Skip to main content

Sony updates its Signature Series hi-res Walkman with new features, higher prices

Apple’s iPod may be officially dead and gone now that the company has discontinued the last device to bear that name, but Sony’s Walkman brand is apparently alive and well. The company has released two new Walkman models: The $1,400 NW-WM1AM2 and its gold-colored sibling, the $3,700 NW-WMZM2, both of which are updates to its original Signature Series Walkman models, geared toward the hi-res audiophile market.

Sony WM1AM2 Signature Series Walkman being held in a hand.

The first versions of these Walkman models debuted in 2016 for $1,200 and $3,200, respectively. So how is Sony justifying the extra cash you’ll need for the new models? There are a number of updates for those with a taste for fine portable audio.

The new units now run Android 11, making them compatible with all of the latest streaming music services, like Amazon Music, Apple Music, Tidal, Qobuz, and Deezer, which are the primary services to offer better-than-CD-quality options. You’ll also get access to apps for Spotify, YouTube Music, and Pandora if lossy music is OK with you. This should make the players much more upgradeable over time — the first generation used a proprietary OS from Sony.

Sony WM1ZM2 Signature Series Walkman seen from the side.

Sony WM1AM2 Signature Series Walkman.Speaking of lossy music, the new Walkman models have Sony’s DSEE Ultimate technology, the latest and greatest version of its upscaling algorithm. In addition to performing its usual magic on compressed music, it’s now optimized for boosting CD-quality lossless tracks to an even higher-res sound.

All of the usual lossy and hi-res formats are included, like DSD, WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, MP3, WMA, AAC, HE-AAC, and there’s support for MQA, out of the box. The previous models also let you hear the high-quality format favored by Tidal for its Masters collection of music, but it required a software update.

Sony has also added a feature it calls Vinyl Processor, which it claims will “give the warmth and character of vinyl back to your digital tracks,” by reproducing the low-frequency resonance, tone-arm resistance, and surface noise of turntable-based media.

Unfortunately, your wireless options are fewer now. Sony has dropped support for Qualcomm’s aptX HD as its high-quality Bluetooth option. But since Sony has been dropping support for aptX on its most recent wireless headphones and earbuds, it’s not surprising to see it go away on the Walkman, too.

Sony WM1ZM2 Signature Series Walkman.

Visually, Sony has upgraded the screen. It’s now in HD resolution (1,280 x 720), which should make it easier on the eyes as you navigate its various functions. The screen is also larger, at five diagonal inches, versus the four-inch size of the first-gen players.

Battery life has been improved, with up to 40 hours of wireless playback — up from 30 hours. For the true audiophile specification nerds out there, be prepared for an improved analog block and digital block power system that Sony says was inspired by its flagship media player, the DMP-Z1.

Shockingly, onboard storage is not one of the areas that Sony has improved. The WM1AM2 stays at 128GB and the WMZM2 remains at 256GB — the same numbers as in 2016. As before, you can expand that storage with the help of microSD cards.

Both players are available starting June 13 from and Sony’s authorized resellers.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
Sony expands its X-Series with 3 new go-anywhere speakers
Sony XG300 speaker held by by hand.

The Sony consumer audio lineup can feel like a bit of a complicated space — particularly when it comes to headphones — but the Bluetooth speaker lineup has never quite been the flagship of the range. Today, Sony is announcing three new X-Series speakers that fill out the existing X-Series models with even more options for more people.

The SRS-XG300 sits just under Sony’s existing SRS-XG500 as a cylindrical, boombox-style powerhouse meant to fill your backyard parties with tons of sound. This speaker is notably smaller than the XG500, and would be ideal for those who want something that’s loud and versatile, but doesn’t take up quite as much space in a backpack.

Read more
Sony’s new flagship headphones promise best-in-class noise canceling and calling
Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones seen in silver.

As expected, Sony has taken the wraps off the fifth generation of its flagship line of active noise cancellation (ANC) wireless headphones. The WH-1000XM5 have been priced at $400 -- $50 more than their predecessors, the WH-1000XM4 -- and they sport a new, lighter-weight design, dual noise-canceling processors, eight microphones, and hi-res audio capability. The XM5 can be pre-ordered starting May 12 in both black and silver (a sort of sand color), and general retail availability begins May 20.

Sony plans to keep selling the older XM4 model alongside the new XM5, at least for the foreseeable future. The biggest change to Sony's design for the WH-1000 series is a move away from the traditional flat-headband plus earcup forks design to an integrated approach. The headband sliders are now tubular and connect to a hidden pivot inside the tops of the earcups, creating a similar profile to both the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the Apple AirPods Max. The new design means that, unlike the XM4, which can fold flat, then fold again to take up less room, the WH-1000XM5 can only fold flat.

Read more
Spotify could launch its HiFi lossless audio tier any day now
Spotify app and earbud.

In February, Spotify announced its ambitions to join the increasingly popular lossless audio space with a new subscription tier called Spotify HiFi. At the time, the streaming music company was silent regarding pricing or the potential timing for the new tier's debut, but a recently spotted video suggests it could happen imminently.

Late last week, Reddit user Nickx000x posted a video to the Spotify subreddit that appears to show an introductory animation for Spotify HiFi. The video -- spotted first by WhatHiFi? -- looks like it's designed to take Spotify mobile app users through the quick process of understanding what Spotify HiFi is, how it works, and how to know if they're actually getting the higher-quality lossless audio stream on their device.

Read more