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Old 11-03-2014, 07:10 PM
Just Some Guy Just Some Guy is offline
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Default Sony Walkman A-17 (64 GB) Review

Review:
This is a review of the newly released Sony Walkman A-17 (64 GB). It has been tested purely from a personal point of view, without any kind of impartial, ABX comparison or audio testing equipment.

Hardware:

The first thing you will notice is the diamond-shaped button. This is a major design departure from previous Walkman players in the E, S and A series players (the infamous "Mickey Mouse" button layout), but it still works fine. All Sony has done is move the "ears" from the old design to two regular buttons on the bottom of the screen. Everything else is pretty much the same: rocker switch on the side for volume, center button for "confirm/open/pause", hold switch... if you've had any of the E, S or A series players from the last five or so years, you know the drill.

Now, some have complained about the lack of a touch-screen. To which I say, not everything needs a *&$#ing touchscreen. Touchscreens are not the be-all and end-all of portable devices, and with a screen that size, and a device this size, it wouldn't be very useful. Really? A touch-screen on a 2.2", 320x240 screen? Why would you even want that? What would that even do for you? Swiping through your postage stamp-sized photos? Pffft.

But I digress...

But now for the most important hardware: the MicroSD slot. Finally, after years or asking, pleading, praying and veiled threatening, Sony finally added expandable memory to a Walkman player. And not one of their proprietary formats like Memory Stick or their new Playstation Vita cards, which are still more expensive than their respective SD sizes. Actual MicroSD cards!

It takes up to 128 GB cards, so that's a huge upgrade from the usual 8 and 16 GB models. Sony has made several 64 GB players, and even a 128 GB player, but those were either really expensive, or limited to certain regions (or only Japan), making them hard to justify the cost or nigh-impossible to get without importing.

Firmware:

Nothing too different here. If you've had any Walkman player from the last few years, it's pretty much the same as before: the main screen is an array of three icons by four icons, each with simple labels beneath them. The standard FM, Playlist and Settings are all there, and the sub-menus are almost identical to other Walkman players.

The only real change is the inclusion of the Hi-Res Audio icon. I don't have to explain that, do I? It's for playing the new fangled high resolution audio formats. The A-17 does come with some sample music, including a few Hi Res ones. They sounded perfectly fine, and even though I'm sure some will argue the merits of it, I didn't immediately notice anything mind-blowingly different. It sounded just fine.

The other new icon is the MicroSD card one. This gives you basic controls, like insert/remove the card and formatting the card. Nothing fancy, but it might be useful for those concerned about handling their MicroSD cards.

Audio:

Sooo, the real big question is here. How's the volume?

OK, seriously though, the volume on mine (North American version) has no volume limiting that I can find, and I've had to keep it below 15. After that, it gets loud. It should be perfectly fine for most headphones, but the bigger ones may need a boost from an amp. I used my old favorite Sennheiser PX-100s, and I have to say, there was no lack of ooomph or punch.

As for audio quality, I am pleased to say it's great. I have a small collection of MP3/Flac files I use for testing players, so I loaded those up. I've used them on everything from my phones to my tablet to my Clip+. I set the A-17 EQ to flat, with no extra enhancements of any kind. No bass boost, no ClearAudio (Sony's own audio "enhancement") or any of that. Just the music, just the music as it is.

I would have to flip a coin to say which is better, the Clip+ or the A-17, but honestly... I'm kind of leaning towards the Walkman, because it seems to punch the bass a bit more. I had to check the EQ again to make sure I didn't accidentally change it, but no, it was off. The A-17 just seems slightly richer in the bass.

I'm happy with my Sennheisers. They've been reliable for years, and I'm very familiar with their sound. The A-17 performs perfectly fine and I noticed no distortion, no loss of frequencies, no anything. The A-17 and my Sennheisers seem to be perfectly happy with each other.

Conclusion:

The new A-10 series is sort of like a bridge between the prohibitively expensive Walkman ZX-1, and the more consumer-friendly S-780s and E-380s. The A-10s have the features of the higher S-series, with the battery life of the cheaper E-series, but allow the capacity of the ZX-1 without the cost (seriously, for the price of the ZX-1, you can buy an A-17 and a 128 GB card, with money to spare).

I'd say, that his is going to a worthwhile purchase. I plan to continue testing it for things like file limits (the bane of those of us who have short audio clips, say from games or TV shows) and battery life (I personally like to knock about 10 to 15 percent off of the manufacturer's claim, but we'll see...), how it handles the SD card, that sort of thing.

But so far, so good. So very, very good.
__________________
Sennheiser PX 100 still great after all these years
NWZ-A17 (64GB) and 128 GB card ALL THE MUSICS!! ALL OF THEM!!
Toshiba AT330 32 GB Tablet + 128GB SDXC + 128 USB movies, Netflix and internet, oh my!

Last edited by Just Some Guy; 11-03-2014 at 09:53 PM.
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