CD players superseded Walkmans that ran on cassettes. In turn, these were replaced by MP3 players and iPods, and the latter perished before the imminent arrival of smartphones and streaming music. Now, Sony is spinning the wheel again to bring back the “old fashioned” Walkman but reimagined for modern times.
The new Walkman WM1ZM2 Signature Series are the heirs to the Walkman devices that Sony already launched in 2016, with the Android operating system (now updated to Android 11). A device aimed at the most nostalgic, but especially at those audiophiles who are looking for high sound quality.
We are not talking about a device characterized by being precisely cheap or especially affordable. If you look at the models of the previous generation (the A100 series or the NW-ZX100), you will notice that they are still around between 350 and 800 dollars, and these new Walkmans are not exactly far behind.
“A creator has to have fun to build something enjoyable.”
Hiroaki Sato, Sony’s sound engineer, comments that the more than 5 years that have passed since the launch of the first WM1Z have been dedicated to making small innovations that have resulted in a “tremendous” sound.
“A creator has to have fun to build something enjoyable. This is why we have been able to continue to advance our work so drastically,” says Sato.
These small improvements translate, for example, into an oxygen-free copper chassis, with a purity that rises from 99.6% of previous models to a degree of purity of 99.9%. A barely perceptible change but very effective in improving the acoustic clarity of the device.
The rest of the components have also been elevated:
- a more powerful power supply,
- polymer capacitors to optimize acoustic expressiveness,
- braided KIMBER CABLE cables for a smoother and more delicate sound,
- high-quality solders with gold for a wider spatial sound,
- an S-Master HX high-resolution digital amplifier.
Walkman WM1ZM2 Signature Series: technical specifications
All of these components make streaming music sound better. The WM1ZM2 walkman is not only designed to listen to music from the 256GB internal memory (expandable with an SD) but also have a Wi-Fi connection to download and listen to streaming music.
- Support for native DSD (direct stream digital) files.
- S-Master HX digital amplifier.
- Android 11 operating system.
- 256GB of internal storage with a microSD slot.
- Autonomy between 13 and 40 hours, depending on the quality of the reproduction.
- Dimensions of 80.5mm x 142.5mm x 21.0mm.
- A weight of 490 grams.
- 5-inch screen with HD resolution.
- Support for many formats (MP3, FLAC, WMA, WAV, AAC, DSD and others).
- MQA technology to play MQA files.
- Wireless audio in high-resolution thanks to the LDAC codec.
- Support PCM 384KHz/32-bit.
- 11.2MHz native DSD.
- Headphone output: 20 – 40,000Hz (frequency).
- Mini-jack input for headphones.
- Bluetooth 5.0 connection.
- USB-C port for charging.
With these features, the most recommended streaming platforms would be Qobuz or Tidal, which have high-resolution music. With the rest of the platforms or files that we store in memory, the sound will also be great. However, you would not be taking full advantage of its capabilities.
Price and availability
The new WM1ZM2 Signature Series Walkmans will only be available for sale in Asia Pacific markets, for now, starting in April 2022. They will be priced at approximately $3,600.
A more affordable model, the Walkman NW-WM1AM2, has also been introduced, which uses an aluminium alloy frame to cut costs a bit, and currently starts at around $1,300.
In any case, a luxury product within the reach of very few that will delight the wealthiest and most demanding audiophiles.