Can we decently offer a Walkman at almost 9,000 dollars? Only the very, very wealthy audiophiles will answer in the affirmative. The rest of the world will not understand the reason why Sony developed its DMP Z1. We were skeptical about the bulky (14 x 28 x 7 cm) and heavy (2.5 kg) H-shaped object we had in front of us. Especially since the gold-plated central button gives a decidedly blinged-out touch to the case.
And yet. As soon as we take the trouble to turn on the player, the precision and the quality of listening simply leaves us speechless. Whatever the musical genre listened to, from a classical opera to Michael Jackson’s Thriller through a vintage Daft Punk, the result is striking. It’s quite simple, you feel like you’re at the musicians’ side in the recording studio. To do this, you’ll need a pair of high-end headphones that can reproduce the finesse and complexity of the recordings, in addition to the indecent price of the player.
A nomadic hi-fi system
We tried to connect the Walkman as an audio transmitter on a classic hi-fi system. It’s quite simple, the living room amplifier greatly distorted the quality of the sound signal. So the Sony DMP Z1 Walkman is not really a device that you can move to take the subway. But it is a real hi-fi system that you can carry around more easily in its dedicated case.
The Japanese manufacturer has integrated two high performance DAC converters for each channel, as well as an analog amplifier (2 x 1.500 mW). All this with copper-plated circuit boards, shielded cables and capacitors with high capacities. The power supply system is independent, powered by a five-cell battery. The autonomy is about ten hours. It takes a few hours to recharge the battery once connected to the mains.
The DMP Z1 offers multiple playback options that range from the gimmicky (vinyl rendering simulation) to the very useful (reconstitution of lost frequencies). For example, the player is capable of rearranging a digital audio file into a 5.6 MHz audio stream. The player is also able to read almost all audio formats in very high definition.
Is it a good price?
The Sony Walkman is equipped with an internal hard drive of 256 GB and two slots for additional memory cards (micro SD, micro SDHC or micro SDXC). On the front, two headphone jacks are available (mini-jack and standard 4.4 mm). A USB-C connector allows you to quickly transfer files to the player. The DMP Z1 is also Bluetooth compatible. A touch screen on the top allows to navigate efficiently between the different menus. Small drawback: it marks easily the fingerprints.
In short, the Sony DMP Z1 Walkman delivers an outstanding listening performance… for a stratospheric price. This exceptional product is a proof of the knowledge of the Japanese manufacturer in the audio restitution of very high quality. It will remain simply a product for the fortunate few.