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Sony NW-WM1Z Owner and Impressions !

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by whitigir, Dec 1, 2016.
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  1. Whitigir
    So Sony had stepped up their game, and decided to release one of the best Walkman up to date, and that is the NW-WM1Z. As everyone who had been following the device developments and leaks, we all know that the WM1Z or 1Z was made to compete against the AK380 Copper. Sony also has a lower pricing version and it is WM1A. I do think it is appropriate to say the 1A is the regular AK380 competition with a cheaper price. As this thread is for 1Z. We will get on with this.

    First of all, I congratulate to people who had also put a dent in their wallet and to purchase the new Sony 1Z Walkman. It is expensive, beautiful, engineered by Sony, developed in Japan, and made in Malaysia :). The body chassis is made of pure OFC copper solid carving, and 24k Gold plated with Matte finish, which put the 1Z gold color to be Deeper and Darker in tone. This unique chassis casing is used for the return and grounding purposes as the engineers had disclosed. The conductivity of Copper is great and that it reduced the resistance, provided better signal integrity for the ground, and because it is so pure, the signal integrity stays the purest when compare to Aluminum version on 1A . That is not all the tricks.

    There are no software specially tuned to the 1Z or 1A, both share the same OS and interchangeable, but the different sound signatures come from

    1/ Larger Fine Sound Resistors for WM1Z, and WM1A is MELF Resistors (5 in total)....I counted it...could be wrong...pardon me

    2/ 4 more FT Capacitors vs OS-CON from 1A. However, the differences in Capacitors were told to be different on the 3.5mm socket side only, and both 1A and 1Z were told by the engineer to be using the same amount and count of FT Capacitors.

    3/ Interconnect Wirings are Kimber braided Cables vs OFC unbraided from 1A

    4/ 256 Gb internal memory instead of 128

    I was told by a few people who had attended the shows and had their hand on both for comparisons, the sound signatures are different (how significant is upon personal judgement), but 1A was more digital and 1Z is more Tube like with better expressions.


    Sony releases the Walkman worldwide, I gathered that the Devices for EU market is Volume Capped to comply to EU laws, and they have the Logo (CE) on the box.

    The Japanese version does not support English but only Japanese and support ATRAC (uniquely to Japan model only)

    We will have Tourist versions: Japan Tourist version and Asia Tourist versions. All Tourist versions support English and a total of 13 languages, and they are not Volume Capped. These could be imported from other regions of the world. I will leave the hunting and the fun to you to do so. They will come with 1 year standard warranty across many regions including US and U.K.

    Then we have US version, and I have not seen it yet.....

    Mine is Asia Tourist version


    The opening of the box has nothing special to it, pretty simple. Do not expect to have anything special as you have paid a few grands for it :D. It is similar to the boxing of Zx2. The experiences is not as special as opening headphones MDR-Z1R for sure.

    The new Walkman both 1A and 1Z support Balanced 4.4mm as a new standard from Jeita, and 3.5 Single ended or separated grounding on this 3.5mm side, which means you can use TRRS connection from Zx2 or Hi-fi Man. The power output was told to be 250mwx2 (balanced) and 60mW x 2 (3.5).


    The unique attribute about balanced 4.4mm is that it can do Native DSD up to 11.2 . Beside this, Sony also removed the analog line out from WM port, which put the new Walkman WM series to be only compatible to Digital output for transport and if you need to use line-out analog, you can use either headphones output. It was told that the Direct Source would need to be checked for the stability of the signals and keeping the integrity.

    Here I am using headphones out from 4.4 Balanced into my large stereo system, and I do love it so far.



    I tried it with my large home stereo amplifier and it went smoothly (3.5mm TRRS into balanced input). Hell, that bass :D

    The UI is pretty smooth overall, not as snappy as the modern smartphones, but not exceptionally laggy. Though occasionally it may lags a bit. If you fancy the screen display of VU meters and or Spectrum analyzer, you can do so, and remember to check the screen to keep it On all the time, the default turn off is 30 seconds. Default setting also show album art cover instead.


    There are Relays built into the Walkman to protect the overload of the headphones at the instant and damage it when plugged in or unplug. However, the relays will work as soon as the Sockets are plugs, regardless of the headphones being plugged on at the other end or not. Therefore, I recommend to make sure your headphones is securely connected to the cables before you plug into the Walkman itself. When plugged in, the Balanced side would show a "Click" as the relay is working, and on the 3.5mm the relay is not as strong, the click sound will not be as pronounced


    If my experiences with Pha-3 and Zx2 stated anything ? It would be that Sony had a soft spot for Balanced configurations and Separate grounding. So I ask of you to please, do not judge the performance of these units out of 3.5 Single ended.


    The 1Z has a weight of a champion which was 448 Gram approximately. I would say 1/2 KG or 1lb. It actually feel very worthy and good in hand. Though for a smaller hand size like me, I prefer to use it with 2 hands....and I don't want to slip it to drop it....even though the hand strap is constantly wore on my wrist. So, 2 hands operation, and the weight is actually pretty solid and good feeling. A fun thing is that while being leisurely in the office and listening to this portable device, you can also flex with it and do all kind of reps to stay (healthy) :D. No pun intended, I actually kinda like it. The weight is noth bothering when you put it in the pocket...you will feel it, but unless you are Saggy style, you won't have to worry if you are using it like me, having music on your ears, and only getting around the house from room to room or within your office to grab papers and stuff. If you prefer to walk out with it, you could face many potential threats, such as feeling 1lb in your pocket (it won't get hot though), it may slip out and got damaged, you may get robbed, it may get stolen....or lost.


    Gain functions: you can use standard, or high gains. It was told that turning on high Gain, you better turn on both sides of the circuit, even though you have the option to chose either.

    So, could it drive Z1R fine ? Yeah, Z1R is easier to drive, and in balanced mode with High Gain, I sit at 70-80 comfortably out of 120 range. In 3.5mm TRRS, I sit at 90-100 out of 120. Never dare to go beyond the range I stated with music on....probably gonna blow my ears and I need it to enjoy the music.

    The device displayed a 200 hours needed for burn-in before a proper performances would be achieved.


    The funny thing and literally is that out of the box at 0:00 mark, the device was all about that bass and slam + vocal...micro details and trebles were like.....>_<. It hit my panic button, so I just wanted to share it out here, please don't panic. Hear it as it burn-in, and after 2 hours, you will see it evolving.


    The dock for Zx2 will work and fit snugly, it will act as digital out and charger at the same time. The player can also be charged via WM port and playing music through Analog out just fine. There will be a LeD light on the side button to show it is charging, and the battery indicator also do.

    When connected to a computer, the Walkman and Memory card will both show up, no need to choose or additional option. More impressions will follow.

    1Z owners. Please have fun listening, and don't forget to share impressions about the unit here.

    I also found out that WM1Z will not be able to read Music files anywhere other than the Folder named "Music" on the MicroSD. It took me a good few minutes to try and figure it out. Also, reset all setting option will reset the "audio played" in unit information as well

    ***Additional information*** is below.

  2. RPB65
    Congrats Whitigir, one day I may be able to join you! Yeah in my dreams, pmsl.
    Whitigir likes this.
  3. hydesg
    The balanced jack support 3.5 trrs ?
  4. taxico
    what's the build quality like?
  5. Mimouille
  6. Whitigir
    Yes, 3.5mm Support TRRS or Hifiman-man Balanced style. The 4.4mm is on it own class. I like this 4.4mm socket a lot, it is very solid, tight, and locked in securely and not easily rolling around when plugged in like the 3.5mm socket (everything 3.5mm) for the matter. Feel very close to how 1/4" does

    Build quality is gorgeous, as I mentioned a "worthy" device to be holding in one palm. Solid, weighty, feel expensive, buttons and WM ports are solid like a rock, the body is like a tank, but we all know it is pure copper and gold plated....don't try to chew on it....these are soft metals.

    Bluetooth is only available for Bluetooth audio pairing and remote only, you will not be getting the ability to transfer files, or even connecting to another device for internet connection or whatever. The same is for NFC , everything on the 1Z is built for music, and music alone is it purposes, including these wireless NFC and Bluetooth feature.


    After 38 hours, and I can tell you that I am hearing this "lower trebles" so good, great impact and density....yeah, I did say the trebles has impacts...lol. It is not only a plays here and there, but it is observable with the energies that was applied, the resonates of the decaying tone, the fading and the filtering applied by the engineers behind the Mix. It is clearly observable. This lower trebles is so good, with presents, density, smooth extensions and edges, timing, decay, and resonates. I can not believe how good this is.


    Now, onto that super duper deep bass which is very very special. The deep bass on this 1Z is so deep, like it is reaching another level of deep bass. I feel the depth and the weight at the same time while I feel the density, impact, the resonates, decay as well as other layers of bass which has it own layering+energies+decay+reverb.....everything paint up a very clear picture. In some track that has this super Deep bass which sometime let distort a little bit by the Engineer would get so much distortions and amplified by the funny Micro distortions which made me turn away from such track before. I have never heard this kind of vivid , clean, deep, powerful, vividly presenting bass from portable device without funny microdistortion before. Believe it or not, even my desktop amp Oppo HA-1 which is a top of the mid tier class and with all the upgrades I could give it, power cables, USB cables....I still hear this micro-distortion in deep bass. Other Portables that I came accross such as MicroIdsd, Mojo, Pha-3, Zx2, all of these had those funny microdistortions when I put it up to challenge. I had always thought that was the nature of the tracks...but it wasn't, as 1Z proved that the microdistortions which was intended by the engineers behind it was rather smooth, and not a mess like I had been hearing.


    Did I included the comparison to a desktop DAC/Amp ? Yes, I did. I think it was the way the DAC was implemented and configured in it. I will try to feed 1Z as an analog source and use the built in class A amp in the HA-1 to see if this would be one of the best setup for harder to drive headphones later. I suspect the star here was the new S-Master Hx and configuration from Sony vs the ESS9018S and configuration from Oppo here. The discrete class A amplifier in the HA-1 should still be a star here. But we will see once I have the parts to make the adapters

    The above findings were observed closely with (cables from Z1R stock, 1 cable was modified into XLR 4 to take part in this challenge)

    1/ Z1R balanced 4.4 into 1Z


    2/ 1Z, and dock cradle, Silver USB cables, into HA-1, and out of XLR4 Balanced into Z1R.

    Deep, clean, vivid bass presentation and energies without funny microdistortions.

    More report will follow as I will be looking for the next challenges : soundstage, 3D presentations, air-space-field, trebles details and presentations, microdetails, microscopic details, micro energies and tonal resonates. It would be awesome to see
    Erfan Elahi likes this.
  7. hydesg
    Is the z1 loud when plugged direct to the 1z? Can it be pushed to loud volume?

  8. Whitigir

    I will copy and paste from my first post

    So, could it drive Z1R fine ? Yeah, Z1R is easier to drive, and in balanced mode with High Gain, I sit at 70-80 comfortably out of 120 range. In 3.5mm TRRS, I sit at 90-100 out of 120. Never dare to go beyond the range I stated with music on....probably gonna blow my ears and I need it to enjoy the music.
    Erfan Elahi likes this.
  9. pCollins
    Thanks. I see now what you meant on the volume cap.  If you need almost 100/120 to drive Z1R, driving a less efficient HD800 is indeed a problem.
  10. Whitigir

    100/120 is from TRRS 3.5mm. This only sport 60mW per channels. The balanced port sit comfortably around 70-80 which is 250mw per channel. We never known until someone try with HD800 out of Balanced port. Though the DIY 4.4mm plugs is nowhere to be found yet.
  11. purk Contributor
    More impressions please!
  12. Mimouille
    It sounds awesome. The end.
  13. Cagin
    oh dear! Watagump hacked into Mimouille's account >:-]]
    Erfan Elahi and RPB65 like this.
  14. Whitigir
    The new DSEE HX will upscale anything from MP3 or even CD quality to high resolution . Not sure if the battery life will drop, but it is not indicated on WM1Z where as Zx2 did stated that. Also WM1Z states Upscale from CD quality, and Zx2 does not.

    If these are your things, I can confirm that DSEE HX from WM1X provides cleaner back ground, tighten up the extensions and edges and give a sharper images of everything in definitions. It does even better than Pha-3 and Zx2 DSEE HX was the ugliest in the bunch.

  15. Mython Contributor
    I find it peculiar that there are people on Head-fi who claim to be all about purity and quality of playback, yet they are willing to make all manner of excuses for Sony messing around with source files to an absurd degree (I'm speaking not just of WM1Z/A, but also ZX1, ZX2, ZX100 - basically, anything with their S-Master chip and associated firmware).
    Why pay flagship money (actually, more than flagship money) to have your source files sliced and diced by Sony's digital shenanigans? These are not 'enhancements' - they are in the opposite direction of fidelity to the original recording, and alarm bells should be ringing whenever a so-called audiophile device relies upon such signal manipulation in order to achieve its aims.
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