New Sony HAP-Z1ES Firmware Out Today


I installed the newest firmware today and was pleasantly surprised that the player now supports an external DAC via the USB connection. It now does DSD over USB2 and there is a provision to turn it on/off. I played a couple of different artists and the player seems to work perfectly with the iPad remote.  Here is the skinny, direct from Sony:


This firmware upgrade (version 18033R) provides the following improvements over version 17384R:

  • Adds support for the Media Server function
  • Adds support for the USB digital output function (USB hub support for connecting each of one HDD drive, one CD drive, and one USB DAC)
  • Adds support for Seek operations
  • Adds support for the Fade In/Out function
  • Adds the Go to genre/artist/album/folder function to the Options menu
  • Adds the following operations:
    • Queuing the track next to the one currently playing, and queuing the track last
    • Deleting the track from the play queue
    • Creating a playlist with the play queue
    • Deleting the playlist
    • Deleting the track from the playlist
    • Deleting the information of a disconnected external hard disk drive

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Thanks very much for this report.  Do you find it convenient to use the CD drive to load disks into memory (without using a computer as a first step)?  Also: any idea whether this unit will be physically updated in the near future, or will firmware updates by the main thing?


I'm not sure what you mean, there is no cd drive, everything is done via the network.  As far as your second question you never know what Sony has in mind. 

@stereo5 , Have you tried an external DAC?   Does iPad App works the same except playing via external DAC if attached?




I have not tried an external dac.  The iPad app works as it always did, no different.
Thanks for the heads up, Stereo5...my Hap is updating as I write this.

goheelz...

I use both my home wifi network and an external Apple USB CD drive to install my music files onto the HAP.  At first I transferred my entire iTunes library onto the HAP using a LAN connection,  but since my desktop is upstairs and my stereo system is downstairs,  that wouldn't continue to serve me well,   I believe the Apple cost around $80.00 which was a simple and inexpensive method of performing that task.  (I am 100% Apple at home.)  I am almost certain there has to be a similar CD drive out there for pc users.  You simply connect the CD drive via usb to the HAP,  slip the disc in,  and the HAP directs you from there,  easy-peasey.  I have a couple of older model CD players that do not have USB connections,  so this was cost effective with regard to the HAP becoming my sole source of playback for my entire music library.  Yes,  I still have  a sizable vinyl collection as well - but that subject belongs in another forum.

On another but related point regarding this excellent piece,  but by no means exclusive to it,  there are some discs and/or files that the player cannot recognize.  I just purchased Jack White's latest CD,  his acoustic stuff,  and the HAP could not format a couple of the tracks onto it's HD.  Odd,  methinks,  this CD was just released,  brand new,  no?

This is not the first time I've encountered this issue with a music server.  My path to the Sony incurred a few trials and discards along the route,  including the highly regarded BlueSound Vault2,  an Olive One,  and the first one which I forget because,  well,  it was horrible!  I'm a two-channel purist wanting simple playback equipment - this server stuff is an uphill climb fraught with computeresque issues and learning curves.  Fortunately the HAP,  for me,  does away with most of that.

Anyway,  to correct this malady I use an Apple-friendly software program called "Final Music Converter",  available via the App store,  or I'm sure that a similar such program is available for PC users elsewhere as well.  (I should mention that I also copy my disc purchases into iTunes as well.)  When I see that some tracks/files are not copied,   I simply write the names down,  delve into the library on my desktop's HD,  convert them to FLAC using the aforementioned program,  and tuck them into the correlating artist/album folder on the HAP via wifi.  Voila!  Works almost every time.  

Frankly speaking,  there is little need for me to convert the Apple m4a files to FLAC since the HAP has an excellent DAC to begin with,  but it appears that changing the file format allows the HAP,   as well as the other aforementioned players to accept them.

To finish up,  I have a pretty decent,  dedicated two-channel system in my home,  setup in my living room,  far removed from my television set.  That's right,  my "tv set" - I have one,  in the den,  as removed from my stereo as is physically possible in my home.  I do not have a home theatre setup,  nor surround sound.  I find either one of those to be poor examples of "good sound".  But that's just MHO.

The Sony is well worth the $2K msrp, especially when compared to many of the $2K and beyond that figure players out there.  This is the first piece of Sony manufacture that I have purchased for my stereo playback.  I think I may have had a tv set in the past,  but prior to this purchase Sony was well down on the list of equipment I've considered during the last few years.  It's an excellent source.

Sorry for the length of this but...!
@oblgny That's exactly the information I've been after with respect to the Sony HAP unit.  We seem to share the principle of keeping computers the heck out of one's listening room, at least to the extent possible these days. What you describe --- Apple USB CD drive for loading disks (mine and those of music-listening visitors) at leisure into the HAP --- is what I'd had in mind, and you've confirmed that this works fine.  The new firmware, which according to the excellent post by @stereo5 now allows the addition of outboard DACs, is another great development.  Guess I'll need to just go ahead and buy the HAP and see how long I can resist getting it hot-rodded by Dan Wright.

Initially I also transferred my entire iTunes library onto the HAP using a LAN connection.   With new music either downloaded or ripped, the HAP software running on the PC automatically pushes it to the player.   So only time I need a PC is with new music.

I don't want a computer in my system and more companies are offering network bridges so there are options.  

I have a MW HAP and with tweaks and tube rolling, it's competitive with anything under $10K.
Thanks! for sharing-
I should also point out that rescanning the HAP's hard drive takes HOURS...
I plugged in my Meridian Explorer DAC and works fine. Only issue I am seeing is with MQA files. The DAC is not showing a blue light which makes me suspect at this point the HAP is not passing the MQA protocol, which seems strange. Is there a new ipad app that usually goes along with a firmware upgrade. I did find the new playback settings on the HAP menu. 

I thought there would be a new iPad app but there isn’t one yet. I am having a problem with one of my Hap-z1es players. Each one has it’s own iPad for the remote app. The one in my office which hosts the router doesn’t always connect with the app on my iPad Mini. It takes a few tries to get connected where before upgrading the firmware, I never had a problem.

Suprisingly enough, the Sony player in my main system which is on a different floor and much further away from the router has no such problems. The iPad pro connects perfectly everytime with the Sony app. I hope they release a new app upgrade soon.

My local dealer friend received his Lampizator Atlantic yesterday and wants me to break it in for him.   I'm going to use my MW Sony HAP USB to drive it and compare against the ModWright analog output stage. This will be fun.
I find the wireless connectivity occasionally flakey and tend the leave  the HAP switched on all the time. Sometimes, even in the same room, my Ipad can't find the device. Switching to a wired ethernet connection seems to be a bit more stable.
knghifi,  Please keep us informed about how the atlantic does compared to the MW analog output.  I had been thinking about trying one of the Lampizator DACs.  Now I can wait for you to run the experiment. 
I am pretty new to this game so I would appreciate if someone can tell me how to connect the cables if I choose to have a DAC with my HAP-Z1ES. 
Do I connect the Dac to the SONY via the USB on the Sony and then RCA from the DAC to my Integrated amp?
Apologies for this newbie question but I have only about a year's experience with audio. Would also appreciate a recommendation on a decent DAC  that has a USB connection.
Regards.

" Do I connect the Dac to the SONY via the USB on the Sony and then RCA from the DAC to my Integrated amp? "


Exactly.
Hi milesian, thanks very much :)
My dealer friend dropped off the Lampizator Atlantic today and it worked flawlessly with my MW Sony HAP-Z1ES USB output. A JCAT USB Isolator was inserted in the chain to improve quality of USB signal.    MW Sony HAP-Z1ES needs 2 power cables, 1 digital and 1 analog and only need to turn on the digital side with external DAC.

The Atlantic is single ended, have both clock options and tube rectifier.

Fresh out of the box, Atlantic sounds excellent. Very musical, lots of detail, transparency, depth ... only complain is limited bass but should improve with more break-in.

Looks like Lamp is a REAL company now. Build quality is excellent and dead quiet.

I plan to keep it for 2 weeks helping with break-in.
knghifi, this should be interesting as you get some time on the Atlantic. 
New firmware update a day or so ago...
@brownsfan Lampizator Atlantic update. I had it for 2 weeks. spent 1st week breaking in playing 24/7.

I only use my MW Sony HAP-Z1ES USB output with a JCAT USB Isolator inserted in the chain to improve quality of USB signal.

SQ is excellent. Airy, big sound stage, dynamic, 3D, deep bass, DHT tubes are surprisingly linear and neutral.   Not a soft sound.

Compare to MW Sony HAP-Z1ES, it has more tube magic.

I prefer a transparent, linear and neutral sound so rolling 60's Siemen e88cc signal tubes and Telefunken NOS GZ32 rectifier in my MW Sony.

In my all tube system (ARC Ref250SE and VAC SigMKIIa SE), I prefer the more neutral and maybe a TOUCH more transparent (transformer coupling) MW Sony HAP-Z1ES but can perfectly understand if someone prefers the Atlantic.  

It's possible if I replace ARC with my summer Hegel H30 amp, I would prefer the Atlantic.   One is not better ... but just different.
Knghifi, Thanks for you update.  I guess I am not surprised, because the MW Sony is a very good piece.  I run Telefunken e88C's and a canadian Westinghouse VU-71 rectifier in mine, and it is as you describe transparent and neutral.  Much more so than the older MW designs with 6SN7 output tubes.  Based on your assessment, it does not sound as if the Atlantic would be a wise move for me.  Your description does make me wonder how the Atlantic would pair with a stock sony.
brownsfan, I have 60's Telefunken e88cc and is excellent.    I'll investigate canadian Westinghouse VU-71 ...

I've had MW 6SN7s and agree MW Sony with Lundahl transformer coupling and 6922/e88cc are more transparent and neutral.  I wasn't planning buying another MW except Sony is a completely different design so was curious.

Your description does make me wonder how the Atlantic would pair with a stock sony.

Sony digital out is stock and doesn't need MW tube analog mod so shouldn't matter.   As matter of fact, PS 9.0 is off when I use digital out.
The VU-71 is very hard to find.  There weren't many made and they aren't well known.  Too bad.  This is a great 5U4 tube. I like it much better than any other rectifier I have tried in the PS 9.0.
Any body else who has good experience connecting HAP-Z1ES via usb digital to DAC? Does it worth to get Dac or the HAP-Z1ES' so called remastering engine is already good enough?
I tried it with my Wyred4Sound DAC-2 with DSD and Femto Clock.  The dac cost me 1725.00.  The Sony bettered it in a way that the music really flows and  sounds more organic.  The Wyred dac uses the ESS 9018 dac chip.  Needless to say I sold the Wyred dac and bought a second HAPZ1ES player for my other system. 
I also enjoyed my HAP Z1ES, it is better than my "a bit old" sony XA9000ES SACD/CD player which was rated A+ by Stereophile few years ago.

Stereo5, may I know what interconnect cable are you using to connect your HAPZ1ES to your preamp/integrated amp?

i am using old audience 24es rca and I think it can be upgraded.
I use all Groneberg Quattro Reference interconnects and speaker cables.  My amp is internally wired with it.  The interconnects go for around 325.00 for a 1 meter pair with the WBT locking rca plugs.
Thanks to everyone for the various helpful info on this thread.  Found a Sony at ta good price, and I've now installed the HAP-Z1ES in my system and ripped a few hundred CDs to the internal hard drive.  Took a little while, but now it's done, and the table app makes navigation very easy.  Sound quality is pretty decent at this point, and the convenience is awesome compared to spinning single CDs.  Spotify Premium is integrated very nicely with the tablet app, thanks to the recent firmware update.  Is Tidal on the horizon?  Who knows, because how in the world does one get actual product information for this unit out of Sony?  Until it gets released as firmware, that is.

But I'm already thinking of upgrades.  Has anyone else tried an outboard DAC via USB to bypass the Sony DAC?  What are your results?  And is doing so better than starting with, say a 2K ModWright hot-rodding of the Sony?  
I just connected my Sony to an Auralic Vega.  I can't really hear much difference initially.  Need to do some more listening by switching back and forth.
Hello, All . . .

I’ve had my HAP Z1-ES about two years now. The internal drive is full, but before it became that way I connected an external 1TB solid state drive to the HAP via the USB port. It is my belief the sound quality of my HAP has improved with time, in every critical facet. With a good recording and a warmed-up system, there is a very nice concert in my house every evening.

Having said all this, I’ve experienced some weird issues with the HAP and wonder if any of you have experienced the same or related issues, and have insights or suggestions.

1. Sometimes I turn on the HAP and it appears to boot-up normally, but when I attempt to select an album or artist or track or even go to Spotify or internet radio, the HAP freezes and will not play. I end up having to turn it off and on several times, and then it will finally operate normally if I select Tracks mode and play a portion of the first track, then select what I want the HAP to really play. I suspect this problem is related to the internal drive being 99.5% full (there are 1.5 gigabytes of space left, but that’s all).  Contra, the external drive has barely been tapped.

2. Today I selected tracks or albums in the HAP that have always played perfectly and sounded wonderful in the past, but instead of music I received a horrible loud obnoxious scratching ripping white noise sound. (This was unpleasant in the way ten thousand fingernails scratching at ten thousand chalkboards--at close range--is unpleasant.) I am almost positive the HAP was not transferring (uploading) music from the computer on my network when these wretched noises occurred--if it was, it was doing so automatically. I deleted the tracks or albums which made the horrid noises, then reloaded the tracks and albums and let the HAP choose which drive to place the albums in. I also made sure the HAP was not uploading music from my network computer. I then rebooted the HAP and waited a little while, then attempted to play the tracks/albums again. This time the music played properly and sounded fine.

3. I am wondering if there is a mechanical/electrical genius audiophile person out there (who reads this) who might have devised a way, or knows of a way (one that does not cost many thousands of dollars), to not only connect a DAC to the HAP via the USB port, but also, simultaneously, access an external drive which some of us already have connected to our HAP(s) via the USB port. Is there a hub device which can be connected to the USB port, and then multiple devices (a DAC, an external drive, etc.) connected to the hub, so that multiple devices can operate from the USB port at the same time?  I love the idea of having an external DAC, but not if I cannot access an external drive accessed by the HAP.

Thank you.

TWD

N.B.--I am deeply interested in comments from HAP owners who have connected external DACs to their HAPs and conducted critical A v. B listening experiments as to whether significant improvements in sound can be obtained from an external DAC, and if so, which DAC or DACs do the magic.


I bought the same unit on 12/16/2013, almost immediately after the first release. I loaded on the entire 1 TB with music. I did not use the unit for long time until the firmware upgrad so that I can use external DAC. 

For your question #1: I had the exactly same issue. I have tried few power red USB hub with no success. Finally, I tried passive, no wire USB hub $2.99). It worked since then. 

For your question #2: I am having the exactly same problem after the 2/28/2017 firmware update, prior to that, everything was prefect. After the update, I can not output PCM from USB output, no matter what I do. It will always output DSD with 512 with no sound, but noise. I have tried few DACs without success, one of my DACs shows 512, no sound but noise. All DACs failed play. 

Analog (RCA) output plays fine. However, my DACs are lot better than Sony's DAC. 

I'm having the same problem (USB Digital Output not working / Analog Output works fine) due to the 2/28/2017 Firmware Update. I opened a Trouble Ticket with Sony - Japan, I'll follow-up with them next week and post the results.  
Sony helped me rollback my firmware to the previous version, until the new firmware is revised. My HAP-Z1ES is back online and once again working like a dream.
Do you need to send your player to Sony in order to rollback to the previous version? If you don't, how do we rollback to the previous version? thanks 

Downloaded and updated to the new software today. Not using a USB DAC, just balanced out to a headphone amp (Woo WA22) and using the headphone in balanced mode.

I would swear the HAPZ1ES sounds smoother, more detailed, and a tad warmer than before, and less dry or clinical. Not having a chance to A/B. I did listen to a few cuts, then updated, then listened those cuts again. Much prefer the new version.

If they don't end up supporting Tidal, hopefully Spotify will launch and Sony HAP will support Hi Rez. I'd really like to simply down to one device for all digital music needs.
@davehg Interesting to hear about the perceived improvement after the latest firmware.  I recently updated firmware as well, although I did not A/B the sound quality, presuming there would be only functionality updates, not sound updates.  I will say that the HAP-Z1ES seems to improve over time (burn in), although that may be psychological, right?

Anyone know for sure whether Sony's going to keep this model up to date?  Like most users, I'm eager to try higher-res streaming (preferring Spotify) if and when it becomes available.
All,

A white horizontal line appeared in the display of my HAP-Z1ES about two months ago.  I do not know if the line is relevant to, or connected with, the cessation of function of my HAP when the internal drive becomes full or nearly full (see my previous post, above).

After perusing Sony's online information regarding the HAP, I contacted Sony via its support phone number (1 (877) 643-1216. To my surprise, a person answered the phone when I called; the person understood what I was talking about; the person did not ask me endless irrelevant questions; and the person genuinely attempted to answer my questions. Sony is sending me a repair ticket and will repair my HAP at no cost. The gentleman who answered the phone said the repair would take 5-7 business days.

Has anyone here been experimenting with externals DACs connected to the HAP-Z1ES USB port?  Is the signal that comes from the HAP USB port to the external DAC a PCM signal or a DSD signal?  Can we choose, or designate, the type of signal sent from the USB port to the external DAC?  Can we configure the HAP-Z1ES to send a PCM signal through its USB port?

One reason I ask is that The Absolute Sound, in its May/June 2017 issue (which has just come out, at least online), has an article by Robert Harley regarding the "Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC".  Harley states this DAC, which will accept a PCM signal but not DSD, is one of the three greatest DACs, at any price, he's ever heard (the other DACs cost $19,500 and $35,000, respectively).  He raved about it.  Given the reasonable price ($2300) of the Schiit DAC, it would be very nice and very handy if the HAP-Z1ES could be configured to emit a PCM signal from its USB port so the Schiit could accept the signal and do its magic to it.

TWD

I have an Auralic Vega DAC connected to my Sony HAP Z1's USB port and there is a definite improvement in the sound. I’m outputting 44.1kb, flac, DSD 64 and DSD 128. Wonderful!