SONY NW-WM1Z M2 / WM1A M2
Apr 27, 2022 at 3:25 AM Post #3,182 of 15,516
Will you believe the words of the current Sony head engineer in charge of Sound Quality of the Walkman division, Mr Sato who has said that he can hear differences in microSD cards? Is he a liar?

The thing is the microSD card has physical electrical connection to Walkman. It is a connected component of the audio circuitry. Can the microSD affect the digital audio signals of the Walkman? Well this depends on how much of the electrical noise generated by the microSD electrical components gets into the Walkman’s high precision highly sensitive digital clocking circuitry and how much it affects its signal timing.



We have to look deeper and understand that recreating super accurate sound from digital audio requires very accurately timed data and signalling for the dac to reconstruct into analog signals to the amplifier so as to send the perfectly timed voltage rise or fall to the headphones/iem

More about this:


https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/digital-myth?amp


maybe one day, you can try one of these things and see if works for mSD cards as well - https://www.amazon.com/Furutech-Destat-III-Static-Charge-15-second/dp/B01CDN7QJO

my friend says CDs amd Vinyl benefit tremendously from it
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 5:25 AM Post #3,184 of 15,516
does not seem to have any discernable impact to sound signature. then again, most of us are aging the Walkman at the same time (and some are experimenting with mSD cards), so hard to tell :)
Yup you are absolutely right. I didn’t noticeable any substantial changes to the sound that is outside of the normal sound changes that happens during aging of capacitors after doing the firmware update. I was using the same SanDisk extreme pro card. I haven’t change my setup yet during the firmware update.

Though the industrial microSD changes to sound of the Walkman doesn’t even require full aging to be hear, it’s a immediate noticeable change to the sound, more than a cable upgrade difference. I can notice a better clarity to the sound, there is a remarkable improvement to the smoothness of music notes, the sense of airiness is much more present. Piano has a more radiant tone with a smooth tapering decay into silence. Saxophones sounds more fluidly smooth and airy, it’s really more enjoyable to listen to jazz music. I think this amount of change is something very unexpected for me.
 
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Apr 27, 2022 at 5:26 AM Post #3,185 of 15,516
Will you believe the words of the current Sony head engineer in charge of Sound Quality of the Walkman division, Mr Sato who has said that he can hear differences in microSD cards? Is he a liar?

The thing is the microSD card has physical electrical connection to Walkman. It is a connected component of the audio circuitry. Can the microSD affect the digital audio signals of the Walkman? Well this depends on how much of the electrical noise generated by the microSD electrical components gets into the Walkman’s high precision highly sensitive digital clocking circuitry and how much it affects its signal timing.



We have to look deeper and understand that recreating super accurate sound from digital audio requires very accurately timed data and signalling for the dac to reconstruct into analog signals to the amplifier so as to send the perfectly timed voltage rise or fall to the headphones/iem

More about this:


https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/digital-myth?amp

Well, I didn’t believe Sony, but then I observed the differences. I also have that Sony audiophile card but it is only on the same level as the Sandisk extreme pro. Perhaps a very slight bit better. The Micron and the edge is very very different

Also, this explains a lot better than what I was trying to explain in the TA-ZH1ES and the modifications that I did on the TA-ZH1ES.

Especially this circuitry. This is the similar design of switching amplification output stage of the TA-ZH1ES. The components are laying out and discrete. It generates radiated noises, not only EMI but other noises.

I used noise absorbent materials and covered it up. The sound performances became immediately improved. The tonal balances and the trebles vastly improved. You can read more over here.

That stage leaded me to improving the TA-ZH1ES further on with output capacitor tuning later on in order to synergize with it. The result is a pretty wonderful sound signatures coming off from TA-ZH1ES. However, the Pre-amp output with my 300B desktop amp sounds even better. Also thanks to the last post that you shared with me so I understand it a little further. I keep saying that I resent myself over and over for getting into these stuff, and DIY hobby is another rabbit hole I traveled down…neither one is healthy , and both combined is a pretty catastrophic scenarios for my wallet lol. But hey! At least I have happy ears and enjoying it as much as I can now. The ears and hearings, you either use it or lose it and never knew it.

846C768A-0CE8-4BF8-ADBD-B4AE00DD7FB4.jpeg
 
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Apr 27, 2022 at 7:15 AM Post #3,186 of 15,516
Hi guys! I had the chance to demo the WM1AM2 alongside the WM1Z today. Unfortunately, there were no demo units for the 1ZM2 and units of the 1AM were removed. I tried to connect the 1AM2 to my tablet as a DAC to test out tracks I'm familiar with but unfortunately that was unsuccessful. Fortunately though there were 2 demo songs I'm familiar with in both DAPs, LiSA - Gurenge & Utada Hikaru - First Love. I was only allowed 30 minutes in total to test so this is more of a "quick thoughts". I very briefly tried to slide around the OS and I think it's smooth enough without much lag. I brought my IER-Z1R paired with the Luminox Night-for-Night cable for testing. Both were used with low gain at about 90/120 for volume in direct mode on the balanced side. Also, take into account the 1AM2 only has 2 hours of burn in so far on balanced.

IMG_3101.jpeg


There were a couple things that stood out to me:
1. The 1AM2 has a slightly different tuning compared to the WM1A (based on memory). The 1AM2 is closer in tuning to the 1Z albeit less "warm".
2. The 1AM2, shockingly, is about 90% of the original 1Z. The 1Z is still the better DAP, but the 1AM2 is honestly scary close. The 10% difference being the bass, spaciousness, mid/vocal presentation, separation, and naturalness.
3. The bass of the 1Z has more volume and hits deeper, but is slower. The bass of the 1AM2 doesn't hit as deep but has a faster quality to it.
4. The vocals of the 1AM2 are a bit more forward in the upper treble and a grainy texture to it as opposed to the smoother but slightly more recessed vocals of the 1Z.
5. The 1Z sounds wide. That's it, not much to say. The soundstage of the 1AM2 is decent but the spaciousness of the 1Z is just HUGE. I'm sure anyone who's tried the 1Z would understand what I mean. With that being said, the separation of the 1Z is just downright amazing. Both songs don't have much instruments present but it's enough to make you hear how you could make out all the different instruments and parts of a track. With the 1AM2, I could still make them out but requires just a bit more attention.
6. The tuning of the 1AM2 makes it more suited for more energetic and modern music genres such as Pop/K-Pop/J-Pop/Rock (less natural). LiSA's vocals were more energetic with the 1AM2 and I genuinely felt excited. The 1Z is the best with genres with lots of instruments, such classical/orchestral/jazz music (more natural). The vocals of Utada Hikaru carries more weight and emotion and was better presented to me.
7. I tried Spotify with the device and it works fine and loads fast enough. Can't comment much on the sound quality though as I was only trying for response time, smoothness and such.

I know this may seem like a lot of big differences but honestly it's not that much. It's more of a "different presentation" kind of thing. There is no "which one is better" but only "which suits you better". The 1AM2 is a slight departure from the 1A and personally, I like it more than the original 1A. I can see why some people may call it the best DAP in terms of value. Thank you for reading.
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 7:54 AM Post #3,187 of 15,516
Well, I didn’t believe Sony, but then I observed the differences. I also have that Sony audiophile card but it is only on the same level as the Sandisk extreme pro. Perhaps a very slight bit better. The Micron and the edge is very very different

Also, this explains a lot better than what I was trying to explain in the TA-ZH1ES and the modifications that I did on the TA-ZH1ES.

Especially this circuitry. This is the similar design of switching amplification output stage of the TA-ZH1ES. The components are laying out and discrete. It generates radiated noises, not only EMI but other noises.

I used noise absorbent materials and covered it up. The sound performances became immediately improved. The tonal balances and the trebles vastly improved. You can read more over here.

That stage leaded me to improving the TA-ZH1ES further on with output capacitor tuning later on in order to synergize with it. The result is a pretty wonderful sound signatures coming off from TA-ZH1ES. However, the Pre-amp output with my 300B desktop amp sounds even better. Also thanks to the last post that you shared with me so I understand it a little further. I keep saying that I resent myself over and over for getting into these stuff, and DIY hobby is another rabbit hole I traveled down…neither one is healthy , and both combined is a pretty catastrophic scenarios for my wallet lol. But hey! At least I have happy ears and enjoying it as much as I can now. The ears and hearings, you either use it or lose it and never knew it.

I don't think I want you to get into different types of absorbing materials.
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 7:56 AM Post #3,188 of 15,516
Yup you are absolutely right. I didn’t noticeable any substantial changes to the sound that is outside of the normal sound changes that happens during aging of capacitors after doing the firmware update. I was using the same SanDisk extreme pro card. I haven’t change my setup yet during the firmware update.

Though the industrial microSD changes to sound of the Walkman doesn’t even require full aging to be hear, it’s a immediate noticeable change to the sound, more than a cable upgrade difference. I can notice a better clarity to the sound, there is a remarkable improvement to the smoothness of music notes, the sense of airiness is much more present. Piano has a more radiant tone with a smooth tapering decay into silence. Saxophones sounds more fluidly smooth and airy, it’s really more enjoyable to listen to jazz music. I think this amount of change is something very unexpected for me.
Once you put in a "quality" type of mSD card, you will notice the differences immediately. Just like when I put in the Micron, I immediately took it out and put back the Edge immediately.
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 7:57 AM Post #3,189 of 15,516
Hi guys! I had the chance to demo the WM1AM2 alongside the WM1Z today. Unfortunately, there were no demo units for the 1ZM2 and units of the 1AM were removed. I tried to connect the 1AM2 to my tablet as a DAC to test out tracks I'm familiar with but unfortunately that was unsuccessful. Fortunately though there were 2 demo songs I'm familiar with in both DAPs, LiSA - Gurenge & Utada Hikaru - First Love. I was only allowed 30 minutes in total to test so this is more of a "quick thoughts". I very briefly tried to slide around the OS and I think it's smooth enough without much lag. I brought my IER-Z1R paired with the Luminox Night-for-Night cable for testing. Both were used with low gain at about 90/120 for volume in direct mode on the balanced side. Also, take into account the 1AM2 only has 2 hours of burn in so far on balanced.

IMG_3101.jpeg

There were a couple things that stood out to me:
1. The 1AM2 has a slightly different tuning compared to the WM1A (based on memory). The 1AM2 is closer in tuning to the 1Z albeit less "warm".
2. The 1AM2, shockingly, is about 90% of the original 1Z. The 1Z is still the better DAP, but the 1AM2 is honestly scary close. The 10% difference being the bass, spaciousness, mid/vocal presentation, separation, and naturalness.
3. The bass of the 1Z has more volume and hits deeper, but is slower. The bass of the 1AM2 doesn't hit as deep but has a faster quality to it.
4. The vocals of the 1AM2 are a bit more forward in the upper treble and a grainy texture to it as opposed to the smoother but slightly more recessed vocals of the 1Z.
5. The 1Z sounds wide. That's it, not much to say. The soundstage of the 1AM2 is decent but the spaciousness of the 1Z is just HUGE. I'm sure anyone who's tried the 1Z would understand what I mean. With that being said, the separation of the 1Z is just downright amazing. Both songs don't have much instruments present but it's enough to make you hear how you could make out all the different instruments and parts of a track. With the 1AM2, I could still make them out but requires just a bit more attention.
6. The tuning of the 1AM2 makes it more suited for more energetic and modern music genres such as Pop/K-Pop/J-Pop/Rock (less natural). LiSA's vocals were more energetic with the 1AM2 and I genuinely felt excited. The 1Z is the best with genres with lots of instruments, such classical/orchestral/jazz music (more natural). The vocals of Utada Hikaru carries more weight and emotion and was better presented to me.
7. I tried Spotify with the device and it works fine and loads fast enough. Can't comment much on the sound quality though as I was only trying for response time, smoothness and such.

I know this may seem like a lot of big differences but honestly it's not that much. It's more of a "different presentation" kind of thing. There is no "which one is better" but only "which suits you better". The 1AM2 is a slight departure from the 1A and personally, I like it more than the original 1A. I can see why some people may call it the best DAP in terms of value. Thank you for reading.
Hi I think you have done a very wonderful comparison. You have taken every detail into account. Makes for a very informative comparison for those who are still thinking between buying a used 1Z or a new WM1AM2.

Just to confirm some things:

What firmware are you running on the 1Z?

Where are the songs located on the both of the players? Internal memory or microSD cards?
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 8:15 AM Post #3,190 of 15,516
Hi I think you have done a very wonderful comparison. You have taken every detail into account. Makes for a very informative comparison for those who are still thinking between buying a used 1Z or a new WM1AM2.

Just to confirm some things:

What firmware are you running on the 1Z?

Where are the songs located on the both of the players? Internal memory or microSD cards?
I'm sorry but I forgot to check the firmware version on both DAPs.

I assume the songs are stored in the internal memory as that's what most stores here do because 1) in fear that someone steals the microSD card and 2) some stores allow customers to insert their own SD cards.
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 8:23 AM Post #3,191 of 15,516
I don't think I want you to get into different types of absorbing materials.
There are indeed different type of materials, but why change up if I found one that worked already. Only tried 2 so far on other platforms. :). Also tried Pure copper for the shield and all, which didn’t do much good anyway (yeah, we all thought copper would be great, but at least to my ears it didn’t do much). Heck, I am glad that it is working, and developing modifications isn’t cheap or easy 😞
 
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Apr 27, 2022 at 8:32 AM Post #3,192 of 15,516
I'm sorry but I forgot to check the firmware version on both DAPs.

I assume the songs are stored in the internal memory as that's what most stores here do because 1) in fear that someone steals the microSD card and 2) some stores allow customers to insert their own SD cards.
Sorry I thought you have brought your own WM1Z for comparison. I guess the 1Z is using stock Sony firmwares and not running any custom @MrWalkman firmwares.

I guess that makes for a fair comparison if both songs are located in the same internal storage area. The only issue left is the two hours only aging on the WM1AM2 as compared to the more aged WM1Z
 
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Apr 27, 2022 at 9:01 AM Post #3,193 of 15,516
Once you put in a "quality" type of mSD card, you will notice the differences immediately. Just like when I put in the Micron, I immediately took it out and put back the Edge immediately.
With the new swissbit 256gb industrial card inside, I felt that my fully aged WM1AM2 balance port no longer has any unnatural grain or distortion to the sound at all.

Cymbal strikes feels extremely sharp and clean without any hint of the tizzy distortion at the tip of the transient that I heard on the SanDisk extreme pro.

So I would really recommend for Walkman users who are interested in seeking improvement to the sound quality of Walkman to consider using industrial cards if budget allows.

Currently there are a few cards for you to choose from basing on your budget and storage requirements:
Micron I300, up to 1TB, QLC cells
SanDisk Edge up to 400GB, 3D TLC cells
Swissbit S-55U, up to 256GB, 3D TLC cells

QLC cards will be much cheaper interms of cost per GB. Their downside is higher cell error rates, a lower write endurance and lower write speeds as compared to 3D TLC.

But for the purposes of Walkman read heavy music playback, QLC with stronger LDPC error correction will do just fine. Even taking to account of streaming apps, we don’t really write much data to the QLC microSD that will cause it to fail prematurely.

Currently we don’t have any one who have own all three cards to give a comparison to know which card sound better. But I believe all these three industrial cards will be so much better than any of the consumer microSD cards out there.
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 9:23 AM Post #3,194 of 15,516
Big thanks to @Damz87 for his recommendations of the clear TPU case and tempered glass screen protector. :)

D1D70792-5250-4402-A91E-5F8EF8FC2AE6.jpeg
98DBDCF8-6450-45AC-9F6A-28E0BDD40FCB.jpeg
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 9:24 AM Post #3,195 of 15,516
@Whitigir

This magical audiophile rabbit hole is just so bizarre.

Why can’t you just be satisfied with the sound coming from your AirPods?

Isn’t streaming 256Kbits AAC music good enough for you?

Why do you have to insist on listening to microsd music files?

Why do you have to buy an expensive $3700 Walkman player? Your smartphone plays music fine.

Why do you want to modify what Sony engineers have created? Isn’t that stock TA-ZH1ES already good enough sound quality for you?

Why do you have to buy expensive industrial microSD cards? Isn’t the SanDisk extreme pro cards much faster interms of read and write performance?

Why do you spend so much time tinkering with custom firmwares? Isn’t Sony stock firmwares good enough?

Questions and more questions…

Chaotic thoughts from @Sonywalkmanuser.
 
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