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Old 03-27-2014, 01:47 AM
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BruceBanner BruceBanner is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Australia, NSW
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Default The Sony NWZ-W273S 'Dry' Review

The Sony NWZ-W273S

Technical Details & Product Information (lifted from amazon)

Product Features

  • Cordless, one-piece wearable sports music player
  • Waterproof design for swimming, water sports & workouts
  • 3-min quick charge up to 60-min of battery life
  • Drag & drop from iTunes or Windows Media Player
  • Compact design with 4 GB internal memory
Technical Details

  • Brand Name: Sony
  • Model: NWZW273S
  • Digital Storage Capacity: 4 GB
  • Color Name: White
  • Battery Average Life: 7 Hours
  • Digital Audio Capacity: 4gb (& 8gb some countries)
  • Price: $99AUD


It's funny how you come across a piece of gear you've never heard of or knew existed. After reviewing the new Sansa Sport Clip, through discussions we came across this little fella. I was intrigued and had never heard a Sony player so thought why not, for $99 it's not breaking the bank balance. If I don't like it I can sell it or give it to Mrs Banner as she quite likes her swims...

The main motivation for trying this particular piece of equipment centers around my exercise activities. I'm a regular gym attendee, resistance work is my playground, free weights, pullups/dips, machine work etc.
There are numerous times that a cord running from head to the player located on the waist area is a pain. If using a chinning/dipping belt or generic weights belt then trapping the headphone wire isn't ideal. Normally I would wear the wire under the t-shirt or tank top, to keep it from getting snagged on many 'sticky out' bits of the gym environment like barbells etc, so I would unplug the cable, take it to the outside of the garment, apply the weights belt or chinning belt being careful not to snag the headphone wire etc ZZzzzz bleurgh..
And then there are times when I'm not overly comfortable with the idea of the barbell 'crushing' the wire during bench presses.. all in all I just liked the idea of 'no player on my waist', no cord, just music and less flaffing about with cables, concentrating on what matters the most.. the workout!


Upon opening I decided to not even try the stock silicone tips as supplied. I never get a good fit with any single flange tip (for which these are only supplied), I always use triple flange for all my IEMs (I also thought it was good from a resale perspective if I can claim the tips that come have been unused).
At first it was a bit weird to put them on (with triple flange) so I tried some other Sony tips I had lying around (from the XBA range). Then my worst nightmare happened. After insertion, when I removed the player, an ear-tip was left behind stuck in the ear canal! This has never happened to me before, I was slightly concerned as it was a single/regular tip rather than the longer triple flange which are more easily pulled out, but the stock sized ones could be pushed deeper and deeper down the canal during the rescue mission if not careful. So out came the tweezers and double mirror and I began my 'surgery'. Big sighs of relief after a minute or so of attempts to dig it out, but it made me cautious not to use regular tips again. It became very apparent that the actual stalk is very small and narrow, smallest diameter I have come across to date on any IEM, and although all tips do fit they hold the weakest grip (I have lost another triple flange just from trying them on, it pinged off somewhere and I couldn't locate it!). Coupled with the pressure of which they exert when placed on the ears it's a recipe for disaster. Be warned!

I shall definitely stick to triple flange instead (where the rescue is much easier should this occur again, which it has).

Sound Quality

Sound quality is much to be expected, probably better than I expected. It sounded like a Sansa clip. My main gripe is volume levels and comfort.

As I bought my set from Australia they should (in theory) have no Europe limiting volume feature. It's bit confusing to me if my unit suffers this as I do find it quieter than my Cowon and Sansa (but it is my understanding that Cowon and Sansa players are louder than your average players). See the manual blurb below;

Doesn't make much sense to me, I'm guessing my unit doesn't suffer this issue, I can take the volume past level 18 and it stays at last volume level used after turning off i.e max. (It's probably worth noting it's hard to tell how many increment volume steps there are, there is no beep to confirm a press selected, I think I counted 30 in total). But I can't confirm ever hearing that alarm or warning, first time I used the player I turned it on without the player in my ears...

To get a volume I was content with I had to MP3gain my collection to a whopping 98db (where some clipping can occur), to be honest it's still not loud enough, not compared to my Cowon which I listen to at volume 35/40 and that collection is MP3Gained to just 89db.

I get by... but what really is a pain is the time it takes to get a proper insertion (regardless of ear tip). Normally with triple flange it takes 2-4 secs per ear to get a good fit and seal, here it can be more like 20 secs each ear, and it still doesn't feel as comfortable. I'm convinced the angle of insertion isn't ideal for the angle of my ear canal, it's like at times the silicon tip is overly bent or squished and sound quality suffers, I have to pull back the ear more than normal occasionally throughout use and the sound clears up somewhat..


But where it matters most they deliver. It's truly wonderful for me to exercise whilst simultaneously drowning out the awful garbage that the gyms tvs put out, all the while not having to fiddle with wires.
So large this revelation was to me I am willing to suffer the drawbacks (for the time being), and that's quite surprising to me. I'm someone who rates the features of a (rockboxed) Sansa player higher than a Cowon player but I just can't live without the DSPs of Cowon and hence choose SQ vs features.. I normally never compromise on SQ, if it's not to my liking I don't use it, here for the first time I actually compromise.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The whole experience really got me thinking. Are Sony onto something with this? The whole premise of having the actual player built into the head/earpiece? Not having to reach down to a player at the waist, or gym bag somewhere to change volume or skip a song.. just reach up to your ear and make the adjustments from there. No cut outs (due to not relying on Bluetooth technology)... it's an interesting concept.

Where I would like to see things going forward would perhaps be something along these lines;

1) Various models on a tier system. The physical player stays the same, but the more expensive a model you climb the better the IEMs. Think of it as a Bundle package, but you could start at the cheapest bundle and then upgrade just the IEM component at a later date etc. This would allow for greater sound quality on essentially the same hardware just by deciding which speakers match your budget.

2) Smartwatch interface. Sony do a smartwatch already.. perhaps an app that interfaces with the player, allowing you to pick playlists or albums quicker, adjust volume from the wrist instead of ear if pleases, album art etc.

3) Perhaps no internal memory, use a microsdcard of your own choice. Can you imagine a player that takes a 128gb microsdcard that is on yer own head/earpiece, choose which album or genre you wish to play all via smartwatch, use Bluetooth for streaming and controlling information but not actual sound.

4) Decrease battery for an even slicker lighter and lower profile headpiece. I will admit, my ears are fairly sticky outy, wearing these as they currently are does make me look like something from Star Trek. The lower the profile only helps make the product more appealing. Decrease battery life might seem insane but do we really need 7hrs of battery life when a 3 minute charge gives 1hr of playback? 2-3hrs playback time and a charge of 10minutes to get that seems perfectly acceptable to what most people might spend in the gym.

But I can't wait around hoping something like this appears in the near future. The experience has pushed me to consider wireless freedom more seriously.. If I could gain the sound quality I am used to (such as Sansa or Cowon), the volume level and comfort yet no wires I will be very happy, even if it's something I only utilize 30mins a day (as the majority of time at work or commuting wired connection is fine).

  • Cordless, one-piece wearable sports music player
  • Waterproof design for swimming, water sports & workouts
  • 3-min quick charge up to 60-min of battery life
  • Drag & drop from iTunes or Windows Media Player
  • Copy transfer takes FOR AGES! I don't know why, it shows up as MTP, but yet still drag n' drop interface but compared to Cowon or Sansa transfer speeds it's way behind.
  • Uncomfortable, earpiece angles may not suit everyone's ears.
  • Ear stalks are the narrowest I have come across, a wide variety of ear tips seem to pop off far too easily, even Sony XBA range which appear to be the same as the ones that come with the player.
  • Max volume still to low for my personal tastes, others may be satisfied (as I am known to like my music rather loud)
SOURCE: Xclef (gone) | Cowon X5(gone) | Cowon D2 (dead) | Sansaclip+ RB | Sansa ClipZip RB | Cowon i9+ (32gb) | Cowon C2 (4gb)
HPs: Soundmagic E10's | Hippo VB's | UE 600's | Superlux HD 668B | Superlux HD660 | Sony XBA3 | Sony XBA2VP
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