NWZ-ZX1 Walkman http://www.stuff.tv/sony/nwz-zx1-walkman/all en-GB Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman http://www.stuff.tv/nwz-zx1-walkman/sony-nwz-zx1-high-resolution-walkman/review <div class="field field-type-text field-field-standfirst"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sony reckons the way to resurrect the MP3 player is to ditch MP3s and go all high-end and high-res. Your ears will love it, but your wallet less so </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-enable-hero"> <div class="field-label">Enable hero:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Enable full width image </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_main_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" alt="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/images/news/Sony_NWZ-ZX1_Walkman%29_1.jpg?1393380642" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-byline"> <div class="field-label">Byline:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/users/ced-yuen" title="View user profile.">Ced Yuen</a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Since smartphones came along, more people have been using them as their sole means of listening to music on the go. Carrying multiple devices around is a pain, after all.</p> <p>But there are those who care more about sound quality than convenience, and they&rsquo;re in for a treat, because the latest Walkman sounds awesome. The Sony NWZ-ZX1 is a seriously premium player, and one that focuses on hi-res, Studio Master music. It&rsquo;s also the best sounding portable device we&rsquo;ve ever heard.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-pricing"><legend>Pricing</legend><div class="field field-type-number-float field-field-test-price"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> £550.00 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-price-from"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 0 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-ratings"><legend>Ratings</legend><div class="field field-type-hcmreviewrating-rating field-field-overall-rating"> <div class="field-label">Overall rating:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="hcmrating-default">8 stars</div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-pros"> <div class="field-label">Pros:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amazing sound quality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Lovely looks and build </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Android means it does more than just music </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-cons"> <div class="field-label">Cons:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Expensive </div> <div class="field-item even"> High-res music isn&#039;t easy to get </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-sections"><legend>Review Section</legend><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Resolution revolution </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>So what&rsquo;s high-res audio? Short version: it&rsquo;s a bit like 4K for you ears. It&rsquo;s better sound quality than CD (you do know they compress your music before they put it onto a disc, don&rsquo;t you?), with &quot;better&quot; meaning &quot;closer to what musicians and engineers intended in the studio&quot;. It&rsquo;s the Next Big Thing in audio.</p> <p><strong>READ MORE: <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/music/why-it-s-time-get-pumped-about-hi-res-audio/feature" target="_blank">Why you should be pumped about (and just a bit sceptical of) Hi-Res Audio</a></strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s all about reconstructing an analogue sound wave as accurately as possible, and this is where we introduce The Science Bit.</p> <p>You see a sampling rate is the number of samples taken per second when analogue sound waves are converted to digital. The more samples taken per second, the closer the sound is to the original sound wave. Meanwhile, bit depth describes the accuracy of that sample. A typical CD measures 16-bit/44.1kHz. A high-res audio track, meanwhile, may measure 24-bit/192kHz.</p> <p>Got it? No? Don&rsquo;t worry &ndash; just remember it all results in more data and therefore more detail and better sound and you&rsquo;re golden.</p> <p>High-res audio itself is nothing new. There are already smartphones around that can handle these files &ndash; <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/android/lg-g2/review" target="_blank">LG G2</a>, <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/android/google-nexus-5/review" target="_blank">Google Nexus 5</a>, <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/galaxy-note-3/samsung-galaxy-note-3/review" target="_blank">Samsung Galaxy Note 3</a>, to name a few. What&rsquo;s new is that high-res audio has now taken off far enough for big companies to make dedicated players that sound way better than those phones.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" alt="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/Sony_NWZ-ZX1_Walkman_5.jpg?1393380642" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Enough numbers! How does it sound? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Load up a high-res track and you get an impressively refined sound with layers of subtle detail. You&rsquo;ll spend a lot of time noticing parts of your favourite songs you&rsquo;ve never heard before. The soundstage is wide, well organised and timing is spot-on.</p> <p>The ZX1&rsquo;s tonal balance is good, too, but the well-defined, hard-slapping bass deserves a special mention. Combine that with extended, punchy dynamics and it&rsquo;s a seriously engaging, exciting sound.</p> <p>We started comparing the ZX1 to an <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/apple/ipod-touch-5g-hands-review/news" target="_blank">iPod Touch</a> and things got ugly for Apple very quickly. The Sony is way ahead in every department, from its weighty delivery to its extraordinary precision. We&rsquo;ve always been keen on the iPod&rsquo;s sound, but next to the ZX1 it comes across as brash and unsophisticated. It comfortable beats those high-res-playing phones we mentioned, too.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not all down to the high-res tracks, either. We loaded up both devices with the same CD-ripped WAV files and it was still easy to pick the devices apart.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" alt="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/Sony_NWZ-ZX1_Walkman_4.jpg?1393380642" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A question of content </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There is still one fairly significant problem, though - high-res music might be the next big thing, but right now it&#39;s not that easy to get hold of. You can&#39;t get any on iTunes, and even Sony itself seems reluctant to go any higher than MP3 for its own download store. The likes of <a href="http://www.naimlabel.com/" target="_blank">Naim</a> and <a href="http://www.linnrecords.com/" target="_blank">Linn</a> have high-res music stores, but the selections aren&#39;t especially mainstream.</p> <p>For now your best bet is to go with <a href="http://www.hdtracks.com/" target="_blank">HDtracks</a>. It&#39;s officially US-only but there are easy ways to work around that, and a UK launch is expected in the next few months. A direct connection from player to download store and a whole load of new music is definitely needed if Studio Masters are going to make a proper impact, though.</p> <p><strong>READ MORE: <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/music/30-greatest-audiophile-albums/feature" target="_blank">30 Essential Albums for Audiophiles</a></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Unusually good looking </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It&rsquo;s not just the sound that separates the ZX1 from the competition. If there ever was such a thing as an anti-iPod, this is it. Sony has clearly tried to distance itself from Apple&rsquo;s aesthetics, and the result is gorgeous. It&rsquo;s a striking design with a premium feel that rivals anything coming out of Cupertino, and feels less delicate, too.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s a proudly asymmetrical slab of aluminium that wants nothing to do with simplicity and rounded edges. The glass face drops off abruptly into a straight edge, where the physical controls make us happy by allowing us to change tracks in our pockets.</p> <p>The bottom edge of the ZX1 has a gleaming brass cylinder that&rsquo;s so big it rises slightly above the screen. We&rsquo;re not sure why: theoretically it allows internal cabling to be a bit thicker (and improve sound quality). Sony says it reduces contact resistance.</p> <p>The literally outstanding aspect of the ZX1&rsquo;s design is its bottom third, which protrudes at the back. This is because Sony felt like putting in a larger amplifier block, straight lines be damned. It&rsquo;s unusual, but it serves the handy secondary purpose of sitting in your hand quite nicely. It doesn&rsquo;t wobble on a table, but Sony has included a tiny wedge of plastic in case you&rsquo;re that worried about perfect flatness.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" alt="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/Sony_NWZ-ZX1_Walkman_2.jpg?1393380642" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Standard features </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While the ZX1 has been outstanding in its sound and design, its features are fairly normal. It runs on <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/google/android" target="_blank">Android</a> 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is safe but not particularly exciting these days. The 4in screen makes it easy to navigate the device. There are good colours, but the picture isn&rsquo;t sharp enough for proper movie watching or gaming.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s also NFC at the back for easy Bluetooth pairing, as well as a tiny speaker masquerading as a Walkman logo. We&rsquo;re quite not sure why you&rsquo;d spend &pound;550 on a high-end audio device and then play music that way.</p> <p>Then there&rsquo;s the matter of storage. You get 128GB on board, and that&rsquo;s it. There are no models with different capacities, and no slot for external memory. It&rsquo;s a pretty good offering for the money (the biggest iPod Touch has 64GB and costs &pound;330), but not including a memory card slot feels a bit silly, especially when you consider that hi-res music files are often absolutely massive.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" alt="Sony NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Walkman review" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/Sony_NWZ-ZX1_Walkman_3_0.jpg?1393380642" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-5"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sony NWZ-ZX1 Walkman verdict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We love it. We love the design and we love the sound. And its features are pretty decent, too.</p> <p>The problem is how niche it is. No-one&rsquo;s buying dedicated MP3 players anymore because everyone&rsquo;s using their smartphone as their portable music player, and you&rsquo;re going to have to be seriously dedicated to the hi-res music cause to feel that it&rsquo;s not only worth carrying around an extra portable and going the extra mile to find and download high-res music, but also worth spending an extra &pound;550 on the privilege.</p> <p>If you are that seriously dedicated, we applaud you, and we know you&rsquo;ll love the way this pioneering Sony sounds. One day the rest of the world will catch up.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-review-rating"><legend>Review Rating</legend><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-review-type"> <div class="field-label">Type:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> sound </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-review-score"> <div class="field-label">Score:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 10 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-review-type"> <div class="field-label">Type:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> design </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-review-score"> <div class="field-label">Score:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 9 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-review-type"> <div class="field-label">Type:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> smarts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-review-score"> <div class="field-label">Score:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 7 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-verdict"> <div class="field-label">Verdict:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The best-sounding portable device we&rsquo;ve heard, but it&#39;s only really for the most dedicated hi-res audio pioneers</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-preview"> <div class="field-label">Preview:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Disabled </div> </div> </div> http://www.stuff.tv/nwz-zx1-walkman/sony-nwz-zx1-high-resolution-walkman/review#comments Geek accessories Hi-Fi & Streaming Hi-Res Audio NWZ-ZX1 Walkman Sony Tue, 25 Feb 2014 17:22:34 +0000 Tom Parsons 1432690 at http://www.stuff.tv