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Diary of a recent Zen Head # 5 (Read 1536 times)
Steve Deckert
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If the 1st watt
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Diary of a recent Zen Head # 5
11/10/08 at 14:48:43
 
Podtweaker writes:

09-22-2008, 06:42 PM:

Hello all. Well I have my Zen Head. It was delivered at about 10:30 this morning by UPS as promised by the tracking info. Thanks UPS. I couldn't wait to try this amp out so I hooked up my Zune & Beyerdynamics DT770/80pro phones for a test run. I noticed that I had to turn the volume up a little more than I would have liked for a medium range of volume. Not by much, but a little & then remembered about the adjustable switches on the circuit board. So off I went to find a small philips head. As I was looking at the unit I had a small brain fart(not a large one, mind you because they are relative to the size of your mind) how did the volume contol knob come off. Luckily my brain caught up to my eyes before I proceeded & realized the entire front panel along w/ the circuit board can be removed from the case by sliding it foward after you'ved removed the screws holding things. To make sure that you have enough slack in the battery wires open up the battery compartment & move the battery so that the wires can move foward when the front panel & board are slid foward. I had remembered that Steve had mentioned about setting the input impedance switch to the 10k position for MP3 players & I also moved the gain switch to high, I left the crossfeed switch on. After closing everything back up & rehooking all connections I felt that the volume gain was in line with where I liked things. I set the Zune for shuffle ,took the phones off & went out for lunch. I've been listening for only a short while now so I'll only make some limited observations for now. One of the first things I've noticed is with this amp it is much easier to pick up the differences in recording quality w/ orchestral music. This is going to take some time to get a handle on the ideal volume for each label. Good labels have a certain "house sound" that the production teams try to achieve on a consistent basis. It's not often you can pick up the small nuances in the playback of digital recordings & probably not at all at MP3* bit rates , this is something more likely distiguished in good analog playback. Just one more little teaser for now , as I have to go to work soon. I'm not noticing the upper frequency glare that I was hearing w/ the other portable amp I was using & I don't know if you could really have called that glare. That's all for now kids, till next time. . .(* I don't use lossy, just a personal preference)


09-26-2008, 07:58 AM:

Well tonight I've finally been able to spend some quality listening time w/ my Zen Head and anyone who thinks that they are going to get this quality of sound straight from their player by upgrading their headphones may be seriously deluding themselves. If you listen to classical music you need to hear this amp. Right now I'm listening to a re-issue of Hyperion release (on their Helios label) of Three English Ballet Suites . Firstly , the staging is simply wonderful. The different sections of English Northern Philharmonia stand in relief of each other as if there is an ongoing melodious dialogue amongst themselves. I guess if was trying to describe what soundstaging was to someone who hadn't been exposed to representative recordings I think it might just be easier to let them listen as I pointed out things to listen to. Before I forget, the lack of solid state hardness in the upper frequencies is very natural sounding. At this point describing more of what I'm hearing is becoming too much of a chore because these nice little tidbits of music are distracting me. I'll end by saying the amp has stayed totally out of the way of the playback of a very well recorded & fun recording. Can you tell I like this amp ?


09-28-2008, 08:34 PM:

I may have been a little hasty in judging that I needed to switch the gain setting on my ZH to high in order to drive my Beyerdynamic DT770/PRO 80ohm hps sufficently enough. I kept forgetting to check the volume setting on my Zune. It appears that the sound is considerably more dynamic if the Zune volume is at maximum( I really wish someone would figure out a way to get a true line-out from these players & as I keep saying I don't see why someone hasn't figured out how to make the headphone out function as one. Isn't that how the original Imod worked?). I've since moved the gain switch back to its original setting. Another thing that I've considered is, could the increase in volume have anything to do w/ the change to the Ultralife lithium 9v ? The volume adjustment range(on the amp) appears to be a bit more flexable now. The tonality of this amp is wildly good . While listening to a live performance recording of David Wilcox(Live Songs & Stories) I can clearly detect the sweet treble of his James Olson guitar has the same tonal character of James Taylor's guitar (which in many instances is also an Olson* guitar) (* forgive me if I've misspelled the last name as the name is a Luthier's bread & butter). That's all for now. Good listening everyone. "No, Stephen" he says to himself "You are not upgrading your headphones". Well not yet anyway


09-27-2008, 06:52 AM:

While I'm here I'll add a few more observations that I didn't mention last night. One of the things I like about the ZHs presentation of sound is that played instruments have 'body' or 'weight' to their sound even if the music is being played softly. More often than not w/ most equipment this level of detail does'nt become evident until you start increasing the volume which then ends up obscuring inner detail when the orchestra plays at forte levels. Steve has done a real nice job w/ this amp & when I decide to get a pre-amp for my main audio system I may have to see what he has .


10-04-2008, 08:08 AM:

One thing I have noticed though is the sound is much more relaxed now & its getting to the point were even if I don't recognize the chamber piece or concerto I can pick out the recording label pretty consistently from the "house sound" that the different recording labels normally have. I have two recordings that are definitely not up to par w/ most of my other recordings whose flaws are even more evident as they should be. Oh, one other thing ,which I will mention before I get long winded as I normally do. I decided that my initial change of settings (10k imped & high gain) work better for me. With these settings I'm able to keep my Zunes (more than one) at half volume with no decrease in dynamics & have a very large adjustable range of volume w/ the Zen Head. I know a few other posters received their Zen Heads about the same time mine came. It's your turn fellas, don't make us come knock on your door asking why you haven't checked back in. Good listening & goodnight !(One other thing I should mention As detailed as this amp is it is much easier to detect where the violins are placed in the orchestras as opposed to the violists because you can hear the violinists breatheing . Why you ask? because as we all know violas & violins are actually the same size they just appear to be different due to the fact violinists have larger heads)


10-11-2008, 06:40 AM:

To get back on track the dealer I went was pretty blown away by my Zen Head amp I took w/ me to audition things. It seems a couple of his customers are head-fiers & we talked a little about all the talk about the RSA amps. His comment was that he thought this amp was at least the equal of the RSA pieces he'd heard & he might like this amp a little bit more!


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Steve Deckert
Administrator
*****


If the 1st watt
sucks why continue?

Posts: 2370
Re: Diary of a recent Zen Head # 5
Reply #1 - 11/10/08 at 14:49:10
 
continued:

10-15-2008, 08:55 AM:

To everyone out there who has this amp if want to hear some magic you absolutely have to hear your Zen Head ZH1 w/ a pair of Denon AH-D5000s. In an earlier post I described the tone of the James Olson acoustic guitar that David Wilcox is playing in a live recording. I don't know how many of you may be aware of the sound characteristics of different size acoustic guitars & in some cases the sound of double basses & cellos, in certain registers, can be mistaken for one another. Well, listening to the Wilcox recording again w/ the Denon phones you can hear that the guitar being played is not a dreadnought sized instrument but a slightly smaller size instrument due to the fact that the string sound is more balanced from the lower strings through the treble strings, whereas a dreadnought sized instrument will sound a little bit 'chestier' sounding. In other words the sense of scale is very easily discernable through this combo. I suppose I get too wrapped up in details ,but sometimes these details won't let me ignore them due to the fact that most playback of recorded music is very easy to semi-listen to. More often than not, listening w/ these pieces, I find it easier to ignore everything else.

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