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ZCD impressions (Read 16140 times)
Doorman
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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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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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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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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #60 - 08/08/08 at 11:34:44
 
I've been using it with all the players and without all the players, using it both with and without all the players, to see what each sound with and without it.

They each sound best WITH the ZBox to my ears.  The ZBox is one helluva product Steve!

I have the ZCD spinning a mono cd for almost exactly a week, under my bed.  I'll put it back in the system soon and see how it sounds.  This week I've been enjoying playing SACDs and HDCDs on the NAD. Smiley
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« Last Edit: 08/08/08 at 11:37:19 by Lon »  

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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #61 - 08/10/08 at 02:42:13
 
Lon,

Based on what I know (or at least think I know .....) about the Decware components in your system, I would be curious what your thoughts are if you run the ZCD into the ZBox and then directly into the amps ..... bypassing the CSP2.  Since there is a volume control on the ZBox, you could control the level from there.

In my system, the CSP2 adds a LOT of dynamics to the sound and pushes everything a bit forward.  The sound might be a little more laid back and to your liking using the ZCD without it.

Just a thought .....

Randy
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« Last Edit: 08/10/08 at 02:45:25 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #62 - 08/10/08 at 03:35:04
 
Randy,

Yes it probably could be done but. . . using the ZBox as a preamp in this system in this room in the past has been . . . well. . . not really as effective, I can't get the volume range right and in the very best range for the amps etc. and there's a brittle thinness I can't abide now.  (This wasn't made clear to me until I added the CSP2 and it diedn't add forwardness necessarily).(Also, I don't live alone now, and this system serves as the dvd/Blu-Ray source for the house, and I need to have the CSP2 for switching and control and will not use another amp and speakers.)  I may try it again in the future but I don't believe it will be any different.  Also. . .the Sony ES player and the NAD don't have that forward nature through the CSP2 or through the ZBox and the CSP2.  So I'm not sure the CSP2 can be fingered in that manner.

I'm going to let the ZCD spin and season for a while longer then try it again.  But I think that the problem is the very accurate and revealing nature of the machine, coupled with the same in the amps and speakers . . .more and more I need something that is just a bit less so, and can make recordings sound "good" rather than just what they really are.  I have thousands of cds that aren't going to be relaxing and endearing sounding through the ZCD as it was a week ago when I put it aside, but do sound nonfatiguing through the NAD (and did for the most part through the DEC685, at least the last three or four years).

I know we have different tastes regarding playback texture and detail, and I'm very happy the ZCD has been so successful in your system.
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« Last Edit: 08/10/08 at 12:37:21 by Lon »  

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Lon
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #63 - 08/19/08 at 23:21:05
 
Just a note to say that the ZCD is still not in the system again yet, and the NAD T-855 universal player is sounding wonderful, giving a euphonic sound to most all recordings. If one is looking for a universal (well not HD or Blu-Ray, but HDCD cds, regular cds and cdrs, DVD, and DVDRs and SACD then for 450 from audioadvisor.com (60% off) this is well worth consdering.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #64 - 08/25/08 at 19:08:12
 
Hi to all (especially Randy and Lon),

It's been a long time since a post from me. But, I'm very interseted in your ZCD impressions thus far.

I have not seen any comment on the factory adjustable output levels available on the ZCD. Does it come standard with 2 mcv and with up to 5mcv available? That was my impression from the product info. Does anyone have a higher mcv level and are you happy with that option?

Thanks, Gary
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« Last Edit: 08/25/08 at 19:08:57 by Gary_H. »  
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #65 - 08/25/08 at 19:50:51
 
Gary, glad you're posting.

I THINK mine is the standard 2v output,
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #66 - 08/25/08 at 21:32:44
 
Lon,

Thanks for the reply.

I extend my sympathies to you for the loss of your wife. When I last was envolved with the forum I know you were struggling with issues of her illness and care. My thoughts are with you.

I still have the radial 1.5s, but continue to find the right amp to drive them. I have a Vaughn Audio Carina (1.8 watts in triode, 3.5 in ultralinear) which Eddie eventually sent me after struggling to build a more powerful EL34 based amp. Gee, that was almost 4 years ago now. The radials seem pretty under-powered to me in my room. Anyway, I was thinking I could get more out of my current cd player/amp combo if I had a cd player with a higher output.

Do you think that would help improve the amp power to speaker sensitivity (92db/w) equation? Just how much of a difference would that make? I am ignorant on this issue. But, thanks in advance for any thoughts - from anyone.

Gary
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #67 - 08/25/08 at 21:55:02
 
Hi Gary,

Good to hear from you .....

I'm not sure what the output voltage is supposed to be on my ZCD, but I can tell you this ..... for a few weeks, I had the ZCD feeding one of the inputs on my CSP2 and a transport and Channel Islands Audio DAC feeding the other input.

The Channel Islands piece is listed at "Output Level: 2.25vRMS (Single-ended)" ..... but the ZCD was MUCH louder at the same volume setting on the preamp.

You can draw your own conclusions .....  ; )

Best wishes,

Randy
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #68 - 08/25/08 at 22:13:25
 
Hi Randy,

I'm glad to see your still around. You may not remember, but we meet at Decfest '04 - where I meet you, Steve, Zigi and Eddie. Not to make too much of it, but I thought you had a Vaughn amp yourself.

Anyway, the Carina seems just too underpowered for my setup and I am just loking for an economical way to boost the output.

Steve, can you give some insights on the ZCD output and its effect on the overall spl output? What could that do for me?

Thanks for your help.

Gary
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #69 - 08/26/08 at 13:02:28
 
Gary,

The ZCD's output is generally set up somewhere between 2 and 3 volts giving it some nice kick and body.  (I have made several units with an adjustable output so the user can set it perfect for any system)

If your amp has a gain control, you would be able to run the control below full volume against the higher output of the ZCD and likely get a bit more talk power from the amp before clipping but I fear it would only be a slight improvement, not a solution to your problem.

If you were running a Zen amp, I would have recommended rather than buying a ZCD, just get another zen and bridge them into mono blocks.  That would have solved the problem nicely.  

Of course, your amp is a highly desirable piece.  If you could sell it and take the money you would have spent on a ZCD, you could buy a TORII MK II and be smiling from ear to ear at the end result.

-Steve  :)
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« Last Edit: 08/26/08 at 13:03:29 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #70 - 08/26/08 at 15:54:04
 
Thanks Steve,

I do have an intetgrated amp, but it looks like the ZCD may not help me that much. Regretably, I know you are right  ::). I have tried valiently to get the amp I need, but it just hasn't worked out.

Well, not all of us get it right every time  :-[

Thanks for your advise. (I am still very happy with the 1.5s  ;D

Gary
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« Last Edit: 08/26/08 at 15:55:57 by Gary_H. »  
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #71 - 08/26/08 at 17:23:54
 
Quote:
Not to make too much of it, but I thought you had a Vaughn amp yourself.


Hi Gary,

Yes ..... I did own a Carina and it's a fine amplifier by any standards.  However, I sometimes run my Parker Audio Behemoths and the Decware SO Imperials in parallel ..... and the impedance is just a wee bit lower than the Carina is happy with.  The Decware Select loves the load.  So, I sold the Carina to a friend in Columbus, Ohio where it is happily driving an 8 ohm set of loudspeakers.

The proper tool for the job at hand .....  ; )

Is there any chance that you will make the DecFest this year ..... ?

Randy
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #72 - 08/26/08 at 21:26:23
 
Hi Randy,

Thanks for the update.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend this year. I live in southern Oregon and it's just too much for me to travel out there right now.

But, I know you'll most likely be there and I will be thinking of all you chaps.

Gary
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #73 - 09/03/08 at 03:11:33
 
I've past the 3 1/2 month mark with the the ZCD, and look forward to another 9 years (to match my Jolida 601's longevity!)  I actually had the 601 out the other day and played it.  For a  $349.00 out the door demo from May 1999, it is a good sounding unit.  Cheaply made, but good. The ZCD takes it up numerous notches, but I've enjoyed the 601 and will always keep it till it stops completely.

I've followed Lon's ZCD experience with interest.  He's had enough Decware products and exhibited enough loyalty that I value his views.  Plus, anyone who recognizes jazz as America's classical music is a Man to be respected!!  I originally had a SE84C I purchased used in early 2001, and later traded it it in for a CS later that year (back when Steve was doing that!)  I say that to say I've been lurking in the forums for a while, and have noticed a lot of Lon's impressions.  I'm glad that he isnt immediately smitten with the the ZCD!  Based on my tastes and what I'm hearing, the ZCD seems a little different from what Lon has always stated he likes.  Granted, I dont know the degree of difference, but I'll add that have I've noticed my ZCD has mellowed a bit in my system to the point that I've taken out the Mullard CV4003/12AU7 and found synergy with a EH 12AU7.   I began to detect a bit of softness/cloudiness with the Mullard, which had initially taken the "bite" out of the ZCD as it broke in.  The ZCD's presentation/perspective is forward, no doubt about it.  But I dont find it harsh.  I'll reiterate that I found the DSRII's to actually help mellow the sound while keeping the forward presentation. I hear all the lushness and "vibrato" in the music.  The Transcendent Sound gear hides nothing, but now I realize the gear served only as an offset to the cloudy 601.  Yes, a vicious cycle!  I'm about to receive a new integrated amp that I  hopefully believe will marry well with the ZCD and Horns for years to come.  But I'm confident with the ZCD in making the amplification move.  I suspect the ZCD has a lot more breaking in to do.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #74 - 09/03/08 at 11:36:42
 
Thanks for posting those impressions.  (And the kind words).

I'm still letting the ZCD spin away and season in another room.  I think of adding it back in, but remember the bite and the fatigue, and I'm happy with the NAD player I'm using (very) (and enjoying SACDs and HDCD discs quite a lot) and so I'm not in a hurry.  And if as you say the machine is still breaking in after three months, then I'm doing the right thing.

If I still can't relax into it when I finally do put it into the system, I'll probably consider parting with it.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #75 - 09/03/08 at 16:07:41
 
Mine is  continuing to improve after some 4 months. Recently, the soundstage took quite a "leap". It was always very well developed side to side, but the placement of instruments and voices front to back has jumped by no small ammount.
(Bearing in mind my previous player was a Jolida 603)
Don
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #76 - 09/03/08 at 17:07:29
 
Doorman,
I fogot to add that part about the soundstage.  I was away for a week and had my system turned off at the isolation transformer.  When I turned it on I noticed a slightly deeper and wide soundstage that persisted over several CDs.  I checked my left speaker, thinking I had left the connections reversed (I sometimes reverse a speaker connection on albums and CDs, which often widens the soundstage at the expense of tight base).  The connections were not reversed.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #77 - 09/14/08 at 00:24:37
 
Can anyone comment on the type of dac in this player?  Is it non-oversampling, oversampling, or upsampling?
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #78 - 09/14/08 at 04:23:54
 
I believe the dac is 16 bit/ 8 times oversampling.

Lin
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #79 - 09/20/08 at 16:17:17
 

Okay, a little update.  I put the ZCD back in the system, and it's sounding. . . better. Still a bit more forward and "tart" than I'd like ultimately.  But improved. I'm going to use it a while and see if the fatigue inducement still happens. The fact that now all my input tubes are 6N2Ps is a factor in raising the listenability I believe.  Their "lushness" has helped.  Also I've toed the speakers out quite a bit, directing the ribbon tweeter off to the sides. . . .

There's a touch more detail and dynamics here than with the NAD 585 player, but the NAD has a wonderful warm sweetness that I know I'll miss. (And I'll miss playing my SACDs).

This is without the ZBox in the system.  I'm sending my ZBox back to Steve if he'll agree (I've asked DeVon about this) to add an input and a selector switch, and look into a hum problem I've been having with the ZBox for a few weeks now.
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« Last Edit: 09/21/08 at 14:03:17 by Lon »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #80 - 09/23/08 at 16:41:41
 
Okay, i'm continuing to try to get a handle on this player.

I can see why Randy would sell his front end in favor of this one, especially as I think Randy loves a tight and focused sound more than I (I admit to liking more a relaxed and laid back sound, sounds more like actual music than reproduced music to me that way). This machine with Steve's mods really give you the real deal on the disc.  Which often is not a good thing in my case; I have thousands (literally) of discs that could use more sweetening than this machine will allow.

I've discovered that the listening fatigue I had experienced the first weeks with this machine has somehow dissipated.  The six weeks of running constantly under my bed must have accomplished that.  

In comparison to my other favorite sources, this machine remains a bit more "forward" than I'm apparently comfortable with, and there is less bass presence* than I'd like.  I've rolled tubes and these features remain within the tonal changes that tube rolling brings about. . . . I think this machine is very neutral and is showing me the problems that I have with my system and room.  I do tend to shelve down the ribbon tweeters in my RL2s a lot, and the geometry of my large room must be hampering me.  I'm not really able to add room treatment and I'm not changing speakers soon it appears so. . .I'm trying to get used to this as I don't want to add a subwoofer (don't think that's the cure) and I really do want to like this ZCD machine.  It's a quality playback device, no doubt of that!

I've ordered a fresh tube of my favorite tube and I'm sending my ZBox back in for attention (and the ZCD DOES sound better with the ZBox than without).  I'm going to keep spinning discs and listening and "acclimating" myself as best I can.  I really WANT to love this thing! Smiley

* well, maybe there's less bass presence. Maybe there's just something that's fundamentally different in the way this player interprets things than the DVD player sources (DEC685, Sony ES Blu-Ray player, NAD T585) I've been using and used to.  DVD players always seem to present cds in a certain way that is a tiny bit smoother, warmer, than dedicated cd players, at least to ME in my system.  I do miss a tiny rounding, a tiny bit of warmth that I think I'm used to and just isn't there with the ZCD and shouldn't be if it's a "coloration" of a DVD player. . . . The Decware products are just so clean and clear, I mean the ZCD, the CSP2, the SE34L Monoblocks just don't color the sound. . . maybe I'd be happier, get that touch of warm sweetening I seem to be missing, with a more classic sounding tube amp, Eddie V's, a revamped vintage one, etc. with the ZCD giving me the unvarnished truth on the disc?  Something to ponder I guess.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #81 - 09/24/08 at 03:43:01
 
Lon: Are you still using the blu-ray player also? I agree the ZCD does give a rather "sharp" presentation- I love the detail and soundstage, but I know what you're saying.
Don
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #82 - 09/24/08 at 13:06:17
 
Oh yes, my Decware system is my entire entertainment system in the living room-dining room area and I'm using the Blu-Ray player for Blu-Ray and DVD discs. . . comparing it to the ZCD on occasion the last few days as well.  It is smoother and warmer and a bit more laid back than the ZCD. . . I could easily live with just it, but the ZCD continues to improve and has more "depth" as far as stage and image.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #83 - 09/27/08 at 22:25:46
 
My ZCD continues to improve as well.
I have been tweaking the system to optimize the sound.  I am currently running the SO Imperials from a pair of plate amps fed from the speaker taps on the Decware Select and think that I have the crossover frequency and gain level just about perfect.  With the SO Imperials hooked up there is certainly no lack of weight in the lower frequencies .....  

One additional thing was also added to the mix.  I built a box filled with lead shot and sand that sits on top of the ZCD and adds a nice amount of mass to the player.  I experimented by adding and removing shot and sand until the "tuning" sounded right to my ears.

Everything now sounds even more solid and focused than before ..... especially the bass.  So ..... the "sandwich" consists of Mapleshade Iso-blocks, a maple slab, HeavyFeet, the ZCD, the shot and sand box and HeavyHats as the cherry on top.

The stock feet were also removed from the ZCD to allow optimal positioning of the Mapleshade HeavyFeet.

Here is a photo of the setup (I really must get a better camera) :



Sounding good .....  

Randy
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #84 - 09/28/08 at 00:46:52
 
Looks nice.

I've never liked the sound of sand and lead but then I may not have gotten the tuning right ever.  I have decided I prefer Herbie Audio Lab Isoball footers to the Mapleshade brass AND Isoblocks so I use those under components and platform, and have the CSP2 sitting on top of these on top of the ZCD (the ZBox is by now back at Decware).

Sounding good.  Still not completely satisfied, but may be in the near future if the ZCD keeps improving.  Of course I don't have (and wouldn't be able to in this house) SO Imperials, a definite "deficit"!

Happy listening as you heal my friend!
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #85 - 09/28/08 at 20:19:37
 
Hi Lon,

Thanks for the encouraging words ..... they mean a lot .....

In the past, I have had mixed feelings about shot and sand.  In some situations it improved the sound, in others it degraded it.  For whatever reason, in this application it has been beneficial.  The SO Imperials definitely change the overall tonal balance of my system.  While the Parker Audio Behemoths dig down pretty low, they don't produce a lot below 50 hz sitting seven feet from the front wall.  The Imperials help to give the sound a "nice foundation" .....

I have also experimented with a "stock" power cord, the Decware power cord and one that was made for me by Parker Audio.  There is no comparison.  The stock cord lacks "sweetness" and some tonal complexity compared to the other two power cords.  I'm still curious as to how much of an effect your ZCD power cord is having on the sound of your player.  Of course, you are happy with the sound of the stock power cords on your other players ..... go figure .....

Best wishes,

Randy

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #86 - 09/28/08 at 21:19:14
 
Randy,

None of my other players have stock cords.  I have PS Audio XStream cords of two types and Decware power cords on all my other units.

I have a sort of IEC converter I can wire in to use other power cords and probably will.  I'm trying to get a handle on the sound of the unit just as it is. . . and decide if I'm ultimately going to keep it forever (I probably will) and will then splice in t hat IEC plug and use a PS Audio cord on the machine.  I believe that power cords DO make a difference. I regret not ordering this machine with the IEC option!

As for the additonal mass and weight for the player, I really find that using the big brass Mapleshade footers necessitates adding some sort of weight to most components.  I haven't found that necessary with teh Herbie's Audio Lab Isocups, which is nice.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #87 - 09/29/08 at 01:26:42
 
Quote:
None of my other players have stock cords.  I have PS Audio XStream cords of two types and Decware power cords on all my other units.


Well ..... that's what I get for presuming.  I went back and found the place where you said that upscale power cords were being used on your other front end components .....

That makes a lot more sense to me based on the results I'm getting.

I may just have to try the Herbie's Audio Lab Isocups.  I find myself agreeing with your findings much more often than not when it comes to these things .....

Take care,

Randy
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #88 - 10/06/08 at 23:38:26
 
Lon,

I've been following your comments on the ZCD and have been a little surprised and I guess disappointed that the adjectives "forward and tart" or "lacking warmth or smoothness" have remained a consistent theme in all of your posts.  Usually when something like this happens I get to read a post about "finding the culprit" and all is good... so I have to wonder why it's not happening here.

After pondering this for some time, I wondering if the difference between output of the various players is causing this impression.  I would be willing to bet that if I made the output level of the ZCD adjustable so you could find the sweet spot with your CSP2 that we could make the player sound considerably warmer.  

If I was at your house right now, I would probably be experimenting with the CSP2 output level controls on the back vs. the volume control on the front to find where everything sounds and works best for the warmest sound.  Then if that didn't work, drop the output level of the ZCD.  This can be also be done by using a 12AU7 in the ZBOX and adjusting the output level control to about 1/2.



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« Last Edit: 10/06/08 at 23:45:40 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #89 - 10/07/08 at 00:20:37
 
Steve, I have in fact last week seriously reduced the gain on the CSP2 and that has helped tame the sound quite a bit.  There are endearing qualities to this player.  Though I reiterate, the tart, dryness and forwardness is in comparison to the other players. . . I wouldn't say that it is that way as distinctly outside of direct or simultaneous comparison.  It exhibits these characteristics more so than the dvd and Blu-Ray players as a source.

I made a fairly significant change in speaker placement, and I have been tube rolling (I've been using a 12AU7 or 12BH7A in both this player and the ZBox; the 12BH7A I seem to prefr and it seems to have about the same output as a 12AU7) and seem stuck on the 12BH7A as giving me the most accurate sound (I use recordings I made of bands I was in recorded in my then garage apartment as a guide).

I'm getting used to the player. . .and I'll keep it in system and probably splice in an IEC recptacle and try a few power cords, yours and a PS Audio XStream.  Not really eager to send it back for modification. . . I hate having components in the mail and out of my reach. Smiley

Thanks for the attention. This is a very fine player. Whether it's exactly what I would dial in for myself and my archive of recordings, not sure, maybe.  Interested to hear how it sounds with the ZBox now that I've moved speakers and gain settings. (Hopefully, YOU have my ZBox at this time, for modification).
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« Last Edit: 10/07/08 at 00:26:15 by Lon »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #90 - 10/11/08 at 15:12:45
 
Steve, thanks again for your attention.  In the last few days I have been tampering with the gain on the CSP2 and I find that with very little gain the ZBox sounds very rich and warm on most well-recorded material and most of my archive.  It has also been breaking in over the last few weeks and getting nicer overall.

A wonderful machine (I've really been saying this all along) that is fast becoming irreplaceable in the system.  If only it played SACDs! Smiley

Thanks for your guidance and insight.  Here's hoping it's this good or better when I have the modded ZBox back from you.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #91 - 10/11/08 at 21:52:00
 
Lon,

I came home from Decfest this year with a seasoned ZCD  ;D and after having some problems with it, which were do, in part, to me throwing my suitcase on top of it ( who says UPS is the only one that can damage electronics) I installed a N.O.S RCA 12AU7A tube, which I didn't want to change for fear of the unit not working again, only to find it was much more laid back than what I had heard at Steve's place, or to my liking. This combo when combined with the CSP2 using 6N2P tubes was so laid back and over the top sweet, I couldn't take it. If you haven't tried this set up yet, you might consider it.

Just a thought,
BobZ
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #92 - 10/11/08 at 22:40:05
 
Bob, thanks.  I have 6N2Ps in all the appropriate sockets on my CSP2 and my SE34L Monoblocks. . . and cryo'd RCA 12BH7A in the ZCD, very close to what you have.  I have so so many tubes I don't want to buy another N.O.S. or two but if I see reasonable ones I'll look for RCA 12AU7As.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #93 - 10/15/08 at 20:04:10
 
Okay by now I'm sure everyone is sick of my "impressions" and I'll just have one more after this most likely, when the ZBox (on the way back to me from Steve) is put back into the system (I had it modded with a selector switch so that I can use both the ZCD and the Blu-Ray player with the ZBox).

I wanted to note that I spliced in an IEC connector to the captive cord and am now using one of my PS Audio Prelude XStream power cords, a cord I am very fond of for components and that is not ridiculously expensive.  The difference with this player is quite noticable, the bass is richer and yet still very fluent, there is weight and body to instruments such as the piano if well-recorded.  I'd advise anyone ordering the player to spring for the IEC connector option and use their favorite power cord, it really makes a difference.

I've made some real changes to speaker orientation for this player, firing the tweeters on the RL2s quite radically towards the side walls, and with the speakers closer to the back wall than I have ever had them before, and with the lower woofers "activated" with wire round porcelain resistors.  But with these adjustments this player portrays a very dimensional and involving sound.  I expect that the ZBox reintroduced will add depth and richness.  It's taken a while but "I've got it where I want it!"
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #94 - 10/16/08 at 03:47:54
 
Quote:
It's taken a while but "I've got it where I want it!"


Well ..... it's about time .....

I know that we don't always hear things exactly the same, but the sound you were describing was not at all what I was hearing ..... I have to wonder how much of it was due to the power cord  ?

Whatever the reason, I am extremely happy to hear that the ZCD is working for you ..... goodness knows that you have paid your dues to get it where it needs to be .....

The fact that you were not ecstatic about the sound initially does nothing but enhance the respect that your opinions deserve ..... it proves that you are not a "homer" for everything that has the Decware name plate ..... the stamp of approval has to be earned.

Tim Adams paid me a visit last week and was very complimentary about the sound I am getting from the ZCD ..... and Tim is not easily impressed these days.

Having owned some pretty respectable digital front end equipment as a basis for comparison, I am extremely pleased with the sound I'm getting from the ZCD ..... it is a screaming bargain and I can't imagine it being the weak link in any high end audio system .....

I think we have "chosen well" ......

Happy listening,

Randy
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« Last Edit: 10/16/08 at 03:51:04 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #95 - 10/16/08 at 13:20:30
 
Randy, I don't think a whole lot is really due to the power cord.  The cord is like the final decoration on a cake, it reinforces the strengths already there and sets them off.

This machine is brutally honest and I've had to alter my system to accommodate it, which is probably the correct thing for it to evoke, as it is not like other players with a signature.  I didn't think I'd have to do so so radically.  If I were to restore the system to the way it was previous to all these adjustments I don't think I could get through a cd, the sound is so bright and forward.  Now with some months of seasoning and the speakers in positions I never thought they would be I can relax into the sound in the way I used to with my DEC685 and my NAD T585, and have that extra tubed Decware sound that is about ten percent more dimensional and deep than the NAD.  Luckily with the CSP2 I can lower the input gain quite a bit, that was the final trick I needed to learn to tame the sound.

First class sound at less than a grand, a bargain yes, one that may not be "plug and play" for everyone and demand some attention and effort to integrate.  Hopefully I'm done.  I'll investigate the tube that Bob recommends, I notice that Cryoset carries one or two. . . .I hope I don't have to do much more fiddling because it was a bit worrisome.
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #96 - 10/16/08 at 14:15:09
 
Lon,

There may be one more factor that is affecting the overall sound I am hearing from the ZCD ..... for the past few months, I have been treating my CDs with a product I heard at the last HornFest at Ed Schilling's place ..... Ultra Bit Platinum CD Treatment.

I have no idea what this product does, but one of the claims is that it makes CDs sound "more analog" and based on my experience I feel that it's a fair claim.

As you correctly observe, the ZCD adds none of the coloration that many players do (especially tubed units) and is very honest in its presentation.  It's possible that the ZCD is "honestly" portraying whatever the beneficial effect is on the treated CD.

Everyone who attended the HornFest heard a dramatic difference (read improvement) in the treated CDs and it seems reasonable to me that the more accurate and resolving the player, the more obvious the difference would be.

Whatever the case ..... I am very happy with the results .....

As far as I know, Ed is still a distributor for this product and it can be ordered from his website.

Randy
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Decware Model SE84UFO amplifier
Caintuck Audio Betsy Open Baffles and Alpha bass baffles
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Lon
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Philip K. D*ck

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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #97 - 10/16/08 at 15:50:14
 
Randy, I have no doubt that product really works and works really well.

But. . . I play at least fifty cds a week and a different fifty the next week and probably a different fifty the week after that, and I have in excess of 10,000 discs, probably more like 13.000 and I play them eventually. . . .

I couldn't afford the mass quantities of that material I would need, and I don't want to get listening and feel I have to have it on every disc, as I'm afraid I would.

I just can't justify the expense; I'd rather buy new discs, new clothes, organic food, etc.

When those lottery numbers finally favor me, I'll buy a truckload.  Or at least a pickup truck load. Wink  Right now though the "more going out than coming in" has to stop, I'm down to one income and it's 3/4 of my income a year ago (my retirement check) and it's not going up. (What saves me is a house that's paid for and zero debt.)
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« Last Edit: 10/17/08 at 11:43:38 by Lon »  

HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #98 - 10/16/08 at 16:44:55
 
Quote:
But. . . I play at least fifty cds a week and a different fifty the next week and probably a different fifty the week after that, and I have in excess of 10,000 discs, probably more like 13,000 and I play them eventually. . . .


What a nice "problem" to have ..... I hope to have the same problem some day .....

I can appreciate why you don't want to get started with this.  Truthfully, it not only involves a financial investment to treat the disks but the time to do it.  To treat 10,000 CDs ..... I would probably be old and gray long before the job was finished .....

With that many disks, you have no doubt chosen the best course by making changes in your system to get the desired sound ..... and healthy food and clothing are always a wise investment .....

Randy
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« Last Edit: 10/16/08 at 16:45:29 by Randy in Caintuck »  

CEC TL5N belt drive CD transport
Camelot Uther / Anagram DAC
U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus turntable
AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB DAC / tablet
Decware Model SE84UFO amplifier
Caintuck Audio Betsy Open Baffles and Alpha bass baffles
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Lon
Seasoned Member
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"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 12748
Re: ZCD impressions
Reply #99 - 10/20/08 at 21:49:53
 
Glad you see my dilemna about the "treatment."  I think I'm wise to steer clear!

Got my modified ZBox back today.  Steve did a wonderful job adding an input and a toggle selector switch.  I can now use the ZBox with my ZCD and my Sony ES Blu-Ray, and use the other input on the CSP2 for my tv sound.  Now all the sources in my living room sound GREAT!
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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