Picture Sunday: Sony ZX2 Walkman

Disclaimer: This week’s picture sunday features my Sony ZX2 DAP. To check out recent Picture Sunday Posts click HERE.

Sony has been returning to it’s roots in the last couple of years. The company was actually a very good Hi-Fi manufacturer, but until 2-3 years ago it was a mess. They didn’t have any successfull Hi-Fi product, they didn’t have any competitive or high performing piece. Just some small amount of people had their vintage TOTL products like MDR-R10, or MDR-F1 etc. but they were literally impossible to find. Audio should be a highly regarded section of Sony, because it’s name comes from the “Sonus” word after all.

Finally they saw their poor situation I suppose, and came up with some good and capable audio gear. They released the ZX1 for the 35th anniversery of the legendary “Walkman” name. Then there was the PHA-1 and 2 DAC/AMP’s, MDR-Z7 headphone, some fine IEM’s and some good cables and stuff.

Then came the Sony ZX2. With it’s 1200$ price tag, it was a suspectible product. Some people called Sony “stupid” for releasing an audio player with such price, and said it can’t compete with the others. Turned out they were wrong.

Because it seems when Sony actually takes something seriously, they can do anything they want with a big budget and R&D. ZX2 is a wonderful DAP that can do it all. The Pulse With Modulation (PWM) philosophy combined with a Class D Amp results an unmatched battery life. Android OS with streaming opportunity, great build quality and convenient design are the bonuses. The only downside is the infamous volume limitation but it can be hacked via Android OS.

A sidenote: Non-Android Sony players now can be uncapped thanks to a new method, which is changing the DAP’s firmware region. CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT.

ZX2, in terms of audio performance level, is 2-3 steps behind from the likes of Paw Gold, HM901S and AK380. Right now people are talking about the new Walkman players, WM1A/Z. I had a chance to test the WM1A and I think it is a clear step up from ZX2 in terms of pure sound quality. Now I think Sony DAP’s can actually compete with the TOTL products.

And the greatest thing remains; tremendous battery life. About 25-26 hours lossless listening with a 1900 mAh battery? That’s no doubt a success in terms of engineering and R&D. No other DAP can give this type of longetivity, except the Tera Player, which is not something to compare because it’s an extreme product.

Soon I will switch to the new WM1A but I will always keep the ZX2 for streaming and usage on-the-go. Even if it stops working somehow, I will just showcase it in my room.

Picture Sunday: Sony ZX2 Walkman
4.3 (85.93%) 27 votes

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Berkhan has been loving the personal audio since he was a little boy. He has a pair of good ears and eyes, as a good photographer and reviewer. He's added to the crew by Lieven. He's in love with warm sounding gear, a good Scotch and smooth Jazz music.

12 Comments

  • Reply March 19, 2017

    Alatar

    Can’t say i agree with such blanket statements that ZX2 can’t compete with TOTL daps and it is 2 steps behind although i concede ak380 is in a different league.ZX2 is a very detailed player,with multi layered soundstage,extremely deep and tight bass,realistic,world class timbre and i put the SQ on par with QP1R depending on tonal preference and above Dacs like mojo,Ha-2,players like Fiio X7,Cayin N6,Plenue P1.WMA i haven’t heard yet but with the balanced 4.4mm cable it is safe to assume it would be better as the successor.

    The vol limitation that you refer can not be hacked in the settings unfortunately the way you imply it i assume (all apps-disable sound adjustment)as the total output stays the same,it caps at 60% instead of 100% before disabling the enhancement.It is necessary though to improve the quality,tonally it goes from warm to neutral,treble detail increases and once you recable your iem to TRRS that’s when you get your world class player or near that tier of daps.
    Just wanted to clear any misconceptions about that great player,keep up the great reviews.

    • Reply April 15, 2017

      Berkhan

      Thank you for the comment.

      Well, the statement is very clear. ZX2 is not at the same level like Hm901s, Paw Gold, AK380 etc. I actually agree with your comment, as I find ZX2 better than Mojo, QP1R, X7 and P1. And those are not TOTL DAPs. So I can’t see what’s wrong here.

      What I want to highlight is, Sony goes further with every device. With WM1A it’s safe to say they’ve created a serious contender in TOTL category. But ZX2 wasn’t TOTL, even though I’ve been using it for almost 2 years I should say that.

      No, it can be hacked. I’ve done it numerious times and output changes drastically. You need to restart the device after disabling the sound adjustment app, all the tweaks should be switched off before that though.

      Thanks.

  • Reply March 22, 2017

    Rich

    I also love my ZX2. It sounds great, can drive all my ‘phones from my Campfire Audio Lyra II to my Audeze LCD-XC, has great battery life, and because it runs Android I can stream and download Tidal lossless tracks. I actually sold my Calyx M to purchase the Sony (to be fair the Calyx M may have sounded slightly better but it had no streaming ability and lackluster battery life). I also like the ZX2’s LDAC Bluetooth streaming which sounds very good and better than standard Bluetooth (SBC, AAC etc) with the headphones that I use for traveling -the Sony MDR-1000X (which I purchased prior to getting the ZX2 and are LDAC compatible). I purchased a third party WM port to dual RCA cable for connecting the ZX2 to my desktop headphone amp so it is nice that the ZX2 has the ability to function a s source to a desktop headphone amp bypassing the ZX2s internal amplification. My former Calyx M did not have that feature.

    • Reply March 22, 2017

      Berkhan

      Thanks for the comment. I also like it’s Bluetooth performance. I use it in the car and home lots of times. ZX2 is really an “everything in 1 package” DAP.

      But I wiil switch to 1A because it sounds better 🙂

      • Reply March 23, 2017

        RIch

        I thought about upgrading to the 1A too but I have several GB of Tidal lossless tracks downloaded to my ZX2 which I’m not ready to part with. Because my smartphone is a work phone using it for Tidal isn’t really an option for me.

        • Reply March 23, 2017

          Berkhan

          I see. I will keep the ZX2 though. For streaming and maybe for using in the car 🙂

  • Reply March 25, 2017

    digitldlnkwnt

    I have the WM1A which i moved to from the AK240 and there’s no question; WM1A blows it away in every way you can think of. The sound is powerful, the interface is intuitive, the DSP options make sense – finally a product that doesn’t feel like it was programmed by 14 year old learning Ruby. I have the Lyra and that combo is amazing. I did get to hear the WM1Z and yes it does sound a bit more refined but they use the same DAC/AMP sections so you get a lot of the same performance for ALOT less cash.

    • Reply March 26, 2017

      Berkhan

      I don’t remember AK240 too much but I can guess that WM1A can compete and surpass it.

      Thank you for the information about 1Z.

  • Reply March 25, 2017

    Bernd

    Great article. I also have the ZX2 and really like it. As I own the EU version I want to know more about the hack you mentioned. You will have to root it right? I could not find more information how to do that with the ZX2. Any sources?

    • Reply March 25, 2017

      Berkhan

      Thanks.

      It’s simple. When you disable the sound effects app in the app section of Android, and when you restart the device after that, you should get much more volume but of course you won’t able to use the EQ and DSP Effects.

      You don’t have to root it.

  • Reply March 29, 2017

    Antonio ( Brasil )

    How can I get more volume in the sound of it? I consider it very low even at the most, so I use an amplifier. Do you think it is worth installing some of these programs that give more volume and possibilities of equalization? I installed one on my X2 and the sound is different when you run that installed program.

    • Reply March 31, 2017

      Berkhan

      Are you using ZX2 or another Sony DAP?

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