back to article Sony Walkman NWZ-A845 media player

If you can live without support for FLAC or Ogg Vorbis, then Sony's Walkman PMPs have long been the obvious choice for anyone concerned about sound quality but not wanting to chance lesser known players from Cowon or iRiver. Sony Walkman NWZ-A845 Thin sound? Sony's NWZ-A845 Walkman Sony also tends to bundle decent earphones …

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Now that is gorgeous

What an awesome looking player

if they made a phone version too, it would be so tempting.

Sony do seem to be improving a lot of their product lines recently.

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"if you can live without support for FLAC or Ogg Vorbis"

Thanks for putting that statement in the first sentence.

Saved me the bother of wasting time reading the rest of the article only to find out it doesn't support some of the most popular and open-source codecs.

No FLAC = FAIL

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@PugRallye

FLAC is a minority format, ask consumers and I bet almost every single one won't even know what it is.

They care about MP3, AAC and WMA, and that's really about it.

You OpenSource Nutters and Sony Haters really need to get a grip on reality.

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Unhappy

But why?

Why doesn't Sony making docks for their own media players?

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Waiting for the 32GB model..

I REALLY want one of these. I have never liked the sound of the iPod, it's frankly abysmal, and always preferred build and audio quality over gimmicks and street cred that the iPods offer.

What is missing is the 32GB and 64GB models from the Euro range. They are out soon however, and I will be snapping one up (the 64GB if my wallet will stretch...)

I'm surprised it only got a 85%, as there was very little negative in the article, it was almost totally positive. Reading the review it sounded much more like a 95%

I too wish Sony would use FLAC in it's Walkman and PS3 products, but the Open Source licensing may be a problem...

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Coat

The downside to the ultra thin Walkman

Is feeding the tape into it after cracking the cassette open.

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I was about

to be all "HOW MUCH?" but looking at the spec and some of the fancy tech on there, it seems quite worth the money. I like the idea of being able to connect aux sound sources to it. Genius!

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Does it support disc x of y tags

I have a large library of high quality MP3 files and have found most media players seem to have difficulty dealing with the Disc X of Y tags that multiple disc sets in my collection are tagged with.

I really don't like seeing albums subdivided into Now 75 (Disc 1) and Now 75 (Disc 2) folders when the tracks should all be in the Now 75 folder. ITunes and other rippers use the Disc tag to seperate the 2 discs and it works perfectly on my iPods,

Most MP3 players I have tried seem to list multi-disc albums as 2 x track 1, then 2 x track 2, and so on, which is most irritating.

Can you tell me if the Sony can display the tracks from multi-disc albums in the correct order?

Thanks

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Boffin

RE: Does it support disc x of y tags

I've no idea what the answer to your question is, but what I do with multi-disc albums is frig the track number, such that disc one was tracks numbered as 101-199, disc two as 201-299 and so forth. Then drop all the tracks into a single directory (and make sure the Album tag for all MP3s is the same). I reckon just about all MP3 players can deal with that.

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Volume Cap

Anyone thinking of getting this Walkman should have a look at the below thread on AVForums:

http://www.avforums.com/forums/portable-music-mp3-ipod-etc/1196882-sony-nwz-a845-low-volume.html

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Volume

I tested the A845 for maximum volume against a Sansa Fuze and Cowon A3 using a pair of Sennheiser HD25's and there wasn't a huge amount of difference. Yes the Fuze was louder than the Walkman, but the Walkman in turn was louder than the Cowon. But once I fired up the noise cancellation function - using the bundled 'phones - the Sony wiped the floor with both of them in terms of what you could hear over any background racket.

As for successful ID3 tag distinction between CD1/CD2 etc I've never come across an MP3 player - my iPod aside - that has ever got that right so I long since took the simple route and put all my separate CD tracks into separate folders. Less elegant, but a sod of a lot more reliable. It's not a function I have actually tested on any of the Walkman players I have reviewed.

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Anonymous Coward

£150 and no wifi?

No thanks! It's misleading to discuss iPlayer because any videos need to be transferred from a PC.

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video out

It's supposed to be capable of displaying it's videos on a TV (not sure if the cable is extra) didn't you feel like testing this out?

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Whats the target market?

Everyone has mobile phones these days. For the cost of this and a monthly contract you can get any number of really nice android phones, and you get a similar sized device that can play music, take photos, go on the intertubes, have wifi, etc etc

I guess the ipod touch also falls into this category, but that does have the advantage of the app store, wifi and so forth. Still, I see less people walking around with ipod touches, everyone seems to have iphones/android these days.

It must be a really small market of audiophiles who say "No goddamit, I want my heavily compressed music to be of awesome quality". No FLAC is a surprise for something targeted at rich audiophiles.

That said, using the device for active noise cancelling, effectively turning any headset into a noise cancelling headset, is pretty neat. Be better if it was in a phone!

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Indeed...

Sony clearly still haven't got the knack of getting their various divisions to work together to produce a truly brilliant do-it-all device (despite Stringer's claims to do just that). Sony Ericsson was getting there in the early Walkman phone days, but completely lost it when the market started shifting towards smartphones.

It's a great shame, because under the right leadership Sony could utterly trash the iPhone. They've got the industrial designers, the best tech, and the Sony brand is still one that people associate with quality. If only they'd bloody make use of it!

If you ask me, they should forget about SE when it comes to smartphones. They need a single, landmark, iPhone-beating Android product to be produced in-house, under the Sony brand. Leave SE to the standard stuff - the smartphone should be given special treatment.

Clearly, they need me in charge.

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Great piece of kit for the price

Got one a few weeks ago. No grumbles really and works well with Ubuntu Linux (albeit iPlayer programmes still have to be played in Windows Media Player 11 for a second before transfering to device - shame the BBC still use DRMed files but hey ho can't have everything - and get_iplayer still kind of works for anyone whos using Linux) ; drag and drop as normal for all files

Sound is great and noise cancellation works well on bus/train

Works well for video (lovely screen), podcasts etc and sony firmware does good job of indexing files etc. Navigation is pretty simple (my 10 yr old managed it with no instruction)

No wifi but for the price a fantastic little media player.

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@ chris143

Chris, the TV-out cable is a £20+ optional extra so that wasn't a function I could test. iPlayer downloads aside I'm not sure I see the point of outputting 400x240 video to a 38" telly.

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Bought it a few days ago

i was looking for a mp3/video player with very good battery, no itunes-ish software and basic control buttons, ended up with this one as time was short, it was recommend and it looked okay.

con:

- no wireless at all

- no support for most of my videos!!!!! not just flac, but almost everything that I'm used to. I can live with crap players like WMP or QT not playing a movie, but a portable media player really should be able to play MEDIA?!

- earphones are nice but still not "good"

- picture viewer doesn't have even most basic features

- practically it will only give a small percentile of its features w/o using the sony software

- my WALKMAN back in the 90s had a remote in the headphone cable. now in 2010, that is too complicated on Sony's top-of-line player?

- the sony GUI lacks some options even my W880 mobile had (i.e. arrow left/right while navigating)

- only play/pause, hold and volume are well handlable, the other buttons on that fake ipod wheel are not really useful without looking at the display.

- can't play audio while attached to my laptop (maybe when attaching to windows when the software is installed)

pro:

- good usb speed

- nice display

- battery lifetime

85% is still a _very_ good rating given the lack of functionality of the current firmware has.

Can't really recommend it even for iTunes-wary people.

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WTF?

Re: bought it a few days ago

"no wireless" - surely that's not a deal killer. Besides, the screen's so small that you're not going to get a heck of a lot done.

"no video support" - rubbish. I've been using video rips that were designed for the iPod (either directly or via the Sony-supplied convertor) with no problems at all.

"picture viewer features" - erm, it's a picture _viewer_ so apart from being able to rotate pics, what more do you need?

"have to use the Sony software" - rubbish. If you use WMP then the MTP mode of the player means there's no need to use the Sony convertor. Do you actually _own_ one of these?

And I don't understand the comment about missing left/right arrows. The rest are personal preference.

@Tricky Dicky "Sony docks?" - yes, you need a WM-PORT one, check out Amazon for the BCRNWU7 "cradle" - sorry, this is just like the Apple one, so it's just a way to connect to a hi-fi.

@wondermouse "Deal with the Disc ID3 tag" - sorry it's the same as the other players - so disk 1's track 8 is followed by disk 2's track 8. This is a drawback in my book too.

@Simon Hayes "volume cap thread on AVforums" - not sure what they're complaining about. The volume is plenty loud enough for me - e.g. Feuer Frei! by Rammstein (used at the start of the film XXX) is plenty loud enough at level 20, at 30 (the top) it distorts and is very uncomfortable. Don't forget you've got a pretty good noise-cancelling setup, so you can use less volume.

@Al Taylor "volume level with other headphones" - my Beyerdynamic DT660s seemed also to be the same volume level as the bundled phones, but the DT660's needed some EQ settings because they were "tinny". (Same as an iPod Touch 1G, although an older iPod was fine).

@Tom38 "why buy this when a mobile will do the same job". Because the sound on the Sony is better than that on a mobile. See also the comment from M. Anton

I'm really not sure what folks are expecting from this Sony - I think it's being pitched at the high-end iPod Nano. In which case the Sony's probably got the edge - okay the iPod's got a diddy camera, but the Sony has better phones; screen (size AND quality); battery life and sound quality, plus it'll work quite happily with Mac OS, Windows or Linux, whereas the Apple won't work with Linux properly. Heck, when I bought my Sony it was actually cheaper than the equivalent iPod.

I'm not claiming it's perfect (there's definitely scope for some improvement - like the Disk ID3 support) but imho it rates a benchmark score 5-10% higher than the iPod Nano. And before I'm accused of being a Sony fanboi - I'm definitely not.

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Why no playlists?

This is about the only thing that irritates me with the new Sony walkman digital audio players - the lack of ability to compile a playlist on the go. My old chunky N-whateveritwas used gave me the opportunity to create 5 bookmark lists by holding down the up key for a couple of seconds. This does seem like a bit of an oversight. Surely it can't be that difficult to put an entry on the option menu?

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Gapless?

So can this thing do gapless MP3?

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re: Gapless

Not sure, but I doubt it. MP3 format was never designed to support gapless playback, there is no standard way to encode the data for players to know how to handle it.

iTunes can do it, but only if you buy your content from Apple, as they have control over both ends of the problem, the encoding process and the decoding process.

I believe some of the more modern codecs have specific methods of gapless encoding, but not MP3.

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FAIL

Err you're wrong I'm afriad

You do not need to buy tracks from Apple to get Gapless playback on a IPlod. I've been ripping my own substantial CD collection using ITunes for years and get gapless playback on the cd's which are continued mixes like DJ mixes, Pink Floyd albums and the like.

Rob

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target audience? - Luddites? ;-)

I have a shot to pieces Nokia 6310 as a phone and my missus, who's never sent a text in her life, has a brick of a Sony job (it might get used once a month if that).

All our music has been ripped at 320kbs CBR and FLAC and whilst FLAC support would be very very nice but that's going to need 130GB+ of space so we're happy to stick with the mp3s, but would ideally want 32Gb of space. We have some fairly decent headphones as I like to listen to decent quality recordings (mp3 shortcomings notwithstanding).

We're not interested in squinting at a postage stamp sized screen for video or web. She uses the current player daily and when we're on hols.

I have four DLSR's and typically take about 15lb of camera gear on hols so again have no interest in a 'phone' with a camera.

So a standalone music player fits our criteria very nicely though I guess we're a very small demographic.

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