April 19, 2021


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The SONY NW-A105HN Which Comes from the Small Size Era, is Smart and Versatile

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If you’re a fan of the so-called “small screen”, it may be hard to experience the joys of a small screen on today’s smartphones, but there’s still a chance that a small screen can coexist with Android on a music player.

SONY, after all, built the NW-A105HN into the Android operating system in the compact A series. The extremely small body, coupled with the open Android system, also allows the traditional high-quality audio and convenient streaming media experience to unify, and the body size is enough to open up the gap with a smartphone, giving us a reason to choose a player.

Given the problem of expertise, there is always room for a professional player, as opposed to a smartphone that is all-encompassing but has limited experience. And the SONY NW-A105HN has been upgraded with firmware to bring new improvements and optimizations in software, functionality and experience, so it’s a much more attractive player at this point in time than it was when it launched.


Small but powerful

As a long-time SONY player user, I can feel the trend of “SONY’s Android phones getting bigger and SONY’s Android players getting smaller”. On the other hand, SONY seems to want to keep the A-Series small and portable while providing smart and easy access.

However, when we ignore the brand feelings of SONY itself and the historical position of the A series player, there are still A lot of interesting details to talk about just from the current design of the NW-A105HN.

The SONY NW-A105HN, for example, has a rugged aluminum body with better acoustic properties, as well as the same high-quality thin film capacitors and high-quality resistors as the ZX300/ZX500 series. In addition, there are familiar crystal oscillator and familiar S-Master HX digital amplifier on the circuit board of this machine, and it supports the flagship version of DSEE Ultimate digital sound enhancement engine (a new round of firmware upgrade is needed), and the board and solder are also relatively particular.

In this sense, SONY’s own design continuity can indeed be reflected. Perhaps the same series of players in different times have different characteristics, but can be clearly perceived continuity of the series. And even without the continuity of the size, the slogan of For & by Music Lovers has a clear inheritance.

Of course, the fact that the player is equipped with a physical side button for blind operation is obviously routine, a design that shouldn’t have been emphasized — but SONY has a long-established, human-friendly design. The SONY NW-A105HN has a bump on volume + and play/pause buttons, not to mention a small probability time for the visually unable to see. The bump allows you to easily operate when the lights are off or in your pocket.

I have to count the number of keys in my mind when using a player without bumps. The convenient bump design can improve the success rate in blind operation, but it is also unnecessary to think about it. Obviously, it is a seemingly insignificant plus in operation.

Only looking at such a small and light machine, many people will think that this is a traditional microcontroller model. In fact, SONY has the Android operating system tucked into this thin, compact body, and is the rare smart player version of Android 9.0.

Android certainly makes the SONY NW-A105HN more open, since traditional non-smart players are often done in a mechanical way

As for battery life, the SONY NW-A105HN really can’t compete with a single-chip computer at the same price. It is commendable that, as the system update brings more mature firmware, the engine’s short battery life in the release version of the firmware is to some extent repaired, which is obviously commendable – the player’s battery life in my opinion is a very important function point.

After the firmware upgrade, the machine can download the way of power saving and excellent APP, kick out all kinds of power consumption in the background of the “rogue application”, so as to ensure the performance of battery. The app itself is similar to “Black Zone” or “Green Guardian,” but SONY’s own positioning also means it may be able to deliver better power-saving performance.

But even with the improved firmware, comparing the SONY NW-A105HN to the MCU still doesn’t seem right to me. After all, as an Android player, the battery life is pretty good in terms of size and thickness, but it’s just not the best choice for the ultimate battery driver.

SONY’S NW-A105HN firmware has also been updated with features such as search-related, in response to the difficulty of earlier firmware searches. While these features may be common on a smartphone, they’re worth mentioning especially on a music player.

The firmware update also features sound quality performance, upgrading the DSEE HXTM digital sound enhancement engine at launch to DSEE Ultimate digital sound enhancement engine flagship with support for up to 192kHz/32bit sampling frequency/bit rate. And this time the new firmware in Bluetooth mode, support including equalizer, dynamic volume equalizer, alcohol technology + and user-defined sound adjustment. There are more volume adjustable gear numbers as well.

Even in terms of related feelings, SONY NW-A105HN also has a tribute to the first Walkman TPS-L2, ancient taste full of tape playback interface. One of the most distinctive features of this interface is the ability to quickly distinguish the specifications of the audio source being added by differentiating the different codes by tape type and color.

What? You don’t like this tape screensaver? Just turn it off. But for the user who wants to pursue the feelings, the interface is exact a fit.

And the SONY NW-A105HN has an unexpected feature: it’s a player that supports noise reduction.

Yes, the SONY NW-A105HN has a built-in noise reduction module and is capable of receiving noise information through the standard noise reduction microphone on the SONY IER-NW510N headphones. The noise reduction function can be realized when the player and earphone are matched together, and the two modes of automatic AI noise reduction and adjusted noise reduction are also available.

Of course, this combination does have a relatively large noise reduction limit, and may not be as effective as full-time noise-reduction headphones. First of all, noise reduction itself is obviously perceptible, but the noise reduction effect itself is not strong, and when manually adjusted to a higher noise level, there will be obvious bottom noise, so this noise reduction function is more like a good “dessert”. But the mere fact that it supports noise reduction is enough to set it apart from most of the competitors on the market.

The SONY NW-A105HN also offers ambient sound mode, also known as “unmute mode”, so that you can hear ambient sounds clearly without taking off your headphones.

The SONY NW-A105HN also supports Bluetooth 5.0 up to LDAC, which means that if you need to use Bluetooth or true wireless headphones, this player will do just fine. The SONY NW-A105HN, a professional player, also has an advantage, considering the intermingled Bluetooth sound quality of smartphones on the market.

Satisfied people’s need for popular music

We might be able to have better material and sound quality products at the same price. But from an objective point of view, it is obviously not so easy to find a product that combines brand trust, fashion design, smart systems and a good experience at the same price.

It’s either a genre with an unbeatable sound but a terrible design and experience, or it’s just plain frilly-looking, and it’s hard to do both. The SONY NW-A105HN may not be the ultimate choice in sound quality, but in every sense it is perfectly capable of competing for the position best suited to this need.

SONY’s NW-A105HN sound is not that distinctive, and although it’s still more pop tuned overall, it has some applicability while being a little warmer. The overall sound background of this player is more inclined to the old-brand popular sound background, which is not oriented by the quality itself, but pays more attention to the bias of tuning itself.

As noted above, the SONY NW-A105HN isn’t the best in terms of hardware quality for its price, but it’s good enough for people who want to listen to music with a pop sound. No one is going to enjoy a big symphony orchestra with this model.

Don’t forget, this is a model with a VINYL record processor, and the tuning style itself is very similar to that of a vinyl record player. With the advent of the vinyl processor, the sound becomes more Walkman-like, and strictly more of a taste experience.

As for the songs I personally listened to, SONY NW-A105hn has a fairly good analysis in The Bauklotze composed by Hiroyuki Sano and voiced by Koyo Kobayashi. The vocal is generally inclined to a straightforward style, but it has a good smoothness and a relatively small grain sense. Besides, the vocal is also familiar with the type of relatively close ear. However, its low frequency tends to texture, although the volume sense and diving are not outstanding, but brings a certain degree of listening resistance.

In Scott Matthew’s “Beauty is Within US”, the raised voice also gives a good sense of presence, and the qualified degree of separation does not obscure the sound of the voice. What’s more, SONY NW-A105HN has relatively good control over the dental sounds in many parts that are easy to produce, and the warm sound background is more suitable for the melancholy and thoughtful vibe of the song itself.

The SONY NW-A105HN, on the other hand, may not be as detailed and dynamic as transient as you might expect from a small knit symphony by Youshu Lin called cocoon, but its mid-to-low frequency tuning style certainly doesn’t feel bad. Especially, it is even toxic in wind music. The SOLO part before and after three minutes has a very gripping feeling.

Of course, in terms of personal experience, the SONY NW-A105HN is still a relatively audience-focused model. It is close to the positioning that the pricing would suggest, and the main thing is still to meet the needs of the popular taste, which lacks some toxicity or features but is rich enough in adaptable tracks and styles.

Android experience under a small body

In fact, SONY itself embraced Android early in professional players, releasing the Android NWZ-Z1050N back in 2012. However, with the sound quality leap of professional players, the early Android SYSTEM SRC and many other problems, in a sense, have become the bottleneck to limit the sound quality. Therefore, SONY, which came into contact with Android early, did not widely promote Android system in high-end models.

Today, technological advances are allowing SONY to cram better hardware into smaller devices, and streaming media has made android’s openness useful. The once unintelligent A series, now joined by the Android ease of use SONY NW-A105HN, is truly the best of the best.

The SONY NW A105HN may not be a hardcore machine for extreme Hi-Fi effects, but given its good design, experience and rich features, it’s probably a product that will make you feel happier, not to mention come from SONY, the father of portable players, right?

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