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Sony Expands High-Res Headphones, Adds DAC/Amp

Denver – Sony went to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest over the weekend to launch an expanded series of high-resolution headphones and a portable headphone DAC/amplifier.

The company also unveiled new headphone cables, some of which were developed with Kimber Kable for high-resolution audio listening.

The $699-suggested headband-type MDR-Z7 high-res stereo headphones will be available in October at dealers nationwide along with the $699 XBA-Z5 high-res in-ear headphones and the $999 PHA-3 portable DAC/headphone amp. The $399 MDR-1ADAC high-res stereo headphones will be available in December.

The $999 PHA-3 portable headphone DAC offers decoding of almost any PCM file up to 384kHz/32-bit) or DSD audio file up to 5.6MHz. It also features DSEE HX technology to upscale lower resolution compressed-music files. Its internal rechargeable battery provides about 5 hours of balanced-audio playback when connected via USB or up to 28 hours of playback when connected to a source via 1/8-inch analog-stereo input. Features include balanced audio outputs with dedicated left and right channels and an ESS Technology ES9018 D/A converter. It connects to smartphones, portable audio players, PCs and other analog devices.

It’s made from aluminum to protect circuitry from internal or external interference and features front bumpers to protect the volume knob and headphone connectors.

The $399 MDR-1ADAC hi-res headphone with integrated DAC/amplifier decodes PCM files up to 192kHz/24-bit and DSD files up to 5.6 MHz without the need of an external decoder. A built-in S-Master HX digital amplifier reduces noise and distortion across all frequencies. New 40mm aluminum coated liquid crystal polymer HD drivers deliver frequency response up to 100kHz.

The MDR-1ADAC headphones also come with multiple-inputs and the cables necessary to connect for a direct digital connection to music sources such as select smartphone, select portable audio players and PC for the best high-res experience. To do so, Sony creates different cables for direct digital connections, including a thin and flexible USB connecting cable, digital connecting cables designed for Walkman players and Xperia mobile devices, an exclusive iOS Lightning connector cable, and conventional audio connecting cable. Its built-in rechargeable battery provides up to 7.5 hours of continuous playback via direct digital connections. When the battery runs low, however, users can still listen to music via a device’s analog headphone output.

The $699 MDR-Z7 head-band headphones feature aluminum structure, relatively large 70mm HD drivers to deliver low-bass response to ultra-sonic frequencies, lightweight aluminum-coated liquid crystal polymer diaphragms for uniform sound production across all frequencies, and four-wire structure that uses separate ground cables to minimize crosstalk between left/right channels and supports balanced audio connectors. The MDR-Z7 also comes with balanced output cable (2m) for improved signal separation with the option to plug into a compatible audio amplifier such as the Sony PHA-3.

The new $699 XBA-Z5 in-ear headphones also feature balanced-audio capability and dedicated left- and right-channel connections. High-res reproduction is produced by new linear-drive balanced armature technology, 16mm dynamic driver units with aluminum-coated LCP diaphragms. The housings are made of lightweight magnesium and come with adjustable ear-hanger design with shape-memory resin for a secure and comfortable fit, the company said. Two pairs of included detachable cables for balanced and unbalanced connections enable connection to the Sony PHA-3 portable headphone amplifier.