Sony’s new Android-powered Walkman music players are a blast from the past

Sony’s new duo of Walkman music players are clearly designed to inspire nostalgia, although they might be great devices too for audiophiles. Despite their stunning look, Sony’s new premium music players have been branded with unremarkable names: NW-WM1ZM2 and NW-WM1AM2.

Granted, they might belong to a long-gone era, their prices are pretty on par with the times. If you’re considering one, you’ll have to come up with no less than $4,200 for the NW-WM1ZM2 or, if you can’t afford it, just $1,600 for the NW-WM1AM2. Keep in mind that these are upgraded Signature Series models of the same music players launched back in 2016. The older models are still available for purchase for $3,200 and $1,200, respectively.

There seems to be a very good reason for the price gap between the two. According to Sony, the NW-WM1ZM2 has a 99.99% purity gold-plated oxygen-free copper chassis, which promises “stronger digital ground and higher rigidity.” The gist of it is that thanks to such a precious chassis, you’ll be listening to better sound.

On the other hand, the NW-WM1AM2 uses “just” an aluminum alloy frame, which should provide a highly rigid case that’s resistive to electrical noise and other interference.

But the innovations don’t stop here. There’s a lot of unique audio technology implemented in both of these music players such as S-Master HX, which has been independently developed for Walkman. Thanks to a full digital amplifier and a high-quality lead-free solder, audiophiles should get a much richer sound.Also, Sony went for a thick Kimber Kable to run from the amp base to the headphone jack on the NW-WM1ZM2, which should help transmit high-quality audio signals. The other music player, the NW-WM1AM2 uses a low-resistance OFC cable that promises to offer low distortion and superior channel separation.

Sony also announced that, for the first time, is has used a reflow solder containing gold, which results in overall improved sound localization and wider sound space. I’m not sure how we can verify this, so we better take Sony’s word for it.

Furthermore, both Walkman music players use a so-called DSD Remastering Engine that resamples the Pulse Code Modulation into a high-quality DSD (Direct Stream Digital) to provide even better audio. Not to mention that these two gadgets allow users to upscale compressed music files in real time with an evolving algorithm. 

Most of the audio tech integrated in these music players is also available in the original models. What’s new is the fact that the new ones are powered by Android 11 and feature Wi-Fi support.

Additionally, both music players feature large 5.0-inch touchscreen displays that have been upgraded to HD resolution (over FWVGA 854 x 480 pixels). The home screen is customizable via the Walkman Home Screen suite. As far as battery goes, Sony claims both premium models should offer up to 40 hours of non-stop FLAC high-resolution audio playback, which is pretty good by today’s standards.

Included in the music players’ technical specs is also an USB Type-C port that enables fast music file transfer and comfy connectivity with a wide range of devices. More importantly, the expensive premium model, the NW-WM1ZM2 comes with 256GB internal memory, while the “entry-level” model, the NW-WM1AM2 has just 128GB of integrated memory. On the bright side, both music players come with microSD card slot, which means Sony has decided to retain the same memory configuration in original models.

And a little bit of marketing bragging – Sony says that zero plastic is used in the packaging material for both music players, so there’s that. According to Sony, the NW-WM1ZM2 and NW-WM1AM2 (I’m pretty sure I misspelled these names at some point in the story) will be available in selected countries in Asia Pacific from April 2022. That’s probably the reason they aren’t yet listed on Sony’s US website, so you might want to check them out in about two months from now, because of course they’re coming to the United States too.

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