Sony NWZ-ZX1 - 35th Walkman Anniversary model
Nov 22, 2014 at 11:49 PM Post #6,512 of 7,691

salanos

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I tried out my ZX1 with MDR-Z7 several times. I have a feeling that ZX1 hasn't enough power to drive the Z7. Bass has high impact but less sustain. The mid is dull. The treble is quite dark.

However when I used PHA-3. The sound of Z7 is now what it should be. Bass has more sustain. The mid is more clear and the treble has more detail.

To add on to this statement, the ZX1 there was provided with the PHA-3 amplifier in the Z7 demonstration room. The Z7 is quite certainly targeted for home hi-fi listening and is a high-power-demanding headphone. That said the ZX1 can drive it as I experienced, but as AT1987 says it probably can't drive it fully. The ZX1 on its own seems to be more intent towards more mobile/portable headphones or IEMs.
There's been a lot of discussion in this thread on the whole regarding the S-Master HX amplifier's capabilities.


Edit:
After even more listening with the ZX1 vs the F806; here is my definitive sound difference list - the ZX1:
  • Is warmer & brighter
  • Has more spatiality with stronger sensation of three-dimensionalism
  • Is significantly significantly about one notch louder. This is regardless of the Direct Volume Control setting in Poweramp.
  • More mid-forward and vocals centric.
  • Is better at post processing and 'restoration' with DSEE-HX.
  • Is lighter in bass, but more controlled. Less boomy and strong at the same EQ settings, but I think its ceiling is as good.
  • has a burst of hiss whenever connecting an output (at least low impedance ones like my IEMs)
  • Is overall more organic, clean and smooth sounding - more effortless, but with somehow less sense of richness and fill.

Pro & Con list on the other hand:
+ Better screen by far, but with the same overexposure problem. (This seems to be something common to a lot of Sony devices) Superior color and sharpness (despite lower density).
+ Stronger headphone output and Bluetooth delivery (er, does it have AptX support?)
+ Native Hi-Res support (or, at least, supposed to. Native DSD is no go from what I hear here.)
+ Better looking as a whole with the whole brushed-silver-fake-leather look. More premium.
+ Obvious, good feeling, PHYSICAL BUTTONS. That work with third party apps (they emulate a headset input).
+ Larger content capacity at 128GB vs 32GB (64GB on F807)
+ NFC
+ Faster, smoother system experience (4.1.1 Jelly Bean vs 4.0.4 ICS, plus an extra 256MB of RAM with a newer CPU/GPU combo. The 512MB of RAM in the F806 is a major deficit.)
+ Faster transfer and wireless performance.
| Android system buttons are virtual. This is a like or dislike aspect but I prefer fixed physical ones. Allows Google Now gesture though.
| Larger screen. Again a matter of preference. I don't care much for it here. This is a DAP, not a games device.
| Rear, centered speaker. Both have similar sounding speakers actually, but I prefer the placement on the F806.
| Rear lower hump. Matter of taste, but its for component separation. Helps grip, but again a matter of taste if you like it or not.
- No FM Radio. (This is a major dent, but not a hole, for the ZX1. But it's likely to reduce interference and it's meant for HRA anyway.
- Larger footprint. Significantly. Total volume is larger, and so is the weight.
- Worse durability. (Sure, brushed aluminum looks great, but the magnesium alloy body of the F806 is far sturdier. ZX1s will pick up major scuffs, chips, dents, etc. just like every iPhone you've seen. Especially when dropped.
- Smaller system allocated partition. Well, this is a plus if you don't care about installing some apps.
- Price is substantially higher.
So that's my pro & con list for the F806-ZX1 comparison. Note that I'm not counting sound signature as a point in either way. Just remember both are different market classes. Anyhow, I'm overall still pleased and satisfied with the ZX1.

Edit 2: re-noted bits after trying some more...
Since I'm obsessive about such things I realized I should've tried a more direct comparison with DVC disabled on both (I use DVC disabled on the F806 normally.) The ZX1's bass isn't much weaker, if at all perceivable by me, than the F806, but it does sound tighter - less lingering boom.
The other aspects still hold up apart from the volume - the F806 is definitely softer at the same system volume, but not as much as I was thinking previously, likely due to DVC (which increases volume by about two or three notches).
Please note that I've only tried it out with my Aurvana inEar3 and XBA-3s, that is, IEMs. Not yet with the ATH-m50. I'd like to get around to that sometime. Regardless, I'd like to mention that the CAurv-iE3s are an excellent match to the ZX1 in their unique way, in my opinion. Though of course if you're the sort to buy this kind of pricey DAP you're unlikely to be searching for "value enthusiast" IEMs.

Regarding DVC - I find that it weakens the bass strength a little, but increases the ceiling clipping limit for the equalizer allowing you to increase bass frequencies further without causing easily audible clipping. It also fills out the midrange a bit more, but I also note that DVC audibly clips/distorts if you set the player volume to full (i.e. Music/Games in the WALKMAN's volume control applet).
 
Nov 23, 2014 at 12:07 PM Post #6,513 of 7,691

Jogibaer

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Hi, I'm thinking about buying the ZX1 Walkman, but I'm not sure it's worth the money. Also because of this measurements which already got discussed here: http://cymbacavum.com/2014/06/09/lachlanlikesathing-sony-nwz-zx1-vs-iphone-5s/ At the moment I'm having the Sony NWZ-A867 which is absolutely loud enough for me with my Beyerdynamic DT-990Pro (250 Ohm) headphones. So my question is:
Is the loudness comparable with the ZX1 or is it so much less like I've red about so often?
 
Nov 24, 2014 at 2:57 AM Post #6,514 of 7,691

purk

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  So I have to ask would you say this player is worth the price tag, based on sound quality alone?  

I think the ZX1 is a bit overpriced in term of suggested retailed price considering just for the sound quality alone.  However, when factoring an overall package I think it is less of an issue especially the going price in the used market.  To me the ZX1 is the most completed player in terms of sound quality, UI, features, and craftsmanship under $800.  However, if someone just want the best bang for the money in the sound quality department, they should take a hard look at the FiiO X5.  The ZX1 to my ears is about on par if not slight better sounding than the FiiO X5.  However, the size & UI on the X5 are completely not pocket friendly & intuitive, respectively.  The biggest con on the ZX1 IMO is an inability to charge when the WMport is used to output to digital signal to DAC/amp.  
 
Originally Posted by salanos /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm no definitive authority seeing as I haven't gone through many players besides my previous Walkmans or smartphones/tablets, especially in this price range - the ZX1 is my first such "enthusiast level DAP", since I don't have the greens for getting too deep into this hobby.

But asking me whether I would buy the ZX1 purely on sound quality; no. It's definitely different from my two-years older F806, as I've outlined above, but whether that's better is a matter of pure taste. While I was demo-ing it at the store it was hard to be certain which was which when I asked a salesperson to sort of help me blind test, especially since i don't have a proper switch and the salesperson while well-intentioned tended to mess with the volume or accidentally change tracks.
What I was initially thinking was "better sounding" was actually my F806, since like I've said it sounds more 'full'. After some more listening to the ZX1 however after buying ... while it's not way ahead in an appreciable way like it is versus a typical smartphone, my judgement is that its bass is less emphasized, but its treble extension and sparkle is greater and more effortless, with stronger mids and more forward vocals, resulting in a warmer, brighter signature, versus the F806's colder, darker signature.

tl;dr
Compared to a phone, yeah - it's way better. Definitely excellent, clear and three-dimensional. Compared to the older Walkman, not way better, but certainly different. Compared to a cheaper F886, I don't know - I haven't listened to those.
The ZX1 drives the MDR-1Rmk2 fairly effortlessly and does well for (low impedance, at least) IEMs (I can't detect any hissing on my XBA-3), but I recall it didn't deliver much on the max volume with, say, higher-end cans like the MDR-Z7 I tried at the hi-res audio launch event.
So based on SQ alone not properly justifiable for my money (but I'm still a pleb.). But it has 128GB, (claims to) supports Hi-Res and its got faster system chipsets than my older player, which together with the SQ made it seem like a fine choice to spend on.
Mind you; I got it at a discount by trading in an even older Walkman.

Remember; SQ is a matter of personal taste - some even like the sound of clipping distortion caused by "low quality players". I for example like analytical sound and my choice of earphones/headphones are described as "cold as ice".
Also, well, I have other hobbies that are just as expensive as hi-fi, so ... unfortunately I reserve smaller amounts of money for splashing on audio gear.

We are a bit differ in opinion here.  I also have the F807/6, and never once I thought that it is "fuller" sounding than the ZX1.  The ZX1 is the fuller and more powerful sounding unit with more neutral tonality to my ears.  The F807 is leaner with stronger emphasis to clarity & treble to my ears.  Its tonal balance is brighter/colder than the ZX1 as well as the Z1070, A17, X1060, and A867.  I still have the F807, but I heavily preferred the sound  of my ZX1 over it no matter when I'm using my JH13pro or full-size easy to drive phones.  Based on tonal balanced, I would consider the X1060 & A867 to be darker than my other walkman(s).    
 
Nov 24, 2014 at 3:47 AM Post #6,515 of 7,691

georgelai57

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But the ZX-1 can have streamed music via DLNA whether from a server, or via software like Plex, or from a portable 2 TB HDD like the Seagate. These are how I use it and justifies the price premium over the other "Walkmen" if you want this capability.
 
Nov 24, 2014 at 5:05 AM Post #6,516 of 7,691

salanos

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Originally Posted by
salanos 
/img/forum/go_quote.gif
We are a bit differ in opinion here.  I also have the F807/6, and never once I thought that it is "fuller" sounding than the ZX1.  The ZX1 is the fuller and more powerful sounding unit with more neutral tonality to my ears.  The F807 is leaner with stronger emphasis to clarity & treble to my ears.  Its tonal balance is brighter/colder than the ZX1 as well as the Z1070, A17, X1060, and A867.  I still have the F807, but I heavily preferred the sound  of my ZX1 over it no matter when I'm using my JH13pro or full-size easy to drive phones.  Based on tonal balanced, I would consider the X1060 & A867 to be darker than my other walkman(s).    

I'm unfamiliar with the JH13pro, plus I'm a pleb by standards - I'm not completely versed in the audio jargon dictionary so my idea of terms are likely different to you.
As far as I can tell though the XBA-3 is often described as being ice-cold, and other earphones I've liked have been described similarly.

I agree with you that the F807 (or F806 for me) has a stronger treble emphasis, but I overall find that it sounds dark relative to the ZX1 - I have to raise treble more on the F806. Hmm... I guess I feel more response in the low-to-mid treble range for the F806 and better high-treble reproduction on the ZX1. It could very well be our different earphones, and I think that I personally find myself more concerned than the usual listener with the 17kHz++ range.
Fullness for me was that I find the F806 has a more 'filled in sound' - somehow I just find that while listening there's a sensation of more sound happening, in the mid-range I guess, perhaps due to the ZX1's more spaced sound. And, yeah - in its way I actually like the sound of the F806 more, but given the ZX1's more complete package it's displacing the F806 anyway. It's also probably a matter of growing used to the ZX1 - it's still a great sounding player for me, and less fatiguing to listen to in fact. ZX1 overall is more organic sounding to me. Plus, that sensation of space is quite refreshing.
Given I let go of a really old Walkman for a substantial trade-in discount for the ZX1, its price was reasonably okay for me (still pricey). But given that it's way cheaper than an AK120II or something like that and readily accessible in retail channels for me, those were also plus points.
 
Nov 24, 2014 at 5:51 PM Post #6,517 of 7,691

purk

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  But the ZX-1 can have streamed music via DLNA whether from a server, or via software like Plex, or from a portable 2 TB HDD like the Seagate. These are how I use it and justifies the price premium over the other "Walkmen" if you want this capability.

I'm aware of that features and have used it in the past, but I tend to have my ZX1 acting as a streaming transport to either the PHA3/2 or Burson Conductor SL and the battery does run out quite fast if streaming & digital out at the same time.  All Sony has to do is to provide a dedicated charging port and this player will be perfect.
 
I'm unfamiliar with the JH13pro, plus I'm a pleb by standards - I'm not completely versed in the audio jargon dictionary so my idea of terms are likely different to you.
As far as I can tell though the XBA-3 is often described as being ice-cold, and other earphones I've liked have been described similarly.

I agree with you that the F807 (or F806 for me) has a stronger treble emphasis, but I overall find that it sounds dark relative to the ZX1 - I have to raise treble more on the F806. Hmm... I guess I feel more response in the low-to-mid treble range for the F806 and better high-treble reproduction on the ZX1. It could very well be our different earphones, and I think that I personally find myself more concerned than the usual listener with the 17kHz++ range.
Fullness for me was that I find the F806 has a more 'filled in sound' - somehow I just find that while listening there's a sensation of more sound happening, in the mid-range I guess, perhaps due to the ZX1's more spaced sound. And, yeah - in its way I actually like the sound of the F806 more, but given the ZX1's more complete package it's displacing the F806 anyway. It's also probably a matter of growing used to the ZX1 - it's still a great sounding player for me, and less fatiguing to listen to in fact. ZX1 overall is more organic sounding to me. Plus, that sensation of space is quite refreshing.
Given I let go of a really old Walkman for a substantial trade-in discount for the ZX1, its price was reasonably okay for me (still pricey). But given that it's way cheaper than an AK120II or something like that and readily accessible in retail channels for me, those were also plus points.

It could just be earphones here, but others on the F806/7 thread seem to think that the F807 is brighter & colder in tonality over all compared to others Sony DAP as well.   Perhaps you will appreciate the ZX1 a little more with better phones.  BTW, the F807 was my favorite Sony DAP prior to the ZX-1.  IMO, it is much more challenging for DAP or any audio gears in general to portray soundstage & statiality with "stronger sensation of three-dimensionalism".  BTW, I listen to flat with no EQ on and the ZX1 is really good in stock form.   
 
Nov 25, 2014 at 10:48 AM Post #6,518 of 7,691

croqui

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  Hi, I'm thinking about buying the ZX1 Walkman, but I'm not sure it's worth the money. Also because of this measurements which already got discussed here: http://cymbacavum.com/2014/06/09/lachlanlikesathing-sony-nwz-zx1-vs-iphone-5s/ At the moment I'm having the Sony NWZ-A867 which is absolutely loud enough for me with my Beyerdynamic DT-990Pro (250 Ohm) headphones. So my question is:
Is the loudness comparable with the ZX1 or is it so much less like I've red about so often?

 
Hi,
 
I have the ZX1 and for me, with XBA-H3 the loudness is enough
Note that i always upscal my audio stuff to 96 Khz with 24 Bit. Then i normalize the tracks to 98 dB mantainig the loudness difference between tracks. The result is superb.
If you do the steps above for your music you will see that ZX1 has power enough witout any amplifier.
 
Nov 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM Post #6,519 of 7,691

vilhelm44

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Hi,
 
I have the ZX1 and for me, with XBA-H3 the loudness is enough
Note that i always upscal my audio stuff to 96 Khz with 24 Bit. Then i normalize the tracks to 98 dB mantainig the loudness difference between tracks. The result is superb.
If you do the steps above for your music you will see that ZX1 has power enough witout any amplifier.


How do you go about upscaling and normalizing your music? I thought this couldn't be done if the music 16 bit 44khz for instance??
 
Nov 25, 2014 at 11:10 AM Post #6,520 of 7,691

croqui

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How do you go about upscaling and normalizing your music? I thought this couldn't be done if the music 16 bit 44khz for instance??

 
 
Hi,
 
First of all you need to have the tracks in wav format, then with the use of Cdmaster 32 you will be able to find the minimun need in dB to reach 98 dB (if you are doing this to the tracks ripped from a cd you mus take note of the minimun nedd to 98 dB), then the original tracks must be upscalled with R8brain pro to 96 Khz and 24 bit, after that the upscalled track must be amplified by the db needed to reach 98 dB i do this work with audiolab from Steinberg. Et voila you have a cd Digitaly Remastered to Hi-Res  96 Khz 24 Bit.
 
Anythiing you don't understand fell free to ask.
 
Nov 25, 2014 at 11:14 AM Post #6,521 of 7,691

vilhelm44

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Hi,
 
First of all you need to have the tracks in wav format, then with the use of Cdmaster 32 you will be able to find the minimun need in dB to reach 98 dB (if you are doing this to the tracks ripped from a cd you mus take note of the minimun nedd to 98 dB), then the original tracks must be upscalled with R8brain pro to 96 Khz and 24 bit, after that the upscalled track must be amplified by the db needed to reach 98 dB i do this work with audiolab from Steinberg. Et voila you have a cd Digitaly Remastered to Hi-Res  96 Khz 24 Bit.
 
Anythiing you don't understand fell free to ask.


Hi Croqui, thank you for that. I will look into doing this to a few files and see how it goes :).
 
Nov 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM Post #6,524 of 7,691

croqui

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Will do, thanks. Is there a different process if i do it straight from Flac files?

 
If you have a flac track you must decompress it to wav (you could do this with flac frontend or dbpoweramp) then apply the steps in tge order i explained.. After you can convert ithe upscalled track to flac and it will be flac 96 Khz 24 Bit.
 

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