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Sony’s gold-plated music player comes to the U.S., along with new in-ears

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By Kris Wouk


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Earlier this year, Sony debuted the DMP-Z1, a digital music player with gold-plated hardware and a price tag topping $8,000 to match. The only problem for those interested was that at launch, it was only available in Sony’s eastern Asian markets. That has changed, as at the 2018 Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest, Sony announced that the player is coming to the United States., along with a new set of Signature Series in-ear headphones.

Aside from the flashy gold-plated volume knob, the DMP-Z1 offers some seriously quality components, with an Asahi Kasei Microdevices AK4497EQ DAC Chip and a Texas Instruments TPA6120A2 amp chip, making for a clean, noiseless signal path. If you miss the golden days of vinyl, it even offers a Vinyl Processor feature, which recreates barely audible surface noise, tone-arm resonance, and other elements unique to vinyl playback. This might be a gimmicky feature, but we haven’t had the chance to hear it ourselves so we won’t write it off.

While we might already be familiar with the feature set of the player, the new IER-Z1R Signature Series in-ears seem like they might be just as impressive. You won’t find gold used in the appearance, but the plugs and terminals on the headphones and cable are gold plated for the best possible connection. That’s just the start, too.

The IER-Z1R in-ear headphones use three drivers, a 12mm dynamic driver, a 5mm dynamic driver, and a balanced armature driver. The 5mm driver uses an aluminum-coated liquid crystal polymer diaphragm and external magnetic circuit that Sony says allows it to reproduce frequencies up to 100 kHz. Human hearing tends to top out at around 20 kHz, so why this is necessary is a mystery, but it does mean that no high-end detail of your music will be lost to the headphones. In addition to the drivers, Sony says it used audio-grade film capacitors and even its own audio-grade solder to make the connections.

To make sure you maintain a perfect fit, the IER-Z1R ship with 13 different possible ear tip options: Six variations of triple-comfort tips and seven hybrid ear tips, plus pre-formed ear hangers to help them stay in place. You can use the included five-pole, 4.4mm balanced standard cable, or other cables like an optional Kimber Kable instead.

Both the DMP-Z1 music player and the IER-Z1R will launch in the U.S. in January 2019. The DMP-Z1 will retail for a steep $8,500 while the IER-Z1R will go for a lower but still quite pricey $2,300. For more information see the Sony Signature Series website and if you’re looking for cheaper high-quality in-ears, take a look at our list of the best earbuds you can buy.


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