THAT WAS THEN

SONY WALK­MAN II JULY 1981

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Phono Amplifiers Continued -

Not only did the Walk­man start one of the most recog­nised prod­uct brands in the au­dio busi­ness, but it also ce­mented a place for Sony in pop­u­lar cul­ture.

Back in July 1981 we pitched Sony’s se­cond gen­er­a­tion player, the £90 Walk­man 2, against ri­val per­sonal cas­sette play­ers from the likes of Sanyo, Aiwa, Pana­sonic and Bi­na­tone in a per­sonal mu­sic player Group Test.

Al­though it lost out to the £115 Aiwa S30 for pure sound per­for­mance, the Walk­man 2 had plenty in its favour, be­ing the small­est, light­est and most por­ta­ble player of the bunch.

Small? For its time

We noted that, from the front, it was “only marginally big­ger than a cas­sette box, and only around twice as thick.” (Our con­cept of what con­stitues a ‘small’ per­sonal player has changed a bit since then, of course.) To help it in its quest for a slim­line physique, the Walk­man 2 used two HP7 bat­ter­ies (aka AA), whereas most ri­vals added to their bulk by us­ing three.

The light­weight head­phones needed to be “po­si­tioned pre­cisely over your ears to get max­i­mum bass re­sponse”, but “the clear tre­ble qual­ity and open­ness [was] some­thing of a rev­e­la­tion”.

Over the years we’ve seen the Walk­man brand mi­grate to por­ta­ble CD play­ers, hi-res mu­sic play­ers and even mo­bile phones, all with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess. The lat­est unit to bear the fa­mous name is the £240 Walk­man we re­view on page 11 of this very is­sue.

The fact that it is still go­ing strong more than 30 years af­ter its launch is surely tes­ta­ment to the fact that the Sony Walk­man is one of the iconic hi-fi prod­ucts of the 20th Cen­tury.

“Sony started the ‘per­sonal stereo’ craze, but its com­peti­tors seem to be catch­ing up” July 1981

LESSONS OF THE PAST

There’s a dif­fer­ence in physique, clearly, but

the Sony Walk­man 2’s traits of good sound in a

neat pack­age seem to have been re­tained to­day

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