Sony Walkman NW-ZX100
Sony Walkman NW-ZX100
It's best to begin this review by explaining what High-Resolution (Hi-Res) Audio is all about. Essentially, it's any type of audio format that's better than that of a CD. This means anything higher than 16-bit, 44,100Hz. File formats such as 24-bit FLAC and WMA Lossless are prime examples of what Sony deems to be HiRes Audio.
Not only does the ZX100 support these files, it goes the extra mile by allowing you to upscale lossy compressed audio files (MP3) to a quality that's almost similar to Hi-Res Audio. This is thanks to an upscaling technology called DSEE HX. In addition, this Walkman comes with the S-Master HX digital amplifier, which amplifies the audio signal, while keeping distortion to a minimum.
Other features include 128GB of internal storage that's expandable via microSD for a combined total of 256GB of storage. To ensure that the music keeps on playing, the battery holds enough charge for up to 70 hours when playing MP3 files, and up to 45 hours when playing Hi-Res Audio. Unfortunately, it uses a proprietary port to charge and for file transferring, so you won't be able to charge it using a battery bank.
As for connectivity, not only does the ZX100 have a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones/ earphones, it also has an integrated Bluetooth module, allowing you to wirelessly stream your music to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or speaker systems. Sony used its Bluetooth LDAC codec in the ZX100, which allows for higher bitrate streaming, so there's no need to worry about the loss of quality.
When it comes to performance, we transferred several 16-bit FLAC files, as well as several MP3s, into the ZX100 and listened to them with and without DSEE HX. In Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud' (FLAC), the difference was not immediately noticeable, with a mild boost to presence with DSEE HX turned on. With an MP3 file, however, namely Ellie Goulding's 'Lights (Acoustic Version)', the effect of DSEE becomes more apparent. Minute strums become clearer and presence is increased significantly. Overall though, sound quality is highly impressive.
It's important to note that your headphones/earphones play an important role in determining how well you can hear these differences. The Sony XBA-300AP, which makes use of balanced armature drivers, is definitely something that would allow you to hear these differences.