As Sony explains the new Walkman features advanced technology to accurately process massive amounts of wide-bandwidth audio data while minimising noise and distortion. “Powerful DSEE HX (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) processing recreates crucial high-frequency musical information that’s lost in compressed sound files. CD and MP3 sources are upscaled, expanding sampling frequency and bit-depth beyond their original values to near Hi-Res quality (corresponding to 192 kHz/24-bit audio). With immense amounts of musical detail to enjoy, you’ll feel as if you’re really there in the studio or concert hall.”
The NW-ZX2’s frame is milled from solid aluminium alloy for immense rigidity, while internal use of gold-plated copper plate reduces electrical impedance to assist with overall sound quality. Inside, there’s an impressive list of other design enhancements to excite any true audiophile. Significant improvements in the player’s power supply include an electric double-layer capacitor to smooth out voltage drops.
Every stage of the audio pathway is upgraded with extensive use of thick-film copper-layer PCBs, OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) cables and high purity lead-free solder. Overall sound quality is further enhanced by use of carefully-selected components including coils, MELF type resistors and film condensers with superior audio characteristics. No less than seven extra-large condensers, ‘OS-CON’, maintain superb frequency response and minimise noise at the output stage.
One digital clock source is replaced by two, with dedicated crystal oscillators for 44.1/88.2/176.4 kHz (CD/DSD) and 48/96/192 kHz sources respectively. Whatever music file or format the user listens to, it will enjoy extra clarity and transparency with improved stereo separation.
The NW-ZX2 is also the first mobile device to support the new efficient LDAC codec. This new audio technology from Sony transmits data three times more efficiently than previous Bluetooth connections, providing an enhanced wireless listening experience. One-touch pairing with NFC makes wireless connection between Walkman and other devices instant and effortless.
Sony’s newly developed LDAC codec enables the transmission of approximately 3 times the amount of audio data as is currently possible with existing technologies, users can now listen to higher quality music wirelessly over Bluetooth than ever before.
The new Sony Walkman comes with only 128GB of internal storage – not much for a Hi-Res collection. Fortunately that storage can be expanded to 256GB with an optional microSD card, allowing for over 1700 songs stored as Hi-Res Audio files (at 150MB/song). In addition, a new high capacity Li-ion battery boosts playback time to as long as 60hrs (depending on the player’s mode. With FLAC 192kHz/24bit is 33 hrs) from a single charge.
Dual-band (2.4/5 GHz) Wi-Fi compatibility also allows to enjoy Hi-Res music stored on any DLNA-compatible home network (with standard Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) media management, discovery and control), free of electrical interference. The player also supports a USB audio connection function for direct, jitter-free digital connection to portable headphone amps and USB DAC amps.
The new Walkman supports multiple audio formats, from MP3 to WMA1, FLAC (192KHz/24bit), Linear PCM (192KHz/24bit), WAV (192KHz/24bit), AAC-LC2, HE-AAC, Apple Lossless (192KHz/24bit), AIFF (192KHz/24bit) and DSD (2.8MHz, 5.6MHz). The devices also features a 4” FWVGA (854x480) Triluminos Display and supports Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/a Bluetooth A2DP/AVRCP/OPP/HID/SPP profiles and NFC. File transfer is supported with the included applications on Windows and Mac OS. It weights approx. 235 g and ships with an USB cable and leather carrying case. The NW-ZX2 is expected to be on sale from Spring 2015, retailing for approx. $1,100 and headphones are not included.
New Sony Audio Products
Sony also announced an extensive line-up of new home audio products with high-resolution, multi-room and expanded music streaming capabilities, including new sound bars, audio/video receivers, headphones, earphones and portable speakers, all expected to be available in Spring 2015.
The new products are all equipped with DSEE HX technology, allowing streaming sources which are not Hi-Res quality to be upscaled to provide higher quality sound.
“We have seen such a huge interest from music enthusiasts and consumers who truly value the pure sound quality delivered with Hi-Res,” said Mike Woulfe, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Sony Electronics’ Sound Division. “Our new line of products provides consumers with the freedom to listen to music as they go from the bedroom, to the kitchen to the family room, while still delivering a high quality music experience.”
The new range of home audio products will offer both Google Cast and Spotify connect support. The new Google Cast platform, emulating Apple’s AirPlay, provides the ability to stream compatible Google Cast apps like Pandora, Google Play Music, Deezer, and other services.
Additionally, the updated Sony SongPal mobile app allows users to synchronize multiple Sony audio products throughout the home while controlling and navigating content from sources such as Google Cast, Spotify Connect and 4K content from major studios.
These new products feature Sony’s exclusive LDAC circuitry that allows high quality wireless audio via Bluetooth. The wireless speakers also support built-in echo cancellation and noise suppression, for crystal clear hands free calling with Bluetooth HFP/HSP enabled smart phones or mobile phones.
Following on the success of Sony’s premium sound bars including the HT-ST7 and HT-ST5, the 7.1 channel Sony HT-ST9 premium sound bar with wireless subwoofer incorporates 9 independent speakers and 7 discrete amplifiers to provide incredible acoustic detail and clarity, including support of Hi-Res audio. The HT-ST9 is a networked multi-room capable sound bar with the ability to stream Google Cast ready music and audio apps and Spotify Connect to multiple speakers throughout the house via the Sony SongPal Link app. It features for the first time in a Sony sound bar HDMI with HDCP 2.2 capabilities to support 4K content, as well as Bluetooth streaming with LDAC and NFC one- touch connectivity.
Similar to the HT-ST9, the HT-NT3 is a 2.1 channel premium sound bar with wireless subwoofer version with a thin design to fit with today’s television designs.
The new STR-DN1060 and STR-DN860 A/V receivers now support 4K content with HDMI with HDCP 2.2, multi-room audio connectivity, and Hi-Res audio, including DSD. Both models feature built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, AirPlay, Bluetooth and now Google Cast and Spotify Connect.
The new Sony portable wireless speakers include six new models. The new Sony SRS-X99 wireless speaker features Hi-Res audio up to 24bit/192kHz (AALC, FLAC, AIFF, and DSD4 playback), with 154 Watts, 2.1ch, 4 super tweeters, dual passive radiator, DSEE, and Clear Audio+. The SRS-X99 supports Google Cast, Spotify Connect and multi-room capability via Sony SongPal link, similar to Sony’s new sound bars and AV Receivers, rounding out a family of Sony products that all work together throughout the home. Additionally, the SRS-X99 supports Bluetooth with LDAC and NFC.
The new SRS-X88 provides the same Hi-res capability as the SRS-X99 in a slightly smaller form factor.
Following on the success of the MDR-1A headphones, the new Sony MDR-1ABT have Bluetooth connectivity, hands-free talk with echo cancellation and noise suppression. Additionally, they feature touch sensor controls with NFC to allow users to control music from the side of the headphones easily without having to connect with wires or use set-up codes.
Sony also announced the first car audio head unit that is compatible with high-resolution audio formats including DSD native playback. The single DIN head unit will also include DSEE HX processing.
PHA-1A Portable DAC/Headphone Amplifier
Finnaly, the new PHA-1A Portable DAC/Headphone Amp allows connection with any portable digital music device, PC, or smartphones via USB input with Hi-Res audio playback.