EQUIPMENT FORUMS >> ZTPRE >> ZTPRE to arrive soon!

Message started by MrDerrick on 06/08/18 at 19:21:55

Title: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by MrDerrick on 06/08/18 at 19:21:55

I have been in want of a ZTPRE since shorty after its introduction, but could not justify acquiring one.

The layout and execution of the components is truly a thing of beauty and modern ( steampunk? ) design.  

While my past goal was to eliminate a pre from my system and the DS Dac did just that, constantly reading comments on how a pre improved on the DS kept me wondering.

Sound wise I want for nothing at this moment without a pre, its that good.
But when Lon acquired a ZTPRE and reported on how much of an improvement it made I made up my mind that I had to give it a go.

Then the 25th ZTPRE sold and the introductory price was gone, drat!

I had to put my aspirations of ownership on hold until I could muster up more additional funds.
Then I came across busterfree's classified for his ZTPRE.
It was optioned out exactly the way I would have ordered mine.

With in 24 hours it was on its way, I haven't waited for an audio component to arrive with this much anticipation since I can't remember when.
Hopefully it will arrive Monday and I will be able to report on it by next weekend!

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by Lon on 06/08/18 at 20:02:00

Congrats Mr. Derrick! I think you'll be VERY happy with the sound that this brings to your system! The DS needs to be used via the balanced output and the ZTPRE will do it justice! Be sure to let us know your impressions.

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by busterfree on 06/09/18 at 01:21:50


Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by MrDerrick on 06/15/18 at 18:15:54

The ZTPRE arrived safe and sound thanks to Juan's attention to double boxing and cushioning. Juan even unexpectedly through an added bonus into the box!

I placed the ZTPRE on a Black Diamond Shelf for the Source directly in front of my M60's. ( whose input is front and center ) I was able to connect them together with a Bybee Balanced Quantum filter as the interconnect.

Per my request, Juan shipped the ZTPRE less the tubes, I have hundreds of old 6DJ8/6922/7308s from my past ARC Ref 1 days. ( it took 4 pair )
I selected 6 well matched 6922 Amperex White Shield PQs ( USA 1962 )

I knew that it would be foolish of me to expect everything to sound perfect from the start and I was right. The roller coaster ride of dialectic settling in was evident almost immediately. So I just put some random albums on repeat/shuffle play, turned the amps off and walked away.

I listened once a day since Monday to check on the settling in progress.
Tuesday was hyper fatiguing detail, Wednesday was less fatigue, but no bass, Thursday things were really opening up and sounding smoother, the bottom end had better definition.

Friday mornings I have the house to myself to listen before work. I turned the amps on at 4:30 AM and was ready to start listening at 6 AM.
Needless to say, I wish that I could have stayed home all day to listen!

My ultimate goal was to be able to engage the -20dB attenuation in the DS in order to lower its noise floor and adjust the ZTPREs output gain to allow me a volume range of 80 > 106 on the DS. I was not prepared for how much more dynamic it was going to sound!

I have never experienced such speed and transparency from my system, its hard for me to believe what I have been missing. Has anyone else gone the -20dB attenuation route with the DS / ZTPRE combo and experienced the same thing?

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by Lon on 06/15/18 at 18:22:55

Congrats! You got a great deal and a great component from a great Decware forumite. I don't have th ZDSD and can't comment on the -20 db thang. I will say that my ZTPRE exceeded my own expectations for a preamp at any price and of any type.

I tried sextets of 6922 types from Mullard, Phillips, Amperex and other makers and ended up going back to the 6N1P and then the 6N5P--Steve's tested and selected balanced 6N5P are remarkable in the ZTPRE, bettering all the other NOS US and European types. I highly recommend trying 6N5P in the ZTPRE!

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by MrDerrick on 06/15/18 at 18:30:51

Lon, not the ZDSD, the PSA Direct Stream Dac!

I may have to give Steve's select 6N5Ps a try.

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by Lon on 06/15/18 at 19:06:53

Oh okay, I get it now, the 20 db cut, don't know why I was thinking of the Decware component, you had it spelled out plain as day. No I haven't tried that, but I need all the gain I can get from my DSD DAC for my system, i run mine now balanced out, no output cut, and use the ZTPRE to control system volume. I could probably get any with the 20 db cut on if I were only using the system for music, but the DVR needs the extra boost as its output is the lowest. Anyway now, with the ZBIT, ZROCK2, and the 25th Anniversary Monoblocks I'm getting the sort of sound I only dreamed of. Tube-rolling lately has been very educational and shown me sonics I never really imagined I'd have. I don't feel like messing with anything now. . . though I do have a 25th Anniversary CSP3 arriving Monday. . . .

The ZTPRE is an amazing component. It really does "make everything better" and yet it can fade into the woodwork, it doesn't call attention to itself, it lets everything else shine. Awesome preamp--I thought I could do without a preamp but I was wrong.

All systems are different but once I had a sextet of 6N5P that I got off ebay in the ZTPRE I was like "Wow, this is the tube to use." And then I ordered six from Steve that he tested and tried in his own ZTPRE and everything went a notch higher still. As all our systems are different I can't make any guarantees but I sure think the 6N5P is worth a try.

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by busterfree on 06/16/18 at 15:28:56

I am glad the ZTPRE arrived safely. It is an amazing preamp. I really enjoyed it, and I am glad it is working so well for you.

I have the PS Audio DirectStream DAC with the Bridge II input. I have try the -20 dB attenuator option.

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by MrDerrick on 06/23/18 at 13:26:49

The ZTPRE has opened up a seemingly endless combination of gain settings.

Direct Stream DAC - run wide open or in -20dB ( both variable via the volume control )

ZTPRE - adjustable via the input and output attenuators

Atma-Sphere M60 OTL 20dB of gain or 12dB gain

Right now, the best sounding gain path combination is;

DS on full output, volume set to 88
ZTPRE input volume set at 75%, output at 100%
M60 gain with shorting plug = 12dB of gain

Lower noise floor than I had previously, keep in mind that the Duo Omegas are 108 dB sensitive.

I thought the noise floor was as low as it could go before the ZTPRE, now the system is like a black hole when it comes to self noise.

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by Lon on 06/23/18 at 14:15:26

Great to read Mr. Derrick. I love my ZTPRE. I was convinced that I didn't need a preamp at all with the PS Audio DirectStream DAC, but the ZTPRE immediately made me change my mind. I was a little worried when I added my CSP3 25th Anniversary version . . . but it has not presented a problem. I am running my DSD ful output (balanced) without the 20 db attenuation, ZTPRE output pots about 60 % and for music my volume set at about 50% to 70% and my CSP3 at about 70 percent and my ZROCK2 at about 4 'o clock and the Monoblocks at about 90 percent. (Different tube complements would mean a few adjustments.) Works for me!

I can't imagine my system without the ZTPRE now.

Steve has talked about a "hum-free" circuit in the ZTPRE. I don't know how that works but it sure does.

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by MrDerrick on 06/24/18 at 21:47:08

After extensive listening this week end there appears to be 2 sweet spots regarding the gain structure in my system.

The DS at full output with volume set around 88
ZTPRE volume at 75% and output level at 100%
M60 amp gain set to 12 dB


The DS with the -20 dB attenuation engaged, volume at 100
ZTPRE volume at 100% and output level at 100%
M60 amp gain set to 12 dB

Which of these two gain structure/paths I prefer depends on the type/quality of the source material that I am listening to.

It is now much easier to distinguish which sounds better, wav or flac and I do not always prefer one over the other.

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by Lon on 06/26/18 at 21:28:22

Here's my latest settings, sounding really good.

DSD: balanced output, no attenuation engaged, 100 percent output

ZTPRE: 50% input volume via stepped attenuators, 100 percent output.

ZBIT: 100 percent output

ZROCK2: Between 3 and 4 o'clock

SE84UFO3-25 Monoblocks: 85 percent turned up. Bias and ohm switches are on the low positions.

CSP3-25: (Input gain is bypassed on my component though the input stepped attenuators are there); 50 percent output gain from stepped attenuator; output about 70 percent turned up on master gain for music, about 80 for Blu-ray and DVD discs, about 90 to 95 for DVR. At present I'm getting up out of my chair and using it's gain to moderate volume.

Really open and dynamic sound today. Things are settling in very nicely. The CSP3-25 is really coming into its own.

Title: Re: ZTPRE to arrive soon!
Post by Lon on 07/27/18 at 13:07:33

Mark58 keeps talking about his attempt to corner the world's supply of Amperex 7308, 6922 and 6DJ8 tube types. ;) As a result I kept remembering how a particular pair of 7308s from Amperex were the only tube type to oust select 6N1P from the Torii Mk III about five years ago, and how a pair of Amperex 7308 were just the right tubes for my Magnum Dynalab 90T SE tuner when I went through a lot of tube rolling on that component.

So I spent money I probably shouldn't have finding US Amperex 7308s for the SE84UFO3-25 Monoblocks and the CSP3-25, all positions for the input and driver tubes in those components, replacing 6N5P type. (And as a side note I have been using an Amperex 12AU7 in the ZROCK2).

Wow. With the red-tipped 6N5P from Steve in the ZTPRE I got that open dynamic sound coupled with the warm texture of the Amperex 7308 in the other components. There's just a hint of classic tube amp sound with the 7308s in place. . . a finishing touch to the modern monster sound these components are birthed with. So after a bit of time with these I started looking for more to outfit the ZTPRE just to see what an all-Amperex signal chain would sound like. Due to Mark buying up half of what was available on ebay I didn't see an affordable option, but I did see a great deal on Amperex 6DJ8 from Holland, bought six and installed them in the ZTPRE.

As result. . . more old school richness. There's a slight diminishment of the openness and dynamic nature the 6N5P were bringing in the ZTPRE, but a bit more inner focus and a hint more warmth.

So I have two ways to voice the system with two tube sets in the ZTPRE. Either one with a bit of gain adjustment and ZROCK2 motion make excellent teleporters to musical delight. I'll put the 6N5P back in soon because I do miss the bit of dynamic punch I don't quite have with the Amperex 6DJ8, but I'm enjoying the ease and flow of the Amperex a lot right now.

The ZTPRE (like all the other Decware components I have) is an incredibly musical component that one bonds with and finds ways to have musical enjoyment increase incrementally over time. I'm so glad I have one!

Forums » Powered by YaBB 2.2.2!
YaBB © 2000-2008. All Rights Reserved.