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A modification worthy of the Zen (Read 27118 times)
jonjin
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #75 - 03/24/08 at 15:16:52
 
Interesting... there has also been some good reviews on Russian PIOs and US Vitamin Qs.

JJ
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johnny_boy
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #76 - 03/24/08 at 18:37:25
 
I've tried Russian PIOs and Vitamin Qs as well on other kit amps thta I've built. They are not in the same league as the V-Cap. Russian PIOs that I bought from eBay do have warm sound, however, it is no where as clean and clear sounding as the V-cap. The highs are rolled off and overall presentation is a bit smeary.

I do think V-cap is a really good capacitor, the best (and the most expensive) I've tried in terms of performance. But I am not sure if I like the sound signature of Teflon caps so far (assuming v-cap is typical of teflon caps but better than the most).

According to Eddie, these takes quite a long to get the creamy mid range sound out of them. So I will wait until 200 hour mark.

Overall, this made the Zen select a very revealing amp. You would hear all sort of issues with your CD players and sources if they are not up to par. I am not sure if my Decware Sony 685 is up to par or not. We will wait and see.
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Doorman
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #77 - 03/24/08 at 21:30:57
 
I've not heard the Decware modded player, but I doubt Steve would have produced it had it not been "up to par"!
Looking forward to your report
                                                                                     Don
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Decware SE34I w/ CCE mod, ZCD, Heybrook/Linn/Clearaudio, Hagerman,
Goertz/Wireworld/cat-5/MarkAudio Alpair 10.2 drivers
(eN) in DIY Mar-Ken cabs
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johnny_boy
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Posts: 36
Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #78 - 03/29/08 at 07:28:52
 
OK, I have about 100 hours on the V-CAP now. I don't think the signature changed too much from 50 hours to 100 hours (overall balance is the same), but the sound has mellowed out defintely. I don't cringe as much as I used to.  :o

At this point I can say it is defintely better than Musicap in every respect, except for the midrange. V-CAP sounds less forward (less mid) so far. The details and clean sound of V-CAP is really nice.

I will report back around 200 hours.
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jonjin
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #79 - 03/29/08 at 11:59:16
 
Thanks for keeping us posted.

I am waiting for my Tants and ASC cap (for PSU) to arrive and will mod this first.

Still in 2 minds on whether to go Jensens or V-caps...

JJ
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johnny_boy
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #80 - 03/29/08 at 20:27:22
 
Hey JonJin,

Have you read this review? http://www.vhaudio.com/21capacitorshootout.pdf

(note that the above review is hosted on V-CAP site, so don't take everything at face value, although the review was published by a Chinese hi-fi magazine and not V-CAP). According to the review, they were worried about Jensen's rated life as it is only a few hundred hours and going down from that point.

Class F (No Class ) - xicon, Solen PPE/SM, Jupiter BeesWax
Class E - Rusian teflon caps, North Creek Music/Crescendo
Class D - Mundorf/Supreme, Supreme/Gold/Silver, AuriCap and Musicap
Class C - Mundorf Supreme Silver/Oil, Jensen PIO Copper
Class B - REL/Exotica TFT
Class A - V-CAP TFTF and Audio Note Silver

I would wait for your current modification (ASC and Tantalium) first and see how it turns out. Let me know how that changes the sound on your system.  Mundorf Supreme Silver/Oil might be the one you want to try out rather than Jensen, if you want to go with PIO route.
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Crazy Bill the Eel Killer
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Tubes Rule !!

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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #81 - 03/31/08 at 15:17:00
 
Hello JJ,

johnyboy's advice about doing the cap and grid stopper changes first is sound advice. Get a good feel for how your amp will now sound ( I've done both mods and the differences from either are not subtle ), before going further. Please understand that the ASC's also benefit from breakin, but I found them to really smooth out after approx 15-20 hours.

From your post it appears you are changing one PS cap for an ASC. If that's true, which one is it. I've done all three, but changed them one at a time, starting w/ the filter cap, then the output stage decoupling cap, and finally the input stage decoupling cap ( 15uf ASC ). The sonics improved w/ each change, but when all of the electrolytics go, the difference is dramatic.

Someday you might want to think about getting the last electrolytic out of your amp, the cathode bypass cap on the output stage. First I simply removed mine and left the 100ohm resistor unbypassed. The sound changed. I lost a little gain; not much, but I did have to crank the volume control just a bit, and the noise increased a tad also. But the sound also changed, though very slightly, and I really had to concentrate on specific things to notice a difference. It seemed just a tad cleaner, but also drier, i.e., maybe just a tad more detailed. I preferred the amp w/ the bypass cap in place. But that's me, YMMV. Try it and see what you think.

I then put in a 100uf ASC cap in an Ultrapath connection instead of the bypass cap, and this baby's staying put. Noise did increase, but I knew it would. If I wasn't going to build a new amp w/ a much cleaner PS than the Zen, I would modify the stock Zen's PS configuration to make it quieter and keep the Ultrapath connection. That connection makes a very significant change to the character of the amp.

Well, have fun and be safe in there.

Cheers,               Crazy Bill                       Smiley

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johnny_boy
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #82 - 04/01/08 at 01:07:59
 
Hi Crazy Eel, Smiley

I also fiddled with the cathode bypass cap on the output stage. Instead of taking it out right, I put a switch in it, so I can flip it back and forth to see how it differs. Iíve noticed that the non Select version also does not have this bypass cap.

When I remove the bypass cap, the sounds do get quieter, so I do have to turn it up a bit to compare it apples to apples. The sound gets a bit lighter and airier to me. It has less slam to the music, but more clear sounding. Slam changes in the similar ways the bias switch on the front of the select does. One gets more bass slam while the other less so.

However, I do like the sound with the bypass cap in the place. I wonder if I can upgrade the cap on this thing to something that is a bit better?
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johnny_boy
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #83 - 04/03/08 at 07:36:48
 
I am about 120 hours now. Big change, in a bad way  :(. It sounds a lot worse than when it had 100 hours on it. It sounds harsh, shouty and no bass. I can't listen to it right now...

Well the good news is that this means it is still breaking in.  :o  It didn't change too much from 50 to 100 hours, so I didn't expect to change alot, but it is still chaning. I will report back around 200 hours.
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jonjin
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #84 - 04/03/08 at 17:36:08
 
Sorry to hear that... hopefully it'll continue to improve.

I have now changed the 4 grid stoppers to Tantalums and the effects are not subtle. Here is what I wrote my regular UK hifi forum -

"But honestly, I put them in without expecting any or little difference, and when I turned it on for the first time, I thought... yup, more foo. But after running overnight, it's actually quite amazing. I can play my music much much louder now without any fatigability. I would say it has a more 'realistic' tone and improved my lower mid range (snare drums more realistic). The overall tone is warmer and much sweeter. Also it has improved the imaging. The music fills the room more, in particular front to back. It's like having good Mullard valves in..."

Thanks again for the tip... will now think of changing the PSU caps...

JJ
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chrisby
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #85 - 04/09/08 at 22:46:19
 
johnny_boy wrote on 04/01/08 at 01:07:59:
Hi Crazy Eel, Smiley

I also fiddled with the cathode bypass cap on the output stage. Instead of taking it out right, I put a switch in it, so I can flip it back and forth to see how it differs. Iíve noticed that the non Select version also does not have this bypass cap.

When I remove the bypass cap, the sounds do get quieter, so I do have to turn it up a bit to compare it apples to apples. The sound gets a bit lighter and airier to me. It has less slam to the music, but more clear sounding. Slam changes in the similar ways the bias switch on the front of the select does. One gets more bass slam while the other less so.

However, I do like the sound with the bypass cap in the place. I wonder if I can upgrade the cap on this thing to something that is a bit better?



the value of the cathode bypass cap pretty much restricts use to EL type caps ( 1000mF of film cap, even if you can find under 100V, would be simply huge), so the range of exotics is somewhat restricted ( i.e. Black Gates, and what else is there really? )  

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« Last Edit: 04/09/08 at 22:47:44 by chrisby »  

you don't really believe everything you think, do ya?
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jonjin
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #86 - 04/09/08 at 23:02:28
 
Elna Cerafines? True, not much out there...

Still waiting to hear the latest update from johnny_boy  ;)

JJ
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johnny_boy
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #87 - 04/18/08 at 07:19:21
 
OK. 200 hour report. I belive the "bad sound" around 120 hours was my own fault, becasue I was fiddling around with the amp and made some other changes. I reverted that change, and as soon as I did that the sound became "normal".

I think the most of the changes came in at the first 50 hours and the rest of 150 hours being smaller changes. I am hearing conflicting things from different people. Some people say it takes up to 500 hours to break these in, and some people say that V-CAP changed the manucatruing process, so now it breaks in within the first 50 hours. I don't know which is true, but since I haven't seen a huge changes since the first 50 hours, I think second opinion might be true.

Now the sound. Again the V-CAP is very detailed, clean and fast sounding and very smooth. Probably the best there is. However, I don't think this is the cap for me. I like the mids that has some "honey" and "liquid" on them. These tend to sound more neutral, or what I call "sterile" (at least on my amp). I listen to tube amps becasue of its euphonic sound, and I feel like that is not what V-CAP is trying to achieve. It is trying to go for the most tranparency and details. If that is what you like, I think this is the cap for you.

I am going to give it 100 more hours on it so see if it is going to change some more. In the mean time, I am also going to put back the Musicaps so I can directly compare what the differences were (it is hard to remember what something sounded like after 200 hours /4 weeks). I will report back on that.

I think I am going to try out Mundorf Silver in Oil, or possibly Siver & Gold in Oil, if the mids on the V-CAP does not "bloom" after another 100 hours. I will report back after that as well.

(BTW, I am not trying to disuade you from getting V-Caps, but trying to make sure that that is the right sound you want. I am realizing that even "the best" cap might not be the sound you are looking for. I've been exchanging some private emails with few folks, and it is real fun to watch some poeple go from V-CAP to Mundorf and are very happy while some people went from Mundorf to V-Cap and are much happier. Pick you sound taste, before you pick the either or other caps.)
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« Last Edit: 04/18/08 at 07:27:59 by johnny_boy »  
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johnny_boy
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #88 - 05/05/08 at 07:22:24
 
This will be probably my last report. The net is I prefer Hovland Musicap over V-CAP.

I decded to put back Musicap to see how it would compare. Immeidately I could tell there is slight loss of focus, but a lot more musicallity. My "toes started to tap" again with the music which was completely lacking with the V-cap. Then I started to doubt myself again thinking just the change is what I think is better.

So I put both V-CAP and Musicap in place with a switch in between. I auditioned both with the same set of songs switching it back and forth. V-CAP mid sound is actually SMOOTHER than Musicap. I think it has slightly tighter bass, and it has a bit clearer focus and more air between the instruments. I don't think it has any more details, although it sounds harmonically cleaner, so it appears to have show details.

However, where Musicap wins is on shear musicality and realism. The acoustic instruments and voice sounds more real to me with Musicap vs. the V-Cap. It also sounds richer and more real. The cello that I mentioned in the previous thread sounds real again with Musicap. The Fender Strat on Twin Reverb souns like Strat/Twin Reverb, rather than sounding like a good recording of it.

I think it can be summarized this way - the Musicap is more harmonically richer sounding. It sounds lushier.

If you are familiar with how American pianos tend to sound vs. European pianos, you will get the distinction between Musicap and V-Caps.  Generally speaking American pianos such as Steinway tend to sound very harmonically rich sounding. It sounds full and powerful. On the other hand European pianos, such as Bosendorfer, tend to sound more focused, delicate and ring like a bell. Sepratons between the nots are easier to hear with the European pianos. Different pianists prefer different piano. In my case, I prefer Steinway sound.

In that samw way, I prefer Musicap over V-Cap. It being harmnically richer means it would also have less focus (like the piano example above), but it is the sound that I prefer. The sound is richer and more real especially on acoustic instruments  and vocals.

I am going to leave the V-CAP in place for a while, as some songs sounds better with it (more modern rock recordings) and the mids are more creamy and smother sounding. I think I am at about 250 hours. I will give it some more time, but I am not expecting too much change at this point.
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jonjin
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Re: A modification worthy of the Zen
Reply #89 - 05/05/08 at 12:24:55
 
Hmmm... if only everything in audio is so easy. You've made me have doubts about whether to slot in a v-cap or Hovland now.  :)

JJ
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