Sony Walk­man NW-ZX100

Sony Walk­man NW-ZX100

HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - by Bryan Chan

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.

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