Sony Walkman NWZ-A829 - Sony Walkman NWZ-A829

By Jonathan Bray

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

To really test the player to its limits, I swapped out the excellent bundled earphones and replaced them with my reference cans - a pair of Grado SR325is. I kicked the test off with a rendition of Moonlight Sonata and the warmth and smoothness in comparison with the Sansa View was immediately apparent. In fact the A829 is so buttery smooth that those with overly bassy headphones may find it a little too much. But there's certainly no lack of clarity and detail and music rings out with fantastic clarity and power.

I switched to something a little less laid back for the next track - Muse's Butterflies & Hurricanes from their album, Absolution - and it really showed off the A829's strengths, lashing out the complex harmonies and rhythms with a deftness that was truly impressive to behold. Volume levels are impressive, too - even with the large Grados plugged in with no assisting amplification, I had to notch it down from maximum to reach comfortable listening levels.

And vocals were handled just as comfortably: Oh Susanna's simple, yet heart-wrenching ballad Billy was conveyed with all the emotion originally intended; and Damien Rice's acoustic mix of guitar, strings and voice was immediate in a way that the Zen and View couldn't quite manage. You can almost feel the air resonating in the body of Rice's guitar as he belts out the chords.

Verdict

Sony's latest Walkman is, then, clearly a very capable player. It's light, good looking, and competes with any for sound quality. It's easy to use too, has fantastic battery life, and with Bluetooth now in the mix, its appeal has been expanded to those who want to listen without wires.

But the price, I have to say, at a wincingly pricy £229, is not exactly what I'd call fantastic value for money. Even taking into consideration the decent pair of headphones, it still seems overpriced. To put it in perspective, for the same money you could buy a Creative Zen, itself not a particularly cheap player, add a pair of Sennheiser's superb CX95 headphones and still have enough change left over to buy a couple of albums.

Quite why it's this expensive when the previous incarnation was such great value is a mystery, but one thing is clear - at this price, alas, we can't possibly give it a recommended award.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Value 6
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Features 8

gettinhigh

June 30, 2008, 7:30 pm

Great review, helped me make my mind up on this, I can't wait for it to release in india. Yes they are a bit expensive for 16gb storage, but kudos to sony for the sound quality. I would pay a premium anyday for stellar sound quality in an mp3 player than gimmics like touchscreen and coverflow. In the long run that is what i plan to use an mp3 player for not for the useless features.


The premium earphones are a slap on apple's face.


Apple give more weightage to style (apparently) than audio quality and thats poor.

JDenning

November 16, 2008, 5:01 pm

FYI the player DOES play DRM-protected WMA files that have been transferred using a suitable player. Agree completely that the lack of ability to queue music or create playlists on the player is an absolute pain. If I thought it were worth it I'd tell Sony to develop a firmware update to do this. The sound quality is excellent while the battery life is super - one charge lasts over 10 hours playing DRM-protected WMA's at high volume. Also agree about the proprietary lead but Sony will never lose some of its bad habits in that area.

Wandy

December 6, 2010, 3:26 pm

You can make Playlists on the nwz-a829

Wandy

December 6, 2010, 3:30 pm

Anybody know how the heck to load movies into the Sony NWZ-A829?? I havev tried from a DVD. And created Movies on my laptop via Windows Move Maker. No luck so far. Thanks.

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