Sony NWZ-ZX1 - 35th Walkman Anniversary model
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Chevalierr

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  Very briefly, random notes. Note the ZX1 has hardly had an hour of burn in since it spent the last 3 hrs copying (and I had an afternoon siesta) :-
 
Sonics so far (all this with no EQ, no Clear  Audio, etc.)
 
- the AK120 (f/w 1.37) seems to sound a little "brighter" than the ZX1 but the HM-901 sounds warmest
- bass seems to hit a tad harder on the ZX1 compared to the AK120 (is this cos of its 3 ohm Zout?). Haven't compared bass response against the HM-901 yet
- AK120 does exhibit the "bigger sound" especially in terms of depth and filling in the space
- ZX1 OTOH seems to sound a little wider but flatter in terms of depth perception
- AK120 does present a slightly more refined sound but the ZX1 isn't far behind
- AK120 takes the lead for harder-to-drive cans. With my V-Modex (V-Moda with Fostex T50RP drivers), I'm on max volume and it just satisfies.
- Although overall the AK120 seems to take the crown over the unburnt in ZX1, at least to my (and my wife's) thoughts it does so marginally. The justification of an extra $450 (or in Japan Y47,000). But this is just typical of HF, the law of diminishing returns apply. Whilst on the topic of value for money, note I don't own a DX50 nor Fiio X3 therefore cannot compare.
 
Non-sonic/Operation
 
- Media Scanner indexing approx 1400 tracks took about 5 mins
- ZX1 album/track UI scrolling, etc. is faster than the AK120
- ZX1 has a search feature (very welcome!!)
- ZX1 does slight delay when the player switches from speaker to headphone out when you plug your headphones in (this is whilst the player is playing, won't bug most ppl unless you're testing and playing two DAPs in sync and switching the headphones back 'n forth)
- ZX1 having a speaker is a little annoying (or embarrassing as it could play your music out loud in public without any headphones)
 
Some Why Questions
 
- Why would I keep the AK120 and sell of the ZX1?
  1) 'cos I want to have the refined sound and prepared to pay for it
  2) 'cos it plays DSD even though not natively
  3) 'cos I need a USB DAC to plug to my notebook
  4) 'cos i need optical out
  5) 'cos I can take expand to beyond 256GB with upcoming 128GB MicroSDs and don't care if the AK120's CPU is going to slowdown in processing/scroll through all my content.
  6) 'cos it uses a generic microUSB interface instead of some proprietary connector
  7) 'cos I can switch off Media Scanner whenever I can't be bothered to wait for the player to reindex the track list
 
- Why would I want to keep the ZX1 and sell the AK120?
  1) 'cos it comes very close to the TotL players like the AK120 and HM-901 but at 40% cheaper.
  2) 'cos I like the way it hits the bass
  3) 'cos i can USB out to an external DAC/Amp
  4) 'cos it's faster to scroll through an extensive track list
  5) 'cos it provides more functionality with it's track/album/artist search feature
  6) 'cos it's I can choose my player (Sony, Google Music, etc....note I've not downloaded Poweramp yet)
  7) 'cos it's a generic touch device of which I can browse the web, access social media apps, access DLNA, etc where Wifi is available. Store my photos, Contacts, etc.
  8) 'cos it's lighter than the AK120
 
thanks so much for the impressions. i was deciding be tween the AK120 and the ZX1.........leaning tower the zx1 now....
 
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prathan

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Thanks for impression AnakChan.
How do you remove "HIRES" sticker wihout making scratch on screen before protection sheet attachment?
 
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True...and I hear the AK120 warmer than the 901...so we definitely do not hear the same things.
 
That is interesting. Yes to me the 901 is warmer than the AK120. I've not heard what you heard - the AK120 being warmer than the 901. Oh FYI I'm using the balanced amp module if that makes any difference.
 
  So you will be selling your ZX1 soon?
 
I should have waited for you
.
 
Purk, go for it?
 
Undecided but somehow my thoughts are actually something deep inside of me is leaning towards selling the AK120 instead - I just can't pinpoint what or why yet. I still need to burn the NW-ZX1 though.
 
  Thanks for impression AnakChan.
How do you remove "HIRES" sticker wihout making scratch on screen before protection sheet attachment?
 
Took it off with my nail actually. No big deal there. Then stuck on the NWH40 protector and stuck the HIRES sticker back on top of the protector.
 
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spkrs01

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I have jumped on the bandwagon and have ordered two ZX1.............
 
Actually quite excited about receiving them now after reading AnakChan's initial thoughts. Sounds extremely promising!
 
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Cecala

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Anakchan,
I have two questions for you which are slightly different from the usual. What is the build quality like compared to the others and how solid are the side buttons on the unit, do they make a sound when pressed?
 
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goodvibes

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You know what fears me more? Firmwares. In the past we never really bothered to consider firmwares to affect SQ and only discussed about DACs, amps, cables. These days with "proprietary" OS and firmwares they can affect sound more so than cables or OpAmps and that's at the mercy of the manufacturers.
 
I just wrote about my RWAK100 thoughts but any opinions I have the the RWAK100 is obsolete due to the firmware I had at that time prior to selling. For all I know iRiver may have rolled out a souper douper firmware that would revolutionise the RWAK100 signature - then what are we really listening to anymore? Less attention paid to choice of DACs, amps or cables but more on firmware versions.
 
Edit: Maybe I should add a + for the ZX1 that at least the Clear Audio DSP stuff can be switched off whereas with the HM-901 or AK120 it's built into the firmware (note I'm not referring to the ProEQ).
I don't think those others have any sort of clear audio gimmick.
 
I've always thought FWs sound different. Always did on Sansas from years back.  Just like media players on a PC. Folks are just so spec driven they close their ears to differences. It's basically a lack of trusting what they can hear.
 
I posted early in this thread that the ZX1 may sound a bit flat due to it's class D design. The width you mentioned earlier was somewhat of a clue though I clearly don't want to imply it was a given. I expect it's slightly dry as well. It's not an absolute but there are constraints for any design in a portable and common characteristics are harder to eliminate. That it has a characteristic doesn't mean it's any worse for it either. Just different and I bet it still picks up a bit of color over time.  
 
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@Anak, I have your first 901, so we should be hearing the same thing
maybe a matter of iem synergy with the ak120
 
I wasn't referring to variation of the products (although that is a possibility 'cos I can't remember the 1st HM-901 so much - I was referring to the 2nd HM-901 I currently own) but I was referring to how our ears hear differently. At least what I personally believe is different people are sensitive to different frequencies. To me the AK120 bass roll off is noticeable compared to the HM-901 even though it's only 3 ohm.
 
Except for my V-Modex, all my cans are low impedance headphones.
 
  Anakchan,
I have two questions for you which are slightly different from the usual. What is the build quality like compared to the others and how solid are the side buttons on the unit, do they make a sound when pressed?
 
To me aside from the weight which feels light, the buttons seem to press distinctively. No sound that I've noticed but a distinctive click. To me, just like any of the other Sony products.
 
  I don't think those others have any sort of clear audio gimmick.
 
I've always thought FWs sound different. Always did on Sansas from years back.  Just like media players on a PC. Folks are just so spec driven they close their ears to differences. It's basically a lack of trusting what they can hear.
 
I posted early in this thread that the ZX1 may sound a bit flat due to it's class D design. The width you mentioned earlier was somewhat of a clue though I clearly don't want to imply it was a given. I expect it's slightly dry as well. It's not an absolute but there are constraints for any design in a portable and common characteristics are harder to eliminate. That it has a characteristic doesn't mean it's any worse for it either. Just different and I bet it still picks up a bit of color over time.  
 
 
I don't know if I'd call Clear Audio a gimmick. It's definitely not like the "surround sound" button you find in some other players which to me is definitely gimmicky. If Clear Audio (at least in this product's implementation) is gimmicky, then so would ProEQ in the AK120. The question is what are we listening to these days? Software DSP plays a significant part of the overall sonic result and at times i feel it affects sonics more than the "hardware" DAC/OpAmp (or discrete) or cable choices.
 
The SS width of the ZX1 is definitely one of the factors that keeps me interested in this product for sure. I don't know enough about amp designs so will take your word of a class D design.
 
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Xymordos

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Clear Phase/xLoud/Clear Bass does do things to the audio that aren't exactly bad.
 
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ChiAki

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Great impression, AnakChan!
 
I've been to Ginza several times to try out the ZX1 with my HM-901, results have pretty much been the same. I guess you know the answer to that :)
 
But I'll have to say, with probably 10 thousand yen or so cheaper price, it'll be a no-brainer. This thing is a babe.
 
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  AnakChan,
Have you tried use equalizer?
How is DSEE HX?
 
I actually haven't extensively. Just a quick off/on. I really should. Actually I'm also thinking of doing more tests between the AK120 & the ZX1 with the Tralucent 1Plus2 Uber cabled. My previous initial impressions is with FitEar MH335DW & SigDJ.
 
  Great impression, AnakChan!
 
I've been to Ginza several times to try out the ZX1 with my HM-901, results have pretty much been the same. I guess you know the answer to that :)
 
But I'll have to say, with probably 10 thousand yen or so cheaper price, it'll be a no-brainer. This thing is a babe.
 
The HM-901 with balanced amp module is Y130,000 whilst the AK120 is Y118,000 (non Titanium version), and the Sony is Y71,060 at the Ginza store (maybe 'cos I'm a Sony member?). The price differences are pretty big in Japan. I don't know what they are overseas.
 
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ChiAki

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I'm live in Japan too. I bought the HM-901 (with balanced amp module) prior to my arrival at Tokyo in China.
 
Grudging now for not being able to exchange my battery for a new one. 
 
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