Sony Unveils $1,100 Digital Walkman

New device promises high-quality audio playback "just as the artists originally intended"

The new Walkman at the International CES Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, in Las Vegas. Credit: AP/Jae C. Hong

Sony reintroduced their classic Walkman as a high-resolution audio device, the NW-ZX2 Walkman, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Wondering Sound reports. The new device is slated to hit shelves in the spring and will retail for a whopping $1,119.99.

Arriving over 35 years after the initial Walkman — which brought listeners the finest in portable cassette tape technology — Sony says their new device "can reproduce master quality recordings just as the artists originally intended." The NW-ZX2 reportedly utilizes a special digital amplifier, which can cut down distortion and noise for a cleaner sound; while it also boasts so-called DSEE HX technology, which bumps up the sound quality of streaming sources that are not high-res.

The NW-ZX2 features 128GB of memory — and can be expanded to 256GB — and a battery that's expected to last up to 60 hours. It's also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible, so it can wirelessly broadcast to various devices, plus a number of new Sony speakers and headphones that also promise high audio quality (Sony also plans to release "the first car audio head unit that is compatible with high-resolution audio formats" this summer). As Gizmodo points out, however, the NW-ZX2 touch screen runs on a version of the Android operating system that's already two years old.

Sony enters an increasingly crowded market for high-end listening devices, as those craving high-res audio can pre-order Neil Young's PonoPlayer for $399 (the device is expected to ship in February). Young officially introduced Pono last year after spending several years developing and trademarking his high-definition alternative to MP3's. The rocker even launched a successful, star-studded Kickstarter campaign that raised over $6 million for the project.

During a chat with Rolling Stone, Young said his primary hope for Pono wasn't that it would sell the most units, but that it would help reintroduce listeners to high-quality audio. "Success is more people finding out about good-sounding music and music choice," Young said. "Whether it's Pono or some other company that decides to do the same thing and beats us because they've got millions and millions of dollars to work with — but we're first."