Did you grow up loving the Walkman? Are you missing the days of using a pencil to rewind or forward your cassettes in order to save battery life? Do you want to play all those cassettes you have stored in those old boxes? Well, you will not get to relive that with this SONY NW-A100TPS Walkman J
This is another SONY Digital Media Player (DMP) but with a touch of the first Walkman introduced to the world 40 years ago. Retails at RM 1,799, this 40th anniversary package comes with a 16GB media player running on Android (only 6 GB available space), USB C cable, stickers, manual and a soft casing resembling the first Walkman model TPS-L2.
Just like most of SONY DMPs, it is equipped with their proprietary DSEE feature, vinyl like sound processer, ClearAudio+, latest LDAC Bluetooth protocol and capable to play whatever digital format you install on this player including MQA.
Now, when SONY first announced about this special and limited edition couple of months back, I was not really interested as I have never gotten into DMP or DAP. Yes, I had a few including iPods, but once the mobile phone industry started to have very decent audio playback, I stopped using a DMP. SONY Malaysia was only allocated 100 units and consumer were advised to pre order them before 13th Nov. Myself however just got a hold on the unit on Boxing day. Why did I get one? Well, lets just say it was a gift.
The unit is veeerryyy light. I just cant believe how light it is. Didn’t impress me at all. Why make it light when you can have a behemoth DMP right? Wrong! It is meant to be light for great portability. First things first, I need to put in my 128 GB MicroSD card from my previous phone Samsung S9. Then, just like any Android phone, I downloaded TIDAL and Spotify. The set up for the unit is easy especially for Android user. Once it was all set up, the fun begins.
Headphones– Nuraphones, Sennheiser HD800S, Beyerdynamic T1, Audeze EL8
Earphones – MF EB50, RHA MA750, Samsung AKG Buds, SONY WF-SP700N
External DAC amp – CHORD Mojo
I start off with my favourite track Take Five by Dave Brubeck DSD
MF EB50 - Not up for the task to deliver the bass that I like from this track. Sound kind of flat.
RHA MA750 - Didnt disappoint me. The MA750 have been my preferred earphones when it comes to musicality. Bass was adequate. The airiness of this track was definitely the highlight.
Samsung AKG Buds - Among the earphones, this was actually the highlight. Nicely matched with regards to musicality. The DMP connected nearly instantly and on this track, the overall track sounded full and the bass was astounding. A decent sound can be achieved at about 65% volume. The bass was extended and digs quite deep.
SONY WF-SP700N - Even though equipped with its own Sony app, it somehow missed the mark when compared to the AKG. It was still a fun pair to listen too but it sounded less musical and at times sounded a bit flat.
Nuraphones - Among the headphones, this was the one that was effortlessly delivering good overall sound given you activate the Nura apps. Bass was full, the airiness from the experience with MA750 was there and the musicality was very lively. On wired mode, it was not that impressive where you need to crank up the volume to about 75%.
Audeze EL8 was the only wired headphones that shows the least struggle for the TPS to deliver good sounding music to. Had to crank up the volume to 90% to have that bass impact I like on this track.
Dont even try with Beyer T1 and Senns HD800S. Even at 100% volume, it sounded thin and unlively completely.
CHORD MOJO - To connect or Not To Connect?
Big YES if you intend to use this DMP with headphones. It just not designed to drive headphones. Need a decent amplification to drive headphones whne playing from this player. No compatibility issue to connect OTG to this player and to the CHORD MOJO. It sounds out all the different hi res files I have and it was indicated by the different colours on the Mojo.
Connecting the DMP to an external DAC amp like the Mojo is definitely the way to go to fully enjoy headphones while playing from this Sony DMP.
Other Cool Features
Highly compatible to be connected to modern ICE. In my Mercedes E350, it was best paired in BT mode as I can then stream DSD files to the ICE. It can also be connected to the ICE system via Android Auto but you will need the APK file for that.
It can also play videos, movies etc with crystal clear images. The screen size to be frank although small was fun to use too. Can easily play mp4 and avi files. Sometimes I prefer the smaller units like this as it is less taxing on the arms.
Should you get one? If you base it purely on sound quality, this unit is featured pack with all the Sony gizmos to give you the purest of sounds quality. I am of course a big fan of its DSEE and Hi res capability having to own their main deck HAP Z1 ES. But is it value for money? Well, if you do have RM1799 spare change from Xmas or the upcoming CNY, then by all means get one. But with only 16 GB built in memory (with only about 6 GB available memory), it is not categorized as a value for money unit. The sale is banking on nostalgic element. Oh and by the way, I never owned the original walkman as it was damn expensive back then. I only had a Panasonic walkman.