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Bigun 16th March 2014 03:38 PM

Sony HAP-Z1ES Hi-Res source (new 2014) ?
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Looks interesting, albeit a bit pricey

Hi-Res Music Player with 1TB HDD

Analog FIR filters
1TB hard drive for local music playback and storage (you can add additional external drives)
DSD re-mastering engine converts all signals to DSD signals
Built-in Wi-Fi for app control and music transfer
Dynamic Range : More than 105dB
Separate transformers for Digital and Analogue pus's
Master clock for DAC uses low phase noise 'liquid crystal oscillator'

MRswitch 16th March 2014 07:01 PM

Usin PCM1795 ?

kevinkr 25th May 2014 08:36 PM

I own one, if there is any interest I will post my impressions here.

GTHICM 27th May 2014 08:29 AM

Do tell, Kevin.

kevinkr 28th May 2014 01:07 AM

Given the overwhelming level of interest here :p and having lived with it for not even a week I can share a few impressions and my user experience thus far.

I should also mention that it was purchased with the full knowledge that I will eventually modify the crap out of it.. lol

I have not yet opened the box and won't until I am beyond a few hundred hours of use and am sure I am beyond the infant mortality part of the service life curve. Sony ES hardware has a 5yr warranty in the U.S. so I will probably wait at least six months to a year before voiding it..

Basically this is a linux based quiet computer in a pretty box with predominantly linear supplies, and a few DC to DC converters for the processor and other digital circuitry.

There are three power transformers, one small one that powers the standby circuitry, one large one for the digital circuitry and one for the analog.

The digital audio processing includes an FPGA and an AD Sharc series DSP, the converters are mono mode PCM1795A one dedicated per channel. I assume the the post I/V filtering is GIC based but won't know until I take it apart. Both balanced and unbalanced outputs are provided. The unit oddly inverts phase - I can live with this quirk as my pre-amp allows me to flip out phase at will - I find it rarely matters.

As I mentioned the HAP-Z1ES runs linux and works rather better with Windows networking tools on the source computer than it does with the HAP Transfer software which is an insidious form of slow torture to observe in operation even over ethernet.. lol (It took 15hrs to transfer 130GB over ethernet, sluggish to put it charitably) and I've found that dragging and dropping files directly into existing or newly created folders on the HAP using Windows networking is much, much faster (at least 3X) and works just fine, the player software then goes out and gets the required meta data and updates the database very quickly. Pruning files or rearranging files on the Z1ES requires you to use the computer. (Downloads and file maintenance maybe performed with a laptop or any other suitable windows or McIntosh. Linux with Samba installed I suspect will work fine too - I will report on that as of if or when I get around to it.)

The player interface is very simple and intuitive on the front panel, the interface installed on my android tablet works extremely well, provides many options for navigating through the database, and also provides access to audio relevant control menus.

It even manages to sound good, my redbook format material probably has not sounded better on any device, and it does a great job with flac, wav, aiff, and dsd files at various sample rates and bit depths. Both DSD64 and DSD128 are supported (dsf and dsdiff files).

The DSD remastering engine can be shut off from the front panel or toggled from a menu on the android app. Yes, I can hear some very subtle differences between upsampling to DSD and straight PCM playback and have concluded that so far I prefer the DSD remastering engine enabled.

It uses less than 10% of the power of the hardware it replaced, boots quickly, and is simple and fairly quirkless unless you do something to make it unhappy. (I have.. lol) Make sure when you add files to it that it has an internet connection or it will not be able to update the database, and find your new files.

The sound is a pretty significant step up from what I thought was a competent diy dac. I think the biggest surprise was listening to a very familiar recording the other day and realizing I was hearing backing vocals that had been completely obscured by the previous dac used in the old media server set up.

I'd say it is pretty slick and very well thought out, probably what an audio appliance should be. Put your files in it, press play and it does the rest.

Bigun 28th May 2014 02:06 AM

That's a promising report. Can you have it maintain a back-up on an external drive, or does it treat an external drive only as additional extended storage space ?

kevinkr 28th May 2014 02:16 AM

Really as extended storage space, I manage my back ups on separate drives that do not remain connected when not being updated so this does not represent a problem for me. It does mean a little extra work if you do not trust the source computer or source which could as well be an NAS - computer still required to manage file transfers to the HAP.

The computer that I use for ripping and downloading has a complete copy of the library, but I could also transfer the contents of the HAP drive to another drive using windows networking - the internal and external drives on the HAP just appear as drives on the network.

It is essentially a really large high res iPod in a certain sense and incorporates similar functionality except that it can update its database whenever it senses new files have been written to either the internal hard drive or an external drive. The big difference is that it is not locked into a proprietary format, it will play all of the most commonly used high res file formats, the few it doesn't support are not widely used outside of the open source community. (monkey's, ape, and ogg vorbis primarily)

Bigun 29th May 2014 12:39 AM

have you tried using the vTuner ? - I'm not at all familiar with their service and what it offers

kevinkr 1st June 2014 07:18 PM

I have tried the vtuner, it seems to offer a fairly comprehensive selection of internet radio stations across the globe. (IIRC it also has a search function for stations not included in the internal database) The DSEE has a mild but audible effect on some of the really compressed streams which is an improvement. Overall the internet radio support is a nice extra that I will not use much, its omission would not have swayed me from the decision to buy one. I don't find the sound quality of compressed streams or files particularly enthralling on any device even with some clever processing. I find 256K/320K are tolerable, but few streams run this bit rate..

Overall I would say the HAP is quite a competent performer and is a rather significant improvement sonically over what it replaced.

Bigun 4th June 2014 08:12 PM

Good to know.

I'm feeling more tempted to buy one of these than any other piece of hi-fi for the past decade. I may be more inclined towards the HAP-S1 due to it's lower price point.

There's no real competition for the HAP. Did you, by any chance, audition the Pioneer N50 in comparison ?

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