Sony Rocks DSD
The very first room I visited at the 2013 RMAF was Sony's, where they were demonstrating the HAP-Z1ES hi-rez file player (top, $1999) that I reported on in September. This neat device features a 1TB internal drive, Ethernet and WiFi connectivity, and can be controlled by an app running on a tablet or phone. It will upsample any format to double-DSD as well as handling native single-DSD and double-DSD files. It comes preloaded with 20 hi-rez albums from Sony, Warner, and Universal and the goal was to make file playback as easy and as fast as playing a disc. It doesn't, therefore, allow playback from a computer or NAS but a rear USB port allows the internal storage to be supplemented with an external drive.
Driving the SS-NA2ES speakers that I reviewed in our September issue was a new integrated amplifier, the 80Wpc TA-A1ES (bottom in heading photo, $1999), which is Sony's first dedicated two-channel audio product in 14 years. Sony is making a serious attempt to get back their reputation from the last century as an audio company to be taken seriously by audiophiles. The sound of the Sony system at RMAF was one of the best I heard, in terms of low coloration, clean dynamics, and full-range reproduction, coupled with an addictive ease to the presentation, even with CD-sourced files.