japanese giant.

As part of it, hiss is heavy and in your face. I use sensitive earphones such as the FitEars Private 333, Earsonics SM3, Victor FX500, and even the stock earphones and all hiss - a lot. I consider this a big problem with sound, especially as players from Apple, Cowon, Microsoft and others don't hiss nearly as much. Is it too much to ask Sony, a company known far and wide for sound products, for a clear signal? The hiss permeates everything, like a think blanket on music or under music: nothing is 100% clear.

This is the same with every single Sony I've owned except for the S636 which for some reason was about as noisy as the Sansa Fuze V2 (so only a little more than I like).

The other annoying thing is: this badboy has a clicking artefact in the background which echoes at regular intervals ALL THE TIME. It is quiet though and if you are not bothered by Sony hiss (how in the name of God is that possible), then you may not find it a big (or even small problem).

I am coming from a long line of Sony portables and a borrowed X and have to say that Sony's newest S-Master units have a soft, nice sound, but are disappointing. In particular, they don't seem to be able to drive low Ω earphones very well at all. My Fuze V2 is a champion (but I hate it) and my iPod touch 2G is far clearer and full at both extremes than either Sony (X or A).

The A845 drops bass and treble with low Ω earphones and does a really, really bad job with balanced armature earphones. It does make for a smooth, fatigue-free listen, but it is hardly great. The reason the X and new A with S-Master may be 'so clear' sounding is that driving earphones, they tend to (the A more so than the X) drop bass and treble in relation to the midrange. That means the majority of instruments and vocals are pushed into the ear with greater force. It isn't clearer in any real definition, just... whatever.

The soundstage is well-placed but not really spaced much. That is fine as that is really just preference, but again, I don't find the Sony really reproducing what I hear in even Apple's newest lineup.

I'll update this review as time goes on. For now, I've taken unloaded A845 RMAA tests for now and though my loaded tests are up, one suite failed and I have to re-test and upload. My internet is as slow as balls right now, so I'll update RMAA again later with tests of the A845 driving load, amp, and from its LOD-amp.

My iem reference amp for now is the iBasso T3D which is fully resolved if a little hissy. However, it is better than the Sony.

A proviso: I like Sony and will always buy their products, but recent episodes have shown me that they are losing their edge and the A845 is perfect evidence of that fact. I listen to this every day as I like it, but when I really want the best SQ, I turn to an amped Fuze or iPod touch.
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a845, review, rmaa, s-master, sony

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