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Sony WM1ZM2: Long live the King? 

Closing thoughts 

Putting the big differences in software platform aside, Sony’s WM1ZM2 is a natural evolution of the M1. But it also takes its predecessor’s sound profile in a slightly different direction, making it lighter, tighter, faster and consequently less organic and visceral. It’s the bad boy cleaned up and ready to get serious, but with the same flashy smile and dashing good looks from the night before.

Sonically, is it an upgrade over the original? Based purely on technical performance, I have to say yes, but be warned that if you loved the liquid sound of the original, you might not find quite the same level of musical engagement in its replacement. 

Still, if you want that cleaner, more refined presentation, complete with the technical chops that Sony consistently delivers in its flagship products, and use IEMs that can make the most of the performance improvements, M2 is probably the better buy even at today’s prices. Whether or not that’s still the case when you compare M2 to other leading Android-based flagships, like Astell & Kerns SP3000, HiBy’s RS8 or Cayin’s N8ii, is another matter entirely.

If you already own an M1, the decision is harder still. Do you need Android and its streaming capabilities? M2 makes sense then, and you might even want to keep M1 around for those times when you want a slightly different sound for playing local files. If you don’t need Android and are thinking of upgrading for sound alone, ask yourself what you’re missing with M1, and whether or not M2 – or one of the other flagships – would better serve your needs.

Much of this will depend on the IEMs you use too. It’s been my experience that Sony players have a special synergy with Sony IEMs, so if you’re a Z1R enthusiast like me, sticking with Sony makes sense. 

If I was in the market for a one-and-done DAP today, M2 would be top of my list. As a satisfied M1 owner, however, I personally don’t think M2 does enough to get me to replace it, and I’d rather buy something different to complement M1 without giving up the Sony Sound entirely.

Whatever you choose to do, as long as it’s a gold Walkman, you can’t lose. 

PS. One more thing: I mentioned at the start of this article that M2 has been slow to reach Western shores, and that’s still, the case. If you’re in the market for one today, your best option is buying direct from Japan, even if that means using a forwarding service. You’ll probably find this works out cheaper than buying local, though you’ll be responsible for shipping it back to Japan for warranty issues.  

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.

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