Sony NW-WM1Z/WM1A DAPs

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by mrweirdude, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Do remember how completely random, poorly-quantified and prone to random flip-flopping the HF hype/echo chamber can be. The more handwaving used to describe how something sounds, the less people seem to have to say :)

    (I'm enjoying putting some hours on my 1A, but won't try to be super-specific in my impressions yet- without the suggested time on the caps, and without a balanced cable, it'd just be asinine, misleading and unhelpful to bang on too much about how it sounds at this point.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
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  2. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I put together a 4.4mm PentaConn -> 4-pin XLR cable so I could try the NW-WM1A with my full-size headphones in balanced mode.

    My unit is a an uncapped one and in SE mode, even in high-gain, with a quiet recording (or one that's actually using the available dynamic range) I can find I want more volume with the TH-X00. It has more than enough power in SE mode for any IEM I've tried it with, but it lacks a bit with full-size cans (not that this is really that unexpected).

    Dealing strictly with volume for the moment (since I've not done nearly enough listening in balanced mode with proper cans yet to comment properly on anything else), and still assuming a recording with good dynamic range or that's relatively quiet, then in balanced mode things improve quite a bit. With the TH-X00 it'll play louder than I'll care to listen even in low-gain mode. For the HD-650, HD-800S it'll play loud enough in high-gain mode. The LCD-4 and Abyss are more challenging - while for my normal listening levels I don't quite have to max-out the volume settings I certainly can and not feel that it is too loud. With the Utopia it's just about right, but I'm up towards the very end of the available range with such quiet recordings.

    With dynamically compressed and/or louder recordings it's pretty much able to play louder than I care for with everything except the LCD-4 and the Abyss (even in high-gain mode).
     
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  3. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Noticed that some of my needle drops, and one or two other albums, were not showing album art. The issue turned out to be due to the album cover .JPG files being in "Progressive" mode. Converting them to "Baseline", re-embedding them and pushing them back to the player fixes that right up.
     
  4. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Oh, interesting. I'd idly wondered what was causing this, but not enough to spend time working out what's causing it. I'm not sure that I care enough to whip up a script to spider and fix all my FLACs, though, as the only thing that doesn't cope is the W1MA, and it spends most of its running time in my pocket. Maybe a future firmware update will give us a more capable JPEG decoder!
     
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  5. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    My Sony NWZ-A15 has had this same problem with jpegs. (FLAC's, MP3's and ACC's) Seems like spending more will not fix that.
     
  6. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Why would you spend more to fix that? It's trivial to fix, if you really care.
     
  7. TRex

    TRex Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    Anyone using 4.4 TRRS cable with WM1? Need recommendation/opinion of good cable maker within the US to get 4.4 TRRRS cable (not adapter). Found Surf Audio & plusSound Audio so far. Not sure about Norne Audio, ALO, Impact Audio.
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    My two cents on the Sony NW-WM1Z

    Wow, this thing is heavy. First of all, anyone with thoughts about this being a pocketable unit should reconsider. IMO, the WM1Z serves best as a transportable unit instead of a portable unit. The ZX2 is borderline, but I opted for it over the ZX100 because I felt the superior sound quality of the ZX2 justified the extra weight. It was a close decision though. I've managed carrying the ZX2 around, sometimes in my pocket, other times in a man purse. I don't think I could do the same with the WM1Z, which is twice the weight of the ZX2. I should remark that it feels more than twice the weight.

    20170131_090620.jpg
    20170131_090710.jpg

    Here are more photos. The WM1Z has considerably more heft.
    20170130_155209.jpg
    20170130_155135.jpg

    Sony changed the size of the balanced TRRS output jack. It's one size larger than the ZX2's. This pisses me off. Sony needs to get its shit together and decide what they want to do instead of constantly changing things.

    I like the proprietary UI of the WM1Z. It's simple and to the point. With the CA Andromeda IEM, there are no varying hiss conditions (depending on what apps are running) as with the ZX2. The EQ functionality has been expanded with more bands, now up to ten from six. In addition, the bass boost nonsense has been eliminated and replaced with proper bass EQ bands. These are welcome changes. I am not sure what the source impedance is, but here you can see my EQ settings for the Andromeda.

    20170130_155046.jpg

    As for sound quality, there is an incremental improvement in blackness, focus, and refinement compared to the ZX2. Perhaps even a bit too refined. It is obvious that the WM1Z shares the same heritage with the ZX2 (and ZX100), with the organic, almost light syrupy presentation. The WM1Z's tonal and timbral characteristics are very much like the ZX2 with the Sony Soundmanager (or whatever) process turned on instead of being disabled in Android. I know that this may not be to everyone's tastes as several members here run their ZX2 with the process disabled.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
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  9. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    @Marvey

    The WM1Z 3.5mm is TRRS like the ZX2, but the 4.4mm is a new JEITA standard and is balanced (instead of just separate grounds) in the WM1Z. Still annoying though.
     
  10. loplop

    loplop Acquaintance

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    @Torq Sounds like the WM1A/Z is right on the fence as a possible all-in-one for extended travel with some types of full-sized cans.

    @Marvey My first thought is that I'm a little bummed that the 1Z is only an incremental improvement over the ZX2. But I'm curious if, given more time with the 1Z, you will find that incremental improvement difficult to give up (going back to the ZX2).

    I am very satisfied with the sound of my ZX2, in any case (stock app, nothing except Google stuff disabled), although I'm always curious about the newest stuff. I sure like the fact that Sony is building high end DAPs, they really make me nostalgic for my old walkman/discman days. And the new TAZH1ES makes my inner geek smile, for some reason it reminds me of my first discman (one of the very early ones, with EQ and tons of buttons), and I want it just for nostalgia purposes :)
     
  11. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I had ALO Audio make me up a cable for my SE846 with the new 4.4mm TRRRS connector just this week*. I ordered it at 4 PM PST on Monday (1/30/17), it shipped at 10:30 AM PST the following day, and I received it about half an hour ago, so less than 48 hours from ordering to getting it:

    SE846 ALO Audio.jpg

    You can't directly select this configuration on their site at the moment, so if you want to order it do the following:
    1. Pick the basic cable you want (the one above is their basic "Litz" cable @$149 with overmolded MMCX connectors) and add it to your cart.
    2. Add the 4.4mm TRRRS connector to your cart.
    3. When you checkout, add a note to your order as follows:
    "Please build this cable as a BALANCED cable using the 4.4mm BALANCED Sony connector (for WM1A/1Z) that is also in my cart."

    Check out, and you're done.

    Much faster turn-around that most of the custom cable builders, which are often backlogged at least two weeks and sometimes several months.

    It's a nice, flexible, cable, basically the same as comes with the Campfire IEMs.

    --

    *Normally I build my own cables. I made an exception in this case for two reasons: 1) I've built about a dozen cables (mostly adapters) in the last week using the 4.4mm TRRRS connector, and I want a break from it and 2) the parts I have on order for the spiffy 4.4mm TRRRS -> MMCX cable I am going to build are a couple of weeks out and I'm impatient. This was the fastest way to address both issues!

    I'll post my custom DIY build when I get the parts.
     
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  12. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Couldn't agree more.

    I picked up the WM1A (which is the lighter one) to play with it and see if it was going to work for me. I fully expected to buy the WM1Z if I liked the 1A ... right up until I spent a day with the 1Z. I decided I didn't need the storage enough to carry something that heavy, and the sound, while different, wasn't necessarily preferable for me. So, for once, I'm sticking with the cheaper unit ... with the benefit that it's not a daft color!
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I loved the super compact Walkmans back in the day. A few of us are old enough to be nostalgic about that: dubbing records to tapes on Nakamichi tape decks using TDK metal cassettes (the ones with the see-through acrylic bodies and cast metal frames). Those were the days were we had to work to make music portable!

    I'm glad that Sony is going full throttle. The days of compromised solutions that seemed to be outsourced, such as the PHA-1 are no longer. But to answer your question, I don't find the increment improvement difficult to give up. I can go back to the ZX2 easily. And if I were to used full sized cans, I'd rather get a PHA-3 to compliment the ZX2. That way I can still keep the ZX2 in my pocket while on the plane, but attach the PHA-3 when I'm in the hotel.

    TBH, I prefer the slightly less organic presentation of the ZX2 (with the SonySound process disabled).
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
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  14. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    That's how I'll be using it ... for trips where I have the room/weight capacity for proper cans.

    So far it's sounded excellent with everything I've tried it with. It drives the TH-X00 very nicely even off the 3.5mm SE port. Does a convincing job with the HD-650 and HD-800S, though in the latter case I have to run it off the balanced connector in high-gain and often wind up with the volume all the way up on albums with good dynamic range (or that are just quieter recordings).

    And so far no silliness with my IEMs (don't need iEMatch etc.).
     
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  15. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Seems like a modular solution is in order. Small and compact base unit for ultra portability with IEMs on the go. Click on an optional amp to form a larger unit that can drive cans.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
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  16. TRex

    TRex Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    @Marvey will you try some full size cans with WM1? WM1 output is a bit over 2x ZX2.

    Also, do you mean more oragnic presentation of ZX2?
     
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'll give it a shot with HD800 Vader and HD650 KISS. The ZX2 does not do well with full sized headphones like the Senns or Focals. Lacks gain / voltage for high impedances.

    The WM1Z sounds the same as the ZX2, but with more black background and focus. Extremely similar sound. When the ZX2 SonySound Android process is turned off, the ZX2 is less organic and syrupy.
     
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  18. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    Why can't these DAPs have USB DAC mode? That would make them the ideal source with Andromeda for me. I could probably sell everything else...

    Seriously, WTF.
     
  19. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Yeah, I had serious misgivings about the weight, too. I ended up with the WM1A- which is reputed to sound "less organic". I haven't actually had a chance to listen to the WM1Z gold brick yet- but am very happy with the sound of the WM1A in "direct source" mode, with all the foofoo turned off. With the upsampler and the bass "linearizer", it starts to sound a bit warm and bloomy, and less detailed- not entirely unlike my Mojo, but without the USB dropouts. In "direct source" mode, however, it's remarkably crisp and revealing, and without any sort of solid state metallic sheen on the highs- really enjoying it so far.

    Did you try turning that stuff on and off on the 1Z, and if so, did it make it sound less syrupy when you did, out of interest?
     
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  20. Warrior

    Warrior Friend

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    Definitely difficult to accept the difference in cost vs performance between the Sony devices... Add in the weight, and one can see how good the ZX2 is. It's an absolute gem amongst a sea of shit regarding daps. Sony has made a tremendous comeback in Audio. The zx1 really started it and with the ZX2 it was a home run.

    I really love the 1z, but they could have done a few things better. The weight. It's ridiculously heavy. The 4.4mm jack. Yet another cable/adapter to worry about. The price. It's just ridiculously priced. I don't know if I want to say overpriced, because it's an excellent device, it's just very expensive. It's one of the best sounding daps out, no doubt, but very hard to justify the price for incremental improvements over the zx2... Now the 1a vs 1z...thats very interesting as well. I've yet to hear the 1a, but again, it seems like it may not even be "better" but just different.

    As much as I love the 1z, I don't think I can rec it to anyone in good conscience. It's just too expensive.
     

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