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This could possibly be addressed with the firmware update being released this fall.
You probably get something mixed up, the dignis has more colors, and it's also the most expensive.
Can't comment on the DAC, as I don't use it, but I think Sony made the SE worse on purpose, they are forcing people to use Balanced
At least on the official site for Dignis the leather cases are 75 USD (83,000KRW) while the Musashino costs 85 USD (9,510JPY) in Japan.
I guess I am looking for a case in black or navy, something less flashy (that is what I meant by normal colors).
So I got the balanced MMCX 4.4mm Detachable Cable for the Shure SE535s which were actually better than I expected. Plugged them into the balanced port and yes – massive difference! The sound was much improved at lower volumes (and higher volumes, just less so versus the SE port) just as others had said. The lows, mids and highs were all generally improved and the sound seemed to be a lot more separated.
The other night I also ordered KZ ED16 earphones with balanced cable from Amazon as I had heard good things about them and wanted to hear what more bassy IEMs would sound like compared to my more mid heavy Shures. Testing them I was impressed by the bass or sub-bass rather but the mids and highs were certainly lacking presence (even with an EQ fiddle). But for £25 on Prime they’re a steal!
I also tried the Meze 99 Classics headphones at Spiritland in London – at £269 they sounded great in SE with the ZX300. They’re ready for balanced, so am sure they’d sound even better. They’re 32 ohms and can be driven easily by the Sony. They seemed to add the bass that was missing with my Shure SE535s (I do like bass).
Now that I was happy re how the ZX300 sounded I put it to the test against my iPhone setup. (I hadn’t listened to it for several days, so had forgotten what it sounded like). I created 12 songs, most of which were played through Musicloud on my phone at the same quality as on the ZX300.
Results: 3 overall wins by the Sony, 4 songs sounded slightly better, 4 were draws and 1 song I actually preferred on the iPhone (it was on Spotify). These results shocked me and I’m still surprised as I write this and of course this is my personal opinion – I’m sure many of you would disagree with me – but these were my honest findings.
Like Jonathane40, I'm interested if anyone knows how much Vrms the ZX300 puts out (balanced and unbalanced). I'm trying to choose between the Sony and an AK70 Mkii but AK gives the output in Vrms (no load) and Sony gives the output in mW. I want to make sure if I get the Sony I won't be disappointed with the volume levels. (There's no stock in my city, so I can't try the ZX300 before I buy, though I know it doesn't have the EU volume cap.)
Sony measures according to the JETA standard of 16 ohms for calculating milliwatts. AK showing Vrms with 0 load is a theoretical measurement and misleading.
I used https://www.random-science-tools.com/electronics/dBm-Watts-volts.htm and converted the Sony with load to Vrms for you:
Sony Unbalanced 50 mW @ 16 ohm gives 0.8944 Vrms and 1.265 Vpeak
Sony Balanced 200 mW @ 16 ohms gives 1.789 Vrms and 2.530 Vpeak
You can't convert Vrms to mW with no load so there is no way to do an apples to apples comparison.
I am considering getting an amp for difficult to drive earbuds. The one I've already fallen in love with is single ended.
Will this somehow be a problem? With my limited understanding I can still get the benefit of the better sound from balanced on the zx300, right?
Every time I try to read up on the theory behind balanced, it goes something like: a balanced connection uses 2 wires for the signal inside a third screen. The signal in one of the signal wires is reversed, bla bla bla..... so the receiving unit somehow cancels out the noise. That sounds great. Only we just have 2 wires in a balanced headphone cable (4 for both channels), which differs from the total of 3 wires needed for SE (with the common -). So this seems to have nothing to do with cancelling the noise out over the run of the cable, its about not mixing the signals for the 2 channels by using separate minus or neutral wires.
So there seems to be at least 2 definitions of a balanced cable. How many are there?
Edit: well it seems I've found some clarification here. But any comments or further explanations are very welcome
Thanks very much, Lookout57. It's annoying for newbies like me that Sony and AK don't use the same standards. Am I right in thinking that the AK70 Mkii can run more demanding headphones than the zx300? There are many features of the zx300 that I really like (plus I still have goodwill for them based on my Sony cassette Walkmans of the 1980s), but I was slightly put off by some comments that the amp was underpowered. (I know I should ideally be chooisng based on sound, but I just don't have that option, living in a small city in small country with a very limited selection.) The lag on the DAC also put me off a bit, but since I'll be using it primarily to listen to music and podcasts when I go running, that is not such an issue.
The latest Sony players ZX-300 and WM1A/Z have a lot more power when used in balanced mode. For example the ZX300 has 4x more power in balanced mode than in singled ended mode.
So what are you planning on listening with? Are you going to go balanced or single-ended? That will determine if the ZX-300 is strong enough.
The end there, you said you'd be using it for podcasts, it doesn't do streaming. You can use your phone and use the Sony in dac mode, not sure how well it works I've never done it. Just letting you know.
Thanks Hemi, I should have noted that I'm not intending to stream music or podcasts, so the Sony's lack of streaming is not an issue for me. I'm pretty old school – I'll be downloading podcasts to my laptop and then transferring them to the DAP. Same for music.
Lookout, I'm probably going to go with a failry cheap set of headphones (probably in-ear) to start with, while I save up money for something better. (I had some unexpected expenses this year that mean I'm in budgeting mode.) Ideally, I'd like to go balanced, because everything I've read about the Sony says the balanced option is miles better. Because it's for use while jogging, I might go in ear, though I've often had trouble in the past with them falling out, or I'll get some basic overear headphones. It's partly because I haven't worked that bit out yet that I'm being wary about the Sony or the AK70. I don't want to get one then find some months down the road that I should have gone for the other.
I really appreciate the help.
You got me curious. USB camera connection from the iPhone X to the Sony NW-ZX00. Works fine - just need to turn off USB DAC charging on the Walkman.
There are plenty of cheap but decent earphone options - recently I got the iBasso IT01 for $NZ135 for which you can get a cheap balanced cable from aliexpress etc. The IT01 get great reviews - but there are a whole range of affordable highly rated options, know as Chifi (Chinese hifi I think).