The Sony NW-ZX507 is a mid-tier DAP that builds onto the success of the NW-ZX300 effectively filling the gap between the A-series and the WM-series. Physically, the new rounded edge bottom design enhances the ergonomics and the overall feel of the device. I have to admit; the NW-ZX507 is the most comfortable DAP to hold in the market today.
The return to Android is perhaps the most exciting change offered by the NW-ZX507. Switching away from Sony’s proprietary Linux platform, the implementation of Android 9.0 coupled with WiFi allows one to enjoy music via third-party audio media player apps such as USB Audio Player Pro and Onkyo HF Player as well as stream music via music streaming apps such as Spotify and Tidal. One could even enjoy their music collection, which is resident on their NAS via WiFi. Do note that currently, due to limitations of the 1.8GHz quad-core SoC, the output from 3rd party apps with a resolution higher than 48kHz/16-bit will be downscaled for playback at 48kHz/16-bit.
Update (2 April 2020): The Sony team has just shared with me that a new firmware is currently in beta, this firmware release will address the 48kHz/16-bit bottleneck and allow both music streaming and music playback apps to output at a resolution of 192kHz/24-bit on the NW-ZX507.
Update (28 May 2020): Sony has today released the firmware update which addresses the 48 kHz/16-bit bottleneck and allows both music streaming and music playback apps to output at a resolution of 192 kHz/32-bit on the NW-ZX507. More details at Sony updates NW-ZX500 series and NW-A100 to support High-Resolution streaming playback.
So if you are one who streams music or prefers to use third-party Android applications over what’s available on Sony’s proprietary Linux platform, this would be a great reason why you should consider an upgrade to the NW-ZX507 from the NW-ZX300.
The Sony team has also successfully ported almost all the functionalities of its touch-enabled Walkman to the Sony W.Music Player on the Android Platform; this assures users of existing Sony DAPs a familiar UI when using the NW-ZX507. Even the Vinyl Processor option that was most recently added to the Sound Quality settings is available on the Android version. Bluetooth receiver mode, digital Peak Meter, L/R channel balance and USB-DAC are the functionalities that have not been migrated to the current version of Sony W.Music Player.
The Sony W.Music Player on the NW-ZX507, like the version on the NW-A100 series, has a new “cassette tape screensaver” function where a cassette tape will appear after a short period of inactivity, just like a screensaver. The design of the cassette tape varies depending on the playback quality, offering one a visual treat while listening through the music collection.
On the Bluetooth end, the team has implemented Bluetooth 5.0. It will not function as a Bluetooth receiver which makes sense as the functionality was previously created to allow reception of digital audio signals via Bluetooth from devices running music streaming apps. As a Bluetooth transmitter, the NW-ZX507 supports codecs AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and SBC.
Next, I would like to share about the volume control on the NW-ZX507; the implementation of Android 9.0 has made the Walkman an Android device. In all Android applications, volume control on the platform level is breakdown into Media, Ring, and Alarm. All apps will have an internal volume control which corresponds to the Media volume control on the platform level.
In the Sony W.Music Player app, the team bypassed the internal volume control, setting it at maximum to allow the 120-step volume control at the physical volume controls buttons to control the volume to provide the highest sound quality. Like-wise if you are using a third-party app be it an audio player or a music streaming app, it is advisable to maximise the volume on the internal volume control.
The company has cited a battery life of up to 20 hours of 128 kbps MP3 playback, or up to 18 hours of 96 kHz FLAC High-Resolution Audio playback. During the review process at the Porta-Fi Experience Lab, we were able to achieve an average of 15 hours and 43 mins on a single-ended connection and an average of 14 hours and 21 mins on a balanced connection. Overall, the NW-ZX507 has a weaker battery life compared to the NW-ZX300, attributable to the higher resolution display as well as the implementation of Android. A full charge was averaging about 6.5 hours, 1 hour longer than the NW-ZX300.
In terms of storage, the device has a built-in memory of 64GB and external storage of up to 2TB via microSD.