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Sony NW-ZX507 Walkman® Review

The Sony NW-ZX507 Walkman® is amongst the two Digital Audio Players (DAPs) announced by the company at IFA 2019 as the firm marks the 40th Anniversary of Walkman®. TPS-L2, the first Walkman® was introduced on 1st July 1979 and soon became a design and engineering icon, changing the way people listen to music forever.

Sony ZX507 Walkman

A mid-tier offering, the NW-ZX507 is equipped with a 4.4mm balanced headphone jack, coupled with native DSD and MQA playback. The two models announced at IFA 2019 also marks a return to the Android platform, introduced on 1st February 2015, the NW-ZX2 was the last Sony DAP on the Android platform some five years ago.

Build and Design

Sony ZX507 Walkman in multiple angles
Photo credit: Sony, Image Editing: Porta-Fi

Encased in a high-quality anodised aluminium milled frame, the NW-ZX507 measures approximately 57.9mm x 122.6mm x 14.8mm, retaining the palm-sized dimensions of the NW-ZX300 with a rounded edge bottom which enhances the ergonomics and the overall feel of the device. The NW-ZX507 is only 7g heavier than the NW-ZX300, weighing in at just about 164g and sports a 3.6-inch touchscreen with an HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels). The glossy touchscreen is vivid and responsive; I do, however, prefer a matte display; this, however, is not a big deal as the application of a matte screen protector would resolve it.

Sony NW-ZX507 - Anodised aluminium milled frame
Photo credit: Sony

The NW-ZX507 retains the placement of the 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended headphone jacks at the top of the device, the buttons for power, volume control and playback operations on the right-hand side of the device together with the Hold switch as well as the location of the microSD card slot on the left-hand side. Do note; however, a microSD card tray mechanism has replaced the previous microSD card slot.

Sony NW-ZX507 - microSD card tray

The team also relocated the device’s charging and data interface to the left-hand side, with the USB-C jack replacing the company’s WM-Port jack, putting an end to the use of the proprietary connector more than a decade after its introduction. The location of the USB-C is due to the circuit board layout optimisation where the Audio/Analogue block and the Power/Digital block, which is highlighted in red and blue respectively in the photo below are divided.

Sony NW-ZX507 Circuit Board Layout
Photo credit: Sony

With the division of the Audio/Analogue block and the Power/Digital block, the critical digital components on the digital block such as the SoC are mounted on a copper milled block, designed to reduce resistance and facilitate more efficient electrical grounding. Looking at the Audio/Analogue block, the team implemented two types of capacitors, namely FT CAP (high polymer capacitor) for the 4.4mm balanced output and POSCAP (conductive polymer tantalum solid capacitor) for the 3.5mm single-ended output. Coupled with a pair of compact low-phase-noise crystal oscillators which ensures precision clock stability at sampling rates in multiples of 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz.

Sony NW-ZX507 - Insights into the Audio and Power/Digital Block
Photo credit: Sony, Image Editing: Porta-Fi

Included in the box with the NW-ZX507 Walkman is a Sony USB-C to USB-A cable, a startup guide, and an instruction manual.

Part 1: Introduction, Design and Build
Part 2: Usability
Part 3: Sound Quality
Part 4: Product Specifications
Part 5: Review Ratings, Summary


  • Goh Beng Yeow

    Goh Beng Yeow, the Founder / Editor at Porta-Fi™, is a recipient of the IT Youth Award in Singapore. Twice nominated for EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, Beng Yeow has previously founded startups such as PDALive.com, Coded Pixels Consultants and was a Tech writer for TODAY, a national daily newspaper under MediaCorp. Since 2017, he has been writing, editing and producing commentaries, interviews, news and reviews on Porta-Fi™. In 2019, Beng Yeow was appointed Advisor to LHDC™, the industry's latest low latency and high-definition Bluetooth audio codec.

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Goh Beng Yeow
Goh Beng Yeow
Goh Beng Yeow, the Founder / Editor at Porta-Fi™, is a recipient of the IT Youth Award in Singapore. Twice nominated for EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, Beng Yeow has previously founded startups such as PDALive.com, Coded Pixels Consultants and was a Tech writer for TODAY, a national daily newspaper under MediaCorp. Since 2017, he has been writing, editing and producing commentaries, interviews, news and reviews on Porta-Fi™. In 2019, Beng Yeow was appointed Advisor to LHDC™, the industry's latest low latency and high-definition Bluetooth audio codec.

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    • Hi Fran, yes, in fact, 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. It will be addressed soon.

      • > 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

        If this is a hardware limitation, how can it be fixed with a firmware update?

  1. Not seeing this 16/48 fix being discussed anywhere other than here. I want to buy one but only if this fix is coming. Can you point to anywhere else that can conform this, ideal Sony themselves ?

    • Hi Andrew, unfortunately, not all media shares the same ideals of being the bridge to connect people from enthusiasts to manufacturers, and yes, you are right to point out, we are the only one that reported the update. Unfortunately, Sony will only publish the update after the release. In my last exchange with them, they were beta-testing it, and likely something came up during the testing. Let me reach out to them again and see if I can get more updates. You can be assured our sharing is accurate, and we are a media that is not funded by advertising or sponsorship. Every cent comes from our own pockets.

      • Thanks. I’m already having to look at importing one due to stupid EC volume cap so only 16/48 when I want this as mch for Tidal streaming is very important. Would be great if you can get further update.

        • Dear Andrew, I am pending updates from the Walkman team. I have written to them, am awaiting updates.

          I appreciate your patience.


    This changes everything for this player!!!

    Than you Goh for the early rumor news, you were the first and only one that knew this!


  3. Actually no, all they have done is switched from a 16/48 baseline to an option for 32/192 baseline. We have already check on head-fi and if using Tidal for example which could have 16/48, 24/24, 24/96 tracks they are all upscaled to 32/192. We wanted bit-perfect playback as per the track like many other Android DAP makers can now do. Its a cheap con trick.

    Its still only the Walkman app that does bit-perfect playback with no scaling.

    “By applying the update, the contents of streaming services such as Amazon Music HD and mora qualitas can be played in high resolution without being down-converted. Up to now, it was down-converted to 48kHz / 16bit, but it is now possible to output uniformly at 192kHz / 32bit. Even if the original music is 96kHz / 24bit, it will be output at 192kHz / 32bit uniformly. If DSEE HX is on, interpolation is also done.”

    • Track analysis of a normal 16/48 FLAC in Tidal

      This is the ADB dumpsys media.audio_flinger
      It seems to confirm up-conversion has occurred.

      Output thread 0xeab03800, name AudioOut_C5, tid 14059, type 2 (DUPLICATING):
      I/O handle: 197
      Standby: yes
      Sample rate: 192000 Hz <<<<< ****** Now upscaled ******
      HAL frame count: 2048
      HAL format: 0x3 (AUDIO_FORMAT_PCM_32_BIT)
      HAL buffer size: 16384 bytes
      Channel count: 2
      Channel mask: 0x00000003 (front-left, front-right)
      Processing format: 0x5 (AUDIO_FORMAT_PCM_FLOAT)
      Processing frame size: 8 bytes
      Pending config events: none
      Output device: 0x8 (AUDIO_DEVICE_OUT_WIRED_HEADPHONE)
      Input device: 0 (AUDIO_DEVICE_NONE)
      Audio source: 0 (default)
      Normal frame count: 2048
      Last write occurred (msecs): 9529818
      Total writes: 0
      Delayed writes: 0
      Blocked in write: no
      Suspend count: 0
      Sink buffer : 0xeae4f000
      Mixer buffer: 0xeae2d000
      Effect buffer: 0xeb9ce000
      Fast track availMask=0xfe
      Standby delay ns=3000000000
      AudioStreamOut: 0xec5514d0 flags 0x2 (AUDIO_OUTPUT_FLAG_PRIMARY)
      Frames written: 0
      Suspended frames: 0
      Hal stream dump:
      Thread throttle time (msecs): 0
      AudioMixer tracks:
      Master mono: off
      No FastMixer
      2 OutputTracks: (0 : 0xebd03c80, 13) (0 : 0xea80ba00, 189)
      Stream volumes in dB: 0:-5.9, 1:-inf, 2:-inf, 3:0, 4:-36, 5:-inf, 6:-inf, 7:-inf, 8:-6, 9:0, 10:0, 11:0, 12:0
      Normal mixer raw underrun counters: partial=0 empty=0
      0 Tracks
      0 Effect Chains
      Local log:

      • Dear Andrew, I do agree on the expectations of a bit-perfect reproduction from the streaming apps, thank you for pointing out, I have forwarded this to the design team.

  4. Yea, seems that a lot of people are disappointed at Head-Fi.

    I think it was a step in the right direction, hopefully they will fix this with another future update

    Lets see if they get back to you Goh!

    Thank you!!!

  5. Hi Goh,

    This is an excellent review and very good information as to the firmware updates to get high-res audio from streaming apps. As someone new to this and with no high-res music library, I am inclining into hi-res streaming services. I own the high end Sony Z1R headphones that I use with my computer. Will it make a difference of getting this Sony walkman over lets say over a high-end Sony smartphone just for streaming high-res music? Does any of the internals of this walkman make the audio from streaming services sound better than over a Sony smartphone?

    Thank you for the insight. Cheers!

    • Hi Dom, thank you for your kind words. Yes, there would be a difference having an NW-ZX507 over a high-end Sony smartphone even if its the current Flagship Xperia 1 II. Yes, as shared in the review, the Sony NW-ZX507 has a dedicated S-Master HX digital amplifier that converts the Digital signal to Analogue after amplification, not forgetting the design which separates the digital and analogue component of the device as well as the added capacitors. Not ignoring the lack of mobile interference, a dedicated Digital Audio Player would outperform any Smartphone. I hope this helps.

  6. Hi Goh,

    Thank you very much for your great review,

    I mainly stream hifi music from Tidal and I currently use my iphoneX with a dragonfly cobalt.
    Do you think this latest sony NW-ZX507 would be an upgrade to my current setup?
    Also can one use the dragonfly cobalt on the ZX507 ? or would it not be much of an improvement compared to the internal Sony DAC ?

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Tom, thanks for your kind words.

      The NW-ZX507 from Sony is a very capable Walkman, aka Digital Audio Player, and arguably Sony’s best music streaming device. It is, in my opinion, that it is an upgrade to your current setup. Yes, you can use the Dragonfly Cobalt on the ZX507; however, why would you want to do that? The S-Master HX™ digital amp would outperform the ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip AudioQuest implemented on the Cobalt. As always, we all have different ear canals and sensitivity to different frequencies. It is still good to have a listen yourself to hear, which is your preference.

    • Hi Eduard, thank you for your kind words. You will find the stability of the OS a plus, SQ wise I prefer the ZX507. Do you stream music, if not, the WM1A is something to consider, if you are looking at SQ.

    • Hi Sebastian, unfortunately, at this current time, Sony has not worked with Roon to make the ZX507 a certified Roon device, and attempts to install the Roon APK has confirmed that it does not work with the ZX507.

  7. My buddy uses streaming apps like, Amazon HD, Deazer etc. He’s got a high quality BT5 tube DAC…NO HEADPHONES! Right now He uses his LG-g6 phone for this but, he wants to find another solution. so, did you test the BT signal quality of this DAB? Does Android 9 on this DAB lock in the BT APTX HD or, LDAC quality as default? Or, will he need to change the default every time he wants to transmit via BT to his DAC? You know, like Android on smart phones force you to do etc. Nice review and thanks for your time…Rocker

    • Hi Rocker, thanks for your kind words. The BT performance of the NW-ZX507 is well implemented. By default, Android 9 will select the best performing BT codec, however, it can also be specified and it will be reconnected as defined so I do not see any issues on that front.

  8. i have bought sony zx507 UK version from amazon. i came to know that all eu/uk versions have volume cap.
    please let me know the steps or process on how to disable it.

    flashing a asian english version firmware will do it or any settings will be able disable volume cap.
    links please if you have any..

    thank you in advance.

    • Dear nvs, the volume cap is in place due to EU/UK regulatory requirements. If one does not desire the volume cap, one must purchase a non-EU/UK model of the ZX507. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can advise to assist you in removing the volume cap.

    • Hi Nvs, essentially it is the same, Sony is a company that is very compliant to regulatory requirements, as such the units sold in EU/UK will be equipped with a firmware that has the volume cap and if it can be removed just via a flashing of the firmware, it would put Sony in jeopardy with the regulators.

  9. Hello Goh, thanks for all the precious info and the contribution. I have to chose one device and mainly listen to IEMs. Which of these devices should be my first and second choice sound wise? I am not into streaming just pure SQ. Sony ZX300, ZX507 or NW-ZX2? Again thanks for your help.

    • Dear Zee, thanks for your kind words. If you are not into streaming, I would suggest you have a look at the NW-WM1A. However, if the form factor is not something in your preference, then the ZX507, as SQ wise, definitely shines above the ZX300 and the now EOL NW-ZX2. I hope this helps.

  10. Hi Goh. Any update regarding the upscaling issue with streaming? Also, do you have any idea if Sony will release a new DAP this year or next year?

    • Hi Ben, as far as I know, the team has decided to leave the implementation as it is currently, it is upscaled via Sony’s algorithm, unfortunately, there are currently no plans to ensure that they are bit-perfect.

      To the best of my knowledge, there is no news of a new DAP.


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