Originally released in 1979, the Sony Walkman was the first in a long line of devices designed to make music smaller and more affordable. In 2015, we’ve pretty much gotten portable music players as portable and affordable as they can get thanks to your garden variety iPod mini/shuffle/nano—but we haven’t gotten them as expensive as we can.
It’s a premium price for what Sony is billing as a premium experience. The ZX2 is designed for what Sony is calling “high-resolution audio.” (Yes, ‘resolution’ is a visual term.) Large (150 MB) audio files that Sony hopes will recreate “crucial high-frequency musical information that’s lost in compressed sound files.” The “compressed sound files” in question are the music files (usually MP3s) you normally listen to on an iPod or streaming service like Spotify. They tend to weigh in at a couple of megabytes per song.
It’s worth noting that despite the Walkman branding, the ZX2 really isn’t for everyone. It’s for the extremely serious sort of music listener, the kind who has trained their ears to tell the difference between lossless and lossy file formats and have the sort of headphones capable of effectively reproducing said audio. It’s also the sort of thing we might be seeing more of, as the long-in-development, Neil Young-backed (and much cheaper) device Pono looks like it will finally be on its way in February of this year.
Meanwhile, Sony’s Walkman ZX2 is expected to go on sale this spring.