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Sony Walkman NWZ-E436F 4GB - Sony Walkman NWZ-E436F

By Stuart Andrews


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What really counts in this class is audio performance, and here the news is - typically for Sony - good. Admittedly, the results with the bundled earphones are more solid than spectacular; you get a lot of clarity and detail in the sound, but at the expense of body and warmth, and while fiddling with the five preset and two custom EQ settings helps round out the tone, you can't expect miracles.

Poppier material, like the Timbaland remix of OneRepublic's Apologize, is best served because all the layers of sound come through so precisely. Give the E436F something heavier or cluttered to work with, like the remastered version of Led Zep's Achilles' Last Stand, and the performance is fine, but hardly stellar.

Give the E436F some decent headphones to work with and it's a different story. Plugging in the Denon earphones I use for reference and the hoary old Led Zeppelin track kicks off, the bass surging forwards, the guitar cutting through the mix with incredible power and clarity and the drum fills practically exploding in my poor lug'oles. The slightly more fragile, stripped back arrangement of Bon Iver's Re: Stacks come off equally well, with every little touch and nuance in the acoustic guitar and falsetto vocals captured.

Fans of classical music have few causes for complaint. The delicate piano of Bach's Goldberg Variations is handled with a real finesse, giving you room to appreciate the pianist's individual phrasing, while Tasmin Little's 1998 recording of Arvo Pärt's Summa sounds every bit as lovely and melancholy as it should do, each instrument clearly discernible yet merging into one rich sound. I'm not sure I'd put the E436F up there with the best players from iRiver or Cowon, but it's not all that far off.

Of course, those players can boast something the Sony can't: support for file formats beyond MP3, AAC and WMA, including lossless formats like APE and FLAC. For this reason, the more obsessive audiophile will probably want to look in their direction - not least because the 4GB capacity of the E436F won't stretch so far with the more exotic formats.

I suspect that the E436F's intended audience won't be so troubled, and what they will appreciate more is the incredible battery life. Sony quotes a colossal 45 hours of playback time, and having watched the E436F cruise through a day of pretty solid use with barely a dent in the battery gauge, I've no reason to believe that's not the case.

Throw in a decent and easy to set-up FM radio and a nice little clock display function and the Sony is an appealing compact player at a very reasonable price, and a worthy rival to the new iPod Nano.

Counting against it, the 4GB capacity is a bit disappointing and the design isn't as drop dead gorgeous as the Nano, but in its favour the E436F is significantly cheaper - in fact the £60-odd price point puts it in direct competition with players from many less well-known brands. Of these, iRiver's Lplayer probably has the edge on audio quality, format support and value, but otherwise it's a close run thing. If great battery life and a solid build are more important factors, the Sony is an excellent buy.


Not the most exciting, stylish or innovative player on the block, but a strong performer that's built to go the distance, with battery life to match.

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dave doubledecks

October 24, 2008, 1:06 pm

Why is it that mp3 players these days often have the headphone socket on the bottom of the case rather than at the top?? Am I the only one who finds that annoying?


October 24, 2008, 5:09 pm

Any chance of the s series getting reviewed soon. That seems like the one to go for. More of a direct competitor to the nano, with its bigger capacities.


October 24, 2008, 11:17 pm

@ Dave_doubledecks

Because generally people place pockets upside down in their pockets with the back of the gadget facing outwards simply because that's the easiest thing to do, so naturally they put headphones jacks on the bottom because that's what will be facing upwards while in a pocket.

Geoff Richards

October 25, 2008, 12:40 am

I think what Juxtah means is this: people hold devices in their hand "top-up", right? Now, lower your arm and slide that device into your jeans... the top slides in first leaving the bottom pointing to the sky. I'm going to guess that's why the socket is at the bottom.


October 25, 2008, 1:51 am

I just realized how incomprehensible I was :P

I really should make a habit of reading what I'm writing...

dave doubledecks

October 25, 2008, 10:21 am

LoL that's where 'm going wrong! I put mine in the top pocket of my jacket. Who puts their mp3 in jeans for goodness sake? It must get pretty uncomfortable when you sit down??

Geoff Richards

October 25, 2008, 11:41 am

Haha, well, I guess it depends on the size of one's MP3 player :)

Plus of course it's never a good idea to use the back pockets where you'll sit on your player!

Thinking about it, I actually use the breast pocket of my shirt while walking to work but the logic still applies - I kinda "pour" it in head first rather than neatly slide it in face up.

I guess, Dave, if it bothers you a LOT then you'll be hunting down players with top-mounted jacks (such as my ageing Sansa). But if I think about the latest Apple iPod nano, that thing is so small, thin and light that it really doesn't matter - you'd barely feel it in any pocket (jeans or otherwise) especially compared to a mobile phone.

Still, it's always interesting to learn what features are most important to different people. Thanks for your feedback.


October 26, 2008, 8:32 pm

I bought this DAP one month ago to replace my 2 GB Clip, and i was so disappointed by its audio performance... compared to the Clip this Sony suffers from a lack of detail and clarity, but the worst point is no doubt its terrible output power... i could barely feed my Denon D1001 full-size headphone (only 32 ohm impedence). I'd say the Clip is about 50% more powerful... it changes a lot of things. EQing makes things even worse as adding bass or highs lowers even more the output volume... Since then i sold it and bought a 4 GB Clip.

Please not i have also a Sony Vaio Pocket which is great (much better than the E436), i love Sony but they desappointed me on this one.


January 27, 2009, 2:31 pm

Which player would you say is better (especially minded the sound quality with the pair of earbuds in the box, because i actually dont want to spend money on buying earbuds)

this one, or the Iriver Lplayer?


March 16, 2009, 11:55 am


"i was so disappointed by its audio performance... compared to the Clip this Sony suffers from a lack of detail and clarity,"

Really? I can't help but to be suspicious. Even a hearing impaired person like me could hear the distinct difference between the E436F and the Clip. (For the record, the Sony outputted much more clearer and clean music than the clip. Much more detailed, too.) I gander you were using stock headphones for the Sony - Or your ears are much more damaged than mine.


April 11, 2009, 12:24 am


Spot on! The volume output -- or lack thereof -- of the NWZ line is ridiculous. I have the 8gb version, and while it's ok with the provided earbuds, with anything larger (i.e. Grado SR60's or even Senn PX100's) the sound is not even low-fi quality. It's just LOW, period. I added a headphone amp and it's totally night and day. I tried my g/f's Shuffle with the PX100's and it didn't need an amp for volume, although the total SQ of those cans was increased by using the little headphone amp.

Also, since there's no easy option in the Walkman's settings to switch back and forth between MTP and UMS, there's a little trick to un-do the MTP drivers so that the unit becomes a straight USB Mass Storage drag/drop unit. You have to go into Device Manager (Windows XP), find the Walkman in the Portable Devices group, right click, then select Update Driver. Then select "No, not this time", then Next. Select "Install from a list or specific location (Advanced) then Next. Select "Don't Search, I will choose the driver to install", then Next. (Be sure to check the box beside Show Compatible Hardware) Highlight USB Mass Storage Device, then Next. (To revert back to MTP, just do the same thing but choose MTP instead of USB Mass Storage Device.) Personally, I'd never go back to the MTP mode. Having the Walkman seen by the computer as just another USB mass storage device allows the drag/drop transfers to go much faster, and I can defrag the Walkman now, whereas that was not possible before in MTP mode.

Also, a proprietary USB cable is just a dumb, unnecessary, all too typical Sony idea. And the fact that there's no free software bundled to convert avi's and mpg's to the necessary video format is just another reason this unit is, at times, a royal P.I.T.A. All in all, it's a relatively well made unit, but because of the low volume, proprietary USB cable, lack of bundled software to convert videos to the accepted format, and the limited number of recognized audio formats, I'd definitely choose another brand the next time around.


September 24, 2009, 11:22 pm

The most annoying things is that NO media software is included. Media Manager is SO outdated and the Content Transfer software is only meant for file transfer!

HELLO, PEOPLE! Do you really enjoy having that darn Sony logo appearing instead of the album art?! I certainly do NOT!

Quit saying "use drag n drop"! I guess many of you don't care about album art or creating playlists But I certainly do!

I have many compilation "playlists" which the player does NOT support. It'll spread the underlying music to each artist's folder while the playlist is NOT transferred! You'll have to use "folders" to listen to EACH darn artist manually unless you "SHUFFLE ALL" files! What a Pain in the A**!

No wonder Sony priced the devices Lower than the Nanos? It does NOT sell that well and can ONLY compete on price alone!

I returned mine and will NOT buy another Sony mp3 player until Sony wakes up and makes GOOD media software for their players (and SE phones, which I also own) that CAN rip music, edit files (i.e. album art tag) and 3) create playlists especially compilation playlists!!

At least Sony, FINALLY, adopted the universal standard for their phones (and mp3 players?) in that it will start using Mini-USB ports. The newer E-440 series (or E-430 in Americas) are now shown with those ports!

Now, if Sony can only include media software similar to iTunes!

Despite many iPod haters, iTunes is very good in ripping music, editing files and creating playlists! AND.... It's F-R-E-E!

iTunes is still considered one of the Better (if not The Best) media software to beat!


February 13, 2010, 2:39 pm

This is the third Walkman I have owned and to be honest, I don't think I'd buy another (none of them have lasted very long and I was very careful with them). I was really disappointed in the durability of this player - it died before the year was out, I sent it off to be repaired, it came back and died again in the first week. Looks like I'll be off to Apple for my next MP3 player.

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