The Sony Walkman Is Back And Better Than Ever

Hi-fidelity sound in a portable package

Sony Walkman

Photograph by Sam Kaplan

Portable music players are everywhere you turn: smartphones, tablets, iPods, and laptops. But to the true audiophile, it’s all junk. That’s because most play compressed sound files--great for jam-packing your hard drive with music, bad for sound quality. The new Sony Walkman ZX2 aims to fix that.

This portable hi-fi music player is a far cry from the original Walkman that launched a million mixtapes when it debuted in 1979. The ZX2 plays just about every file type on the planet, and when it's paired with a headphone amplifier, there aren't many products that can match it for quality and tone--even Neil Young's Pono Player.

If you’ve already committed your iTunes money to a monster digital collection, don’t start hitting the delete key. Sony’s DSEE HX technology upgrades those compressed files so that they sound like studio-quality high resolution. That means you can crank up the volume as loud as you want and never worry about distortion.

Specs

Memory capacity: 128 GB with expandable microSD slot

Playable formats: MP3, WMA, FLAC, WAV, and Apple Lossless among others

Battery life: 60 hours playing MP3s; 33 hours playing hi-res audio

Price: $1,200

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title "Return Of The Sony Walkman."