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ZCD impressions (Read 42505 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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Decware SE34I w/ CCE mod, ZCD, Heybrook/Linn/Clearaudio, Hagerman,
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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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Decware SE34I w/ CCE mod, ZCD, Heybrook/Linn/Clearaudio, Hagerman,
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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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"Love without
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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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