In a big move for Sony and high-resolution audio, Sony has announced a complete new product range of hi-res audio products and an HD music downloads store.
The co-developer of the CD and SACD, Sony says it has drawn on this rich audio heritage to deliver a range of hi-fi products that express "The Power of Premium Sound".
The new Sony range in full is: the HAP-Z1ES HDD audio player, TA-A1ES stereo amplifier, HAP-S1 compact HDD audio system, UDA-1 USB DAC amplifier and SS-HA1 and SS-HA3 bookshelf speakers.
A new online "gateway" will also allow punters to browse a "growing range of High Resolution recordings" and click through to buy and download. You can take a look at the Sony High resolution audio hub online now.
Sony HAP-Z1ES HDD audio player
The HAP-Z1ES HDD audio player and TA-A1ES integrated stereo amplifier are the flagship products in the range at £2000 a piece.
The Sony HDD audio player (above and top) has a 1TB internal hard drive – expandable via USB – and supports a wealth of audio codes including AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DSD, FLAC, MP3, WAV and WMA.
It's WiFi-enabled and supports DLNA streaming and has the vTuner internet radio service built-in. There's a 4.3in LCD display and balanced and standard audio line outputs.
HANDS ON: Sony HAP-Z1ES review
Sony HDD Audio Remote app
Files can be transferred to the player's hard disk drive wirelessly or wired using the "HAP Music Transfer" application, which will sync with new files to keep your HDD up-to-date with tracks.
Talking of apps, you can browse your music library either on the screen or via the new Sony "HDD Audio Remote" app for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.
As well as hi-res audio support, Sony claims your MP3s will sound better, too, thanks to DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine).
Sony suggests the perfect partner to the hi-res music player is the TA-A1ES stereo amp (above). A 2 x 80w integrated amplifier with "all-discreet preamp stages and audiophile-grade components throughout".
Due for release in November, the HAP-Z1ES and the TA-A1ES amplifier will each cost £2000.
Sony HAP-S1 HDD audio system
If you don't fancy the two separates, Sony has the HAP-S1 HDD audio player system (below), a one-box solution with a 2 x 40w amp, compact design and on-board WiFi for transferring music from a computer.
There's a 500GB internal hard drive, expandable via USB, wide-ranging codec support, optical and coaxial digital inputs, audio line-in and line-out and speaker and headphone outputs.
Standing just 88mm high and 265mm wide, it's certainly on the compact side. The first all-in-one hi-res audio micro system? The HAP-S1 is due out in November with a price tag of £800.
Sony UDA-1 USB DAC
And there's more. The hugely-popular USB DAC category has a new entry from Sony, claiming to add "extra sparkle" to any digital music library. We trust that's in a good way.
The DAC suggests it can connect to any computer or even smartphone, then to a pair of speakers, to give your sound a boost. A 225mm chassis makes it fairly compact, too.
The Sony UDA-1 USB DAC (below) is due out in mid-October priced at £500.
Last but not least are two sets of stereo speakers. The SS-HA1 and SS-HA3 sport a newly-developed "double super tweeter" teamed with an "MRC (mica reinforced cellular) woofer.
The HA1 is a 3-way, 4-driver speaker with a 130mm mid/bass driver, and stands 31.2cm high, while the HA3 is a 2-way, 3-driver system with a 100mm mid/bass driver and measures-up at 23.1cm.
The Sony SS-HA1 speakers (below) will be out in November for £500/pair, while availability and pricing of the HA3 has yet to be confirmed.
We're on the showfloor at IFA 2013 in Berlin, so will be getting up close and personal with the products, so look out for pictures and further updates.
Looks like with this new product range, and the hi-res audio supporting Sony Walkman F886, Sony is seeking a return to its impressive audio roots, which has to be a good thing.
MORE: IFA 2013 new products
by Joe Cox