joining the bandwagon.
I mess around since yesterday so I'll at least answer my own questions (got a euro version if you wonder):
there is a little hiss, not much, from memory I would say close to the noise on the dx50(playing not the turning on hiss that was much louder). now to be perfectly honest here, it's pretty low even with the 334 (with the default sony IEM it's not audible). I' would say 99% of you guys will be happy with this level.
so it's lower than the hiss on the A865 that had a lot less hiss than the F806. it's a real major progress in my ears for sony.
but there is an audible "tac" every 2 seconds .... and there I died. I spent yesterday trying to disable everything with the hope that an app would be responsible for the "tac". I didn't download anything and went airplaine mod from start. I bought a player not a smartphone that can't call. but no luck for me. if by any chance you guys found a way to remove it (another player maybe?), let me know and I will lick your shoes for the end of times. because right now I can use an amp or get rid of it. I sold my dx50 the day I received it, that's how much of a zero tolerance I'm forcing on daps.
then again this "tac" is a problem only with sensitive IEMs and on tracks with silences(anti classical dap spotted!!). or if you miss vinyl cracklings, there you have 1 every 2secs...
-else well it's another android box, it's good and bad at the same time, good because it's easy to do anything on it if you ever had an android phone. bad because I prefer the A865 interface, there are much less directly accessible options, but it is oh so cleverly laid out. but then native flac is a nice addition, so I guess everybody will have to decide what's best.
-sound: it's complicated, because of the nifty settings. imagine cowon for dummies, a lot less settings, but all really cool in what they do.
the first surround effect is a nice crossfeed from what I hear and it does give that more "in front of you" sound that is much more natural and less fatiguing than usual headphone sound. other settings as always are abusing reverb so I would dismiss them.
there is an all auto setting (I have that on my old yp-p3 and it worked well too) the dap I guess scans the song and decide what EQ it should use. I don't use this, but when you shuffle albums it can really improve your songs.
EQ itself uses the usual bands on Sony from 16khz to 400hz + Bass setting that does more than just bump the entire area. it's a +10/-10 increment on all 6 sliders(5+bass). from my really fast test the bass works great, and the rest is ok up to 3 or 4. after than you start to hear some kind of distortion. so compared to what we usually have it's a good EQ (but not rockbox EQ).
I'll wait a few weeks to give any deep opinion on sound itself and couldn't tell you if it's really better than a F806 as I don't have one here (from memory I'm temped to say yes, but memory loves to play tricks). but it's really better than my A865. details are not washed up, trebles do exist, and the soundstage is audibly wider(again depending on your settings for more or less sided imaging).
things I can already say:
based on volume levels, if you guys are using big phones with low sensitivity and don't want an amp you might want to stay with x3, dx50,dx100,hm901.
same for the line out, volume is locked and I'm no mage, but it's not 2V coming out of this little fellow. the X3 (1.7v) was much much louder from the line out, so again for really hard to drive phones, you might want some extra voltage from another dap to plug into whatever amp (I'm thinking LCD2 clients here). for all the real "portable" gear it will be loud enough and probably driven ok.
no "tac" on the line out (at least I've got a way out).
I'm tempted to call it a little rolled off on the bass with all settings off (like almost every dap ever created), but it's hard to say with sony as they love to cook their own bass. anyway sub bass aren't drowning me on the 334 when it's usually easy to do so. this combo works very well (when I hated it on the X3).
all in all I'm pretty impressed by the sound and if I can get rid of the "tac" every 2 secs, it will be my preferred buddy from now on. else on monday it goes back to where it came from.