It’s been a long time since Sony first announced the successor to its famous gold Walkman, the WM1Z, more than 10 months in fact. Yet it seems the new WM1ZM2 (M2 for short), much like its name, has had a bizarre start to life.
Very few retail units have made it out of Japan and into Western hands so far, and those that have – especially to Europe – have the added burden of being volume capped, making them far less attractive to many hobbyists (more on that later).
And so it was by pure luck, and the generosity of my friend Doug Campbell (who managed to secure his own M2 direct from Japan), that I finally had a chance to lay hands and ears on this beautiful piece of modern engineering. If nothing else, I desperately wanted to answer the question so many people have been asking: is the M2 worth the asking price, and worth the upgrade for current WM1Z (M1) owners?
As such, this won’t be a full in-depth review, but rather an overview of the M2, focusing specifically on what’s new and different, and hopefully giving you enough information to decide for yourselves whether or not, looks aside, this is a premium music player you need in your life – especially if you already own the M1.
Spot the differences
I’m going to assume, if you’re reading this article, that you know a thing or two about digital music players, and have at least some knowledge of Sony’s Signature Series Walkmans. Please forgive me if I don’t start off by going back in time to Sony’s first cassette player Walkmans, tracing their evolution to digital musical players through the years; there’s plenty of that elsewhere.
Let’s get down to brass tacks: Sony’s M2 is indeed an evolution of the M1, which itself was the first music player in Sony’s flagship range of high-end portable audio devices. M1 was in fact one of two new Signature Series players back in 2016 (the more economical WM1A being the other), while M2 is now the sole new-generation Signature Series player, the WM1AM2 no longer considered to be part of the elite (by Sony’s marketing department anyway).
The most fundamental difference between M1 and M2 is not hardware, however, it’s software. M2 features an open-Android software platform, bringing the Signature Series Walkman kicking and screaming into the Internet streaming era, with all the obvious benefits and pitfalls this entails. But more on that later; let’s take a look at physical differences first.
Continue to external differences…