Very high-end sound in a transportable player
December 04, 2019
This is truly a remarkable item. The build quality is excellent. The sound quality is amazingly transparent, with plenty of clarity and detail. You also need a very high quality headphone to get the most out of the Z1. The Z1 has enabled me to enjoy the highest quality headphone sound that I have experienced.
I primarily use the Z1 to play downloaded high resolution FLAC and DSD files. You can also play MQA files, but I have not tried this. You can connect the Z1 to your PC via the included USB cable, for copying music files to the 256GB internal storage of the Z1. There are two slots for micro SD cards that you can add for more storage. When connected to a PC, the Z1 can serve as a DAC, so you can get the best sound from streaming services, or other music sources available through your PC.
If you are already familiar with the Walkman interface, this unit will be easy to use. Here are some tips for new users of this device:
When the display times out, you can tap the power button to restore the display.
In the settings, be sure to enable DSD remastering, which makes the sound smoother.
In the Output Settings, look at “DAC Filtering Selection”. There are six filtering choices, which have subtle, but audible effects. You can find on-line discussions on the pros and cons of these digital filters. I currently like the “Super Slow” filter.
When the power supply is connected, you can choose whether to run the Z1 on battery or AC. I don’t hear any difference.
For adjustments to the sound, the Z1 provides an equalizer, DSEE HX, Dynamic Normalizer, and Vinyl Processor. There is also a Direct mode (which I generally use) that bypasses all of this processing. I sometimes use DSEE HX to improve the sound of CD-quality recordings.
The Z1 purchase was worth it to me, to obtain this high-end level of sound quality in a transportable player. A less expensive alternative would be to purchase a Sony NW-WM1A Walkman, and a Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier. The sound of this combination (which I also own) does not quite reach the level of the Z1, but comes very close.... Read More