You paid how much!?
By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
Don’t tell the spouse what the NWWM1Z Walkman cost until they’ve heard what comes out of it
The price of Sony’s NWWM1Z Walkman High-Resolution Audio Player – close to Bt110,000 – might come as a shock to the ears, but rest assured they’ll soon be soothed by the unit’s impressive build and incredible sound quality. The WM1Z is part of the Sony Signature Series designed by its audio engineers, and at 455 grams it’s quite weighty compared to most MP3 players.
There’s a reassuring sturdiness to it in the hand, a sign that top-notch components are at play inside the 19.9mm casing.
You see the covers of the albums of the music you’re hearing on a four-inch touch-screen display with 854×480-pixel resolution.
There are 256 gigabytes of internal storage, enough for libraries of Hi-Res Audio files, and even that can be boosted further with a micro-SD card.
The WM1Z supports the High-Resolution Audio format DSD Native (11.2MHz) as well as popular formats like MP3, WAV, AIFF, WMA, AAC, HEACC, FLAC and ALAC.
DSD (Direct Stream Digital) audio files are made early in the production process and thus retain the most authentic details of the original recording. The ability to play native DSD files means the WM1Z is geared to highlevel performance and sound quality.
The heaviness is due to the high-grade, gold-plated, oxygen-free-copper chassis. Sony believes that copper should enhance the Walkman’s audio performance since it’s so widely used in musical instruments.
The Walkman also uses special wiring and circuit board designs to increase quality, such as four-wire braided Kimber Kables handcrafted to handle high power and improve the sound.
Newly developed FT Caps (highpolymer capacitors) regulate power flow, and a Fine Sound Register ensures effective distribution of power to the circuit components.
Sony’s own DC Phrase Linearizer replicates a wide variety of sonic signatures. It applies digital-signal processing to match the phase characteristics of various types of analog amplifiers for a more analog-like sound.
You can choose from six phase-character settings – Type A low, standard and high and Type B low, standard and high.
A single balanced plug designed for 4.4mm balanced connection cable is provided, as it is with the Z1R Sony Signature headphones. The balanced connection separates left and right sound signals while minimising signal loss.
The WM1Z is great with lossless DSD files because of the new SMaster HX digital amp technology developed to be compatible with native DSD, balanced and high-output power formats to reduce distortion and noise.
It can also upscale normal MP3 files and lower-quality files with DSEE HX technology.
The WM1Z is intuitive to use, thanks to both its touch screen and side-key control. On the right side are controls for volume, play and pause and skipping tracks, and on the left a lock button so you don’t accidentally press the wrong control button.
You can search for files stored internally or on a mounted micro-SD card by Album, Artist, Genre, Release Year, Composer, Playlist, Hi-Res, Recent Transfers and Folder. The option of displaying songs by folder is great, because you can categorise your own songs.
The Sens-Me Channels function automatically groups tracks by theme, so you can play tracks to suit your mood, current activity, time of day and more – but the tracks must be analysed by “Music Center for PC” before they’re transferred to the Walkman.
I tested the WM1Z with the Z1R Signature headphones and Signature headphone amplifier ZH1ES and noted great sound quality in the Hi-Res Audio files, with fine details in the music and powerful bass.
And, when playing DSD files, the music quality was outstanding, both via the headphone amp and directly through the headphones. I spent an hour easily imagining myself sitting in a concert hall while the Eagles performed live.
If you have Sony’s wireless Hi-Res Audio headphones and want to listen to songs from the WM1Z, you can enjoy its LDAC wireless Bluetooth streaming – but the music quality is lower than what you hear when using a balanced audio cable connection to Hi-Res Audio headphones, especially to the Z1R.
The battery life is admirable. Count on listening to FLAC 96kHz/24bit files for 30 hours straight and MP3 128kbps tracks for about 33 hours. When used with the ZH1ES amp, the amp automatically recharges the battery, so it’s never depleted.
Sony’s NWWM1Z Signature Series Walkman has a suggested retail price of Bt109,990.
– Display: Four-inch TFT touch screen with 854×480 pixels
– USB port: USB 2.0 compatible 22-pin WM port
– Headphones: Stereo mini-jack, balanced standard-jack
– Bluetooth: 4.2, supporting codecs SBC, LDAC, aptX, aptX HD, NFC
– Supported audio formats: AAC (NonDRM), AIFF, ALAC, DSD, FLAC, HEAAC, Linear PCM, MP3, WMA (NonDRM)
– Frequency response: 20 to 40,000Hz
– Storage: 256GB internal storage, expandable with micro-SD card
– Battery: Charging time seven hours, 30 hours of FLAC 96kHZ/24bit files playback
– Dimensions: 72.9×124.2×19.9mm
– Weight: 455 grams