Review of Sony Walkman NW-A55 – A Device for Music LoversAugust 4, 2019
If you are a person from the ’80s and when you hear the word “Walkman”, spontaneously visualize the rectangular battery operated music player which has an audio cassette with a wired headphone and the brand Sony. It was so popular in 80’s that every teenager who loved music or not need to have it as part of their regular daily wear to show-off as a style statement.
The original Walkman, released in 1979, was a portable cassette player that changed listening habits by allowing people to listen to music on the move. In everyday language, “Walkman” became a generic term, referring to personal stereos of any producer or brand. Sony continues to use the Walkman brand for most of its portable audio devices. Sony continued with the change of time and released Compact Disc “Walkman” for the digital age. Sony makes cassette-based Walkman devices in China for the US and other overseas markets; however, they were discontinued in Japan only on October 23, 2010.
But as the brand name “Walkman” was so synonymously known among the music lovers, Sony continued the brand with adapting the latest technology and giving newer compact design and technology products.
As you are aware, Internet bandwidth speed increased and consumers were now downloading music from internet (paid or pirated) but most of the music found on the internet was not always to top-quality except you are buying from the Online Stores.
Sony brand has rights to major music labels and artists across the globe and has released most of the music online via their direct online store or via e-commerce store. In the year 2014, Sony decided to concentrate on providing consumers with devices which can play Hi-Res audio or also known as High-definition audio or HD audio. High-resolution audio is generally used to refer to music files that have a higher sampling frequency and/or bit depth than that of Compact Disc Digital Audio, which is specified at 44.1 kHz/16-bit. File formats capable of storing high-resolution audio include FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF and DSD, the format used by Super Audio Compact Discs (SACD).
Sony’s latest range of products which includes Walkman with Built-in USB- NWZ-B183F, WS620 & WS410 Walkman WS Series, Walkman digital music player-NW-E390 SERIES and Walkman NW-A50 series of Portable Digital player.
I have been sent the latest Sony Walkman® NW-A55 Digital Music Player with supports HI-Res audio.
To be honest, when I received the product I was uncertain about the device make a difference to me as I have flagship model smartphone which supports Hi-res audio. So I had a lot of questions and curiosity about the Sony Walkman® – NW-A55 in my mind and so did my review and below are the details.
The Sony Walkman NW-A55 is part of the NW-50 series of Hi-Res Digital Audio player which was released in 2018. Just for your information NW-50 series has got 3 products: – NW-A55 (16GB storage), NW-56 (32GB Storage) and NW-57 (64GB Storage).
Body & Specification
The Sony Walkman NW-A55 comes in simple rectangular box packaging which is common with Sony packaging. The package contains the NW-A55 player, USB cable, Startup Guide, Instruction Manual.
The Sony Walkman NW-A55 comes with a dimension of 55.7mm x 97.3mm x 10.8mm and weighing 99 grams. It has 3.1-inch WVGA (800 x 480 Pixels) TFT colour display with white LED-backlight. The body is a rigid premium aluminum milled frame provides superior rigidity for low impedance and clear, stable sound and solid bass. For clearer sound and vocals, a premium, audio-grade lead-free solder with a small amount of gold connects the circuit of the NW-A50 to the battery. The onboard plate and contact springs of the NW-A50 that connect the circuit board to the aluminum milled frame are both plated with gold. The results are powerful bass and a clear mid-range.
The body is designed with curved edges which helps ergonomically to hold and intuitive side key buttons let you control your music with ease. The play/pause, music selection and volume buttons on the side panel are shaped and positioned for easy operation.
On the left side of the device, you have the micro-SD slot for expanding your storage and has NFC support for connecting with NFC devices which can be smartphone or audio listening device. The Sony Walkman NW-A55 is a waterproof device but I am not about the submerging in water or is it just waterproof terms of splash and dustproof.
Features which make the Sony Walkman NW-A55 perfect for Audiophile music lovers
Sony Walkman NW-A55 works on the Sony original OS for the audio music player. It comes with 3.5mm jack input for wired connection. It supports Bluetooth version 4.2 (wish it had Bluetooth 5.0 or releases next model with it). As for the software, it is little lagging in speed from booting up or sleep mode to awake mode. It can give you 45hrs of music as claimed by Sony on certain conditions. Honestly, I have used it for 15 – 16 hours on my personal breaks and still the battery had more than half of the charges and of course I had the mode with saving battery and not keeping the screen on.
When the Sony Walkman NW-A55 boots up you will be introduced with a screen which has got FM Radio, Language Study, USB DAC Function and Bluetooth Receiver (LDAC™: for the transmission of High-Resolution Audio content). Below the above details, the display of MUSIC SEARCHING METHODS – All Songs, Artist, Release, Year, Playlists, Album, Genre, Composer, Hi-Res, Recent Transfers, SensMe Channels, Folder. When you touch on the top edge of the display, you get rotatory volume control for quick increase or reduce of music.
It also has Music Play Mode: – Shuffle, Playback, Repeat Off, Repeat 1, Song, Repeat All, All Range, Selected Range.
Loading the music from my laptop was quite easy, just connected the NW-A55 with supplied USB Type-A cable and dragged the song/folder to the device’s music folder with the art cover of the album or the artist. The Sony Walkman® NW-A55 automatically creates the database with details of the songs and identifies the quality of the music and if it is Hi-Res audio, it also groups under the Hi-Res category. Another features I liked is about the grouping of the song in the right order in the folder as the artist indented the listeners to hear the album like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or Wall has to be enjoyed as they are supposed to play in a sequence which I had some problem on my smartphone music app.
You can scroll up and down the list of the songs and when you flick to right from the list of songs you can see the album cover and particular song playing and one more flick to right, you get information how to add that song to your favourite bookmark list. From the song playing display screen, you flick up the screen and you are into options of equalizer mode which has 5 presets and custom mode for individual preference setting.
Then flick to the right side you have the Dsee HX which upscale the original compressed or CD audio quality audio to equivalent of High-Resolution Audio.
Another scroll to the right you have the DC Phase Linearizer which supposed to make the low-frequency response more like an analogue amplifier.
VPT (Surround) which creates a realistic dynamic audio environment with 4 presets. Studio, Club, Concert Hall, Matrix.
Dynamic Normalizer which minimizes the volume differences between songs.
Vinyl Processor recreates the warm, rich playback of a record on a turntable.
And on the top right side corner, you have small icon mentioning Clear Audio+ which processes the music and produces incredible music which creates a depth and increases the range of the all the frequencies especially the low rumbles and high frequencies. In this mode all the above mode is disabled.
Enjoying the Hi-Res Audio Quality
To explain better, we will divide into 3 parts: – Source of the Music, Processing of the Music, Listening device – Headphones or Speakers.
Source of the Music – If you have music which has been digitally compressed which has lower quality, less than 128KPS then even you upscale it, it will not sound good as an uncompressed audio file. The source file or music has to be the most important thing.
Processing of Music – One of the best ways for an Audiophile to listen to an analogue type of music is Vinyl records and Reel to Reel Tapes which were closest to the master audio listening. With the advent of technology, managing music has become easier due to digital audio sources. This, in turn, is moving most analogue sources to various digital compressed versions. The higher the compression, the higher the loss of quality of music and audio frequency. But with the new age technology, companies like Sony and others have created devices and chipsets to play uncompressed audio and try to give it as original quality as the artist intended us to hear. The processing chipset in the device is very important as it decodes the file into analogue signals which gives you the full range of the musical instruments or the atmosphere of the song.
Listening device – Headphones or Speakers- Finally, it the headphones or the speakers which decode the digital signal into analogue audio signal and converts into the sound. So to enjoy the best of the music, you need to have the right kind of headphones to your liking. Listening Device is your personal choice and your choice may differ from others, so choose according to your listening habit and not just go by the brand name.
Pros & Cons of Sony Walkman NW-A55
- A wired connection provides a full range of audio frequency to the headphones. So to enjoy the Hi-res quality audio, I would suggest using Dynamic driver or hybrid Headphones to enjoy the music.
- It is a waterproof device.
- It has a different mode to listen to your choice. My favourite has to be Clear Audio+ Mode where the output of the music is defined.
- You can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth Receiver (LDAC™) and listen to online music like Google Music and Spotify.
- Connecting to your own pair of Bluetooth headset is little troublesome as you have to go to Setting – Headphones – there are 3 choices: – IER- NW500N/NE, MDR-NW750N/NE or Other Headphones. Then scroll go to Connect to /Add Audio Devices, switch on the Bluetooth and Add Devices (Pairing).
- The Bluetooth receiver on the front screen only works for LDAC™.
- Listening to music via wired headphones is much better than Bluetooth headphones.
Who should be buying Sony Walkman NW-A55?
I had the same question when I received the Sony Walkman NW-A55 for review, should I be buying this product when I have a flagship smartphone which supports Hi-res audio with Dolby B. But as I have fancy for gadgets and devices which can provide best Hi-Fidelity sound for my ears and I reviewed the Sony Walkman NW-A55. I was enjoying every minute of my time listening to my favourite 24-bit quality music with my various dynamic driver headphones from earbuds to full rang 40mm neodymium driver headphones.
If you are a music lover and want to listen to uninterrupted music which sometimes gets irritating while listening on smartphone and messages tone interfering to your music listening. Then you should be buying such a dedicated digital audio player.
As it is waterproof, you have nothing to worry about the device getting damaged from water or dust.
With the S-Master HX™, it delivers High-Resolution audio and which you can feel the difference when you are listening to the pure audio sound of low rumbles and high-frequency cymbals.
So overall verdict, it is a great product for music lovers and especially for listening to pure music.
Price, Color & Availability
Sony Walkman NW-A55 comes in Black colour and priced at AED799. It is available with Jumbo store retail outlet and not on e-commerce websites.
Inputs from Wikipedia