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Sony Hits High-Res Audio Road

LAS VEGAS – Sony expanded its portfolio of high-resolution audio products into the car aftermarket with the launch of a single- DIN model that decodes multiple hi-res formats, including native DSD.

The mech-less head unit is the first aftermarket head unit announced to date with high-res playback capability.

The head unit not only decodes high-res files but also processes them through builtin high-resolution ESS ES9018 192kHz/24- bit DACs. “Native DSD full-performance playback is possible,” a spokesperson said.

Although new Pioneer NEX-series head units, like their predecessors, offer playback of files encoded as high-res FLAC up to 192kHz/24 bits, playback output is CDquality, Pioneer confirmed. Clarion’s in-dash stereos typically are capable of decoding 96/24FLAC and WAV files, but the files are down-converted to CD quality, Clarion said.

Sony’s single-DIN head unit, due in the summer at an unspecified price, plays back high-res files, including WAV and FLAC, from USB-connected devices. It also features Sony’s DSEE HX (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) technology to up-scale lower-resolution music files to high-res.

The head unit will be accompanied by a companion high-res capable amplifier and super tweeter for use with GS series speakers and subwoofers to reproduce a high-res experience in the car.

It’s compatible with smartphones, highres portable media players, and USB memory sticks. Its optical output connects to the outboard amplifier.