Sony's Walkman gets resurrected as a high-res audio player

Shawn Knight

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Dedicated MP3 players were displaced by smartphones years ago (just ask Apple). But now, the nearly-extinct devices are starting to make a comeback - at least among those who put audio quality above all else.

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Well I'm no audiophile (is there really such a thing?) so trying to foist such a product in my face is a waste of time.


Sure phones can do it all. But most things are better when seperate and not integrated into something else. People do like the lack of wires, connecting pieces or the bulk of multiple items. But frankly, if I want to tear about on my bike or go jogging, I would rather something smaller in my pocket than my phone. I would rather it was a lot cheaper than my phone too, in case of an accident, or theft from in car use, and someone lucks their way into finding said device in my glove box.

There will always be a place for seperates but it depends who your market is and what price your going to punt for.

Ideally, we need wifi headsets that connect to pc music libraries. Usb connect, set up wifi network, go out, jog out of range to be saved by Google Airlooms (whatever those wifi balloons are called).
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No smartphone sounds as good as my Sony Walkman Series X (w/integrated noise canceling)
-it has DEDICATED BUTTONS, I can play/pause, ff, rwd, and control volume without taking it off my pocket, amazing for everyday trips on the subway and public transportation
-I dont wear down my phone battery
-sometimes I like to go jogging without the distraction of my phone but with music


Music is compressed to the teeth these days so whatever gain one might get from the higher resolution of 24 bit is nullified by the music makers trying to get as loud a signal as possible. There is no dynamic range in music these days. That means there is very little difference between the loudest and softest sounds. The difference between loud and soft is where having a 24 bit signal would make a difference. Instead music production engineers compress the living daylights out of the signal producing very little dynamic range. Nearly a hundred percent of individual tracks in a mix are going to have compression. Then there's likely to be compression in effects chains. And there's definitely compression on the master output. What this all means is that even if you have a higher resolution signal, you're only really going to hear sh*ttier music slightly better.

Fools will pay 700 dollars for a music player then listen to it through ear buds or beats headphones.


You're correct about much that you've observed, but there are sources for digitally downloaded music that's been taken from masters that haven't been murdered by record label audio engineers; HD Tracks, among others. Neil Young's Pono Player is just part of the equation, as he's also committing to back an on-line store where expertly engineered high resolution audio from unadulterated master recordings can be purchased.

Most of large label product that's released in mp3 or other formats have been dynamically compressed to retain an almost consistent volume level throughout any given track. These files have also been compressed in ways that actually remove much of both the highest & the lowest tonal range, in order to achieve the smallest possible sized file.

Stores like Pono, HD Tracks & the others available can hope to address the source file engineering issues, but that then leaves the matter of the other components; a player technically capable of rendering high resolution, technically capable DACs & AMPs if they're not integrated with the player, & of course the headphones, IEMs or speakers the music is presented on.

Across all components there's the opportunity to claim excellence & then collect exorbitant profit from sub standard product; Beats headphones have been notorious as little more than obscenely high priced fashion/lifestyle statements, though more recent reviews report some improvement in both sound quality & in whats been their ridiculously cheesy brittle plastic construction.

As always, YMMV & Buyer Beware. But, if you're interested, take your time, do lot's of research & LISTEN to stuff to determine if it's worth the expense.


yep. two of the greatest words that can be put together when it comes to digital media.
Actually yes. FLAC, ALAC, & other high resolution formats are frequently compressed to reduce individual track file size. Expert engineering properly executed will always avoid any dynamic compression from within the audible frequency range, plus a measure of frequency range to ensure a margin of error "cushion".
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