At IFA 2014, Sony is trying to bring the Walkman brand back into relevance with its latest and smallest Walkman to date. The Walkman NWZ-A17 and the MDR-1A headphones that you will most likely need to go with it both bring Hi-Res quality audio to the table, giving audiophiles something to think about for their next audio equipment purchase.
Sony defines Hi-Res Audio, sometimes called HD Audio in other literature, as sound that is delivered at at least 96 kHz/24 bit. If that's the case, then the NWZ-A17 overachieves, supporting digital playback of 192 kHz/24 bit. It also supports a wide range of audio formats, including MP3, WMA, and even lossless formats like FLAC and ALAC. But when you're dealing with Hi-Res music, you will naturally be handling files larger than your normal CD-quality tunes. That is why this Walkman has a rather spacious 64 GB for its internal storage. But if that were not enough, you can add up to 192 GB more via a microSD card.
As for audio output, the Walkman NWZ-A17 supports Bluetooth and NFC connections. However, if you pipe Hi-Res audio through Bluetooth, you won't be getting the acoustic benefits of that high quality sound. That is where the Sony MDR-1A headphones come in. This Sony product was specifically designed to handle whatever the NWZ-A1 can dish out, with a 40 mm driver that lets it faithfully reproduce sound of up to 100 kHz. Ergonomic ear pads also ensure maximum comfort while you enjoy prolonged listening to your Hi-Res music.
The bad news is that these will cost you a pretty penny if you decide to jump on them. The Walkman NWZ-A1, which becomes available in November, carriers a price tag of $299. The MDR-1A headphones, available later this month, also carries a $299 price tag. Considering you would need a Hi-Res capable headphone or speaker to take advantage of the Walkman's prime feature, you would effectively be roped into paying for both, unless you already have your own favorite headphones.