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Sony HAP-Z1ES has arrived


Merko

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I just received this new unit, ordered via Amazon.com yesterday. So far, I have been listening to DSD64 files (DSF's) purchased online - plus those ripped via PS3 from my SACD collection. Headphone listening only thusfar - with my Schiit Valhalla/Senn 650 combo and my Grado RS-1/Grado RA-1 amp. Very good sound; better than my Schiit Loki, for sure. I haven't placed it in my big system as yet since my wired network is in a different spot, and still have a lot of files to move over. Speaking of which - the Sony "HAP Music Transfer" application leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. You can only sync a folder - rather than select subfolders (i.e.: albums) to transfer. And since there is a 100 subfolder limit on each sync - and I have over 300 albums each in it's own folder, it has turned into as bit of a pain.

 

Any other HAP-Z1ES owners out there with suggestions, tweaks or other relevant comments? Would love to compare notes.

 

Thanks.

 

Merko

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sony HAP-Z1ES HDD Audio Player | The Absolute Sound

 

Glowing review. Stephen Stone says the sound is on par with a Mac Mini/Mytek DSD192 combo. If so, it's good value, as it also gives you 1TB of storage and interenet radio.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Does it do anything to the files when they are transferred? What if there are too many to fit in 1TB? As far as subfolders, if you have a "stereo" folder with "DSD" and "PCM" sub-folders, will that work? Thanks a lot for the info!

"The main problem with communication is the illusion that it has been achieved"

 

Auralic Aries & Vega / Pass Labs XP-30 / DSPeaker 2.0 / Pass Labs XA160.5 / mbl 101E mk2

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1. Does it do anything to the files when they are transferred?

2. What if there are too many to fit in 1TB?

3. As far as subfolders, if you have a "stereo" folder with "DSD" and "PCM" sub-folders, will that work?

1. No but it usually upsamples when playing them.

2. Hand a USB drive on the back.

3. Work? I don't know what you mean but it will play both formats.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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Thanks, one more, please... Will it play Spotify and other premium subscription internet stations using its processing/upsampling?

"The main problem with communication is the illusion that it has been achieved"

 

Auralic Aries & Vega / Pass Labs XP-30 / DSPeaker 2.0 / Pass Labs XA160.5 / mbl 101E mk2

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the upsampling can be turned off

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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the upsampling can be turned off

 

Sorry, I was not clear. The streamers that I am familiar with only work with a basic radio URL. Does the Sony work with paid subscription services like Spotify where you have to log-in? Thanks again.

"The main problem with communication is the illusion that it has been achieved"

 

Auralic Aries & Vega / Pass Labs XP-30 / DSPeaker 2.0 / Pass Labs XA160.5 / mbl 101E mk2

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Sony HAP-Z1ES HDD Audio Player | The Absolute Sound

Glowing review. Stephen Stone says the sound is on par with a Mac Mini/Mytek DSD192 combo. If so, it's good value, as it also gives you 1TB of storage and interenet radio.

Personally, I think you're much better off spending an extra $200 for the flexibility and processing capabilities of a Mac Mini ($600) + Mytek ($1600) or $2000 on another PC/DAC combo, compared to a monolithic box that can only play files from its local drive, in a limited number of formats.

 

With everything being upsampled to 2xDSD, you don't even get a volume control, so you rely on the quality of your preamp/integrated amplifier.

 

Another thing you have to consider, if you're comparing it against a Mac Mini + Mytek combo (which seems quite arbitrary to me) is that you still need a computer that has 1TB of storage to go along with your Z1ES to rip & transfer files to the device, and act as a backup for everything stored on its internal drive.

 

And you can only get files onto the device using a proprietary application for Windows/Mac OS. There's no Linux support, and who knows what will happen in the future. Apple is notorious for breaking compatibility with older applications with each revision of OS X, and Sony may not have any interest in working on an update when that happens.

 

 

But I can see the appeal of a monolithic box that does nothing but play music off its internal drive after the initial set-up if you don't like computers, and you certainly don't get the fit & finish of high-end Sony hardware with a Mac Mini + Mytek DAC. (I adore Sony's high-end products)

 

It's a shame they had not been a bit more forward-thinking - it would have been a much more interesting device if that USB port on the back could be used to turn it into an external DAC, or if the device could act as a DLNA renderer via the network connection.

 

Having to sync files over every time you buy a new album or want to make changes to your library seems like a huge pain compared to managing a central media library stored on the PC which is streamed to every other device in the home.

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Very well said, Skeptic.

 

I expressed a similar opinion over on a different forum and was quickly told that not everyone is a "technophile" that wants to deal with the "complexity" of a computer server/DAC system. I quickly realized that Sony is smarter than I am, in that there is a market for this kind of device, even in the high end. But it isn't for me.

 

It's amazing how different people's (valid) perspectives can be. For example:

Them: "It transfers your music over to its hard drive! (Yea!)"

Me: "It forces you to transfer your music over to its hard drive! (Boo!)"

 

Different strokes, indeed.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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Perhaps I misunderstood, but I believe you can also attach an external HD to the device and playback files from it. I also understood the upsampling is defeatable if you don't want it.

 

The comparison to the mini\Mytek combo came from the fact that the reviewer owns such a combo, and so compared the 2 setups.

 

Believe me, I'm not pushing this device. But I think there is a large populace that wants nothing to do with "computer audio" and wants an "audio appliance" for the living room - even if it actually is a computer. Seems like that is what Sony is aiming at.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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You're right firedog.

 

When I used the example of having to copy your files over to the device, I also meant, by extension, that you must play the files using the Sony's built-in OS. Whether a given user sees that as convenient or confining is, again, a matter of perspective.

 

Anyway, your point that there is a market for an "audio appliance" like this is dead on.

 

What surprises me is that Sony didn't at least provide the option to use the unit as a DAC, so that it would appeal to both types of users with its apparently high build & sound quality.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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Back in 2007 prior top-of-line ES audio player (albeit disc, not file) was XA5400ES and in US only sold in black, so..if you have that one and/or all black components and here in 2014 were considering HAP-Z1ES you might not being that Sony only offers HAP-Z1ES in silver finish. If it was only a bean counter decision, why offer the cheaper file player in silver and black?

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Perhaps I misunderstood, but I believe you can also attach an external HD to the device and playback files from it.
Yes, I think that's correct.
I also understood the upsampling is defeatable if you don't want it.
That's true, but you still don't get a volume control. You have to rely on the analog volume control in your preamp/integrated amplifier. Many people would argue that a digital volume control is better than an analog one these days. Of course other people disagree, but with this, you don't have the option to choose.
Believe me, I'm not pushing this device. But I think there is a large populace that wants nothing to do with "computer audio" and wants an "audio appliance" for the living room - even if it actually is a computer. Seems like that is what Sony is aiming at.
I agree with the sentiment, but you still need to have a computer to transfer music onto the device and you will need a 1TB drive in that computer to keep a backup of the music which is stored on the Z1ES.

 

 

With a computer, to add a new album I put the disc in the drive, it is ripped and ejected automatically.

The process takes all of five minutes, and requires no interaction from me. The album then shows up in my JRiver library automatically.

In theory, I could do all this without even having a display connected up to the PC.

 

With the Z1ES I have to rip the disc, and then manually transfer it over to the device via this Sony software.

If it just showed up as a network drive, you could at least have set things up so that it would rip to the device automatically.

This requires you to actually use the computer more than a PC+DAC setup. (excluding the player itself)

 

Of course if you never buy new albums and simply have a large catalog of CD's that you want, you could have your grand-kids handle the PC stuff for you, and then you only need to use the Z1ES interface for playback without ever touching a PC.

 

 

Something else to consider though, is that with the Z1ES your interface is either using that tiny display on the front of the box, or using a smartphone/tablet for navigation - so much for the "computer free" experience. (I consider smartphones/tablets to be "computer" in that regard)

 

 

With a PC and JRiver for example, I have an HDMI connection to a 50" television which just gives me a list of albums to scroll through using the simple Apple remote.

I mean, I suppose that's still technically a "computer" experience, but it doesn't feel any different to controlling a cable box, rather than the PC-like tablet experience.

 

But I am not really fond of using these touchscreen devices as "remotes" rather than interfaces which use physical buttons, so perhaps I am biased in that regard.

 

 

Back in 2007 prior top-of-line ES audio player (albeit disc, not file) was XA5400ES and in US only sold in black, so..if you have that one and/or all black components and here in 2014 were considering HAP-Z1ES you might not being that Sony only offers HAP-Z1ES in silver finish. If it was only a bean counter decision, why offer the cheaper file player in silver and black?
Ah, but perhaps you will upgrade the rest of your equipment to matching 2014 ES gear instead of only buying a black Z1ES.
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Ah, but perhaps you will upgrade the rest of your equipment to matching 2014 ES gear instead of only buying a black Z1ES.

 

The Z1ES is step down SQ-wise from my current music source (although yes Sony has several very nice speakers in their high-end). These times however I mostly associate Sony more with the sticky floored cinemas and the films they help finance more than with audiophile gear. Who what is Sony these days? Esoteric is now owned in part by Gibson, but who owns which parts of the Sony cabal these days?

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With the Z1ES I have to rip the disc, and then manually transfer it over to the device via this Sony software.

If it just showed up as a network drive, you could at least have set things up so that it would rip to the device automatically.

This requires you to actually use the computer more than a PC+DAC setup. (excluding the player itself)

 

......................................................

 

Something else to consider though, is that with the Z1ES your interface is either using that tiny display on the front of the box, or using a smartphone/tablet for navigation - so much for the "computer free" experience. (I consider smartphones/tablets to be "computer" in that regard)

 

Hmm. Doesn't the relatively successful iPod work similarly?

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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Hmm. Doesn't the relatively successful iPod work similarly?
Actually, iPod sales have been on a downward trend for a long time now, and most people I know use streaming services on their phones instead of syncing files from their computer, because it's so much easier.

 

Having to sync and manage files is one of the least desirable aspects of the iPod.

 

And there's the obvious difference that the Z1ES is not a portable product - it's a device which is sitting on your home network, though it is not a network audio player.

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Having to sync and manage files is one of the least desirable aspects of the iPod.
I would guess so.

 

And there's the obvious difference that the Z1ES is not a portable product - it's a device which is sitting on your home network, though it is not a network audio player.
It need be on the network except for when uploading/downloading, just like the iPod.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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But I can see the appeal of a monolithic box that does nothing but play music off its internal drive after the initial set-up if you don't like computers, and you certainly don't get the fit & finish of high-end Sony hardware with a Mac Mini + Mytek DAC. (I adore Sony's high-end products)

 

Skeptic, based on what you've written, you and I agree on a lot of things as it relates to this hobby.

 

Here's the way it appears to me.

 

The market for this device is for people who "know" that using a computer/DAC system is too complicated. Even though you can't use the Sony without a computer. The evidence you cite that a basic computer/DAC rig can be easier to use, far more flexible & upgradable and potentially cheaper for equivalent sound doesn't matter to people who take a look a forum like this want to run away screaming. Hell, the fact that there's even a need for a forum means that what we do is more technical than most people are comfortable with.

 

The Sony is truly a premium, non-portable, iPod type of "appliance" device. It's a one manual solution, as opposed to one manual for the media player software, one for the DAC, one for the computer, one for the drivers, one for remote control/access, etc.

 

The "ease" of that appeals to some. Plus, the Sony probably sounds nice and is really nice looking. I like that album art display. I wish they'd have added an asynchronous USB input to it as well, but they didn't make it for people like me, and there are plenty of DAC's out there at all price levels that focus solely on premium sound.

 

Different strokes.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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Just want to mention that, the Sony software has an option to "explore" Z1ES's internal and external hard drive. When this feature is selected, it opens in explorer (or finder in Mac) like network mapped drive, and one can copy/delete music in file manager.

 

It's still a pain that it don't support DLNA or similar. I am sure Sony can easily add the feature in firmware, however they may be reluctant to do so I guess.

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There is a strong selection effect going on in this thread. This forum is Computer Audiophile and the Sony is meant for people who don't even go to forums because they don't use computers if they can help it. I have a very good friend who was one of the first people to buy the Sony. I normally have to call him because he doesn't look at emails except once a week or so (unless I copy his wife and ask her to print out the email to give to him to read!). He likes CD's and SACD's and plays them through his old Sony player that was and maybe still is an A rated Stereophile choice. I've have tried to get him to go the Mac Mini route with A+ or JR, but he wanted something that was not (in his mind) a computer, with operating system, software you have to buy, etc. Even though he is my age (we've known each other for 63 years (since kindergarten) I think he has a pair of the most musically sensitive ears that I know. He just doesn't do computers.

 

Larry

Analog-VPIClas3,3DArm,LyraSkala+MiyajimaZeromono,Herron VTPH2APhono,2AmpexATR-102+MerrillTridentMaster TapePreamp  Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,MykerinosCard,PacificMicrosonicsModel2; Dig Play-Lampi Pacific, mch NADAC, Roon-HQPlayer,Oppo105  Electronics-DoshiPre,CJ MET1mchPre,Cary2A3monoamps Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR

Other-2x512EngineerMarutaniSymmetrical Power+Cables Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.7KR2Rtapes,1.5KCD's,500SACDs,50TBripped files

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It's a shame they had not been a bit more forward-thinking - it would have been a much more interesting device if that USB port on the back could be used to turn it into an external DAC, or if the device could act as a DLNA renderer via the network connection.

 

It has limited appeal because of all the limitations you have listed. Once again Sony seems to have missed the mark. It feels like a DSD version of Escient's now defunct servers only without a loading slot. I don't understand that at all. If it had a loading slot for SACD, CD, along with it's network connection for downloads it might have a niche. As it is, you still have to futz around with a computer which kind of defeats the purpose.

David

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I am missing something here...you don't have to copy files to it do you?

I think you can hook up the usb port to the pc and install asio driver and play anything out of your pc can't you??

 

Surprisingly, you can't. It is not a DAC in that sense. It's more like a premium sound, fixed location iPod.

 

You have to either copy your files to its internal hard drive or connect an external hard drive to it to play music. Either way, you have to (get to?) use Sony's interface to listen to and manage your music.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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