The previous generation of Sony’s flagship portable player series WM1 has won the favor of many audiophiles. The two players, commonly known as “black bricks” and “gold bricks”, also have very large audiences in their respective price ranges. And just this year, 6 years after the previous generation, Sony officially released the second generation of this series—— Sony NW-WM1AM2.
The Sony NW-WM1AM2 is priced at $1400, a slight increase in price compared to the first generation. However, for this flagship portable HiFi player market, everyone’s products seem to be able to easily break through the threshold of 10,000 CNY, and the price/performance ratio of the Sony NW-WM1AM2 is still good. As a second-generation product, compared to the first-generation product, it has actually made a lot of progress in terms of configuration, function and sound performance. So, what progress has this portable HiFi player made? This time I want to talk about it in detail “from the outside in”.
Screen upgrade, one-handed operation is smoother
First of all, in terms of appearance, this time the Sony NW-WM1AM2 uses a 5-inch 720p screen, which is 39% larger than the previous generation’s 4-inch screen. In addition to displaying more content, the NW-WM1AM2 is also smoother and more natural in the control experience. Of course, a larger screen also means a larger body size and weight. However, for such high-end player products, they generally do not have strong portability.
But the good thing is that the Sony NW-WM1AM2 uses a one-piece aluminum body and aluminum alloy back cover, the weight is well controlled, and it also has stronger rigidity (more durable). In daily operation, the weight of one-handed holding is not as obvious as that of the Sony NW-WM1A, which should be said to be a plus.
Another area of improvement is the button. In my opinion, the button layout or ergonomic design of the Sony NW-WM1AM2 is more reasonable this time. For example, on the right side of the fuselage, the power button is moved up, and only the volume and switch song buttons remain below. And the button is relatively large, which makes one-handed blind operation easier.
In addition, the shape of the left Hold key has also been changed, making the operation of the Hold key more comfortable. The TF card slot has also been moved to the left side of the player, which may have taken into account the current design ideas of smartphones, making the operation logic of the Sony NW-WM1AM2 more in line with today’s consumers’ usage habits.
In terms of interfaces, the Sony NW-WM1AM2 is equipped with a 4.4mm balanced port and a 3.5mm single port at the top of the fuselage, and the mainstream type-C interface is replaced at the bottom of the fuselage. In addition, this time, the interface of Sony NW-WM1AM2 has been upgraded from the previous generation USB 2.0 to the latest USB 3.2 Gen1, which not only makes the charging speed of the device faster, but also makes data transmission faster, finally catching up with the current mainstream listening Sound environment configuration.
Luxurious configuration in exchange for a more stable power supply system and sound quality
For music players, the operating system is the key to the user experience, just like mobile phones. The Sony NW-WM1AM2 is powered by the Android 11.0 operating system this time, and supports a variety of mainstream streaming media playback software to further meet the needs of audiophiles to listen to high-quality music on streaming media.
In addition, the Walkman music APP built into the player system, in addition to playing local high-resolution music files, is also suitable for third-party streaming media services. It should be said that all of the above are obvious improvements compared to the Sony NW-WM1A, the operation is easier to use, and third-party music apps are no longer limited.
In terms of battery life, because the size of the Sony NW-WM1AM2 has become larger, the corresponding battery capacity has also increased. Local playback time can be up to 40 hours (stream media is about 20 hours), and automatic shutdown can also effectively reduce battery consumption. Therefore, in terms of battery life and control power consumption, the Sony NW-WM1AM2 can be said to be an outstanding existence in this type of Android system player.
In fact, this time, the more important upgrade of Sony NW-WM1AM2 is inside, so before talking about the sense of hearing, I think it is necessary to talk about its hardware upgrade. You know, the ultimate purpose of hardware upgrades in high-end audio players is to improve sound quality. For example, this time, the Sony NW-WM1AM2 has improved the sound by upgrading the entire power supply system. The specific performance is: the power supply of the amplifier circuit is upgraded to the polymer capacitor FT CAP3. The auxiliary power supply is equipped with 8mm large solid polymer capacitors to stabilize the voltage and improve the signal stability, showing a more majestic dynamic range and a wider sense of space.
In addition, Sony NW-WM1AM2 adopts a separate power supply design for digital modules and analog modules, and uses oxygen-free copper as a wire material to reduce resistance, improve high-frequency transparency and low-frequency output power performance.
Reference equipment introduction:
For a product positioning the flagship series, excellent headphones and sound sources are of course very important reference standards. First of all, in terms of audio sources, thanks to the Android 11.0 open architecture on the Sony NW-WM1AM2, I installed two lossless streaming media platforms, Apple Music and Qobuz. These are also the two streaming platforms I use the most every day, as a reference source.
In the selection of large headphones and small earbuds, I mainly chose a few devices that are used the longest in daily life as a reference. For earbuds, two products, qdc VX custom model and Softears Turii Ti, were selected as audition reference. For the big headphones, Sennheiser HD25 and Beyerdynamic DT700 PRO X were chosen as reference. The default plugs all use 4.4mm balanced jacks, because the Beyerdynamic DT700 PRO X does not have a balanced cable, so a 3.5mm single-ended jack is used.
The above four headphones can be said to represent armature earbuds, dynamic earbuds, small-size dynamic headphones and full-size dynamic headphones, which can better reveal the driving force and control of the product. In terms of song selection, I still tend to focus on classical music that I listen to every day, with a small amount of pop music at the same time. The audition albums are mainly some of the classical music albums that I listen to the most every day, mainly composed of major arrangements, concertos and piano sonatas. Next, let’s talk about the listening performance of Sony NW-WM1AM2 in detail.
Steady progress in the sense of hearing performance
Sony’s audio products, especially in the high-end and flagship product lines, have always had very good sound completion and style consistency, and such sound characteristics have continued on the Sony NW-WM1AM2. The sound style of the Sony NW-WM1AM2 is different from that of the Sony NW-WM1ZM2, which has always been a “delicate and warm” line. The sound style of the former is more powerful and the music performance is more dynamic. For pop music and small-scale repertoire, there will be an extra sense of “addition”. For large-scale repertoires and concertos, it still has obvious sound characteristics and comprehensive hard quality performance. The details of the sound are excellent, and the natural and accurate sound field and sense of positioning continue to maintain Sony’s consistent high level.
Thanks to the upgrade of the new hardware-level configuration, the Sony NW-WM1AM2 also makes up for some of the regrets of the previous generation in terms of sound performance. The speed and dynamic performance of the sound have also been significantly improved. For classical music and large-scale songs, the dynamic and high-energy parts have obviously been “speeded up”, the sound is not procrastinated, and has a better dynamic response.
In addition, in the playback settings of the Sony NW-WM1AM2, I turned on the “DSEE Ultimate”, “DC Phase Linearizer” and “DSD Mastering Reset” options (specific preferences vary from person to person). During the switching process, I found that there was a corresponding improvement in the dynamic performance, low-frequency texture, moistness and durability of the vocals.
In terms of driving ability, the Sony player maintains the style that has always been refined but has a certain degree of control. The sound of the Sony NW-WM1AM2 is delicate and gentle, and it has enough driving ability for both armature earbuds and dynamic earbuds. Small dynamic headphones like Sennheiser HD25 can also get very good driving effects. And for a product like the Beyerdynamic DT700 PRO X, it seems a bit to run short of ways in dealing with the situation. However, as a portable music player, the performance of driving full-size dynamic headphones, although not at the level of desktop amplifiers, is still above a “usable” level. And thanks to the high information content of the device itself, you can still feel the excellent sound and basic quality of the big headphones.
For a flagship series audio player priced at $1400, the upgrade and progress of Sony NW-WM1AM2 this time should be obvious. For a traditional brand audio manufacturer, Sony has always been exploring portable music playback devices in the new era, and the new series of products has undoubtedly brought the Wlakman brand to a new level.