Sony NW-A105 Android DAP

psikey

Distinguished Member
Posted a fair bit on head-fi but thought it might be of interest if I post my summary here and some photos:

So summing up, my mini review:

Based on experience with Sony EU/UK DAPS's I went straight for an imported one from Japan and been using a few days now. Design/Weight/Size/Materials/Screen/Buttons all great and you feel like you've bought a quality product.

Its milled Aluminium single piece block for front and sides with a pressed Aluminium piece for top & back. Only bottom end plate is possibly plastic.

Now this is low powered device so will not go loud enough or do justice to many demanding headphones. To get good battery life in a device this size Sony will have used low power class D amplifiers of much lower output power than DAP's like Fiio X11, Hiby R5, iBasso DX160 etc. For undemanding IEM's or over Bluetooth output should be fine.

I say should because Sony always seem to volume cap their EU products and us users then try to find ways around it. So this time I went straight for a Japanese import with no risk of a volume cap.

I only listen with efficient Shure SE846's (8 Ohm) and the player sounds beautiful with my own HD files using the built-in Walkman app and plays DSD, HD FLAC and even MQA perfectly.

Now you would only really buy this for its Android OS with streaming media support and other than MQA tracks in Tidal it does currently max out at 24/48kHz if streaming HD content in the likes of Amazon HD. If Amazon has an Ultra HD track at 24/44.1KHz then that seems to play bit-perfect but for 24/96 & 24/192 those will be played at a max of 24/48. Still sound excellent and I can't tell doing an A-B test between say 24/48 and 24/96 or 24/192.

Even Spotify tracks sound fabulous out of the A105. UAPP will only work with Android Audio so again 24/48.

It could be the UK version IS capped and may even affect the sound as it certainly did with the ZX2. At least with the ZX300 you can get rid of the cap with a software tool.

Gave it 4 stars due to it not delivering 24/96 & 24/192 in the likes of Amazon HD but then many phones and Android DAP's don't either (Hiby R5 does). To my ears it does seem that Tidal MQA are working correctly.

Tried a couple of external USB DAC's and UAPP does work with them bit-perfect and at 24/48 in Android Audio.

WiFI & BT connection very stable with no drops. The A105 can get quite warm when syncing a lot of tracks over wifi but nothing to be concerned about.

Battery life going to be way down on the stated amount from my testing**. Listening to Spotify offline tracks for last 1.5hr with no screen time and wifi/BT off with volume at 65 and already lost 10% (may not be linear so will have to wait and see on battery life).

** Its likely Sony stated battery times are with only using the Walkman App.

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Size comparison to one of the best phones for Audio the LG V30+
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Note: I tried to post this as a review but got that wrong and its under A&K Junior section :rolleyes: (not done before).
 
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TheHurf

Novice Member
The inclusion of Android on this device should have been spectacular, granting access to Google Play Store and Hi-Res streaming apps such as Tidal...except...the SoC implemented on this device (according to the footnotes on the Sony product page) is capped at 16bit/48kHz for streaming sources - so those of us hoping to listen to 24bit Tidal Masters are handicapped straight out the box as streamed content is downsampled it to 16bit...

I'd be interested to know though, having been looking forward to this device - whether or not a download from Tidal would in fact be 24bit or still capped...

Although that being said, the footnote also says when using a music application other than Sony original music player app, High-Resolution Audio is down-converted to 48 KHz/16bit for playback
 
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pete34

Novice Member
Thank you for the review. ?How does it fare with LG V30. I have XZ1 (phone) which I use as DAP (only playing music - as I can't use it here in Japan as a phone - EU region locked) and looking to get a DS100 or Fiio BTR5 (when it released). I wonder if the a105 is worth considering at all.
My use is Spotify & podcast
 

Tonguey

Novice Member
Thanks for your review. Hit the nail directly on the head!

For me I like the sound that Sony products produce, not overly bright and nice and clear. The cap on streaming isn't to my liking though, but the battery life... wow! Can't remember the last time I had any device with such poor battery life. Hoped the updates would fix it but to no avail.

Bought the UK version not knowing about the volume cap. My IEMs aren't exactly hard to fire up, but find myself wishing it had more punch - does anyone know if there is any way around this?

If you're fingers are bigger than a toddlers good luck on hitting the correct letter on the keyboard.

Overall I'm underwhelmed by the player, given the cost and Sony's reputation. Seriously considering selling it as it's nowhere near as good as hoped.
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
Thanks for your review. Hit the nail directly on the head!

For me I like the sound that Sony products produce, not overly bright and nice and clear. The cap on streaming isn't to my liking though, but the battery life... wow! Can't remember the last time I had any device with such poor battery life. Hoped the updates would fix it but to no avail.

Bought the UK version not knowing about the volume cap. My IEMs aren't exactly hard to fire up, but find myself wishing it had more punch - does anyone know if there is any way around this?

If you're fingers are bigger than a toddlers good luck on hitting the correct letter on the keyboard.

Overall I'm underwhelmed by the player, given the cost and Sony's reputation. Seriously considering selling it as it's nowhere near as good as hoped.
I sold my import A105 and all my others DAP's and now just use the excellent Fiio BTR5 both wired as a DAC at home & BT LDAC while out fed from my S10+ phone.

The BTR5 drives my Shure SE846's and Noble K10U beautifully and the S10+ does LDAC BT perfectly and all bit-perfect via UAPP app with BTR5 wired (inc. Tidal MQA streamed). Much more driving power than an A105 or ZX507, and best over balanced.

Gave up on DAP's DAC/AMP's now having recently had & sold Chord Mojo, Chord Hugo2, Audioquest DFR & DFC, Fiio M11, Hiby R5, Sony A105 & Sony NW507 (Mojo/Hugo 2 still best if needing to drive demanding headphones)
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
I believe the EU volume limit on recent Sony Daps cannot be circumvented. You was able to remove it with the rock box software tool with old generation Sony Daps.

@psikey did you use eBay to import non EU Sony Daps?
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
I believe the EU volume limit on recent Sony Daps cannot be circumvented. You was able to remove it with the rock box software tool with old generation Sony Daps.

@psikey did you use eBay to import non EU Sony Daps?
Yes, a risk but worked out OK for me and managed to avoid duties/fees for a change. Actually made a profit when I sold it in UK.

You could buy a Sony ZX507 (silver) from Amazon Japan with all fees for less than UK Amazon price a few weeks back and they also have no volume cap (couldn't get the black shipped to UK for some reason**).

Yep, can still import a Japanese silver ZX507

Order Summary

Items:JPY 66,876
Shipping & handling:JPY 1,180
Import Fees Deposit:JPY 13,611
Order total:JPY 81,667
Payment Total:GBP 632.68


Currently £624.44 new on Amazon UK (black only in UK)

** Maybe because silver not sold in UK market.
 
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psikey

Distinguished Member
does anyone know if there is any way around this?
Not possible. Already tried with Asia Pacific firmware and it does install the firmware but you still don't get the volume cap removed so must be locked in at a lower level than the firmware. In the hardware itself.

You do get it defaulting to Chinese and the Asian music store apps o_O
 

gavinl1967

Well-known Member
I've been looking at this player as something I can use at work. I listen music at work using Amazon Music Unlimited - however, I'm not allowed my phone at my desk, so can't use that. I can stream via the desktop (not able to download the app/music) but I continually have an online fight with my better half over who can stream at any one time - I always lose. I had thought about buying an old android phone for the purpose of playing music, but the chances are it will have a camera, and that is a big no-no (liable to be sacked)

Anyway, could this player be my answer or is there something else out there I can stream Amazon Music on that I haven't found yet?

Thanks.
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
The Hiby R5 was the best Android experience at a reasonable price with no capping of volume or the track quality.

I'm currently importing a Hiby R3 Pro to try as I wanted smaller than R5 (R5 not too large anyway).

Amazon HD plays bit perfect on the R5 and can store your tracks no problem on a mSD card. Hiby one of the best for getting the audio stream right on Android.
 

karma12

Active Member
The Hiby R5 was the best Android experience at a reasonable price with no capping of volume or the track quality.

I'm currently importing a Hiby R3 Pro to try as I wanted smaller than R5 (R5 not too large anyway).

Amazon HD plays bit perfect on the R5 and can store your tracks no problem on a mSD card. Hiby one of the best for getting the audio stream right on Android.
psikey I had a Hiby R3 Pro months ago ...I don't think you will like the sound, the Sony NW 105 is way better, it will be interesting to read your thoughts on it when you get it i wasn't too impressed by it
 

gavinl1967

Well-known Member
Thanks both for your input. I think the Hiby might be a tad too expensive for my budget - it will never move from my desk at work - and Currys have the Sony on offer at the moment. There don't appear to be many options on the market though.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
@gavinl1967 if a camera is a big no no I would stick to the Sony dap for modern Android, provided you are using easy to drive headphones due to Sony's hard EU volume cap that can only be circumvented by importing a non EU model. I refer to my comments here about buying a Fiio or whatever with Android:


@psikey having sold up you are already back in the dap game :laugh:
 

gavinl1967

Well-known Member
@gavinl1967 if a camera is a big no no I would stick to the Sony dap for modern Android, provided you are using easy to drive headphones due to Sony's hard EU volume cap that can only be circumvented by importing a non EU model. I refer to my comments here about buying a Fiio or whatever with Android:
Thanks for this.

A camera on a device will - if spotted - literally get me walked off site. I'll be listening through some soundmagic earbuds I bought from Amazon several years ago, which are surprisingly good. Although I might even try a pair of cheap bluetooth earbuds from Amazon, many of which get decent reviews.

I'll be downloading content from Amazon music, so that I have it available locally. rather than fighting my other half for control. Thanks.
 
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psikey

Distinguished Member
@gavinl1967 if a camera is a big no no I would stick to the Sony dap for modern Android, provided you are using easy to drive headphones due to Sony's hard EU volume cap that can only be circumvented by importing a non EU model. I refer to my comments here about buying a Fiio or whatever with Android:


@psikey having sold up you are already back in the dap game :laugh:
I need a new toy to play with during Furlough :D Worth a play for £165, you know what its like with this obsession/hobby :rolleyes: Can always sell on without a massive hit later. People spend more on Booze in a month at that just goes down the toilet!

The Fiio BTR5 is still my go-to device still.
 
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psikey

Distinguished Member
psikey I had a Hiby R3 Pro months ago ...I don't think you will like the sound, the Sony NW 105 is way better, it will be interesting to read your thoughts on it when you get it i wasn't too impressed by it
I read it sounded nearly same as an R5 and thought that was great (different obviously to Sony sig). No big loss if I end up selling it on.

I'm really struggling to justify buying an Import ZX507 at ~£600 when it downscales streamed audio to 24/48 and such weak battery life. Do you know it doesn't even work with Sony's excellent little BT remote I had with a ZX300! Remote does work with my S10+ phone and Fiio M11/Hiby R5 o_O

I really love the feel/design of the ZX507.
 

karma12

Active Member
I read it sounded nearly same as an R5 and thought that was great (different obviously to Sony sig). No big loss if I end up selling it on.

I'm really struggling to justify buying an Import ZX507 at ~£600 when it downscales streamed audio to 24/48 and such weak battery life. Do you know it doesn't even work with Sony's excellent little BT remote I had with a ZX300! Remote does work with my S10+ phone and Fiio M11/Hiby R5 o_O

I really love the feel/design of the ZX507.
yes it baffles me as well why the ZX507 downscales streamed audio especially knowing amazon HD sounds so good on my V30...i still have my ZX507 beautiful piece of kit i hope a software update comes out soon ...the battery life is weak i have a portable battery i use to top it up ...it sounds very good though especially from the balanced out
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
@karma12 what kind of battery life are you getting versus headphones and volume setting. Are you listening to offline downloads or streaming.

I agree with @psikey the import price is a touch high and then you start thinking about spending more on the WM1A that can stream via BT receiver mode. But that unit is bigger form factor
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
WM1A too big for me. The Hiby R5 or R3 or ZX507 are ideal IMO but I have to like the look of things I own/use and I thought the R5 was ugly with its clear end caps and raised glass front/back looking like afterthoughts. Also buttons looked skewed and copper ring around 4.4mm jack was thin with copper look patchy. The R3 is more styled like the R6 from the photos.

Tidal (ideally with offline) is my main consideration these days after SQ and just not acceptable on mid-high end players to accept Android converting down to 24/48. Hiby and some others have managed to overcome it. Can't even get UAPP to work on ZX507 or A105 with its own audio drivers. If Sony fix I will be importing a ZX507 I think even though battery should also be double what it is IMO even if that meant extra £50 and couple mm thicker device. I tried a UK ZX507 but volume cap seriously bad and no way to get it off.
 
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karma12

Active Member
@karma12 what kind of battery life are you getting versus headphones and volume setting. Are you listening to offline downloads or streaming.

I agree with @psikey the import price is a touch high and then you start thinking about spending more on the WM1A that can stream via BT receiver mode. But that unit is bigger form factor
8hrs tops using balanced output with high gain on... downloaded files amazon HD using it off and on ..
 

karma12

Active Member
WM1A too big for me. The Hiby R5 or R3 or ZX507 are ideal IMO but I have to like the look of things I own/use and I thought the R5 was ugly with its clear end caps and raised glass front/back looking like afterthoughts. Also buttons looked skewed and copper ring around 4.4mm jack was thin with copper look patchy. The R3 is more styled like the R6 from the photos.

Tidal (ideally with offline) is my main consideration these days after SQ and just not acceptable on mid-high end players to accept Android converting down to 24/48. Hiby and some others have managed to overcome it. Can't even get UAPP to work on ZX507 or A105 with its own audio drivers. If Sony fix I will be importing a ZX507 I think even though battery should also be double what it is IMO even if that meant extra £50 and couple mm thicker device. I tried a UK ZX507 but volume cap seriously bad and no way to get it off.
i hope the that software fix comes soon the sony does look and sound good
 

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