Retro Review: Sony Walkman D-NF430

Introduction

While throwing away and getting rid of some junk and unnecessary clutter, I found an electronic relic. As a famous archaeologist/adventurer would say, “it belongs in a museum.”

As I dug up some old stuff, I found a CD player that I aggressively used in my freshman and sophomore years in college. It actually might be one of the last ones of its kind.

It is a Sony Walkman D-NF430 CD Player. It was originally purchased in the summer of 2005 for about $60 at Circuit City.

Yeah, it was more than 10 years ago and still in pristine condition. Then again, it has been virtually unused for about 8 years.

It was pretty common piece of tech at the time, but this was a turning point when MP3 players and iPods were becoming more popular. Just by looking at the image, you can clearly see why this device was an attractive alternative and inspired by the times.

Appearance & Build Quality

Like most Sony products, this Walkman is well-built. It is a hard, white plastic enclosure with silver and chrome plating on the face buttons. Also, it was roughly the size of a CD, but not bulky for its size. Aside from a notch (where a single AA battery rests), it was thin enough to slip into a jacket pocket or awkwardly into a jeans front pocket.

Features

The Sony D-NF430 is a very unique CD Player. Not so unusual for the company, but it is not a normal thing you see on many media devices, especially today.

Aside from playing normal CDs, this Walkman reads MP3 files if stored on a disk. Like a MP3 player, you could just drop a bunch of songs on a data disk and the device would recognize them instead of tracks. Of course, the limitation of space relied on how much storage a CD-R would have (which generally would hold up to 700 MB).

In addition, Sony has a proprietary audio compression format called ATRAC. The process was similar to MP4 or AAC audio where a 128 kbps MP3 would be compressed into half the size while retaining the same audio quality.

This would allow you to fit more songs on a disk without sacrificing audio quality, but would only work on Sony devices such as this Walkman, PlayStation consoles, and MP3 players. In addition, you needed to used Sony’s own software (similar to iTunes) to export & import ATRAC files and burn them onto a CD.

Like many Walkmans, the D-NF430 has a built-in radio. Sony managed to fit several bands into this CD player.

It has the standard AM & FM bands, but also included TV audio channels and NOAA Weather radio. That’s not a typo.

Before the mandatory conversion to HDTV in 2008, the Walkman was able to tune the VHF portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and pick up audio from Channels 2-13. This band is pretty much useless, but it was a cool function to have to catch up on television programming like news and sports while away from home and would otherwise not be carried on local AM/FM stations.

Included with the CD player is a remote control that allows you to adjust volume, change songs and stations, pause tracks, and the like.

Display

The screen on this Walkman is pretty small, but contained plenty of details. While reading MP3s and ATRACs, it would display song, artist, and album information.

Users could also navigate between albums as separate tabs or shuffle all songs together.

Otherwise it would also show frequency if you’re using the radio and track number. The screen was also monochrome black and white and nothing to white home about.

Sound Quality

Audio coming from the headphones sounded very good. The player allows you to set bass/treble and several equalizers like pop, rock, jazz, or custom settings. On default, music sounds really nice on the radio or CD.

Radio Performance

Radio has been a staple on many Walkmans past and present. While not the greatest receivers, the radio built into them functioned very well. Since the antenna is essentially your headphones cord, reception will vary.

The AM/FM bands on this particular one can pick up local stations clearly with little or no static.

On the FM side, you can pick up some distant ones but you’ll be overpowered with noise especially if you move around a lot. As for AM, forget about picking up clear channels.

Again, Walkmans are meant to those walking or running about and aren’t meant to be used as a radio you can set down and lounge. For its purpose, it handles local stations well and locks onto the signal effectively. Also, no worries with NOAA weather stations as long as you’re inside its coverage area.

Overall

Before the popularity of media players like the iPod and Zune, Walkmans were the de facto media player. You always get a quality experience when using one.

Smartphones have pretty much taken over now as a primary source of audio content on-the-go, and I don’t use my Walkman CD Player anymore. It sets unused in a drawer inside a CD wallet.

Before my habits changed, I enjoyed using the D-NF430. It was an amazing device with lots of functionality. I would lug it between classes and have a bunch of my favorite albums on a single CD (which I still have).

During my time using it, podcasts were also loaded onto disks. I would use the Walkman to listen to shows from Radio Netherlands, the BBC, and NPR until I cave in and purchased an iPod Nano.

Overall, it was a fantastic player for its time. Today, I really can’t recommend anyone to buy and carry around a CD Player.

Why would you? I guess if you’re in a nostalgic mood and have a bunch of CDs.

It is no longer in production obviously, but you can still find it online. The cost is roughly $500 brand new! It’s funny considering I bought it for $60.

I didn’t realize how much it was really worth. I don’t think I’ll sell mine, but you can also fine them used for about $50 if you’re looking for a good portable CD player.

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2 thoughts on “Retro Review: Sony Walkman D-NF430

  1. I just bought this exact CD Walkman (except in black) new-in-packaging from a Value Village thrift store for $6 Canadian.

    I’m a physical media guy and I still listen to a CD Walkman that I bought in 2009 but it is getting rather elderly and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy a “new” one for so cheap because buying used electronics from thrift stores is always a crap shoot so finding one in un-used, so far as I can tell, condition was unusual.

    Plus my other CD Walkman doesn’t have a radio and I don’t think my old one plays burned-on-disc MP3s either although to be honest I’ve never tried that.

    • It is really hard to use in this time and age, but I will take it out every now and then to listen to the Weather Radio for severe weather coverage. Surprising the thing still works really well and I am still impressed that it can run off only one AA battery. For my first years in college, it was a fantastic CD player and a nice alternative to MP3 players of the time (at least until iPods and Zunes bacame more mainstream).

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