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The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE! (Read 32297 times)
will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #90 - 05/21/10 at 21:43:13
 
Steve,

Since this thread is mostly about introducing, using and impressions about the ZDAC, might it be relevant to move most (or all) of it to the support thread? Or rename it "The Zen DAC is Here/ZDAC1 Support."....or something like that. I don't know the details of Forums workings, but this thread is loaded with support info that one may not think to look at with another thread named ZDAC Support.

Just a thought.

Will
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #91 - 05/26/10 at 16:14:56
 
So will, any new impressions? Smiley
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #92 - 05/26/10 at 20:23:43
 
Hey Lon,

Thanks for checking in.

Yes I definitely have new impressions but I am reticent to go deep with any final comparisons for a couple of reasons. I am on day 10 and the ZDAC has become notably more open and resolving over the last few days. A jump to be sure, but I expect more to come.

And....to further mess up clarity of analyses, I am still messing around with cable  synergy (power and IC's and switching around my little Alan Maher boxes of rocks on the power cable ends). Also, I am waiting on a little better USB cable to more accurately compare a computer front end.

But maybe I can speak to the break in process so far! Smiley

Before this sort of transformational shift of the last two days, I was hearing progressively better sound, but there was still a lack of total resolution that sounded to me like it could be unsettled electronics. The pleasant anticipation of better things to come was supported by the fact that during those first 5 or 6 days, there were points of blissful brilliance as the sound kept subtly shifting.

But at that point, though better, I could not say for sure the ZDAC was considerably better ($800 worth) than my Rega Apollo. They really were quite different in their presentation so it was tricky because I liked things about both. Comparatively, the Rega was more laid back, open and spacious (more black between players) but sometimes a little lean and on rare occasion, perhaps a touch electronic sounding. Ouch!.. that was a brutal blow the ZDAC dealt. Cry

The ZDAC on the other hand, was more full and rich, with generally nicer harmonics and a little smoother. It was more forward, with a relatively equal soundstage, but for me, perhaps filling in the black a bit much, giving a live sense, but feeling a little less spacious...something I enjoy. So though pleasantly resolving, I found it a little too full and forward for my ultimate druthers.

Hypercritical listening aside, the ZDAC always sounded good, BUT NOW it is beginning to sound like I would suspect it should for Steve to call it good! Somewhere around days 6-8 I could hear a speeded up shift in the low end detail, then yesterday the upper mids and highs leaped up a step, smoothing and clarifying along with another dose of opening in the low mids and bass. But as the detail and space jumped forward in the equation, I found the mids just a little hard sounding.

And Today???....the detail increases with more smoothness and with increased harmonics rounding things out in a pleasantly musical way...Very Nice! So at this point, I'd say it is sounding really good but figure it is still sorting itself out! I am excited to hear it tomorrow! Wink

So it is all in flux for me and the ZDAC is still burning in as far as I can tell, but I will write once I feel like it is close to finished.

How long did it take for you to consider yours burned in Lon? How about you Randy?
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #93 - 05/26/10 at 22:31:59
 
Hey Will,

Your impressions dovetail nicely with mine . . . the first two weeks there were interesting and ultimately improving changes in the sound from the ZDAC-1. Around the beginning of week three I felt it was generally broken in and sounding great.  It's had a few wavers in sound since then and probably sounds a bit better now as it nears the end of another week.  I considered it broken in after two weeks, and it will season over the next months.

I'm pleased at how well my SACD player has held up beside it (I have both running through my ZBox, which I had Steve add another input to a year and a half or so back). I can toggle back and forth between them. Like the sound of both for Redbook for different reasons, as I'vew mentioned above.

Keep on enjoying and keep on letting us know.
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #94 - 05/27/10 at 02:09:50
 
Lon,

Thanks for your burnin experience. I'm closing in!

As sort of an aside, I am guessing that since you are still using the ZBOX, that you have resolved any differences you once had with its benefit in your redbook sound??? If so, is the 12BH7 the tube? Any favorite company/vintage? I would be very interested in your impressions as to how it effects the ZDAC if you feel up to going there.

I have been thinking about ordering a Zbox for years. In fact it was the first thing that pointed me to Decware, and though I now have a lot of Decware stuff, I have yet to try a ZBOX.

On the other hand, as Steve suggested, the ZDAC1 may not need it. Just over the course of the day (just slipped into day 11) mine has come out loads, and it is sounding very "tube like." Sweet!
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #95 - 05/27/10 at 04:18:15
 
Yes, I'm using a 12BH7, an RCA NOS.

My problems with the ZBox before were in combination with the ZCD and CSP2 actually, too much hum using all these, and it seemed to mask dynamics and some detail.

It doesn't add a whole lot to the ZDAC sound, but I'm using it right now so and probably will onwards to switch between the ZDAC and the SACD output of the SCD-XA5400ES.  The ZDAC sounds great without it, perhaps just a tad smoother with it.
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #96 - 05/27/10 at 05:11:42
 
Hi Will,

I would say that everything settled in after about two and a half weeks with little or no additional improvement.

That was using it for between two to six hours a day of actual listening time and shutting it off for several hours each day to let the capacitors form properly (which I had found to work best with all of the other Decware gear I have owned).

I hear what you are saying about the "roller coaster ride" as the ZDAC broke in.  It never, ever sounded bad ..... but there were times that it was in goose bump territory and the day after it didn't sound nearly as good ..... then back to goose bumps the following day.

Such is the life of high end audio .....

Best wishes,

Randy
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« Last Edit: 05/27/10 at 05:12:02 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #97 - 05/27/10 at 06:24:42
 
Thanks Lon for the Zbox input.

And you too Randy. Thinking back on the burn in experience, it has been pretty much as you said...dreamy good, then for me, a little surprising when the goose bumps weren't there, but it still sounded really good. Left me sort of wondering....did that really happen? I thought this thing was carrying me away yesterday!

I expect it is appropriately named Zen DAC, since an object of Zen practice is total involvement with something, so much so that there is no distinction between subject and object....or in this case listener and listened to! After the experience of the music involving us so completely, it is almost like a dream to remember the experience.

I hope it ends with the goose bumps all the time!
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #98 - 05/27/10 at 14:42:07
 
"Dreamy good" huh. Well, to me no reproduced music is "dreamy good." There's a clear distinction between the real thing, live music in the air, and reproduced playback. But yeah, the ZDAC (and the SACD from my Sony) are really the best reproduced sound that I've lived with.

A bit more about the ZBox: when optimized (I've learned that you have to have just the right footers for the ZBox AND the ZDAC as they are not weighty and don't have a lot of mass, I've found the best success using Herbie Audio Lab Tender Feet; also the ZBox really responds to a power cord change, I find that a really good one, like the Decware ones, makes a difference) it does add a sensation of tubes and adds a bit of dimensionality and solidity to the sound. The ZDAC is thus flavored slightly, for me it tends to mitigate a bit of the forward nature of the ZDAC, and as a lover of laid-back sound that works well. Plus, since I had Steve add another input it allows me to switch between two inputs and thus expands my system use.  It never hurts what it's connected to. It may "squash" dynamics a bit, I'm never quite certain about that, but it's a very small amount. With the right tube (and that's a personal choice, ultimately) it can really tailor the tonal balance for fine tuning. When you have the quality front end that the ZDAC offers it's a luxury, and not a necessary one.  With a lesser front end, the ZBox can be a real system-changing component.
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #99 - 05/27/10 at 15:55:30
 
Lon,

Thanks for the further explanation about how you have figured out the use of the Zbox. Makes good sense and I appreciate it. I had a Jolida CD100 with tube output for a while, and I really liked a lot of what those tubes did to richen the musical experience...I also liked how it made lesser recordings sound more rich and live. But finally I had technical problems with two different jolidas and I ran for it, going for a more accurate, but still pretty musical solid state player. Not sure if that was the best plan or not at this point.

But now, with the ZDAC or the Rega, the appeal of an additional tube stage could fit, potentially rounding off some of the remaining hard edges of lesser recordings with musical, harmonic detail... I can imagine a really good front end with a really good tube stage as being pretty sweet.

Cool

As for dreamy home listening....I hear you, but for me it is real. Maybe I finally have room and system synergy sorted out, with a "live" but controlled sound that is downright surreal at times it is so "real" sounding. With it, I can easilly get fully absorbed by beautifully played and recorded music...the pleasures of the sound quality being a component of the mind bending seduction of music at home.

I guess in the end I have a hard time comparing live with home listening as I "feel" them differently. I do love to hang with the vibe of good players on a good night, and though the sound quality is rarely truly great, it is usually pretty big, and that combined with being with the players as the music is created can also be truly captivating. I love both.

But finally, there is considerable beauty is the immediacy of home playing. In my seat, with my room and gear tuned and nothing else to do...there is little else that brings more pleasure than the beauty of those sounds.
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #100 - 05/27/10 at 16:50:18
 
Well, I hear you and don't really disagree.

It's just that I can pick up a guitar, pluck my bass violin, play my piano or strike my snare or tom or bass drum, and there's such an immediate difference, and real is real. . . .

Anyway, when I first stopped playing in bands I started getting ito the audiophile world and I wanted somehow for a stereo system to resurrect ghosts, bring a concert into my living space, be as real as can be. And when I hear someone say about their system "the singer was in the room! the drums are in the room!" I can get my girlfriend to sing me a line or I can bang on my Sonor kit. . . and nah, I know what they meant but. . . that isn't "in the room."

Sorry, that's neither here nor there just some ramblings inspired by the great sound coming from the IT Radials right now.
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #101 - 05/27/10 at 17:53:25
 
Lon,

I get it totally and agree. I played a lot before I got rear-ended by a tractor and trailer going a lot faster than us. Many years later, I sometimes wonder if the back and neck will let me play again. I am often inspired to try it when I get sucked into this beautiful sound system. The vibe of the guitar back on your belly, the fiddle strings and wood vibrating... not just in the room, but through our bodies, minds and hearts. That is what really got me...the sound of strings and wood and where that would lead me! But pain can be a strong deterrent.

Undecided

Then there is the solace of the potential beauty of good studio work. A whole different world with its own parameters, but real in its own right. Separated from the fundamentals of the player with instrument in our space, but made really cool by adding the additional creative elements inherent to bringing music into a mobile format. Good players and instruments, good mics, gear and rooms...good engineers....and the potential synergy there! Its all good!

I imagine we are thinking about the same about it...just semantics really. Thank goodness for the studio though. Keeps my MG944's and your IT Radials singing!
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #102 - 05/27/10 at 19:05:17
 
Oh definitely, we're on the same page. Smiley

It's an old book isn't it? Smiley

Although I must say. . . I prefer the less "studio magic" possible, I love real recordings, and more often live ones have more realism than studio.  I really don't relate to "great recordings," "audiophile" stuff. But I know there's room for everything among the fraternity of listeners.
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« Last Edit: 05/27/10 at 22:12:53 by Lon »  

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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #103 - 05/28/10 at 14:19:10
 



Good discussion, guys ..... a bit off topic, but that is the beauty of a forum.  Your discussion of the music does nothing but add to the overall appreciation of the great audio gear being discussed.

I understand what Lon is saying that there is a definite difference between live and recorded music, but I will offer some thoughts.

On a regular basis, I use the phrase " the vocalist is in the room".  I rarely use the phrase when it comes to instruments, but sometimes do that as well.  The phrase probably means different things to different people.  To me, there are some recordings that lend themselves more to the effect I am speaking of than others ..... and as Lon mentioned, a live or "unprocessed" recording generally pulls it off the best.

I recently purchased a CD by Kris Delmhorst, Jeffrey Foucault, and Peter Mulvey called "Redbird".  It was recorded in a living room with the three of them gathered around a single stereo microphone.  As you might imagine, the realism is pretty intense and the ambience of the recorded space is amazing on my system.  I usually listen with a single 7 watt light behind my listening seat and with little in the way of visual distraction it is very easy to "feel" the room that they recorded this in.  The vocals are amazingly three dimensional ..... I can hear "around" the vocalists and the sound of their fingers on the strings and other "noises" taking place in the room are very realistic without sounding contrived or forced (as is sometimes the case).  When everything is right, it is like having a personal concert in my listening room.

It is also my experience that the simpler the recording (meaning a limited number of instruments and vocalists), the greater the potential for realism.  I have my own theory on this and have discussed it with Steve Deckert a couple of times at the DecFests over the years.  For lack of a better term or phrase, it seems to me that there is a limited amount of "potential dynamics" in a recording.  This is probably different than the term "dynamic range".  I have quite a bit of music that starts out simply, with one or two vocals or instruments and is extremely real or "believable" sounding, but as soon as several other instruments enter the mix the illusion falls apart and I am brought back forceably and against my wishes to the fact that I am listening to recorded music.  I used to think it had to do with the capability of the amplifier, but this is not the case because I have owned a couple of 100 watt tube amps and the effect is the same with them as it is with 1.6 watts.

Truthfully, this effect has probably influenced my taste in music over the years.  I prefer to listen to more "complex" music in my car and simpler stuff (folk, Americana, "old timey", acoustic blues and Celtic) in my home system.

I often wonder how many people actually listen to music the way I do ..... with no distractions, just me and the performers.  I had a gent that I work with come over for a listening session a couple of weeks ago.  He has a pretty nice system at home with B&W loudspeakers, so I wasn't sure what he would think about my system.  I sat him in my listening seat and placed another chair behind him for me to sit in.  Six hours later, he made the comment that "this was the best system that he never heard".  I'm sure that some of the readers of this forum understand what he meant.

Great hobby, this .....

Randy
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« Last Edit: 05/28/10 at 14:19:53 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #104 - 05/28/10 at 14:56:35
 
Randy,

Yeah, I personally love how threads meander into other fields and we can enjoy a few scenic walks in one pathway.

I think that one possible consideration in the "reality-busting" of some recordings as they move from a small cluster of instruments to a larger ensemble can be the recording process.  I've found on a number of recordings that there are actually multiple recording sites or areas in play.  A few instruments may be captured over two tracks in a small room with all the room interaction that implies. Then other instruments may be recorded simultaneously, or at another point in time, in a different locale or in the same room but separated by baffling.  I've seen some photographs where a twelve or thirteen piece group is recorded in one room, but within four sections all partitioned off pretty thoroughly with close miking inside each section. This undoubtedly leads to a strange blend of reverberations and textures that collectively nudge the presentation into something more surreal or hyper-real than "real." I have heard many large ensemble pieces that drip realism, and many were recorded with 'sixties three-track methods from microphones well-placed within one "room." The Columbia Records 300th Street Studios, and the RCA Records Webster Hall sites for instance were homes to some very realistic larger scale recordings.

We're at the mercy of the engineers in so many ways. Sometimes I can honestly say I feel a mono recording from a portable player in a club for instance can sound more real than a megabuck studio recording with all the wizardry.

This is an interesting hobby, and it's easy to become deeply involved in so many aspects of it, software, hardware, even sort of mystical ritual. Luckly NONE of that has happend to me! Wink
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« Last Edit: 05/28/10 at 15:01:56 by Lon »  

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