The new NW-A306 portable music player, which is part of Sony’s Walkman range, was recently introduced, and it comes with a price tag that is surprisingly reasonable. At first sight, the NW-A306 appears to be a scaled-down counterpart of the more premium NW-WM1ZM2 (which retails for £3,299) and NW-WM1AM2 (which retails for £1,299) players. It has a design that is milled from aluminium and is rectangular in shape with rounded sides. It also has huge physical button controls and a touch screen that is 3.6 inches in size. The only significant difference is that it does not have the enormous protrusions in the shape of semicircles that were present on the top of the prior variant.
However, if you look into it a little bit more, you’ll find that it has one major selling feature that sets it apart from previous Sony portables, and that is its pricing. Later this month, at a time that has not yet been determined, the NW-A306 can be pre-ordered via the Sony online store for the affordable price of 350 dollars or 400 euros. It has been quite some time since we have seen a high-res player from such a prominent brand cost so little, and we’ll be quite keen to see how the NW-A306 performs when we receive it in for testing and compare it to its more expensive competitors. The tablet operates on Google’s Android 12, and it comes packed with capabilities that are typically only found on portables that cost significantly more money.
To begin, its internal workings are held together by a reflow solder that contains gold. In conjunction with Sony’s S-Master HX digital amp and support for native DSD (Direct Stream Digital codec), Sony asserts that the NW-A306 will be able to provide audio that is noticeably superior to that of the vast majority of flagship smartphones, exhibiting significantly less distortion and noise. Support for Bluetooth and wi-fi, as well as an upgraded version of Nintendo’s DSEE Ultimate upscaling technology, are also included for those who want to detach themselves from traditional cable television.
Even when using lossless codecs, Sony claims that it has upgraded its algorithms so that its player can provide more acoustic subtleties and a wider dynamic range when playing recordings with a CD-quality 16-bit/44kHz sampling rate. The last improvement concerns the battery life of the NW-A306, which is said to be capable of providing up to 36 hours of playback for 44.1kHz FLAC high-resolution audio and up to 32 hours of playback for 96kHz FLAC high-resolution audio. This should be more than sufficient to get you through an extended flight. The USB-C port is used for charging, and a cable to use with it is included in the package for your convenience.
Does everything sound wonderful to you? However, there is a snag in our thinking on this matter. To be more specific, the NW-A306 will only have 32GB of storage space, according to the specifications sheet provided by Sony. To make matters even worse, the “useful” portion of this data is only represented as being 18 GB. Taking into consideration how rapidly we were able to fill up the SR25 MKII, which has 64 GB of onboard storage, this could be a problem for folks who like to have enormous music collections in high resolution that they have downloaded locally. However, taking into consideration the cost of the player, it is quite surprising that this is the only clear flaw that we have discovered so far.