The top left of the picture is the ZX1's custom digital amplifier chip presumably made and designed by Sony, while other daps use an off the shelf dac chip. The significance is that Sony's chip works like no other dac, being a digital amplifier rather than a digital to analogue converter. Those 4 capacitors in the picture work with the digital amplifier in a phase locked loop charge pump configuration, another design unique to the ZX1, not found on other daps. Not saying its a better design, but it certainly is a very modern and interesting design. The design is only in its infancy being the first time something like this has ever been implemented in a dap, I really look forward to Sony innovating further on this design in future daps and lessening its short comings.
I don't understand. Why would you amplify a discrete signal which serves no purpose in driving? Digital is for information only, not a signal for purpose to drive mechanical function(headphones) like any amps.
Well, modern DAPs do not use electrolytics in the path except some audiophile DAPs such as Ibasso and etc. I think the Sony's uniqueness is custom chip, but has been don with Apple, which hasn't turned into audiophile grade DAPs. The custom chip alone doesn't have any merit. We know as high-end uses parts from shelf DACs such ass the ESS9018, and etc.. The AK uses off the shelf and it's very successful. As for the Electrolytics, Id like more details on that. You have any links discussing the design?
Just because they use PLL charge pump doesn't mean it provides more power as ZX1 is speced low power than others in it's league. What you measure is what you get, charge pump doesn't magically increase the power. Where is PLL being used? Is it for the clock? It's purpose is to keep deviations of timing(or phase). Charge pump is part of PLL, it's keeps the timing. If this is the case, charge pump has nothing to do with power delivery.
Edited by SilverEars - 5/28/14 at 4:18am