I know I should qualify that more but that really is the bottom line here. Sony’s engineers did a truly bang up job on this music player, the Sony HAP-Z1ES sounds refined and musical, particularly when playing back DSD files. In short, it is da bomb!
The Sony HAP-Z1ES is your typical high-end Japanese audio product, extremely well made, using multiple power supplies and a hefty chassis to house it all. To really appreciate it pick it up, it is solid and weighty, and of course for any top end product, fully balanced providing not only single ended RCA outputs, but also fully balanced XLR outputs as well.
The real delicious stuff here however is in the Sony HAP-Z1ES’s ability to provide spectacularly good music playback and a lot of that has to do with the exceptional DAC that Sony have endowed it with. (Note: There is NO digital out to feed your existing DAC, nor do you need it!) The DAC is capable of up sampling everything to DSD, and trust me, you want to use that feature as it is with DSD playback that this machine shines the best.
Native DSD files when compared to the exact PCM master, are simply richer and presented with a greater sound stage than the PCM file. Dare I say it, there is an almost more ‘analogue’ sound to the DSD playback. Depending on your point of view, you could say the PCM files are more detailed, or you could say they are brighter, but what ever you say, there is most definitely a softer top end on the DSD playback that is so engaging.
When you up sample your PCM files they sound better, not as good as native DSD, but most certainly better. I care not to understand what it is the Sony engineer’s have done to make this so, but I sure do appreciate their efforts as it is a beautiful sounding player by any measure. You have to wonder how much better could any more expensive player be given how good this player is, but I would say next to nothing in it surely? An audiophile bargain? I think yes!
Sony HAP-Z1ES Specifications:
- Frequency Response: 2Hz – 80kHz
- Dynamic Range: 105db
- THD: Less than 0.0015%
- Weight: 14.5kg
- Dimensions: 430 × 130 × 390 mm
Why you want the Sony HAP-Z1ES:
If you are after a truly spectacular music player, look no further than the Sony HAP-Z1ES. Simply buy it, rip the 1TB drive out and replace it with a 2TB drive, and load it up, thank me later. Very highly recommended. For those on a tighter budget, consider the Sony HAP-S1 either stand alone as a complete system, or feed it into your existing setup.