Sony’s new $3,200 Walkman is audiophile gold that no one needs
It does not play cassette tapes.
Back in 2015, Sony released the $1,200 Walkman ZX2 MP3 player, but it was no Walkman. It did, however, spark a bit of nostalgia, helping us remember our original TPS-L2 or popular WM-701C devices. Now those were Walkmans.
The brand new WM1ZM2 Walkman Signature Series from Sony claims to be a Walkman, but to many of us (Generation X especially), that term is reserved for a cassette player adhered to our belts or pocket, not a several thousand dollar MP3 player.
This is the second version of this MP3 player. The original lists on Amazon and Crutchfield for over $2k, or $3,200 direct from Sony’s store. The new version is available via Sony Asia.
The base 128GB model will run you $1,600, while a gold-plated 256GB model will set you back $3,200. If you are so inclined to purchase a device just for listening to MP3 music. Or you can get a basic Walkman for $59.99. Or you can, y’know, use your damn phone.
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In its promo video, Sony slathers on the marketing speak, attempting to tingle our pleasure centers with sexy language, further distancing our memories of the Walkman from its current iteration.
“The NW-WM1ZM2 sets a new benchmark in pure sound quality and listening sophistication. Crafted with fine materials and meticulous attention to detail, and offering the ease of downloading and streaming music, this is audio at its most indulgent.“
This is a device for true audiophiles, that much is obvious. Sony is no longer making the Walkman for the jean-shorts wearing public. The reasoning there is the same as the cynical response to such a device — we all have smartphones in our jorts.
The NW-WM1ZM2 has high-end parts, supports lossless files, and has an option for gold plating. This is a device for people who spend most of their day hanging over a yacht railing, outside of cell phone range anyway.
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The people who buy these new MP3 devices truly immerse themselves in music and are a far shout from those that originally bought Walkmans.
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They have $10k record players, rarely use Bluetooth, and have headphones that are more expensive than your car. But they never talk about music like we talk about music. To them, it’s a personal kink, a luxury they bathe in when no one is watching. A secret smile between those who know.
It’s tough to make an argument for the continued existence of standalone MP3 players when we all have smartphones, but Sony is making a solid one with its Signature Series devices.
While the NW-WM1ZM2 is not a Walkman in the traditional sense, it is named as such to get our attention while desiring our respect for how Sony has progressed the technology of portable music players. Now, if only it came in a Damascus skin.
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