Sony would like you to buy its $3,700 walkman for over-the-top audiophiles

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Are you the kind of music listener who will happily pay more for a set of headphones than you would for a nice computer? If so, Sony has the MP3 players for you. The company has launched two ultra-high-end Walkman MP3 players aimed at audiophiles. The headliner, the $3,700 NW-WM1ZM2 (pictured left), combines an S-Master HX digital amp with “thinned” capacitors, a thick Kimber Kable (to connect the amp to the headphone jack) and a 99.99% pure gold plated, oxygen-free copper chassis – all of which supposedly contribute to “clear and expansive” output. Even the reflow solder includes gold which supposedly improves sound localization and widens the soundstage.

You can also expect more practical improvements from the Android-based player, including a larger five-inch (and finally 720p) display, larger power supply, and improved upscaling algorithm for the CD-quality audio (16-bit, 44/48kHz). . You’ll get 256GB of expandable storage for your tunes, WiFi streaming, a USB-C port, and 40 hours of battery life when playing 96kHz FLAC audio. The ZM2 supports audio up to 32-bit, 384kHz in formats like MQA and WAV, so you’re more likely to be limited by your source material than your hardware.

Don’t worry if that sounds like overkill, because there’s also a lower cost model…relatively speaking. The $1,400 NW-WM1AM2 (shown right) offers much of the basic functionality of the ZM2, but in an aluminum alloy body with “just” low resistance oxygen-free copper cable. You’ll also have to settle for 128 GB of expandable space.

Both Walkman models are available now. As with many devices aimed at audiophiles, there’s a question of whether or not the exotic components and materials will be noticeable in your listening experience. Additionally, you are limited by the lowest common denominator in your setup. Even if you’re listening to songs that can take advantage of the design (Apple Music’s lossless 24-bit, 192kHz high-res suddenly seems modest), you’ll need to find headphones or speakers to match. Both players are primarily aimed at affluent music fans determined to maximize audio fidelity, although they may not hear the difference.

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