Sony added active noise cancellation for the first time to a portable audio product with the launch of a pair of flash-memory MP3 players, which will be available in November only through the company's Sony Style stores and sonystyle.com site.
The Walkman-branded players are the 1GB NW-S703F, available in violet or at about $169; and the 2GB NW-S705F player, available in black at about $199. They could be the industry's first MP3 players in the U.S. with active noise cancellation, but they're not the industry's first portable audio product with noise cancellation. In the late 1990s, Kenwood offered a headphone CD player with active noise cancellation.
"While Sony has offered noise-cancelling headphones, this is the first time that we've integrated the technology into the player itself," said Koba Kobayashi, Sony GM for personal audio at Sony Electronics. "We've created an entirely new category and are confident that even audiophiles will be pleased with this Walkman digital music player."
The device are compatible with Sony's SonyConnect download service, which is being relaunched with more than 2 million songs that encoded in Sony's protected ATRAC codec. The players, however, are not compatible with the many Windows Media Audio-based authorize sites such as Napster.
Besides protected ATRAC, the devices play files in the following codecs: unprotected WMA, MP3, unprotected AAC, linear PCM, and ATRAC Advance Lossless. Linear PCM and ATRAC Advance Lossless have appeared recently in other new Sony MP3 players.
Other companies are also launching MP3 players tightly integrated with select download sites, including SanDisk models integrated with RealNetworks's site and Microsoft's Zune, to be integrated with a Microsoft site when it ships in November.
None of these models, however, incorporate noise-cancellation technology, designed to reduce the level of recurring ambient noises so that listener's can hear their music better without cranking up the volume.
The Sony models embed a microphone into their headphones to detect and reduce ambient noise. They come with a rechargeable battery operating up to 50 hours when fully charged and for three hours with just a three-minute charge.
Other features include a built-in FM tuner, three-line color organic electroluminescence (OEL) display that displays cover art and DSP to recreate the acoustic ambience of different listening venues, such as a club or arena.
Only a handful of portable audio products are available exclusively at SonySTyle, but many models are available both at retail and at SonyStyle.
Consumers can visit Sony Style retail stores for a live demonstration and pre-order at.