Sony’s new 128GB Hi-Res Walkman offers excellent audio, for a price

by: Jonathan FeistJanuary 5, 2015
3.1K

Sony Walkman NW SX2 aa

CES 2015 is well underway, at least the press releases are, with all the major players introducing great new products all day. Sony has a great selection of new and updated gear to be proud of, and on the personal audio front they have introduced a new 128GB Walkman Hi-Res Digital Music Player NW-ZX2.

The new Walkman is an Android powered device with a 4-inch TRILUMINOS touchscreen, WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC. That 128GB or internal storage is matched by a microSD expansion slot and battery life is projected at 60 hours while playing MP3 titles, down to 33 hours when playing Hi-res audio.

Audio support is an exhaustive list, including the most popular audio formats that are not protected by copyright. MP3 support runs the gamut of the audio type, with this 60 hours of battery expected with MP3 files at 128kbps. Hi-Res audio includes FLAC, Apple Lossless and AIFF running at up to 192Khz at 24bit.

In addition to the list of supported file types, Sony has highlighted a list of key features, including the S-Master HX digital amplifier, DSEE HX (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine), ClearAudio+, Clear Bass, VPT, an equalizer and more. You are also open to install your favorite media player from the Google Play Store as well, thanks to it running Android as an OS.

By all accounts, Sony has a killer audiophile device here, but you aren’t going to buy the NW-SX2. Your favorite audiophile is probably not going to buy this unit either. Why, you ask? Let me explain.

Sony Walkman NW SX2 store

In the world of Android, most devices strive to launch or update to the latest release of the OS. While this is usually pretty important for your phone or tablet, Sony has a different perspective when it comes to this Walkman NW-SX2, as the unit will ship with Android 4.2 Jellybean.

OK, Android Jellybean is something you may shake your head at and overlook, it isn’t a phone after all. I figured you might say that, so I saved my best argument for last. You and most people out there are not going to purchase the Sony Walkman NW-SX2 because of its price tag. Take a guess. Nope, higher. Higher. That’s right, the ‘best’ personal audio device that Sony has to offer will run you $1200.

Oh, and it does not come with headphones, you’ll need to buy those separately. Head on over to the Sony website for more details.

What do you say, does the iPod Touch, or your old Android device re-purposed as an MP3 player, have anything to worry about in the Sony Walkman NW-SX2?

  • Richie Hernandez

    Ummm it’s got to be some sort of joke.

  • Joshua Moore

    This has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. The price tag wouldn’t be an issue if they made this a phone(there are already popular phones out there that cost almost a grand), but why would someone spend this much money on a device when their phone is capable of doing the exact same thing. Maybe I just have horrible ears, but I’m guessing that most people ate in the same boat as me and don’t recognize much of a difference in audio quality after a certain point, which the average smartphone has already reached.

    • Paul McGuire

      Well I like having a separate device for music to save my battery on my smartphone for other things. For that purpose I tend to use an 80gb zune when I need on the go music. The buttons make it perfect for switching music while driving without taking my eyes off the road. Something like this, though, I don’t see the point.

      • Stephen

        Having a separate device for music does not make any sense.
        1. If you’re driving then you should be charging your device at the same time. Your phone should be mounted. You should not be holding your device while operating your vehicle or you’ll get a ticket. Your smartphone is capable of handling multi-tasks.
        2. If you’re taking public transit or walking then you won’t hear your incoming phone calls if heaphones are plugged into another device.

        • Paul McGuire

          1. Maybe but car chargers don’t have enough power to be worth using. Even on long trips using a USB port plugged into a rental car on a four hour trip barely gave me any charge. They may charge but the power output is minimal and pointless. Also I would laugh if I got a ticket for the short amount of time it takes to change albums on my Zune. I usually pick something good before I get going and don’t have to change it, but then clicking next track is much faster with actual buttons rather than relying on a touch screen.

          2. I prefer the lack of distraction by having music NOT get interrupted by notifications of Facebook updates and incoming calls. Sometimes it is good to get away from all that.

          I also don’t have an android phone with expandable internal storage. I prefer stock android and Google decided it was too confusing to let you use a SD card to increase storage capacity. So I don’t want to fill up my phone with music, nor do I want to rely on the cloud to be there when I am on the road, especially if the road can sometimes mean road trips in between large cities where 3G does not exist, or taking a plane trip overseas where I don’t have wi-fi.

          • Stephen

            1. Invest in a new charger with the appropriate outputs specs. My car charger can still charge my device effectively while streaming music.

            2. Having music coming out of 1 device you’re still having Facebook notifications, Instagram notifications, gmail, G+ notifications, etc.. sounding off from another device. So some sort of interuptions are still there.

            3. USB OTG is your solution for expandable storage solutions. Perhaps gets a phone with expandable storage next time? Or better yet, get a tablet and use Tablet Talk. With Tablet Talk enabled, on both your phone and tablet, your phone calls/incoming notifications are shown on your tablet and you can answer them from your tablet.

          • Ed

            Stephen…give it up. You’re a fool. Face it. Having a device devoted to music is where it’s at. McGuire clearly gets it. Why don’t you?

          • Damon Kirk

            I have an iPod mini I put a 128 GB flash drive in to replace the microdrive. With rockbox it supports a lot of the lossless formats I believe but I still have stock firmware. Still, it isn’t what I’d consider audiophile grade but then again my digital collection is mostly mp3 so a quality player would likely just expose how bad the format sounds.

          • JosephHindy

            Having USB OTG and a car charger on a device that’s playing music that will generally pause music for notifications whether you want it to or not all while docked in something that barely fits the front dashboard of your car.

            What could go wrong?

            I’m a huge Android fan but if you have to use 2 different devices (phone, external hard drive) and 2 different cables (charger, USB OTG) just to get music going, then that’s too much. Some people like sitting in their car without 25ft of wire tangling up next to them. The idea is to make it easier not more complicated.

            In this instance, a dedicated audio device would be easier to use than lugging around a hard drive with your music on it and a cable all day long. No one should have to carry that much crap around just to play music in the car. Never mind the increase number of points of failure. How long can you stash a hard drive in a hot car before it fails? And how reliable are USB OTG cables?

            And then you want to introduce a tablet into the mix to do the things that the phone is supposed to do? Just so you can get uninterrupted audio? At that point, what’s the difference between having a dedicated audio device if you’re buying a tablet to replace your phone in the car?

            I think you may be a bit overzealous here bud. It’s doable but not at all ergonomic or simple.

          • creed

            Wish I could up vote this more than once.

          • TheBagging Man

            100 ^

          • TheBagging Man

            I’m with creed

          • YRaj

            Ever thought of turning off notifications? Having a separate device for music is becoming last decade like CDs. Now you will wear a smart watch to control your phone…

          • JosephHindy

            Some people still enjoy that separation and even if it’s a bit outdated, there’s nothing functionally wrong with it. Not everyone wants one device that does everything.

          • Damon Kirk

            That’s just it…the people this device is targeted to still have CD’s…and likely a decent amount of vinyl.

          • Paul McGuire

            Well some of us still buy CDs. I sure do because I want audiophile quality music, sort of like this device is made to play.

          • Dan Jackman

            As someone who loathes taking my internet life with me, has no smart phone, but still carries an iPod Classic everywhere I love this idea. Thank god its not a phone. I’d like to see how much space you can chunk up on your phone uploading OGG, FLAC, and AIFF files sir.

          • TheBagging Man

            To each his own, I personally would prefer to use 1 device and if I don’t want to be interrupted Ill put my phone on aeroplane mode. However it is more convenient for others to have a separate device. There is no right and wrong with that however….

            If your driving with a tablet on hand to manage notifications so you can listen to music on your phone I think the Sony Walkman would benefit you more than anyone and not to mention the poor innocent victims of your culpable driving.

          • Damon Kirk

            Some of the GPE devices give stock Android and SD card slots. The Sony Z Ultra GPE I am posting from does just that but admittedly a 6.4 inch phone isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

        • Jordana Lewis

          Having a second device for music makes sense if you want a second device for music.

        • Phil Marsh

          Makes perfect sense if you want all your music collection as high quality files on the go with you. With excellent quality sound. You won’t get that with a phone. For most people, a phone is fine though.

          Hearing my phone is never that critical to me; I’m not on it 24/7.

          • That’s why I use Spotify, all my music is there and no space is wasted. My phone is strong enough that my battery lasts even if I’m using it for music :)

          • Cole Raney

            But data caps though. Plus areas that have no coverage.

          • You can download the songs for offline mode :)

        • Simon Setyadarma

          I always want to use another device to listen musics.
          Why? Okay, there are reasons why. First of all, I don’t want to waste my phone’s battery a lot, sounds stupid but yes it happens right? And every time I use headphone or earphone to my phone it will ring if there’s a notif and it is annoying.
          But this thing is too expensive for a device for listening to the musics.

          • Paul McGuire

            Exactly. Why do I want my music interrupted by Facebook notifications? If I get a call I can still hear it and pause it but all those other notifications are just a pain and make no sense. Plus when I am on a trip (long plane trip, long car drive etc) I can play music the whole time and leave my phone off for when I need it without having it drain. Very simple.

        • Cole Raney

          Your phone SHOULD be charging? Your phone SHOULD be mounted? Who are you to tell people how to use their phones? Plus using non-oem issued chargers tend to deteriorate your battery life over time. I don’t want to do that to my phone.

        • bilalhouri

          It totally makes sense. All of my music library if FLAC, my iPhone doesn’t play them, that’s why I use a FiiO X3

        • Albert Maguffin

          What? Maybe a separate device doesn’t make sense for YOU. Why are you even bringing up a car? A car has NOTHING to do with this. Wow, just wow.

      • Damon Kirk

        It is an audiophile device. This isn’t for folks who want to listen in their car. It is for people with 20 grand in a hi if set up. Not saying it will be successful, but frankly if you are complaining that your phone can do all of this you are not the target demographic. Same reason it doesn’t come with headphones. I know folks that drop serious cash on headphones and I am not talking 400 bucks for some Beats.

        • Paul McGuire

          I really have no idea who the target demographic is. But I am not the one who made the decision to stop making standalone mp3 players. The market seems to have made that decision on its own in favor of phones. I still use my Zune, not my phone, but only until that dies which is probably going to be soon. Paying $250 for a replacement doesn’t seem like a good prospect at that point, thus the Windows Phone to replace it.

    • Joshua Hill

      Antennas cause interference. This is aimed at audiophiles so antennas are a big no-no. Think you completely missed the point. Rightly or wrongly audiophiles claim they can hear subtle differences in sound.

      • RanRu

        Do WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC antennas not create interference? Are they easier to shield? Is there no way to shield radio antennas so as not to create interference? I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t mean to say that this needs to have phone capabilities, but for the price they’re asking, one would expect more.

        If Sony truly took this product seriously, I think the least they could do would be to include the latest version of Android, especially considering they already have their own version 4.4.4 for their phones.

    • Lou

      a phone? You are comparing apples with oranges. This is not meant for you, who is content with the quality of the music coming out of your smartphone. This is high-end quality; sort of like, the Ferrari of music if you will. It’s made for a specific target audience. Just because you wouldn’t spend the money and/or don’t understand what sound quality means, you shouldn’t call it “stupidest thing I’ve ever see”. That’s like saying “Why waste money with Photoshop when I can use Paint for free”.

      • wtfawkes

        Except the difference between the two analogies is not the same. The advantage PS has over paint is far more clear than this Sony device over an android phone (for most people anyway)

        • Raghav Jindal

          for mst people. yeah. but that was lou’s point. its not meant for most people, just like photoshop isnt. the number of people who know what exactly are the benifits of photoshop over paint are far more than people who know what this thing’s advantages are over a phone but that doesnt mean that the ones who buy this are stupid. this thing is an high end audio player. people who buy this are same as people who bu 600$ amps and similarly priced sound cards. for them if this gives a similar performance on the go, it is worth it

        • WTF

          It all depends on how much you are willing to pay for an incremental increase in the quality of the music and how much you value that.

          It does not seem like it is made for the mass market and will stay a niche product. Perhaps it is also designed to be one!

      • Paul McGuire

        Except now there are no more mass market stand-alone music players that don’t do other things. It isn’t something you have a choice of buying. The phones are the other option. Zunes are dead, iPod Classic is dead, etc etc.

        • Arthur Rimbaud

          the sony zx-2 isn’t made for the masses, though yes there are still plenty of portable stand alone music players for people who actually appreciate music and want great sound quality . these DAP’s (digital audio players) are sold by everyone from sony to hifiman, ibasso, sansa, fiio, cowon etc etc etc – and for the record, only lames own or owned ipods or zunes, those fad gadgets for sheep.

          • Paul McGuire

            Well when I bought the Zune it was a simple comparison between the interface on the iPod and the Zune and I preferred how they did the menus on the Zune. Had nothing to do with marketing or any of that. I’d be more sorry if I actually had a sansa, fiio, or cowoon, which at the time were all clunky as hell. Thankfully the repurposed Windows Phone I got for cheap and expanded with a 64gb micro SD seems to be a good replacement for the Zune.

    • vinamr

      Phones can’t deliver the audio quality a walkman can give.Even my 3 yr old walkman is 100% times better than my phone(Z2) when it comes to audio quality. U can distinguish it so easily

      • Airyl

        Vivo Xplay 3S ftw.

        • Emir Zarith

          nope

          • Airyl

            Yup.

  • veritas_ad_infinitum

    Here I thought Sony was being proactive filling a gap the iPod classic left when Apple discontinued it. No iOS 8 on classics to upsell the app store, right? Chance for Sony to capitalize on greedy apple, non? The $1200, TWELVE FRIGGIN HUNDRED, price tag took apple’s greed and threw an oil tanker, hydrogen blimp, AND 1 million cans of gasoline in top.

    DOA. Say hello to the Zune when Sony releases this price abortion.

  • PhonecardMike

    I was looking for something to replace the ipod classic, but unless they drop a zero, $1200 is ridiculous. There are superior choices out there for 25% the price tag and excellent choices for 15% of this price tag.

    • Albert Maguffin

      I’ve had a current Walkman for 4-5 years and it’s great – obviously this new one is a big step up, but the standard would is as good as an IPOD classic (except for the capacity of course)

    • Arthur Rimbaud

      this is NOT an ipod replacement people wake the fuck up,go buy the Sony A17 it’s only $298 supports hi res and can hold 192gb of music,jesus fuck the masses are shallow.

      • PhonecardMike

        Thanks for the tip, I am looking into it right. If Sony has software that interfaces / syncs with iTunes (and other 3d party music players), it could be a winner. If it’s proprietary,then it will remain a niche product.

        Based on your reply, I am guessing you don’t have many friends.

        Thanks again.

  • $1200? Why on earth would someone buy this?

  • Matti M

    LOL 1.2k…. omg… so expensive. Should cost 80-400. 400 at maximum

  • Xavier Bertrand

    This gotta be the most stupidest Sony creation ever :S (I`m usually a Sony fan)

  • crutchcorn

    FUCK YES

  • Kaiser Phemi

    Don’t know what they’re smoking at Sony but it’s fucking working. $1,200 for an audio player? Besides, my old Nexus 4 can pretty much do everything this thing can and it’s got Lollipop. Just kill yourself right now Sony!!!

  • Kanoosh

    FINALLY , the zune can have some company. ;)

  • basejumpbr

    Smartphones can do the work…why carry 2 devices???

  • Faisal Saleh

    You can’t just say superb audio quality and sell a 1200$ walkman without headphones, just no… 128gb has been done before and it’s just stupid…

  • $1200 o.O

  • Joshua Hill

    How about people won’t buy this because they already own one, their smartphone basically has the same functionality.

    $1200 is cheap for audiophiles.

    I do agree this will be a complete flop I just think the reasons stated in the article are wide of the mark.

  • shashank

    No wonder they are down by $1.2 billion net market value…thanks to such stupid ideas. $200 dollars and this would’ve took the market by storm. I am sure it manages to come just, barely near to my Nokia N91 in terms of audio quality.

  • anmobi

    I bet the quality is superb. Well I am a fan of SONY, they make great products but sometimes they are not careful enough what the costumer wants I really want they to gain back the market and get profits. I still can understand if they sold this with 500 – 600 USD mark, but for 1200? hmmm lets see what actually this audiophile gadget sounds like.

  • Uncle Jack

    The only way to enjoy this is with ~$500 Senheissers. Makin it closer to $2k

    • Lea

      Totally agree with you… I have ie8 for on the go and HD 800 at home.

      People who are complaining are not the ones who Sony are marketing this for. I’d have to see the specs, and a test run… but I’d buy it.

  • dannybuoy

    I guess sometimes companies should be commended for pushing things forward. Give it a few years and this kind of tech will be more accessible to everyone. Without taking risks, technology doesn’t move on as fast huh

  • Baek100

    Samsung Note, LG G flex is much better. Sony walkman days is over……………………. that was ( 1970 generation).

    • daniel kudo

      Pathetic korean

  • Gabriel Belmonte

    Nice, actually I need a music player like this one. I dont feel comfortable hooking my phone with my Solo 7c to listen to music alltime in my room, because listening music is not the main thing I do with my phone. Probably its not for all, but its for me at least ….

  • Jervis Dabreo

    Sony has gone mad…completely mad!

  • Rob Main

    I admit I am a shameless Sony fanboy. What people are overlooking is the fact that Sony put all their efforts into sound reproduction, their devices have always sounded better than the generic ‘fashionable’ devices to be seen with. The technology used to produce this device will be the best available. BUT $1200. They have gone too far. Its ridiculous. And if you do buy one please do not pair it with ‘beats’ headphones. Keep your trendy headphones for your trendy ipods.

  • Wayne

    $1200??? I guess that would pale in comparison if Apple were ever to release a similar device and then it would probably only work with those Beats things that fail miserably at impersonating headphones.

  • rollz

    24BIT 192Khz DSD files is all i can say when i see the 1000+ price NO phone or other player can play such high quality music files. you either get the whole HD music or u dont. and not selling with headphones makes sense as sony are expecting the audiophiles who buy this to already have there fav 500+ headphones to take advance of the DAC and amps inside this. thank you sony. you and pono are only companies out there who care about REAL music quality.

  • hatersgonnahate

    Can anyone remember Google Glass the other ridiculously priced product that failed.. ?

    • Cole Raney

      It has not made a major consumer release. Basically you were paying $1200 to beta test.

  • mi

    This is not for most of the people commented here, this is for whom has a lot of money and want to invest on music, just like people who spent thousand of dollars on speakers and amplifier.. Its not stupid if its not for you..

  • suprafly

    for $1200 bucks you can buy a bookshelf audio sound system or a nice 4k tv instead. What a rip off and over price flop device just like there phone business is doing so well either.

  • Ed

    Let’s just wait for Ebay to start selling these devices, cheapest will probably start at $2500

  • Densmac

    Perfect…..except for the pricing

  • 1200$ wow overrated

  • Dawid Poleszczuk

    i still have old walkman nwz-b135f mp3 player from sony and it still beats all smartphones if it comes to sound quality. not to mention bass boost, because its incredible on this player.

  • paulf1

    Wow some major opinions on here about having one device for everything or 2 one for everything and the other for music, me I’m with the one device for everything and I do have notifications turned for most things but you guys answered that with “when I’m listening to music I don’t want to be disturbed” so do what I do and use that button with a plane next to it simple no more disturbances! But surely the biggest problem with the new Walkman is the price and no headphones come on Sony..

  • Roberto Tomás

    this is sony’s walkman going the same way that gucci or (a long, long time ago) mercedez benz went .. it is now clearly targetting luxury and selling on its brand name.

  • Person

    I think of better ways to spend $1200 than on a music device that may get some use, while in the car. Seriously, I can save so much more money by buying Apple’s I pod Touch, and still save $955. This is just ridiculous!

  • rritambhar

    total waste…but wait,the number of rich a$$ kids these days are too damn high !!

  • Mike

    This is clearly a niche audiophile device for people who want all their music with them. It is not trying to compete with smartphones or even basic MP3 players.

  • flognarde

    If this player was a phone, it could have made sens !!

  • Ådəəl Åhmåd

    even if it would have cost $120 , i’d still prefer iPoD touch. cuz Man ! iPod is “The Music Player”. nice try sony , but you lost your place in portable music player industry long ago with the advent of iPod…

  • FreakBug

    Ridiculous ! ! !

  • Alvester Garnett

    This thing has me salivating already. I have Sony’s XSPN1BT Smartphone Cradle C Receiver in my car and it sounds amazing. Those DSEE and CIAudio+ features common to both this and my car radio really work to restore the upper and midrange harmonics that the mp3 format tends to most noticeably destroy.

    The fact that this walkman’s DAC can even handle DSD and 192kHz/24bit files means I won’t have to transcode any of my HDTracks and Music Direct downloads if I want to take them on the road with me which is a major plus. For this price I’m certain this thing will have to have excellent OP amps on it’s headphone section too, otherwise the folks it’s catering to will be ticked.

    If it sounds anything like Sony’s HAP-Z1ES, which spec wise this seems to be based off of, this thing will be an absolute hit with audiophile headphone lovers. I have the HAP-Z1ES and it’s one of the most musical pieces of digital equipment I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing music through. It’s as close as I’ve ever gotten to what I’ve heard at the mixing and mastering sessions of various records I’ve performed on.

    I have a set of Sennheiser HD 598’s that I’d love to hear on this thing. These headphones, as great as the sound with a high quality headphone amp, sound a bit lifeless relatively speaking on the mobile phones I’ve tried them with. Surprisingly enough they sound much better with an old Lenovo laptop than either my Nexus 4, 6, or 7. This new unit of Sony’s is designed for higher-end cans that need a stronger headphone amp than any smartphone or tablet can handle.

    What I always find strange is that even the general public will gladly plop down thousands of dollars on a fancy TV set (notice how many are being sold at any Costco, Best Buy, etc. on any given day) but usually if it comes to valuing high end sound a great many folks will say stuff like “that’s crazy” or “are you kidding me”? Maybe it’s because music programs have largely disappeared from most American schools and so few people actually have the chance to hear what an unplugged acoustic instrument even sounds like anymore?

    The past few years or so with more and more high end headphones being sold, the market for high end portables is exploding and you can see that from the likes of HiFi Man, Fiio, CEntrance, NuForce and other audiophile headphone amp/DAC combo makers that Sony wants to get in on the party while upping the ante and adding in the Walkman storage and playback functions to create a high end all-in-one. That’s why I’m actually happy to see a larger name manufacturer like a Sony offering a device like this for folks that really value and appreciate hearing their music at the highest bit rates and best quality possible. Stick at it Sony! The market for this might be small but it is definitely growing!

  • Jose Torres

    I implanted a a 128gb micro SD card in my old Motorola Atrix and it does the same exact thing for 1/20th of the price.