Sony goes for gold with latest Signature Series digital audio player

Sony has announced a pair of Android-based digital audio players that can stream over Wi-Fi as well as play Hi-Res stored music, boast native 11.2-MHz DSD and offer balanced and unbalanced headphone output. And one of those players is wrapped in gold-plated bling.

When Sony reduced the portable cassette player to pocket proportions back in 1979, it changed the way we listened to music forever – so much so that Walkman became a term for pretty much any personal groove machine, no matter which company produced them.

The official Walkman branded devices started with analog audio cassettes, moved to digital tapes and on to MiniDisc and CDs before digital storage allowed folks to carry around hundreds or thousands of albums on one player.

Now Sony has updated a couple of its Signature Series high-end digital audio players from 2016. Launching in April in the European and Asia Pacific regions (though a US release is very likely later in the year), the NW-WM1AM2 and NW-WM1ZM2 offer essentially the same kind of user experience but each comes wrapped in very different packaging.

Both the AM2 (shown) and the ZM2 digital audio players feature a 5-inch HD touchscreen display for controlling playback and viewing track art


The AM2 chassis is fashioned from regular ol’ aluminum alloy and is priced at €1,400 while the ZM2 has been treated to “a 99.99 percent purity (four nines) gold-plated oxygen-free copper (OFC) chassis” and wears a €3,700 price tag. While Sony has employed a “low-resistance OFC cable” between the unit’s amplifier and headphone output, the ZM2 makes use of a premium Kimber Kable. And the higher-priced model also gets twice the onboard storage, at 256 GB. But either way this can be expanded via microSD.

If playing FLAC music files stored on the device, listeners can expect up to 40 hours of use from the Li-ion battery before needing to plug in for a top up, and streaming from a favored service over dual-band Wi-Fi is supported too.

Sony makes much of using “exceptional components” to deliver “new heights in High-Resolution Audio listening, to satisfy the most demanding audiophiles.” Highlights include S-Master HX digital amplification technology developed for Walkman, FT CAP3 capacitors and a large solid polymer capacitor, and a more capable power supply in the analog and digital blocks compared to predecessor models.

The ZM2 support PCM format playback at up to 24-bit/384-kHz resolution, as well as native DSD 11.2 MHz

The ZM2 support PCM format playback at up to 24-bit/384-kHz resolution, as well as native DSD 11.2 MHz


Both players support audio playback at up to 24-bit/384-kHz resolution, and come with a DSD Remastering Engine cooked in that resamples PCM content to 11.2-MHz DSD, while DSEE Ultimate technology can upscale compressed music files for more complete listening enjoyment.

The touch display panel has grown from four inches to five from the previous model release, the players both run Android 11, Bluetooth 5.0 with support for high-resolution LDAC streaming is included, and physical connectivity to other devices is via USB-C.

Either player looks like a capable addition to the mobile music lover’s kit bag, though there are some serious contenders in the premium DAP market – including the chunky SP2000T from Astell&Kern and the Fiio M17.

Source: Sony Europe

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