Our comparison of Sony digital audio players
If you consider Walkmans and other portable music players a thing of the past, you’ve clearly never experienced high-resolution digital audio players, or DAPs.
Have we piqued your curiosity?
In this article, we present the wonders of digital audio players and compare two models designed by Sony.
What’s the point of digital audio players?
Now that smartphones and other mobile devices can provide easy access to an impressive amount of musical content, you may be wondering why anyone would even bother having a portable music player anymore.
However, if you look into the matter, you’ll find that high-resolution digital audio players and mobile devices are designed to meet very different needs. DAPs are completely dedicated to playing music, while this function is just one of many for most smartphones. As a result, DAP designers don’t have as many constraints or compromises to make.
For music lovers, digital audio players have several advantages over smartphones. For example, DAPs are generally equipped with higher-quality digital to analog converters (DACs) combined with truly hi-fi headphone amplifiers. Because these components are expensive and consume a lot of energy, they are almost never installed in smartphones. Even the simplest audio-friendly components such as headphone jacks are found less and less on new phones!
Features to consider when buying a digital audio player
Although digital audio players are a bit of a niche product, there are still a variety of models and features available. When buying a digital audio player, it’s important to know what features to look for in order to get the most out of your device.
Here are a few elements to consider when weighing your options.
Download or streaming?
There are two broad categories of high-resolution digital audio players: those exclusively dedicated to playing downloaded audio files stored in the device or on a microSD card, and those with streaming capabilities. Obviously, the second type is preferable if you want to enjoy music streaming services like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.
DAPs with streaming capabilities generally use the Android operating system. That means you can install apps just like you would on a smartphone, which greatly expands your listening options.
Compatible audio file types
Generally, it’s a good idea to get a digital audio player that can play all of the audio file types in your music collection. If you have MP3, AAC, OGG, AIFF, WAV and FLAC files, you’ll want to make sure that the player you’re considering can play all of them.
In addition to compatibility, you can also check the highest resolution the device can support for various types of audio files.
Types of ports
If you're an audiophile looking to invest in a digital audio player, you may already own a set of high-end headphones. If you do, it's crucial to make sure they’re compatible with your player.
The most common audio jacks are unbalanced headphone jacks in 3.5 mm mini-jack format, which are perfectly compatible with the vast majority of headphones and earphones available on the market. However, some devices will be equipped with balanced headphone jacks in different diameters that provide clearer sound with less background noise.
The best quality audio files are often the largest. For example, an album in MP3 format takes up around 100 MB, while an album in FLAC format and 24-bit HD quality takes up approximately 1 GB. If you have an extensive music library, storage capacity will be an important feature of your high-resolution digital audio player.
Many DAPs are equipped with a microSD slot for additional storage.
Sony digital audio players: choices to consider
The company behind the original Walkman has been in the portable music player business for a long time. Today, after decades of excellence in electronics, Sony continues to offer high-quality products, including two digital audio players that are definitely worth considering: the Walkman NW-ZX300 and the Walkman NW-ZX507.
The NW-ZX300 Walkman: authentic high-resolution audio in a compact body
With this device, Sony wanted audiophiles to be able to enjoy authentic high-resolution sound in a compact body.
With no WiFi connectivity, this device is designed to hold your entire music library. It can read most types of files (WAV, WMA, AAC, AIFF, MP3, FLAC, Apple Lossless, APE (Monkey's Audio), HE-AAC, DSD, MQA) and is also equipped with a memory card slot (compatible with microSDHC, microSD, and microSDXC) for additional storage.
Once you've downloaded your music into the device, get ready to be surprised by the high sound quality, even if your music library is in highly compressed MP3 format. This is because the device’s DSEE HX technology converts your music to near high-resolution sound.
The NW-ZX300 Walkman is capable of handling 11.2 MHz DSD native using balanced headphones and PCM 384 KHz/32-bit support, while its S-Master HX digital amplifier ensures crystal-clear sound and vocals. Its high-polymer capacitor provides clean, reliable voltage for powerful, well-defined bass.
In addition to the classic 3.5 mm headphone jack, the device is equipped with a 4.4 mm balanced jack capable of isolating left and right for less noise and clearer sound. It also has a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity.
If you’re looking for a digital audio player to take your classics to the next level, the Sony NW-ZX300 Walkman is definitely worth considering.
The NW-ZX507 Walkman: for high-resolution streaming
The NW-ZX507 Walkman is a device that pushes the boundaries of high-resolution portable audio. Not only do its features enable excellent upconversion of various types of audio downloads, but it is also compatible with a wide range of music sources.
The main features that distinguish it from the NW-ZX300 are its WiFi connectivity and Android operating system, which allow you to access a multitude of applications and enjoy your favourite streaming platforms. Furthermore, the NW-ZX507’s LDAC codec provides a wireless streaming experience with three times the bitrate of standard Bluetooth technology (which is still available as well).
In addition to the other features that make this player a resolutely hi-fi device, the NW-ZX507 also boasts an electric double-layer capacitor, a crystal oscillator, an aluminum milled frame and a copper milled block that the components are mounted on. All of these features contribute to providing a reliable power supply and electrical insulation that blocks any possibility of interference.
It's safe to say that this is the most advanced Walkman Sony has ever created.
Stop by Fillion to check out the Sony digital audio players
If you want to enjoy your music anytime, anywhere, without compromising sound quality, a high-resolution digital audio player is for you. Sony offers elegant, high-performance DAPs like the NW-ZX300 and NW-ZX507 Walkmans that are worth considering.
Which one of these great devices you choose will largely depend on the music sources you use: audio files or streaming platforms.
Want to hear the difference between your smartphone and a digital audio player? Feel free to come by our store and try the two devices presented in this article. Our experts will be able to assess your needs and provide more information on which device suits you best.
See you there!