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Message started by alper_yilmaz on 01/19/17 at 14:33:24

Title: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by alper_yilmaz on 01/19/17 at 14:33:24

Hi,

I have a DAC (Cambridge Audio's DACMagic 100) with 2.3V output.  I drive the TABOO mkIII with this and I was thinking of using a ZSTAGE in between the two, to function like a preamp.  However, from various discussions on the Forum, I understand that any source with an output around 2V would limit the use of ZSTAGE as it would leave very little space before clipping.  Would you agree?

Should I look for a preamp like CSP3 instead of ZSTAGE?  I really want it simple, so I am so much inclined towards the ZSTAGE!  :)

Any ideas?  Best,

Alper

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by Lon on 01/19/17 at 16:10:16

In my opinion a preamp may be a better choice. And I really don't think the CSP3 is much more complex than the ZStage; I could be wrong.

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by alper_yilmaz on 01/19/17 at 16:26:44

Hey Lon,

Thanks for the quick response.  I try to keep the signal chain as simple as possible and I assume the ZSTAGE is simpler than the CSP3 which has many more controls than the earlier versions.  Also, CSP3 might make me itchy to try different tubes; more than the ZSTAGE!  But yeah, it is likely that I will end up with a CSP3!

Best,

Alper

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by will on 01/19/17 at 17:31:21

I don't recall the details, it has been so long, but when I changed from a standard output voltage DAC to my DAC with 2.2-2.3v out, I had some earlier clipping issues with the Zstage. I think I had to turn down the software player volume by 2 db or so to solve early clipping. I tried some attenuator plug thingies that were supposed to be quite transparent, and could hear them too much to use them. But I could not hear sound issues with the software volume at those attenuation levels. I think I was using Pure Music then.

Since then, using a CSP3 in my main system now, I have grown into using software EQ broadly for fine-tuning system/room synergy. Some bumps in some frequency areas are pretty high energy, and can cause clipping (particularly with certain recordings), in this case, the software player/computer clipping, so I regularly run my player down about 5 db these days. The software is so good, I can't hear this except as attenuation.

Point being, if you are using a software player, or a DAC with transparent volume, and if the voltage is a problem with your system, you can probably solve clipping with the Zstage....that is, if this is still a potential issue.

Why not call Steve and ask. May be different now. Or maybe he can build (or mod) one with a different resistor value or something like that if necessary. Also, not sure what cap is being used now, but mine had Auricaps and Jupiters were a notable improvement for me....more complete, more spacious, more detailed, and very natural sounding.

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by mark58 on 01/19/17 at 18:12:58

Alper, just get a CSP3.  You won't regret it.  It adds far more flexibility than a Z-Stage and you can pick up a good deal used if you're patient.  But it's worth every penny new...Mark.

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by alper_yilmaz on 01/20/17 at 14:01:06

Dear Will, Mark,

Thanks for your contributions.  Yep, I believe I will end up with the CSP3!  :)

Best,

Alper  

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by SonicSeeker on 01/21/17 at 19:30:13

I can't comment on the differences between the pre and the ZSTAGE, but I understand the purist approach. I built my system in this regard.
I use a ZSTAGE in my system and I like what it does for me.
Phono to ZP3 to ZSTAGE to TORII JR. simple.

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by pursuitofnow on 05/31/17 at 06:11:35

Specs on the website:

Gain: Adjustable from 0 to 15 volts with a 2 volt source (17.5dB Gain).
Input voltage: 5 volts max

This would lead me to believe that you shouldn't have a problem with clipping at 2.3V output. It would probably sound quite good.

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by alper_yilmaz on 05/31/17 at 17:23:50

It actually does sound pretty good and I have not had much clipping problem unless I crack the volume of the ZSTAGE all the way up.  But I recently ordered a Copland DAC 215 which is a DAC + tube preamp which might replace the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 and ZTAGE.  

I will comment on how the Copland sounds in the system once I receive and start using it...

Best,

Alper

Title: Re: ZSTAGE with a high-output DAC
Post by pursuitofnow on 06/01/17 at 02:41:54

Thanks for the update. I had not heard of the Copland, but from a quick search it appears to be really nice. It'll be interesting to hear how it compares to the Cambridge/ZSTAGE, especially given the $1k spread.


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