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The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE! (Read 32178 times)
mike_gagne
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #75 - 05/15/10 at 08:35:19
 
Okay, I have to weigh in also. I use a computer (Mac) and currently have a wired connection 225 feet by ethernet cable to my shop and an Airport Express connection to my Torii MkII with HDTs. Obviously the Torii is awesome and I would love to try the new dac instead of the $100 Airport Express. But my wired connection in my dusty cabinet shop with its Trends T10 ss amp is pretty good for work space listening. With tools and machinery running I know my ears are desensitized a bit although I have taken great care over the years to protect them. The Torii still knocks me out when I come in during the work day for a break so even with a cheap dac it is performing really well. I am selective about kbps as much as I can be with 128 being the least i can stand with 192 or higher preferred when possible. The internet provides access to previously unavailable music experiences and I live in a rain forest in the middle of the Pacific on Maui's North Shore. As bandwidth increases I expect only better things available through the web. I liken it to an organism developing a nervous system.
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Evo
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #76 - 05/16/10 at 11:02:27
 
Hey Mike have you checked out B & W 'Society of Sound'? If you want to download some higher fidelity music files you might want to have a look. You pay about $60/year and get two albums a month in at least 16-bit  but usually 24-bit. The music is usually a mixture of world music, experimental pop and classical. Most albums are pretty good IMO.

Cheers

Matt
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #77 - 05/16/10 at 14:31:09
 
It's been more than two weeks now of heavy use, and the ZDAC-1 probably sounds mostly the way it will from now on.

What a product! For the price I think it's a great deal, so versatile and so faithful to the audio signal. I still love the analog out sound from my Sony SCD-XA5400ES -- that is also a big value product with a distinctive deep sound and in use with a ZDAC-1 is a wonderful transport (I've tried six machines on hand as transports and the 5400 clearly excels).

So though I had really good redbook playback before, the ZDAC-1 has distinctly improved the audio of my Blu-Ray player (while not dramatically, it's improved) and my cable DVR (a BIG and satisfying improvement).

This is the sort of component that will match well with the revealing and rich sound of Decware amps and speakers. With the three input formats, there's a lot of versatility in one chassis. I'm very happy to have #004!
So though I had really good redbook playback before, the ZDAC-1 has distinctly improved the audio of my Blu-Ray plawyer (while not dramactically, it's improved) and my cable DVR (a BIG and satisfying improvement).  

This is the sort of component that will match well with the revealing and rich sound of Decware amps and speakers. With the three input formats, there's a lot of versatility in one chassis. I'm very happy to have #004!
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« Last Edit: 05/16/10 at 18:55:57 by Lon »  

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Juan Antonio
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #78 - 05/16/10 at 18:49:27
 
For Mac users, we have iTunes, songbird or VLC. iTunes is enough but must be set up correctly. The Core Audio has to match the exact sample rate of the file. The application to do this is "MIDI" inside the "Utilities" folder. The word length must be 24 bits always, even for Redbook playback. This has a reason and it is related to the SNR signal to noise ratio about the digital volume controls.

For Redbook 24/44,1 or if your external data interface were able (USB DACs, USB/SPDIF converters, Hi-end soundcards, etc) to set higher multiple upsampling (88,2 or 176,4) it would be even better.

The same method is with 48kHz files: 24/48 < 24/96 < 24/192

With higher sample rates the same method and never downsampling.

The EQ disabled and the digital volume controls at maximum ( 0dB ).

The volume control of VLC at 100%. EQ, effects and so on disabled.

For ripping we have XLD, similar to EAC on Windows. It's as good or even better than EAC. (of course, setting up correctly)

Note: The Core Audio (MIDI app) must be set up launching iTunes and the MIDI app in different times or at least relaunching. In other words, if the sample rate is setting up while iTunes is launched, the iTunes' CRC changes the sample rate with poor quality. So the best method is to launch MIDI.app, change the settings, quit the app and finally launch iTunes.

If we follow these steps we can achieve bit transparency.

Cheers
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« Last Edit: 05/16/10 at 18:51:16 by Juan Antonio »  
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #79 - 05/16/10 at 21:50:24
 
Juan,

Thanks very much for the info on Mac ripping and playing. This is very helpful for me. I will get my ZDAC soon and look forward to comparing computer output with my other CD players as transports. I sort of dread converting all the CD's for computer output, but will definitely do it if it gives me better sound. Since smoothness from bit perfect transparency is one of the potential sonic advantages of a computer-to-DAC setup, I am really glad you sorted that out and passed it on. You're saving me a lot of web time! So thanks a lot!



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Juan Antonio
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #80 - 05/17/10 at 17:02:45
 
will, you're welcome.

Moreover, here is the correct settings of XLD:





In the "General" tab you can customize your output directory and your output format (I recommend Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF or WAV. If you're gonna use iTunes, Apple Lossless, AIFF or WAV is for you).
You can also add the extracted files automatically to iTunes if you want. The rest must be left like that.

In the "CD Rip" tab, the number "102" is for my own "read sample offset correction value" and it hasn't to be the same necessarily. That value is set up automatically by clicking the arrow on the right and selecting your specific drive. Usually even that value is set up correctly by the application itself.
The rest must be left like that.


The rest of the tabs can be left by default or customized with knowledge.


This is the log after finishing:



The list of errors should be zero for all. BUT... sometimes scratched CDs generate some errors. If these errors belong to "Read error", "Skipped (treated as error)", or "Incosistency in error sectors" it's a BAD RIP. The errors of "(maybe fixed)" type are not so important and relevant for a perfect rip. Having two or three of them is not a problem.


Note: The confidence number in the log, (confidence 134) really tells nothing to take into account.
To benefit from the AccurateRip database you must be connected to the Internet while you are ripping your CDs. This is a must for a perfect rip. But sometimes there are CDs not registered in the database. Don't panic, the "test before copy" or "test run" is important in conjunction with the CD info in the AccurateRip database, but in the case of absence, the "test run" is everything.

Regards  ;)
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« Last Edit: 05/17/10 at 17:09:07 by Juan Antonio »  
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #81 - 05/17/10 at 18:28:37
 
Juan,

Thanks again! Very helpful!

A couple questions:

1) Is Apple lossless and Flac truly lossless for serious listening through seriously transparent gear....without any degradation from AIFF or WAV?
2) It looks like you save your rips to your desktop. Makes sense to put them in their own place. Then presumably you put them into iTunes. I am not an iTunes user. Tips?
3) Have you investigated the USB cable thing. Is USB such that it could benefit from better cables, or are they well made enough from the get go to to get all the data across without any loss or corruption.

Thanks for your advice and Good Luck!
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Juan Antonio
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #82 - 05/18/10 at 16:47:10
 
Will,

I use Apple Lossless.
Yes, first, I put them into my desktop. It's just my own workflow, I prefer doing things and tasks like that. Then I move them into their respective places, in this case I import them into iTunes & iTunes Library.

About lossless, yes, FLAC and Apple Lossless is truly lossless. I even verified this with experiments by analysing conversions, decompressing/compressing files with checksum, analysing the wave form of the music data, etc.. and yes, it's more than truth.
But when you do the playback of the file in real time, the player needs more processing and resources due to the decompressing at the same time. If your computer is fast and has enough power, this will be not a problem. But I think, theoretically, that the ultimate playback is to play AIFF or WAV. This is still an enigma that today is being tested in the audiophile computing. There're many points of view out there about it so I cannot really tell you if the playback of AIFF/WAV is better or the same. We are talking about jitter, of course, this is always the spotlight.

About USB cables, I haven't tried them seriously. There are reviews and fellows confirming changes in the sound signature. A good USB cable is better at ground loop, noise, etc. The shorter the better as well (affects ground loop) . It also depends between the implementation of the source and the receiver. There're brands like Cardas, Aqvox, belkin, Transparent performance, etc.





Regards.
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #83 - 05/18/10 at 19:31:29
 
Thanks Juan for your explorations and conclusions. Very helpful.

I figured that since a lot of discerning music heads use Flac or Apple Lossless, it must work well. It will be fun to compare them myself and see if I can tell the difference. The compression is certainly nice for disk space.


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mike_gagne
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #84 - 05/19/10 at 09:17:27
 
Will, we are entering new areas with computer playback that will be ours to experiment with. I am an old guy but young enough to still learn new stuff. I am excited about this as we have lost our broadcast sources on Maui and I have been just desperate to fix it. I contacted my congressional delegation and wrote to the FCC and basically got dissed. I am thrilled to have these new options. I am saving Juan's post for easy reference as I go through my tune up.
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #85 - 05/19/10 at 20:51:00
 
Mike,

I agree about computer playback. Really, once set up, it is good theory in most every way. Convenient, space efficient, potentially true to the signal the mixer and mastering engineers were using (at least these days). The potential pain is in the transition, especially for guys like Lon with huge CD collections. And I agree with Randy, for those of us who had vinyl, there is something satisfying about handling a CD case and CD. Then there is the sound. I hated CDs when I first heard them. So cold and digital sounding. But we have adapted to digital sterility with the tools we use in recording and mastering, and then with playback gear, all making all those individual bits come together more smoothly, sounding more analog and natural. Thus the basis of this thread... the Decware ZDAC1.

I got my ZDAC a couple days ago, and as I impatiently wait for it to burn in (this is day three), I have been playing with different sources. Initial AB listening showed me that my Rega Apollo transport and whatever Rega decided to do to make an analog sound is quite good.

Though too early to tell, on first impressions, I liked the Rega through the ZDAC better than my MacBook Pro playing error corrected, uncompressed rips (Thanks to Juan Antonio for making this simple for me!). I suppose this is partly because Rega uses a special chipset that initializes each CD, analyzing disc errors, optimizing the lens height for less errors, streamlining the error correction algorithm for minimal processing, and using a big memory to buffer what error correction occurs. This is supposed to correct errors without sonic artifacts. Whatever it does, I like it with the ZDAC.

But this is way too early to be conclusive. I have to wait for the DAC to burn in, compare a bunch more reference material AND tune my system, including connections, to the sound signatures of the new gear.

And Connections!!! I compared two inexpensive Toslink cables, one plastic from Blue Jeans, and the other, the Amphenol glass Toslink (cables on demand). Like Lon, I found the Amphenol really good...notably better. So....like many before me, my minimal experience indicates that the ALL 1's and 0's cable theory suggesting that any working digital cable is as good as another is less-than-accurate. These cables sounded very different to me. The Blue Jean plastic was fine, but after switching to the glass, the sound seemed to shift from the realm of technology to the realm of music. Richer, rounder, and more natural sounding.

Looking around a bit on forums, there is convincing evidence that this is as real with USB as it is with Coax and Toslink. So I now realize I need a decent USB cable in order to more equitably compare my computer before the ZDAC, with my Rega as a transport. I will report later what my further impression are.

I am avoiding commenting on the ZDAC until it burns in, but on day 2.5 one notable aspect is how smooth it is becoming. Very nice.
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« Last Edit: 05/19/10 at 20:56:20 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #86 - 05/19/10 at 21:04:06
 
will,

Glad your ZDAC-1 is in hand!  Also glad you liked the Amphenol cable that much.  I've really been impressed with it, and am using that cable (two of them) for both my Blu-Ray and my DVR connections. Complements the sound very much. What a well-built and value-priced cable.

I'm nearing three weeks on the ZDAC now and it's very impressive. I still love the sound of cds coming out of my SCD-XA5400ES as much as redbook sound coming out of the ZDAC. Both are different, and I really appreciating having two different versions of the musical presentation.  The mellow and deep sound of the Sony player is really hard to NOT have at times and with some material. But the ZDAC has really impressed me, especially from the DVR.  I like the sound from the Blu-Ray player with both outputs, less of a difference between them than the cdplayer and the ZDAC.

The ZDAC is a real bargain.  It was cheaper than the two Sony players and holds its own.
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will
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #87 - 05/19/10 at 21:16:51
 
Yes Lon, thanks plenty for the Amphenol cable tip. Very good tip in my book! I am really glad to hear that the ZDAC is now comparable with your beloved Sony offering another sound signature choice. Please keep us informed.
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #88 - 05/21/10 at 18:59:20
 
I mentioned in a previous post that the Genesis Digital Lens provided inputs and outputs for several different types of cables.

According to the instruction manual, Genesis says of one type :

"Glass – This input is an optical coupling sometimes referred to as ATT.  This is an excellent high frequency input and has the greatest bandwidth capability of any of the Lens’ inputs."

For some reason, I was thinking that this input was just a Toslink connector with a glass fiber, but it's something entirely different.  After some searching, I found a company that could supply me with one of these cables.



Genesis wasn't kidding ..... this type of connection is something special.

It sounds a lot different than either the RCA / coax or the balanced input, and gives me a whole different look into the music as well as a nice option to optimize the CD being played at the time .....

I am coming to some conclusions, as well ..... as it seems like the Z-DAC has enough hours on it to let me know it's potential.

If all goes as planned and my weekend will allow some decent listening sessions, I will give my impressions next week.

Randy



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« Last Edit: 05/22/10 at 05:23:17 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Steve Deckert
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #89 - 05/21/10 at 21:06:24
 
I've created a support forum for the ZDAC-1 today.

http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?board=zdac

Since I hope to finish up the last of the first 25 units this weekend we're going to need a place to talk about it!

So far so good.  I am almost finished with the owner's manual.  I will post it in the new forum as soon as it's completed.

Thanks,

Steve
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