THAT WAS THEN
SONY WALKMAN II JULY 1981
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