Sony HAP Z1ES - The Red Wine Audio Level 1 Mods - Ongoing Review

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smargo

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Ok - i have had the modded sony since monday afternoon and its time for me to say something - here are text messages that i have sent to vinnie over that course of time


Everything i have listened to has been with the DSD upsampling on and the dsee feature turned off


(vinnie can explain the level one mods again for those who want to know)



1. "Very clear and smooth - let me listen for a couple of days - but i can already tell the sound has been elevated"

2. "Sounds very good so far - more blacker type backgrounds and everything sounds so direct"

3. "Really like the fact that it's so easy to remove the top - it's such a pleasure

4. "Once you hear this modded player - there is no going back

5. "The Shelby Lynne download in DSD sounds amazing - So much more phrasing i can hear - Because there is a lot of silence in this recording and the silences make this recording special - at least now i can appreciate it"

6. "The stock unit is good - but until you can hear what the modded unit can do - and what is nice is that you don't have to bs yourself into thinking it's good because you paid money for it - You can really hear the difference"

7. "Having trouble pulling myself away from listening - but i gotta get up early"

8. "Have the sony on 16/44 music - sounds very pure and articulate"

9. "The dsee feature sounds a little like a filter - the dsd remastering sounds much purer and cleaner

10. "Its nice - that even when im in another room and start walking towards the room that my stereo is in - the music sounds good even before i get there.

11. "I just love the fact that you can open the top cover without having to have a nervous breakdown each time - i can swap tubes to my hearts content

12. "You tubes arent that bad at all"

13. "Listening to Patricia Barber's (spring song) from her smash album in 192/24 - sounds phenomenal"

14. "I have been listening to a lot of redbook today - with the remastering on and it's hard to tell the difference between it and native dsd - of course i'm exagerating a bit - but not much

15. "It's very good on just red book - very impressed"

16. "Can't imagine anyone not liking the sound"

17. "Kind of Blue - I know its been sold in a thousand iterations - but the download from super-hirez downloads is amazing in 192.24 flac - really clear and it's one of first times i could listen to "so what" all the way through - Amazing really - an i wasnt a big fan of Miles David until i hear it this way"

18. "Cd's that i have downloaded sound good - 88/24 or 96/24 that i downloaded from sites are better still and 192/24 are even better still"

19. "DSD upsampling breathes life into everything"

20 " Some of the DSD recordings sound just ok - some sound amazing"

21 "The DSD upsampling feature is the real star"



Ill post more in the next few days - but im lovin it so far!
« Last Edit: 27 Mar 2014, 11:18 pm by smargo »

Hear Clifford Brown

Thanks for posting, good review.  Would you list the rest of your system to give some context.  If your system is described somewhere on AudioCircle already, I couldn't find it.

Keep us posted  :D

Jeff

Brad

Good report.  Hope you added Vinnie to your family unlimited text plan   :o

smargo

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Thanks for posting, good review.  Would you list the rest of your system to give some context.  If your system is described somewhere on AudioCircle already, I couldn't find it.

Keep us posted  :D

Jeff

my system - the major stuff is



1. def tech st mythos floorstanders or cambridge aero 2's bookshelves with stands

2. Arcam avr 600 (120 watts channel) or shanling vacuum tube monos sp-80 (35 watts channel)

3. Oppo 83se blu ray player (modded) or shanling cd 2000 (tubed player)

4. Denon Dp-61 f turntable with grado sonata cartridge

5. Speaker cables and interconnects are from audio magic - morrow audio - audio art

6 paradigm super cube subwoofer

steve in jersey

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smargo...(Or as some much younger than myself would say,  "Duuude),

Glad to hear you're loving your new toy so far. I've enjoyed reading your observations so far . I got a pretty good chuckle over the one about being relieved about not having to "BS" yourself that it sounded as good
as you'd hoped it would. Anyone who moves componenents in & out of their systems over the years can relate
to that, Until you can confirm for your own satisfaction you made a good step (& not a mis step) you "sweat
it out"just a little.

I've been saying for years that Higher Rez PCM still was'nt (& is'nt) enough by itself to make the music sound
more detailed with out leaving some artifacts of the PCM processing on the music file. There has been a lot of
talk about how the DSD Remastering is'nt changing the actual file size. That may be so, but what may be happening is the restructuring of PCM files to how the files are structured in DSD is enough to not leave the
errors that the multiple bit sampling leaves behind after each sampling. Not everyone is bothered by PCM
artifacts & they are so used to how it sounds some might say that DSD has a soft treble response sometimes.
I'm pretty glad that some person(or persons) at Sony was innovative enough to  make this DSD Remastering
feature available. Was'nt "Sony has a better idea" one of their catch phrases ?

One more comment then I'll stop yapping. While some DSD recordings sound amazing & some are just ok
has more to do with how some recording teams make better recordings than other teams . Being a Classical music listener if given a number of choices of the same piece of music I will pick a release by which label made the recording . Not all recording labels place the same amount of importance in the SQ of their recordings

Vinnie R.

Hi smargo,

Thanks for posting your initial impressions here.  It sounds like your RWA-Z1ES-1 is doing its thing!  8)
We look forward to your posts after you put more burn-in time on it (and if you try tube rolling).  Glad you like the thumbscrews
for easy open/close of the top cover. 

Hi steve,

Quote
I've been saying for years that Higher Rez PCM still was'nt (& is'nt) enough by itself to make the music sound more detailed with out leaving some artifacts of the PCM processing on the music file. There has been a lot of talk about how the DSD Remastering is'nt changing the actual file size. That may be so, but what may be happening is the restructuring of PCM files to how the files are structured in DSD is enough to not leave the errors that the multiple bit sampling leaves behind after each sampling. Not everyone is bothered by PCM artifacts & they are so used to how it sounds some might say that DSD has a soft treble response sometimes. I'm pretty glad that some person(or persons) at Sony was innovative enough to  make this DSD Remastering feature available. Was'nt "Sony has a better idea" one of their catch phrases ?

I really comes down to implementation.  The d/a converters used, the analog output stage filtering, clocks, power supply, etc.

With the DSD Remastering turned ON, the PCM files are translated over to DSD, which is then fed to the DSD data inputs of the d/a chips.  Different digital filtering is used, the d/a conversion going on in the d/a chips is done in the DSD domain, and it is going to change the sound even though the file size is approx. the same.  In the case of how the Sony player is doing it, I really like it! :)   

Overall, I do not have a preference between DSD or PCM, but I will say that in THIS Sony player, with the way they implement things, native DSD files can sound extraordinarily good, and Redbood and high resolution PCM files converted with the DSD Remastering engine sound better to me about 85% of the time compared to leaving them as PCM files.  Again - for this particular player this is the way I'm hearing it.  To my ears, it's a breakthrough... especially for the $2K asking price of the stock player!

The HAP-Z1ES is one heck of a solid "foundation" to build upon modifications that really do make a substantial improvement as smargo mentioned above.  I also have a burned-in, stock Z1ES that I sometimes switch over to in order to evaluate the mods, and it is hard to go back.  Not because the stock player doesn't sound good - it does.  But because with the modifications it jumping into real high end territory and I get even more enjoyment from Redbook, High Res PCM, and DSD.  A LOT more!  :singing:

Quote
One more comment then I'll stop yapping. While some DSD recordings sound amazing & some are just ok
has more to do with how some recording teams make better recordings than other teams . Being a Classical music listener if given a number of choices of the same piece of music I will pick a release by which label made the recording . Not all recording labels place the same amount of importance in the SQ of their recordings

This is very true in my experience!

Thanks for your posts,

Vinnie

smargo

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Hi smargo,

Thanks for posting your initial impressions here.  It sounds like your RWA-Z1ES-1 is doing its thing!  8)
We look forward to your posts after you put more burn-in time on it (and if you try tube rolling).  Glad you like the thumbscrews
for easy open/close of the top cover.

So its monday - and i have had the level 1 modded unit since last monday afternoon - i did change tubes - i substituted  two Genalex 12au7's (ECC82) - (the mini toggle switch must set to the right) for the stock 6922 tubes - this is not listed in the recommended tubes - but after talking to vinnie - he thought that they would be fine

and they are fine (really good) - they give off less heat (they barely glow at all) so as a result the top of the sony (where the tubes emanate from below) doesnt get warm at all

The unit continues to sound really good and music in general in all formats - is very listenable

I only download music that is recorded in good quality - so to me everything sounds very good

The modded unit (with tubes) lets me engage more in the music - that to me is what listening is all about

I have spent lots more on equipment and mods and realistically the level 1 mod that vinnie has done in my book is really satisfying

I think the amount of caring about the person - involvement and passion and talking like a person knows what he/she is doing and the fast response time to questions

make working with vinnie well worth diving in to his enhancements (im glad i did) - Its so nice to work with a person who is so excited about what he does and only ultimately cares that the unit sounds much better than it did before

Ill continue to update as time goes on - right now im basking in feeling good about the level 1 mods and more importantly the sound quality that it is providing

smargo

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casualy listening to the "Shelby Lynne" Just a Little Lovin in dsd 2.8 mhz

Had to walk out from my office and "formally" listen - im gettin chills - so melancholic - so rich and direct

just giving an update in real time

Vinnie R.

casualy listening to the "Shelby Lynne" Just a Little Lovin in dsd 2.8 mhz

Had to walk out from my office and "formally" listen - im gettin chills - so melancholic - so rich and direct

just giving an update in real time

I have to agree 100%.  The Shelby Lynne DSD 2.8 on the modded Sony is mesmerizing!  :drool:

I look forward to seeing her live next month here in MA!

smargo

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one of the nice things about this modded player is that most music sounds nice - its like walking into a room where the temperature is perfect - so you dont notice if its too hot or too cold

the addition of the tubes (im using 12au7) is very seemless - no fuss - no worries - not too hot - makes the unit sound delicious - no microphonics - no hissing

im leaving the remastering on all the time - Im listening to songs from beginning to end!

OzarkTom

For those that are wanting to roll some of the NOS tubes from yesteryear, check out Joe's Tube Lore. I went through a lot of tubes myself, I wish I had seen this site before I spent all of that money. Joe was very much dead on.

http://www.audioasylum.com/scripts/d.pl?audio/faq/joes-tubes.html

smargo

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For those that are wanting to roll some of the NOS tubes from yesteryear, check out Joe's Tube Lore. I went through a lot of tubes myself, I wish I had seen this site before I spent all of that money. Joe was very much dead on.

http://www.audioasylum.com/scripts/d.pl?audio/faq/joes-tubes.html

ok - i read it - so his posts were in 1999 - that was 15 years ago - im not saying he doesnt make valid comparisons and points

but i dont care so much - becuase the tubes im using sound really good - if there are better tubes - ill discover them - but in no hurry - im content

OzarkTom

ok - i read it - so his posts were in 1999 - that was 15 years ago - im not saying he doesnt make valid comparisons and points

but i dont care so much - becuase the tubes im using sound really good - if there are better tubes - ill discover them - but in no hurry - im content
 

And I tried all 0f my tube rolling a little over two years ago and found the same results. My first tube in my amp from the factory was the JJ. Everything I tried was better than the JJ, not that the JJ sounded bad.

I just thought that I would share my findings, but I know everyone here is not into tube rolling.

paul79

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Lore is decently written and a good interpretation of the tubes in his gear. It is in no way "the rule" though. There are allot of better tubes IMO, out there that he did not try or talk about.
« Last Edit: 7 Apr 2014, 01:45 am by paul79 »

OzarkTom

Lore is decently written and a good interpretation of the tubes in his gear. It is in no way "the rule" though. There are allot of better tubes out there that he did not try or talk about.

I'm all ears. :D

Like I said, Lore just listened to the older tubes from the 50's-70's, none in more recent years.

paul79

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Well, it is tough recommending tubes because everybody has different gear. They don't all work the same in all gear. You may have found that the Lore recommendations worked for you, and that is great, but I can only recommend what works in my gear, for my tastes.

I say this because I have tried everything out there in my gear that will work in the different positions for my gear. I have found what works best for my tastes and gear, and I don't use anything Tube Lore mentions.

Tube rolling is expensive and fun, but there is no single signal tube that beats all others in any piece of gear. Too many variables. I recommend buying several tubes and find what works for you, and resell the rest.

All that said, in my gear, I like:

Mullard 10M 12AX7
CBS 7318
Mullard GZ34 (any original)
Sovtec 6H30
Mullard 12AT7
Penta Labs KT88

The only new tubes on this list are the Penta's and the Sovtec :)

OzarkTom

I tied several Mullards, and those were way too dark for my system. Soundstage was constricted also. The GE 5751 black getter tubes had the biggest soundstage and the most detail without sounding edgy. I tried several  7318 tubes including a Telefinken, and those were very nice but not as nice as any of the 5751 tubes I tried.  In my system then, the 5751 tubes ruled.

paul79

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No such thing as a Tele 7318, or any other brand besides CBS... The CBS 7318 is a 12AU7 variant, and you will likely never see them. The 10M Mullard are way different than a typical Mullard 12AX7, and they beat out every 5751 in my gear. The GE 5751 is my favorite 5751, but the Sylvania is way too forward in my system and completely unpleasant.

OzarkTom

No such thing as a Tele 7318, or any other brand besides CBS... The CBS 7318 is a 12AU7 variant, and you will likely never see them. The 10M Mullard are way different than a typical Mullard 12AX7, and they beat out every 5751 in my gear. The GE 5751 is my favorite 5751, but the Sylvania is way too forward in my system and completely unpleasant.

I found my tele, it was a 7308.  :duh:

Vinnie R.

You guys probably already know about it, but there is a tube rolling thread here on the RWA forum that you might find
interesting, as it applies to tubes used in RWA products (RWA tube stage designs):

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=91642.0

Cheers!

Vinnie