Five examples of the best new audio tech for one, spanning from a 1980s-infused portable record player to earbuds promising lossless audio over Bluetooth, and a new Walkman – the greatest name mobile music has ever known.
New audio tech for one
1. Sony Walkman NW-A306
Sony has doggedly stuck to its guns with its Walkman range, persisting for four decades with personal music players that have tackled first tapes, then DATs, MiniDiscs, CDs, and finally mp3s (with an ill-advised diversion into the company’s proprietary ATRAC3 digital format). The company’s newest offering is the Walkman NW-A306, a pocketable device designed to cater to those who still have a wealth of digital music backed up on a hard drive, rather than relying solely on streaming services. Combining Sony’s impressive build quality with both physical buttons and a touchscreen (running Android), the NW-A306 doubles up a WiFi-equipped browser. Music fans will be heartened to hear that the unit goes above and beyond and can play back a swathe of different hi-res music formats, with a promised battery life of up to 36 hours.
Sony Walkman NW-A306, £350, Sony.co.uk (opens in new tab)
2. NuraTrue Pro earbuds
Nura’s innovative approach to in-ear audio shook up the headphone and earbud industry when the company debuted in 2020. From the original over-ear headphones to the excellent NuraLoop, the company’s products combine adaptive active noise-cancelling with a personalisation algorithm that tunes each pair to your unique hearing characteristics. The latest set to arrive is the NuraTrue Pro, described as the first earbuds to bring lossless audio over Bluetooth, together with the much-vaunted spatial audio system.
NuraTrue Pro, £299, Nurasound.com (opens in new tab)
3. FiiO M11S portable audio player
Another hi-res portable player to tempt listeners away from their phones, FiiO’s new M11S is a compact Android-powered unit that packs 32GB of storage and offers several different ways to access your collection. On-board digital to analogue converters (DAC) make a much better fist of improving the quality of the original audio files, with a special ‘Pure Music’ mode that shuts out visual interference from other apps. The M11S can also apply its DAC to a computer via USB to improve output through speakers or headphones and can receive and transmit audio over Bluetooth.
FiiO M11S Portable Music Player, £489, FiiO.com (opens in new tab)
4. SIVGA Robin SV021 Headphones
SIVGA’s newest set of wood-encased headphones are designed specifically with contemporary music in mind. The closed-back Robin SV021s are available in either dark or light matt finished wood, with high quality components and accessories, and large 50mm drivers to make the most of the detail and texture of the music.
SIVGA Robin SV021 Headphones, £149, SIVGAaudio.com (opens in new tab)
5. Audio Technica Sound Burger
Audio Technica’s Sound Burger is a slice of the 1980s, garnished with the very contemporary addition of USB charging and Bluetooth. This reissued portable record player first resurfaced in 2022 to mark the Japanese audio manufacturer’s 60th anniversary. Now more widely available, the lozenge-shaped belt-driven player clamps over your 7in or 12in disc to offer playback wherever you are (not, of course, when you’re on the move).
Audio Technica Sound Burger, £199, Audio-Technica.com (opens in new tab)
Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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