Sometimes we get offered things to review that we don’t really know what to do with. Sony’s NW-ZX100, or Walkman with High-Resolution Audio, is one such device. It’s not an Android device, it’s not a phone, so after some head-scratching, we figured out it was.

What is this?

The Walkman name kind of gives the game away; this device is a music player, not unlike an iPod which you might be familiar with, but unlike an iPod, it’s made by Sony, offers High Resolution Audio, and it doesn’t have a touchscreen.

What it does have, though, is the ability to store a lot of high quality music, and to play it back in a way that might leave you a little lost for words. With 128GB of storage, you can fit quite a bit of music on-board, and that’s ideal if you’re a real audiophile with a like for FLAC audio, or ultra-high resolution waveform audio.

I don’t actually have much audio like this; I’m a relative simpleton, and I listen to music downloaded or streamed from Google Play Music most of the time. However, I do have some high res audio to try out, which I scored with BT’s Electronic Opus — the EO album in FLAC format (where each track is around 120mb), and the same album in 24bit 96khz WAV, where the file size is closer to 150mb to 200mb per track.

That’s an awful lot of data for songs which average four to five minutes in length, and the difference is in the audio quality; it is simply superb.

The Walkman with High Resolution Audio is the perfect partner to audio of such quality; paired with compatible headphones (Sony’s H.Ear On Wireless NC headphones do the trick) you get deliciously enjoyable audio quality, zero hiss, no clicks or pops, and just velvety smooth music.

I can’t think of any other way to describe it other than purely sublime.

If your music library isn’t of such calibre (and let’s face it, it probably isn’t), Sony’s High Res Walkman can help you out, with advanced technologies to artificially increase the quality of your audio so you can enjoy it in a near-high-res format:

  • DSEE HX upscales your music to near-high-res quality.
  • S-Master HX is a digital amplifier to cut distortion and noise across a wide range of frequencies
  • DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is a lossless audio codec employed on board

Added bonuses are the option to use a MicroSD card to double the storage to 256GB, a huge battery offering 70 hours (or almost three full days) of playback time, which is possible because this is a dedicated audio player, not a phone. Many popular audio formats are supported, including WAV and MP3, AAC and WMA, as well as high quality audio formats like FLAC, ALAC, HE-AAC and AIFF.

What isn’t this?

Unless you have particularly high audio tastes, this probably isn’t the device for you. It’s rather dear (retailing at $799) for a music player, and most of you will probably be quite happy (or very happy) with the audio capabilities built into the phone you already have.

The Sony High Res Walkman is another thing to carry around with you, and while it isn’t especially bulky (think the early aluminium iPod mini), if you want to take it with you, you’ve got to carry it someplace.

Really, we’re looking for negatives here, because there really aren’t any besides the cost. If you really want to take high-resolution audio on the go with you, there simply aren’t many alternatives. Sony’s current mobile range can take you there, and some other handsets on the market do support high res audio too (with appropriate headphones), but certainly not all.

Probably the only negative is that this is a device most of you won’t need, but if you do, it’s brilliant and simple. The interface is easy to navigate with the buttons (I didn’t need to read the manual), and copying music is as simple as plugging it into your computer (where it appears as a USB drive) and you can just drop your music onto it.


Sony’s NW-ZX100 (or High Resolution Walkman) is a brilliant music player for those who demand nothing but the highest audio quality on the go.

For everyone else, you’ll probably want to stick with your mobile or existing audio player, because let’s face it, $800 to take high quality music with you on the go is probably a luxury few need or can afford.

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I remain a big fan of single use devices. Smart phones are great, and I’d never want to go back to a feature phone, but there is still a place for a dedicated device that excels at doing one thing. Also, when I’m travelling using a dedicated MP3 player means my phone still has a full battery when I get to my destination.

I keep looking for a replacement for my iPod, but for $799 my iPod still works, and I can play Bejewlled on it when I get really bored.

Phill Edwards

Presumably you also need to shell out on some top notch headphones too, in order to hear the diff. So it’s probably $1300 all up, would you say?