Review: Sony WM1A Walkman – Reform

BALANCED

As you know Sony came up with the new JEITA standard for balanced output which uses 4.4mm TRRS audio jacks. Thanks to Effect Audio I’ve had the chance to listen to the balanced output. My conclusion is, if you have the Sony WM1A or planning to get one, I strongly recommend you obtain a 4.4mm balanced cable.

The power output is stronger than the single-ended one, and it can play Native DSD through balanced as well. Apart from these advantages, the balanced output also has technical advantages in terms of sound quality to the SE output. Those are separation, transparency and dynamism. The Sony WM1A performs so impressive when you listen to it from balanced. Once I started to use the 4.4mm cable, I’ve never turned back to Single ended.

Compared to the 1Z, the 1A has more difference between SE and balanced. In the 1Z it’s not a big deal because it’s also incredible from SE, and that feels more like a signature difference rather than overall quality. But in the 1A balanced adds a new dimension and takes the player even further in terms of sound quality. There’s more resolution, better background and better separation. It sounds even more natural and organic which gives you the chills. Balanced output is heavily recommended.

Short Comparisons

DX200: İbasso’s latest DAP is one of the things that I would love to review but sadly we couldn’t get a sample. But I listened to it briefly thanks to a friend who owns it. The Sony WM1A sounds warmer than the DX200 (AMP1) and has better staging and imaging if you ask me. The DX200 is narrow sounding in comparison. Resolution, separation and dynamism-wise they’re pretty close. I really liked the sound of the DX200 with the AMP2 though. It sounds closer to WM1A’s signature in terms of warmness and naturalness and it sounds smoother with AMP2. Transparency is very good as well. The DX200 is an excellent choice if you use TIDAL frequently. In my book it is the best Android DAP out there (no, heavily customized A&K players won’t count). But the sound character shifts with different firmware releases, so beware. If you prefer a longer battery time and better sound stage, than the answer is the other way around tough, by quite a margin.

Lotoo Paw Gold: LPG has more midbass presence. Mids are a little thinner but also a little crisper in comparison to WM1A. It has a more in your face kind of treble, and narrower sound stage. General resolution and micro details are better on the Paw Gold, but from the balanced output WM1A fights to be very close. Especially with its sound stage performance it gives a more comfortable and relaxed imaging experience. Paw Gold on the other hand, can sound harsh with a mismatch.

X5 MK3: The X5 is no match for the WM1A but in terms of presentation the X5 reminds me of the smooth approach of it. Especially on the mid range. The X5 has a treble roll off and general bass quality-texture is lacking. On the general resolution, dynamism, transparency and the sound stage performance, WM1A is the clear winner.

ZX2: Take it and put it between the X7 MK1 from FiiO and the WM1A. It’s as simple as that. I still use my ZX2 with TIDAL and I still enjoy its sound. But when the time comes to have my sound on a high level, I pick up the WM1A. That should tell the whole story.

Comparison to WM1Z:

Everybody’s asking me if it’s worth spending the huge extra cash for the 1Z and it’s not easy to answer. Just like every audio purchase, the best way is to listen to it and decide for yourself. If you want to know my opinion, I’ll say it depends. If you want it to be more portable, the 1A is much lighter. But if you’re going to spend your listening time at home in your couch, and if you also have top-tier IEMs in your possession, and ultimately if you can afford it, go and get the best. Why not?

On the other hand, these 2 DAPs maybe are the same in terms of size and design; but they’re quite different in terms of sound character. The 1A is flatter, faster and feels more roomy. Thanks to that it sounds a little wider and airy. But the 1Z has better mids, better resolution, better dynamics, bigger bass and despite its warmer character, it has better extending trebles to me. So everything is “more” with the 1Z. More bass, more mids, more trebles. It’s a big sound really, one that’s hard to resist.

So yes, the 1Z is the best Walkman, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it or not. Of course it’s logical to say that the Sony WM1A has the better price/performance ratio, especially from balanced. But the 1Z is so magical and special, it’s hard to deny its amazing sound.

CONCLUSION

With its beautiful, true and natural sound character, the Sony WM1A is produced by a reformist mindset. Sony wanted to go further in terms of sound, so they shifted the project to a pure approach. A DAP that can reproduce a great and realistic sound, has a marvelous battery life, and so easy to use with its practical design and clean software. This is also a shift in terms of sound signature, which is flatter and more airy this time around.

Again, it’s list material from Sony. The WM1A might have its place in our Portable Player Recommendations page very soon if I manage to convince Lieven. I hope Sony will continue to put these efforts in audio development to make even better products. The Sony ZX300 is coming as a mid tier DAP and I hope we’ll get to review that one as well.

Thanks for reading!

Review: Sony WM1A Walkman – Reform
4.2 (84.55%) 101 vote[s]

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A lover of personal audio from Turkey, Berkhan always seeks the perfection. He chooses a simplistic expression of sound at all times, and tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes photography wins, and sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside.

86 Comments

  • Reply September 19, 2017

    Quokka

    Thanks Berkhan for your excellent review. I’ve recently upgraded from the ibasso DX90 to the Sony WM1a and couldn’t be happier. One area I’m keen to explore is find how well it matches with various headphones. I’ve listened with Oppo PM-2 and it sounds great but would like to know what other headphones/earphones you recommend. What phones did you use in your review?

    • Reply September 19, 2017

      Berkhan

      Thank you.

      It matches with warm headphones and IEMs really well and I recommend to pair it with those types of phones.

      I used Audeze EL-8 and Oriolus MK2 mostly for the review.

    • Reply April 7, 2018

      Fkrbormes

      This review is total b…This SONY NW-WM1A is unable to drive any high quality headphone to a suitable level.It seems that SONY has deliberately bridled this device for european markets.
      I can’t get a correct output level with my high impedance headphones (Sennheiser hd-xx Beyer dynamic amiron or Shure 1840) & it’s barely adequate with my Beoplay H6.
      I have a Hifiman h901 a Askell & Kern a Onkyo Dp-x1 & all of them drive my headphones to correct levels.
      What’s wrong with SONY?

      • Reply April 7, 2018

        Berkhan

        Well, first of all before calling a review bullshit, I suggest you to think about the amount of effort we put in here. Secondly, if you didn’t like the review, you can always share your opinions in your own reviews in platforms like Head – Fi.

        Sony DAPs give an enormous battery life to its users thanks to the totally different architecture to other DAPs in the market. Search Class D Amplification and Pulse Width Modulation methods.

        The sound limit is a shame and I criticize it, but you can uncap the device easily and after that, the balanced output gives very good power. I listened to the HD660s and HD800s headphones from Sennheiser with high enough volume levels.

        Although I really liked the 901s’ sound, it’s absolutely no match to the WM1A in terms of battery life, user experience and software quality. DP-X1 sounds mediocre, it’s not high quality, and it has a terrible hiss with streaming apps. Balanced output doesn’t change that also.

        Nothing’s wrong with Sony. If you like to have a DAP that can drive your full size, high impedance headphones, than you can always choose another DAP, nobody’s forcing you to buy this one.

        And that doesn’t make my review bullshit.

    • Reply April 8, 2018

      Fkrbormes

      I have finally managed to uncapp my SONY NWWM1A using the scsitool (I had already found it but was reluctant to use it because I was afraid of ruining the device and the guarantee) and now my Sennheiser HD-660S sounds great at half the volume level.
      It’s a shame SONY doesn’t provide its customers with correct information and the tool to restore the walkman to its original status because the difference between the two statuses is really huge.
      Besides the logic behind it is rather irrelevant the sound pressure level being a function of the headphone as well.
      Now I can appreciate your review although a small preamble making it clear that it applies to an uncapped version only and how to do it would probably save many people a lot of troubles.
      Best greetings.

      • Reply April 8, 2018

        Berkhan

        That tool is not official. So we can’t expect Sony to share that kind of information. Actually they weren’t even aware of this method when I talked to a Sony officer via e-mail.

        OK. I’ll add a small note to the beginning of the review.

  • Reply September 19, 2017

    Jogibaer

    Nice review, thank you very much. 🙂

    • Reply September 19, 2017

      Berkhan

      You’re welcome 🙂

    • Reply April 8, 2018

      Fkrbormes

      What I don’t appreciate is that you and SONY don’t mention that the NWWM1A sold in Europe is capped and as such is unusable with high quality headphones.It also seems that the capping affects the sound quality.Using a Sennheiser HD-660S both outputs sound identical although the balanced one should provide a higher volume but that’s not the case.After hours spent on Internet I have not been able to find an easy way to uncap my walkman.I bought it after reading your review and I have the feeling I have been cheated.
      If you really know how to easily uncap that walkman I would appreciate if you shared that knowledge with our community.
      While I don’t totally agree with your answer I appreciate that you did it.

      • Reply April 8, 2018

        Berkhan

        I already mentioned the volume cap on WM1Z review and ZX2 Picture Sunday post. I think everybody who are into this niche market have or should have the knowledge about this volume cap.

  • Reply September 19, 2017

    Tom

    This is a suburb review, thank you. I’ve been waiting for a thorough review for this device. When it was first announced, I was disappointed that it didn’t have Android on board. I love my ZX2, but I mainly use it to play my own files. In all actuality, I rarely use the Android features. After reading this, I’m seriously considered selling my ZX2 to get the WM1A. Is the difference in sound really significant? The inclusion of a pentagon out, really puts this above all other competitors for me. Does this do a better job of driving high end headphones? The ZX2 doesn’t do well in this area.

    • Reply September 19, 2017

      Berkhan

      Much thanks for your compliment.

      Yes, in my opinion the difference is really significant. If you have the chance to try it out somewhere, go with your ZX2 and take an SD Card to put the exact same files to WM1A to compare directly with ZX2. That was what I did to decide if it’s worth to get the WM1A. And yes, it’s worth it.

      It has quite a powerful output from balanced but you need to get an uncapped version or uncap it yourself. Then when you set it to high gain, it can drive HD800S from single ended. I imagine it would be even better from balanced out but I coudn’t try since the HD800S doesn’t have a 4.4mm jack.

      Definitely way more power than ZX2 (uncapped).

      • Reply September 20, 2017

        Tom

        What do you mean uncapped version? How can you tell if the version is uncapped? I own the HD800 S, and would get a pentagon attachment for those if this can drive it from the balanced output.

        • Reply September 20, 2017

          Berkhan

          The ones that are sold in Europe for example have volume limits. Because of the EU regulations. But it’s not hard to convert the device’s software version to another region. So when you change the region of the software you simply unlock the sound limit.

          Where are you from? If you’re in Europe then you’ll get an EU version which has the sound limit. But like I said it’s easy to unlock it.

  • Reply September 20, 2017

    Tom

    I’m in the US (New York), so I should be safe from the capping. I think the ZX2 had a issue with volume cap in Europe as well. Thanks for the feedback, I’m going to take your advice and try this out at the Sony store.

  • Reply September 20, 2017

    Choi

    Nice review, been contemplating between this and Onkyo dpx1… any suggestions?

    • Reply September 20, 2017

      Berkhan

      WM1A is way beyond DP-X1 in terms of sound quality.

  • Reply September 22, 2017

    Alfy

    Thanks for a great review. I already own an AK70, and I’m looking for an upgrade, sound-wise but also in terms of autonomy: would the WMA1A be that?

    • Reply September 23, 2017

      The Answer

      Yeah much better than AK70. But you’re going to lose the streaming.

  • Reply September 25, 2017

    otoko_oidon

    Thanks for the review Berkhan. How do Mojo compares to WM1A? I’m planning to replace my Mojo with something like that one from Sony or a DX200+AMP3. I will only use some IEM (IT03, Angie) with that player.

    • Reply September 25, 2017

      Berkhan O.

      You’re welcome.

      DX200 and WM1A both nice players but as I said in the review, WM1A is superior from balanced output, and the sound stage is much wider even from SE output. But if you’re looking a DAP for streaming, DX200 is the best choice IMO.

      For Mojo, I think WM1A is much much better.

  • Reply October 20, 2017

    Sang Yhee

    Was the comparison with the ZX2 done with all the sound adjustment apps turned off? With it turned off, the ZX2 sounds more neutral. There are still things that I like better from the ZX2 than the WM1A. Also driver grip and impact on sensitive iems such as a Andromeda is better on the ZX2. I found the andromedas inferior from the SE of the WM1A and only better on bal with high gain engaged. Still its quite close with the WM1A winning in lower noise and hiss.

    • Reply October 20, 2017

      Berkhan

      The ZX2 is warmer and WM1A is more neutral of the two in my opinion. If you look into them in a technical way, WM1A is superior.

      But, the ZX2 is already a legendary DAP to me.

      And yes, the comparison had been made with all DSPs off.

  • Reply November 17, 2017

    Brian Fu

    Great review, Berkhan. By chance have you compared the WM1A to A&K KANN?

    • Reply November 17, 2017

      Berkhan

      Thanks!

      They’re somewhat similar in terms of non-fatiguing sound, but WM1A is technically better in my opinion. KANN is much powerful though, and I really liked it’s smooth and beautiful sound.

  • Reply December 31, 2017

    sulabh

    How is the driving power of WM1A compared to fiio x5iii?

    • Reply December 31, 2017

      Berkhan

      If you unlock the WM1A, they’re similar. From Balanced WM1A is pretty strong (unlocked).

  • Reply April 9, 2018

    Ricky M.

    Great detail review. Because of your review, I ended up purchasing the 1A(US model) a week after reading your review. There is are a lack of reviews(and detail reviews) of the 1A online.

    I own a ZX2 for almost 3 years. I identify some of the weakness and strengths of the player that you were talking about. Despite the flaws of the ZX2, it is still a great player hands down. Great sounding DAP. Still keeping mines because of what it can do and for what it is.

    As far as the 1A, that DAP perform magic to my music library. Hearing details that I never heard before. Blacker background, tighter bass and the highs are so detail and yummy. I am only at 65 hour of burn in. And that is on the unbalanced end. Working on the purchasing a 4.4 mm cable asap.

    Thank you for the great review!!! Keep that s@%t up!!!

    P.S. When will folks learn to just use low impedance headphones/earphones to utilize the output on today’s DAP? Especially the Sony Walkmans.

    • Reply April 10, 2018

      Berkhan

      Thanks Ricky.

      I still own the ZX2 as well. Can’t replace it with anything at the moment. Such a unique player.

      Get the 4.4mm cable and hear the difference buddy.

      These devices are not designed to drive full size cans properly in the first place, so I don’T understand the complaints either. If you want to get the best performance from those headphones you have to have a nice desktop setup anyway. And uncapped WM1 devices can drive those headphones from balanced (although not at their full performance), and Sennheiser includes 4.4mm cables in their new models.

  • Reply April 13, 2018

    Winipou

    Thank you for this nice review.

    One question: This DAP stills runs on Android 4.1.
    Taking into account the considerable investment, what is the expected lifetime of this software and the DAP? Does Sony foresee software updates or when necessary an upgrade to a newer software?

    Regards!

    • Reply September 14, 2018

      Berkhan

      It’s not Android, it’s a custom Sony software which is Linux-based.

  • Reply April 25, 2018

    Adam

    How does the wm1a compare to the zx300 in sound?

    • Reply April 26, 2018

      Berkhan

      I can’t find the ZX300 to listen here. So no idea.

  • Reply May 21, 2018

    Steven

    Thanks for the review Berkhan. Been considering to upgrade my X5iii to the wm1a and stop using streaming services, is it still worth it buying this after almost 2 years of its release date?

    Regards.

    • Reply May 21, 2018

      Berkhan

      In my opinion the WM1A is always worth it 🙂

      And most importantly, switching to it from the X5III will be a significant upgrade for you.

      But if you’d like to keep having streaming, you can look at the DX200 from iBasso.

  • Reply July 4, 2018

    Auronthas

    Great review. How does WM1A sound quality compare with Hiby R6?

  • Reply September 11, 2018

    Sven

    Great review, thank you. How does WMA1 sound quality compare with Calyx M and Hugo Chord 1?

    • Reply September 14, 2018

      Berkhan

      Hugo 1 sounds more like WM1Z, 1A is a bit more relaxed and laid back compared to Hugo, and Hugo has better dynamics.

      For Calyx M I have no idea.

  • Reply September 13, 2018

    Javier

    Very deep and interesting Review. Thanks a lot.
    Based on your description I would definitely go with the 1Z.
    The only thing that keeps me from that is that is a product that already have more than two years. I’m afraid to buy it because Sony might be releasing a new version soon.
    Thanks again

    • Reply September 14, 2018

      Berkhan

      You’re welcome.

      Sony won’t release a new model very soon, they just released a “desktop DAP” which is nowhere near portable (DMP-Z1). And they’ll update the WM1 series’ software next month, which shows that they will stick around for quite a bit of time.

      So you can go for the 1Z, it’s still one of the 4-5 best DAPs in the world.

  • Reply September 16, 2018

    Maarten

    Thanks for the really good review. I considere getting it myself but I can’t decide between the WM1A and Astell&Kern’s SR15. Do you know how they sound compared to each other or how WM1A compares to AK70 mkII?

    • Reply September 21, 2018

      Berkhan

      WM1A is the superior DAP in terms of pure sound. But the AKs you’ve mentioned are more compact and they have streaming feature.

      So you must choose between the best sound or the streaming capability (Tidal, Spotify etc.).

      WM1A is especially a great DAP from 4.4mm BAL output.

    • Reply September 21, 2018

      Berkhan

      Btw, if it helps, I’ve listened the SR15 in CanJam London and I think it’s a very good upgrade over the AK70 series.

  • Reply September 22, 2018

    MhtLion

    Thanks for the great review. Looks like this and AK SE100 is in similar price bucket. Did you get a chance to compare them by any chance? Thanks!

    • Reply September 24, 2018

      Berkhan

      I listened the SE100 in CanJam but didn’t directly compare to my WM1A.

      But I personally did not like it. It’s very (too) relaxed, therefore dynamics weren’t at the level I desired. Surely it has a great wide sound stage, but I think the WM1A is the better player. Not to mention that the SE100 costs 1700 $.

      Sony has a much better battery life too. But of course the AK has streaming.

      • Reply September 26, 2018

        MhtLion

        Thanks for the honest impression!!

  • Reply October 5, 2018

    Gerson Dzib

    Yo tengo el Sony ZX2 y es un reproductor unico, un sonido que wuau me enamoro y es mi favorito ..nunca me despego de el y es mi joya ..

    Te agradesco tu comparacion del zx2 entre WM1A y creo que juntare para comprarme el WM1A ..nunca jamas venderia mi ZX2

    • Reply October 9, 2018

      Berkhan

      Gracias. Es bueno saber que todavía tienes el ZX2. Siempre mantendré la mía también.

  • Reply November 4, 2018

    Timothy Lee

    Hey Berkhan,

    Been looking at replacements for my AK70ii. I currently use an EE Hermes and they’re incredibly sensitive, how’s the hiss on these? With the AK70ii there’s some hiss, loud enough to make me want to use an impedance adapter. But once the music is on, it kinda gets drown out. However I do listen to alot of ambient stuff, and it’s not loud enough to cover the hiss.

    • Reply November 5, 2018

      Berkhan

      Well I can’t precisely comment on the matter of hissing, but I can clearly say the WM1A is the better sounding DAP for sure.

  • Reply November 9, 2018

    Nishy

    Thank you for a very informative review! I love my 901s sound, both as a dedicated portable with Beyerdynamic DT1350 portable headphones for years (even Xiomara items), and especially via a Hifiman Dock and over a Carbon amp and Stax 009. The 901s sound to me is very clear and “juicy” and feels “just right” to my ears. I just tried the Kann as I lost my Hifiman and somehow it did not come close on any jazz track I sampled – rather flat and definitely less clear and with less depth and less sparkle (ok it is cheaper and single chip). I even ran the same tracks from Kann through my Ray Samuel’s Dark Star and an Hifiman HE6…and I was disappointed not to be more positive about a lovely player (Kann) and GUI. Which brings me to your review in the hope that the Sony 1A may be more 901s-like aka “Holy Grail” circa $1500? The 901s GUI is clunky to say the least and I am not desirous of WiFi or really Bluetooth (better indexing certainly)…10 hours battery is a minimum… but I am after great jazz sound. Somehow I can’t adjust downwards from the warm 801 or very natural 901s sound quality…would you please give your expert opinion as 1A does sound hopeful from your review? Thanks!

    • Reply November 11, 2018

      Berkhan

      You’re welcome.

      901s is a great player for the reasons that you’ve mentioned, but the WM1A is quite similar. It’s resolving, close to neutral sounding and it has a very nice sound stage. So I think in terms of sound character they’re pretty close.

      And yes, KANN is not a high end player.

  • Reply November 12, 2018

    N

    Many thanks for your quick feedback! That’s heartening. Have you tried the 1A alongside the SP1000M? I am toying between the two. Any thoughts on sound quality (…coming from 901s stable)? Keep up your great reviews!

    • Reply November 21, 2018

      Berkhan

      No, I’ve never heard the SP1000M. But there’ll be a review here soon.

  • Reply November 22, 2018

    R

    Thanks for taking out the time to write such a awesome review. If I can ask you one question would you recommend the high gain output set on balanced mode? Or do you think a balanced connection without the high gain is the better option. Did you use the balanced output with high gain on?

    • Reply November 22, 2018

      Berkhan

      Doesn’t matter for sound quality. Gain is only a gain. I use the High Gain in my DAP.

  • Reply December 1, 2018

    N

    Having bought the NW-WM1A after reading your in-depth review, I am a) very happy with it (signature and feel in hand/OS), b) your review in hindsight again hits the right buttons. I will probably uncap it as it can do with a little higher sound, though not a crying need. Very tempted to go for a 1Z!

    • Reply December 3, 2018

      Berkhan

      Thank you. Glad to hear that my review helped you to get the device.

  • Reply December 9, 2018

    Kulankot

    Thank you very much for the thorough review. Will it drive the Audeze headphone? Thanks.

    Allan

    • Reply December 9, 2018

      Berkhan

      Which one?

      • Reply December 15, 2018

        Kulankot

        LCD2

        • Reply December 18, 2018

          Berkhan

          If you hook it up through the balanced output with an uncapped software, then you can have some volume.

          But in any case, you should have a full size desktop amp for the LCD 2.

  • Reply December 30, 2018

    Lui Cartin

    Hi Berkhan, thanks for the review!
    I have a question about a mental bug:
    I want to buy a high-end DAP like the 1A, just that the 1A is more than two years old.
    Is this a factor against the newer proposals like the new AKs (SR15, SE100) and the DX200 (Amp8 is newer), or does the quality of the 1A hold in spite of its age?
    I’m still conditioned to think that newer = better. I’d like this baby to hold for a good 2-3 yrs in top form.
    What do you think?

    • Reply January 9, 2019

      Berkhan

      Hi,

      Of course it’s a factor, but it also depends on your preferences.

      Yes, the 1A holds in there among the great DAPs in its price range despite being 2 years old. And you can see Sony keeps giving it updates to improve the software. Now you also have the BT Receiver feature to use streaming apps from your phone. If your phone has an LDAC connection, then it’s even better. You can transfer high res data with BT.

      But if you want to use streaming directly from your DAP, then the new AK players would serve you very well with their fluid and polished software. They’re neat.

      In terms of raw sound performance? I suggest the WM1A, especially against the SR15.

      • Reply January 9, 2019

        Lui Cartin

        Thanks so much for the response!
        In fact, based your your review and other glowing info, I went ahead and got it!

        It’s in the burning stages, so I’m still patient, but so far it’s all that and then some…
        The only comment is that this morning, at the near 50hr mark (I know it’s still not much) I heard hiss… Hisss!!
        Is this normal?
        I thought it was supposed to be pretty black… anyways, I’ll keep burning and let’s see!

        • Reply January 9, 2019

          Berkhan

          Hiss is normal. It should be gone once you start playing the song. It’s not a problem.

          • Reply January 9, 2019

            Lui Cartin

            Whew! Thanks a mil again!

  • Reply January 3, 2019

    Robert Noblitt

    Thanks for your excellent review, which helped me decide to buy a WM1A to use with my Sony MDR-1AM2 headphones. To me, the sound is amazing, with great clarity. Using balanced cable, of course. It is interesting to try high gain output. Maybe I imagine it, but the sound seems better with high gain. Anyway, no harm as long as I don’t turn the volume too high. An actual advantage of high gain is that fewer clicks are needed to adjust the volume, whether raising or lowering.

    • Reply January 9, 2019

      Berkhan

      You’re welcome.

      There shouldn’t be a sound quality difference with the gain setting.

      Very thanks for the comment.

    • Reply February 18, 2019

      Ed

      Hi good review, not many reviews i could fine on the wm1a online. Im currently thinking of maybe purchasing a dap for my ie800S. Ive been listening to music with high end iems for many years but only used my smartphone (now a iphone x) by itself as a source. Im not too technically knowledgable when it comes to audio equipment but to my understanding the ie800s are 16ohm and 125 db sensitivity so they are easy to drive and ive been enjoying their sound with just an iphone, which i read online is actually one of the best audio quality smartphones you can buy right now.

      But my question is do you think with the wm1a i will get a significant upgrade in pure sound quality?

      And ive read online many people who have tried both the wm1a and zx300 say they actually sound nearly identical with the only difference that the wm1a provides more power? Do you know if this us true?

      Thanks

      • Reply February 19, 2019

        Berkhan

        Hello Ed,

        To me the sound performance between a plain smartphone and a dedicated audio player is significantly different, especially when you compare it to a DAP like WM1A.

        So the source is very important. The sound you would get from the WM1A compared to the iPhone should be much much better.

        For the WM1A vs. ZX300 I don’t know to be honest. I also know that people speak highly of the ZX300 but I never had a chance to sit down and test it.

        But if your priority is portability, then the ZX300 would be the better option. But the WM1A BAL output is really something.

  • […] of Earsonics, the Earsonics EM6. The sources used for this review are the Lotoo Paw Gold, Sony WM1A & […]

  • Reply January 19, 2019

    Ronald

    I really enjoyed your review. I was looking at the Opus 2, but after reading about the WM1a I am leaning more towards the 1a. How would you compare them. I am more interested in sound quality, and not streaming.

  • Reply January 30, 2019

    Eddie Ngan

    I just bought the wm1a. I am looking for a 4.4 cable for my andromeda. I am thinking the Sony Kimber 4.4mm or Alo Litz 4.4mm. Any suggestion

    • Reply February 1, 2019

      Lieven

      The HEadfonia team uses Effect Audio, Plussound, DHC, C3Audio

  • Reply March 27, 2019

    Matt

    I have the NW-ZX1 (Japanese Version) 35th Anniversary edition. Surely Sony will release a 40th Anniversary Walkman this year? Any news on this?

    • Reply March 28, 2019

      Berkhan

      There aren’t any news that we know of.

  • Reply June 15, 2019

    mike

    one thing helpful in a review like this is to know what kind of music and engineering you’re listening to. Ideally, for me, classical orchestra or quartet single mic’d with sound engineered pushing for focus…

  • Reply July 2, 2019

    Blue

    Thanks for this review. I’m thinking of breaking into the market, and I was considering my purchase options between The Onkyo DPX-1A and the NWWM1A.
    I was also looking at the NWWM1Z as an expensive alternative, and your input has given me plenty to digest.
    After I organise some FLAC files of well known songs, I will head off to a local Hi Fi Centre to hit the ground running.

    I appreciate the commentary on the portability, weight, and physical features of the DAPs, also. However, I intend to keep mine in a pouch on my backpack although there is a risk of being knocked from time to time.
    Which product seems sturdier? which would suffer more from a possible knock? (I would turn the screen inward)

    The final question I have, though, is did you test any speakers using bluetooth? Does everything sound just as amazing if I don’t directly inject it into my ear? I’m trying to find the perfect solution for my workplace, and headphones are probably illegal and definitely frowned upon where I work.
    Thanks again

    • Reply July 6, 2019

      Berkhan

      I would recommend WM1A over Onkyo any day, including build quality.

      Speakers are no problem with the WM1A. I use it with speakers time to time.

  • Reply July 3, 2019

    Daniel

    Hello, thanks for your review.

    I recently bought the WM1A and i really want to try the Balance output since the single ended feels a little bit “unpowered” , i was thinking The 660s from Sennheiser. Do you know if the WM1A can drive the 150 OHMS from the 660s?.

    Thanks again for the review.

    • Reply July 3, 2019

      Daniel

      By the way, i bought the “uncapped” US version.

    • Reply July 6, 2019

      Berkhan

      Hello Daniel.

      I actually used it with the very HD660S. They match up great in terms of sound, and the player can drive it from BAL.

      You still go to the very upper volume levels to drive the HD660S, but it’s enough in home environment.

  • Reply August 2, 2019

    Genek

    Hi! Great review and nice comparison to other DAPs. I own Fiio x5II and considering WM1A for an upgrade (I can’t afford 1Z unfortunately). I recently bought Sony MDR-Z7 and for me Fiio lacks power and bass, I need more punch and juice so my question is should I buy 1A or look at some other DAP? Will I get much more power from balanced output compared to Fiio X5? Thx!

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