Sony's first Walkman launched in 1979 and played a huge part in popularising portable music. The Walkman became an iconic symbol of setting music free, moving it from a record player or bulky tape player into something that was personal and portable.
With a music player on every smartphone, the Walkman and a whole family of other portable music players fell into disuse. With the launch of the WM1 series at IFA 2016, Sony isn't just launching a new Walkman, it's aiming to launch the highest quality audio player in its class.
Arriving in two different models, the 1Z is the premium €3300 model, while the 1A model is a step down at €1200. These are serious music players for those who seriously want the best mobile music.
Some of that difference in price comes down to the fact that the WM1Z is carved from a solid copper ingot and then plated in gold. This isn't about offering the best value for money, it's about offering the best sound quality. The 1A has to make do with being made from aluminium, so it's still incredibly solid.
Sony has scrutinised every aspect of this device, separating the power and digital audio circuits to ensure that there's nothing that's going to interfere with the sound quality. Even the cable that runs from the S-Master HX digital amplifier to the headphone socket is a four wire braided Kimber Kable in pursuit of absolute quality.
The Sony Walkman NW-WM1 series support all the high-end audio formats and everything running down to MP3 and offers DSEE HX processing with five optimised listening modes. This will also upscale your lower quality music to near Hi-Res quality.
The WM1 doesn’t only offer headphone connections, it will connect to your Bluetooth headphones, supporting LDAC for high quality wireless audio.
There are some serious buttons running down the side for music control, as well as a full touchscreen interface on the front. In the hand, the weighty new Walkmans feel incredibly plush, a serious piece of high quality audio equipment.
They sound great too. Paired with Sony's new MDR-Z1R premium headphones also announced today, the result is sublime. They should be when you're pairing a €3300 music player with a €2200 pair of headphones.
The new Sony NW-WM1A and WM1Z models will be available from October 2016.