Sony PHA-3 balanced portable dac/amp

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by sabermobile, Sep 3, 2014.
  1. ruthieandjohn
    How does the PHA-3 driven by a WMPort cable from a modest Sony DAP (NWZ-A15) compare to the NW-WM1Z (or 1A, or AK240, or Lotoo PAW Gold, or other premium DAP) alone going directly into (preferably Sony, due to high output impedance of PHA-3) headphones?

    I have the PHA-3, Sony Z5 IEMs and Z7 headphones and am trying to determine whether there is any sound improvement with a high-end Sony Walkman. I understand that there is a convenience improvement with the Walkman.


    (I have already read @purk's and @whitgur's comments around post #1532 of last November, giving the edge to the PHA-3 driven by a premium Sony Walkman e.g. 1Z, if the WMPort cable is silver custom rather than stock).
  2. Witcher
    I own the WM1A, PHA3, Z1R, and Z5. The PHA3 has the same sound as the WM1A. I would not use the WM1A or the WM1Z to drive the PHA3. Its better used as a portable amp for a lesser or significantly different source where you want the PHA3 sound signature. With the WM1A alone you already get that, and with the WM1Z, you have something a little different which some prefer.
    ruthieandjohn likes this.
  3. asquare3376
    I own the PHA-3, Z5, ZX100 and Z7 with upgraded dual 3.5 Kimber. Owned WM1A for a short while but didn't really find it that appealing over the Zx100, PHA3 and Z7 combo. So, sold the WM1A and brought home the WM1Z. Life has changed ever since :)
    WM1Z is so much better than anything out there. I am using it primarily with Sony Kimber 4.4 on Z5 and am so satisfied with it. I also have the Z1R which is hooked to the ZH1ES for more serious listening at home. I would say, go demo the 1Z and hear it for yourself. It has plenty of power for your Z7 and Z5. You would never have to carry an external amp ever again.
  4. kintsaki
    Sorry don't know how to delete double posts
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  5. kintsaki
  6. Witcher
    How would you say the WM1A and WM1Z differ in sound?
  7. asquare3376
    WM1Z sounds more resolved. The sound is more textured than the 1A. Simply put, WM1Z is so smooth, it puts me to sleep everytime in no more than 10 mins :ksc75smile:
  8. kintsaki
    I am a Sony fanatic fun. Any 300 USD Sony Walkman on its own would totally destroy the Sony Pha-3.

    You can correct half the damage by not using USB to connect to your PC or MAC. Go optical toss-link with a Mac.

    For a PC send the signal to modern TV via HDMI and return from TV via optical toss-link. That will be a much better connection than USB even if you use the ifi 100 USD purifier.

    Even if you send to a high end Sony TV that will let you go through the proprietary Sony mp3 to WAV upgrade and WAV to DSD upgrade circuits twice no competition with a Walkman.

    However if you use post mastering VST plugins hosted in lets say JRIVER MC 23 you would be able to destroy any system that money can buy. You must make sure you use both DSP technologies (Convolution based and the unique mega sample based Aqua plugins from Acustica) they are all non expiring free demo's (look in my profile) except from Audio Assaults Head Crasher, Harmonizer and Transient enhancer and the Purple Pultec from Acustica which can be approximated by Ignite Amp's free PTE-QX and Emissary.

    Contrary to HiFi world mes-beliefs and "purists" the more plugins used the better. You will be able to emulate the characteristics of headphones that reviewers are talking about especially with orthodynamic headphones driven by speaker amps or chain amps (three amps in series) like mine.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  9. Witcher
    Lol! might be too much relaxation for me then I enjoy the WM1A with the Z1R, and it does already get very relaxing with those. Any more, and it might be coma-inducing. :D
    asquare3376 likes this.
  10. adalberto vela
    Onkyo_DPX1_screen_1.png I have my DP-X1 stacked (OTG) with the Sony PHA-3 as I love the sound from the PHA-3…I noticed something weird recently, the media volume on the sound settings affects the volume on the PHA-3…My understanding is once I’m bypassing the DP-X1, volume should only be controlled the PHA-3 with the DAP having no say in anything, so to speak..The DAP volume knob won’t operate as expected but the Media Volume on the sound settings on the DAP does…Example, if the media volume is all the way down, then no sound will come from the PHA-3, if it’s turned all the way up, the volume on the PHA-3 will have more power (louder)…This setting is from the Android settings, not the settings from the Music APP..I hope I’m explaining this correctly, attached is a picture of the setting at question:
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  11. damex
    i have been waiting for fiio q1 mk2 and then i managed to find pha3 'on sale' for 570$~ (local prices are normally crazy af). got it without hesitation.
    my (only) huge drawback here is that it is impossible to charge and use it at the same time.

    i am not so sure why i waited for so long but it worth every penny. it does not have enough 'burn-in' yet and yet it sound good.
    i would prefer pha3 output to fiio x7/x7-2/onkyo dp-x1/ak jr/120 players and many others :wink:

    is there a hardware mod or something that would let me charge-and-play at the same time?

    (yeah, reflective AF)
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  12. cthomas
    You need a charger with a specific power output. I forget exactly but the answer is in this thread, just search for it.

    I use an Anker power port which lets me charge and play simultaneously, I think iPad chargers work.

    Also, if the device gets too hot while playing and charging it will stop charging.
  13. damex
    wow... just wow.
    thank you :wink:
    i have bunch of chargers (including anker and ipad chargers) and will test them after coming back home :)
  14. jaredjcrandall8
    I just wish the Sony portable players (WM1Z) supported Tidal. I don't have a digital music library so I depend upon tidal. I have always been really fond of the PHA-3 but it being so old I hesitate to repurchase because of a potentially pending PHA-4.
  15. SoLame
    and some people have said that we shouldn't move the unit while it's charging and playing...and I agree with them. I've been using my iPad charger and it works great.

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