11

4.3 based on 11 customer reviews

6
4
0
0
1
Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Excellent

Design

Excellent

Ease of Use

Good

Please note: Some product variations and/or features mentioned within Product Reviews may not be available in all countries.

11 Customer Reviews

0

Sad that this is now discontinued...

PHA-3 14/04/2020 by Smgg (USA)

I want to preface this by saying I only purchased this after being frustrated with my PHA-1A. I love you Sony, but it sometimes hurts. This is a "do-it all" type of device that is tethered to your computer/audio player/phone of choice. As a DAC/AMP, it produces a tasteful warm sound with its balanced output. I specifically purchased adapters to use with my existing gear, and it's an entirely worthwhile purchase to use it balanced. In this review, I compare it to what is shown in the photos, which is my NW-55 and PHA-1A to compare to (plus my phone). When traveling with my laptop, it's plugged into a "signal-cleaner", going into an OTG USB-C to micro-usb, before going into the included adapter. The PHA-3 is sensitive enough to noise/interference that I do hear a slight hum, under certain conditions. It's only if my laptop is plugged into a wall outlet without the "signal cleaner" present in the chain. When using it off of my desktop, I use the SPDIF input. There's noise, but again, it's situational as it's an issue only when plugged into the wall. Speaking of inputs, the PHA-3 also can be used as a DAC only. I am excited to test this in the future. Let's talk about it's size. It weighs in at a little over 10 oz, and even while phone sized (3-4 phones stacked), it's not pocketable by most pants, but it will travel if you use a messenger bag or such. The issue is how to deal with wires coming in at both sides. If you're in your living room, enjoying the sound, it's nearly a non-issue. However, by going outdoors, or walking with the thing, there's just more hassle and movement to deal with. Sony and others have their top of the line DAPs if the outdoors are more of your calling. When it's running and playing music, from light orchestral to thundering bass-heavy rap, it always runs warm. Never hot though, as some electronics (desktop PC temps) do. This is when I held it in my hands, I never felt like it burned while using it. Keep in mind, my headphones are generally pretty low-impedance, and this may change depending on the headphone. Finally, onto sound. This where it's most subjective, and yet, it's really the entire reason behind a purchase like this. Since this was my first time running my gear balanced, I was blown away by what the PHA-3 was capable of out of the box. I've had this unit playing music for at least 100 hours, and yet burn-in hasn't changed my opinion a whole lot. On forums, you'll find some acknowledgement and arguing of whether the capacitors used in PHA-3 really need that time. I was used to the pretty decent sound out of my PHA-1A, but there's just a richness to having what you're used to, be refined to a T. (Yes, I'm aware the PHA-1A came out after the PHA-3) To A/B between a PHA-1A and PHA-3, obviously isn't fair, but it's what I have on hand. To my ears, the NW-A55 sounds capable, but rather tinny after having the PHA-3 be my primary driver for months. Maybe it's better suited to IEMs rather than a full size planar magnetic. The PHA-1A sounds forgettable after the PHA-3. So what is it that makes the PHA-3 special? It's a more spacious presentation, with detail in silky layers. Having headroom to play with makes sure I'm not burdening the device beyond it's design. Both the PHA-1A and PHA-3 promise to push up to 600 Ohm headphones, but high (300 Ohm dynamic) impedance seems to put the little PHA-1A out of it's comfort zone. I believe others have covered battery life. It's around 5 hours of continued light usage from me. This is as an DAC/AMP, without DSEE HX turned on. Then there's the design. It's a beautiful chunk of aluminum, and it's also a dust magnet. Especially the little rubber "rails" that catch specks all the time. Dust also seems to collect between the knob and the casing, and is somewhat difficult to get at with fingers. I'm constantly wiping it down to keep it clean. In person, it really feels as premium as in the pictures... if you don't plug anything into it. However, the design carries forward some Sony proprietary engineering. Foremost is the highly non-standard balanced out. While it's meant for the Z7 headphones (first gen) it almost seems absurd to go with this, as other headphones must use adapters unless you plan on going very boutique with your wire choices. Yet what is absurd is the proprietary data cable they provide you to use. While it's not necessary to use to connect to your PC, it is a very necessary component to use when connecting to your Walkman DAP. Sony, why are there 2 different designs for a proprietary data cable between these 2 products from the same family? The PHA-1A and PHA-3 did not (from my consumer perspective) need to give us another cable to worry about. The PHA-1 and PHA-2 (somewhat) did not require there to be a proprietary micro-usb connector at all. The issue of "clicking" (a clicking noise when playing any audio) isn't present from at least my ears, on the PHA-3, like there was on the PHA-1A. So I don't know what went wrong. So in conclusion, it's a very capable device that sounds spacious, silky, and layered. It has more power than its weakest sibling, and it's beautiful to look at. Perhaps it was somewhat out there when it first came out, but it's not an oddity today with the personal audio market the way it is. There's demand Sony.. just not for these proprietary ecosystems. <3

Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Excellent

Design

Excellent

Ease of Use

Good

2

1

Response From Sony North America Customer Support
15/04/2020

Hi Smgg, we appreciate your detailed review. Thank you for choosing SONY. ~Earl

0

Sounds great

PHA-3 09/03/2019 by VOLKOV9 (USA)

DAC is great, one of the best tonally for a portable. Amp is powerful, good impulse response, and the closest-to-transparent tonally I've found in a portable.

Sound Quality

Good

Features

Excellent

Design

Excellent

Ease of Use

Good

0

1

0

HD Definitely!

PHA-3 21/01/2019 by Neurenics (USA)

This device really packs a good audio punch if you are a discerning listener.

Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Excellent

Design

Excellent

Ease of Use

Good

0

1

0

Great Sound Quality with Awful Build Quality

PHA-3 07/09/2018 by Fishplayer (USA)

Pros: Great sound quality in balanced, totally drives my xba-z5, not so huge. Cons: Overheat, short battery life, disgusting charging management. Tips: The silicon belts given are to bind with a portable battery charger, do not try to bind to a cellphone or a walkman.

Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Good

Design

Average

Ease of Use

Good

2

1

0

Poor quality control and workmanship!

pha-3-c-uc 12/06/2018 by JKTRRT (USA) Verified Purchaser Verified

They could not put the HI RES decal on straight! Peeled it off to put it on right wont stick. Someone did not do their job right. POOR QUALITY CONTROL!

Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Excellent

Design

Excellent

Ease of Use

Good

2

26

Response From Sony North America Customer Support
12/06/2018

Hi JKTRRT,

Sony takes into consideration all feedback to improve the performance and quality of our products and services, we're always looking to make Sony better.

We appreciate your time sharing this feedback.

0

hahahahnice best one

PHA3 12/02/2017 by HOWen (USA) Verified Purchaser Verified

.2 2655555this is my best one in the word ,we can try

Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Excellent

Design

Excellent

Ease of Use

Excellent

17

4

0

Necessary purchase to work with Sony NWWM1Z walkm

PHA3 16/12/2016 by what a stupid box (United Kingdom) Verified Purchaser Verified

I bought the Sony walkman NWWM1Z recently as well as their MDR Z7 earphones , for use when I travel.I like to enjoy the same level of quality when i am travelling as I have at home with my hi-fi. The walkman has great sound quality and level , but this amplifier takes it to a level that is more comparable with my home audio system. I also bought the MUC-B12 BL1 leads to make full use of the left and right inputs for the headphones that this amplifier affords the listener. These were expensive purchases but ones that after a few weeks of use , I do not regret having made. I needed a larger capacity device as my 64GB and 32GB walkmans were full and I had more music to store on a player. I had gone down the Apple route as they had a 128Gb player , but my cd collection was getting to big for that. The new Sonly player edges the Apple in terms of quality of sound as well as volume , and the added amplifier ,headphones and lead enhances this even more. I am splitting hairs here , but I actually think that my walk, an set up is better than more home stereo in terms of quality , and the volume level with the amp takes it to where I want it to be.Whilst the walkman on its own is good , I sit wishing that it could be a little louder. I also use the amplifier with an optical/analogue convertor/3.5mm lead with my appplemac to watch music DVD's and this lets the sound level/quality to my home system standard.

Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Excellent

Design

Excellent

Ease of Use

Excellent

20

3

0

Perfect

PHA3 08/04/2016 by livy (United Kingdom) Verified Purchaser Verified

I have this as part of my in car set up alongside the ZX2. The sound quality/ clarity is amazing. The PHA3 suits my requirements perfectly.

Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Excellent

Design

Good

Ease of Use

Excellent

19

6

0

Mains Only. Great Sound.

PHA3 23/08/2015  (United Kingdom) Verified Purchaser Verified

Don't get me wrong I really like this but when you are tied to the mains it gets annoying. I used the balanced connection with my MDR - Z7 headphones and set the gain to high. I use it with my ZX2 walkman which I really saved up for. Tough going. Another problem is the ugly straps you get to put them together. Is that the best they could come up with? The with the three together is amazing. The balanced cables really do make a difference. Super wide and not inside your head but almost like a semi circle. I have also used my iPhone with it and it sounds great too. I do have to warn you it really heats up a lot. I think it heats up too much. I don't know how long this will last before it overheats. If this was rechargeable it would get five stars. Shame on Sony Europe for giving us the mains only version.

Sound Quality

Excellent

Features

Good

Design

Average

Ease of Use

Excellent

12

7

0

Fantastic amp

PHA3 26/06/2015 by SomeGuy2015 (USA)

Wish I was the first to give a raving review, but I thought I would hold back until I had lived with it for a couple months. I use it daily as my desktop dac/amp(8hrs+) and on the go(not nearly as much) as well as at home when I need headphones to be more quiet. The amp drives a T1 and/or SZ2000 at work, Westone 4 on the go, and DT880 600 and/or Sony MDR-1R at home. All are driven perfectly with room to spare. So much so that when I get that rare basshead feeling but in need of orchestral volume and clarity I bump up 20hz on the desktop parametric eq by 16db, bring down the level by 16db and the volume is still acceptable with the T1 on high-gain at the 4-oclock volume setting (almost max) - fantastic!. Makes me want to try a pair of MDR-Z7 w/ K-cable to see if the match is as good.

28

6

0

Sony is back in the game!!!

PHA3 31/10/2014 by SACDman (USA)

I'm a Professional in the audio business making high-end audio cables. I have to work with a multitude of devices. Im also BIG fan of DSD64 and DSD128 files. Its becoming a leader in hires audio file formats. The PHA-3 is simply stunning in audio results. Combine that with so many ways to connect to it, this powerhouse becomes a center piece to your portable system. In addition, this can be placed in your home system and for the price, it can certainly do the job!

55

13