Would love to hear a run-off between the DirectStream DAC and the Sony Sony HAP-Z1ES!


#1

Has anyone noticed Sony’s recent debut of a similar product: the HAP-Z1ES? While not quite the same thing, it’s definitely of a similar order and offers a whole other solution to dealing with sources. Would love to hear opinions from Ted as to pluses and minuses, compared to the DirectStream – that is, if he is familiar with the Sony.


#2
Has anyone noticed Sony's recent debut of a similar product: the HAP-Z1ES? While not quite the same thing, it's definitely of a similar order and offers a whole other solution to dealing with sources. Would love to hear opinions from Ted as to pluses and minuses, compared to the DirectStream -- that is, if he is familiar with the Sony.

Probably no contest.
I would be surprised if this was the new benchmark.
Anyway, nice player.


#3

I heard one at dealers couple months ago, did not get any favorable impressions, only analog out.


#4

I am reading mostly kudos over the Sony. Similar to the DirectStream, it up-samples in DSD and uses FPGA. And Sony apparently devoted a lot of attention to linear power supplies and to serious isolation between the sections. Furthermore, several modifiers are talking about their own output stage for the device, which comes from the factory with OPA2132UA’s. Anyway, I still wish someone would compare it with the DirectStream at some point.


#5

$3000 difference, yeah…I’d like to hear a side by side.


#6

Actually, a $4000 difference, if you don’t already own a PWD.


#7

From Amazon customer reviews: "The DSD playback is very good as expected, but the playback of lower resolution files surpasses the sound quality of my much more expensive digital separates. The Sony is highly recommended for those with extensive CD and lower resolution files"



Does this sound familiar? I have to admit I was considering buying this DAC before PSA released the DS. Now waiting for my upgrade kit! :smiley:


#8

It does not support remote server using upnp/dlna. that’s a big drawback. i hate players with internal hdd


#9

I have both products in my audio system. I like the Sony a lot but for critical listening it’s the PS Audio DirectStream DAC. This is not unexpected when you look at the price difference. The Sony has great software and a very good interface. I wish they had given me a digital out so I could hook it up to the DirectStream…but, that’s Sony. I would just say they are very different products and the Sony uses conventional DAC’s to obtain double DSD output unlike the DirectStream FGPA. The Sony is a one item solution with a PC. If I had to give grades for the products, the PS Audio would get an A- and the Sony a B+. On some DSD material I can’t tell the difference, both are very good. On Redbook 16 bit the DirectStream does a better job extracting every bit of data. Despite the Hi Fi News Reviewer stating that this was PS Audio marketing hype I can hear the difference on many (not all) rebook cd’s. Both are great products IMHO. I do see that ModWright is adding tubes to the output stages of the Sony for $2500 which puts it in the same price ballpark as the DirectStream. Now that would be an interesting test. Im very happy with both items.


#10

The following link is a review of the Sony Hapz1 done by the TAS reviewer of the DS,

http://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/755-sony-hap-z1es-digital-music-player

The reviewer is also on this PS Audio forum.

I was trying to decide between the Sony and DS this weekend and this review was certainly helpful in the decision making process. 3 reviews of the DS in 1 weekend made for an interesting reading. I have heard the Sony but not the DS, I am going to go with the reviews and get the DS.


#11

I expect the Sony to be very good indeed. When they market a flagship product it always punches well above its weight.


#12
Frode said
Has anyone noticed Sony's recent debut of a similar product: the HAP-Z1ES? While not quite the same thing, it's definitely of a similar order and offers a whole other solution to dealing with sources. Would love to hear opinions from Ted as to pluses and minuses, compared to the DirectStream -- that is, if he is familiar with the Sony.

Probably no contest.
I would be surprised if this was the new benchmark.
Anyway, nice player.


There is no contest. The PSA DS eclipses the HAP-Z1es to the point that there really is no contest. Beyond that, the PSA DS is much more versatile.

I am still trying to remember why I bought the Sony in the first place.


#13
Shilohdog said

I am still trying to remember why I bought the Sony in the first place.


^^^^^This. I remember looking at the Sony when it came out, because at first blush, it suggested Sony might be serious. But lack of flexibility, absence of inputs and outputs, the internal HDD [I hate those, too], not truly a network player, etc., all those things made it a non-starter. This other TAS review quote said it all to me:
As the flagship model for its “High Resolution Audio Initiative,” the new Sony HAP-Z1ES defines what Sony sees as the future of two-channel audio. It attempts to be easy for a naïve user to operate, yet capable of the highest audio quality. And while it’s relatively simple to make an audio product that is easy to use, very few ergonomically elegant mass-market audio devices also produce state-of-the-art sonics. Conversely, there are quite a few state-of-the-art computer audio rigs that sound superb, but require at least a bachelor’s degree in electronics with a minor in computer sciences to set up and use. Bridging the gap between these two extremes is exactly what the Sony HAP-Z1ES is all about.
By trying to bridge the gap, the HAP-Z1ES merely became the gap. Too limiting. A "flagship" model should be more capable, even for the binary-challenged.

#14

Just as a point of information the Sony has had several firmware upgrades that significantly add to its functionality. It now supports connection of a CDROM drive to allow direct rips from CD, its USB connection can now output to an external USB DAC, and it supports a USB hub so that you can have an external USB harddrive, CDROM, and an external DAC simultaneously connected. It is a great performer and value at its price, but it is designed as a simple all in one digital front end. It is not intended to compete with a product like the DS DAC which is a stand along DAC at three times the price. Different products for different target customers as I see it.


#15

Good info. Thanks. Certainly less closed than it once was. Yes, different target markets.


#16

Exactly. The Sony is a superb product in its market niche.

For three times the price and with only the ability to convert a data stream into a line level signal the DSD should sound a lot better.


#17

Has anyone tried using the Sony HAP-Z1ES with any of the PS Audio Directstream DAC products? At one time, the Sony did not permit external DACS, but fairly recent firmware updates to the Sony allow a USB DAC to be added. The Sony has a 1 TB internal drive storage, and USB additional storage may be added. The internal DAC is pretty good, but I’m guessing that the latest Directstreams will be way better. . . Right?

I’ve been using the Sony HAP-Z1ES for some time, and I really like the app/interface via tablet device. It’s hard to see going back to physical media (CDs) after using this tablet interface, much as I know many here are enjoying the Memory Player variants for silver discs.

Thanks for your insights on this topic.


#18

I owned a HAP-Z1ES but sold it with the advent of Roon, for which I bought a DSJr. I was impressed with the Sony as a one-box solution that replaced physical CDs. For me, however, the Roon/DSJr approach sounded better, and was ultimately easier to use. The Tidal integration and multi-room capabilities (of Roon) sealed the deal. Having said that I would gladly recommend the HAP if it fits the “use case.” From these posts it sounds like the HAP has evolved to being more user-friendly. Roon is deceptively inexpensive - the tool itself is a screaming bargain but it creates the need/desire for many upgrades across the board - from a new iPad, to a DSJr (in my case) to a MicroRendu (to link up a different system), etc., etc., etc.