Sony offers audio products for high-end consumers

Sony's NW-WM1Z Walkman (left) and MDR-Z1R headphones, part of its new line of products dedicated to high-resolution audio.
Sony's NW-WM1Z Walkman (left) and MDR-Z1R headphones, part of its new line of products dedicated to high-resolution audio.ST PHOTO: LESTER HIO

Consumer audio products were not neglected at IFA, with Japanese electronics firm Sony leading the charge in new products for both the audio fanatic and the mass consumer.

Both South Korean firm LG and Danish audio company Bang & Olufsen (B&O) also had speaker offerings for the mass market, ranging from portable Bluetooth speakers to stylish home speakers.

Sony's newest line of audio products dedicated to high-resolution audio, dubbed the Signature Series, is aimed at audiophiles and comprises a new Walkman, headphones and a headphone amplifier.

The new top-of-the-line Walkman comes in two variations: a gold-plated version, the NW-WM1Z, and one in aluminium, the NW-WM1A. Both support Direct Stream Digital, or DSD, one of the highest-resolution formats for audio. Both are also able to upscale non-high resolution formats to near high-res audio.

They are surprisingly hefty and a bit chunky. While they are technically portable devices, it is more likely that they will be used in home audio set-ups, functioning as a convenient repository of music.

Going along with the new Walkman are the MDR-Z1R closed-back headphones, which come with a huge 70mm high-definition driver which allows it to support hi-res audio and reproduce frequencies of up to 120kHz.

Bridging the gap between the player and headphones is the TA-ZH1ES amplifier, which provides an additional boost to music playback. Set up in this fashion, music is crystal clear, precise and atmospheric.

But such a set-up doesn't come cheap - the NW-WM1Z costs US$3,199 (S$4,340), with the NW-WM1A priced at US$1,199. The headphones and amplifier each cost US$2,199. Local prices are currently unavailable.

The Walkman and headphones will be available from next month, with the amplifier slated for release at end-November.

Sony also unveiled its latest noise-cancelling headphones, the MDR-1000X, which should be available here next month. They come in two colours, black and grey, and are priced at US$399, with local pricing yet to be announced.

The headphones feature a "Quick Attention" feature which lets in outside noise when the user cups the right earcup, letting him have conversations without taking the headphones off.

Those who want to share their music can look to LG's latest line of portable Bluetooth speakers, the PH series, with four models numbered PH1 to PH4. Each has its own distinctive design. The PH1 and PH3, for instance, come with light fixtures that can be used as night lights, while the PH2 and PH4 are meant to be portable, outdoor speakers that fit easily in a bag.

For something that's more of a statement piece in the house, B&O's BeoSound 1 and BeoSound 2 speakers fit the bill. Both are cylindrical, cone-like speakers that project music in 360 degrees, coming in sleek, cool colours like industrial grey or tones of red and green.

Lester Hio

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'Sony offers audio products for high-end consumers'. Subscribe