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a Sony low mid range

Discussion in 'I found this!' started by enryfox, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. enryfox

    enryfox Active Member

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    Recently I bought off ebay this 1998 Sony mid range walkman, the WM-EX402.

    IMG_6989.JPG

    In 1998 Sony released a whole range of WM-EX40x walkman’s and this is the entry model with only basic functions; it does not even have Dolby NR, for that you need the WM-EX404. It is rather odd looking, I was skeptical when looking at ebay pictures, but it is quite nice when seen “live”.

    It is a mid range model, just slightly above the full mechanical walkman's, if looked from behind or in the cassette well it screams “PLASTIC” all around.

    IMG_3875.JPG IMG_9870.JPG

    Its basic features includes feather touch commands, megabass/groove, AVLS and tape type selector.
    AVLS is pretty useless: meant to safe guard from hearing damages, the imposed volume limit is so low I can hardly imagine anyone switching it on; maybe it was required by law but really it is a waste of space and electronic components.

    When I got it the original belt was a bit loose and I had to replace it; opening it up would be easy if not for the claws holding the two halves together. Once the back cover is removed, internally it is very neatly organised (sorry no pictures): easy detachable flat cables for head and front button panel, audio PCB easy to remove to have access to the tape transport and the belt.

    With a new belt it is as good as new and then its sound can be tested. I was expecting a dull sounding walkman, but with a proper headphone it sound very good: deep bass, excellent frequency response, despite the plastic flywheels W&F is more than decent for pop music. I tried it against a couple of WM-DD’s with a chrome tape and I can’t say the DD’s were the clear winners: sure the DD’s have a more stable transport and a somehow warmer sound, but from a frequency extension point of view the EX402 is brighter while not lacking bass in any way. It is not missing details either, but its background hiss is stronger; anyway I am quite impressed by a cheap walkman which I think costed 1/3 or 1/4 of a DD.

    IMG_2938.JPG

    To further indicate its status as an entry model, the box is also rather small and the supplied accessories are just a belt clip and a pair of terrible earphones. Maybe a typo on the box, but is says “black” while this model, to may knowledge, was available only in silver. According to a label on the box, it was bought in an Italian grocery store, not even an electronic store ! Anyway my kudos to Sony for keeping a good sound quality also in low end model (and it was 1998, cassettes were on decline with their heydays long gone).
     
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  2. Machaneus

    Machaneus Active Member S2G Supporter

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    Thanks enryfox for the thorough review .I have the Dolby version the WM EX-404 and is indeed a good sounding walkman.

    Walkmancentral website has a description for the WM EX-404 were is mentioned :
    "The same basic machine ( the WM EX-404 ) was offered in a wide range of variants, for example the WM-EX402 was similar but finished in grey instead of silver and lacked Dolby N NR."
    The walkman photo on the box looks "dark gray" ,maybe they considered that black and during production it ended to be " light grey".My WM EX-404 is certainly silver.

    Worth to be noted that there is an interesting variant that doesn't follow the "WM-EX40x" designation and belongs to this family, the WM-FK 2 /EK1 , looks like the WM EX406 (basically different arrangement of the control buttons on the door and a remote control) , a rather eccentric design with transparent lids in blue (FK2) ,orange and clear (EK1) versions.
    They came also with a rounded remote control with the same transparent color scheme and a ... key holder ! The series was called widdit.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
  3. Longman

    Longman Active Member S2G Supporter

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    Sony made a whole range of full logic Walkman using that curved top case. Here is my feature packed WM FX 479 which from the sticker I guess must date from 1999.

    IMG_8979.JPG IMG_8981.JPG IMG_8983.JPG IMG_8984.JPG IMG_8985.JPG IMG_8986.JPG

    Unfortunately the edges of the case in the first photo seem to be made of the same plastic as their loudspeaker surrounds and are now shedding black bits whenever I touch it.

    Somewhere I also have a boxed WM FX491 like this

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sony-Walk...768848?hash=item41c454d7d0:g:1bwAAOSwCQZZD~Tf

    which seems to use the same mechanism. I recall the box had the original price sticker on it and that it was only about £30.
    By then I think all tape based Walkman were considered to be mid range, with the CD players being more upmarket.
    Did Sony actually introduce any top of the range Tape Walkman in the late 1990s? (genuine question)
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
  4. enryfox

    enryfox Active Member

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    The same tape transport of the wm-ex402 has been used in several models, that is indeed true ! As a matter of facts, I could not find the service manual for the wm-ex40x and ended-up referring to the manual of wm-fx48x which are radio walkman's based on the wm-ex40x: disassembly instructions are the same and it helped me to find the claws to disengage to open-up the walkman.

    Regarding the colour, the serial numbers of the walkman and the box do match so either Sony kept the typo or "grey is the new black" back in 1998.

    The widdit series is quite eccentric, though not the type of walkman's I prefer (I'm definitely more for the somber looking walkman's with a minimalistic approach). Judging also by the look of the fx479/fx491 is seems this series of walkman was more target to younger users due to its more "exaggerated" look and cheap price.

    From Sony perspective I think minidisc was more the upmarket in the late '90s; CD players were never too popular for being bulky and it was not easy to make your own mix CD's (at least in the late 90's). In the same period Sony did introduce some TOTL walkman's, one example being the WM-EX678 from 1999 (20th anniversary of the walkman too).
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
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  5. T-ster

    T-ster Moderator Staff Member S2G Supporter

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    Sony were masters at keeping reasonable sound and features in even their lower end players. Thats a nice looking walkman in its box:thumbup:
     

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