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Sony WM-FX1 (& EX1)

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Sony WM-FX1 (and EX1)

Handsome unit.  Striking aesthetic.  “Portrait-mode loading” design.  Spring-loaded eject mechanism.  Plastic outer chassis feels metallic and looks futuristic with satin metal trim on the control panel shield, open/eject button, lid latch and catch.  Strong spring loaded metal hinge eject system.  Mechanical action of the moving parts is smooth, purposefully designed.  Satisfying user experience.  

Great sound.  Some of the best I’ve heard from a cassette portable, especially with type II cassettes.  Wide stereo image with a “natural feel” in balanced response.  Smooth yet detailed across the spectrum.
Plenty of output for 7506 studio monitors.  Bass response is round and full.  Good balance of boom and thump.  Lively midrange and extended treble response.  Hiss is subdued even when setting noise reduction OFF.  

First unit tested developed an intermittent issue of considerable wow&flutter when jostled, and randomly began to pitch vibrato the music during review process.  Perhaps an artifact of new belt breaking in.  An EX1 was used to continue listening with brief, yet fleeting aforementioned issues.   After a few songs they were sorted out.  Recommence jams.

Both EX1 and FX1 audio can be described as “sounds like a tape without trying to sound like a tape” if such a thing is possible.  There is color, high end roll-off, and the subtle hiss serving as noise floor.  The depth of a mix translates remarkably well from a vinyl-to-tape compilation.  It sounds distinctly analog in color, although a different shade from the vinyl source material.  Different meaning also-good, neither inherently better nor worse.  Some recordings shine in flattering new light and others lose a bit of luster.  You need hear for yourself to determine which one is which.

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