Sony announced a range of devices designed to deliver high-res audio in style during its press conference at IFA 2015. There are two headphones within the h.ear range, an on-ear model and an in-ear model, as well as a new Walkman.
The range has fashion and design at the forefront, along with the high-res audio angle of course. The headphones and the Walkman come in a range of colours, with the idea being that you can match your music player to your headphones.
The h.ear on headphones are the headband style model of headphones and they are available in pink, orange, red, lime green, turquoise, red and black. They have a comfortable fit with a bold design and they look great. The colours are lovely and vibrant and it's obvious Sony has looked to add a bit of life to your head with these. They have a detachable, cross-talk reducing colour-matched cable and they also fold, which is useful when you want to carry them around.
In terms of numbers, the h.ear on headphones feature a 40mm HD driver unit that reproduces sounds up to 60kHz, accompanied by CCAW voice coils to yield high-linearity responses in high-pitched sounds. You'll also find the diaphragms coated in titanium in a bid to "provide the best sound experience".
The h.ear in NC are the in-ear model that are small and discreet as you would expect, but a little more exciting thanks to the vibrant colours. Just like the on-ear model, the in-ear headphones are comfortable and they also feature a colour matched cable, keeping the design aspect lovely and seamless from the headphones to the Walkman.
The h.ear in NC have a 9mm high sensitivity driver unit capable of reproducing frequencies up to 40kHz. They also feature battery-powered dual noise sensor technology and Sony's automatic noise cancelling feature to filter out unwanted noise for up to 16 hours after which they can be charged via Micro-USB.
Sony claims the two headphones are high-res compatible, but of course this requires you to be listening to high-res music. Although this is becoming more accessible, it is nowhere near as common as standard MP3 for example and this is where the colour-matched Walkman comes in.
The Walkman NW-A25HN/NW-A27HN is the necessary addition required to come close to listening to high-res audio. Without it, the in-ear and on-ear headphones are essentially just colourful, nicely designed headphones.
The new Walkman features software called DSEE HX that allows the device to upscale MP3 tracks into near high-res quality. We had a listen with both the in-ear model and and on-ear model and we liked what we heard, but we would need to test them in the real world to pass final judgement.
The Walkman is available in 16GB (NW-A25HN) and 64GB (NW-A27HN) capacities, both of which have microSD support for expandable storage. Sony claims it offers 50-hours battery life.
Sony's h.ear headphones and Walkman will be available in Europe from October and we were told both headphones would cost €180, but the Walkman prices haven't been detailed as yet.