If you're looking for the perfect partner for the best true wireless earbuds or best headphones, Sony has the gadget for you. Its latest Network Walkman, the NW-A306, is a beautiful-looking hi-res audio player with up to 36 hours battery life when you listen to uncompressed CD audio - and it also has Sony's DSEE Ultimate upsampling to make your existing audio tracks sound even better.
I've got a soft spot for the Walkman: I still miss my Sony Ericsson Walkman phone, which was miles ahead of the competition in its day, and the early Network Walkmans sounded better than Apple's iPod. And if I ever left the house, the NW-A306 is the Walkman I'd want to take with me on my commute or on other travels.
What's so great about this Sony Walkman?
In a word: quality. The NW-A306 has Sony's S-Master HX digital amp, which was made specifically for Walkman devices and works with the high resolution DSD format. It's designed to reduce distortion and noise across multiple frequencies to deliver a truer audio experience without unwanted artefacts. You won't notice the difference on cheap earbuds but if you're driving a decent set of headphones your audio experience should be much improved.
One of the big improvements here is in the DSEE Ultimate upsampling, which can upscale music via wired or wireless connections from 16-bit CD-quality audio files to make them sound even higher resolution. There's LDAC to get the best from headphones such as the Sony WH-1000XM5, and it can stream over Wi-Fi to get high-res audio from your favourite streaming apps.
Last but not least, there's a whopping 36 hours between charges. Running in hi-res audio only reduces that a little bit – you'll get up to 32 hours of 92kHz FLAC – and even streaming delivers 26 hours of uninterrupted playback between charges.
Expect to pay around £350 / €400 when the NW-A306 goes on sale later this month.