The D-335 recently entered my life. It has since become my favorite Discman for comparing mixes. Sony produced a gem with this one.
Its headphone amp sounds fast, forward, and unforgiving with a scorching hot 20mW output (16 ohm). MDR-7506s (24 ohm) at 4 on the volume dial quickly reach the threshold of being too loud. Some recordings are difficult to enjoy with the studio monitors as they reveal what’s there, for better or worse. No gravy. For example, A Tribe Called Quest’s song “Midnight” contains a sample with loud looped vinyl pop which quickly becomes a fatiguing listening experience in this scenario. Otherwise, the album sounds great. Especially the drums. 335 can kick it. No need to engage any Bass Boost here, the bottom end is balanced and substantial.
Switching from the larger studio monitors to Klipsch x10 IEMs with their 110dB sensitivity means a “2” on the volume dial for comfortable listening, in spite of the 50ohm load. The aforementioned “Midnight pop” is still glaring, yet not as distracting or fatiguing. Quality IEM provide a less analytical, more enjoyable presentation overall.
Listening to old favorites provide me with mostly satisfying results across the board. However, using the Line Out with standard electrical Y-cable can also result in rapid listening fatigue from more “IN YOUR FACE” styles of music. Loudness War recordings are particularly ill-suited here, especially those already containing a mid-push. LoFi styles can be a real crapshoot due to the midrange emphasis.
D-335’s (1994) Line Out is more meticulous, not as open, nor relaxed as 1992’s D-111. There’s a subtle, soft compression without ever feeling boxy. Recordings produce more of an immediate impact, with urgency. Mixes are massive, despite losing something in the front-to-back depth of the old design. The sound remains tall and wide, just a bit more forward in presentation. Dramatic.
Connecting D-335 to an external DAC via optical cable results in a more neutral Line Out experience from the source; useful for showcasing and evaluating the sonic character of whichever devices are downstream in the signal chain.
Navigating the D-335 functions is a breeze even without remote. The LCD display is softly backlit by an orange glow. ESP is useful when necessary, at the cost of reduced battery life and dynamic response. Overall sound quality is retained, yet somehow less energetic.
Hot output (20mW).
Line Out more “forward-sounding” than previous designs with a basic electrical connection, optical connection is neutral and highlights whichever device’s DA converters are downstream.
Pros: sound: highly detailed, build: metal lid/hinge/latching, output power, capable ESP, backlit LCD, dual-design Line Out
Cons: highly detailed sound may result in more rapid fatigue from listening, battery life (Alkaline AAx2) ~11hr no ESP, ~7hr with ESP. Less when using the optical Line Out.