Its single-ended output is not, but it is close. As always, insensitive, high-ohm headphones present little to no load. Beyerdynamic’s 600Ω DT880 gets plenty loud through its single ended output, enough that listeners such as Chase Emory should nearly be satisfied. But even current-hungry earphones trip barely any more jitter or THD into the signal.
Of course, all of this academic anyway. There’s no way in hell anyone is listening to – or will listen to for long – music louder than 100dB. That the ZX300, which tops out at around 108-110dB of dynamic range, THD, and the rest, and is bested by the Onkyo DP-S1 is just bragging rights. And, measurements only really tell you how well a device can drive another device, or cleave to a test signal.
At the ear, the ZX300 is a meaty sounding DAP. In particular, it floats across every earphone I’ve heard an incredibly wide and deep stereo scape across the entire low frequency range. Perhaps because of this, texture detail, let alone yawning, powerful bass, are at the top of what I’ve heard at length from any manufacturer, at any price. It’s the sort of texture that brings digital music a good, and grippy analogue feel. I have no idea what that means except that it pricks right near my heart. It’s not liquid-sounding like the AK240, or as precisely detailed as the AK380, but it’s got this stage that wraps you deep within, and most of that on the deep end. If you’re all about highs, I think you’ll get along with the ZX300, but its high-frequency stage isn’t as shockingly detailed as either the DP-S1’s or the AK380’s. Its mids are as good as either one, but its detailed lows are really what this player is all about. And, the longer I own the ZX300, the more I’m about. Wow.
And, you can add EQs and other sound effects to your heart’s content. Because it drives earphones/headphones so damn well, and with good power, you can plug just about anything into them and it will sing.
I kind of wish that Sony lead with this rather than the WMZ1, but they didn’t, and while the ZX300 will move more units, its thunder is stilled by the copper top.
If you care for more and detailed measurements, head to this article, at ohm: RMAA Sony ZX300 24-bit.
A world in which Sony does not lead the middle and top end of the DAP market is thankfully a bitter past. Sony’s disappointing A-series Walkman are long gone. And so are fiddly controls whose sole capital is size. The ZX300 pulls its weight both stylistically and in use. With the singular proviso of audible hiss when combined with sensitive earphones, it sounds great. It looks great. It works great. Its screen is better than most of the competition at its price. It’s killer.