Sony has today released a firmware update to support High-Resolution streaming on its NW-ZX500 series and NW-A100 series Walkman® at 192 kHz / 32-bit. A highly anticipated update which was first shared in my review of the Sony NW-ZX507 Walkman® in April.

Sony NW-ZX507 Walkman

Prior to the update, contents from streaming services such as Amazon Music HD, Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal are down-scaled to 48 kHz / 16-bit. With the firmware update, the output is now at 192 kHz / 32-bit, even if the original resolution is lower than 192 kHz / 32-bit.

The pre-installed Sony W.Music Player is also updated to version 1.10, enhancing three functionalities. These include a keyword search function where one could search for songs that match the keyword from the song / album / artist, favourites and bookmarks screen can now be accessed by swiping to the left of the playback screen as well as allowing one to have up to 999 bookmarks, a significant increase from the 10 bookmarks supported previously.

Users of Sony NW-ZX500 series and NW-A100 series Walkman® can update to the latest firmware via Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) starting from today.

[Total: 12   Average: 4.9/5]

13 COMMENTS

  1. i just downloaded the update but Amazon music still says my device capability is 48khz/24-bit. Is there something else I need to do?

    • Hi Dale, yes, you have to enable it in the settings.

      1. Swipe the Home screen upwards.

      2. Tap the menu items in the following order.
      [Settings] - [Sound] - [High-Res streaming].

      3. Tap the switch to turn on the [High-Res streaming] function.

      Music streamed using apps other than “Music player” is played in the following quality.
      [Use High-Res streaming] is on:
      Up-converted playback at 192 kHz/32 bit
      [Use High-Res streaming] is off:
      Down-converted playback at 48 kHz/16 bit

      Hope this helps.

  2. Hi,

    Where can I find more information about this update and the support third party music apps to use the internal DAC?
    I know the inability of third party music apps to use the internal DAC was due to firmware support for Sony hardware so they were defaulting to the default Android audio driver which is 16-bit 48kHz (and which resamples everything that isn’t 16-bit 48kHz).

    Seems like no music app in the Play store supports the internal DAC of the NW-A100 / NW-ZX300.

    Onkyo HF, PowerAmp, USB Audio Player Pro, etc doesn’t seem to support it. On the music playback they all say they’re playing higher bit depth and frequencies but at the end they’re still being downsampled to 16-bit 48kHz even on firmware 2.01.00 (June 25,2020 Update).

    I would really appreciate it so I can email the info of that update to the devs of these apps so they can support them.

    • Hi Glen, what Sony has implemented is a proprietary upscaling across the board to 192 kHz / 32-bit, this will not be reflected in the software logs of the third-party software logs as the S-Master HX™ chip performs the upscaling before converting into analogue signals.

      I am in the knowledge that there are users who prefer a Bit-Perfect implementation, as you rightfully point out, the default Android audio driver which is 48 kHz / 16-bit, therefore such an implementation will require the Sony development team to alter the Android OS. At this juncture, they chose to implement the upscaling of the resolution after the digital signals are communicated to the S-Master HX chip without any alteration to the OS or third-party software. An implementation that is universal and fuss-free, however, does not offer Bit-Perfect. I have provided feedback to the Sony team who are now sticking to this implementation which I can understand why. If you are looking for a Bit-Perfect implementation, then the NW-ZX500 series and NW-A100 is not for you.

      • Thanks for the reply, I should have digger deeper before jumping on to the NW-A100/ZX500 series, they do their job very well and most people won’t notice the difference, but it is quite overpriced for what you get compared to other DAPs.

        Probably the biggest let down is the native music player where you cannot even create/edit playlists (and bookmarks are non exportable/backup), lack of sound features/options (present in all the other A series Walkman), and USB DAC mode (also present in all the other A series).

        It feels like a downgrade, except that at least you can use music streaming services which is the biggest customer base out there.

        What drew me to this specifics models was the MQA support out of the box. In a different note, how is it possible to support MQA without bit-perfect mode?

        Thanks!

  3. From what I understand Android only supports MQA Renderer with USB DAC such as Audioquest Firefly.

    Does NW-ZX507 supports (Tidal) MQA Full Decorder?

    • Hi Seng Yiep, MQA is not OS dependent but software and DAC dependent and the NW-ZX507 does not do bit-perfect MQA decoding but does output at 192 kHz/32 bit. The implementation by the Sony team differs from that of the other DAP manufacturers on the basis of 2 aspects, 1. the S-MASTER HX digital amplifier only converts the digital signal to analogue signal prior to outputting to the headphone jacks regardless of 3.5 mm single-ended or 4.4 mm balanced. 2. the implementation is on the basis of not modifying the Android OS unnecessary. Hope this is helpful.

  4. Hi Goh, so would this also apply to streamed music via Qobuz as played in USB Audio Player Pro App? Seems bit cheap of Sony considering the cost of the NW-ZX507

    • Hi Leonard, yes it applies across the board. I will not classify it as cheap, as always there are many ways of achieving high-resolution audio. Not forgetting that Sony was the founding member of Hi-Res Audio. Is it bit-perfect? No. However, it does provide the resolution and most important sounds better than without the up-scaling. This approach by Sony ensures that they do not need to modify the Android OS and is not under the mercy of the App developments to ensure compatibility which is why I can understand why they implemented it this way.

  5. Hi Goh, great post. I am in the market for a hi res player and im looking at the 507. i mostly listen via Tidal masters which according to the tidal website outputs at 96 kHz / 24 bit. will these audio files still be upsampled to 192 kHz / 32-bit and is there any way to get it to just play as is (i guess this is the whole bit perfect thing).

    • Hi Tobsta, as shared, Sony used an upscaling approach to upsample the outputs to 192 kHz / 32-bit, as such it is only bit-perfect on via its own player when playing back local files. Hope this clarifies.

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