DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es

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ThomDP

DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« on: 14 Jun 2018, 03:04 pm »
I've had my HAP for over a year now. I love the machine but the sound is generally cold and clinical while playing the loaded WAV files. Looking to warm up the sound. Would a Cambridge DacMagic 100 or YAQIN SD-CD2 Tube buffer make the biggest difference?

OzarkTom

Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #1 on: 14 Jun 2018, 05:03 pm »
I've had my HAP for over a year now. I love the machine but the sound is generally cold and clinical while playing the loaded WAV files. Looking to warm up the sound. Would a Cambridge DacMagic 100 or YAQIN SD-CD2 Tube buffer make the biggest difference?

I found the biggest difference is running a Burson Cable+ Pro between my Sony HAP and pre. Cable has a buffer attached and is $200 with a 30 day money back guarantee from the factory. It frees up a cable that you can resell.

A friend of mine has also found this to be true.

MttBsh

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Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #2 on: 14 Jun 2018, 05:17 pm »
I found the biggest difference is running a Burson Cable+ Pro between my Sony HAP and pre. Cable has a buffer attached and is $200 with a 30 day money back guarantee from the factory. It frees up a cable that you can resell.

A friend of mine has also found this to be true.

I second Tom's recommendation.

I put the Burson Cable+ Pro between my Schiit Yggdrasil DAC and Tortuga passive pre and got an immediate increase not only in warmth but in resolution and 3d spaciousness. Big difference and one of the best - and most cost effective - remedies I can think of for a system that leans towards cold and clinical.

RDavidson

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Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #3 on: 14 Jun 2018, 06:37 pm »
I thought the HAPZ1ES didn't have a digital output. Did they change this? If that's not the case, then you're limited primarily to external buffers, maybe tube preamps, etc. or internal upgrades (if there's any place that performs surgery on that unit).

OzarkTom

Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #4 on: 14 Jun 2018, 06:50 pm »
I thought the HAPZ1ES didn't have a digital output. Did they change this? If that's not the case, then you're limited primarily to external buffers, maybe tube preamps, etc. or internal upgrades (if there's any place that performs surgery on that unit).

Burson makes this cable with RCA plugs on both ends.

https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/cable-plus-pro/

dspringham

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Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #5 on: 14 Jun 2018, 08:46 pm »
I thought the HAPZ1ES didn't have a digital output. Did they change this? If that's not the case, then you're limited primarily to external buffers, maybe tube preamps, etc. or internal upgrades (if there's any place that performs surgery on that unit).

The Z1ES will output it's digital bitstream through the external USB connector which can be connected to an outboard DAC. I believe this feature became available with the second to last firmware update. Beware that the HAP's USB output does not seem to be universally compatible with all DAC's. It works fine with my Vinnie Rossi LIO DAC 1 but did not work properly with a Nuprime DAC 10. It seems that Sony's latest firmware update exacerbated the compatibility problem since a number of users have reported they were able restore proper operation by rolling back the firmware to the previous version.

I think the HAP makes an excellent transport platform which can provide excellent results when coupled with upscale external DAC's.

Dave

ThomDP

Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #6 on: 15 Jun 2018, 02:28 am »
I found the biggest difference is running a Burson Cable+ Pro between my Sony HAP and pre. Cable has a buffer attached and is $200 with a 30 day money back guarantee from the factory. It frees up a cable that you can resell.

A friend of mine has also found this to be true.

Can you combine a the Burson with a DAC? Would you need two sets of cables?

OzarkTom

Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #7 on: 15 Jun 2018, 11:16 am »
Can you combine a the Burson with a DAC? Would you need two sets of cables?

One set will do. Two cables in a shipment. Just plug between your DAC and pre, or between the DAC and amp if a volume control on the DAC. DAC to integrated will work if you have that combo.

Burson has made buffers for over 12 years, they know a lot about buffers.

JLM

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Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #8 on: 15 Jun 2018, 12:03 pm »
Buffers have two purposes: 

Correct for impedance mismatches between components (rarely needed); and

Color the sound (typically add tube 'warmth').  My objection with colorizing is that everything will have that same tainted sound, like wearing tinted eyeglasses.  If used to counteract an existing 'color' it's just a mix of two (or more) colors, and you can never get back to truly neutral. 

Yun66

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Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #9 on: 15 Jun 2018, 12:19 pm »
I had a tube buffer. It didn't do much. Frankly, I couldn't hear any differences w/ and w/o the buffer. I ultimately got a tube pre. I remembered reading somewhere saying that a tube buffer may "improve" sound in a modest system, I'm not sure what that means. I guess it's system dependent.

OzarkTom

Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #10 on: 15 Jun 2018, 01:00 pm »
I believe in money back guarantees and Burson has it. If it does not work, send it back. Shipping a cable back will not cost much. Everyone needs to try any component in their system to see if it works or not. Synergy is the key and this cable works very well with the Sony HAP since that is what I use.

My friend that bought one was upset that I had underplayed this cable. He thought it was much better than I had told him. He uses the Sony HAP also.

A tube pre is much more expensive, at least $1000 more. And then all tube pres are not great, you need a money back guarantee on this also.

JLM

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Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #11 on: 15 Jun 2018, 01:53 pm »
The best tube preamps sound like solid state preamps (no self-sound).  Cheap tube amps can be noisy, even dangerous.  I tried a Schiit Freya ($700, but added nice NOS tubes for another $240).  The nice thing about Freya is that it gives 3 options: strictly passive, JFET (solid state) buffer, or 6SN7 tube full differential triode (amplified) and has a remote.  It didn't help in my system (that I was already satisfied with) so I sent it back.

DaveC113

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Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #12 on: 15 Jun 2018, 03:08 pm »
You'll have to spend more than the HAP it's self to get a DAC that's even close IMO. I totally disagree with the characterization that it sounds cold and clinical, it's simply an excellent DAC for the price.

The Burson "buffer" has a bunch of gain too, it's not a buffer no matter what their marketing says. We prefer higher SPLs, so the entire premise of the "buffer" is misleading because buffers don't have gain. So to do a proper review and not just fool yourself you need to level-match with and without the "buffer" in the system. Higher SPLs will make our brains think there are improvements.

In the past it's been shown that Burson also plays with frequency response to "voice" their products (One of their DAC's output had a low-pass filter on it starting well below 20 kHz) so it's hard to say what else is really going on with their "buffer". I can say for sure that it has nothing to do with impedance matching, as the Sony has an excellent output section. I have the Tortuga pre with adjustable input impedance and I can tell you that the Tortuga's input impedance has absolutely no effect on what the Sony sounds like.

I'd also keep in mind they paid people to write reviews here, without mentioning the level-matching issues to their paid reviewers. If a super-cheap preamp with hard-wired cables attached makes an improvement in your system maybe there's other stuff going on, IDK. If you think the Sony HAP is cold and clinical maybe there's other stuff going on, IDK.

In conclusion there are MANY reasons why you might think the Sony HAP is "cold" and want to warm it up, using a "buffer" or warm-sounding cable is just a band-aid on a wound that will never heal and will limit your system's performance. This is fine for many folks, nothing wrong with it... it just depends on what your goals are.

who?me?

Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #13 on: 19 Jun 2018, 11:19 pm »
@Dave and @Thom,
Tube buffers are incredibly useful for mixing and matching various components
in addition to sitting in someones Reference system

I have had an Eastern Electric BBA: Booster Buffer Amp for about 4 years now.
I rec at least a buffer, if not amplification as well. Here is why,

Its got a pair of inputs and one pair of outputs in the back.
It has 2 knobs on front: one for GAIN and one for VOLUME,
and what I've learned from this amazing product is that that is all I need
to fine-tune the gain and volume to not only match the other components,
but also to fine-tune to your particular musical tastes.

They dont make EE BBA's anymore, hard to find. but there are other options out there.
e.g. I have a Schiit Lyr 2 with 2 NOS 6922s or 6dj8's for an organic sound that I cannot find anywhere else.
The Lyr 2 has a hi/lo gain switch, and is intended to be for Headphones and desktop systems, but as I said, it
works incredibly well as a tube booster/buffer with volume control.

there are more of these tube boosters on the market than I have ever seen before,
mostly being from DIY and China on eBay.

But Jim is right, the tube buffer should be good enough quality to match your system. if not, it will not provide the buffer with enough fidelity to augment your system.

OzarkTom

Re: DAC or Tube Buffer for Sony HAPz1es
« Reply #14 on: 20 Jun 2018, 12:31 am »
I once saw a review from an owner on Computer Audiophile that said his Sony HAP was a toss-up to his $6K PS Audio Direct Stream DAC. I am with Dave, my Sony has never sounded cold or clinical no matter what cables I have used in the last 3 1/2 years.

Amp? Speakers?