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Zen 84C Kit Amp Review (Read 3140 times)
76doublebass
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Posts: 47
Zen 84C Kit Amp Review
01/18/09 at 02:38:06
 
I wanted to start posting a review on the Zen Amp I had bought as a kit without the pc board. I wanted to challenge myself and try hard to build it as a factory wired 84C Zen Amp. Yes it was almost a bit much for me to assemble,but with the patient help of Steve and the utube 12 part video he had on its construction I was able to finish the completion of the unit.Although I did need help in the end from a tube technician in my area to do another 3 hours of troubleshotting to bring it to life.
A little background on myself might give you some perspective from where I'm coming from in my review of the unit.
1. I have been an advid Audiophile for almost 30 years and have been on the merry go round with components in my days.
I.E.Audio Research SP-6B,6C,ARC SP-8, ARC VT-60, ARC 110B Solid State Monster, RM-4 Head Amp,Conrad Johnson PV-5,CJ PV-8,Acoustat Special Made 2+2, Martin Logan CLS, Martin Logan Quest Z's. You get the picture.
Well I had almost sold everything I had an was giving up on Audiophile rip offs from the merry go round upgrade of the year designator to just not feeling the void of reproducing Real Music in Real Acoustic Spaces.
Part 2 of my formula comes from what brought me back into the fold of SET.
I think most of this has to do with my exposure to live music. I have been playing the bass trombone for the past 40 years or more and almost 20 of those years with our local symphony The Skagit Symphony. My ears are exposed to live music constantly. I Know What Live Music Sounds Like Very much from the Classical and Jazz perspective as well. I had also been in a semi pro jazz band for 6 years during part of this time as well.
With the 84 C for the first time I can hear I would call outer detail as well as inner.Outer meaning I can hear the moisture of a reed being blown very cleanly and clearly fro the first time. I can hear the breath of a singes voice at the end of a long phrase so clearly that u are tricked into thinking shes singing in the room with u making the master tape in your presense. Its really amazing to say the least.
The timing of the amp is quick,real fast. I can hear bongos drumming full 8th and 16th note pattern beats that would normally smear as something not heard at all.
I have really put this amp through its paces on the 60 hours of use thus far.I have played Willie Nelson Stardust on CD to even The Riverdance Soundtrack which I had the opportunity to watch live in Seattle. It was a great treat to hear the dancers stomp through between my speakers with such accuracy and placement of them.
I was able to hear the solo dancers moving to the left of the stage and when all the dancers occupied the floor it was very exciting and reminded me of being back at the hall live again.I was able to clearly hear and feel them a bit as well.
I am listening to all of this through my 89DB Efficent Paradigm Atom 2 ways But with a mod done on them to open things up.I was so excited by the sound of this amp that I could not wait for a speaker upgrade at the moment; so I tore into them replacing the tweeter with a 4 ohm Ribbon Tweeter I had with me from 1982 and it worked after all these years. Rated at 40 watts made in London it was my ticket to revive the amp into seeing a 4 ohm load and everything really started to sing and brought back life into the amp literally.
So if anyone tries to review the amp with 86 to 89 DB speakers well don't even read the review u would just be waisting your time..
I will be obtaining Parker Audio 95's used next month so I will need to post an update when I receive those.
Yes I am back into the land of SET with the Zen and I will be getting
Steves CD player the Tascam with all the mods sometime in April
so the fun will continue down the road.
My system sounds like minnie Electrostat Speakers now I just can't get over this. Even with just a Tosiba basic 5 drawer DVD player I am getting this type of playback.
Well I will keep you all posted when I can hear them with Parker 95's
Take Care Everyone
Don
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sebrof
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Posts: 10
Re: Zen 84C Kit Amp Review
Reply #1 - 06/22/09 at 20:22:50
 
Since 76's review was the only one I saw on the Zen Amp kit (ZKit1), and since he went the non-conventional route and built it without the circuit board, I thought I'd give my impressions.

The kit is easy to build. Not much to say - Download the instructions from the website, heat up your iron, and start slinging solder. Pay attention to polarity on a couple of caps and make sure the big resistor is up off the circuit board so it doesn't burn the board. Make 6 jumpers and install. Bob's your uncle, as they say. You're done. Took me about 3 hours because I took my time.

This whole "Hi Efficiency / Low Power" stuff is new to me, so maybe I'm easily impressed. I'm used to 100 - 325 watt amplifiers, so I was sure the 2 watt kit was just a fun little toy - an experiment until I found a suitable amp. For $300 + tubes I figured I'd limp along until I found an amp to use long term.
Wrong. This thing is the real deal. I have 104db speakers in a fairly small room, and the power is all I'll ever need. I can't speak to bigger rooms or less efficient speakers. Aside from the volume, it sounds very very good, and it's stock; cheap interconnects, generic speaker wire, $30 worth of tubes (total). It's a joke to look at since I still have it sitting on "my favorite chunk of wood" - Remember, it was supposed to be a short-term deal. Now I gotta go get a fancy box for the thing. I'm sitting here listening as I write and I'm really enjoying it. Sound is clean, full, detailed. Bass has a lot of weight, highs are smooth, vocals are pure and don't sound veiled at all.

To sum it up - If you're thinking about it, do it. Unless your system (speakers and room) are not suitable I really don't think you can go wrong.

Enjoy - Mike
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76doublebass
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Posts: 47
Re: Zen 84C Kit Amp Review
Reply #2 - 06/23/09 at 03:10:00
 
I'm happy for u. I haven't seen very many people try to do the kit.
I got a predrilled top plate from Steve and did mine that way and included a rectifier tube for my kit. I also bulit a wooden box around it. I used Red Oak and shined it up real nice after I pounded a few nails into it. I also buit a brass bottom plate for mine out of an Old Akai tape deck that was scrapped up.
Don C.
Have fun listening
Now You'll need to get Steves ZCD CD Player with all the mods
and then you'll never leave your house Cheesy
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pipercub
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Re: Zen 84C Kit Amp Review
Reply #3 - 07/06/10 at 18:37:27
 
Mike

What 104 speakers do you have?
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sebrof
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Posts: 10
Re: Zen 84C Kit Amp Review
Reply #4 - 07/06/10 at 22:39:43
 
Pipercub - I have Klipschorns in a 12' x 13' room.
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