Of course, these days back-to-back tests of this nature are rather complicated by the plethora of music filters and enhancers fitted to music players. The Walkman comes with two user-definable and four pre-set EQ settings, and four sound modifiers: VPT for a surround sound effect, itself with six sub-settings; DSEE for an enhanced stereo effect; Clear Stereo and Dynamic Normalizer.
For the purposes of this test we compared the Walkman back-to-back with a 4GB iPod Nano using the Sony's supplied earphones and our usual Sennheiser HD 25's.
The controls are simple enough to master
Switch all that unnecessary guff off and the Walkman has the more solid bass, the better defined vocal line - consonants blurred on the iPod are far clearer on the Walkman - and a generally more satisfying sense of balance and space. The Walkman also pumped out a fair bit more volume, a handy feature if you are going to be using your player in a loud environment.
When we played the same tunes back-to-back through each players supplied earphones the Walkman beat the iPod like a fat kid stealing someone's lunch. We would even go as far to say that the Walkman shades the Samsung P2 when it comes to sound, and that takes some doing as the P2 impressed us mightily.
Many MP3 player makers could learn from Sony on the subject of bundled earphones
Happily enough, the sound didn't take as precipitous a dive into the toilet bowl when using the Bluetooth headphones as we had feared it might. Sure, there was a noticeable drop in quality especially in the bass, but the listening experience was still far from unenjoyable.
One thing we didn't like about the Bluetooth listening experience was the fact that the volume control on the headphones is a little too close to the track-skip switches, resulting in us often changing the track rather than the volume level.
I thought Walkmans were personal cassette players and I reckon more than 1 in 10 people had one of those.
>what a curiously but desperately possessable gadget the iPod, any iPod, is
Actually had a Nano for a while and completely failed to see what the big difference was between it and a myriad of other devices. So ended up going back to my 4gb Sansa(which cost less and sounds at least as good if not better), mainly because it shows up as two separate drives when I plug it in (internal memory and microSD plugin flash card). What I dont have to do is put up with the irritating i-tunes software, so kudos to Sony for taking that route.
Final thoughts on the 'poddies' (TM)
16GB Version now £209 on either Amazon or Sony Style (I called and got a discount!). The 8GB version comes bundled with the bluetooth headphones, the 16GB one doesn't.
I ordered one sight unseen, which is rare indeed for me and I hope not a mistake! I did look at the iTouch etc - if it had an external volume control (the iPhone does so why not?) I may well have gone the Apple/iTunes route (despite reservations about iTunes).
I have had good experiences from Sony hardware (my old MiniDisc survived a battering and sounded great) now that Sonic Stage is gone can only see it being better from a usability front.
I would use my phone, but the supplied headphones are complete rubbish and it has a mini headphone socket, so I would need an adapter, plus at the end of the day if my MP3 player has a flat battery at least my phone will still work.
All I need to do now is wait for the damn thing, the first lot were presold before arrival...
C'mon no Sony TALKman?
That one could kill iPhone just because we have all been subconsciously waiting for it since cell phones jumped out of cars.
Also, why haven't they ever released a KITT car PC module that does everything including blow s41t up? Oh yeah, and insert 'your name' instead of 'Michael'
"what a curiously but desperately possessable gadget the iPod, any iPod, is"
Curious, indeed. I've always regarded iPods as MP3 players for people who didn't understand MP3 players. I wouldn't want one, and as even my £50 Nokia phone has a micro-SD card slot and a radio, I'm not likely to bother with the Sony, either.