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New ZCD player! (Read 8012 times)
Steve Deckert
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New ZCD player!
11/15/09 at 20:21:52
 
THE ZEN CD PLAYER has been REDESIGNED from the ground up!



 

The transport has been massively improved.  It's using a new DAC chip and clock, all new circuit boards, improved layouts and improved wiring.  In fact the only thing that remains the same on the inside of this machine is the rather huge power supply which we loved so much! This new machine, besides being a leap forward in build quality, makes an equally strong leap forward in sound quality.  The reduced jitter, increased bitrate and general character of the new DAC chip makes the ZCD sound overall smoother, slightly warmer and a bit more organic than our original model.


The new DAC chip is a bit of a surprise.  It's a panasonic MN6474A that is used in only a few players that I've been able to find.

( a list of DAC chips used in today's CD players and DACs can be found here: http://www.vasiltech.nm.ru/files/cd-players/CD-Player-DAC-Transport.htm

At nearly twice the cost of say the popular PCM1702 chip used in so many hi-end units, I wouldn't have expected to find it used in this Tascam player.  


MN6474A
D/A Converter for Digital Audio Equipment

Overview

The MN6474A is a CMOS digital-to-analog converter with a built-in 16-bit digital filter for pulse code modulation (PCM) digital audio equipment.
It uses noise shaping technology to convert a digital signal into a PWM signal.
It contains a 4-fold oversampling digital filter that permits simplification of the low pass filter after the D/A converter, thus greatly reducing the power consumption of the entire D/A conversion system.

This of course lends itself well to our implementation in the ZCD player where the active 7th order low pass filter AND hi pass filters have been eliminated.  The chip is driving the tube stage directly with no filtering whatsoever.

The chip provides both regular and inverted phase outputs for both channels.
The chip contributes to cost and size reductions for CD players and other digital audio equipment.

Features

Built-in 4-fold oversampling digital filter
(ripple of only ±0.0072 dB within the supported band and attenuation of 62.7 dB within the cutoff band)

Internal resolution of 18 bits
Two's complement input (I2S input code also supported)
Built-in overflow limiter
No zero cross distortion
Sample-and-hold circuit is unnecessary
Output pin for detecting zero input
Single 5V power supply


How much better is the new ZCD200 vs. the original ZCD?  Well, the imaging is as good or better.  The frequency balance is better behaved, less aggressive.  The player is smoother with no loss of detail.

Actually I wasn't terribly thrilled when the CD160MKII was discontinued and the CD200 turned out to be a completely new animal because I had to start completely over again with the output stage design and voicing.  A tedious process when you have a million other things to do, but in the end it has been well worth my time and I'm happy with the end result.

I'm keeping the introductory price at $799 until Christmas.  Also I am almost done with the ZCD-200i that will have a built-in IPOD dock, so we are going to actually have two models this year.

Steve  :)
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« Last Edit: 11/15/09 at 20:27:52 by Steve Deckert »  
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DPC
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #1 - 11/15/09 at 21:33:24
 
Now, if the 200i could only send the cd data to my ipod's hard drive. Cool
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Lon
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #2 - 11/15/09 at 22:01:56
 
I probably should have waited for this one!

Best of luck, looks nice!
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Steve Deckert
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #3 - 11/16/09 at 01:41:50
 
Hi Lon,

I actually thought of you several times as I've been listening to the first unit break in.  

The new ZCD was unexpected.  I knew Tascam had released a new player, but I honestly assumed little if anything had changed other than the pitch control.  I assumed that nothing would change including the name ZCD.  It was a bittersweet surprise when I opened up the first one.

Steve
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ZENCDUSER
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #4 - 11/16/09 at 02:09:46
 
I remember the conversation about the CD200 back in August, as I was sending my unit back to Decware to have the (now standard) voltage adjustment added, along with the tube regulation Sad    Had I only known
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #5 - 11/16/09 at 04:50:41
 
I guess it's the nature of the beast--I bought my ZCD about a year ago Cry
Don
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Lon
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #6 - 11/16/09 at 11:52:22
 
Yeah, that's how it happens, and I can't afford to just order a new ZCD, so I guess I'll be fine with my Sony SACD player and the ZCD until I can maybe afford the DAC. (Going to have to sell some instruments and audio equipment eventually to justify new stuff).
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Steve Deckert
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #7 - 11/16/09 at 17:16:42
 
Yes,  the long faces... now you know why i wasn't so happy when I cracked the lid on the CD200...

Here is what I will do -  Anyone who has purchased a ZCD from me in the past and wants to get one of the newer ones can have it for $100.00 below the current introductory price.  The introductory price lasts until Christmas.  After that the ZCD200 will go up to $899.00 from $799.00.

That means that you can buy a new one now for $699 and after Christmas you can sell your original one for $599.00 saving the buyer $300 over the price of a new one.  If you can't get $599.00 for a nicely burned in original ZCD player, you're just not trying.

Fair enough?

Steve  ;)
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Lon
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #8 - 11/16/09 at 17:18:50
 
That's a great offer.  I don't think I'm going to take it, but it's a great offer.  Thanks!

I'll probably stick wth my ZCD and my Sony SACD player.  The Sony has qualities of the new ZCD that the ZCD i have is missing.  And it is built much better, amazing case and chassis. It's way underpriced, like a loss leader.  I'm using the ZCD currently, with a lot of work on adjusting my system it's very close, just a little tarter and more forward, and it doesn't play SACDs, which I really love.  But I'm getting use out of it now, I'll put the Sony back in soon, and then probably alternate.

And then in the future I'll try to get myself financially ready for your DAC.  With that I can replace CSP2, ZBox and a CD source or two.  It promises to offer more flexibility for my system, and sound quality too.  I can't spend any more dollars on stereo equipment now, in the last few years I've spent five or six thousand on Decware items alone. Have to show a little restraint. The bank account is not endless, and I have an expensive girlfriend. Smiley
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« Last Edit: 11/16/09 at 17:25:47 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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mike_gagne
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #9 - 11/17/09 at 07:08:08
 
Decware.....girlfriend......Decware....... girlfriend..........hmmmmm  Decware wins-loyalty, commitment, performance-no contest.   ha   lol
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Lon
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #10 - 11/17/09 at 12:52:14
 
No Mike, at this point in my life love is everything.  I feel so grateful that I found such a wonderful love after a period of deep sadness from losing my wife to cancer. Nadine wins my attention and dollars. We're at a juncture, things can go one way or another. They may go towards a larger home in which case I'll have no mad money. So. . . it's a good thing I have several great systems NOW. Smiley
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« Last Edit: 11/21/09 at 13:31:35 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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ZENCDUSER
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #11 - 11/21/09 at 06:05:20
 
Steve,

Was the comparison between the new and old player done with any of the options?  Or, better yet, are any of the options required to get the sound you heard, or does the new stock player accomplish what the mods previously acomplished?
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #12 - 11/21/09 at 06:06:17
 
When I said mods, I meant options!
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Steve Deckert
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #13 - 11/22/09 at 15:57:13
 
The players were compared without either having any of the additional options.  I've also compared the two fully optioned out.  The options do exactly the same thing to both machines, so the options have no real bearing on the differences.

Now with a few weeks of listening under my belt I am still trying to figure out which of the two machines actually images better, and I still have no answer.  However, the new machine keeps amazing me with it's rather incredible musicality.  

This week I worked with the 200i thinking it would be basically the same exact build as the 200, but boy was I wrong.  It has turned out to be incredibly complex by comparison.  Everything had to be moved, rearranged, re-evaluated.  Getting the IPOD output directly into the tube stage without using any of the stock cable in the machine  and have it work seamlessly with the CD without one effecting the other, and without the original multiplexing...  That only took 60 hours.  

It's finally finished, and I've been comparing the IPod against the CD player and finding the IPod in a serious competition to see which sounds better.  Put another way, a direct coupled IPod to tube stage is better than you would have guessed.  This is refreshing because it's docked and charging while it plays.  In the past, from a fidelity standpoint, it was always either listen to the Ipod on it's battery, or Charge the IPod.  Charging and listening was a waste of time.

Really turning into a balls out IPod dock, with not only an adjustable tube output stage, but also an active headphone amp with volume, an aux stereo line input - also direct coupled to the tube stage, and even high quality Composite and SVideo outputs.

So it's coming along.

Steve
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Chris K
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Re: New ZCD player!
Reply #14 - 11/23/09 at 01:29:31
 
Will you consider making a standalone iPod/iPhone dock?
I am finding the analog output from my new iPhone 3Gs playing Pandora Radio is stupidly good. And with the Integrated CCE mod the result is holographic. So a surgical transplant to a standalone chassis after your R&D stage is something I would personally be fairly stoked about. Also with a tube gain stage that can be optionally switched in or out to put some "meat on the bones" when the output of the source gets a little lean. Would all this fit in something as neat and tidy as say a Z-box?
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« Last Edit: 11/23/09 at 01:31:04 by Chris K »  

Hi-Fi Gear: More than I need! Not as much as I want!
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