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Hi-Res Portable Among Sony’s IFA Introductions

Berlin – Sony is going to the IFA show here with its first high-resolution Walkman portable audio player for the U.S. market, a new premium soundbar, and over-ear headphones said to deliver the sound quality of high-res music files.

The new soundbar is the $999-UPP HT-ST5, which ships in September in the U.S. to bolster the company’s presence in premium soundbars. It joins the $1,299-unlateral HT-ST7 launched a year ago to push the soundbar line above the then-current top price of $449.

It features HDMI 2.0 inputs and output.

Both soundbars feature nine speakers, a wireless subwoofer, and 7.1 discrete channels. The configuration combines with proprietary S Force Pro Front Surround technology to expand the sound stage horizontally and vertically and deliver discrete surround effects without surround speakers.

The new model is slightly smaller with slightly smaller drivers and 380 watts of total power instead of 450 watts. Both models feature 7-inch subwoofer, but the top model’s sub adds an 8×12-inch passive radiator.

Both models also feature three HDMI inputs, one HDMI output with audio return channel, two optical inputs, one analog in, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master decoding, Bluetooth with NFC, and Bluetooth standby, which lets a user open the Bluetooth app on their already paired smartphone, press the soundbar’s name appearing on the device screen, and wake up the soundbar and switch it to Bluetooth input.

The ST5 works with Sony’s Song Pal remote-control app, which is also available in different versions for other Sony home-audio products. The app pulls a phone’s music-streaming apps into its UI so that users don’t have to switch from a streaming app to the SongPal app to change soundbar volume or adjust other settings.

The $1,299 bar remains in the line through the end of the year.

For November shipment in the U.S., Sony plans its first high-resolution playback-only portable, the NWZ-A17 Walkman at $299 UPP, excluding headphones. It will join the D-100 portable player/recorder that shipped in March at $1,000 in the U.S. and is intended mainly for professional users.

 The A17 is promoted as the smallest and lightest high-resolution portable in the market at 2.4 ounces in a 4.4 by 1.75 by 0.4-inch chassis with aluminum front. Unlike other hi-res portables, it features stereo Bluetooth and NFC for one-touch pairing with Bluetooth headphones. The Bluetooth tap-to-pair to built-in support for aptX and AAC streams over Bluetooth. It’s also promoting as offering more battery life than all other portables, with its lithium-ion battery delivering 50 hours of MP3 playback time or 30 hours of high-resolution 192kHz/24-bit playback time, thanks to an 85-percent efficient S-Master amp. .

 The device plays back high-resolution FLAC, PCM, AIFF, Apple Lossless and WAV files up to 192/24. It also decodes WMA, MP3 and AAC files. The embedded memory is enough to store 30 albums with 192/24 resolution, the company said. The portable also displays pictures and videos.

Key features include 2.2-inch 320 by 240 QVGA color display, which isn’t a touchscreen. All functions are controlled from hard buttons. It also comes with 64GB embedded storage and 128GM microSD Card slot.

To go with the Walkman, Sony plans September availability in the U.S. of the $299 MDR-1A over-ear headphones, which are capable of high- resolution playback and replace an existing $299 pair. The new model uses two 40mm drivers like its predecessor but delivers wider soundstage with greater accuracy because of a new diaphragm material consisting of aluminum-coated liquid crystal polymer. It also extends frequency response to 100kHz from 80kHz. The headphone is made from aluminum and soft leather-look cushion material. It’s available in all black or silver aluminum with brown ear-cup and headband cushions.

Other new products introduced at IFA include the company’s first wearable sports-style Walkman with Bluetooth and a new Xtra Bass over-ear headphone pair.

The in-ear WS-613, due in October at $159, is the wearable Walkman with ear buds, a strap that wraps around the back of the head to secure the earbuds in place, and 4GB of embedded memory. It uses Bluetooth to play music from smartphone streaming apps and offer hands-free calling. A ring-shaped remote that slips onto a finger controls volume, track up/down, and phone-call acceptance. It’s also waterproof, enabling it to be submerged in up to two meters of water for more than two hours.

The Xtra Bass headphones, available in September at $199, is the company’s first Xtra Bass model with Bluetooth. The over-ear headphones come with built-in mic for hands-free calling, aptX streaming over Bluetooth, NFC, 40mm drivers, and bass-boost button.