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About me

Sony WM-D6C Pro Walkman


Robust outside shell mostly made of steel

I bought my "Pro Walkman" back in the late 1980s as at that time I worked as a contract software engineer and often had to set up "home" in hotel or B&Bs. Often it was used with a set of Sennheisser headphones, but I also sometimes took a pair of Wharfedale Active Diamond speakers with me if I had a longer stay.

Due to the outstanding sound quality, I used it to listen to LPs and CDs which stayed at home while I was away, and also to make occasional live recordings or recordings from a radio tuner.


The leatherette outside cover makes it
more robust for daily use

As I recall, the walkman cost me the grand sum of £250 back in 1988 when I bought it. This represents over £660 or over €800 in 2012 prices. This was an expensive piece of equipment to buy, but luckily, it worked well. It didn't take long to realise that the Walkman Pro could make more faithful recordings than my full-sized Yamaha cassette deck. Quite an achievement for such a small and densely packed piece of equipment running on batteries.


It's still in use


An adaptor for mono voice recordings with a vocal microphone. Both channels connected
together within the socket with a capacitor between them and the microphone to block
the "plug in power" DC offset from the walkman.

As befits a well made piece of equipment, it still works perfectly 24 years after it was built. I've used my walkman to transcribe old recordings onto the computer (the music behind this video, for instance) and also to make new recordings, such as the voiceover on this video. By using the walkman to do this, I could make the sound recordings in a room which didn't contain computers or their associated fan noise.

For the same reason of wanting to avoid background noise, the walkman was also used to make recordings of bicycle bells which people use to choose a bell in our bike parts web shop, and can also be heard in a blog post about bells and a free android app.

To make mono voice recordings, I use a vocal microphone and the adaptor pictured. There is a small signal to noise ratio gain of 3 dB possible with any stereo record if both channels are used mono signals and the result added together on playback (these days, this step generally happens inside the computer).

Technicalities


Four AA cells fit in the battery case

The Pro Walkman never had a particularly long battery life because sound quality was optimized first. However, because modern NiMH cells have a much higher capacity than the NiCD cells that I used in it when it was new, the running time has actually improved markedly since it was new. Four cells at a time are loaded into a battery case. The resulting 6 V is a higher voltage than used for most modern electronics, but it wasn't enough at the time. For that reason, the circuitry includes a DC to DC converter to make a higher voltage for the electronics.


There's no spare space inside

My walkman's serial number is 165912. Components have late 1988 date codes and my walkman has both the earlier phenolic printed circuit board and the earlier (better, long lasting) amorphous head.

The interior of the machine is packed with components, both electronic and mechanical. The large black rectangle in the centre of the photo is the motor, itself surprisingly large. Using Sony's "disc drive" principle, this drives the capstan at right angles. Speed accuracy and low wow and flutter are assured by quartz speed control of the transport. A lot of sophisticated features are packed into a small space.

More about it

Apart from offering excellent playback quality, the "Pro Walkman" also records with either Dolby B or C noise reduction and using Type 2 and Type 4 cassettes. The sound quality is really very good for a portable analog recorder.

More resources

Walkman Central with information about the changes over the production run.

Wikipedia "Walkman".


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