聲音的質，有點難言說，我們用小提琴名家Itzhak Perlman 對於名琴Stradivarius的聲音之說法*：每個音都有如絲般的"火花".....
研究聲音或音響設備是一大產業，譬如說Boss公司是業界的佼佼者，設有研發部。日本的廠商也是此產業的先端者，譬如說，Sony公司多年前併購音響商，近日並將希望寄託於高音質的Walkman：A $1200 Walkman? Sony Pins Its Hopes on High-Quality Sound**。Sony的主管最後說，他們工程師玩的，只是音響世界之一隅，他們決心去探索、開發： what we do is only a tiny fraction of the vast audio universe,” he said. “And we are committed to explore it.”
In a world of lossy MP3 audio, Sony Corp.6758.TO +1.33% aims to bring back the tradition of enjoying high-quality sound, both at home and outside.
The electronics and entertainment giant has debuted 10 audio-related products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but the $1,200 Walkman portable music player is the most audacious.
The Walkman NW-ZX2, an updated version of the $700 NW-ZX1, comes in a black-and-gold aluminum body packed with circuitry designed with sound quality in mind, Sony says, though at some expense of size and weight.
Introduced in 1979, the Walkman brand once was Sony’s pride. However, it was overtaken by MP3 players such as Apple Inc.'sAAPL +0.11% iPod, which themselves were supplanted by smartphones.Sony expects its home entertainment and sound category, the segment that includes the new Walkman models, to post an operating profit of $84 million (in today’s dollars) in the business year ending in March, much lower than the roughly $564 million profit projection for the device unit in charge of image sensors, and that analysts often praise. Analysts have asked the company to shrink, or drop entirely, the Walkman segment as well as the ailing TV business, since those categories no longer turn a large profit.
But Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai said the audio business is central to Sony, and the shrinking industry can be energized by high-resolution audio—a term loosely defined as better-than-CD quality. The device supports high-resolution audio files.
The Tokyo-based conglomerate demonstrated its commitment to the market by staging a large-scale advertising campaign with a slogan “Sony is high-resolution audio,” and it has expanded its Walkman line from the entry-level A series to the high-end ZX models. Its latest Bravia TVs and Xperia smartphones also play with better-than-CD fidelity.
“What I’d like to keep on saying is that Sony’s business will evolve around high-resolution audio,” Ichiro Takagi, Sony’s head of video and audio, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.
High-resolution audio isn’t new. However, earlier formats including DVD-Audio or Super-Audio CD, both of which were delivered on physical discs, failed to gain popularity. High-resolution audio in the form of digital files has a better chance of market success, analysts say, since they can be uploaded and downloaded over the Internet.
Reiji Asakura, author of the book “Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony PlayStation and the Visionaries Who Conquered the World of Video Games,” says hi-res files are especially appealing to younger generations that have grown up with MP3.
“One college student even had a headache because the sound was too rich,” he said. “Everyone wants to listen their favorite tunes with good quality. They just didn’t know what’s good.”
Analysts say Sony lost its position to Apple because the Walkman stuck with its own technology and formats while the iPod embraced widely-used third-party formats. Sony was also overprotective of its own music, causing inconvenience for users. Mr. Takagi said Sony is willing to share the business opportunity with rivals, just like it made a PlayStation network service available on TVs from Samsung Electronics Co.005930.SE 0.00%
A number of record companies and stores also support hi-res formats, including HDtracks, Linn Records and Music.jp. Panasonic Corp.6752.TO -0.14% restarted its legendary high-end Technics audio equipment brand. The key, however, is whether Apple’s iTunes and online streaming services join in, Mr. Asakura said.
In the U.S., however, the Walkman has little visibility as many retail stores devote little space, if any, to portable music players.
Mr. Takagi said Sony first would push wireless speakers to the U.S. market. Its latest such speakers can reproduce nearly hi-res quality using a wireless connection and full hi-res fidelity when wired. In re-introducing the Walkman, Mr. Takagi plans to leverage a relationship with Best Buy BBY -2.68% built through Sony Experience booths at 350 stores in the U.S.
“What I’m telling to our young engineers is that what we know and what we do is only a tiny fraction of the vast audio universe,” he said. “And we are committed to explore it.”