Review: Sony MDR-1A headphones and the Sony NWZ-A15 walkman.

Review: Sony MDR-1A headphones and the Sony NWZ-A15 walkman.

About the Sony MDR-1A stereo headphones and the Sony NWZ-A15 walkman:

I love listening to music during my travels and I was more than happy to try out the Sony MDR-1A headphones and the NWZ-A15 walkman. Both pieces of equipment stand out in the portable audio crowd because they support High-Resolution Audio files. High-Resolution Audio can be compared to HD video (I discovered this after some quick online research). The music quality of high-res audio is far better, with a clearer and more detailed sound.

Specifications walkman:
Size of the walkman: 436×109 mm
Weight of the walkman: 66 gram
Battery life: 30 hours (Hi-Res Audio), 50 hours (MP3)
Built-in memory: 16 GB
Costs: approximately 300 USD (270 euro)

Specifications headphones:
Weight of the headphones: 225 gram (without cable)
Drive unit headphones: 40 mm, dome type, aluminium-coated Liquid Crystal Polymer Diafragma
Costs: approximately 225 USD (200 euro)

Sony NWZ-A15 and MDR-1A high-resolution audio
Waiting for boarding at the airport.
What I love:
  • The amazing sound quality: pure, detailed and powerful! Not only of the high-resolution music, but also of ‘normal MP3’ songs.
  • Some of my old non-high-res MP3 files also sound better, due to the so-called DSEE HX upscaling feature which restores the quality of compressed MP3 files.
  • Little background noise, it’s just you and the music. Perfect for noisy airplanes.
  • The timeless, classy and cool design.
  • The luxurious and soft feel of the headphones. You can wear the headphones all day without irritation. I wore the headphones for more than 8 hours during my flight to Sri Lanka, and they still felt comfortable.
  • The walkman is easy to use and navigate.
  • Two different cables (one with in-line control and microphone).
  • The fancy-looking box and carrying pouch.
  • The opportunity to boost your storage with a microSDXC memory card.
 If I was the boss of Sony, I would improve:
  • The availability of color options of both the headphones and the walkman.
  • The number of songs and albums available in high-resolution audio (not sure if Sony has any influence on this though) and the download costs. Bob Marley’s Legend album in High-Resolution Audio costed me 19,90 euro’s on high-res download music provider Qobuz.
SONY NWZ-A15 walkman and MDR-1A headphones
Sun + Music at the Costa Brava beaches in Spain!
The expert opinion (Kevin Okkema, musician and product reviewer)

Since I’m no audiophile and don’t really have an ear for music, I asked my good friend Kevin to give his expert opinion. Kevin: “What I particularly like about this headphone is that, besides the typical Sony ‘no-nonsense’ design, the ear cups are closed resulting in an excellent noise reduction. The 40mm drivers give a well-balanced sound and every frequency comes out great. The bass is impressive without being overpowering. Overall, the sound quality is good/excellent for headphones in this price range. The walkman is also stylish and compact. Perfect to bring on a trip!”

Instead of the Sony MDR-1A headphones and the NWZ-A15 walkman you could also buy …
  • For example: Beats by Dre studio headphones (costs approximately 240 euro/270 USD) and an Apple Ipod touch 32 GB (costs approximately 290 euro/325 USD).
Bunch of Backpackers final verdict:

Now that I have experienced the pleasure of headphones (in general) and the amazing sound quality of high-resolution audio, it’s almost impossible to settle for anything ‘less’. Via Qobuz I’ve downloaded Bob Marley, Selah Sue and Brodinksky in high-res and the sound quality is ten times better compared to my old music player. Besides sound quality, I also love the cool look and the comfort and softness of the headphones. With exception maybe of long-term backpacking trips, my Sony headphones and walkman will from now on accompany me during bike rides to work, train rides to family and all my other travels. Both the equipment and high-resolution music albums are relatively expensive, but if you often listen to music it’s worth the investement. For all traveling music lovers out there: try it and I promise you will be convinced! 

Want your own?

Find the English Sony website here or the Dutch Sony website here.

Thank you Kevin for your expert opinion! 

Disclosure: I received the headphones and walkman from Sony Netherlands to use on my travels. Views and opinions expressed in this article are, as always my own. 

I love listening to reggae during my travels. What is your favorite music? 

Meet 'travel mastermind' Manouk: a 29-year-old sassy girl from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. With BoB she inspires you to explore the world, meet the unexpected and follow your dreams. Happy travels!


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