Sony is still on the way to resurrect the legendary Walkman brand and the Walkman ZX2 (also called NW-ZX2 or NWZ-ZX2) is their latest effort. I’m actually a fan of the series after I had the chance to review the first generation Walkman ZX1 just a few months ago.
The ZX2 was officially introduced at CES 2015 earlier this year, I was so excited with the launch that I visited the Sony booth as soon as I arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Although I’m not an audiophile, I really enjoy music gears, especially high-resolution digital music players. So what went wrong with the Walkman NW-ZX2 and why most audiophiles are not buy it? Here are the top 4 reasons hindering Walkman’s comeback.
1. Bad Design
Notice that this is just my own opinion. I was totally disappointed when I first got hands on the ZX2. It still has a solid build quality with aluminum body, leather-like textured back case, 4-inch screen and a thick headphone jack. It looks almost the same as the ZX1, unfortunately, it comes in a total black color and this is definitely a step backwards in terms of design. I love the design of ZX1 so much and I am using it simply because it looks stunning. On the other side, the ZX2 loses the attractive and unique design, now nobody will be aware that you are using an expensive high-end device.
2. No Improvement in Sound Quality?
I tested the Walkman ZX2 for around 20 minutes and also didn’t forget to bring my ZX1 to compare the difference in sound quality. I played some lossless tracks on both of the devices using the Sony MDR-Z7 headphones and I couldn’t realize any difference between the two digital players. They both seem to deliver a crisp and clear sound with great amount of details. Of course, the CES floor is the worst environment to test audio gears, but the headphones provide quite good noise isolation, and there was almost no significant improvement in sound quality. I will wait till I could spend more time with the ZX2 to have a more accurate conclusion.
3. Not a Portable Player
This is absolutely not a good choice if you plan to use it on the go. Sony hasn’t revealed any details about headphones impedance range of the ZX2 but as you can see in the video above, they had to use the Sony PHA-3 Headphone Amp to drive the average MDR-Z7 headphones. Therefore, you’d better prepare a few hundred bucks to get a decent headphone amp if you want to use the ZX2. Therefore, the setup becomes so bulky with the ZX2 itself, a headphone amp and a big pair of high-end headphones.
4. Super Expensive
The MSRP of the Walkman is $1,200, this is among the most expensive lossless music players on the market. I still remember its predecessor, the ZX1, was listed at more than $1,000 by this time last year, then its price has dropped very fast to just around $600 now. The ZX1 is still struggling to gain a bigger user base because there are a lot of high-quality players at just around $300-$400 like the FiiO X5. Therefore, I believe this is not a good time to buy the new ZX2. I might consider adding to my collection when it comes down to $550.
What is your thought about the new Walkman NW-ZX2? If you plan to buy it, how can you justify the $1,200 price tag?