Originally Posted by sicko
The Neutron is a close second. I don't personally use it because I sort of feel that surround effect. The instruments feel like they are being played at a distance. However, the Sony player has more of that "in the face" type of sound.
Moreover, I don't think the sound sig requires any tweaking. It's perfect for me, but if you like to play with those handles and knobs, go for Neutron player. Poweramp just sucks.
My head is spinning. After doing the "clear data" thing to tidy up the Sony player post-ICS upgrade, I was completely seduced by its sound. Switched over to Neutron and found myself wondering what I thought it was so good. Very confused. Did "clear data" fix up a sound quality issue with the Sony, or were the playback delay issues prejudicing me.
Anyhow, right now I agree with Dyaems that Neutron sounds "digital" in comparison (though not outright distorted like Poweramp). In contrast to sicko, I would describe the Sony player sound as "rich analog", rather than "in the face" (which is a description I would associate with harsh cheap digital). With the Sony player I actually had to check the EQ settings to make sure I hadn't bumped the mid-bass to give the pleasing sound. Perhaps the Sony player delivers a mid-bass hump by default to give that pleasing rich effect? Regardless, the natural sounds of cymbals on acoustic jazz recordings are another factor in the Sony player's favour. Shimmering, not etched.
In addition, I am now finding that the Sony player settings for DSEE and Clear Phase add an artificial unpleasant edge to FLAC recordings... which should come as no surprise to anti-knobs purists like sicko! :-)
These impressions were via AKG 501 headphones (as per my avatar) and Fiio E11 Kilimanjaro headphone amp. Comparisons via Etymotic HF5s were less conclusive (and less pleasing). Please treat my comments as conversational. I am still working this through.