The Apple’s iPod may be officially dead and gone now that the company has discontinued the latest device bearing that name, but Sony’s Walkman brand is apparently alive and well. The company has launched two new Walkman models: the NW-WM1AM2 of $1,400 and its gold-colored brother, the NW-WMZM2 of $3,700, both of which are upgrades to their original Signature Series Walkman models, geared towards the high-resolution audiophile market.
The first versions of these Walkman models debuted in 2016 for $1,200 and $3,200, respectively. So how is Sony justifying the extra money it will need for the new models? There are a number of upgrades for those with a taste for fine portable audio.
The new units now run Android 11, making them compatible with all the latest music streaming services, including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Tidal, Qobuz, and Deezer, which are the leading services for offering better-than-CD quality options. You’ll also get access to apps for Spotify, YouTube Music, and Pandora if lossy music is okay with you. This should make the players much more upgradable over time – the first generation used a proprietary Sony operating system.
Speaking of lossy music, the new Walkman models feature Sony’s DSEE Ultimate technology, the latest and greatest version of its upscaling algorithm. As well as working its usual magic on compressed music, it’s now optimized to upscale lossless CD quality tracks to even higher resolution sound.
All the usual lossy and hi-res formats are included, such as DSD, WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, MP3, WMA, AAC, HE-AAC, and there is MQA support, out of the box. Earlier models also let you listen to the high-quality format favored by Tidal for its Masters music collection, but it required a software update.
Sony has also added a feature it calls Vinyl Processor, which it claims will “bring back the warmth and character of vinyl to your digital tracks,” by reproducing low-frequency resonance, tonearm resistance, and surface noise. of turntable-based media.
Unfortunately, your wireless options are fewer now. Sony has dropped support for Qualcomm’s aptX HD as its high-quality Bluetooth option. But given that Sony has been dropping support for aptX in its latest wireless headphones and earphones, it’s not surprising to see it disappear from the Walkman as well.
Visually, Sony has updated the screen. It’s now in HD resolution (1,280 x 720), which should make it easy on the eyes as you navigate through its various features. The screen is also larger, at five inches diagonally, up from the four-inch size of the first-gen players.
Battery life has been improved, with up to 40 hours of wireless playback, up from 30 hours. For the true audiophile spec nerds, get ready for an upgraded analog block and digital block power system that Sony says was inspired by its flagship media player, the DMP-Z1.
Surprisingly, onboard storage isn’t one of the areas that Sony has improved. The WM1AM2 stays at 128GB and the WMZM2 stays at 256GB, the same numbers as in 2016. As before, you can expand that storage with the help of microSD cards.
Both players are available starting June 13 from Sony.com and authorized Sony dealers.