Surely many of you opened this text to see remarks like “What? A music player in 2021? Who has been using them for the last ten years? “

Indeed, first smartphones, and then music streaming, which took over our ears sometime in 2013, killed the need to buy and download music. As a result, for the majority, players have become something of an atavism, still existing in this world for some ridiculous reason. Especially loudly I want to ask the question why it is needed, to Apple, which sells the fabulously expensive iPod touch.

However, there is a category of people who think differently. Sound quality is very important to these people. They are willing to spend a lot of money on headphones and even more money on players.

A device from this world fell into my hands. And I decided to temporarily become a person who is called an audiophile. So, meet: Sony NW-ZX507. It was shown in 2019 right for the 40th anniversary of the Walkman line.

Dimensions and weight57.9 x 122.6 x 14.8mm, 164g
ScreenTFT, 3.6 inches with a resolution of 1280 × 720 pixels
Memory64 GB + microSD slot up to 2 TB
Headphone connection3.5mm, balanced 4.4mm, Bluetooth 5.0
AmplifierDigital S-Master HX
Digital connectionWi-Fi and NFC
Working hoursHi-Res: Approximately 9-16 hours depending on format
Conditional battery capacity1500 mAh
Charging time6.5 hours from your computer’s USB
OSAndroid 9.0
Supported formatsmp3, WMA, FLAC, AAC, NOT-AAC, AIFF, DSD, APE, MQA

Let me emphasize right away that I will not talk about this player in the framework of mp3 and similar formats. After all, there are a lot of curtsies being made in the direction of audiophiles, and these formats are far from such a status.

Design and equipment

With the screen off, the player looks very nice. The music lover in me is especially pleased with the small Walkman logo, the player is included in this line:

The diode on the right signals charging. Photo: Ilya Kichaev / Media

The main thing is at the top. These are two headphone jacks. Fully gold-plated – a standard 3.5 mm “jack”, and to the left of it is a rare balanced input, its diameter is 4.4 mm:

There are physical music control buttons on the side, below is a switch to lock these buttons:

Here is an interesting point: all buttons are blocked, except for the power button. The logic turned out to be incomprehensible to me, so at first I sinned that the buttons did not work. Then I switched Hold to another position – and it worked.

The back part seems to be rubberized. Thanks to this material, rather large weight and ergonomics, the player fits well in the hand.

In the box, in addition to the player itself, you will find waste paper, a USB Type-A cable on one side and Type-C on the other. It is the Type-C port that is on the player itself.

Previously, Sony had a proprietary WM-Port connector, abandoning it was the right decision, since you will not need to look for a new wire with such a connector, but you can simply take any USB Type-C.

You turn on the screen and find that it is quite tiny: 3.6 inches. Typing on it is completely inconvenient, but you don’t have to do it often.

A cassette-shaped splash saver is one of the nice design features. Looks really cool!

Cassettes change from time to time:

Software and hardware

Sony NW-ZX507 runs on Android 9. In May, the operating system received another update. For some, the old age of the “axis” will be one of the main drawbacks of the player. And here I would probably agree: in the end, Android 12 is already presented, and the player is still working on the “nine”. There are plenty of conservative people out there who prefer not to upgrade though. Apparently, the logic here is: “If it works, then don’t touch it.”

I would describe the operation of the player on the existing hardware with the word “slow”: Sony NW-ZX507 turns on for a rather long time. You need to wait until the device starts all its processes at the very beginning so that you can enjoy the music.

Neither Sony nor AIDA64 disclose the exact names, but the player received a 64-bit processor with four Cortex-A53 cores, capable of operating at frequencies up to 1.8 GHz. In operation, the processor relies on 4 GB of RAM.

Music Apps

You can listen to music in two ways: somewhere to get records in Lossless and Hi-Res, as well as by installing applications for streaming with a similar quality of music. At the time of this writing, those were Deezer HiFi and Tidal, and Apple Music was added yesterday.

Deezer interface. The HiFi lettering on the cover of the album means that the music is played in FLAC. Photo: Ilya Kichaev / Media

But first, let’s show you the standard Walkman app. When you open it for the first time, the music library will appear in front of you. She will offer to sort the tracks both by usual data like “Artist”, “Album”, “All compositions”, and by unexpected ones. For example, in other devices, I have not seen sorting by year of release. There is also an option to select only Hi-Res tracks.

The player itself does not look unusual:

But it has a cool thing: you can start the cassette mode, then during playback there will be an animation of the playing cassette, as I said above. Looks top-notch:

In addition, one of the standard applications has become “Sound settings”. Here you can make some adjustments to the sound. For example, install a compressor, set up an equalizer, and turn on vinyl simulation:

These settings apply only to the standard player, I haven’t heard any changes in Deezer.

Audiophilia

The player works with S-Master HX, a digital amplifier developed by Sony. Many audiophiles will start to spit here: they say, there is nothing better than an analog amplifier. If this was a vinyl turntable review, then I would agree. But when the music is digital, the amplifier is better off being digital.

The player’s PCB uses FT CAP, POSCAP and an electric double layer capacitor for balanced power supply. All this, as conceived by the creators, plays a proper role in the reproduction of music.

According to audiophile canons, the blocks responsible for playing music and other functions of the player such as power are divided on the printed circuit board. There is also gold soldering, copper block-mounted components, and a solid aluminum casing that resists electrical noise. That is, everything that can please the ear of an audiophile.

For lovers of wireless technologies, there is also a joy here: there is Bluetooth 5.0. Two good codecs are supported: aptX HD and LDAC. It’s top-notch, but …

Looking for headphones

… But we’re audiophiles here. So I started looking for the perfect headphones for this player. And these are, of course, exclusively wired solutions. Because what kind of audiophile can we talk about if there are no wires?

I have my personal Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm and Audeze LCD-1. I love both couples. These are radically different headphones, the sound of which is very different from each other.

Sony NW-ZX507 and Audeze LCD-1. Photo: Ilya Kichaev / Media

My “Bayerdynamics” focus on the top, and the bottom for the modern world is quite small in them. This is not surprising – the headphones came out in 2004, becoming a slightly improved version of the Beyerdynamic DT 990, developed in the 80s. That is, these headphones are not about the prevalence of bass, but about balance, as it was more than thirty years ago.

Sony NW-ZX507 and Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm. Photo: Ilya Kichaev / Media

The Audeze doesn’t have a lot of treble, which makes the sound seem more balanced, but it’s a trick. First, they already have a stage. Secondly, they have more bass. Third, they focus on the midrange.

In general, in front of me were two different pairs of headphones. At one point I was confused by the “buyers” that the song Goliath by the Architects group was too overcompressed. Moreover, the damping threshold of the compressor passed for a very long time, which is why the quiet sounds became even quieter, and the loud ones sounded stifled.

In general, in addition to sounding with two pairs of my own personal headphones, I decided to find out how the player sounds with others. I went to Dr. Head, a huge headphone store, where I was given a choice. And there I found them:

This seems to be my new love. Not yet available due to the price, because the Beyerdynamic Amiron Home cost about 50 thousand rubles. But how they sound! I listened to Jesse Ware, Thrice, Architects, Biffy Clyro, Jack Garrett – everything sounded perfect. This music is completely different from all sides, but somehow the Germans managed to make an amazing product.

At the same time, I tried Audio-Technica ATH-AD1000X, Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless (with and without a wire) – they cannot be compared with Home. And Amiron Wireless from the same Beyerdynamic frankly disappointed me. Apparently, making big Bluetooth headphones with really amazing sound is unrealistic (forgive me Sony, Apple, Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Bower & Wilkinson, Sennheiser and my beloved Beyerdynamic).

In general, after leaving Doctor Head, I returned to a bundle of Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm + Sony NW-ZX507. My buyers, of course, are not Amiron Home, but they are not bad either. In conjunction with the player, they give an airy sound with a very good scene, which you can really feel, as well as well pumped bass. At least that’s how I got the feeling when comparing this song on my Motu M2 sound card with the Sony NW-ZX507:

By the way, with regard to high-impedance headphones. I would say 250 ohms is the highest resistance possible. The maximum volume, which for some reason here has a value of 120, is enough for me. But our uncle Zhenya is not enough. Although he is still an elderly person (38 years old, after all), so his deafness can be forgiven. And in my almost thirty years, the volume is enough for my eyes. Sometimes I even make it quieter.

Uncle Zhenya is not very happy with the volume of my “buyers”. Photo: Ilya Kichaev / Media

On the Internet, I met the opinion that the player will swing 300 ohms, but I would advise you to first listen to music on the Sony NW-ZX507 with such headphones. Probably, it was about a balanced output, which is four times more powerful than a conventional 3.5 mm “jack”, that is, it produces 200 mW per channel for 32 Ohms.

Outcome

Throughout the text, I did not raise the question of why music players are needed at all in 2021 – although you ask this question very often, holding such devices in your hands.

You can explain to yourself for as long as you like how this portability charmed, the ability to walk anywhere in any headphones, listening to music in the quality in which the authors intended it.

The answer to the question “why” was given by Hideo Kojima. One that is a genius. He has exactly the same player. And Hideo says that such devices give you the opportunity to be more responsible with your music consumption. That is, you do not give a chance to the sacred random of the Flow playlist or its analogues, but choose exactly those albums that you want to listen to by buying or downloading them.

Illustration: Svetlana Chuvileva / Media

Kojima’s opinion reminds me very much of the vinyl story: I have a whole list of records to buy. There is an urgent need to bring in the amazing The Joshua Tree – this is the best U2 album I have just remembered.

Sony NW-ZX507 will allow you to get the most out of a quality music source. The main thing here is to find suitable headphones, as well as a well-recorded and competently mixed music file.

I really liked the way the player sounds with the Beyerdynamic Amiron Home. Such a set seemed to me the perfect match. But here’s the thing: the perception of sound is a very individual topic. So if you have the opportunity to listen to the Sony NW-ZX507 with these headphones, then I recommend doing so. You can even compare these headphones with other pairs – I am so confident in my recommendation.

Like any other device, the NW-ZX507 has drawbacks. And I’m not talking about an unpronounceable name. On the downside, I would include the slowness when turning on the player, a small screen and a small 1500 mAh battery. It is recommended to charge the player only from a computer in order to keep the original battery capacity as long as possible. And each such charge will take a fabulous 6.5 hours. That is, a little less than half of the time that the player will give to listen to music in maximum quality – which is 15-16 hours.

Is the Sony NW-ZX507 worth the 60 thousand rubles that Sony asks for it? Let everyone decide for himself: to some, headphones for three thousand seem expensive, and someone can afford to buy a Beyerdynamic Amiron Home (I think I got sick with them) every day.

The sound, which is definitely there, gave me a positive answer: this player is definitely worth its money. And let’s be honest: for the world of audiophilia, this is downright little money. A little money that will immerse you in the world of music anew.


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