Last week a customer sent me a Sony HAP-Z1ES to evaluate as a candidate for modification. I am starting this thread to discuss
things "under the hood" related to this player (power supply, dac, output stages, etc.) as well as modifications.
This thread can also be used to discuss listening impressions of the stock (and modded unit in the future), comparisons, things you wish could be done to it with regards to mods, etc.
For starters, I am going to link to a few reviews and other threads that exist about this player, as well as some quick facts and opinions. I believe it was made available early 2014, so it is fairly new:
First, the links to Sony's pages
:http://discover.store.sony.com/ES/high-resolution-audio/HAP-Z1ES.htmlhttp://store.sony.com/hi-res-music-player-with-1tb-hdd-zid27-HAPZ1ES/cat-27-catid-All-Res-Audiohttp://rd1.sony.net/help/ha/hapz1esREVIEWS of stock HAP-Z1ES
----Other DISCUSSION THREADS
that might be of interest:http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=123436.0http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f10-music-servers/sony-hap-z1es-has-arrived-19079/http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?ddgtl&1382187029&read
I'm sure there are other reviews and discussions of merit, so please feel free to link to them if you know of any.
The reviews and discussion threads get into the meat of what this player does and does not do, so I won't get deep into that here. But just to lay out some GENERAL INFO
about the stock player, in no particular order:
-- It is NOT a solution for everyone, but I believe it makes a great solution for those who do not want a typical computer in their listening room.
-- You DO need a computer loaded with music files to transfer music to its internal 1TB drive (expandable via USB port - for storage only). Music
is transfered via wired or wireless network.
-- No digital inputs or outputs. No headphone out. It's strictly SE and BAL line out.
-- Free App to load on your computer to manage what files you want to transfer to it, deleting files, etc.
-- Free Remote App for iPhone/iPad and Android phones/tablets
-- It supports just about every audio file format, including: DSD (WSF and DSDIFF), WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, ATRAC, MP3, AAC, and WMA files.Some quick initial impressions by me, in no particular order:
-- Once music is loaded, it is very easy to use.
-- Fast boot up and shut down. It even seems stable and menus are responsive!
-- Excellent build quality. This is Sony ES, and I think they are trying to make a statement here with this player.
-- Nice LCD, a little small (but that's were the remote app comes in handy). 3 brightness settings.
-- For the USD $1995 MSRP, it is a great value
. I say this based on the sound quality, build quality, what is under the hood, and how well it functions, which brings me to....
Some quick "under the hood" information about the power supply, d/a, and output stage:
-- Mostly linear regulated power supply stages inside. Multiple EI transformer cores. Use of MANY linear voltage
regulators. Very little sharing of voltage rails. There are a few sections that get a feed from DC-DC chips. But there is no switching power supply inside, and the critical stuff is all linear regulated.
-- Dual Burr Brown PCM1795 d/a chips (one per channel)
-- OPA2132UA opamps used in the output stage
-- No analog volume control (but there is a "learning remote" feature so its remote can control most amps. Haven't tried it)
-- Native DSD (DSD64 and DSD128), and also has a PCM-to-DSD "remastering engine" that converts everything to DSD128. This can be enabled/disabled.
-- Has a DSEE restore engine to add some life to compressed music (or internet radio). This can also be enabled/disabled.
-- Auto Mute relays are not in the signal path (the shunt to GND). You can hear them click from time to time when you play files
of different bit/sample rates as it quickly adjusts clocking to play files natively.
-- Low phase noise master clock
-- Separate boards for d/a and output stage, FPGAs, linear regulators, DC-DC regulators, ethernet/wifi.
-- Solid chassis. Only the top plate (easy to remove) rings a little, but that is very easy to take care of with dynamat or similar.
-- Very quiet operation. There is what appears to be a "safety fan" inside that could be turned on if the player were to get too warm. Perhaps
that could happen if hot tube amp was on the shelf below it, or if the listen room was 100F or something. But I have yet it hear it or ever
see it switch on in normal operation. It's a nice touch.SO HOW DOES IT SOUND?I'm going to be posting more about this by this weekend
. I've been putting in a few listening hours each night and getting more and more
familiar with its sound signature. What I can say upfront is that in its stock form, it can easily compete with stand-alone dacs or anything else in its price class - and beyond. This is one of the main reasons why I think it is a great value. Sony is a huge company and can leverage their design arm and supply chain to pull something like this off for less $$$ than the smaller guys - that's just they way it is. But after considering the cost of manufacturer, cost to design, dealer margins, etc. - I don't see how they are making much profit on this player! From what I am hearing, seeing, and feeling - it leaves me scratching my head that that can do it for $1995. Maybe it is a "lost leader" that they sell so they can actually make good money on DSD music - like the Sony PS3?Will Red Wine Audio be offering modifications to the HAP-Z1ES?
I intend to. Initially, I wanted to look the other way when I learned about this player last September. Years ago, I enjoyed modding the first generation Olive products (similar idea to this player). These days, I've only been modding the portable Astell & Kern high-res DAPs. But for
some reason, this Sony music tank has been calling out to me. So I have been and continue to research its design, and am initially looking to
do output stage modifications:
-- Installation of a tube output stage (one tube per channel). Most likely a version of the tube stage we use in our RWA products. It's a great
1. it is super low noise
3. does not require high voltage
4. does not use transformers or DC-DC converters
5. has a switch to use 6922 or 12AX7 tube families
6. has a soft-start and auto-mute for warm up, so tubes last a very long time (very low maintenance).
-- I could also do a custom version that instead uses 6H30s for those love that tube.
-- Improvements to the audio board (caps, bypass caps, resistors, convert over the I/V stage to tubes, hard-wire new RCA jacks directly to the tube stage). The capacitor/resistor swapping to fine tune the voicing of the unit. I do not wish to play with the output filter parameters that Sony developed because I'm sure they have it working well for PCM and DSD.
Sure - this is the thread to discuss! Certain things are probably doable, certain things are probably doable but maybe something I wouldn't recommend, and I'm sure there are things that really can't or shouldn't be done in there. There is a fair amount of space in there, especially
along the rear and right side panels, to work.
I hope this thread is useful to those interested in this player, and those interested in some modifications to it as well. It should be fun!