Smart new Sony Walkman plays high-res music for longer, but there’s a catch…

Sony NW-A300 Walkman alongside a pair of headphones and cup of coffee

If you use your smartphone for music playback, you’re probably not enjoying the highest of fi. Perhaps it’s time for a portable music upgrade?

Helpfully, Sony has just announced a slick new Walkman, the NW-A306. Milled from premium aluminium, this new Wi-Fi music player is compact and light at 113 grams, and high performance music playback is the name of the game. 

It looks every inch the premium DAP, and the price tag is surprisingly affordable.

The Android-based NW-A306 Walkman features S-Master HX digital amp technology, and has native DSD format support along with all the other, more familiar codecs, for crisp, high-res audio. Control comes via a 9.1cm touch screen, as well as tactile physical music controls.

The player also boasts refinements first seen on the Signature Walkman flagship, including reflow solder containing gold, said to improve sound localisation and spatial imaging.

Milled from premium aluminium, the new NW-A306 Wi-Fi music player is compact and light…

The NW-A306 also uses Edge-AI (Artificial Intelligence) with DSEE Ultimate (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine), to upscale compressed digital music files to near CD quality. 

DSEE Ultimate processing works with both Wi-Fi streamed music or downloaded files, and can be appreciated with wireless headphones. For those that prefer a wired connection, the player has a 3.5mm jack.

Battery life has been improved over previous Walkmans, and now offers up to 36 hours of 44.1kHz Flac playback, up to 32 hours of 96kHz FLAC high resolution audio playback and up to 26 hours when streaming. The player takes 3.5 hours to recharge, using USB-C.

The catch is storage space. The NW-A306 has just 18GB of usable memory, which is certain to fill up fast. You’ll almost certainly need to take advantage of the Walkman’s MicroSD card slot.

The NW-A306 launches across Europe this month, priced at £350 (€400).

How the Walkman changed pop culture forever

The original Sony Walkman was introduced in 1979. This iconic portable cassette player was invented by Sony engineer Nobutoshi Kihara, dubbed Mr Walkman at the time, with the goal of allowing people to listen to music on the go. Prior to the Walkman, portable music listening options were limited to transistor radios or bulky tape players. 

Sony co-founder Akio Morita championed the project, despite initial scepticism from other Sony executives.

The idea of carrying your favourite music around with you was revolutionary at the time. The Walkman quickly became a cultural phenomenon, with the name becoming a generic handle for any portable cassette player. By the time it was discontinued in 2010, over 200 million Walkman units had been sold worldwide.

The Walkman proved a pivotal product for the music industry and popular culture, and ultimately paved the way for a new generation of portable music devices led by the Apple iPod.

Sony re-launched the Walkman brand in 2015, as a digital music player with high-resolution audio capabilities, aimed at audiophiles seeking a portable device able to play high-quality audio files.

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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