A review of my Sony Xperia L1 (2017).

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Sony Xperia L1 (2017) photo belongs to Sony Corporation.

In the Summer of 2015 I bought a BQ Aquaris E4 to use as a DAP, fast-forward some months and the E4 became my daily smartphone. It was a decent piece of hardware, until two months ago something happened with the call reception and drop outs became the norm. To be fair the thing slipped from my hand and hit the ground but the protective case took most of the full blunt or so I thought, because it seems the antenna did suffer with the impact. Darn…

Working as a security officer a phone call can be the difference between a small problem and a massive headache. I had to fix the E4 or buy a new entry level smartphone.
Fixing the E4 for the price of the hard to get replacement parts wasn’t worth the trouble. BQ after all is a small Spanish company. If it was any other established brand I would probably fix the problem buying cheap new parts online.

I choose the second option and bought a new entry level smartphone for 200€, because I just couldn’t afford anything above that price. After all I do have kids to raise and my savings do have some limits.
I admit a lot of bias towards Sony was still present after reading the book Made in Japan, and also having two other books about the brand on my nightstand.
As a Sony Walkman fanboy I actually went ahead and bought a Sony smartphone, it was not my first one and probably not my last. I don’t regret buying it, but my wallet does!

The review title for a Sony L1 should be something like this, “Solid design, decent entry level specs and pretty amazing software”. If you want a specification driven smartphone, the L1 is not the entry level you are looking for, trust me.
If you want a smartphone you can use as a throwing weapon the Sony is a solid option. I’m joking, no sharp edges on the gorgeous design, but with it’s IPS LCD 5.5 inches anti-scratch (>6H) screen and polycarbonate body, the L1 definitely feels sturdy for daily use. The 720p HD screen has beautiful rich colors and can be viewed during a Summer day.

Don’t expect amazing sound from the little loudspeakers Sony installed in the L1, in fact the loudspeakers are often my main gripe on Sony smartphones, a company famous for amazing sound quality should have better loudspeakers on their gear.
Anyway the sound is decent if you want to watch an video, but you won’t throw a party with the L1. You can always use xLOUD or Clear Audio+ sound modes, the first mode is pretty amazing during calls in a very noisy environment. I don’t recommend the use of these modes because sooner or later the loudspeaker will suffer, don’t say I didn’t warn you about it.
The headphone output is actually quite fine in a very subjective evaluation, add that to the built in FM Radio and the L1 can be a decent Walkman in a pinch.

As for cameras the main one has 13 Megapixels and the frontal one 5 Megapixels, the photos look nice but most portable cameras will do a better job at least in my opinion.
Like most smartphones these days it can record in FHD. It has Sony sensors but nothing too fancy unlike the more expensive models of the brand.

The L1 rocks a quad core MediaTek MT6737T CPU running at 1,45 GHz x4, a dual core Mali-T720MP2 GPU, 2GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory and expansion via microSDXC card up to 256 GB, this last detail is wonderful and addresses one of my main complains about the old Sony Ericsson smartphones, lack of storage and expansion. I’m glad Sony dropped the proprietary formats and adopted the mainstream.

Everything is powered by a 2620mAh battery, not amazing in terms of power storage but features Sony tech and in that department the brand excels. My second-hand Sony st25i battery still holds charge after so many years, if that’s not quality I don’t know what is.
The L1 also has what Sony calls STAMINA and Ultra STAMINA modes, this last one literally disables non essential apps and services of the smartphone all in the name of power saving.

The L1 has many more features that I shall not enumerate here but you can visit Sony and take a look for yourself.

The software is the touchstone of the L1, Sony was amazing apps for photo, video and audio, the OS is Android 7.0 Nougat with some details added by Sony. The rock solid apps are one of the reasons I bought the Sony.
Not many bullshit comes pre-installed and for that I’m more than grateful.

The Xperia L1 is a good smartphone for users that already have a nice tablet for games and other demanding apps.
I’m biased towards Sony like I said before, so if you want a ultra lightning fast smartphone for 200€ I think you will be better served with a Chinese brand.
On the other hand if you want a very discrete smartphone for professional use I would consider this model.

On the Sony NW-WM1Z Walkman.

Most guardians of the galaxy Walkman fans know the Sony TPS-L2 was released in 1979, in fact we (yes, yours truly included) celebrate this Japanese icon anniversary on 1 of July. Sadly this year I’m a bit late for the party, so to make up for my delay I want to share my opinion on the hefty price tag of the Sony NW-WM1Z Walkman, which was something that was nagging me for some time now.
For the ones who think I’ll be bashing right and left, sorry but you are out of luck, I’m a Sony Walkman fan.

The Sony NW-WM1Z Gold edition that goes for almost 3000€ on Amazon (July 2017) is one amazing piece of engineering at least on paper.
I never had a chance to actually hear or hold one, thus I won’t write about the sound quality of the product but knowing Sony I’m sure it’s Hi-Fi enough.

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Sony NW-WM1Z photo belongs to Sony Corporation.

I want to point that even if I think the price is batshit crazy, I totally understand why a company like Sony actually made this player.
Besides of course the marketing for their 70th anniversary, Sony built it because there’s a market niche who will pay crazy amounts of money for this kind of digital audio players.
Yes, some enthusiasts will buy a 3000€ Walkman because they truly believe sonic nirvana is right around the corner.
Sure some people will purchase this Walkman because it’s a status symbol, but I think the enthusiasts just want the best quality on the market and they’ll go to great lengths for it. Sony was the one who taught people how to use a Walkman during the 80’s, so they know there’s an audience for this kind of product, after all if my memory doesn’t fail me consumers always reacted nicely to other Walkman anniversary editions.

Sony since the TPS-L2 model always injected on their flagship models every know-how they had on portable High-Fidelity and that’s something every enthusiast must respect. Sure sometimes Sony jumps the shark and their marketing teams just look like they want to make a easy buck out of enthusiasts. Akio Morita must be turning on his grave for that one, for he always had a massive respect for Sony costumers.

Looking at the hardware and research they obviously pour on this over-engineered golden monolith. One can only imagine what great things they could have achieved earlier if they didn’t focus so much in their proprietary audio compression format ATRAC and weren’t so stubborn about not supporting MP3 thus allowing the iPod and other MP3 players to dethrone the Walkman.
Now with the portable music players market share devastated by smartphones, Sony must also face heavy competition from cheap and not so cheap Chinese brands and other established Japanese and South Korean companies who jumped on the Hi-Res bandwagon.

In the end all of this competition will be great for enthusiasts and it’s quite welcomed in a market dominated by smartphones.
It would be a nice idea if Sony made a special edition of the TPS-L2 Walkman for their 75th anniversary, I would buy it for sure.

Crazy collector prices in ebay and other strange occurrences.

Since my last article about the history of Beyerdynamic I had very little free time for writing, after all this is a personal blog and I work night shifts, so inspiration is not really around the corner.
On a very personal level some important things happened or are happening right now, so these days my mind isn’t really on this blog. I suppose the only good side of not making money from my writing is not actually having a schedule to follow, I write when I’m in the mood and that’s about it.
This is the part where I should promise making more updates and all that Jazz, but I’ll not make promises I can’t keep. I will on the other hand promise that I’ll try to share more photos of my compact disc and book collection just for kicks. After all vinyl enthusiasts do it all the time so why can’t compact disc collectors do the same.

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Franklin’s Indians

As for those collections, these last weeks were positively inspiring and quite expensive to be
completely sincere.
My music collection is slowly growing thanks to some online purchases on Ebay and CDON. Albums by Laura Pausini, Jimi Hendrix and the first three scores from the Indiana Jones movies are now in my possession. I’m still waiting for two Laura Pausini live albums and two studio ones by Meat Loaf.
In the book department and thanks to Ebay, I finally bought some books by David Hepworth, Akio Morita and Michael J. Fox, most of them are used but I don’t mind at all.
I also bought two pretty amazing books from other places, one is called “Franklin’s Indians” and the other is “Jazz Covers“, both books are excellent in my opinion. “Franklin’s Indians is about one of my favorite motorcycle brands. As for “Jazz Covers” it’s a very visual book about the covers of Jazz vinyl albums, it’s one of those book which is perfect for the vinyl audiophile. On a curious collector note, I paid 7€ for the Indian book, an amazing deal because these go for more than 30€ new and on amazon.com some try to sell them for more than $200!

Now let’s talk about Ebay and the reason for the strange title you read above.
Sellers these days are getting quite absurd for the money they request for old Sony Walkmans, some not working at all. I won’t even try to explain my anger when I see the price some ask for a original blue colored Sony TPS-L2 Walkman, more absurd is the fact some Marvel collectors actually buy it for insane prices just because it was in a movie! This arrived to the point of some people painting historical models that resemble the L2 just to sell them for more cash, disgusting I know but some Ebay sellers are completely bonkers.
That’s also a pretty good reason why I think the director of Guardians of the Galaxy trolled those sellers and collectors with a certain Microsoft flop, besides the joke that was intended on the movie of course.

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Sony TPS-L2

Anyway most vintage cassette Walkmans sold on Ebay these days are very expensive and sadly most were pieces of entry level gear at the time they were released so I don’t get the hype behind the sellers raising their prices.
Not all were entry models to be fair, some Walkmans were top of the line and I totally understand the higher prices for those, the TPS-L2 was a great machine for it’s time but the hype behind the pricing is totally unnecessary from my point of view. Sure we are not obliged to buy such a thing but sometimes I wish Sony would release a new L2 just to troll these people.

Ebay is a curious place full of strange occurrences.
I don’t buy really expensive stuff there but I often can’t believe the “no return” policy of some sellers, some of which don’t even take detailed photographs of their items or explain their current state. They go as far as to say that it’s the buyer who should make the questions, lazy unprofessional bastards!
Items marked “as is” or “not tested” only show the seller doesn’t really care about who buys the item, what’s important is to sell it to make a profit.  My favorite one is the “as new” in the description, when it doesn’t have all the accessories of a new item.
Ebay has all some fault in the current state of things, but sellers and buyers are also to blame. If people refused to buy bullshit, I’m sure many sellers would update their way of doing things.
Then there’s shipping, some sellers abuse the shipping option and increase their prices. Some will say it’s all part of the game but I prefer to call it bullshit fraud.

Not all things are bad on Ebay but some very strange occurrences do happen from time to time. As for me I’m glad I can buy stuff there, it saved me hundreds of Euros in a very short time.
That’s all for now and see you soon if things go as planned.

Portable audio quality since the 80s.

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Photo By Binarysequence (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Gear centered audiophiles rave about portable audio players all the time, most follow reviews sites in the quest for the audio quality grail. Often young enthusiasts search for audio quality like its some illusive thing that only the newest most expensive players will deliver, but sound quality is not a new thing.
In-fact brands marketed portable audio quality since the start of the 80s.

Sony was the first one with the TPS-L2 Walkman at the beginning of the 80s, the now iconic blue and silver metal cased Walkman was the first of many in the successful line of cassette players the Japanese brand would ship around the world.
I never had the chance to hear the TPS-L2 player but would own a WM-FX421 (1998)  and have access to a WM-EX622 (1995) a friend had.
Both cassette players had good quality if my memory serves me right.
Later I would have a Discman D-171 (1995?) and a MZ-R35 MiniDisc Walkman (1998) in both cases the audio quality was on par with the digital audio players sold at stores these days.
In 2001 I would have access to a friends Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox also known in Europe as the Creative Digital Audio Player an amazing MP3 player at the time and also during that year I would hear a Apple Ipod for the first time.
Many other portable players I had the chance to hear are not listed, mostly because I don’t remember the models or because they are rather new like the Sony Playstation Portable Slim, Philips Opus 16Gb and Creative Zen Stone I own.

Sure I can’t confirm objectively my claims but all of these players had the sound quality you can find almost 15 years later in a typical off the shelf DAP or cellphone.
Quality did improve in the high-end gear that is now capable of driving very high impedance headphones at ease. Also High-resolution music is now the new trend because sound quality sells even if sometimes you might not actually hear it without very good headphones or a little help from an old musician.
The main difference to the gear of the old days is in the size of the tech, my MZ-R35 played a physical medium making it a fairly complex mechanical DAP.
Today’s tech in comparison is cheaper, thinner and physical medium free.
With solid state cards reaching hundreds of GBs in size, audiophiles are now free to take their full collections on the go without the need for carrying CD cases but with all the bits and bytes intact.

More than 3 decades ago Sony gave the masses Hi-Fi sound in a way the world never seen before, later Apple would revolutionize the way people interacted with their players and music collections and now the omnipresent smartphones are the new DAPs of the masses, the standalone DAP is now a niche product made for the ones who are still on the quest for the holly grail of portable audio.
Quality is now the rule not the exception.