In a rather stunning development, Sony Japan has released the fifth version of Sonicstage titled “Sonicstage V.” This is a very unexpected release for Sony, as we were just about certain that Sonicstage is dead since it is no longer really is talked about at Sony America/Europe and most of their current players are drag and drop. However, the Japanese Mora music service still lives on and Sony’s new Walkmans are doing somewhat well. I suppose Sony figured it was time to give Sonicstage a lighter frame (53.5mb download) and make it more attractive to bring continued success to their music store. At this point, the software seems to be Japanese only, but if we speak loud enough it might be possible to get a Sonicstage V english version.
This version of Sonicstage has a complete user interface overhaul, and has several new features. Sony is really trying to make the entire experience as intuitive as possible. A big difference from before is that almost everything can be reached on a single screen. Album covers flow throughout the top bar and even in album viewing mode in a very smooth way. Playlists are created automatically* and you can even transfer to Walkman phones that use Memory Stick Pro DUO. Sony also included a “Discovery Zone” that is sorta like the Genius playlist in iTunes; it finds relevant music based on the music that you are listening to through Mora. Searching for music is very easy and very fast.
Japanese users will enjoy the added compatibility with the LISMO and PlayLog services. There is also a “12 tone analysis” for improved random playlist creation based on mood settings; some newer Walkmans have mood settings, and Sonicstage will analyze songs based on 12 different tonal qualities to ensure that the “Morning” setting on a NW-A600 series doesn’t have hardcore death metal. Sonicstage V is only compatible with the NW-A910/A820/A800, S730F/S710F/S700F, S630FK/S630F/S610F/S600, and E020F/E010 Series. Supported codecs include AAC, HE-AAC, ATRAC, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, WMA, MP3, and WAV format. Features removed in comparison to Sonicstage 4.4: Artist Link, and the ability to create ATRAC CD/MP3 CD’s – it can only create regular music CD’s.
* – There is also “random playlist,” which offers as “listen to 30 songs”, “highest rating of 30 songs,” and “30 songs heard recently.”