Another down side to at least the $2000 unit, (not sure on the other ones) is that is has no digital output. So you have to use the built-in DAC on the unit and can't connect your outboard DAC, if you have one.
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Another consideration (although some might consider it a superficial oversight) is that top model HAP-Z1 is only available in silver. Sony's last (2007 launch) top audio ES player was the XA5400ES disc player only available in black in US. Sony has oodles of audio products from the mundane mainstream to their SOTA speakers for deep pocket buyers, yet Sony for decades now has partly deserved reputation for introducing and dropping soon after formats and products and of their mediocre product support in general. Just my opinion of course based on much experience with Sony.
Think stumbling along, no thinking required. Sony's entire audio business has been in the financial and design red for years, part of which explains their failed r&d efforts as evidenced in the new high res line. I've been a great fan of Sony, mostly owning many of their cd players 'oldies' including their first cd player, which still works. Recently word has come that Sony will exit the laptop PC business. How they lost their way makes for a great business school study. Can you survive on a one product business, like the PlayStation? Maybe, I have one and will be getting the new one soon. I'll look to others, mostly the better Chinese firms for product leadership.
Dweller, you clearly do not understand what the HAP-Z1ES is intended to do. It's a dedicated networked hard drive digital player. In order for it to operate you need a separate computer for sourcing audio files and the Sony supplied software for transferring those files to the HAP-Z1ES. The transfer can be done either via WiFi or ethernet. The benefit of this approach is that you do not have to have the computer in the same room with your audio system, you're not relying upon your WiFi network to play back music and you don't have to setup or maintain a network drive.
If you want to digitize your vinyl you could use something like the PS Audio NuWave, your computer and appropriate record/edit software. You could then transfer the audio file to the HAP-Z1ES.
Do you criticize DAC's for not having analog inputs? Not having any digital outputs -- that's a legitimate criticism!
I think this piece was part and parcel of their major hi-res download strategy. I don't think this was a poorly conceived product. I think they knew exactly what they wanted to accomplish with its launch.
The question is -- did they guess right? Time will tell. Had they provided a digital in, I'd probably already own one. As it is, I will wait to see how the hi rez download market matures. It is just not there yet in my estimation.
Onhwy61: Clearly Sony does not have a clue as to what I want.
I want products that make my life EASIER!
I don't want to deal with computer babble or technical mish-mash.
I'm not trying to impress my geek friends with technical prowess or dazzle them with how many hoops I can jump through merely to listen to improved sound.
I thought Sony got this and was providing something to simplify the process.
Dweller, My guess is that Sony miscalculated how many of us feel as you do. I don't have time to mess with building a computer system now. If I could use the HapZ1 in conjunction with a CD player, I would go ahead and get one. As it is, I already have an extensive music collection, and the HI res download market is immature and expensive. Do the math again sony!
However, some of the other criticisms here strike me as being a bit overblown. For one thing, I donÂt get the big deal about not having a digital output. With this product I donÂt think Sony is trying to target people with superior standalone DACs. Why would anyone who doesnÂt want to use the HAP-Z1Âs built-in DAC buy this product? It makes no sense to me to spend $2000 if all you are looking to get out of it is a single terabyte of storage in a well-built chassis along with some player software.
I also donÂt see the argument that Sony dropped the ball by not building in the capability to digitize vinyl and tapes. The HAP-Z1 is a $2000 product. The NuWave Phono Converter -- which digitizes vinyl and tapes -- is a $1900 product. If Sony had included the ability to digitize vinyl in its product, then the HAP-Z1 would be a lot more than $2000. To put it another way, I donÂt think this criticism makes any more sense than it would to hammer PS Audio for not including in its NuWave Phono Converter the storage/server/DAC/digital player capabilities of the Sony.
As for the claim of Âfailed r&d efforts as evidenced in the new hi-res line,Â I think itÂs still too early to tell. The HAP-Z1 has only been out for six weeks, and reviews have only started appearing in the last two. What little feedback IÂve seen so far from actual users is mixed at best. But although I think the juryÂs still out on the success or failure of SonyÂs Âr&dÂ in hi-res, I think there is no question whatsoever that Sony's hi-res product launch has been and continues to be a marketing failure extraordinaire. The decision noted by Airegin to make the HAP-Z1 available in silver only is but one example of that failure.
I assume that sony figures that the small number of people who want to use the product with vinyl aren't the core demographic. I also think they should be lauded for trying to make a simpler product that won't intimidate the buying product. The key goal should be making it easier to use quality downloads to bolster that market. Just think how awesome it would be were apple to sell 24 bit 96khz downloads through iTunes!
Simpler is better if the goal is to kill of lousy lossy mp3s.
To me it seems like a functionally improved Bryston BDP-2 and a step in the right direction. I am with Onhwy61. I would be far more apt to purchase it if I had some assurance I could audiophile it. May not be a great way to think about it, though.
"Why would anyone who doesnÂt want to use the HAP-Z1Âs built-in DAC buy this product? It makes no sense to me to spend $2000 if all you are looking to get out of it is a single terabyte of storage in a well-built chassis along with some player software."
What is the alternative outside of becoming a "computer audiophile"? I really do not know.