Pros: Sound Quality
My headphone audio frame of reference consists of listening to WAVs and 320kbps MP3’s through my HT Omega eClaro soundcard in my PC through Sennheiser HD 600’s and Beyer Dynamics DT 880 600ohm cans. For mobile audio, I’ve listened to those same 320kbps MP3’s through my iPod Touch 4G, iPod Nano 5G and my Droid X2 (smartphone) and my Sennheiser HD 25-1 ii’s.
Os Functionality, Power Management, Battery Life
OK, so I’m going to complain about Sony’s presentation of Android.
- Can’t charge while powered off; plugging it into an AC convertor or PC will cause it to power on
- No selectable sleep function though if you leave it on for a day or so, it’ll put itself to sleep
- Still no Android 4.0 and no plausible reason to expect it from the out-of-touch firm that is ‘Sony’
I was going to gripe about the battery life but I find it forgivable now that I assume its SQ is caused by its amplification. It does charge slowly since it won’t charge while powered off, though.
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.
SQ via Headphone-Out
My hi-fi experience is still limited but I can compare the sound of my Z1000 to that of my 4th-Generation iPod Touch with and without external amplification. My 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.
If your files, external amplifier, headphones, ears and your audiophile standards are better than mine then you may find the Z1000’s HO unacceptable but to me it approximates- even though it doesn’t match- the sound of an external amplifier that the Z1000 by itself is a satisfying listening experience.
IMO, the “premium” earphones that came with the Z1000 were underwhelming. They have an asymmetrical design which I found awkward to use, so I wrapped the longer end around the shorter one, thus making the earphones symmetrical.
The earphones’ sound seemed so warm as to unbalance and obscure much of the rest of the sound, and they seem to lack detail.
File Synching Problems
When I synced my Z1000 via Windows Media Player, its OEM/original application music player wouldn’t recognize the metadata in my WAVs so I had to rename them in order to be able to navigate them at all. What worse is that it won’t recognize the album cover art in the MP3’s metadata, though my NWZ-A865 did and my iPod Touch 4G does as well.
The only way I could both sync MP3’s to my Z1000 and have my OEM music player display album cover art was to sync via Sony’s “Media Go” software which I found much less fast, easy and convenient to use then WMP for selecting multiple, particular tracks from a given artist or album. For instance, if I want to select only the MP3’s from Alice in Chains, I can easily do so by holding the ‘control’ button on my keyboard while selecting tracks; then I can drag those tracks into the sync pane on WMP. With MediaGo, there is no ‘control’ button/multiple file selection function, so each track has to be selected individually which is painfully slow and generally not worth the bother.
I’ve resigned to just synching via WMP without cover art.
If there is some solution to this problem, please let me know in the ‘Comments’ area of this review.
Streaming Video Playback
The problem I’ve had is my Z1000 “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 my PC notebook nor with my Droid X2 smartphone nor with my iPod Touch 4G, so I must assume it’s a deficiency my Z1000 has.
Fit & Finish
This is a luxury device. The plastics and the display surface used all feel smooth and well-built to the touch. My Z1000 has some looseness in its Walkman button, but little enough that it’s tolerable.
The Z doesn’t come with much software that you’d find on nearly any other Android device.
There is no file manager or app killer. This is good and bad as there isn’t much bloatware to loathe but you’ll have to find such apps on the Google Play market, which is easy to do. Just FYI.
No SD Card Slot
A word about the SD Card slot on this device- it doesn’t exist. This is a common criticism of this device and it’s a reasonable one given the device’s thickness. It seems obvious to me that Sony chose not to include a SD card slot so you would have to pay more for their higher-capacity model if you wanted more capacity. You can either (a) tolerate this decision by Sony or (b) not tolerate it and get one of the Samsung Galaxy players for <$200 which will have a SD card slot but the consensus among reviewers seems to be that the Z1000 sounds better so you’ll have to factor SQ into your decision.
The Sony Walkman Z1000 is an expensive and highly-flawed device. Its selling point is that you get a very good SQ through its HO which you generally can get from other devices only if you use a bulk and encumbrance-causing external amplifier.