Music quality as desired by the artist: Special players promise the ultimate musical enjoyment.

The high-resolution quality is available not only for the eyes, but also for the ears. Hi-res audio promises a listening pleasure that goes far beyond the audio CD. On the one hand, the sound source is scanned at narrower intervals than in normal music files. And, on the other hand, each sample, ie each individual measurement, is described with more bits. The sound wave is thus more accurately reproduced and sounds more nuanced. In addition, high-resolution music does not require lossy compression, so you have the chance to listen to the music just as the recording engineer has recorded in the studio or in the concert hall.

Normal playback devices and the mobile phone are usually not able to convert this high-resolution music into a signal for the headphone. For playback, special audio players are needed. The pono player, who was launched as a very successful kickstarter campaign under the leadership of Altrocker Neil Young, is popular (Neil Young does not want crushed music). Other manufacturers are also on the move, for example Sony with the NW-A25HN. This player, marketed under the historically significant Walkman label, plays the popular high-definition formats, is controlled by a control-panel and supplied with noise-suppressing headphones. They do not sound bad, but are not suitable for high-end music genius – because if one wants to listen to music with all facets, one hardly touches in-ear earplugs, but uses headphones with large shells that cover the ear completely. For example, the Sony MDR-100ABN mentioned here.

The question remains: Does the music really sound so much better that you want to carry a separate player with you?

This question depends, of course, on the personal requirements – and the goodness of the ears. As far as the ears of the tester and author of the test report are concerned, they are about 45 years old and well in the shot – but still not able to distinguish a direct difference between the high-resolution version and the Spotify streaming version. Sure, my test procedure – the same piece on both the Sony player and a second player select, synchronously play and then the headphones umstöpseln – is absolutely unscientific. However, as early as 2000, the trade journal «c’t» found out in a comparative test that test hands could not distinguish between an audio CD and high-quality MP3 files. It can be inferred from this that the quality of the CD that goes beyond the CD is more or less lost among the vast majority of consumers.

This does not mean that high-resolution audio would be a completely superfluous thing: these formats give audiophile music lovers the opportunity to indulge their passion in the certainty that they get the maximum experience and can also excite their carefully chosen and expensively paid audio equipment. As the inventor of the MP3 format, Karlheinz Brandenburg, says in this interview: “I do not want to make fun of it, because this feeling is not to be underestimated, it is – subjectively seen – real. With placebos, people can actually be cured.

Solid construction provides decent sound

Adds to the fact that the player also sounds with normal, not high-resolution files better than the average smartphone. Because the phones do not block the manufacturers with the most expensive and best components, so a solid built player can play with a dog-communicated MP3 files an advantage.

The Sony player is small, compact and with 66 grams light enough to be worn in addition to the smartphone. A plus is the long battery life of 30 hours with Hi-Res audio and 50 hours with MP3 (manufacturer’s data, which we did not check in detail, but as a guideline for plausible hold). The screen is small compared to today’s handydisplays, and the operation via control cross makes an antiquated impression in the touch age. You can also use videos, photos and podcasts with the player, which is much more comfortable on the smartphone. A strange feature is the built-in FM radio, especially since the programs that can be received in this way are not characterized either by audio quality or by a variety of music.


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