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New Zen owner - dazed and confused (Read 7073 times)
kdwhite
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New Zen owner - dazed and confused
02/09/07 at 16:07:39
 
I am the proud owner of a shiny new SE84ZS.  Steve graciousely agreed to provide an example in kit form.  I spent almost a week carefully assembling my new baby.  The results have been good, yet a little confusing for me as I am new to the world of SET.

The first thing I noticed with this amp is that it is nearly stone quiet.  With my Klipsch Fortes connected I struggled to hear any noise even with my ear against the speakers!  Very impressive.

My first few hours of listening impressed me with a very musical sound and surprising sound stage.  However, I could only achieve very moderate listening levels.  I expected more volume with these speakers.  Turning the volume up past about 25% produced audible distortion in the mid-freqs.  A descent pair of interconnects seamed to resolve the distortion.  These interconnects are chinese made "Acoustic Research" brand purchased from Best Buy.  (Please don't cringe!)

I was using my Samsung CD/DVD player temporarily.  It sounded OK, but not stellar.  I received an OPPO HD-750 universal player and now I'm using that.  While it is not the ultimate source it is pretty darned good for $149!

The SE84ZS has been on-line for over a week now.  I estimate around 20 to 30 hours of actual use.  I think I hear changes already.  The amp is somehow "smoother".  But I am quite confused now as it seems I have lost some loudness.  I find this much more noticable between one recording and another.  Swapping CD playes makes no difference in sound level.  Is there REALLY that much difference between CDs?  I never took notice of that with my 100W sandbox.  The change is significant... turning the volume know past 25% make almost no difference.  On many recordings I can turn the know all the way up and the volume stays the same.  There is no evidence of audible distortion.  No even close to clipping.  Bass is very week on these recordings.

Part of it could be something I've bolluxed up.  I discoverd last night that the inputs that are suposed to be "direct" are also following the volume knob.  I will be investigating that this weekend.  I suspect I've connected the inputs to the wrong poles of the volume pot or someting along those lines.  (Before jumping to conclusions... my voltages all checked out very close to spec.)

I will also be replacing my 25-year old speaker wire (double twisted  pairs of ?? guage made by Monster - please don't cringe again!).  I'm taking the simple approach and will use 10 guage copper speaker wire from m local electronics supply store.  Is it possible that my crappy speaker cables are attenuating the signal enough to be noticable?

KD in San Antonio ???

I am still learning.  Any advice or encouragement would be most welcomed!
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MikeW
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #1 - 02/09/07 at 16:21:54
 
Welcome to the forum. My suggestion would be a call to Steve. I am sure he can help you.
Good luck Smiley
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« Last Edit: 02/09/07 at 16:22:22 by MikeW »  

One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people's minds.
Zen Select
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Rap
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #2 - 02/09/07 at 16:24:50
 
Nothing wrong with monster speaker cables IMHO. But you do know that to achieve a "perceived "doubling in volume you need 10 X the power? A further note is that (I´m guessing here as I have the old select's) the Select needs 2.5 volts to achieve maximum power? most cd players only put out 2v at the most. Check your Cd player specks and let us know Grin
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« Last Edit: 02/09/07 at 16:25:26 by Rap »  
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kdwhite
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #3 - 02/09/07 at 17:39:43
 
[quote author=Rap  link=1171040859/0#2 date=1171038290]Nothing wrong with monster speaker cables IMHO. But you do know that to achieve a "perceived "doubling in volume you need 10 X the power? A further note is that (I´m guessing here as I have the old select's) the Select needs 2.5 volts to achieve maximum power? most cd players only put out 2v at the most. Check your Cd player specks and let us know Grin [/quote]
My speaker cables are so old they show grotesque evidence of corrosion and the insulation is becoming supsect.  I am replacing them for good measure, if nothing else.
Your point about volume vs power is well taken.  I realize there are limitations to what I can reasonably expect.  My main difficulty is my inexperience with low powered SET and how to quantify my expectations to what is reasonable.
My objectives at this point is to coax as much out of my system as I can with my modest budget.
I haven't found specifics for the OPPO CD player.  The owners manual is silent on that subject.  I sent email to OPPO Digital Customer Support.  Hopefully they will enlighten me.
Thank you for your comments and best regards to you.
KD
San Antonio, TX
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chrisby
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #4 - 02/09/07 at 17:42:44
 
If you're game for some further experimentation, try some CAT5(Plenum rated) speaker wire as well as the #10.   A single conductor pair from the bundle of the 4 UTP can be more than adequate for short runs, and the left over pairs can be used for DIY interconnects.  :)



25 years is enough time for the insulating jacket on almost speaker wire to leak oxygen and any other atmospheric contaminants to the surface of the copper conductors. In some cases you can actually see a dull green tinge of oxidization on the copper, or even worse chemical efflorescence in the case of soldered connections.  In addition, there have been a wide variety of plastic compounds used in the insulation (dielectric), many of which can chemically and physically break down over time.  

Any combination of these factors can certainly affect the sonic performance of the cabling.


p.s.  ya beat me to the punch.

seriously, try the CAT 5 - more than a few Zen users are quite happy with the low priced spread.  If you want to get audio-tweakish, you could always get some cryo'd.
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« Last Edit: 02/09/07 at 17:44:39 by chrisby »  

you don't really believe everything you think, do ya?
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MikeW
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #5 - 02/09/07 at 17:48:31
 
kd...it is also quite possible one or more of the tubes is not good. this can happen in transit. with sharp volume decreases it could indeed be the rectifier tube or driver tube that is causing your issue (although i would expect some noise with the driver tube). the select still comes to full power with 2 volts of input from source so with those klipsch speakers you should be getting very loud.
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One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people's minds.
Zen Select
Zen CSP
Ah Njoe Tjoeb

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kdwhite
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #6 - 02/09/07 at 17:57:29
 
[quote author=MikeW  link=1171040859/0#5 date=1171043311]kd...it is also quite possible one or more of the tubes is not good. this can happen in transit. with sharp volume decreases it could indeed be the rectifier tube or driver tube that is causing your issue (although i would expect some noise with the driver tube). the select still comes to full power with 2 volts of input from source so with those klipsch speakers you should be getting very loud. [/quote]
Sounds like I might need to talk to Steve! Roll Eyes
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Andy831
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #7 - 02/09/07 at 21:03:38
 
kd I have a select and a pair of Klipsch Heresy`s, In a small room like my listening room at 25% its loud and beyond that it start to get uncomfortable.

Not sure what your issue is, but these guys on this forum seem to know what they are talking about, and if they say talk to Steve, you should do it.
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Nottingham Analogue Spacedeck with Spacearm with Denon DL301mk 2 Cart.
Decware ZP2
Sony CDP X-3000 ES
Decware CSP Pre amp
Two Decware SE84CS strapped in parallel
Tannoy Grf Memory Speakers
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veryoldcat
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #8 - 02/10/07 at 05:53:05
 
[quote author=Rap  link=1171040859/0#2 date=1171038290]A further note is that (I´m guessing here as I have the old select's) the Select needs 2.5 volts to achieve maximum power? most cd players only put out 2v at the most. Check your Cd player specks and let us know Grin [/quote]

Just for clarity sake, both the older SE84CS and also the newer SE84ZS  if working properly should both come to full power with 2 volts at the input, so almost any cd player oughta do it.

Karl
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SE84CS (vcapped), CSP, zbox, Dec685, ZP 1.0, Sota tt/Well-Tempered Arm/V15XMR, Parker 98's, Parker Audio *Power Chords*, cat 6 wires, OSX; a garage sale of other stuff...
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kdwhite
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #9 - 02/10/07 at 14:57:13
 
OPPO Digital Customer Support verified that my CD player output is 2.0mV.

So my difficulties are elsewhere ???
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Rap
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #10 - 02/10/07 at 20:52:32
 
[quote author=veryoldcat  link=1171040859/0#8 date=1171086785]

Just for clarity sake, both the older SE84CS and also the newer SE84ZS  if working properly should both come to full power with 2 volts at the input, so almost any cd player oughta do it.

Karl [/quote]

Your right Karl Grin Don´t know were 2.5 poped into my mind from  ???
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Rap
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #11 - 02/10/07 at 20:53:52
 
[quote author=kdwhite  link=1171040859/0#9 date=1171119433]OPPO Digital Customer Support verified that my CD player output is 2.0mV.

So my difficulties are elsewhere ??? [/quote]

Well if it´s 2.0mV I´m not surprised, That must be a typo eh Wink
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kdwhite
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #12 - 02/12/07 at 14:22:14
 
UPDATE

Cleaned pins on 6N1P.  This is an old tube that has CCCP markings.  Polished pins with dremel.  This made a big improvement.
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selmerdave
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #13 - 02/13/07 at 16:15:48
 
KD,

Just a note about volume and maximum power.  Don't go by where any volume knobs are, they are simply an indication of gain and depending on the circuit one knob at 20% might be the same gain as another knob at 70%.

If your amp delivers more than it's maximum rated power it will clip, which it sounds like it is doing in the mids as you describe.  It is not important where any knobs are, it is important what sort of volumes you are getting.  It would be a good idea to get a cheap SPL meter from Rat Shack (~$20), and measure the volume where clipping is happening.  It should be at least 95 dB I would think with Forte's, for some this is very loud and for others it's not very loud at all.  It's fair to say if you are in the latter group, you are going to need more power than the Zen is capable of, and for all of it's strengths (and there are many of course), it will obviously not impress in power output.  More efficient speakers can help somewhat, but that will only make a few dB's difference so if 95 isn't cutting it you might not be an ideal SET candidate.  On the other hand, if it is clipping somewhat before 95 dB, you have a problem with your amp and could benefit from a call to Steve.  Did you check your voltages?

Dave
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kdwhite
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Re: New Zen owner - dazed and confused
Reply #14 - 02/14/07 at 01:39:11
 
selmerdave,
I think maybe you haven't been to "Electrode Hut" in a while.  SPL meters are $44.99 - $49.99.  That's more than I had hoped to spend on something that I will seldom use and ultimately might not result in any improvement in my listening pleasure.  (OK... translate that as "cheapskate" Huh)

However, I think you are right on the money.  Getting a true reading is infinitely better than trying to descibe what I think I have.  I'll be checking around locally and at work to see if a meter can be borrowed.

The clipping question is still a question.  On most CDs I can turn the gain know all the way up and hear no clipping.  Also, there is no change from about 25% to 100%.  I don't know if that is normal with the ZEN SE84ZS or not?  Clipping, if it is happening must be extremely sublte with this amp.  It is nothing like I've heard on SS equipment.

I tried giving Steve a call but I never seem to catch him.  (My recent experience has been that I have better luck catching him than leaving a message on his voice mail.)

I am undaunted.  I replaced the old corroded monster cable with 10 gage copper.  This made an encremental improvement in sonic performance.  It's not louder but my initial impression is that the bass is a little stronger and more natural.

I did check my voltages when I initially completed the amp.  In my excitement to hear my system, I did not write them down.  I will record them when I double check voltages, hopefully this coming weekend.

Thanks for you comments! Smiley
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