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ZCD impressions (Read 13373 times)
Doorman
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ZCD impressions
05/01/08 at 04:57:21
 
I recently decided to order one of these Tascam players from Steve. After the initial "leap of faith" some 6 yrs ago for a Zen Select, I've gotta believe the ZCD is in the same league. I bought my first hi-fi nearly 36 years ago, the Select has been the best amp I've ever had.
Anyway, there seems to be relativley few listening impressions posted, and I'm wondering if I've missed 'em, or hopefully someone has something to add.
Apparently there's currently a 4-6 week wait, so plenty of time to reply!
                                                                                     Thanks, Don
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #1 - 05/01/08 at 23:22:41
 
Congrats Don!

I haven't heard it, and don't want to hear it, don't want to have to buy it!

Steve notes it sounds better than the previous machines, and if that's so, you're in for a great treat.  I love my DEC685, and because it's a universal player I'm not moving to the new ZCD.  I just adore the dvd sound and picture, as well as being able to play SACD.  

I have no doubt, not even a tiny smidgeon of one, that you are in for a wonderful time with that machine.
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Doorman
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #2 - 05/02/08 at 05:12:35
 
Thanks, Lon. I do wish that the ZCD supported dvd, etc, but having read many other glowing reports on the 685's, I'm hoping the new player is at least as good. I always regretted not buying a 685 when they were available!
                                                                                                                             Don
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DaveCan
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #3 - 05/25/08 at 20:49:03
 
Don,
Great to hear your Zcd made it here in good shape.. Sounds like from your response in the other thread that your liking what you hear Cool    I have no doubt that the Zcd will be nothing less than stellar for the $$$ invested, as I've found with my Taboo.. Looking forward to your impressions of the new player.          Dave Smiley
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ZENCDUSER
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #4 - 05/27/08 at 02:57:27
 
Iíve had the ZCD for approximately three weeks now, and feel itís finally time for a review (since so many people are waiting for reviews!)  In summary, buy it!  The End. Period. Nothing else to say!  
A little background to put things in context.  Iíve had two CD players since 1994: A Carver mult-idisc player from 1994-1999, and a Jolida 601 tubed output player from May 1999 to the present. The Carver wasnít bad.  The Jolida, while a touch warm, was the best value I purchased, prior to the ZCD. As a $349.00 demo from Sound Factor that lasted nine years (and is actually a 10 year old player), the 601 has been through every variety of equipment/room change. Itís played with a CJ MV75/PV-5/Spendor combo, a Select/Klipsch Forte combo, a Cayin TA-30/HornShoppe combo, and a Transcendent Sound SEOTL/GG/Horn Shoppe combo.   I canít remember all the interconnect/cable combos, which included second-hand and/or mid-level Monster, DH Labs, Tara Labs.   Iíve settled with the TS equipment and Anti-cables.  Stunning clarity and, with the power of Audiogon prices, ridiculously affordable for the performance.  Edís Horns are a no-brainer.  Despite the utterly cheap build quality of the Jolida 601, and being so far removed from itís successors (the 602, 603 and the now six-year old  JD-100), it continued to be the one thing I didnít want to change through all the combinations.  Go figure. But age has finally caught up with it, and the skips and stutters have increased to the annoyance point.  Naturally, I contemplated the JD-100 as a replacement, which I could get new for $850.00, but when Steve came out with the ZCD, I decided to apply funds there.
The day the ZCD arrived I listened to some of my favorite discs and tracks for approximately 2 hours. I ordered it with the IEC option but it didnt come with a cord.  No problem I used a common power cord then order the $49.00 Source power cord from MAC Audio.  The ZCD sounded alright, bit did not sound much different from the 601 (to which I applied Dynamat about a year ago, switched from a variety of 12AX7ís to Mullard 12AU7/CV4003ís from Upscale Audio). There was a bit more clarity, but the emphasis seemed to be towards the upper end, making the mid range seem a bit recessed.  There was a tad more bass, but it sounded a bit muddied.  The soundstage seem alright, but not strikingly so.  I wasnt disappointed because as a previous Select owner and a owner of Ed's Horns, I know the power of break-in time.  I figured I'd turn on the ESP Shock protection for comparison.  Things cleared up a lot. I went back and spent about 30 minutes listening to individual favorite tracks, and found more sound staging and clarity in each one.  I dont know if there is a technical reason for it, but thats what I heard.  In looking into the manual (finally) I discovered I actually turned the ESP OFF, since ON is the default mode.  After the initial listening session I devoted about 50 hours to the ZCD with my Isotek burn-in CD, swapped out the JJ with one of my well broken-in Mullard (I've always been biased against all JJs), and the transformation was stunning!  I had a new system!   More accurately, I finally began hearing the net sum of my system:  Lush, rich mids; airy, sparkling highs without edge; deep,  solid, rich, bass.  Everything sounds tone perfect. I think CJ said it a long time ago: It just sounds right.  I keep hearing a richness to the sound.  Some call it "organic."  All the things that I thought were exclusive of each other are present in harmony. Bass but not muddiness or boominess; rich, lush mids (when present) without cloudiness or honey-coated distortion; Clear, extended, toneful (who would have thunk!) highs without etch or that slightly warm but barely noticeable razor-sharp pain in my ears.  But what I still canít get over, and am baffled by, is the depth and width of the sound stage and the placement of instruments and sounds within it.  Edís Horns were always reviewed as masters of this, and while I occasionally heard it in the past, the ZCD allows the Horns to image in full glory.  Descriptions of bass, mids, and highs are almost meaningless until you place them in context with sound staging.  Iím not talking about cheap, hyper-exaggeration of a sound stage, but one that simultaneously sounds solid and real and still spreads the entire width of the wall and, on many recordings, extends 10 feet forward and backwards.   When I mention sounds within the sound stage I'm talking about Oscar Peterson leaning on the bench (the direction of lean is clear!) and Abdullah Ibrahim softly humming along as he plays.
Now, does this mean the ZCD betters players 2-3 times its cost?  I have actually no ideal, and donít care. My comparison is to the Jolida.  Within the context of my experience, my system, my room, and my music, it supplants the Jolida as the best value component I purchased. One could argue I simply removed a glaring weak point and finally achieved system synergy with my other components.  That may be true, being that I know my other components are no slouches.  I listen to a lot of vinyl, and had a policy of seeking out CDs only when I could not find the record at a reasonable price.  The ZCD has changed that.  Actually the ZCD may endanger my whole vinyl mindset.  
Regardless, price alone, when compared with other tube players, makes the ZCD a bargain.  How it fits in your system may vary  But I seriously doubt it will detract from anything you have.
Side note- The MAC Source+ power cord is the business!  Icing on the cake.
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Doorman
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #5 - 05/27/08 at 04:35:37
 
The previous post pretty much sums up what I'm hearing as well.  ( My previous CDP was a Musical Fidelity, and before that, a Jolida 603!) The ZCD is by far the best of the previous 6 or 7 cdp's I've had.
I intend to follow up this post when I have time to devote to more extended listening, I've only got a few hours on it to this point.
Thanks for your impressions, Zencduser, and yes, if you're in the market for a replacment CDP, don't even hesitate!
                                                          Don
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #6 - 05/30/08 at 13:49:28
 
Thanks to you both for your impressions.

Luckily so far no one has compared it to the DEC685 and enticed me to replace that unit.

I'm so there if Steve decides to modify the Sony ES Blu-Ray player!
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Doorman
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #7 - 05/31/08 at 00:50:44
 
I've not heard a 685, Lon, but I'll bet it's sweet! If'n I had one, I'd sure enjoy it!
For those who don't and are looking for that "last" redbook player, that won't break the bank, don't even hesitate. It's that good.
Don
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #8 - 05/31/08 at 01:47:36
 
Don, I would not consider the DEC685 "sweet" sounding. . .it's pretty accurate and as such "sharper" than "sweeter."  Very good player.  I have a feeling that this ZCD is a better player for several reasons, but I sure enjoy the "universal" aspect of the DEC685.
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DaveCan
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #9 - 05/31/08 at 16:57:27
 
The universal aspect would be hard to give up, especially when the sound is really good. Too bad you couldn't have gotten a ZCD proto on trial or something to review. You've had and enjoyed the 685 for so long ,that your impressions of the new player would have been really good to read about IMO.               Dave Smiley
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« Last Edit: 05/31/08 at 17:13:13 by DaveCan »  
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #10 - 06/03/08 at 14:26:50
 
Well interesting development on my part, non ZCD related.

I have taken the DEC685 out of the system and replaced it with a Sony ES Blu-Ray Player, the Sony BDP-S2000ES.

I have wanted to buy this player for some time, have been able to, but held back worrying about it's cd playback in comparison to the DEC685.

But ultimately, with Neil Young's Blu-Ray "Archive" series on the horizon and after seeing Blu-Ray movie playback at a friend's,  was pushed over the edge and bought this player. As the flagship Sony Blu-Ray player I was hoping that the cd audio quality would be up to the Decware system. . . .

Well, it's the second day in the system and it's sounding very good. Tonally it's just a tad warmer (and thereby perhaps a bit less accurate) than the DEC685 but that's not a problem, the tonal balance is very good, just about what I would want an ideal machine's to be.  There is about a 10% reduction in sound-staging and imaging in comparison to the DEC685, which outclasses every other player I've heard in those departments.  But this machine is hardly broken in so there's potentially even less than a gap.

This is a very well-built machine with a strong chassis and a great transport, center-mounted.

The picture from this machine is stupendous!

If Steve were ever to decide to modify a Blu-Ray player (and maybe he should consider doing so, it is a format I predict will grow and grow) then this machine would be a great candidate.  I'd send him one to modify in a heartbeat!  His version would be another giant-slayer.
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« Last Edit: 06/03/08 at 14:27:35 by Lon »  

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DaveCan
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #11 - 06/03/08 at 17:21:12
 
Lon, would be interesting to hear what your Z-Box might do for this new player, have you tried it out yet?   Do you think you may miss having multiple disc capability like with the 685?         Dave Smiley
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #12 - 06/03/08 at 18:29:29
 
Oh yes, like with the DEC685 I use this new machine through the ZBox.  I'm making those comparisons between the two machines with the ZBox between them and the CSP2.

I don't miss having the changer and loading multiple discs. I miss not having SACD capability a little, but only have about three SACD discs that aren't hybrids.  And the difference between cds and SACDs on the DEC685 is not that great.  The DEC685 and this Blu-Ray make cds sound great.
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Doorman
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #13 - 06/03/08 at 19:28:06
 
Lon: A quick check has  the Sony player selling for between 1000/1300 bucks. It looks like a great purchase. Your comments comparing it to your 685 are interesting.
I've not had better sound in my system than with the ZCD, but to be able to combine good audio AND is intriguing!
Keep us posted.
Don
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #14 - 06/03/08 at 23:16:22
 
Definitely Don.

Now back to ZCD impressions.  Pile them on.
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #15 - 06/06/08 at 21:14:42
 
Okay, just a quick update.

This Blu-Ray flagship is an awesome machine.  The dvd picture is almost as good if not as good as the Blu-Ray picture.  (Just as in the DEC685 cd sound was so good that SACD sound was not a big deal).

The sound has bloomed and it's very very good.  The tonality is spot on.  The soundstaging is not up to the DEC685.  I mean. . . how could it be. That's what Steve brings in his inimitable way to the game.  It's 90% of the way there maybe.  I think I can live with it, I'm already not doing "comparisons" in my head but just enjoying the music.
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Doorman
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #16 - 06/07/08 at 00:08:04
 
One of the (many) strengths of the ZCD is it's soundstaging. It's simply as good as I've heard. It's a perfect compliment to my (any?) Decware amp(s) They ability to project an image both side to side, and front to back is amazing. The quality and quantity of the bass output is also very noticeable. I've no idea why this is so, but there it is! To this point, I prefer it with the "esp" disabled, and it sounds so good overall, I've not tried the stock outputs,,to compare. Still settling in, more to come.
Don
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #17 - 06/09/08 at 15:31:13
 
Okay guys. . . I'm more flush than I ever have been in my life, and there's no reason for me NOT to also have a ZCD player. . . so I ordered one (and Steve's interconnects and power cable for it) today.

Thanks for pushing me over the edge into reckless expenditure territory!

:D
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ZENCDUSER
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #18 - 06/10/08 at 05:01:18
 
Follow-up impressions.
I've had the ZCD for just over a month now, and have close to 200 hours (with about 100 hours from the Isotek breakin CD).  The unit is stunning! Clarity, soundstaging (particularly depth in the soundstage), and tone have prompted me to make additional CD purchases.  That's what it is all about.  Also, and I hate to use the phrase, but I am re-discovering my current music; In many cases I'm in the studio with the performers!  People moving in seats in anticipation, sheets moving, slight taps on furniture...and then there is the music itself.   I've never been happier.  The ZCD has unleashed my system to myself.   Several days ago I pulled out an old Decware DSR cable I purchased in 2003, but hadnt used in years.  Aside from a slight reduction in bass, the music became even more real, and the soundstage blossomed.  This from a cable that I had grown not to like.  I then had the opportunity to insert a friend's MAC Palladium cable to the ZCD...and I immediately ordered one ($180 new versus the regular $349 price....I think a new model is coming out)   Forget about what you hear about silver cables being strident, harsh, etc....this cable and the ZCD has all the richness, warmth and harmonics I remember from previous gear (CJ, Spendor), yet with speed, clarity and openess that leaves me smiling and speechless.  I previoulsy mentioned I purchased jazz on CDs only after I couldnt find affordable LPs.   Now it doesnt matter.  CDs of recordings made from the 50's and 60's are now satisfying,both my newly purchased ones and older ones.  Thats what I have re-discovered.
Two things I've noted about my ZCD.  The Mullard CV4003 (12AU7) works perfectly for me.  Since I had two for the Jolida, I'm set for many years (I think they were $40 each from Upscale Audio, but many other outlets have them). Secondly, I still prefer leaving the ESP off..it just does something that I really cant point my finger on. At first I thought it was just reducing the soundstaging and clarity, but It is something I feel, not just hear.  Might be irrational, but hey!  One additional thing...the Isotek disc is an outstanding investment.  It quickly shows what your equipment can do by greatly reducing that "Did I make a mistake" breakin time frame that music alone just didnt do quick enough for me.
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #19 - 06/10/08 at 12:11:32
 
Thanks so much for your input and impressions!  As a jazz listener they especially seem relevant for me and my system!
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Doorman
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #20 - 06/11/08 at 03:16:41
 
Congrats, Lon on ordering a ZCD! Be sure and post your impressions vis a vis your 685!
Don
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Decware SE34I w/ CCE mod, ZCD, Heybrook/Linn/Clearaudio, Hagerman,
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #21 - 06/11/08 at 14:39:47
 
Will do.  I have been wondering why I did so though. . . as this Sony Blu-Ray player sounds better every day!  :)
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Doorman
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #22 - 06/12/08 at 00:11:32
 
Decware's 30 day return policy makes it a no-brainer, though. And who knows, you might decide to keep it!
Don
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #23 - 06/12/08 at 12:02:44
 
Oh, i expect to keep it.

:)
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #24 - 07/04/08 at 12:37:16
 
Well, for like the fourth time in a row with important shipments, UPS has let me down.  I'm going to ask DeVon to use another shipment method next time I buy a Decware machine.

UPS called and said be around 7 to 7 because the package was coming yesterday.  I was housebound that entire time.  Nothing.  The tracking showed it was in Austin and out for delivery.  It just is so frustrating and disappointing.  Now I have to do the very same thing on Monday.  I'm so disgusted with UPS right now.

So hopefully I'll have some impressions to relate sometime next week.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #25 - 07/05/08 at 00:36:43
 
Hi Lon,

Man ..... that's a bummer.  I'm not too crazy about UPS either, but this time they finally did something right for me.  While I was on vacation, my daughter was house sitting for me and took delivery of the ZCD.

I set it up last night and have had it playing non-stop to get a few hours on it with an Amperex Bugle Boy 12AU7.  It is plugged into one set of inputs of the CSP2 while the other set of inputs is hosting a ModWright prepped CEC TL-2 belt drive transport, a Genesis Digital Lens and a Channel Islands VDAē2 DAC and VACē1 power supply ..... connected by Stereovox XV2 digital cables.

I did a very brief A/B of the same disk tonight and the ZCD gave a very good accounting of itself ..... especially considering that it has NO burn in time under its belt.  The one thing I can say is that the presentation is totally different than what I am hearing from the other rig.  This will be very interesting.  The other front end has a retail cost of almost $6000.00 ..... but the ZCD is holding its head up with the best yet to come .....  8-)

It seems that this is just one more example of high quality sound from Decware for the "sincere but broke" music lover.

Best wishes,

Randy
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« Last Edit: 07/05/08 at 06:16:55 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #26 - 07/05/08 at 01:20:31
 
Hi Randy,

Glad your machine is in place, and thanks for the initial impressions.

For three weeks or so I've been listening to Sony's flagship Blu-Ray player as a source and it has turned out to be quite a nice cd source (and an incredible dvd and Blu-Ray source, fantastic pictures!)  It compares tonally to the DEC685 very very well, being perhaps a bit warmer and a bit more dynamic, though it lacks that last bit of three dimensionality that Steve's output stage provides. So it will be interesting indeed to see how the ZCD fares!

I am nearly 99% certain it's going to gently nudge the Sony ES player out of the way for cd playback.  ;)

Please keep us informed with further listening impressions (and I know you will!)
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #27 - 07/05/08 at 02:58:21
 
Lon: Can you say loooong weekend??!
Usually, one isn't in a huge hurry for the week to begin! My ZCD now has a few hundred hours on it, and a soundstage you could easily walk into has developed. On a Dexter Gordon "Ballads" cut, I swear you can hear  moisture rattling around in his sax! Far and away the most satisfying cdp I've had, though I admit to not having owned  digital gear like Randy's
Keep us posted--
Don
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« Last Edit: 07/05/08 at 03:02:42 by Doorman »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #28 - 07/05/08 at 03:18:23
 
Yes, a looooong holiday weekend.  Although other than the arrival of the player one day is pretty much the same as another in important ways since I've retired May 1!  I can wait for the player. . . what bothers me is being tethered to the house an additional day.  One day is bad enough. . . now another day.  (I've developed a habit of getting the Harley out early in the morning and being away from home for some hours!) As this is part of a continuing problem I've had with UPS for a time it's very frustrating.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #29 - 07/08/08 at 11:22:40
 
Well, absolutely no action from UPS yesterday.

Today they say it's out for delivery.

We'll see. . . .
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #30 - 07/09/08 at 00:09:05
 
Well, at four o'clock the ZCD was finally delivered. . . more than a week after it was sent.  (Have I mentioned I hate UPS?) Wink

I installed it and it's running straight into the CSP2, in other words I'm not using it with the ZBox at present.  

It sounds very dynamic and forceful, full sound, and wide sound stage.  That "dimensionality" that Steve's machines do so well is there.  I'm sure it will sound progressively better over the week.  I forgot to order this with the option for an IEC socket . . .just using the stock Tascam captive cord.  

I'm glad it's finally here and will update as I have more impressions.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #31 - 07/09/08 at 00:24:52
 
Quote:
I forgot to order this with the option for an IEC socket . . .just using the stock Tascam captive cord.



Lon,

You might have "lucked out". †I'm not a big believer in expensive power cords and IEC connectors. †After all, it's yet another set of mechanical connections.

FWIW, my hypothesis is that fancy power cords are beneficial, when they keep EMI/RFI out of the electronics. †If heavy duty wire on its own actually helps, it's an indication of insufficient energy storage in the PSU. †You can go to the bank on Mr. Deckert not cutting that corner. †;)
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #32 - 07/09/08 at 03:33:38
 
Glad it arrived safe and sound! Let that baby play! Oh, I think the "extra connection" reference Eli made re; your power cord makes a lot of sense. I doubt you'll regret it either way. You can always spend the 60 bucks on more music!
Don
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #33 - 07/09/08 at 17:29:23
 
Eli, you're probably right, though I've had great experiences with both PS Audio and Decware power cords on Decware components, including the DEC685 (spliced it in to the captive cord).

Don, I'm playing it.  I'm also going to try to do the "unplugged" thing for break in too, I always do this after Steve first mentioned it years ago: on about five hours, off about five hours, etc. for a while.  I think it works. With this unit "off" means pull the plug!  

Nice machine indeed.  Sounding very nice right now.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #34 - 07/10/08 at 16:43:06
 
Today I'm running it through the ZBox first, then from the ZBox into the CSP2.

Interesting comparisons.  Today I think i actually may prefer the Blu-Ray straight into the CSP2 to the ZCD through the ZBox by a hair.  It's less forward. Though the bass is stronger on the ZCD the Blu-Ray seems warmer and the piano sounds a bit better on the Blu-Ray.

But the ZCD is still breaking in bit by bit.  Be weeks before it will "be all it can be."
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« Last Edit: 07/11/08 at 01:57:35 by Lon »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #35 - 07/18/08 at 15:01:39
 
Well, here's some additional comments from Lon. . . .

So far this is a very nice player. . . . Hasn't quite blown me away.  I think I like the DEC685 better and I think the Blu-Ray player sounds better. . . though both are different.  The Sony ES Blu-Ray cost an additional 400 dollars or so so sure it SHOULD sound really good.  And maybe I'm just more used to the DEC685. . . .So far the ZCD is the most "forward" of the three and I'm not a big fan of "forward."  (On the flip side my friend Shawn who relocated to Austin and is staying with me thinks the ZCD sounds fantastic!)

So. . . I can definitely say this is a great cd player. . . but whether it becomes my MAIN cd player or if I keep it remains. . . undecided til further breakin occurs.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #36 - 07/18/08 at 15:46:43
 
That's interesting, Lon. My ZCD was good right from the beginning, and sort of out of left field a few weeks ago, it got REALLY good - it just seemed to open up and the soundstage expanded in all directions. It was a pretty clear example to me of the much discussed "burn-in".
The BluRay player is intriguing.
Don
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #37 - 07/18/08 at 15:53:47
 
Don, good to have that information.

Did you get the IEC option and are you using another power cord?
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #38 - 07/18/08 at 19:09:29
 
Quote:
That's interesting, Lon. My ZCD was good right from the beginning, and sort of out of left field a few weeks ago, it got REALLY good - it just seemed to open up and the soundstage expanded in all directions. It was a pretty clear example to me of the much discussed "burn-in".


Hi Don,

Do you have a ballpark figure as to hours played when the ZCD went to the next level ..... ?

Thanks,

Randy
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #39 - 07/18/08 at 23:08:05
 
Randy: Somewhere around a month/six weeks (?) played 3-4 hrs. per day.
Just one of those things, you know, where quite suddenly it just seemed to really 'open up', and you look up from whatever you were doing and go "Gee this is sounding REALLY great"!
FWIW, I've had no urge to fool with tubes, cables etc. Just buy more music Smiley
Lon: I do have the IEC connector, and have installed a modestly priced power cord from DIY cable. I think Eli's point re. attached power cord is a good one, though
Keep us up to date on your impressions, Don
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« Last Edit: 07/18/08 at 23:10:09 by Doorman »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #40 - 07/24/08 at 11:38:55
 
Just a quick note to say that there has been a jump forward in fidelity and the ZCD is sounding very very good.  

There is a faithfulness to this player that can be ruthless:  if you have a bad recording. .. well there's nowhere to hide.  This machine does not impart a "signature" over the music as others can.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #41 - 07/24/08 at 17:48:29
 
Hi Lon,

To this point, my observations match your own.

I have been playing the ZCD two to five hours every night since around the 4th of this month ..... so it has about 60 to 80 hours on it. †Following your lead, I unplugged it every night for the first couple of weeks to help with the break in process.

It is definitely more "forward" than my CEC / Digital Lens / Channel Islands DAC combo ..... but there is plenty of depth to the soundstage as well. †I have it sitting on a Mapleshade Isoblock / maple slab / brass footer sandwich with heavy hats on top.

Over the last couple of days, the focus and bloom have increased greatly, which up to that point were lagging behind my combo rig ..... and I expect it to get better still.

If someone is looking for a "tubey" sound from this player, they will be disappointed. †It is extremely neutral, and as you said, a bad CD will not sound like anything but a bad CD on this player.

Fortunately, I have collected a good number of fine sounding CDs which are served well by the ZCD. †

Bobaloo paid me a visit last night and when we played the disk "Magic and Loss", Lou Reed was in the room with us ..... †8-)

I think we are both in for a situation where "the best is yet to come" ..... †:)

Best wishes,

Randy
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #42 - 07/25/08 at 14:52:50
 
I agree, I think this is going to be a period of improvement.  I also agree that there is nothing "tubey" about the sound of this player except the fleshed out images and soundstaging qualities that I think I only really find in tubed gear this way.

I have mine sitting in my Samson rack, in the center, it's arranged this way from the bottom up:

Mapleshade Isoblocks and maple platform, Herbie's Audio Lab "Iso-cup" feet under the Sony ES Blu-Ray Player (I've moved away from brass feet to these and I prefer them) and then the ZCD sits on top of the Blu-Ray player on the Herbie Isor-acups, and the CSP2 and the ZBox are on top of the ZCD on the Herbie Isor-cups.  I actually am using two different types of "balls" in the Iso-cups.

I may in time move the Blu-Ray player to the top shelf underneath my Sony TV. . .and see if that makes a difference to the system. If it does I'm guessing it will be a very subtle difference.

I too find there's plenty of depth to the sound from this player. . .despite its slightly forward nature.  I'm getting used to this. . .right now it's a bit too clinical for me to totally relax into it, but this may change.
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« Last Edit: 07/25/08 at 14:53:16 by Lon »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #43 - 07/25/08 at 18:12:18
 
Lon,

Have you done any tube rolling in the ZCD ..... ?

I am running an Amperex Bugle Boy 12AU7 at this time ..... and Parker Audio Dave will be bringing over a nice selection of 12AU7s tonight to check out ..... Mullard, Telefunken, Siemens, etc.

Should be interesting,

Randy
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #44 - 07/25/08 at 20:07:35
 
I'm running the same cryo'd RCA 12BH7A that I used in the DEC685 and that I use in the ZBox. . . after rolling a lot of tubes that has been my favorite.  Karl uses it too.  I have the JJ stock tube that came with the machine breaking in in the DEC685 in my bedroom system.

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #45 - 07/26/08 at 13:18:38
 
Well, comparing the two machines as I did for an hour or so this morning (I got up real early!) is quite interesting. . . .

Honestly they are both high caliber machines with wonderful sound.  The Sony ES Blu-Ray continues to be warmer and oddly has a wider sound stage than the ZCD.  The ZCD has a sharper, more compact imaging and definition of texture, and a drier, tighter sound, with a slightly deeper sound stage.

Fascinating.  In a way I really don't need both.  I wish the ZCD were an SACD player as well, then it would clearly always have a home in my main system.

I feel there's a possibility of more "break in" with the ZCD so I'll do more comparisons after more time has passed.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #46 - 07/28/08 at 02:49:10
 
Lon,

I've been following your comments for awhile now, and feel obligated to suggest some tube rolling.  The signature you describe is the tube, the player can easily go from dry to warm and of course sound stage varies widely (get it) from tube to tube.  Not that what you have is bad, but likely you can find a similar signature with a touch less dryness and a better sound stage with some work.

Steve Wink
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« Last Edit: 07/28/08 at 02:50:59 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #47 - 07/28/08 at 11:25:18
 
Steve, I've been rolling some tubes actually, all those I have on hand, and overall I've come up with about the same dryness and soundstage width, in comparison to the Sony ES Blu-Ray player.  

After weeks of burn-in in the DEC685 the JJ tube you sent is sounding very nice in the machine right now. . . .

Perhaps I need to splice in an IEC connection and see what a Decware power cord will do. . . .

Congrats on a really nice player in this ZCD.  If it has completely filled my lock and floated my boat out to see yet, well it may yet.
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« Last Edit: 07/28/08 at 11:26:59 by Lon »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #48 - 07/28/08 at 15:57:29
 
Despite the fact that there is a good amount of debate concerning the benefits (or not) of an "upgrade" power cord, the captive cord may (or may not) be responsible for some of the results Lon is getting.

When Parker Audio Dave visited my abode the other night, one of his remarks was that it seemed the guitar player on one of the CDs went into the adjoining room to get himself a cold one ..... †;)

So ..... soundstage width is not an issue for me. †At the time, the ZCD was getting AC through one of Dave's power cords.

I also would not use the term "dry" to describe the sound I am hearing .... maybe "precise" for lack of a better term. †The sound is very clear and focused. †On some CDs this is desirable, on others not so much.

Tube rolling produced some very interesting results. †The Amperex Bugle Boy gave us a sweet, very listenable sound. †The Mullard had wonderful bass and lower midrange ..... but was a little rolled off at the top compared to some others. †The Telefunken was the hands down favorite of both Dave and myself ..... lively, extended and full bodied all at the same time. †The Seimens was very similar ..... with just a little bit less of everything.

The real surprises to me were an RCA clear top (which is highly regarded in some circles) and a humble Sylvania that neither Dave or I expected much out of. †They both sounded very good. †Not as good as the Tele ..... but nipping at the heels of the Siemens ..... at least to my ears. †The RCA is better than the Sylvania, but not by a mile.

With that selection of tubes, it wouldn't be too hard to dial in a sound that would make most people happy ..... †8-)

To this point, Bobaloo immediately preferred the ZCD over my combo rig ..... and after about 3 hours of listening, Dave was leaning toward the ZCD (especially with the Tele 12AU7). †It is a different sound for sure than most of the other digital gear I have had in my system ..... and it grows on you as time goes by. †I'm convinced that it is an extremely accurate player ..... and as it breaks in, it is proving to be a player that reveals subtlety in a very nice manner while having impressive dynamics.

Dave is still running the Camelot / Anagram Uther DAC. †For a certainty, my Channel Islands DAC is no Uther. †We haven't done a head to head yet between the ZCD and Dave's front end (and I have a strong suspicion that Dave's rig would win out) ..... but when you consider that the retail price of that front end is approaching 10 times the cost of the Decware player, it puts into perspective just how good the ZCD is.

Kudos to Steve on a job well done.

I'm really interested to see if a different AC cord and some additional break in changes things much from Lon's perspective.

Randy
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« Last Edit: 07/28/08 at 18:30:11 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #49 - 07/28/08 at 19:59:33
 
Interesting Randy. I'm not going to splice in an IEC connector til I'm sure that I will keep the player in the main system. . . . Not sure of that yet.  I am certainly not getting the great results you are, at least no yet, and it may be that a Decware or PS Audio power cord would help.  (I'm using a PS Audio XStream Statement power cord (B stock) with the Sony player and I'm sure that's contributing to the wonderful sound.) I'm kicking myself a bit for not thinking of the IEC receptacle option at the time of ordering.

I've rolled about seven different tubes (including RCAs and Mullards and an old Tele) and at the moment am using the stock tube, which sounds pretty good for more recordings than others).
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« Last Edit: 07/28/08 at 20:01:01 by Lon »  

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