Sony HAP-Z1ES or NAD M51?

I have squeezebox touch feeding a benchmark DAC1 to Nait-5i to Harbeth C7.

Have the upgrade fever and looking to upgrade DAC.

Hearing good things about the Sony device. Any recommendations between the Sony and NAD purely from a sound quality perspective?

I compared the Benchmark to the NAD M51 and bought the M51. Don't know about the Sony although its ability to stream and store music seem very cool--a one box solution. The M51 can, however, allow you to input digital information from a transport like an Oppo or other DVD/CD player and the Sony can't. The Sony can play DSD, the NAD can't. DSD is a pretty limited format in downloadable form, however. I would suspect the NAD on a purely sound quality basis might edge the Sony, but we're talking about the kind of sound you like. I find the NAD to very organic. Does the Squeezebox allow you to output high resolution (24/192) files and will it allow you to stream?
Yes, the Squeezebox Touch is a wireless streamer and can support 24/192 with some tweaks.

Yes, I like the connectivity of the NAD M51.

However, just looking for folks who have heard the Sony HAP-Z1ES and how its sound quality compares to other high-end DACs like NAD M51.
Go to slimdevice forum and download the third part app that enables 24/192 and add other goodies onto the Touch. Then replace the 5V DC wall wart with a linear power supply, best lab grade, add a proper after market power cord / socket and it gets as good as the M51.
One feature I enjoy with the M51 is the hdmi inputs. I use it to listen to the stereo tracks of blue rays discs and sacds. I hooked a 100 dollar monitor to it and find it easy to navigate menus. I also use it as a HD music streamer by using USB sticks to store 24 bit music. I've really enjoyed this item.
I have a M51 and love sounding source component I've ever owned. Incredible with well recorded material in 24/96, not talking HD Tracks but native 24/96k recordings.

It serves as the hub for my digital sources, CD,BluRay, Cable, Netflix, Pandora and sounds excellent with any source. The volume control is the best I've ever used although NAD's omission of front panel volume prevents me from recommending it as a's the only thing keeping it from being "perfect".

This DAC had me pulling out all of my CDs and listen to them like they were new again...the first couple of weeks I was up until 1 and 2 am listening to stuff I discovered all over again because it never sounded this good.

Once you have a DAC with HDMI there's no turning back, movies sound incredible in 2.1 with this DAC... This DAC is as good as people say and I thought it was money well spent although it was hard parting with $2k I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it and have no plans to upgrade for a while.
Thanks for the responses! So far 2 votes for the M51 :-)

JazzontheH: Where did you get your power supply upgrade for the touch? May be the cheapest solution to upgrade fever :-)
JazzontheH: Where did you get your power supply upgrade for the touch? May be the cheapest solution to upgrade fever :-)
I use a Touch digital out to my DAC for internet radio. I replaced the SPS with a Channel Island VDC-5 MKII linear power supply.

The sound improved but never realized the SPS was polluting my system with noise. Even when the Touch was off, NOT playing, SQ improved. As you know, Touch is never totally off even when not in used/playing.

My advice, dump/replace all the SPSs in your system.
I first replaced the wall wart with CI linear power supply.
Big improvement! As an engineer who dealt with measurements
devices and familiar with Hewlett-Packard quality, I got a
HP 62005E on EBay just for fun (many are under $100, there
are various models providing 5V, anything more than 3A is
good enough). Everything got even better, more organic. To
be fair,the power cord and plug are of better quality than
the CI stock version. I also put some very affordable Aurio
V1.2 under the Touch as vibration control.

Another example is the the Music Streamer HD that I have in
my library system, it sounds ok - as some reviewers noted -
w/o external USB power supply, but if you follow Alan
Sircom's advice and add one battery based or, best the AQVOX
isolated linear power supply for USB, you have a darn good

If you go for looks, these combos looks indeed a bit messy
vs a one box solution.

I can not stress enough the importance of good, clean power.
As you can see in my system, I like tweaks in this category
which includes dedicated lines, wall sockets, power
conditioning, cables, plugs, fuses and even VA Quantum
chips. As always, YMMV.
Another vote for the M51. My source components are the NAD M50 (which is also incredible), a HD cable box and BD/DVD player. First and foremost, the DAC sounds wonderful. Very organic sounding and lots of detail. I also really like it as a volume control. I'm using it to control a Plinius SA-103 and it makes me wonder whether I need a line stage. The amount of inputs are also a big plus. I've not seen another device like this. NAD hit a home-run with this piece.
Thanks for all the feedback on the NAD, folks! Seems like a lot of fans out there....

Still curious if anyone has compared to the Sony HAP-Z1ES purely as a DAC.

I have ordered both and will let u know what I end up keeping.
To be fair, you can't really compare these two products "purely as a DAC". The Sony has no digital inputs, so you are always using it as a complete product providing file storage, playback, and DAC functionality and cannot use these functions independently. It is designed as a complete solution and not as a stand alone DAC.
Second that, if the HAP-Z1ES has digital input and a decent digital volume control, I would be all over it.
How is the DSD Remastering Engine on the HAP-Z1ES?
Gfcf, I have owned the HAPZ1 since april. The DSD remastering engine works very well. I have 900 plus albums transferred to the machine. One can turn on and off the DSD engine, and to my ears, conversion to DSD results in a noticeable improvement over flac, ALAC, AIFF, and wav files played back without conversion pretty much across the board. I can't compare the HAPZ1 to other similar devices.

Bill K is correct. The HAPZ1 was not intended to fulfill the function of a DAC. It is my understanding from Dan Wright and others that the HAPZ1 design precludes digital in, unless one is willing to accept a significant sonic compromise.

However, a digital volume control certainly could have been added. That might have been a nice feature for those who are building single source systems around the HAPZ1.
Have been listening to the Sony HAP-Z1ES for the last week. Have to say very impressed. The thing is built like a tank - weighs 30 lbs!!

Sound quality is definitely amazing - a big jump over my touch/benchmark combo - much more detailed, bigger soundstage and better low end performance. Transferring files is a pain though - almost a week for copying my 1TB collection - admittedly over wireless.

So far I am a believer! Have not tried the NAD - so can't compare - but if I am enjoying this - plus get DSD - I may just have to keep this puppy!
Hey Rmata, is the Sony warm sounding? How's the high frequency performance?

How can I describe this - definitely on the brighter side (especially with DSEE/DSD re-master on) but not in a bad way - you just hear a lot more detail on the high frequencies at least compared to the Benchmark. Overall the biggest difference is in the size of the sound stage - almost seems like a went from 2 channel to quad channel or something....hope that makes sense, as I don't have a good audiophile vocabulary :-)
I'd have a LOT more confidence in Sony quality than NAD's .
Notice the NAD sold on here is often "factory refurbished",was it really sent back to China?
I checked out the Sony recently and came away impressed with features. All my tunes are currently burned to WAV and reside on a Mac Mini and drive, so transferring to the Sony would be pretty easy, if a bit time consuming at first.

I like the idea it can upgrade Redbook files. The app seemed cool, but it was a bit goofy using an IPad mini, which I blamed on the dealer's WiFi network.

I also use a Squeezebox, but with mods from Bolder Cable, who I think is no longer doing these upgrades. The mods were replacing the digital SPDIF outputs, and building a ridiculous power supply with Jensen caps and Blackgate parts. It was a $1200 upgrade and so far, it's been hard to beat (driving a Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 21 tube DAC, also built like a brick outhouse). But not cost effective, and I couldn't recommend spending that kind of money today to upgrade an older unit.

I may have to borrow a Sony to see if I like it. Using a headphone system now, Woo Audio 6SE driving Audeze LCD-3 headphones.
Davehg, I found that transferring wav files to the HAPZ1 was problematic to say the least. On the other hand, AIFF, flac, ALAC etc. transferred flawlessly. I found in a few cases the wave files sounded best, but this was 2 albums of many. Most of the time, I could hear no difference between wav and AIFF.

The ability to convert redbook on the fly to dsd is huge. In a few cases, especially with older recordings, the HAPZ1 renders music that was unlistenable through my very good ModWright Sony 5400 player as very satisfying recordings.

There are a number of people who rightly have been put off by the Vtuner not working since Sept 6. If that is not an issue for you, this really is an attractive option at the price. If you can borrow one, by all means, that is the way to go.
Thanks Brownsfan. Now I just have to locate a local dealer.

Last night I received a Sophia Princess rectifier tube for the Woo Audio 6se headphone amp. It was a revelation, easily the most impressive upgrade I've done with this amp (including cables and power cords). I have to say that running with the Squeezebox/Tri-Vista setup, things were sounding just great. I also was able to control it with a nifty app on my phone.

So I'd have to demo one against my current setup to justify that it really surpasses what I have now.
A month in ... and must say the HAP-Z1ES is sounding better every day. Very smooth sound with great detail/highs and massive soundstage. Loving it. Awesome job by Sony...