When you think about audiophile gear, Sony may not be the first name on your list — but the mega brand is anything but a slouch in the Hi-Fi arena. Putting a sharp focus on “Hi-Res” audio gear in recent years, Sony has been churning out some impressive gear, and its latest suite of products, bundled into a quad-fecta of mouthwatering sonic bliss, is proof.
The system starts with Sony’s opulent, new high-resolution audio player, part of its triumphant return to the Walkman. This device, however, has little in common with the yellow tape deck many still associate with the name — save the color maybe, thanks to a plating of gold along its regal exterior. Dubbed the NW-WM1Z ($3,300), the device harbors a copper chassis under the gold, used by fellow audiophile brands like Astell & Kern to achieve a warmer color to the sound. The system runs an updated Android interface, and supports virtually any file you can throw at it, from 32bit/384kHz FLAC files to 11.2mHz native DSD files. Outputs include a basic 3.5mm, as well as a proprietary 4.4mm balanced port, and harbor Sony’s S-Master HX digital amplifier.
Next in the signal chain is Sony’s TZ-ZH1ES desktop headphone amplifier ($2,200), loaded with a cacophony of outputs, including 4 pin XLR, balanced and unbalanced outputs, and Sony’s DSD remastering engine designed for converting PCM files to DSD. Sony’s reps tout the system not only as a killer desktop DAC (digital to analog converter), but also as a great way to transfer your vinyl to the digital format.
Next in line is an available $280 proprietary cable from audiophile stalwart Kimber Kable called the MUC-820SB1, which feeds the final piece to the puzzle, Sony’s MDR-Z1R headphones. Designed as much for plush comfort as luscious sound, the MDR-Z1R ($2,300) are nothing short of an utter delight to your ears. Handcrafted in Japan from an aluminum chassis, loaded with heaps of supple leather, and boasting 70mm drivers that barrel from the low end all the way to the top of the frequency spectrum with rich, smooth, and utterly gorgeous precision, the beveled beauties were nearly spellbinding in our short time with them.
Sony’s mobile audiophile delight package is expected to be available for those with thick wallets sometime this spring.