Disclaimer: The star of this weeks’ picture Sunday is the Sony NW-WM1Z . This post is a part of our Picture Sunday series.
Sony kindly sent the NW-WM1Z along with an awesome headphone and an awesome DAC to take apart until 11 September. That’s 8 more days. 8 more days with one of the best headphones on the planet and one of the hottest DAC designs I’ve ever used. And then there is this pretty DAP.
Berkhan loves the 1Z. It’s a great design: easy-to-press buttons, good heft, solid connection points, and incredible build quality, from seams to caps, to seals. I’ve not handled a DAP that’s so well made. And, it sounds good. Does it sound better than other DAPs? It’s got a brilliant high mid twinkle that livens up female vocals and brightens up percussion. It’s not the sound I got used from the A-series Walkmans, and it’s not the super-rich sound I got used to from Sony’s high-end recorders.
It’s lively, deep, and has good current drive to a majority of headphones. I hope to be talking with Sony engineers regarding the audio guts inside and out. Berkhan nailed it where it concerns bass and especially treble. His review is really worth the read. However, one area I’d question his conclusions, and Sony’s design, is that it seems to hiss. No, not like an iPod 5G, but almost as much as a 1st generation Astell & Kern AK100. That’s an unnecessary surplus on a 3000$ DAP.
I’ve got this feeling that the NW-WM1Z was made for the likes of Victor’s HA-FW02 more than it was made for any other earphone. It’s the richness the Sony coaxes out of them, and wonderful bass. Not that the Sony reaches deeper than other DAPs. But it keeps pretty damn good stereo detail and good drive at low frequencies. It gets great imaging down there and pretty low THD.
What intrigues me most about the 1Z is its hardware interface. Not only are the buttons large, finger – and thumb – friendly, raised nipples indicate play/pause and volume up. To that, Sony install the volume buttons in large wells. The play button follows suite. Tracking and mains fit flush to the body. There’s little to remember or to fumble with. And then there’s the faux leather back. Nothing feels so good. So good. Nothing sits so well on a slipper surface. Sony thought through this player.
And while Berkhan’s said enough on it, Nathan will have his say soon. And, for the most part, his say follows Berkhan’s, though he’s less bullish on its sound quality.