Sony TA-ZH1ES

Redcarmoose

Headphoneus Supremus
The TA-ZH1ES
Pros: Silky smooth power
Takes all bit-rates
Super easy to use
Powers most headphones
No hiss with any IEMs
Rises just slightly above room temperature
Cons: $2199.00
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With excitement I present one of the greatest amplifiers. Why? It plays all sample rates and sounds great.


The TA-ZH1ES:

In the realm of amp/DACs the TA is relatively unknown. A throwback to earlier times when amplification and digital audio converters came as a single unit.

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A) DC Phase Linearizer
B) DSD Remastering Engine

C) DSEE HX

And no tone knobs.
What?
No tone knobs.

So to get to the basics of this amplifier is actually fairly simple. Sony takes and makes an amp with no USB out........no optical out!

What? No outputs?

Well, you can use the RCA input.......but it gets the DSEE HX treatment if you go above 48kHz.

So?
One RCA which have DSEE HX. Choosable fixed (line-out) or volume adjustment.

Oh..............

What about USB input?

Well, of course you can use computer but there is something much better.........USB devices.

That’s right USB devices which are quieter than regular USB.

Now we have the USB Cradle to add both USB computer sources and Walkman input.



The results are a quieter more reliable source. Or or course you can always use USB to the side or USB to the rear.

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What does DC Phase Linearizer do?
All amplifiers like the S-Master design can be highly accurate—in some respects they can even be too accurate. Phase linearity is an issue with analog amplifiers and a contributor to analog sound. When you connect a real-world amplifier to a real-world headphone, the interaction causes significant departure from phase linearity at frequencies below 30 or 50 Hz. Sony studies show a typical deviation from linear phase of about +90 degrees. While not making the bass any louder or softer, this shift does have a subtle effect, creating warmer and more accessible bass.

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The low-frequency phase response of the typical analog amplifier departs from linearity at about 30 to 50 Hz. Because many audiophiles are accustomed to seeing frequency plotted against amplitude decibels, this may look like a bass boost. It is not. It's a change in phase, which is much more subtle. Because this phase shift is common across many brands of amplifiers at many price points, the shift has a broad effect on headphone design. Consciously or not, headphone designers take this phase shift into account when they fine-tune the sound of their products.

This raises an interesting dilemma. Should a new digital amplifier incorporate this phase shift or leave the sound in its original state? After extensive listening tests, Sony decided to give users the choice of applying an equivalent phase shift in the digital domain, using a dedicated Digital Signal Processor. This LSI adjusts low-frequency phase with internal accuracy equal to a 65-bit process. We call this circuit the DC Phase Linearizer, because it "restores" low-frequency phase, emulating the signal that the headphone would get from a top-quality analog amplifier.

From this point onward we will call the TA-ZH1ES the TA. Made from a separate wing of Sony, having full-size amps going back to even the TA-1120 in the 1960s.

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The TA has a variety of outputs. Unbalanced 3.5mm and 6.3mm. And balanced 4.4mm, 3.5mm x 2 and XLR4. And a variety of inputs samples DSD 22.4 MHz / PCM 32 bit 768 kHz. Of course RCA analogue inputs as well as two USB inputs. As well as FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chip. The highlights can be broken down into three main blocks – DSEE HX, DSD Remastering and DC Phase Linearizer. The company has promoted its DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) software for a number of years. It was originally designed to improve the sound of lower bit rate PCM files, but now works even on hi-res the latest HX form it is offered with five options designed to prioritize things like male or female voices, percussion and even strings.

Steel and aluminum used in conjunction with each’s resonate frequency. They are placed together at a weight of 7 pounds, they attempt to equal zero material resonance.

It also features a rigid FBW chassis, which made to isolate the circuit board from vibration. By minimizing vibration and preventing lateral movement, noise is reduced thus purer sound. The chassis wall structure is made a single large aluminum block for rigidity.

Convert any Source to DSD

Personalizing sound with the new DSD Remastering Engine. Offering double the conversion accuracy of previous models, the new DSD Remastering Engine let you convert all PCM music sources into DSD 11.2MHz.

The technology utilizes FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) to convert any signal into the DSD sound format.

DSEE HX upscaling technology features four additional modes to the standard: female vocal, male vocal, percussions and strings.

A high or low impedance switch.

Features & details

  • Headphone output: balanced Connection: 4.4mm, 3.5mm x 2, XLR4/unbalanced Connection: 6.3mm, 3.5mm, headphone input: Walkman/Xperia portable to charge Walkman)/USB.
  • DA hybrid amplifier circuit for a sensitive and natural sound, DSD remastering engine converts all PCM source to DSD 11.2MHz, DC phase linearizer simulates the phase character of an analog amplifier.
  • Acoustically tuned panel eliminates unnecessary resonance for sound, fbw chassis (frame, Beam and wall structure) provides rigid structure, eccentricity Insulator prevents mechanical resonance.
  • Double layer bottom plate for a low point of gravity, analog output - use as a D/A converter or pre-amplifier.

Product information

Product Dimensions2.56 x 12.36 x 8.27 inches
Item Weight7 pounds
ManufacturerSony
ASINB01KOFD

Five year warranty on parts and labor


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Start- down scrolling
DSEE HX Standard, Female Vocals, Male Vocals, Percussion, Strings
DSD Remastering ON
D.C. Phase Linearizer On
Dimmer Bright
Display Normal
AUTO Volume Down ON
Analog In Formate DSD 11.2 MHz
Pre Out Variable
-End



Input:
Analog (line)
Digital (coax)
Digital (opt)
PC (USB)
Walkman


Output:
XLR4
Unbalanced 1
Unbalanced 2
Balanced 1
Balanced 2
Pre out

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Disclaimer:
The TA amplifier was purchased by me at a Sony Retaler for full price. Your results may vary.
Last edited:
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
The other thing too is the additional Walkmans as an input.
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
How does it sound:
It’s kind of a mixture of tube and solid-state. There is a nice roll-off of highs but not too much. The lows are very authoritative and substantial being maybe the best part. Where the lows come in is where the they become round full yet still totally detailed.

Depending on the transducer and source, the TA may be just ever so slightly dark? That seems to be an issue with really only one IEM I have used. But it’s a matter of taste if it is too dark or not. It’s never too dark for my uses? Even with many different transducers and sources it is fine, and not even a question of wanting something else? Though if people sell off their TA it would most likely be it was not bright enough?

It is funny too as even with no tone or EQ, there is never a time I even want to EQ? Having the Walkmans is the main way I use the TA. Simply going from Cradle to amp with AQCarbon USB it doesn’t offer a way to EQ, but that is fine? I guess you could EQ a computer; I don’t.
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
The highs are open and sparkling, big and well positioned. Mid-range is positivity spectacular in every way possible, with big harmonic washes and texture. Everything sounds natural and in-place. Of it all maybe the other factor comes from the texture? I have had a bunch of amps but never one with this exact style of texture?
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