Sony's New Walkman: A Pricey Way to Improve Your Digital Music Listening

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Is the world ready for another Walkman? Sony thinks so, but you can forget about the bulky yellow device that ushered in a generation of mobile music consumption, or any of its more recent iterations.

For one, the sleek, matte black device is designed for high-end audiophiles. While the price point is TBD, several sources tell us it will be in the $1,200 range when it debuts this spring. By comparison, the diminutive NWZ-A17 Walkman, released last year, carries a $300 price point.

"This is for people who want to hear what the artist and studio intended them to hear," a Sony spokesperson told me on the CES show floor, just before a demo of the device proved out her statement big time.

The new Walkman is designed to, literally, amp up the quality of recordings, which means its Android-powered technology can morph a users' existing music library into master-quality recordings. It's a powerful (and slightly heavier than expected) portable machine. "Solid" is how the Sony reps are billing it. The 128-GB ZX2 gives users 60 hours of MP3 listening time, and more than 30 hours of hi-resolution playback from a single charge.

A toggle of the on-off button at the top left of the screen revealed a dramatic difference in sound quality on Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance," experienced through the set of $300 Sony demo headphones.