We most often cover Pioneer for the connected car developments of its electronics branch, but today the company’s headphones division is the one making headlines. Onkyo & Pioneer has launched a new entry into the portable audio device segment. The new XDP-100R device is a high-resolution music player. A company rep said it is for those listeners “who feel smartphones aren’t offering satisfying sound quality.” The product is compatible with several high-res audio file formats, such as MQA, FLAC, and WAV, and runs on the Android operating system. It will launch in Japan this November for $500.
High-resolution audio remains a contentious topic, with much research questioning whether the average person can hear the difference in sound quality. Plus standalone players have largely been a shrinking market. Apple discontinued its iPod Classic last fall and Zune Music will officially be kaput come November. Neil Young’s Pono Music, with its combined player and music download store, is one of the only other portable audio devices exploring the high-res sound field.
However, Pioneer’s choice to explore the space could be the result of differing market needs. Japanese sales of high-res audio equipment rose 40% in the first half of 2015, according to GfK.