Sony wants to make your MP3s sing with a suite of high-end digital audio gear

sony makes huge push toward high resolution music releases suite of end audio products hap s1 black

Some say the MP3 has destroyed music. Others say it saved it. No matter your position, the truth is that the portability of digital music files has transformed how we listen to music forever. Unfortunately, when portability became a priority, sound quality got flushed down the toilet. But that was then, and this is now. What once made high portability and high quality mutually exclusive – storage capacity – is now bringing the two together. High-volume storage is cheap now, so there’s no longer any excuses for toting around crappy sounding music. All we needed was one major manufacturer to bring high-resolution audio to the masses. And it looks like that might just be Sony. 

Sony brought us the Walkman, then the Discman. Then…well, Apple went and conquered the portable music world. But now Sony is back with a whole suite of high-resolution audio products, and while none of them are designed around portability – yet – the company’s efforts to bring high-res music to the masses might just pay dividends in the portable music market down the road. Here’s what Sony announced today as part of the IFA 2013 conference in Berlin, Germany.

HAP Z1ESHAP-Z1ES Hi-Res HDD Music Player – $1,999 in silver

As part of Sony’s ES line, the HAP-Z1ES is the cream of Sony’s new high-res audio crop. Essentially an HDD music player, this component is designed to store all of your music – any file type, from 128k MP3 to 192kHz/24 bit FLAC to 5.6 DSD – and play it back through your audio system using a premium digital audio converter to resolve all the detail and dynamics contained within high-res audio files. For lossy files, the player includes a “DSD Re-mastering engine” to convert and enhance virtually any music files to DSD (5.6M) quality (similar to that of an SACD). The player comes with a 1TB hard drive built in and is said to be of top-notch build quality with an Analog FIR filter, low-phase noise liquid crystal oscillator, and large-capacity twin transformers on board. 

Sony touts its HAP Music Transfer software as simple, automatic syncing with PC or Mac to import and store music files. The software can be controlled using a free HDD Audio Remote app available for both Android and iOS mobile devices.

HAP S1 silverHAP-S1 Hi-Res Music Player System – $999 in black or silver

While the HAP-Z1ES is designed to work with an existing audio system, this HAP-S1 is designed to be a one-box high-res audio solution. Armed with an 80-watt class A/B amplifier and a 500GB hard drive, this player needs only speakers to compete the package (and Sony has that covered, too.) Though this is not listed as a premium ES component, it packs in most of the goodies found in the aforementioned player and features an LCD display screen in addition to compatibility with Sony’s HDD Audio Remote app. 

Sony UDA 1UDA-1 USB Hi-Res DAC System for PC Audio – $799 in silver

For those who would rather outfit a premium desktop solution and use their computer as their music server, Sony offers the UDA-1 USB DAC. Unlike many USB DACs, this piece includes a 40-watt amplifier to drive a pair of desktop speakers. Like its high-end music player cousins, this piece will process low-quality files through Sony’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) for better sound quality. Sony says the UDA-1 is compatible with virtually all music players through its asynchronous USB connector, but it also supports coaxial, optical and analog inputs.

Sony HA 1SS-HA1 and SS-HA3 speakers – $599 and $349 respectively

To compliment the HAP-S1 and UDA-1, Sony says it tuned these speakers specifically to match those components. Details on these speakers is scant at this time, other than some fancy marketing names for the tweeters and cabinets. But, we can expect to have a listen to them this fall. 

Home Theater

Fluance’s four beautiful new turntables arrive with easy-to-stomach prices

Acclaimed audio brand Fluance launched four new turntables as part of its new Reference series, aiming to offer elegant looks and pristine sound to those who are just getting into the world of high-end analog audio.
Home Theater

Rock out, dance, or just nod along with the best Bluetooth speakers

The market is saturated with wireless audio solutions fit for any and all circumstances. Check out our picks for the best Bluetooth speakers available, whether you'll be listening in the kitchen or on a mountaintop.
Music

Bolster your HD music catalog with the best high-res audio sites

Music connoisseurs relish HD audio, but scouring the web for all the best streaming and downloading sites can be a pain. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Check out our list, and let the high-resolution good times roll.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (January 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in December 2018 and January 2019, from new original series to classic…
Home Theater

Google Assistant gets the Marshall treatment with two new smart speakers

Marshall's Voice-series were already some of the most stylish smart speakers on the market, but now they're available as Google Assistant-compatible editions. This makes Marshall one of the few companies to support both Alexa and Google.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Killing Eve'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Home Theater

What’s new on Hulu and what’s leaving in January 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for January 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.