If you've already splurged on the best wired headphones and want the best portable audio player to go with them, Sony is here to help – provided you have a bucketload of cash. Its new NW-WM1ZM2 may be the ultimate Walkman, but it'll cost you $3,699.99.
You could use the best wireless headphones with them if you prefer, but you won't be able to benefit from the seriously audiophile specification here, which includes thick Kimber Cable connecting the S-Master HX Digital amplifier to the headphone jack. It supports Hi-Res Audio, upscales CD and supports 32-bit, 384Kz audio; by comparison CD is 16-bit and 44/48KHz. And it uses Wi-Fi for streaming, which delivers much better bandwidth than even the most advanced Bluetooth codec.
I'll be honest. Beyond lossless audio I can't really tell the difference; after years of guitar-related abuse my hearing isn't what it used to be. But then I can't afford to drop the best part of four grand on a portable music player either. If you can, I'm quite sure you'll be delighted by the sound from a device where even the soldering is supposedly audiophile-friendly.
High quality audio: the weakest link
As Engadget (opens in new tab) rightly points out, the spec here is impressive but you can ruin it with a single low quality component or source: the best quality you can get from Apple Music is currently 24-bit/192KHz, so to make the most of these you'll need not just audiophile-grade headphones but also a better quality music provider such as TIDAL, whose Master Quality Audio delivers up to 24-bit/352KHz. Or better still, use the included 256GB of storage for a library of hi-res audio tracks from other sources.
You can find out more about the Sony NW-WM1ZM2 on the Sony website, but if the price is just a little bit too much Sony has a slightly less expensive version that seems to retain most of the audiophile features, albeit without the gold finish. The NW-WM1AM2 is a more affordable $1,399 and has the same S-Master HX amplifier and oxygen-free copper cabling.
This article is part of The T3 Edit, a collaboration between T3 and Wallpaper* which explores the very best blends of design, craft, and technology. Wallpaper* magazine is the world’s leading authority on contemporary design and The T3 Edit is your essential guide to what’s new and what’s next.