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Sony Walkman NZW-WH303 review

Kat Orphanides
13 Dec 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
133
inc VAT

This media player/headphone/speaker combo deserves points for innovation but its sound quality leaves something to be desired

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The audio cassette is dead, but the Sony Walkman still lives on as a range of MP3 players. These come in a range of shapes and sizes, but the Sony Walkman NZW-WH303 is one of the most unusual, as the MP3 player is built directly into a set of headphones. This means you can just switch on the headphones and enjoy music without the need for an external device, such as a smartphone or iPod.

Sony Walkman NZW-WH303

The NZW-WH303s also have a 3.5mm audio input so you can use them to listen to other audio sources if the MP3 player runs out of power. Another novel feature are the speakers built into the headband, as these allow the headphones to be used as a very personal speaker system when hung around your neck.

UNWIRED FOR SOUND

We've seen players with fully integrated headphones before, but these have always been built for sport rather than audio fidelity. However, the NWZ-WH303s weigh 290g, so isn’t best suited to the gym. They feel a little bulky and their unusually firm headband and ear cups pressed uncomfortably against our upper jaw.

Although they’re rather chunky, they’re no more so than many standard headphones that don’t have a built-in MP3 player. The power switch is located at the top of the left cup, as is a Mode switch that switches the operation of the headphones between speaker and headphone modes. However, these controls are inaccessible when you're wearing the headphones because of the headband. At the base of this cup is a 3.5mm jack to which you can connect smartphones and external MP3 players.

Sony Walkman NZW-WH303

Transport controls are located at the base of the right-hand cup, with a switch that lets you change tracks. There’s also a volume control and a handy switch lets you engage shuffle mode or select from playlists you've loaded on to the player. In our battery test, the NZW-WH303 lasted just under 16 hours through its headphones. This version has 4GB of internal flash storage and connects to your computer via micro USB.

Sony Walkman NZW-WH303

Sadly, we weren’t particularly impressed with the sound produced the NZW-WH303, with audio having a fuzzy mid-range. The headphones also produced a closed, boxy sound that made all elements in a track sound as if they were coming from the same place. Although the bass is powerful, it's not particularly detailed when it comes to reproducing subtle acoustic details. We found the NZW-WH303 is better suited to electronic music.

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