Sony IER-Z1R Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'IEM Measurements' started by purr1n, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    What's more important to me is... how did you find the comfort?

    I quite liked the sound. Treble zing wasn't that bad with certain sources with impedance => 3 ohm, though I thought it sounded quite bad with 0-ohm GOV2+. On WM1Z, this was... interesting. Pretty much no bass or treble to be heard.
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    upload_2019-6-8_12-34-47.png
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    @Bill-P on COMFORT
    It's OK/good. The special svelte tips that Sony provides feel good. Heavier than Solaris (-). Less Lt. Uhura'ish, closer to ears (+). Overall it's a wash. Don't get me wrong. I don't bitch or comment about this kind of stuff unless it's truly horrible or truly excellent. Bottom line is that it works and I don't have a problem with the fit.

    @EagleWings on BIGGER AMP
    Yes, using this on ZX2. Will try bigger amp, but not sure it makes much sense. I thought IEMs were supposed to be portable? If I'd have to use a desktop amp, I'd rather use a modded HD800/650 or a ZMF (or color) which murder any IEM.

    @YMO on WORTH
    Using from Sony ZX2 player, I prefer the modded JVC FD01 to the Z1R. The Z1R does several things worse (most of them showstopper issues) and one thing better (bass control). $350 vs $2000? The box and packaging are excellent though. Again, as if I received a present from Meghan Markle and that red-haired prince dude.

    @Biodegraded on DD/BA/DD
    So far, I dunno about this. Not digging it. I actually came in thinking it was full DD like the EX800/EX1000. The only hybrid that pulls off proper integration between the two disparate DD and BA driver types is the Solaris. Yes, I get that the voicing of the Solaris may not appeal to all, but I haven't heard anything else that provides a cohesive connection between the lows and the highs in a hybrid IEM.

    With the Z1R, the "hybrid problem" is still evident. Not only evident but compounded with the addition of a third DD driver on top, which is implemented in a way that reminds me of an overdriven badly crossed over super tweeter. While the timbre of the BA and DD don't quite match (expected), what was unexpected was the dynamic response being totally different. It's like the BA is Alonso Fernando in an F1 car and the DD is a chill dude in a Cadillac CT6 powered by the V4 turbo. And then to top things off, that strange zzz top end that sort of comes out of nowhere. This sets a new low: the trifecta of hybrid f'ckery.

    Back in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. JBL had a marketing department. This wasn't a useless shameless marketing department as found in companies today. The guys in this department were the guys with the golden ears and listened to shit that the engineers designed. These were the guys who told the engineers to shave or add a db here or there. Now if the 4-way JBL 4345 or 3-way JBL 4699B sounded like this (and we are talking about mating 18" woofers to horns to slot tweeters), I'm sure the company would have found a way to lock up the engineering lead in an idiot room so that no further damage could be done to the company's reputation.

    @Cellist88 on UPPER MIDS and BURN-IN
    While Solaris is laid-back to the point of being almost too polite, the Z1R upper mids are elevated to the point of being too much at times with many recordings. The upper mids are more evident than the PP8. The PP8 was weird, even though it's upper mids are not as pronounced as the Z1R, the PP8 just got on my nerves. I think it's because of the PP8 was more insidious about it, rather than the Z1R being more upfront about it. Continuing to burn-in to see what happens.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
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  4. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Coolio. Yeah, I can understand why you didn't want to mention comfort. I'm asking because honestly, I felt wearing the Z1R was worse than wearing Solaris. Probably comes down to tips and my ear shape more than anything else but I almost questioned how anyone at Sony thought the Z1R was ergonomic for an IEM.

    Solaris is reasonable provided I don't jog, or... actually don't move my head at all.

    Now I gotta try a modded JVC FD01.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Actually, forgot about this: The fit to the concha isn't ideal. I couldn't get any of the comfort tips to work. In the end, I resorted to smaller size silicone tip for deeper insertion and for the tip to grab on my skin. The only problem? Since the tips go on so easier on the heavy IEM shell, I will occasionally lose the tip in my ear canal, necessitating the use of tweezers to remove them.

    Again, I'm not the kind of person who bitches about this kind of stuff, but I thought I should mention all this.
     
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    One step forward and one step back. One good thing I do have to say is good air / top last-half octave extension. Almost as good as speaker with tweeters.

    OK, after getting all this work, focused on the technical aspects:

    Resolution (microdetail and microdynamics) is far behind Andromeda/Solaris. Pretty obvious with something like Crazy on You - Heart (Audio Fidelity CD). Lots of little details, ambient cues, sense of space lost. The Z1R rendering also seems a bit "stiff" and robotic. Notes and sounds sort of have a flow on the Solaris. Z1R is like on-off like a robot. Think like how KISS plays their music compared to almost any other hard rock or metal band.

    On headstage, the stage does seem to be located a bit further ahead than Solaris (we are sitting closer to the stage with Solaris). But this depends, for example on the intro to Crazy on You with the guitars panned wide left and wide right, there's a hole in the middle effect and sense of excess width because the nuances and the spatial cues do not a carry across to the opposite channel (they are missing), thereby completing the illusion of a soundstage. However, after the intro of the song, the headstage is pretty good, placed well forward.

    As far as layering, it's not even close. UERM and Solaris, with Andromeda trailing, are the best at this.
     
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  7. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    @purr1n , doesn’t have to be a desktop amp. Fulla2 should be fine. It’s just to have the bases covered before someone comes and says “ZX2 doesn’t have enough power for the Z1R”.
     
  8. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    Disappointing so far. Lets see what else develops as this continues. I still want to be on the Tour because I'm still curious on why something like a jewel cost $2k.

    But if it confirmed that this sounds better with a real headphone amp, then this is a waste for an IEM IMO.
     
  9. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    I find this to be one of strengths of FD01 too. Along with natural tone. Music sounds normal.

    Honestly, why do $2k+ IEMs seem to all sound so retarded?
     
  10. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    More $$$ + Bigger e-Penis = Sounds Great

    If I hear the Z1R and I become disappointed in it, I might get the Solaris even with its minor disappointments to me (fit and too crispy in treble at times). To me even with it's minor flaws, it was worth the asking price.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    From Magni 2U and Modi Multibit A2:

    This is mostly better good combination. The MM DAC is a good fit here, full-bodied and laid back, which compliments the Z1R's tendency of sometimes being thin or being too hot in the upper mids. The Multibit sound takes the edge off the highs; although, with longer-term listening, the glare and harshness from the upper mids do build up more than from the ZX2.

    The fluidity and more liquid sound of the MM DAC do help to bring more cohesiveness of the drivers throughout the audio range. However, the discontinuities still rear their ugly heads with certain tracks such as Elton John's Rocketman (Err, I am hating Queen and will soon hate Elton John soon.) Hollywood needs to stop with these retarded biopics. The snares and high-hats are simply unbearable for me.

    There is more heft and strength to the bass with fuller lower mids, but the bass still sounds a bit reticent. If there is more cohesion, it's likely because MM DAC slows down the sound of the BA driver somewhat.

    Switching over to Solaris, this combination teeters just short of the too syrupy side with less top-octave air. (Again, the Z1R does extend well into the last octave, probably does set a benchmark here). The MM isn't the most resolving DAC in terms of plankton. However, the superior microdynamics, the inflections, the little swings are immediately noticeable from the Solaris.

    I'll try with Fulla 2 later. Left it at work.

    --

    TBH, I doubt it's the amping or power. It's likely simply component synergies and personal preferences. The reason I'm not expending more effort (as I did with Andromeda) to find the right portable player, the right tips, the right tweaks, is because I simply do not hear the potential.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
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  12. Kunlun

    Kunlun cat-alyzes cat-aclysmic cat-erwauling - Friend

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    Well, once again, SBAF has saved me several thousand dollars.

    Seriously, thank goodness for this place.

    P.S. seconding @jowls' question: Why do all $2k+ iems seem to suck?
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I can still see a lot of people liking this. The V-shaped response (slight in bass, more in upper mids) is appealing to many.

    For me personally, the V-shaped response is a bane. I can deal with U-shaped, W-shaped, but V-shaped, particularly with a rising response right past the dipped lower mids, I can't go for that.

    I'm pretty sure a lot of noobs will remark about the "clarity" of the Z1R without understanding that this is a result of the FR (which does have negative consequences). I am also sure that many will overlook the less than optimal driver integration. After some burn in improvement, it's the the mid/high BA to DD "supertweeter" transition that sticks out more than the DD bass to BA mid/high.

    I think with me, it's more a matter of expectations. I was hoping for an EX1000 part deux. Yes, the EX1000 has that typical old school DD FR with fat bass and plenty of stridency, but there were some things that seemed just right: the timbre, the musicality, the reproduction of textures - this last one on texture I don't think the Campfire DDs quite have as they've chased the "speed" angle.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
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  14. La Cenric

    La Cenric Friend

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    On the topic of pricing, in Asia and Oceania the Solaris and IER-Z1R are basically the same price (2.3k AUD vs 2.4k AUD in my case). Just additional context for why they’re considered direct competitors outside the US.
     
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  15. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I have been waiting nearly a decade for an EX1000 part deux. I fear I’ll be waiting a decade or two more. Damn you Sony.
     
  16. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Prediction for next TOTL hybrid integration fail: DD bass - BA mid - piezo tweeter.
     
  17. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I heard it in a really noisy Sony store here in Taipei out of a ZX300 (balanced) in March. Went back and checked my comments to @deafdoorknob which read:
     
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  18. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    That basically just means Sony is giving the middle finger to the U.S. market, as usual.

    I have just been to Asia so I know IEMs are a bigger market there than here. Here, it's either big headphones or speakers. But I do see a potential in the IEM market for models that sound "right". And sadly, Sony and other manufacturers don't see that.

    ----

    Honestly, here's my take on the Z1R, against what Marv said:

    I disagree that it's truly a disastrous IEM. Certain pairings do help with the DD-BA integration and kind of blur the seams. Any kind of multi-driver IEM will have this kind of source matching problem (you won't see this in measurements until you try to investigate it, remember Andro vs UERM behavior versus output impedance?) and... maybe I got lucky because my phone and AK120 played well with Z1R (AK120 basically slows everything down) and didn't spotlight the issues that Marv heard.

    I know some IEMs are unlistenable to me on ZX2 (PP8!). Perhaps the Z1R is one such cases. I heard it on AK120, phone (OnePlus 5T + iPhone 6S+), and WM1A/Z (both of them). It wasn't bad.

    On resolution: yeah, I agree with Marv, I had my Andro at the time and I felt like Z1R didn't have the same low frequency detail articulation that Andro had, but Andro to me lacked the dynamic punch of the bass that Z1R had. It was one way or another. Solaris did have a good blend of both details and punch/weight, so there's that. But Solaris had its own problems to my ears as well, mainly the lack of "air" that the Z1R and Andro could reproduce.

    On the other hand, I thought Solaris had beautiful midrange textures and bass-mid-treble integration throughout the whole range. It sounded very much like I had strapped a pair of high-end speakers to my ears, but... lack of air made it a bit too suffocating, especially with the bass impact that it had. Maybe I need to buy a pair for myself and just own it a while to appreciate, but you guys have read my impressions regarding the Solaris and you know what I had to say about it.

    And yeah, I can confirm what La Cenric wrote above. Pricing for Z1R/Solaris in Oceania and Asia is practically the same. Both are prohibitively expensive, maybe due to import tax on Solaris. And honestly, both present different sounds to please different folks. I think it depends largely on what you're looking for.

    Either way, neither one is what I'd own due to comfort alone. If I have to make a wish, I'd wish Ken Ball could make a smaller Solaris with slightly less bass and moar air (Z1R level?). But that's just me.

    P.S.: Oh, and since I'm in the U.S. now, and considering pricing, Solaris all the way. Sony needs to stahp giving the U.S. the middle finger.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  19. Erikdayo

    Erikdayo Friend

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    While more expensive than the Solaris it should be noted that some US dealers are selling the IER-Z1R at $1700 rather than full retail. Still a $200 difference, but that is much better than $500.
     
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I don't feel the IER-Z1R should be compared to Solaris on the basis they are hybrids using advanced drivers. Their tonal response is quite different. IER-Z1R is more similar to a Grado SR-325 with bowl pads, an exaggerated PP8, or unmodded JVC FD01 than Campfire Solaris.
     

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