Believe it or not, Sony is keeping the Walkman well and truly alive. This week, the company has added two new models to its famed series of portable music players: the Sony NW-WM1ZM2 ($3,700) and the Sony NW-WM1AM2 ($1,400).
Both are portable high-resolution music players that are designed for music lovers with large music libraries or subscribe to the one of lossless music services — and who are prepared to spend a good chunk of change to get an elevated audio experience.
The two new Walkman models are actually upgraded versions of models that were released in 2016. The biggest difference is that both the NW-WM1ZM2 and the NW-WM1AM2 now run on Android 11, rather than Sony's own operating system like before. This allows them to be more future-proof (Android updates are way more consistent), but more importantly, gives them access to all the latest lossless streaming services including Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music, Tidal and Qobuz.
If you subscribe to a non-lossless service, such as Spotify, Pandora or YouTube Music, you'll be able to stream from those apps, too. Like before, Sony has integrated each Walkman with its DSEE Ultimate technology, which helps upscale non-lossless tracks so they sound closer to CD-quality.
Sony has given these new Walkmans quite a few other upgrades, too. They boost higher resolution touchscreens (now in full HD resolution) and improved battery life. One of the potentially coolest new features is what Sony calls its "Vinyl Processor," which when turned on is supposed to give tracks a "warmer" sound as if you were playing them on record player.
While both of Sony's Walkmans do support wireless headphones via Bluetooth (although these newest models don't support aptX HD), you'll really want to pair them with a high-end pair of wired headphones or IEMs to get the best listening experience.
As for the differences between Sony's $3,700 ZM2 and the $1,400 AM2, it mainly comes down to two things: material and on-board storage. The higher-end ZM2 is gold-plated, which is the main thing that drives its price way up; the AM2 is very much the same design, but in an aluminum alloy body. The ZM2 also comes with twice the built-in storage as the AM2 (256GB vs 128GB). Both support expandable storage via microSD card slots, however.
Both of Sony's newest Walkmans are available now.