That's funny, I've still contemplated tracking down a Japanese Z for the 64GB. It is a disease.....
Sony NWZ-F806 mini review (& F-series player reviews / impressions / discussion) - Page 18
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one that's contagiously worth having... if Turok's temperature rises it's worth getting in on the 'rash'.
Just ordered a F-806 after significant deliberation and spending a whopping five hours back-and-forthing with it at the Sony store and debating if it was worth replacing my S-739F (a 2009 basic MP3 player with video support, it's a lot like what the E-series is now). S$367 down, after 20% pre-order discount and "$60 of free gifts" ("exclusive F-series case", "premium Walkman Z series wiper", official screen protector and a universal portable charger (USB ports I think).). I doubt I'm going to regret it.
I can't tell a significant difference between my old player (I'm not too sure about its internals but it only has "clear technologies" and no mention of any special amplifier). That said, I find the F-806 to sound better overall, especially on high pitched sounds, but overall I doubt I could actually pick anything out given blind testing.
Tested repeatedly with an ATH-M50S/LE and my more commonly used XBA-3 IEMs. Both sounded absolutely fantastic and the F-806 can easily drive both at almost uncomfortable levels around 40~60% of its master volume. The internal player is a bit sluggish and actually crashed a couple of times whilst I was there and the visualizer application inside it is absolutely useless by my standards (it doesn't appear to correlate to the music at all, it's just... animations, and it even requires prior twelve-tone analysis). The DSP options (DSEE, Clear Stereo) did not strike me as particularly difference changing, but most of the files I bluetoothed to it from my GSII (which sounds absolutely atrocious) were functionally lossless (LP22.5 MP3 VBR and one FLAC track. I didn't transfer more FLAC because I had to zip it first before bluetoothing, as the F simply refused to receive FLAC citing "incompatibility" for a curious reason). Mind you, the one that had the most noticeable difference was Clear Phase, but it just sounded odd to me and I left it off. I honestly can't find a major difference between enabling DSEE and Clear Stereo (a 'lossy-fixer' that attempts to recover low-passed frequencies and a stereo-crosstalk reduction enhancement respectively), while VPT remains a novelty. xLoud made a clarity difference on both the Z and F, but it didn't actually do anything to the volume. The F-series' speaker is very soft either way. At least when not within a quiet environment.
However, I hit the Google store and downloaded my licensed Poweramp and its very flexible and capable. The sound quality appears differenceless between the stock player and Poweramp, but Poweramp has far better equalizer (ten band!) and tone options (bass/treble controls) with a stereo-expansion control (not a very good one though, I prefer Dolby Virtual Speaker from my desktop sound card). Enabling direct volume control in Poweramp boosted the available volume as well, though I didn't try to compare the actual SQ effects of DVC (Poweramp claims that it "greatly improves volume and equalizer/tone dynamic range").
As for the visualizer problem, I hit the Play Store again and quickly found a free application that accurately visualizes in several rendering modes (Just search Music Visualizer! It's got a play icon.) which can even be used as a live wallpaper (though I found that it resulted in significant lag on filled up home screens, although a blanker home screen will be fine).
The sound is quite warm and clear, but it also seems fairly neutral. Using third party applications with multiband EQs help fine tune the sound better, which makes the F series pretty versatile. I also tried to A/B the Z-series which was right next to it, and honestly I couldn't tell any difference.
The iPod Classic I brought along paled in comparison, obviously, for audio purposes, but functionality wise you will probably find an iPod Touch more entertaining overall. Plus the iTouch is actually cheaper than this thing (in my region, at S$298 for 32GB). My memory failed, the iPod Touch 5 32GB is S$398, and $548 for 64GB. However that still makes the F-806 32GB more costly at its MSRP of S$458 (S$60 more than the iPod Touch).
Given a toss-up between the Z-series and the F-series, I would actually suggest you go for the Z-series because its ICS update invalidates that plus point for the F-series, and the significantly larger screen makes a great usability difference. Plus I think the former looks prettier, and is ergonomically more hand friendly (due to the curved rear, which is perfect for landscape gaming/watching movies), with much better loudspeakers for the small extra cost. But the F-series suits my idea of a small-functional player more and it was a lot cheaper on my promotional price. (though I would've willing paid a bit more for blue or even the @#$%ing gunmetal gorgeous)
The screen is fairly okay though, not particularly impressive to me. It seems to... overbrighten, well, bright elements. And it's tiny. Compared to the player's body that is. Hardware wise, it is pretty nice though, feels good in the hand though I'm still debating on whether it's well-treated plastic or actually anodized aluminum. I wish it had physical controls though because I do like keeping a device in my pocket if possible (especially when sitting passenger on a motorcycle). The Z-series' screen is obviously much better, plus its external stereo speakers are fantastic by standards. The F-series' speaker is abominally weak and soft, with lacking treble. But you'll hardly be using it anyway! Also, they had the included earphones there, but I didn't find them all that good. Felt rather noisy and lacking in treble (but I'm a very treble-focused person), but they are certainly very good compared to what are commonly bundled (cough, iBuds). They aren't any different from Sony's otherwise popular 13.5mm EX dynamic driver based models (my previous MDR-NC33 earphones use the same design).
I'm due to pick it up "after 31st October", and I will probably give a more complete review at that point in time.
Thanks cn11 for the review, it cleared a few of my concerns and helped me decide to buy it.
But I'm very curious here, what's all this talk of LODs? I gathered that it stands for 'line out dock', but I don't understand the need or purpose of it. If you wanted to connect a line out to another device such as an amplifier or a line-in port, why do you need an extra connector, when you could simply connect a 3.5mm to 3.5mm (as a line-out cable usually is) directly to the headphone output of the Walkman? I've never heard of Walkman line-out-docks (to be fair I've not been around Headfi's portable source section long) but given what I've just said I can't see why they're necessary. I've tried my friend's FiiO amp with a simple 3.5mm~3.5mm cable before and it works just fine. Is there a difference in output quality, like a digital vs analog signal thing? Is it used to bypass the DAC or amplifier, for example?
edit: holy @#$%, I just realized how much I typed out
Another minor edit:
Using the visualization as a live wallpaper with Apex (which I expect will run more smoothly than Sony's) works quite well on my SII. I will likely set it this way for the Walkman soon as I get it. Here and here's what it looks like.
Most of you will probably balk at visualizers and dismiss them as a battery drain, but I guess I'm one of those who enjoy watching bars go up and down to music... If you rather not have the visualization on all the time and slowing your homescreen down, the app works standalone as well in 'snoop mode'.
Edited by salanos - 10/9/12 at 12:43pm
Yes, it is true, in fact, we have very good relationship with ESS since 10 years ago. at that time they were focus on DVD chip sets and now change to Hi End market.
Anyway, thanks for everyone in here that you guys still interested in our X3, since the project is still under developing, I really hope the same story happen again. but I don't want our users misunderstand us. so below maybe something you will interested.
1, When we will release our X3? sorry, maybe after 6 months.
2, M.S.R.P, almost the same as before although the cost increase a lots, we feel very sorry to our fans so we decide not to increase the price too much , the target M.S.R.P in U.S is about $150 ~ $180, 20% higher in Europe because the VAT is different.
3, Some modification between the original design.
A, Small changes in the appearance, includes a aluminum cover on the front panel, and small changes on the back panel.
B, The screen size changed from 2.2" 220*176 to 2.4" 320*240 TFT, it is not a great TFT displayer cause hard to purchase the best TFT from Samsung or Sharp , as you know, they always ask a very huge purchase order.
C, The 18 pins dock is removed so X3 can't not docked into our E9/E09K .
D, Added build in Flash, maybe 8G, still support TF card.
E, CPU, dual core 600 Mhz, actually it is designed for table and other device, we hope it should have better performance in decoding the APE and fastest response to any control
F, DAC, one WM8740, not so perfect, but still very good to an DAP which designed for audiophile, we notice that SONY, iRiver also used WM8740 in their new portable DAC/AMP and DAP.
G, Hardware bass/treble/balance control, it is more useful than a software EQ which more easy in a MP3. the original design does not support any EQ or Bass/Treble/Balance control.
H, AMP section change from TPA6130A to AD8397 which used in our ALPEN ( E17 ), I think most of our fans already know how good it will be in sound quality.
I, Better battery life because the new CPU consume less power now and we also put a bigger battery inside X3,
J. Very simple and iPod style UI , it is just the same style but not a similar UI as iPod. support album cover , lyric display, ID3
K, Almost support any kinds of music up to 192K/24BIT. includes MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA, FLAC, APE, WAV.
So far the project go smooth but anything is possible so it is not a promise to our fans. as we have too many new model running at the same time, please be patient before we have further news. I will try to update any news but
nothing more to share with you right now.
BTW, It is a good news that iRiver and Sony back to audiophile market. but too sad the new iPod is go away from audiophile. so you guys will still have more options. and FiiO is not going to be an iPod or SONY, HIFIMAN,COLORFLY or Hisound or iBasso, which means
we will try to make a high quality , high performance DAC in affordable price, and still user friendly. so there are not means to compare our X3 to any other Hi Fi MP3 players, especially don't hope we will make a " Hi End" MP3.
What I meant in my previous posts is that Fiio, itself is confirming that Sony is still making audiophile grade players, which is a good sign as we and many agree on that. Where as Apple has taken a completly opposite direction, and hence I know I am in the right thread.....
but = I want to agree, but I have to wait and see....until I get mine and compare it with my Z1070
Edited by turokrocks - 10/9/12 at 12:26pm
And a reminder to everyone, I was not in a completely quiet controlled environment so I likely would have been more capable of picking any major differences elsewhere.
And to anyone who's wondering, no it's not a Japanese spec model unfortunately (meaning I don't have digital NC or ATRAC support inside, but I can see what happens if I toss an ATRAC file in from Sony Vegas). And the store's demo unit was made in Malaysia.
It seems that the Japanese models are NW-[Series-Number here], whereas the international models are NWZ-.
Edited by salanos - 10/9/12 at 12:34pm
Anyway, congrats on your purchase, and most importantly, is that your are enjoying it to the fullest. I keep on reminding everybody , its not about having the biggest and most expensive, but about enjoying music and having fun.
Welcome to Head-Fi
Edited by turokrocks - 10/9/12 at 12:35pm
Do you mean high sampling rates, bit rates or lossless? The F series supports FLAC just fine, but for some reason refused to accept it over Bluetooth, so I didn't try more files as it was tiresome to zip, transfer, then unzip. It also works well with V0 MP3 (which, as long as it's not lowpassed, or the LP22.5 setting I use, is almost practically lossless while being even smaller than 320K CBR).
I made a mistake earlier - my memory failed, the iPod Touch 5 32GB is S$398, and $548 for 64GB. However that still makes the F-806 32GB more costly at its MSRP of S$458 (S$60 more than the iPod Touch), even if its cheaper at the promotional price I got it for.