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Sony Walkman NW-WM1Z and NW-WM1A hands-on review: 5 ways Sony Walkmans are BETTER than ever

David Court
2 Sep 2016
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Sony Walkman NW-WM1Z and NW-WM1A aren’t your average portable MP3 players

The Sony Walkman NW-WM1Z and NW-WM1A aren’t normal portable MP3 players. Far from it. These devices, which go on sale in October, are designed for audiophiles happy to spend thousands of pounds for high-resolution audio.

I got some hands-on time with the Walkmans at IFA 2016. Here are the five things you NEED to know about the Sony Walkman NW-WM1Z and NW-WM1A.

1. They’re NOTHING like the original Walkman

No, really. Priced at €1,200 and €3,300 for the 1A and 1Z respectively, these devices aren’t going to take the world by storm like the original Walkman did. Sony knows that market is already lost to iPods and smartphones. These Walkmans are designed for audiophiles, not millennials.

2. They have separate circuits for digital audio and power

Problem: Putting power and digital audio through the same circuit causes minor audio interferences.

Solution: Sony’s answer to this problem is to make separate circuits for power and audio.

3. They play all high-end audio formats

It’s a bold claim, and one that we can’t verify from our brief hands-on with the product. But Sony is confident that the WM1Z and WM1A support every kind of high-end audio file… and will even play lowly MP3s.

4. There’s no Spotify and no Android

The UI and software powering these Walkmans is like a Technicolor version of the software/UI that was on the Walkman in the early 2000s, when it was attempting to fight the original iPods.

You load your music manually and search for each artist alphabetically. There’s no Android OS in sight, and no plans to bring Spotify or Tidal apps anyway near the devices.

5. The high-end NW-WM1Z is made from copper and gold

Everything about the NW-WM1Z is designed to offer the best audio quality. To achieve that Sony has carved the device from copper ingot and then plated it in gold. The poor NW-WM1A has to make to with aluminum.

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