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Does the Latest Update for the Sony NW-WM1AM2 Change the Sound Profile?

Last week, Sony released a firmware update for the NW-WM1AM2 and NW-WM1ZM2 digital audio players, bringing it up to version 1.08.00.
Sony NW-WM1AM2

Last week, Sony released a firmware update for the NW-WM1AM2 and NW-WM1ZM2 digital audio players, bringing it up to version 1.08.00. The patch notes simply stated “Provides a Security update (The security level displayed in the Settings menu will be as of January 2024)”, meaning this was simply a security patch for Android. After listening to the WM1AM2 for the past week, though, I believe this is anything but a simple security patch for the OS. Read on to find out more.

Sony WM1AM2 Firmware Update

Sound Profile

After listening to my usual set of songs, a mix of classic and modern rock, some classical music, and some electronic music, there’s a definite improvement in the sub-bass. No, Sony has not turned this DAP into a bass monster, but there’s a deeper impact to the sub-bass, almost a richer texture to it.

Another effect I’ve noticed is the mids have been a little more forward to the listener. Not in an emphasized way, either. On some tracks, such as Pink Floyd’s “Julia Dream,” you can hear instruments and soundscapes in the mid-range leaning just a bit more towards you.

The general audio output also sounds smoother, shaving off the slight coarseness that was present during playback for some genres (notably in hard rock).

As well, music sounds just a bit more dynamic, with more differentiation between changing sounds. This is most likely due to the changes described above. Overall, this is a very positive improvement in the NW-WM1AM2’s sound profile.

UPDATE

After some additional listening and switching between various headphones, I’ve noticed the volume numbers I usually listen at are at times much louder than I remember, and have had to lower the volume to listen comfortably as I did before the firmware update. This is for both the 3.5mm and the 4.4mm balanced connections. This would indicate that Sony has perhaps increased the loudness of the NW-WM1AM2. I wouldn’t go as far to say that the power output has increased as I have no way to measure that, but the loudness has definitely increased a bit.

DSEE Changes

Sony WM1AM2 DSEE

While I have been getting this feeling that DSEE has been getting improvements with each firmware release, this would be the most significant and most noticeable improvement thus far. Firstly, the vocals sound slightly more separated from the instruments now, especially in live recordings (Alice in Chain’s MTV Unplugged album is a good candidate to notice this). There’s also better imaging in the form of more spatial separation. In classical music and live recordings, it’s easier to hear the location of each instrument now. This applies not just to lossy music files but also to CD quality and higher.

I absolutely love DSEE. In my review of the Sony NW-WM1AM2, I go on and on about it, so it’s nice to see that Sony is giving it more attention.

Any Downsides?

There is one downside so far that I have noticed, and that is increased battery consumption. I don’t have any exact figures or benchmarks, but using Direct Mode, I noticed about 1-2% more battery usage per hour. With DSEE enabled about 2-4% more battery usage per hour.

Wrapping Up

It’s great to see Sony still supporting the NW-WM1AM2 and NW-WM1ZM2 with firmware updates and, furthermore, being able to improve the sound profile and audio quality. It’s also interesting to see how DSEE has gone from a simple upsampling engine to something that extracts even more from an audio file, regardless of whether it’s an MP3 or a hi-res FLAC. 

For those who own the Sony NW-WM1AM2 or NW-WM1ZM2, have you noticed any changes in the recent firmware update? Sound off in the comments below!

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