Sony’s Walkman is all about the high-res audio this year

You can’t take a record player with you, because it’s big, bulky, and just not portable, so what do you do when you want high-res sound on the go? This year, you might be turning to a Walkman.

Last year, Sony made it clear that it wanted high-resolution audio to be a thing that audiophiles would want to invest in, a fact that was evident when we went up close and personal with the company’s first high-end Walkman, the NW-ZX1.

Back then, we were intrigued, especially since the gadget promised to give those after a high-end sound a way of taking it with them on the go or just in a portable-enough capacity, providing loud and clear sound for any extra large headphones they may have.

This year, Sony is upping the game a little more with a new model, the ZX2, which will send high-resolution FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless), AIFF, WAV, and DSDs all supported up to 192/24 through Bluetooth, meaning you don’t necessarily need to sit with an extra long cable from your big cans any longer.

To do this, Sony’s ZX2 will rely on a Sony technology called “LDAC” which it says is a low latency codec to provide wireless listening for larger audio files that are lossless.

It will also work when you’re sending those big music files to a Bluetooth speaker, making it more convenient to play high-resolution music when you’re walking from room to room, provided you have a decent Bluetooth speaker where you plan on listening.

“Sony is focusing on developing products that can reproduce the best sound quality from any location,” said Abel Makhraz, Head of Video and Sound at Sony Australia and New Zealand.

“Our products offer a new music experience for consumers, where environmental restrictions no longer exist, and they can freely enjoy the best music, regardless of where they are.

The ZX2 Walkman will also come with 128GB storage built-in, support for more via a microSD slot, WiFi, and up to 60 hours music playback from MP3s, and a little over 30 from high-res audio. Charge time comes in around a little under five hours, and there’s a 4 inch 854×480 screen on this gadget, which comes off looking like a smartphone, but lacks the phone part completely.

Like the older model, the ZX1, you will find Android working underneath, running version 4.2 “Jelly Bean” and supporting Bluetooth, Near-Field Communication (NFC), and WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n.

This Walkman will be joined by a new pair of headphones aimed at delivering that wireless sound the ZX2 has been built for, and also a portable headphone amplifier if you need a little more grunt for your headphones and like to turn the cans up loud.

First, the headphones, and Sony is releasing the MDR-1ABT headphones, cans that will offer a circumaural design to prevent sound leakage, with aluminium-coated liquid crystal polymer film diaphragms for what Sony says has “the rigidity necessary for balanced sound reproduction” while also offering NFC and Bluetooth for wireless transmission, meaning you can use a cable or go without for this pair.

If you already have a pair of great headphones but you know they need an amplifier to drive them, Sony is also releasing the PHA-1A, a portable DAC and headphone amplifier that offers a compact-ish amp that can connect to a smartphone and make for a mostly portable high-end experience. Alternatively, Sony’s PHA-1A can be plugged into a computer and used as a USB sound card and headphone amp.

Sony is even suggesting the PHA-1A as an ideal companion gadget for Sony’s smaller FLAC compatible Walkman units, such as the NWZ-A17, which we suspect would work with the NWZ-A15, which is currently being reviewed here at GadgetGuy.

The Sony PHA-1A portable headphone amplifier, announced at CES 2015.

Pricing for the new ZX2 Walkman, wireless 1ABT headphones, and PHA-1A headphone amp have yet to be revealed, but Australia will be receiving stock shortly, with the ZX2 arriving in March, while the headphones and headphone amp will see landfall in April.