Sure, your phone plays music, but does it play music? goodAudiophile-prone folks might want to take a look at Sony’s latest portable music players, the Walkman NW-ZX707 (above) and NW-A306.? The product naming is pretty vague and the feature set is perhaps a bit arcane. It features FTCAP3 polymer capacitors, gold reflow solder, and other seemingly insignificant features that will have audiophiles salivating. These Android-powered music players aren’t cheap either, but they can be worse.
The Walkman NW-A306 (bottom) is the cheaper of the two devices, but that’s a relative term. The NW-A306 still sells for $350 and is very small by today’s standards, with a 3.6 inch 720p LCD. However, it manages a lot in a small package. It features a rigid aluminum frame, gold brazing and fine sound registers. According to Sony, the device features a new S-Master HX digital amplifier designed exclusively for the Walkman to produce “full-bodied sound.” From FLAC to DSD, you can play Hi-Res audio in almost any format imaginable.
The NW-ZX707 features the same S-Master HX digital amplifier technology as the cheaper Walkman, but it represents a giant step forward in audiophile pretentiousness. This $900 music player has his high-quality FTCAP3 capacitors and an oxygen-free copper shaving block over the digital circuitry for better shielding. Sony claims that the improved hardware enables the NW-ZX707’s excellent sound reproduction, which can be enjoyed through his standard 3.5mm jack or his balanced 4.4mm jack. I’m here. The device is slightly larger with a 5-inch 720p LCD.
Both devices have the same blocky Walkman aesthetic, with a physical play button on one side. Very different. The NW-A306 runs for over 30 hours playing MP3 and FLAC files, but his DSD content at its highest quality can wear out in just 14 hours. The NW-ZX707 doesn’t last that long, with most music lasting about 24 or 25 hours, but his DSD music, super-quality via the balance jack, drains the battery in just 11 hours.
These devices run Android 12 with all the usual Google apps and services. So you can download a streaming music app (or whatever else you want) if you don’t want the intrinsic quality boost of local playback. However, spending $900 on a dedicated music player to stream Spotify seems like a potential waste. NW-ZX707 and NW-A306 devices are available from Sony’s online store or Amazon (NW-ZX707, NW-A306). However, the more expensive NW-ZX707 currently shows a 1-2 month wait.