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Sony’s latest Walkman comes in a gold-plated variant for almost triple the price

Premium portable music player: Sony NW-WM1ZM2
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has announced two new products in its Walkman range of premium portable hi-res audio players – the Sony NW-WM1AM2 and its significantly more bling sibling, the NW-WM1ZM2.

As their title suggests, these Walkmans are successors to the NW-WM1A and NW-WMZ launched in 2016. The two models will be available from April this year: the NW-WM1AM2 will retail for £1300 / $1600 / AU$1899, while the NW-WM1ZM2 will cost £3350 / $3200 / AU$4999.

Premium portable music player: Sony NW-WM1ZM2

(Image credit: Sony)

The main difference between the two models is that the ZM2's chassis is made from "99.99% purity (4N) Gold-plated Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC)", giving it a rather striking gold design and raising its price almost threefold compared to the AM2, which utilises aluminium alloy in its place.

According to Sony, the material isn't used purely for its luxurious aesthetic – "it realises a stronger digital ground and higher rigidity, enabling clear, expansive sound, so you can experience each instrument as if it were performing live." We haven't tested it, so can't vouch for that.

Another point of difference is the use of premium Kimber Kable cabling (as seen in the £8000 Sony DMP-Z1) to run from the amplifier to the balanced headphone jack in the ZM2, while the AM2 simply has a "low-resistance OFC cable". Apart from the chassis and cabling, the ZM2 also has twice the onboard storage – 256GB vs 128GB. Both have microSD card slots for expanding the memory.

Premium portable music player: Sony NW-WM1AM2

(Image credit: Sony)

Among the improvements of the M2 models are a larger 5-inch display (compared with the 4-inch screen of its predecessor) that's now HD, a battery life boost from 30 to 40 hours of FLAC playback, and support for Android 11 and Wi-Fi connectivity.

This last feature allows the player to be used as a streaming device when connected to a Wi-Fi network, allowing you to stream and download music wirelessly. You can always connect the device physically (via USB-C 3.2 port) for a more traditional approach.

You can also personalise the home screen to suit your personal tastes.

A number of internal components such as capacitors and the power supply have been improved in the M2 iterations as well, which Sony claims will offer "a richer, smoother and more expansive sound field compared to its predecessor".

Both benefit from S-Master HX digital amp technology, which was independently developed for Walkman. They also feature a dual clock and fine sound register, and for the first time, Sony uses a reflow solder containing gold to make for more precise sound localisation and a wider soundstage.

Both feature a DSD Remastering Engine which resamples PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) audio into an 11.2 MHz DSD (Direct Stream Digital). And you can upscale compressed music files with the DSEE Ultimate algorithm. This restores details like acoustic subtleties and gradients of dynamic range that are lost in the compression process, giving you a listening experience that's closer to the original audio.

Both are also compatible with Balanced Connection and High-Resolution Audio.

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