I read your review and it left me quite perplexed. It stated that the sony zx1 without eq sounds the same as a $30 clip+. What are you using as your evaluation criteria and at what volume are you listening to those devices? Are there any differences between the devices such as:
- Bass (tightness/muddiness)
- Clarity in the mids
- Treble (smooth/harshness/grain)
- Soundstage (width/depth)
- Instrument separation
I've mainly been focussing on iems and only recently became interested in upgrading my source/dap. At the level of the zx1 I think that most people will be looking for refinement. I've found that refinement comes at a price and if you're enthusiastic about music like most people on head-fi the price is up to the person willing to purchase the device. Personally I think that the incremental improvement is worth it within a certain budget.
I'm not trying to discredit your opinion; just interested to find out more information, whether you're really putting things straight amongst the fanboys. My preference is for reference sound without eq so I look to buy portable audio that suits my preferred sound signature. Unfortunately I'm not located in an area where I can easily go out and test iems and daps so once the zx1 is available in my area I'll be able to test is against my ipod classic 6g; I have a feeling that I would have the urge to upgrade after listening.
To be honest, my opinion is pretty simple. In blind testing, you'll not hear a difference between the Clip+ and the ZX1 if you leave all of the signal processing it offers off. You might hear more "refinement" in the ZX1 in sighted testing. If we go blind, you just will not be able to hear the difference between them reliably. That said, who cares? The ZX1 offers a ton of fine tuning that's really easy to access. "Reference" sound without EQ is just meaningless. I've been drinking tonight, a lot, so I might have to edit this in the morning. But I'm someone that wanted to find a player that just sounded like what I like (which is what I hear you saying) because I'm not that great at using an equalizer to make things sound better. The ZX1 has a couple checkboxes. You hit them, it sounds better. I'll be the first to admit, I don't know (or care) what it's doing. I just like it.