Are you one of those music lovers who would be happy to pay more for headphones than for a good computer? If so, Sony has MP3 players for you. The company has released two state-of-the-art Walkman MP3 players designed exclusively for audiophiles. The $3,700 main model NW-WM1ZM2 (pictured left) features a S-Master HX digital amplifier with “fine-tuned” capacitors, a thick Kimber Kable (for connecting an amplifier to a headphone jack) and an oxygen-free copper chassis with 99.99 percent gold coating – all this allegedly contributes to the “pure, three-dimensional” sound. Even soldering of the player’s body includes gold, which supposedly improves the localization of sound and expands the sound scene.
Among the more practical improvements to the Android player – is a larger 5″ display (with 720p resolution, finally), a more powerful power supply and improved upscaling algorithm for audio CD quality (16 bits, 44/48 kHz). You get 256 GB of memory to store your tunes, WiFi streaming, USB-C port and 40 hours of battery life when playing 96 kHz FLAC audio. The ZM2 supports audio up to 32 bits, 384 kHz in formats such as MQA and WAV, so you are more likely to be limited by the source material than the hardware.
Don’t worry if this cost seems excessive to you, because there is a cheaper model available… relatively speaking. The $1,400 NW-WM1AM2 (pictured right) offers most of the ZM2’s main features, but in an aluminum alloy body and with a low-resistance oxygen-free copper cable. You also have to settle for 128 GB of expandable memory.
Both Walkman models are available now. As with many audiophile devices, the question arises as to whether exotic components and materials will be noticeable when listening. Moreover, you are limited by the lowest common denominator in your setting. Even if you’re listening to songs that can take advantage of this design (24-bit, 192kHz hi-res lossless Apple Music suddenly seems modest), you’ll have to find headphones or speakers to handle the task. Both players are aimed mainly at wealthy music fans, looking for maximum sound accuracy, even if they may not hear the difference.