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The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE! (Read 32416 times)
Randy in Caintuck
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #60 - 05/11/10 at 19:22:47
 
Hi Lon,

Indeed I am .....

I almost feel like the referee in a heavy weight title bout ..... the crafty and seasoned veteran (Havana) and the eager and talented challenger (ZDAC) ..... both champions in their own right and gracefully slugging it out to see which one stays in the ring and which one heads for the shower .....

Another week or two should tell the tale .....

I know this much .... I AM having fun,

Randy

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CEC TL-2 belt drive CD transport
Camelot Uther / Anagram DAC
Decware Model SE84C+ amplifier
Greenvalve Audio Type 10 amplifier
Parker Audio Troll Magnus speakers
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Evo
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #61 - 05/12/10 at 14:04:01
 
Thanks for all the posts. Interesting to see how the DACs compare.

I'm just wondering if anyone has used a computer/streaming device as a source instead of a CD transport?

I could be wrong here because I don't have such highend systems as you guys so have never heard top of the range transports, but it was my impression that the CD/transport combo can often degrade the audio signal more than the DAC due to the inherent difficulties in reading CDs (dirt, scratches, degrading with time, and errors due to having to read the thing in 'real time'), so playing an exact digital copy of the CD from a hardrive through a good quiet computer/streaming source can often provide the DAC with a better signal. This has been my experience - but only with more modest systems. If you could supply the DAC with a better signal then it would be easier to distinguish the differences/characteristics of the different DACs.

I'm also interested in how it sounds out of a computer, because I'm not going back to CDs now that I use my computer as source, so if I get a ZDAC that's what I would use it for.

BTW, I use XXHighEnd player, on Engine 3 setting (WASAPI bit perfect) in Windows 7 as this sounds much better than Foobar with WASAPI bit perfect signal. I would recommend trying that if you use a PC with Windows Vista or 7 (you can download a free trial). Not sure about MACs.

Cheers

Matt
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #62 - 05/12/10 at 14:17:45
 
Hi Matt,

I hope someone chimes in with information for you as I don't listen to music via my computer and am not set up to do so.

I haven't found any real problems with transports etc. that I've owned and used.  Most of my players have functioned very well as a player, and I find as much if not more differences in cabling than in transports.  I haven't found the need to do an EAC rip and a hard drive. Maybe I'm missing something, but to be honest, I don't necesarily think so and I don't seem to care if I do. When I have listened off the hard drive in the past (in modest temporary systems such as that I had when living in another city for my late wife's lymphoma treatments and in work systems) I haven't noticed much difference. Certainly not a difference that made me wish to pursue that route.

I have in excess of 12,000 cds currently and the idea of ripping to a drive, etc. just doesn't enter into my head.  I'm very happy with a system without a computer and I'm planning on staying happy in that way.  I'm a middle-aged guy for whom a computer mostly represents "WORK" and I don't see a need to integrate the computer into a stereo system.  And I really don't like listening to less than Redbook quality sound, so haven't done a lot of downloading, etc.

I have no doubt that this DAC would perform well with a hard-drive as a source.  And there are likely quite a few who would use it that way; let's hope that several of these gentlepersons purchase and review teh ZDAC-1.
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« Last Edit: 05/12/10 at 14:20:52 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),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 IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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Evo
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #63 - 05/12/10 at 14:54:29
 
12,000 CDs!!! You must be kidding. Lon you are definitely right....in this case ripping all those CDs would be work...no torture....no hell. I only had about 350 and it was pretty bad. Great now I've done it though. Very impressed with your dedication to music. I'm going to have to check to your recommendations on 'what's spinning?' again, because with so many disk to choose from anything you pick must be pretty damn good. Wow, still blown away by that.

Like I said I don't know how the best/better CD transports compare to computer playback so I can't really comment from experience (and I think we all know that in audio you are wise not to believe everything you read!). The different software players do have a different 'sound' though, so it would be nice if I knew if the ZDAC gells well with say XXHighEnd more than say the Havana. So here's hoping......

Cheers,

Matt
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #64 - 05/12/10 at 15:00:41
 
No I'm not kidding.  I've been collecting cds for about 23 years, and as I gave up smoking and drinking around that time and didn't have a car etc. I funneled all my extra money into my musical pursuits, which included instruments, stereo equipment and lots and lots of cds.

I actually don't recommend this path, but it is what it is for me, and I'm very into the music. No one needs as many recordings as I do, but it's hard to part with any of them, they're all steps on my journey.  And you don't get much for them used, so why not keep them?  The answer to that is you can keep as many as you can store, and I'm certainly at that point! Smiley

Hopefully someone, even Steve himself, will chime in on this subject as indeed this is a very common practice in this computer age.  I know Steve has recommended ripping and computer playback, and I would wager that he's tested the ZDAC-1 extensively in this manner.
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« Last Edit: 05/12/10 at 15:04:14 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),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 IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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Randy in Caintuck
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Posts: 378
Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #65 - 05/12/10 at 15:55:12
 
Hi Matt,

I have heard some very nice computer based digital front ends, but am quite happy with my "spinner" .....

The combination of the top loading, belt drive CEC transport, Genesis Digital Lens and DAC makes for some very fine sound.  To my ears, the "timing" and sense of the recorded space are something special via a good belt drive transport.  My buddy Dave has a Parasound (with a CEC mechanism) and I hear the same thing from his system.

In addition, I like the "ritual" of placing the shiny little disk in the top loading transport and placing the puck on top of it ..... it's reminds me of my "vinyl days" .....

Oh yeah ..... one more thing ..... I do information technologies work for a living ..... and the last thing I want to see during my time of relaxation is another computer .....



Best wishes,

Randy
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CEC TL-2 belt drive CD transport
Camelot Uther / Anagram DAC
Decware Model SE84C+ amplifier
Greenvalve Audio Type 10 amplifier
Parker Audio Troll Magnus speakers
"Darth Baffles" OBs - with Hawthorne Augies, Saba Green Cones and Heil AMTs
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Randy in Caintuck
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Tube be ... or not
tube be ... it's a
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Posts: 378
Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #66 - 05/12/10 at 19:39:30
 
For the record .....

In reply # 13 of this thread, Steve stated .....

"Transports are everything.  So is the digital cable you use.  For people who don't have a good transport, USB from a lap top is going to have the best fidelity (lowest jitter).  The new ZCD player is using a surprisingly good transport compared to previous models.  I found using it with the ZDAC-1 actually sounded better than USB if you find the right digital cable.  

Since people will ask, I'm recommending using the BEST transport and cable you can afford, or consider using the USB and computer."

So, it appears that either a decent transport or computer based front end will yield good results with the ZDAC .....

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, cables make a huge difference in my system ..... so, that can be a very handy way of fine tuning the sound of a transport.  I know that there are "audiophile grade" USB cables available but have no idea how much of an impact they make on the sound.

Of course, none of this really matters ...... since it's "just 0s and 1s" .....

Randy
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CEC TL-2 belt drive CD transport
Camelot Uther / Anagram DAC
Decware Model SE84C+ amplifier
Greenvalve Audio Type 10 amplifier
Parker Audio Troll Magnus speakers
"Darth Baffles" OBs - with Hawthorne Augies, Saba Green Cones and Heil AMTs
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DPC
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #67 - 05/13/10 at 11:29:15
 
All this talk must be driving the vinyl folks nuts.
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #68 - 05/13/10 at 12:14:26
 
Vinyl fold are already nuts. Smiley

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Randy in Caintuck
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Tube be ... or not
tube be ... it's a
no-brainer.

Posts: 378
Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #69 - 05/13/10 at 17:30:25
 
The "hair shirted true believer vinyl devotees" would not be caught dead even reading this thread .....

Oh well ..... I honestly do appreciate good vinyl playback, but just picked up about 10 new "albums" on Redbook CD that will never be issued on vinyl.  As I'm sitting there with this gorgeous music washing over me, I'm not even thinking about vinyl ..... I know, I know ..... total sacrilege .....

Randy
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CEC TL-2 belt drive CD transport
Camelot Uther / Anagram DAC
Decware Model SE84C+ amplifier
Greenvalve Audio Type 10 amplifier
Parker Audio Troll Magnus speakers
"Darth Baffles" OBs - with Hawthorne Augies, Saba Green Cones and Heil AMTs
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Evo
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #70 - 05/14/10 at 04:30:17
 
Randy,

Thanks for the info on Steve's take on CD transport vs computer. Steve would have good experience of both so that's good to know - I hadn't rad the whole thread so miss it. I'm pretty happy with what he said too as if a good transport is King then Lon won't have to consider burning all this cd, and given that mine system is only bugdet-mid I can certainly settle for the second best alternative. I glad there's a few good options for audio nirvana so that you can enjoy loading your CDs, while I can enjoy not having to worry about my young boys getting their dirty fingers all over them and snapping them - yes they actual do this!.

If anyone does have any comments on USB cables that would be good. Also, one issue with computer playback that doesn't affect cd playback that I would like some thoughts about is the software part. They are several different players with several different settings and plug-ins and interfaces with the operating system. I've explored a few, but would be interested if anyone has found any that make a big improvement to the sound. I'm starting to get the impression though that I might be the only one using computer-as-source.

Re: vinyl devotees - I serious doubt that they will be reading any of this!

All the best,

Matt
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #71 - 05/14/10 at 06:54:16
 
Matt,

This was a while ago, so I hope I get it all right, but talking with Steve I recall him saying that he often uses a computer to audition gear, and that it is potentially the best source. A big theoretical advantage is that you can first run your CD, or other uncompressed data through error correction software, then once corrected, and played through a software player that does not add or subtract anything, the source does not have to correct errors so you get a more pure sound. Even new CD's can apparently have errors.

I am sorry that I did not set the playback software in my mind because Steve uses Windows and I use a Mac. I think foobar (sp?) was the error correction software. (correction...foobar is a player). Huh

Another theoretical advantage beyond the convenience you have found of not having to worry about discs getting scratched or worse, is this: once properly corrected, you can get exactly what was intended from the data. There is no influence from the CD material, pressing issues, beam reflection or other error issues. There is also no other influence from a transport and its electronic signature.

Then there is the extremely low jitter from a hard drive. All theoretically very good stuff.

Alternately, like Randy brought up with his love of his source and from his quote from Steve.... Where Steve liked the latest Zen CD transport sound better than USB "if you find the right cable"... a good transport and cable may add sound we like!

When my ZDAC comes, I intend to experiment between using our laptop and my CD and DVD player transports. This should be fun.

I look forward to any information you come up with about software players and USB cables. You hear those who swear it is all 1's and 0's so the cable makes no difference, but then you hear those who swear they hear the difference in digital cables. Some of these are our trusted Forum buddies from this thread.

Since they make a difference from transports to DAC, it would appear they might make a difference from computers to DAC's too. May have to do with the perfection (or lack there of) of the transmission. Don't know, but I do know I can hear every minute change I make with my gear.

Let us know.

Also, I have run across several posts in this Forum about computer sources use. Can't tell you exactly where though.


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« Last Edit: 05/18/10 at 02:47:47 by will »  

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dank
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #72 - 05/14/10 at 13:09:33
 
Matt

I've been using a computer as source for at least 5 years now and I think its the greatest.  It is so nice to get rid of the media and not have to mess with it!  Backup is simple and fast.  The ability of the PC to catalog and present all your music on screen for you to select from is also way better than a dusty old shelf full of albums or cds (usually in a mess).

I hate to admit it here, but I use mp3 format.  I've tested and tested and my ears simply can't tell the difference between .wav and .mp3, so I went with .mp3 and its 10x disk space savings.

For player software, I started out trying to use windows media player, and it was horrible.  I almost gave up the idea of using the PC as source.  It acted as if the volume controls in windows media player controlled a preamp and the volume control on the PC controlled a power amp.  If you adjusted the player volume too hi you got clipping, no matter how low you set the overall volume to using the PC's volume control.  It was a huge BUG...I'm pretty sure its been fixed years ago, but it was bad!  I then went with Winamp and it worked great and I've never changed.

This setup may not work for everyone, but I'm very happy with it.  Here's the software I'm using, all available free:
Winamp - player
Exact Audio Copy (EAC) - for ripping CD's
Audacity - for digitizing albums and for editing .wav files
Free cd to mp3 converter - to convert wav --> mp3 and mp3 --> wav

I'm just using a cheep Sound blaster Live Value sound card, not being made anymore, but available on ebay for about $5.  I bought a better sound card a couple years ago, only to return it and go back to my old one.  Seems the new, high buck sound card was more interested in special effects and making it sound better than the competition in a 2 minute A/B test than it was in reproducing accurate music...sounded great the first time you heard it, but the more you listened the more you realized it was special effects and enhanced this and that.

Dan
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #73 - 05/14/10 at 13:39:47
 
Dan, thanks for weighing in with valuable information.

Based on the listening I've done over the last two weeks I'd be very surprised if someone wanting to use a PC or Mac (Macs rule! Wink) would be at all disappointed in the ZDAC-1.  The sound coming out of this unit is definitely top-notch.  No complaints on five cables I've tried so far of two types; I would be very surprised if the USB input yielded anything else.
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« Last Edit: 05/14/10 at 13:40:51 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),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 IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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Evo
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #74 - 05/14/10 at 15:26:37
 
Thanks for the input guys. Will I think that your point about 'theoretical' better playback and actual preferred sound is very interesting - to my mind the ears rule over the devices and that's always a personal/subjective thing at to what sort of sound you like. I keen to hear the results from your experiments.

Thanks for your 'confession' Dan - MP3 eh? - that is sacriligeous indeed Wink I use FLAC (free lossless audio) which is also a compressed format and about the 10th the size of wav files. I couldn't hear any difference when I listened but my system has improved since then.

Re: things for you to try Dan, I have tested a few different players and thought sound quality varied roughly as follows:
1) XXHighEnd (by quite a sizeable margin)
2) Foobar
3) Winamp
4) Media player
Also in windows the players sound better if you get 'bit perfect' play back set up. For Vista/Windows 7 you get two easy options, 1) Kernel Streaming, 2) WASAPI. To my ears WASAPI sounds better, but it could well just be personal preference - would be interested what other people think. For Foobar, you need to download the KS and/or WASAPI plug-in from the Foobar webpage (all free). For XXHighEnd Engine 4 is Kernel Streaming and Engine 3 is WASAPI. The webpage tells you more and I found the programme a bit of hassle to get up and running, but the sound was worth it. You can get a free trial of XXHighEnd. The trial does not expire but only plays for a short period before the programme closes. So there a quite a few options for experimenting with free players.

I also found some stuff on software sample rate converters that can apparently improve sound quality, but I couldn't really understand how changing the sample rate could improve quality so haven't explored much.

Hope that helps give you a few ideas,

Matt
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