Sony Brings Back the Walkman in Two Stunningly Modern Android MP3 Players
Obviously, your phone can play music, but how well can it play music? Audiophiles may be interested in Sony’s most recent Walkman models, the NW-ZX707 (shown above) and NW-A306. The feature sets and product names can be a bit abstract. High-fidelity audiophiles will drool over the FTCAP3 high-polymer capacitors and gold reflow solder.
However, the Walkman NW-A306 (seen below) is the more reasonably priced option. To put its 3.6-inch 720p LCD into perspective, the NW-A306 still costs $350 today. This is a pitifully little screen by modern standards. Even so, it packs a lot of functionality into a compact form factor. Rigid aluminium construction, gold solder, and Fine Sound Resistors are just a few of its other features. Sony claims that the new S-Master HX digital amp was developed for the Walkman and is responsible for the device’s “full-bodied sound.” It is capable of decoding and playing back high-resolution audio in nearly every format, including FLAC and DSD.
While the NW-ZX707 is equipped with the same S-Master HX digital amp technology as the more affordable Walkman, its audiophile pretensions are clearly superior. To better shield the digital circuitry, the $900 music player uses higher-quality FTCAP3 capacitors and a machined block of oxygen-free copper. To experience what Sony claims is the NW-enhanced ZX707’s sound reproduction, you can plug in either the conventional 3.5mm connector or the balanced 4.4mm socket. The 720p display on this tablet is larger at 5 inches, making the device itself somewhat bulkier.
Both have a square form factor reminiscent of the Walkman, and both have tactile controls for playing and pausing tracks. The battery life varies greatly depending on the content being played, however they charge quickly through USB-C. Playing MP3s or FLACs will keep the NW-A306 going for over 30 hours, while playing the highest quality DSD content may drain the battery in as little as 14 hours. The NW-maximum ZX707’s playtime is 24–25 hours depending on the type of music being played, but listening to mega-quality DSD music via the balanced jack would deplete the battery in just 11 hours.
Devices using Android 12 come preloaded with the full suite of standard Google software. If you don’t care about the inherent quality bump of local playback, you can get your music fix (or whatever else) by downloading a streaming music app. Although, it seems like a waste of money to spend $900 on a separate music player just to listen to Spotify.