Pros: Sound Quality, Nearly-Stock Android, Syncable with any Software
Cons: Expensive, Bulky, No Camera
I can compare the sound of my Z1000 to that of my 4th-Generation iPod Touch with and without external amplification. My comparison headphones are Sennheiser HD 25-1 ii’s and my files are the same 320kbps MP3’s from my PC’s HDD.
Compared to the iPod’s headphone-out, the Z1000’s HO has a powerful, full-bodied, rich sound whereas the iPod Touch has a weak, anemic sound. The Z1000 can be likened to whole milk whereas the iPod Touch can be likened to fat-free milk; one is rich and satisfying whereas the other… isn’t.
When I plugged the Z1000 into a Fiio E11 external amplifier via a Fiio L5 line-out connector, the difference in sound was slight but insignificant and generally not worth the encumbrance of using the external amp.
When I plugged the iPod Touch into that E11 via a Fiio L3 LOD connector, however, the sound improvement was indeed dramatic. The E11 gave the music a generally more powerful, full-bodied sound that’s similar to that heard through the Z1000’s HO.
In short, the Z1000’s HO is nearly equal to listening to either the Z1000 or the iPod Touch’s LOD through the Fiio E11 external amplifier.
In conclusion, the Z1000’s HO approximates- even if it doesn’t match- the sound of an external amplifier well enough that the Z1000 by itself is a satisfying listening experience.
I don’t understand source output impedance or headphone input impedance at all. I’m hopeless. What I can tell you is that I plugged in some 600ohm-impedance Beyer Dynamic DT 880 and some 300ohm-impedance Sennheiser HD 600 headphones, though, and my Walkman Z drove both to louder-than-comfortable volumes. With the 880’s, the Z’s volume would be maxed out at what I could consider 60% of full listening volume for the 880’s with 100% being unbearable.
With the 300ohm Sennheiser HD 600’s, I got about the same result.
The earphones that came with the Z1000 are pretty good. They are warm, the mids are rich and the treble is smooth.
They are warm in that they make the music "fun;" my preference is a more neutral sound signature so I use the equalizer to reduce the bass to what I consider a more reasonable level- but still warm enough to be "fun."
They are rich in that their mids sound awesome when listening to groove metal, esp Pantera's "War Nerve." If you don't like this genre, listen to that track anyway as it brings out the best in these cans.
The treble is smooth in that it never takes on a harshness or fatiguing qualty as you may experience with Etymotics or Grados.
Overall, the sound is rich and smooth enough that it's easy to crank up the volume with these more than I ever do with my Etymotic HF5's.
Their design is asymmetrical which is meant to for the user to wrap the right ear element around the back of the neck, the benefit being that the user can remove the right ear element to hear ambient noise or talk to someone while leaving the left ear element in place, thus avoiding removing both ear elements to do either task. This design was new to me but I got used to it soon enough.
This device isn't very good for watching videos as it "skips” or “stutters” when streaming Netflix video via my home network’s server. I can’t blame my server because I’ve never had that problem with any other Android or IOS device, so Sony must've cut costs when they chose a GPU for this device. This should not matter for those who want to use this device primarily as a digital media player.
This is a luxury device. The plastics and the display surface used all feel smooth and well-built to the touch.
The Z1000 has a lightly skinned or unskinned presentation of Android- I can't tell which, so it's probably the latter. My point of comparison is my Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, both of which run unskinned versions of Android.
I don't know if you're familiar with Android but the operating system comes with native applications including Email and Calendar applications. Many Android devices come with additional apps- "bloatware"- because apps as the OEM adds and those apps can be redundant. Samsung is notorious for this with its bloatware Samsung Calendar and Email apps along with multiple apps many users will never want to use.
I'm glad to say that the Walkman Z1000 comes with only two redundant apps that I'm aware of, Music Unlimited and Music apps which both compete with the native Google Music app. The rest of the apps are generally media-oriented non-redundant.
You can use this device as you would any flash drive.
I have Windows 7 PC's so I use Windows Explorer, Windows Media Player or Sony's own "Media Go" software. Windows Explorer will allow you to move any kind of file onto the device- I think I migrated a Microsoft Office file just to see it it would work- but Windows Media Player will allow you to sync only MP3's, WAV's and Windows Media Audio files.
If you use Sony's "Media Go" software, though, you can sync FLACs onto the device.
I earlier said I use Windows 7 because I've never tried to sync files with a Mac, but given the openness of Android devices, I'm sure you can use Finder, iTunes or any other file syncing software therein.
One caveat for me has been that when I sync music files to the device, it doesn't always display the cover art. This has happened more with the OEM Sony music playback apps but it has happened with WinAmp as well. This bothered me at first but now I don't even notice or care.
If you plan to keep music on the device, be advised that the OS and software occupy about 6GB of the storage, so the 16GB device will leave you with only about 10GB for media.
As has become increasingly normal with handheld devices, this device is “sealed” and therefore allows no memory expansion option.
You can work around the storage capacity limitation by streaming music via WiFi.
For streaming music off my LAN's media server, I've used both the native Sony DLNA as well as a third-party media streaming app, Bubble UPNP.
For streaming radio, I've used iHeartRadio but any service will do.
The Sony Walkman Z1000 is a music-centric Android device which is evidenced by the absence of a camera and its mediocre video playback.
To the demanding listener, these omissions are worth it as the Z1000's headphone-out sound quality is warm, rich, black (clear, free of which noise) which is superior to the clear-but-anemic sound quality had from competing Apple handheld devices and the typically "dirty," distortion-contaminated sound of competing Android devices.