Sony Announces Hi-Res Signature Series

As part of its 70th anniversary celebration, Sony has announced the Signature Series of audio products optimized for high-resolution listening.

Aimed at audiophiles and music enthusiasts, the new lineup includes MDR-Z1R headphone ($2,300), two Walkman music players—the new flagship NW-WM1Z ($3,200) and NW-WM1A ($1,200)—and the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier ($2,200). All are made using high-quality materials selected based on the principals of acoustic design, according to Sony.

The NW-WM1Z, MDR-Z1R, and TA-ZH1ES will be available in November and the NW-WM1A Walkman early next year.

Developed in collaboration with mastering engineers at Sony Music Battery Studios, the MDR-Z1R headphone uses oversized 2.75-inch magnesium-dome drivers with lightweight aluminum coated edge diaphragms and neodymium magnets mounted in a “resonance-free” housing with an acoustic resister to control ventilation. The headband is made of lightweight beta titanium for more elasticity and fitted with ear cups that have leather ear pads. The Z1R’s has a non-magnetic Corson alloy jack for low resistance and a balanced cable with a 4.4mm plug.

The NW-WM1Z features a new, gold-plated, oxygen-free, copper chassis to help reduce contact resistance and oxidation while minimizing magnetic interference. The player has separate analog and digital sections and incorporates a dual clock circuit with a quartz oscillator to achieve “superior sound reproduction at virtually any volume setting.”

Sony said both Walkman players support virtually every popular hi-res music format, including 384kHz/32bit recordings and Quad (11.2MHz) DSD native playback, when used with a balanced connection and a compatible listening device, such as the Z1R headphone.

Both models have a new touch panel user-interface designed for more intuitive operation and recessed side panel controls. Other common features include high output S-Master HX technology that amplifies signals without digital-to-analog conversion, a power supply that uses newly developed FT CAP high polymer capacitors to improve bass response, the use of specially engineered Kimber Kable, and DSEE-HX signal processing that upscales lower bit rate files to near hi-res quality. The processor provides with five settings: Standard, Female Vocal, Male Vocal, Percussion, and Strings.

The TA-ZH1ES, the first headphone amp under the prestigious ES label, supports a variety of balanced and unbalanced headphone connectors and features Sony’s new D.A. Hybrid Amplifier Circuit, which is said to lower distortion and preserve fine detail. The amp supports most Hi-Res music formats, including native DSD and PCM recordings, and incorporates DSEE HX processing along with Sony’s DSD Remastering Engine to convert PCM sources to DSD 11.2MHz. A newly developed rigid Frame/Beam/Wall (FBW) chassis made by shaving extruded aluminum is designed to suppress vibration.

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Where's the new upper-end Sony ES SACD player?