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ZCD impressions (Read 43798 times)
Lon
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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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Steve Deckert
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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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Lon
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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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Randy in Caintuck
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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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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #50 - 07/29/08 at 04:53:54
 
FWIW, I'm using a 1950's (Canadian made ) Marconi 12au7 .
A huge soundstage, excellent separation of instruments/musicians, and an overall non-fatiguing, "listen for hours" musical presentation.
As an aside, I'm using mine with ESP off- haven't spent any time comparing it with the "on" setting yet.
This is one fine player, IMHO!
Don
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Steve Deckert
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #51 - 07/30/08 at 00:09:21
 
Lon,

The way to tell if an after market power cord would improve the unit when comparing it to the Sony is to remove the good power cord on the sony and use a stock computer power cord with it.  Then you're AB between the two players no longer has the variable to wonder about.

Steve
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #52 - 07/30/08 at 02:43:48
 
Oh I know Steve, but see I'm going to use the player with the PS Audio power cord, so the ZCD has to compare to that. . . .
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #53 - 07/30/08 at 06:50:28
 
Lon,
I've been following your impressions of the ZCD. Particularly since I'm a Jazz fan also.  I sense you like all the attributes of great sounding equipment, along with a sense of "jazz lounge ease."  I know they are not exclusive.  To that end, the ZCD projects out quite a bit more then my old Jolida....and I like that.  At the same time I'm getting a very wide soundstage and excellent tone.  The player was a bit strident at first, and I swapped out the JJs for a Mulard CV4003/12AU7.  I'm getting a nice rich sound with spacing between instruments.  My richness test is anything MJQ...and Milt Jackson in particular.  To me well-recorded vibes are the ultimate test of richness, and piano for tone.  I have to admit the presentation isnt warm, but it isnt "cold" either.  It was warmer with the Jolida 601, but much of that I now know was the result of reduced detail. However, individual instruments with the ZCD exhibit warm, lush sound, when the records has it.  Its just that the "sound in between" isnt warm.  I know its hard to explain.  My TS Grounded Grid/SE-OTL/Ed's Horn combo is ruthless in removing veils.  Oddly enough, my newly purchased Decware DSRIIs addsrichness and smoothness to a system that, on paper, should sound harsh with the silver cables.  Go figure.  One other note:  The previously praised MAC Palladium was sold in favor of the DSRII.  Once broken in, the ZCD exposed (at least to my taste) an odd balance.  The MACs were very detailed...but something just wasnt right.  The DSRII's sound right! When I reinserted the Jolida 601 I could not hear a major difference between the two cables!
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #54 - 07/30/08 at 11:28:44
 
Thanks for your impressions.

I hear almost all you hear in the ZCD. I think it's a fine player.  I don't mean to appear to be ragging on the player, I think it's an achievement and so much better than the usual players below this price point, probably some above.  Still, for me, I don't quite get the right sound on piano for me, yet, and piano is what I judge a system by.  Nor have I gotten used to the forward nature.

I'm also using the same interconnects you are.  I've rolled the tubes I have and I have enough that I don't think I should buy more just to see how they work here.  

I must say though that at this point the ES Sony Blu-Ray is a better player for me, has that ease and the bit of laid backness I don't have in the ZCD . . .yet.  It's getting a bit better day by day.

I'm likely to keep it, there's always a need for a spare and it would jazz up my bedroom system. (I'm spending a lot more time in my bedroom than ever which is a good thing.)  I've also decided to try out a NAD model that is heavily discounted that seems to do SACDs RIGHT, the price is very nice at Audio Advisor, and I have a lot of SACDs that I miss a bit. . . .

http://nadelectronics.com/products/dvd-players/T585-Universal-DVD-Player

I'm looking for the best source for me. . . it was the DEC685 for a long time, and if it hadn't started to exhibit some digital distortion on some discs and skips on others I'd still be using that nonstop.
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« Last Edit: 07/30/08 at 12:18:29 by Lon »  

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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #55 - 08/01/08 at 16:12:02
 
Well ..... a decision has been made.

The CEC transport has been sold.
The Genesis Digital Lens has been sold.
The Channel Islands DAC has been sold.
The Stereovox digital cables have been sold.

I am impressed enough with the ZCD to live happily with it in my system.  Based on my experience with Decware equipment, I fully expect it to get better and better as time passes ..... like a fine wine .....  ; )

The fact that my decision is different from Lon's current thinking should not be too surprising ..... much of this hobby boils down to preferences.  While I'm not hearing the "dryness" that Lon is hearing, I am starting to enjoy the more "forward" presentation that the ZCD has ..... but again, it's just a matter of taste.  And ..... it's quite possible that as Lon's ZCD "mellows with age" that it might win him over.  I also think the power cord has a lot to do with the overall sound I am hearing.

Make no mistake, though, there is no lack of depth to the soundstage on recordings that contain such.

One interesting thing ..... the ZCD has no problem playing several CDs I own that the CEC transport would not ..... go figure.

As previously mentioned, I do not think that the ZCD is quite up to the absolute performance of the CEC / Genesis / Camelot Uther or Zanden combo ..... but it comes close enough that I don't feel I'm missing any of the music.  If it did outperform a front end that cost between 9,000.00 and 14,000.00 dollars, it would be one of the greatest engineering feats that have ever been pulled off.

The bottom line is that after a two or three hour listening session, I still have a big smile on my face.  That's what counts for me.

Like the other Decware products that I own, the chances are slim that the ZCD will ever be the weak link in the vast majority of systems.

My biggest problem now is figuring out what to do with the nice pile of cash from the sale of the other front end .....  ; )

Randy
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #56 - 08/01/08 at 17:00:25
 
Glad you're that happy Randy.
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #57 - 08/01/08 at 22:25:25
 
Well, I've received and set up the NAD T-855 universal player and have been listening a few hours.

Nice player.  SACD sounds FANTASTIC through this, even from the very first hours; better than the DEC685 does on SACD.  (This one does NOT convert the DSD to PCM, but has a separate DAC for SACD). Sounding good on cd too.  Very well-built machine; case to die for.

I've set the ZCD aside on repeat and will forget about it for a while.  It is a great machine.  But I get listening fatigue and just don't settle into the sound.  It's a bit too clinical for me. . .and its strength, showing the differences between recordings, doesn't make for the easiest of listenings.  I'll set it up again soon and see how the two machines compare.
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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #58 - 08/06/08 at 14:53:39
 
I must say I'm relaxing deeply into the sound of the NAD player. . . no fatigue.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #59 - 08/08/08 at 03:00:19
 
Where does your ZBOX fit into all of this Lon?

-Steve
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