1 week review of Sony NW-ZX507 (NW-ZX500 Series)

ZX507 better than AK Kann Cube?


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Dec 17, 2019 at 2:39 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 136

joshfc2001

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Have been using the Sony NW-ZX507 DMP for a week now and I have to say I'm so impressed by what they've done with the player which enabled me to get to details that I haven't reached on my headphones before.

Here's a quick view of what I've been using:

Wired Over the Ear Headphones: Sony MDR-Z1R with 4.4mm Balanced Kimber Kable upgrade, Beyerdynamics DT1990 Pro 250 ohm
Wireless Over the Ear Headphones: Sony WH-h910N, Bose NC 700, Corsair Virtuoso RGB SE
IEM: Audeze iSine20 with Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable and Bluetooth Cipher Cable (aptX HD)
Desktop DAC: Schiit Audio Asgard3 with Multibit DAC module
PMP: Astell&Kern KANN Cube, Sony NW-ZX507
Streaming Source: Tidal HiFi
FLAC files: 16bit/44.1kHz, 24bit/96kHz

Positives
The above is basically my current inventory and have been thoroughly testing our the MDR-Z1R with the ZX507 a lot to get those capacitor burn-in hours (Sony says 200hrs to get them settled in for better sound quality). And I have to say it already sounds exquisite with richer details than my desktop setup with the Asgard3 and Multibit DAC from Schiit. We don't know what DAC Sony is using as they never revealed this on this DAP (although they did do so for the DMP-Z1).

I have to honestly say, even at this stage the Sony beats the ESS Sabre DACs on the AK Kann Cube from my experience. The High Gain amp on the AK is able to drive the DT1990 Pro well but so does the ZX507 at High Gain and the ZX507 just sound that little bit more warmer, balanced, powerful, rich and detailed. Something about the ZX507's that brought out that lower mid-range with the Z1R that the AK couldn't. Sony always seem to excel at this part well with their own headphones, in this case the Z1R.

On the wireless front, the LDAC pairing of the new h910N with the ZX507 is the best combination with Sound Quality as the priority and DSEE-HX settings enabled in the Sony Headphones Connect app. I disabled the adaptive sound feature used full NC feature and this sound great. I was impressed with what came out of the h910N and have to say they sounded clearer, richer and more powerful than the WH1000XM3 (They truly do!). I compared both with same music and the 910N just was a wee bit better on most fronts. And even the NC was up to the XM3's standards although slightly behind, but very effective indeed.

They sounded great with oldies, 70s rock, hip hop, EDM, and indie music. In fact the following is my preference and go give it try for yourself and you won't be disappointed.

Modern Music(90s onwards): h910N + ZX507
Older music(80s and before): Z1R + ZX507

Well it's been only a week and I can't stop listening to this DAP daily with both the Sony headphones combo (wired + wireless). I even take it to work with the wireless LDAC setup for exquisite wireless sound quality. Just that much better to have top SQ in your ears at all times.

Negatives
Now for the few drawbacks for the ZX507. Not many so far, really!
- Battery life - battery drains pretty fast at High Gain with FLAC files despite disabling most background functions on this pure Android 9.0 DAP.
- No USB DAC function
- Doesn't come with a casing - honestly the player is a real looker with a very stylish finish and trust me you want to protect it. Waiting for the ckl-nw zx500 leather casing to be stocked at Sony Store in Kuala Lumpur. They cost around $54 USD.

Conclusion
And that's it for the drawbacks so far. The positives so far surely overshadow the negatives here. Any audiophile would be impressed with the ZX507 as an entry level DAP that packs a serious punch only for SQ enthusiast as Sony has created something that should be considered part of their 3rd tier Signature Series with it's solid build quality with its gold plated copper milled board for better grounding and its brilliant aluminum chassis. The fact that you can stream over WiFi, add storage via microSD, MQA Support, all at hiRes standards says this is pretty much an all rounder with a premium range of SQ. For that I say the price is a bargain as I would have personally paid the same price as the NW-WM1A for this. Personally the ZX507 sound better than the 1A but falls short slightly behind the 1Z's sheer grounding and clarity.

To conclude, the ZX507 is up there as one of THE BEST DAP's out there today and best value for money for those seeking the best sound quality experience without having to take a bank loan to upgrade your setup. Highly recommended!
 
Dec 17, 2019 at 6:04 PM Post #2 of 136
Regarding Sony's No / Unknown "DAC", it is incorrect to say that Sony has no DAC as all digital audio players must have a DAC inside in order to convert binary data into analog sound.

How Sony does the conversion is different from other daps that rely on semiconductor dac chips from Analog Devices, Asahi Kasei Microdevices, ESS, Texas Instruments or Cirrus Logic to do the "dirty work".

Sony does all in one digital signal processing, digital to analog conversion, digital volume control and class D amplification completely within their S-Master HX chip. This technology is Sony proprietary(only on sony devices).

It has the advantage of high quality sound as all the processing and conversion is done in a single chip which reduces electrical interferences and jitter.

It also has the advantage of lower power consumption and lower heat output as compared to other digital audio player that rely on discrete dacs and external amplifications chips.

The disadvantage is the power output of the amplification limited to 250mW(200mW for ZX507) on balanced due to the limitations of semiconductor technology.
 
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Dec 18, 2019 at 12:51 AM Post #3 of 136
Have been using the Sony NW-ZX507 DMP for a week now and I have to say I'm so impressed by what they've done with the player which enabled me to get to details that I haven't reached on my headphones before.

Here's a quick view of what I've been using:

Wired Over the Ear Headphones: Sony MDR-Z1R with 4.4mm Balanced Kimber Kable upgrade, Beyerdynamics DT1990 Pro 250 ohm
Wireless Over the Ear Headphones: Sony WH-h910N, Bose NC 700, Corsair Virtuoso RGB SE
IEM: Audeze iSine20 with Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable and Bluetooth Cipher Cable (aptX HD)
Desktop DAC: Schiit Audio Asgard3 with Multibit DAC module
PMP: Astell&Kern KANN Cube, Sony NW-ZX507
Streaming Source: Tidal HiFi
FLAC files: 16bit/44.1kHz, 24bit/96kHz

Positives
The above is basically my current inventory and have been thoroughly testing our the MDR-Z1R with the ZX507 a lot to get those capacitor burn-in hours (Sony says 200hrs to get them settled in for better sound quality). And I have to say it already sounds exquisite with richer details than my desktop setup with the Asgard3 and Multibit DAC from Schiit. We don't know what DAC Sony is using as they never revealed this on this DAP (although they did do so for the DMP-Z1).

I have to honestly say, even at this stage the Sony beats the ESS Sabre DACs on the AK Kann Cube from my experience. The High Gain amp on the AK is able to drive the DT1990 Pro well but so does the ZX507 at High Gain and the ZX507 just sound that little bit more warmer, balanced, powerful, rich and detailed. Something about the ZX507's that brought out that lower mid-range with the Z1R that the AK couldn't. Sony always seem to excel at this part well with their own headphones, in this case the Z1R.

On the wireless front, the LDAC pairing of the new h910N with the ZX507 is the best combination with Sound Quality as the priority and DSEE-HX settings enabled in the Sony Headphones Connect app. I disabled the adaptive sound feature used full NC feature and this sound great. I was impressed with what came out of the h910N and have to say they sounded clearer, richer and more powerful than the WH1000XM3 (They truly do!). I compared both with same music and the 910N just was a wee bit better on most fronts. And even the NC was up to the XM3's standards although slightly behind, but very effective indeed.

They sounded great with oldies, 70s rock, hip hop, EDM, and indie music. In fact the following is my preference and go give it try for yourself and you won't be disappointed.

Modern Music(90s onwards): h910N + ZX507
Older music(80s and before): Z1R + ZX507

Well it's been only a week and I can't stop listening to this DAP daily with both the Sony headphones combo (wired + wireless). I even take it to work with the wireless LDAC setup for exquisite wireless sound quality. Just that much better to have top SQ in your ears at all times.

Negatives
Now for the few drawbacks for the ZX507. Not many so far, really!
- Battery life - battery drains pretty fast at High Gain with FLAC files despite disabling most background functions on this pure Android 9.0 DAP.
- No USB DAC function
- Doesn't come with a casing - honestly the player is a real looker with a very stylish finish and trust me you want to protect it. Waiting for the ckl-nw zx500 leather casing to be stocked at Sony Store in Kuala Lumpur. They cost around $54 USD.

Conclusion
And that's it for the drawbacks so far. The positives so far surely overshadow the negatives here. Any audiophile would be impressed with the ZX507 as an entry level DAP that packs a serious punch only for SQ enthusiast as Sony has created something that should be considered part of their 3rd tier Signature Series with it's solid build quality with its gold plated copper milled board for better grounding and its brilliant aluminum chassis. The fact that you can stream over WiFi, add storage via microSD, MQA Support, all at hiRes standards says this is pretty much an all rounder with a premium range of SQ. For that I say the price is a bargain as I would have personally paid the same price as the NW-WM1A for this. Personally the ZX507 sound better than the 1A but falls short slightly behind the 1Z's sheer grounding and clarity.

To conclude, the ZX507 is up there as one of THE BEST DAP's out there today and best value for money for those seeking the best sound quality experience without having to take a bank loan to upgrade your setup. Highly recommended!
Regarding Sony's No / Unknown "DAC", it is incorrect to say that Sony has no DAC as all digital audio players must have a DAC inside in order to convert binary data into analog sound.

How Sony does the conversion is different from other daps that rely on semiconductor dac chips from Analog Devices, Asahi Kasei Microdevices ESS, Texas Instruments or Cirrus Logic to do the "dirty work".

Sony does all in one digital signal processing, digital to analog conversion, digital volume control and class D amplification completely within their S-Master HX chip. This technology is Sony proprietary(only on sony devices).

It has the advantage of high quality sound as all the processing and conversion is done in a single chip which reduces electrical interferences and jitter.

It also has the advantage of lower power consumption and lower heat output as compared to other digital audio player that rely on discrete dacs and external amplifications chips.

The disadvantage is the power output of the amplification limited to 250mW(200mW for ZX507) on balanced due to the limitations of semiconductor technology.

I didn't say it doesn't have DAC. I know what these are just wasn't sure if it was their own or 3rd party one. Thanks for pointing out Sony' DSP processing. That's new to me.

No doubt this player has been really enjoyable on all fronts from all the cans i've thrown at it. I don't think i will be upgrading for some time now as I have found my nirvana (for 2020 at least)
 
Dec 18, 2019 at 1:05 AM Post #4 of 136
What I meant there were some on the forum/internet thought that Sony walkman have no DAC inside as it was never listed in the specification sheet.

Yup, this walkman is a true gem for the sound quality, portability, functionality.

I have upgraded from the Android based ZX2 to this ZX507.

Over the 4years since ZX2 with XBA-Z5, changing to ZX507 with IER-M9 balanced. It's a epic level upgrade to sound quality.

15mw on ZX2 to 200mw on ZX507 balanced.
Much improved DSEE HX with 3D sound
Even more Smoother treble
Epic bass reproduction and adjustable with dc phase Linearizer.

Guess I am set for another five years.
 
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Dec 18, 2019 at 1:11 AM Post #5 of 136
What I meant there were some on the forum/internet that thought that Sony walkman have no DAC inside as it was never listed in the specification sheet.

Yup, this walkman is a true gem for the sound quality, portability, functionality.

I have upgraded from the Android based ZX2 to this ZX507.

Over the 4years since ZX2 with XBA-Z5, changing to ZX507 with IER-M9 balanced. It's a epic level upgrade to sound quality.

15mw on ZX2 to 200mw on ZX507 balanced.
Much improved DSEE HX with 3D sound
Even more Smoother treble
Epic bass reproduction and adjustable with dc phase Linearizer.

Guess I am set for another five years.

I was just thinking of XBA-Z5 if I were to pair the ZX507 with an IEM. When i tried it at Sony Store they sounded awesome with a great attack to most modern music. Haven't tried the M9 though. My other option is the IER-Z1R (could be the ultimate pair for IEMs on Balanced).

At the office now and rocking this out with the NC & LDAC using h910N.

Can't wait when to hear the improvements once it's fully burned in.
 
Dec 18, 2019 at 5:07 PM Post #6 of 136
I think for the IER-Z1R, you have to consider it's bulky design which may be discomforting to use for long term for some ear shapes. If you can get it to fit, then this is obviously the best sounding amongst all the Sony IEMs.

As for the IER-M9, it's weakness is in it's lack of punchy feel in the bass that you get with Dynamic Driver or Hybrids. But still it has enough airy-like bass to make up for the lack of punch.

XBA-Z5 is pretty comfortable to wear, but it lacks good soundstage of the M9 but it has really excellent bass. The stock cable isn't that good at all. You have to upgrade the cables.

Maybe the IER-M7 should be in your consideration too if you are the type that don't prefer strong treble. IER-M9 can sound overly-bright for some people.
 
Dec 19, 2019 at 1:14 PM Post #7 of 136
I think for the IER-Z1R, you have to consider it's bulky design which may be discomforting to use for long term for some ear shapes. If you can get it to fit, then this is obviously the best sounding amongst all the Sony IEMs.

As for the IER-M9, it's weakness is in it's lack of punchy feel in the bass that you get with Dynamic Driver or Hybrids. But still it has enough airy-like bass to make up for the lack of punch.

XBA-Z5 is pretty comfortable to wear, but it lacks good soundstage of the M9 but it has really excellent bass. The stock cable isn't that good at all. You have to upgrade the cables.

Maybe the IER-M7 should be in your consideration too if you are the type that don't prefer strong treble. IER-M9 can sound overly-bright for some people.

That's useful information for me. Yea I don't like it too bright. I can't take too much treble hence I don't use my DT1990 Pro much.

The next i head to Sony Store will test and compare all 4 IEMs ie. XBA-Z5, M7, M9, and the Z1R
 
Dec 19, 2019 at 1:24 PM Post #8 of 136
Don't think the M9 is as bright as the beyerdynamic.

I think the M7 is the best value of them all since it comes with balanced cable as compared to Z5.
 
Dec 21, 2019 at 4:41 PM Post #10 of 136
I think for the IER-Z1R, you have to consider it's bulky design which may be discomforting to use for long term for some ear shapes. If you can get it to fit, then this is obviously the best sounding amongst all the Sony IEMs.

As for the IER-M9, it's weakness is in it's lack of punchy feel in the bass that you get with Dynamic Driver or Hybrids. But still it has enough airy-like bass to make up for the lack of punch.

XBA-Z5 is pretty comfortable to wear, but it lacks good soundstage of the M9 but it has really excellent bass. The stock cable isn't that good at all. You have to upgrade the cables.

Maybe the IER-M7 should be in your consideration too if you are the type that don't prefer strong treble. IER-M9 can sound overly-bright for some people.

I wouldn't say the Z1R is "obviously" the best. I owned the M9 and Z1R at the same time and preferred the M9 due to punchier bass (and less recessed lower midrange), which you say it's lacking. Maybe you had an issue with the fit when you tried them?
 
Jan 14, 2020 at 2:26 PM Post #11 of 136
Suggest you use this classical piece to compare the Z1R, M9, M7, Z5 on your ZX507 (do make sure it has 250hours burn in and use DSEE):
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/sony-ier-m9-impressions-thread.897604/page-28#post-15371578

How’s the ZX507 after full burn in now? Do I have to continuously run it playing for 250hrs to get proper burn in? Or is it just to speed up the process?

anyway I just demo the M7, M9, and Z1R at Sony Store extensively against the demo unit ZX507 and went ahead with the Z1R!

I shall be posting a paired review on Z1R and ZX507 after a week or two....thanks for your insights...
 
Jan 15, 2020 at 4:42 PM Post #12 of 136
You don't have to let it run 250hours continuously.

Just need to accumulate 250hours playback in total.

After 250hours, the walkman is pretty much reached it's equilibrium.

Your new Z1R will also require some burn in time to sound it's best. It's around 100hours to 150hours depending on what type of music/loudness. This burn-in time applies to all kinds of iems in my experience
 
Jan 17, 2020 at 2:12 AM Post #13 of 136
Well so far, after 250hrs of burn in on the ZX507 DAP, out of the box the IER-Z1R sounds exceptional!

Did a demo for hours using the Z1R on DMP-Z1 and of course there's no match to that but have to say the burned in ZX507 is not that far off. Sounds equally exquisite as well IMO.

So far all my genre's like Rock, Hip Hop, EDM, Oldies, they all sound amazing. I think it's safe to say this combo is my end game.

Many have said that they had fitting issues with the Z1R but personally no issues for me as the M tips from hybrid silicone works best and i've been listening for hours with no discomfort. Good fit.

Some have said that I may need a separate amp (including Sony staff) to drive the Z1R but i think the ZX507 does a pretty good job at driving these on Balanced High Gain:
Direct Source: optimum volume 95 - 105
DC Phase Linearizer (Type B LOW), DSEE HX (On), Custom EQ, Dynamic Normalizer (On): optimum volume 75 - 85

The bass and soundstage on the Z1R is incomparable to what I've tried thus far. Let's see how they fare post 150hrs of burn in.
 
Jan 17, 2020 at 4:10 AM Post #15 of 136
yes i did update it last night but not sure if it made any difference to the sound quality as I'm using a whole new IEM hence I may be putting it down to the IER-Z1R.

I may need to retry my MDR-Z1R to listen to any difference although the sound signature for both Z1R's are very similar though the IER's have more details that i noticed against the MDR.

Bad timing for me i guess

upload_2020-1-17_18-29-38.png
 

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