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Z1s - The Audio ReviewGeneral

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  1. LuvMusic

    LuvMusic VIP Member VIP Member

    I do enjoy my music and a phone that does a poor job of reproducing music is a "fail!" When I stared looking for a replacement for my Galaxy Nexus I narrowed down my selections to either a Nexus 5 or the Xperia Z1s. While reading reviews there were conflicting opinions about the sound quality on the Z1s which had me a little concerned. Since I'm posting here, I suspect you can guess which phone I chose and I'm posting this entry to share my audio listening experience with the Z1s.

    For those who don't want to read through this lengthy post, I'll cut to the chase...I like the sound that Z1s produces. For a digital music player housed in a phone it does a fine job. I tested with both the stock music player and Poweramp and I was able to craft an enjoyable music listening experience with both. If that's all you want to know you can stop here. If you want to know how I came to this impression, keep reading.

    Let me state the obvious......how music sounds is very SUBJECTIVE and personal. All that I share here is subjective also. This is why I use the term "enjoyable" since IMHO that is what's important. To help you understand a little more about my perceptions it might help to know more about my music listening background and the equipment I used while experimenting.

    I am a product of the analog music reproduction generation. I cut my teeth on vinyl, turnatables, preamps and power amps connected to floor standing speakers. It's funny....analog is back in fashion...my kids think I'm cool! :D I also play bass guitar and still "basement jam" with friends. So I have experience in both recorded and live music that has shaped my perception of what sounds good to me.

    While conducting my very unscientific listening evaluation I used Monster Miles Davis Tribute in-ear headphones (not to be confused with anything in the Beats category), Klipsch S4 in-ear headphones, Bose QC15 over-ear headphones and a Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth speaker. I was able to achieve an enjoyable listening experience with all this gear. Equalization varied based on which listening device and music player I was using.

    The Walkman music player software produced acceptable results. This music player seems to have a sound profile that favors mid range sound. The five band equalizer helps, but I like to be able to adjust more than 5 bands. One feature I found useful is the "Clear Bass" function located at the bottom of the equalizer screen. If I wanted to just boost or cut the bass a bit, this feature was handy. I thought ClearAudio + was worthless.....to my ears it sucked the life out of the music. Also the Walkman app does a poor job of updating album art.

    I have used Poweramp for years and it is my "Go To" music player app (Yes, I am biased on this front). In comparison to the Walkman app the sound is more balanced, open and warm. It also has a 10 band equalizer which helps me fine tune my listening experience and does a great job up updating album art / meta data. What surprised me was I was able to use Sony's Walkman sound features within Poweramp. On the tone control panel within Poweramp a Sound FX button was added and by long pressing on it I was able to access Sony's sound shaping tools....very cool!

    I've rambled long enough. I hope this helps! If you have questions, post them below.


    P.S. I am not a big listener of classical music, so, no classical music was used.

    El Presidente likes this.
  2. DirtyDee

    DirtyDee Well-Known Member Contributor

    So I will ask since you play the bass I wonder if you are a rush iron maiden or dream theater fan. How are the lows are they like punchy and out there , or are they hidden and balanced
  3. LuvMusic

    LuvMusic VIP Member VIP Member

    I like all music, however, I rarely wake up in the morning thinking I have to listen to Rush, Iron Maiden or Dream Theater. I'm more of a blues / classic rock fan. Most of the heavier rock just doesn't quite connect with me (a few songs here and there).

    Your question is very hard to answer, but, I'll try........

    How the bass sounds through the Z1s is subjective and dependent on several variables. The variables I'm referring to are what headphones / IEM's you are using, which player app and the mix of the actual music. To give you perspective, I'm using PowerAmp as my player, Monster Miles Davis IEM's (don't think of these as Beats....they are very different) for regular use and when traveling I use Bose QC15's. I listen to mostly singles, so, music mix is all over the place.

    When listening to music without equalization, the bass is balanced, I don't think I would describe it as hidden. The bass line is very easy to follow, just "not in your face." In fact the Sony Z1s has a very uncolored sound, so, none of the frequencies / instruments seem overemphasized.

    PowerAmp has a ten band equalizer which enables me adjust the bass (or any other frequency) as needed. I can get punchy, I can get neutral, I can get "in your face." Just tweak my equalizer.

    I have yet to experience a digital music player that sounds perfect with all headphones and music files. As long as you can start at good (and the Z1s does) and have decent player software, you should be able to dial-in a sound you like.

    Hope this helps.
    El Presidente and DirtyDee like this.
  4. DirtyDee

    DirtyDee Well-Known Member Contributor

    It gave me all I needed to know

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