Fully astern are Sony’s proprietary data/audio port and a receptacle for a wrist strap. If you’re worried about sweat, or just have to listen in the rain, the former can be plugged up with a rubber stopper, as can both headphone ports. As mentioned up top and seen in this Headfonia video, the SD card port is environmentally sealed with an o-ring.
These seals raise a few questions:
- Are interface buttons, screen laminate, and other typically permeable parts similarly sealed?
- If so, do Sony intend for the ZX300 to go with you into the storm?
- Does plugging in a headphone ‘seal’ the headphone port?
- If not, is this just posturing to the ‘weather-sealed’ worshipping camera crowd?
- If none of the above, isn’t it just awesome?
Whatever the answers to any and all of those questions, this attention to detail is freakishly good. And, it makes the ZX300’s asking price that much more palatable. I mean, what other company pays so much attention to detail that plausible or not, they can posture weather resistance in a DAO? Certainly not iRiver. Certainly not Onkyo. Certainly not Cowon. Certainly not Fiio. And on and on and on.
Finally, the non-slip back is great. The ZX300 is perfectly flat. Lay it down on any surface and its rubber back will keep it from sliding off a table, even if the attached cable is thick and weighty.
With a mix of MP3, AAC, lossless files, and DSD, I get around 20 hours of battery life. With all auto-offs turned off, at medium brightness and with every audio tweak known to man enabled I get a bit less than that. 30 hours of MP3 is probably optimistic, but in endless loop, and without touching the ZX300 it may be possible. 15-20 hours is damn good for a balanced-out hi-res player of such power. Also, it transfers files pretty fast. 26 gigabytes of data transferred to a fast 200GB MIcro SD card in just under 20 minutes, whereas with the Cowon Plenue J, the same takes close to an hour. Also, the ZX300 works as a DAC, and as well as it does anything playing music internally.
The ZX300 is freakishly well designed.
(By the way, I don’t think this thing streams anything. Neither do I. So, whatever.)
It’s hard to complain about the ZX300. It sounds good, sometimes really good; at times it sounds god-like. Where it doesn’t is where many DAPs fail, though not many at this price point. That is, it hisses. No, not like a 5th-generation iPod. No, not like a first-generation AK100. But certainly enough that you’ll not unhear it if your earphones are as sensitive as Shure’s SE846 or Ultrasone’s IQ. Both Onkyo’s Rubato DP-S1 (DP-S1 RMAA), which costs half what the Sony does, and an iPhone SE – a smartphone with no pretensions toward audiophilia -, do not, or do so little as to be effectively inaudible. At bedtime listening levels, I notice hiss through Grado’s GR8e, which is less sensitive than either the Shure or Ultrasone.
Hiss aside, I have few, to no complaints. One, at high gain, especially in balanced, the ZX300 packs a punch, getting well louder than an iPhone 6, and, even through the DAP-eating Audio Technica ES7, approaches the volume Astell & Kern’s AK380 (RMAA AK380) pushes from its balanced 2,5mm port, minus like 2500$. I should note that my favourite headphone to pair with the ZX300 is Grado’s GH-2. The combination of that headphone’s tight and close mids with the Sony’s meaty bass is heaven. It’s a close heaven though as the ZX300’s mids aren’t as open as some other DAPs. But it works wonders.
Even under the load of an Earsonics SM2, its balanced output can push -106dB stereo crosstalk, and dynamic range of 110dB and noise of -110dB. Neither THD nor IMD/jitter rise above unloaded levels of ~0,1% and ~0,3%, which, though relatively high, are inaudible. In short, its balanced output is load agnostic.
Even more on Sound after the jump on PAGE THREE: