Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sony launches the MDR-1ABT, their first headphones with integrated high-quality "Bluetooth LDAC"! (eng)

Sony launches the MDR-1ABT, their first headphones with integrated high-quality "Bluetooth LDAC"!

Sony has been making a lot of noise about it, and it's finally here: their first products with Bluetooth connection, nnot just aptX, but using the Sony LDAC algorithm/codec. As far as we know the MDR-1ATB headset (€350) is the first model aimed at audiophiles to sport the technology - and it certainly comes with some exciting technical features!

With a good-quality source, you're going to get decent results; but often, when the sound is put through a cable, you can definitely sense a certain nuance has changed.
To overcome this the apt-X algorithm was introduced as a way to recapture the "CD-quality" with a Bluetooth connection - that is 16-bit/44.1 kHz. So it's definitely something that we can get on board with!
In order to benefit from this technology, you need a smartphone (or equivalent) which is apt-X compatible, so emits a Bluetooth signal, and an apt-X compatible receiver (headphones, speakers etc.) and of course a high-quality music file (or it's all a little pointless).
Sony has recently been making it known that it's moving towards higher-quality Bluetooth technology for better sound quality, and it's not alone; Bluetooth itself is evolving rapidly in order to overcome current limitations in terms of throughput (transfer by Bluetooth 4.2: 2.5 x speed of transmission, size of binary packages increased ten-fold for audio and video in higher quality, etc).
For their part, Sony has been working on their own algorithm (codec) which ensures a flow of information via Bluetooth which is three times greater. Called LDAC, it should feature in all of their audio products in 2015 (players, wireless Bluetooth speakers, sound bars, amplifiers, and also Blu-ray players, TV's...and not forgetting Bluetooth headphones). As is the case with apt-X, all components must feature LDAC technology for it to work (source AND receiver).
With their history of pioneering new technology, Sony has officially announced the launch of their MDR-1ABT "Hi-Res" Bluetooth headphones, costing €350. Obviously they can still work with a cable, and have two 40mm headphones which can play - with wires - dB at frequencies up to 100,000Hz (in theory...).
Circumaural, they offer a sensitivity of 98dB/mW and work at an impedence of 24 ohms. When used with an LDAC-compatible Sony Hi-Res player (like the NWZ-A15 for example), it promises a transfer rate of 96kHz with a digital flow of 990 kbps, whilst with apt-X it is normally 320.
When the sound quality is average (aka MP3), Sony uses its DSEE HX algorithm which looks to rediscover lost frequencies.
Before wee test them, we can already see that the design looks good: with cables or Bluetooth (apt-X and LDAC) they seem high quality and well-designed. All that it needs is an LDAC-compatible product ad quality music files to really work wirelessly. We'll give them a spin to test Sony's LDAC codec!
Additional info: NFC, 30-hour battery, recharges in 4 hours, hands-free controls