Walkmen for the chosen few

Sony has launched two new Walkman players. They're great - but also crazy expensive.

Published 2022-02-09 - 9:36 am

For those of us who grew up in the 80s, the Sony Walkman has a special place in the hi-fi memories. The smart pocket player that made music portable for the first time. But you had to save up for a long time to afford a Walkman.

Four decades later, the Walkman name lives on, even if the cassette tape is a thing of the past. And you still have to break the piggy bank to afford it!

Sony has just launched two new Walkmen, and they’re out of the ordinary in terms of design and technology. But they’re also for the few, as the cheapest costs a fortune and the most expensive costs just over double.

NW WM1ZM2 MDR Z1R Situation02 Large
Walkman for adults. Sony NW-WM1ZM2. (Photo: Sony)

The top model is the Signature Series NW-WM1ZM2. Not only is the interior exquisite. The chassis itself is made of gold-plated, OFC copper with a purity of 99.99%. This sounds extreme, but according to Sony this provides a more stable digital base and higher rigidity. Which in turn should mean clear, expansive sound.

NW WM1ZM frame Large
We are used to OFC cables. But the Sony NW-WM1ZM2 has an oxygen-free copper chassis! (Photo: Sony)

The slightly more accessible NW-WM1AM2 is built over an aluminium frame, which still provides an enclosure that’s resistant to electrical noise and other interference.

NW WM1AM2 Situation04 Large
Sony NW-WM1AM2. (Photo: Sony)

The amplifier part of the players is Sony’s own fully digital S-Master HX Digital Amp technology. And Sony stresses that select capacitors and lead-free solder are used. The connection between the amp section and the headphone jack (you use wired headphones on a player in this class, of course!) is made with thick Kimber Kable in the top model and an unspecified OFC cable in the cheaper AM2 model.

In the very old days (that is, when the writer was a teenager) the sound source was cassette tape. Today, music can be downloaded wirelessly over Wi-Fi and stored as HD Flac files in on-board memory (256GB and 128GB respectively) or on a microSD card.

And then there is the thing about the price: the Sony NW-WM1AM2 costs EUR 1,500, while the Sony NW-WM1ZM2 costs EUR 3,800. Both players will be available from April.


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