ALTHOUGH Sony Electronics was at the forefront of the digital audio game back in the 1980s and 1990s, the Japanese electronics giant seems to have fallen off the high-fidelity grid over the past decade. Well, here’s a reminder that it can still be a contender – coming soon from Sony are the HAP-Z1ES high-resolution audio player, HAPS1/B high-resolution audio player system and UDA-1/B high-resolution USB DAC.
The flagship HAP-Z1, which bears Sony’s high-end “ES” designation and has a 1TB hard disk on board, supports a wide range of high-resolution file formats, including and importantly, DSD. Sony includes the following compatibility – DSD (DSF,DSDIFF), PCM (44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192kHz-16-/24-/32-bit), DSD (2.8/5.6MHz), WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, ATRAC, MP3, AAC and WMA.
The HAP-Z1 has a DSD re-mastering engine which combines a high-performance DSP and FPGA (field programmable gate array) to convert all signals to 128 FS DSD signals. The design stems from Sony’s experience gained from its earlier direct 8x oversampling and Extended SBM (Super Bit Mapping) technology for professional recorders. The player also has Wi-Fi for app control (iOS and Android) and music file transfer, while the four-inch GUI allows easy navigation.
Storage can from expanded via USB, using external drives, and the music transfer software will sync with all Windows and Mac computers.
The Sony literature adds that, for analogue and digital circuits, “big and powerful transformers are used individually”, and both circuit are separated. This reduces the adverse effect from digital noise.
The HAP-Z1 also uses analogue FIR (Finite Impulse Filters) in the DAC section, which “effectively reduces high-frequency noise in DSD signals. It features independent right and left channels, with four analogue FIR (Finite Impulse Response) filters per channel producing a combined one-clock delay.”
The heavy-duty chassis, composed of a frame and beams, is standard fare for Sony’s ES Series, offering high-precision mounting of parts and high rigidity. The player’s base has two plates of differing thickness for supporting the chassis, while two more base plates under the transformers ensure robust reinforcement.
A set each of balanced and single-ended analogue outputs are provided, along with Ethernet and USB ports.
The HAPS1/B player, which has a 500GB hard drive, comes with an onboard amp. It sports similar player features and format compatibility, inclusive of DSD, and is obviously targeted at those who want fewer components in their music system. Understandably, the lack of the “ES” designation means the physical reinforcements are absent.
The AB-class analogue amp here, which outputs 40 watts per channel, features an “EBT (emitter balance transistor) with a cutoff frequency of over 300MHz for the final transistor.” The twin mono format with separate left and right channels eliminates cross-channel interference.
Two analogue line inputs are provided apart from the digital ones.
Lastly, the UDA-1/B USB DAC, which also supports DSD and a wide range of high-resolution files and is compatible with music players like iTunes and Windows Media Player. The digital specs are similar to its siblings, as is the analogue amp – in fact, it appears to be the HAPS1/B minus the player.
Sony has yet to announce shipping dates, so check with your dealer.