Roon DSD Playback vs Sony HAP-Z1ES

I have listened to DSD playback on a few systems and DACs over the years and have rarely experienced something significantly better than PCM files. However that all changed when I heard the Sony HAP-Z1ES playback DSD files.

Two things were immediately obvious, better soundstaging and for want of a better term (no really, I mean it) a smoother (cringe now!) more analogue sound.

I have since amassed quite a collection of DSD files but I do not experience the same sonic benefits when playing back from Roon or anything else, so this is not a jab at Roon.

I am simply wondering what the hell it is that Sony are doing that nobody else is to make DSD sound so beautiful?

Hi Steve
Are you using the Sony as a DAC when comparing? USB?
Atb /MIke

Sony straight out to amp, no DAC in between…so using the Sony’s excellent DACs.

Thanks Steve,
How do you Roon-ify the Sony?
i.e. what is your Roon server? And how’s it connected to the Sony, over USB?
Im not saying that the Sony can be bested, just curious! :slight_smile:

Mikael, I am not connecting Roon to the Sony at all period. I am comparing Roon DSD playback to Roon PCM playback through my system, to the Sony DSD playback versus Sony PCM playback.

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But you aren’t, at least not directly.

You are comparing whatever you have going on with the single coming from Roon+whatever dac and its processing to the sony dac and whatever filter/processing is going on inside of it. There is also volume level considerations which could easily influence how one or the other is perceived.

I used to own HAP-Z1ES many years back, I must said, it excelled in DSD playback, it does up-sampling from PCM to DSD128 on the fly and it is incredibly ‘analogue’ sounding when comparing to Roon. The downside are the features it offered. It is a pure music hard disk player with no NAS and DAC capabilities, though it had Spotify Connect and Internet Radio. Copying large numbers of files can takes hours and limited 1TB hard disk storage. The software remote looks primitive to me though one can navigate and play songs using the front knob with the large LCD display.

@AgDev01 No not correct, I am comparing PCM to DSD within ROON, and DSD to PCM within the Sony. With ROON the difference is virtually nil, with the Sony DSD is a significant sonic improvement over PCM.

Yes, the Sony is not perfect compared to Roon in terms of…well, all the things we love about Roon, but sound wise, the Sony is a monster, particularly with DSD, in fact NOTHING gets near it. I am VERY curious as to what Sony are doing to achieve this, and how we can get Roon to do the same thing! :wink:

Sony and Philips invented the SACD in the late 90’s which uses DSD as a way to capture live performance. They know the how to make these audiophile playback system sound the way it is. The Sony HAP-Z1ES is still available even today!

Daydream Nation

Which means what Blaine?

was a reply to AgDev01
profile pic is the album art of Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth.

No wonder I was confused!

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ha, yeah i was quite a bit off topic.

On topic then, a lot of people find DSD played back on certain DACs to sound noticeably better that PCM at similar bitrates. I assume that the Sony HAP is one of those DACs. Although i havent experienced this myself some examples would be PS Audios DSD, the Aesthetix Romulus (?).
I do prefer DSD playback in my system generally though, it sounds a bit less ”pixly” to make an analogy. Upsampling PCM to DSD recreates a part of that sound but i still prefer the untransformed DSD path.

It would be interesting to know what your’e comparing the Sony with?
I.e. Roon Server, Roon Bridge, DAC etc… :slight_smile:

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I am not comparing the Sony to anything, I am comparing PCM to DSD within ROON, and PCM to DSD within the Sony. With ROON the difference is virtually nil, with the Sony DSD is a significant sonic improvement over PCM.

I’m obviously not making myself clear… :face_with_raised_eyebrow: You say, the Sony HAP (which is a combined hard drive player and DAC) sounds in this and that way with DSD and PCM material. You also say that Roon sound very similar when playing back PCM and DSD material.
But, Roon is a playback software, it needs a transport (even if it is in the same physical machine) and an endpoint. This endpont can deliver digital or analog sounds. Either way a DAC must be involved.

So, when you listen to ”Roon” there is a method and a DAC involved and i’d lke to know what those are! :slight_smile:

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Mikael I have used Roon with a number of DACs, from a Grace Design M905 with native DSD playback through to a Denon PMA-1600NE amplifier with an excellent on board native DSD DAC, and even a Sony UDA-1 integrated with built in native DSD DAC.

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