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

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.


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.