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Sony turns up the volume on hi-res audio with its latest Walkman

Sony’s grandiose press event at CES in Las Vegas again solidified the company’s push toward the proliferation of high-resolution audio (HRA) with the reveal of its new flagship player, the Walkman NW-ZX2.

A sleek chunk of composite material and glass, the ZX2 is as hefty as it is elegant, marked by a robust black facade along the exterior, and a full touch screen extending along the front face. The ZX2 runs on an Android-based operating system, and unlike a lot of high-resolution portables we’ve encountered, such as the Astell and Kern AK240, the interface is set up almost like a phone, offering Wi-Fi support and a suite of apps.

Under the hood the ZX2 is crammed with premium components helping to account for its heavy weight. It also offers some of Sony’s most highly touted digital technology, including the new DSEE HX Sound Enhancement designed to upscale lower resolution files to higher resolution, as well as Sony’s LDAC coding technology, which claims to offer four times the audio resolution streaming as traditional Bluetooth signals.

As for the sound, the ZX2 delivers, providing gorgeous reproductions of high-resolution tracks we auditioned from the likes of Diana Krall, old standards from Tony Bennet with Lady Gaga collaboration album, and even some gorgeous remasters from Old Blue Eyes. Whether or not the sound performance is enough to beg its expected price between $800-$1,000 remains to be seen, but if our first impressions are any indication, those looking for top-notch performance in a portable player will find it here.

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