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The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE! (Read 32248 times)
Steve Deckert
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The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
03/29/10 at 02:52:27
 
After 10 long years I finally have something I'm well pleased with.





This is a real source.  The kind of thing I often talk about when discussing the weak-links of a given system.  It's an investment that will instantly raise your enjoyment of music, or in some cases save it.

Give it a look, and I'll set up a support forum for it.

http://www.decware.com/newsite/ZDAC1.html




For those of you have been following my R&D on the DACs, or attended last years DECFEST in October 09, you know I took a top down approach to the design by first establishing the best reference DAC I could permanently get my hands on.  Since I couldn't afford the $17000.00 Zanden I built something similar, possibly better but at least in the same league.  My cost to reproduce it is close to $6000.

Here is a pic of it.


Obviously this doesn't fit into the DECWARE price window that tops out at $2500.00 so manufacturing it is unlikely.  But as a reference, I now had something to work other designs against until I got a far less expensive approach to sound nearly as good in most areas and actually better in others.

The winner turned out to be about as far away from the original reference NOS design as one could imagine, going from a 20 year old 16 bit chipset to a 24 bit 192kHz up-sampled approach where the DAC is run in quad speed to cut the oversampling down by four times.  To compete with the battery supplies of the reference dac, a very real power supply had to be designed and packed with MUSE caps.





I've been listening to this by itself with no preamp directly connected to our amplifiers and my Acoustat Monitors since December and on nights when I A/B with my reference DAC, I find it difficult to choose which one is actually better.  That's how I know this DAC is the real deal and that it has really no competition at this price point.


I also made it match the chassis of the ZBOX so any half way intelligent being could put two and two together if you know what I mean...




Thanks,

Steve
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #1 - 03/29/10 at 11:58:06
 
Congratulations Steve!

Would a custom version with an additional coaxial input be possible (in place of the optical)?

I placed an order for one, and if it 's possible to have this customization at not too high a price I'd really like that. THANK YOU.
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« Last Edit: 03/29/10 at 12:30:37 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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Steve Deckert
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #2 - 03/29/10 at 21:34:58
 
Hi Lon!

The extra jacks/switching is just not possible on this unit.  However, you might consider using the fiber optic for one source and the coax for the other.  That way you can easily switch between them on the fly from the front of the DAC.

Steve
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #3 - 03/30/10 at 00:54:48
 
Thanks Steve, yeah I can do that, it's just always been MY experience that optical just is not quite the same sound as coaxial, but maybe on this unit, yes.

Anyway, I have one ordered and am excited. I can use the coaxial with my SACD player for Redbook, and the optical for my BD player, and should be something else. This way I can use the analog out of the SACD player for SACD.  Win win. Thanks!
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« Last Edit: 03/30/10 at 00:57:49 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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DPC
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #4 - 03/30/10 at 01:51:54
 
I may be speaking out of turn here but someone told me that true glass fiber optical is superior to the common run of the mill plastic ones commonly sold for interconnects.

Just a thought, Lon.

Dennis
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #5 - 03/30/10 at 01:55:17
 
Dennis, thanks for the thought.  I don't believe I've ever used a true glass optical cable. I'm certainly going to keep an open mind. Smiley
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #6 - 03/30/10 at 03:35:08
 
Steve,

Glad to here that you've managed to get the DAC finished.

One half-related query. I notice that you recommend using foobar and ASIO4ALL as a media player. I tried ASIO4ALL, but preferred the WASAPI plug-in for foobar (which also allows bit perfect output) and can only be run on Vista or Windows 7. Recently I tried another programme called XXHighEnd, which is also based on the WASAPI engine, which sounds better than Foobar. Have you tried these out? What are your thoughts? My system is the pretty budget at the moment, so I would be interested if the different player translate into  improvements on your reference system.

Cheers,

Matt
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #7 - 03/30/10 at 12:33:35
 
Looks good, but how come no tube(s) in the design or variable output voltage?
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #8 - 03/30/10 at 15:36:07
 
Steve--

Is a headphone output a viable option on this dac?  I see the reference has the output.
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #9 - 03/30/10 at 20:54:48
 
Finally .....

I emailed Steve with some questions and he will be addressing them in the near future.

I am VERY interested in this puppy for two reasons .....

1 - It is in the very same price range as my MHDT Labs Havana.  I have made no bones about how much I like the Havana.  I owned a Zanden DAC a while back which sounded absolutely wonderful.  The reason I sold it was that any service work required shipping it back to Japan and I was not up for that ..... especially considering my health issues that were just starting to crop up.  The Havana reminds me a lot of the Zanden ..... probably because it is based on non-oversampling technology.  I affectionately refer to it as my "poor man's Zanden".  Comparing the Havana to the DAC-1 should be very interesting.

2 - I really LOVED the ZCD player.  However, to my ears there is something very special about a belt drive CEC transport and a Genesis Digital Lens.  I simply can not live without them in my system.  The possibility of putting these in front of a Decware designed DAC has my mouth watering .....

I am anxiously awaiting Steve's response to my questions, which I believe he is going to address in this thread.

Randy
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #10 - 03/30/10 at 23:32:48
 
In my 2nd system I currently have a Valab DAC.  

It causes audible interference in my ZP 2.0 when its left on.  Of course, I don't use both at once, but it would be nice to be able to leave the dac on 24/7.

Can you check if your DAC causes hum in the ZP 2.0?

John C.

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #11 - 03/31/10 at 02:08:14
 
Are the first 25 already sold?  I want one now if they are still available at the intro price.

Also, what are the cost of any upgrades in the future?

I'm excited!
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #12 - 03/31/10 at 16:34:43
 
Evo,

I haven't tried them  :)  Don't have Visa or Windows 7 on any of my computers that can be  used to serve music.  I will keep an eye out.

John C,

I does not cause hum in the ZP3 or anything else that I've tried.

Toddathan,

No headphone amp or jack on this one.  To do it right pumps the price up too high for this model.

Matchstikman,

Right now as per date/time of this message we're on number 6... woops (phone call), make that number 7.

Steve

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« Last Edit: 03/31/10 at 16:39:17 by Steve Deckert »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #13 - 03/31/10 at 17:17:38
 
Hi Randy,

Yes, here is your questions:
Quote:
Hi Steve,

I just saw the thread about the new DAC on the support forum.

Very interesting.  Since I bought the MHDT Labs Havana DAC a while back, I have come to enjoy the "easy listenability" of the non-upsampling format.  The Camelot Uther that I used to own was an up-sampling unit and it definitely had more detail than the Havana but produced some listener fatigue over the course of a long listening session.  With the Havana, I often listen for 3 or 4 hours at a stretch with no fatigue whatsoever.  There is not as much detail, but enough to be true to the music and keep things interesting.  It's "honest" sounding without being aggressive.

I would love to hear your new DAC in my system, but wonder if I would have any problems with listener fatigue after living with the Havana for the past year ..... ?


Well you bring up an excellent point.  Many audiophiles would be shocked to discover that something could have too much detail, but in fact anything, even detail, can be overdone.  Fatigue is often a side effect, but not from the excess detail in the music, but the excess detail in the distortions.  It's hard to have one without the other.  

My reference DAC is NOS and the primary reason is because I hate fatigue.  If you can't listen to it for more than 3 or 4 hours I don't want to sell it.  As we know, you can listen to our amps indefinitely without fatigue.   When I A/B the ZDAC-1 with my NOS dac, the first impression is that the ZDAC-1 is smoother.  Then as you listen you realize it also has more resolution.  Slightly better image density is also noticeable.  My brain being wired more to the nuances of vinyl, I subconsciously try to become fatigued when I listen to CD, wanting that confirmation for why I listen to vinyl...  I've been listening to this DAC since December and it's just not fatiguing over time.  THE main reason I choose this design.

Quote:
Honestly, I still think the ZCD player was one of the very best digital front ends I have ever heard ..... but I don't think the transport mechanism of the Tascam player was up to the same standard as your output stage.  There is something about a belt drive CEC transport and a Genesis Digital Lens that is special to my ears.  The timing is different and the sense of the recorded space is simply better and more believable than with any other transport or CD player that I have used as a transport in my system.   If I could have figured out how to use the CEC and Lens with your output stage from the ZCD, that would probably have been my ultimate digital front end.


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.
Alternately you can purchase the Tascam CD200 for under $400 stock and use that as a transport if you're on a budget.


Quote:
I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept of solid state and op-amps sounding better than tubes and discreet components .....  ; )



Well, you're certainly not alone on this one.  However it is possible to get great sound from solid state at the line level.  It doesn't become problematic until you try to create power with it.  Remember, unless you listen to vinyl, you are listening to a solid state source 100% of the time, regardless of how many tube stages follow it.

At one point during the DECFEST when I was trying to illustrate this point, we were listening to my NOS DAC with a tube stage, and then I added two more solid state stages on the fly as we listened.  You're exact words were "what happened", and I replied "It just got better didn't it" to which you said, "yes it did."  Then I told you I just added the solid state output stages to the tube stage and you just shook your head Wink

With the ZDAC-1 comes the opportunity to run a ZBOX with it, so anyone wanting a touch more tube warmth or less fatigue with non-audiophile recordings has this option.

My approach is why put the tube stage in the DAC and jack the price up another $500 when I can probably make that DAC sound right without it.  That way it becomes optional and way more people get to enjoy the DAC.




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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #14 - 03/31/10 at 18:36:07
 
Hi Steve,

Thanks for taking the time to address my questions.

As I said previously, I trust your ears and have never found myself at odds with your take on amplifiers and front ends.

I have stated many times on this and other forums that I believe in the "total system" concept of audio ..... meaning that everything in the system matters and that component matching has more to do with the final result than almost anything else ..... including the amount of money spent .....

That is why I have said that I thought my digital based system was better sounding overall than some analog based rigs I have heard ..... even costly ones.

I am willing to believe that this also applies to the components and design execution within an individual device, such as a DAC.  There is always more than one way to skin a cat ..... and you have proved yourself to be a "master cat skinner" over the years .....

Well ..... the only way to know for sure is to hear it in my own room, so I will be sending in my order for a DAC-1 this afternoon.

Thanks again for all your hard work on this long awaited component and for taking the time to answer my questions.

I'm sure that a lot of the readers of this thread have enjoyed your input .....

Best wishes,

Randy
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Greenvalve Audio Type 10 amplifier
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Juan Antonio
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #15 - 03/31/10 at 19:16:54
 
Very interesting DAC.

In my opinion I'd add the option for a true 75 ohm good BNC connector instead of RCA, Steve, as we know how delicate digital transmission is and RCA is not the answer. And I think using the same gold/teflon RCA line out connector for the coax is essential at least.

Anyway, It must sound terrific for sure. Congrats.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #16 - 04/02/10 at 01:20:47
 
Hey Steve,

Proud owner of the ZCD here.  I was wondering how this DAC compares to it.  The ZCD at times can be devastatingly revealing which sometimes I like and sometimes I don't depending on the recording.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #17 - 04/02/10 at 03:27:38
 
Welcome "CC"!
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #18 - 04/02/10 at 19:25:58
 
I wish it could of had variable output voltage like the ZCD player, for those of us that need the extra gain, and don't want the added expense and complications of using a preamp.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #19 - 04/04/10 at 03:34:35
 
I'm working my finances around to get this gem; however, I have a few questions here.  When I get this, what should I expect?  I mean, I have two Decware amps, I have Decware loudspeakers and I have Modwright modded Pioneer CDP as a transport.  I also have some Cardas cables that have been burned in for a few years.  Currently, I use a Bel Canto 1.1 DAC.  My system is in a small room but it is set with decent room treatments.

So, what should I expect?  Will this be dramatic?  Different?  Subtle?
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #20 - 04/05/10 at 12:56:31
 
It would be similar to having your Bel Canto Dac 1.1 tweaked with $895 reference audio mods upgrades.
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Lon
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #21 - 04/06/10 at 13:40:40
 
Randy wrote:

I'm sure that a lot of the readers of this thread have enjoyed your input . . . .

He's right.

Interesting development notes on this component.

I can't wait to hear this. Smiley
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« Last Edit: 04/06/10 at 14:30:11 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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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #22 - 04/07/10 at 17:25:26
 
So ...... has anyone received their DAC-1 yet ..... ?

It will be interesting to see what the new owners think about it compared to what they are using now .....  

I can stand anything ..... except waiting for a new piece of audio gear to arrive .....  

Randy
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #23 - 04/07/10 at 17:28:18
 
I hear you Randy, that's the hardest part.

I'm still waiting, I expect to wait a bit as I always do expect to wait when ordering from Decware.  I have prepared for the beast to enter my stables though.  Have  bought a few cables,  have footers and platform etc. all ready to go, a spot all worked out, etc.

I have a feeling I'm going to be very impressed.
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« Last Edit: 04/07/10 at 17:28:45 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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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #24 - 04/07/10 at 19:01:27
 
Hi Lon,

Yep ..... I have my system set up so that I can change from the DAC-1 to the MHDT Labs Havana and back again in a matter of seconds with everything else remaining the same.

The only unknown quantity at this point is how much burn in time the DAC-1 will need to sound its best ..... you know how spastic capacitors and other components can be .....

Should be some good, clean audio fun .....

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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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #25 - 04/07/10 at 22:15:24
 
A little more preparation was needed on my end as I've not been running a DAC for years and years and so had to address adding that to the system. Works out well though, will share a maple stand and shelf and 4" maple platform side by side with my ZBox.  I'm glad that my ZBox has an added input as well, this will allow me to use the ZBox also for my SACD output from the SCD-XA5400ES. Win win. Best 100 dollars I spent lately has been in adding an input to the ZBox.

The fun I'm looking forward to most is what this may do to my cable DVR.  I love listening to TV through this system, but that DVR is my weakest fidelity link.  I'm absolutely in love with the red book and SACD sound out of my Sony SCD-XA5400ES and if that redbook sound becomes improved that's great; I'll still have the SACD usability as well. And if my exceptional Blu-Ray audio improves, great.  But I think I'll see the most improvement with my TV audio.

I think the transports within both the Sony ES players are very good, and I've been using a "Black Knight" coaxial digital cable elsewhere that I will use here (very good cable) and have a glass optical cable to try.

I know one thing:  the Torii Mark III and the IT Radials are the finest components I've ever owned, and they'll show me what the new DAC is made of, just as they've shown me how good my current sources are on their own.
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« Last Edit: 04/08/10 at 13:53:11 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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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #26 - 04/08/10 at 05:30:17
 
greetings all,

i received by zdac-1 earlier today and wanted to share some initial impressions.

first, i listen to music primarily through my macbook pro and itunes software (currently version 9).  i stream music wirelessly to the early version of the airport express (b/g).  prior to installation of my zdac-1, music was sent from the airport express directly to my se84-csp via cardas i-link (mini to rca).  my se84-csp is connected to my se84cs via 1/2 meter decware interconnects.  my speakers are klipsch heresy ii's, and i currently have some version of audioquest speaker wires (i forget the exact nomenclature, they were about $90 on discount).  i understand there are a few weaker links in this setup, but, in general, the music has been very wonderful to my ears over the last two years.

my new stereo configuration has the airport express connected to the zdac-1 via very cheap ($3) mini to toslink cable, and 1/2 meter decware interconnects run between my new zdac-1 to the se84-csp.  everything else remains the same as above.

my digital files run the gamut from mp3, mpeg, aac, aiff, etc.  some of my recordings are very high quality, others are not so high quality.  i listen to a range of music--pop, rock, hip hop, electronic, jazz, reggae, vocals, classical, etc.

in general, my new zdac-1 has added a new layer of genuine clarity to all my recordings which i appreciate very much.  vocals carry a previously unnoticed resonance, new layers of instrumental sounds are discovered in pop/rock/ hip hop/ electronic sounds.  i am hearing a new layer of bass in cannonball adderly's "mercy, mercy, mercy"  as i type this post.  the largest change in sound i have observed so far is in the articulation of orchestral music.  chamber music sounded quite good previously, but orchestral pieces were often buried beneath a thin layer of mush.  the zdac-1 is allowing me to enjoy full orchestral sounds on my humble system.  there is a new speed and snap to everything.  this is absolutely amazing!

the new sounds from my system with the zdac-1 are analogous to the new sounds i hear when i replace worn out output tubes. for my system, the zdac-1 is a tremendous upgrade in sonic clarity.  

one final observation regards the actual weight of my zdac-1.  the zdac-1 feels hefty and well-built, however, it does not weigh the 10 pounds as described on the decware site.  the ups shippping weight including packing materials was 6 pounds.  nonetheless, i honestly believe it is worth its weight in gold.  


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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #27 - 04/08/10 at 11:52:52
 
Welcome James and thanks for the news we were expecting.

Dennis
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #28 - 04/08/10 at 12:57:12
 
Welcome James! Thanks for sharing your impressions. Sounds like you're really enjoying the Zen DAC-1.  Can't wait to get mine!
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #29 - 04/08/10 at 15:01:33
 
Steve, is it possible with this new DAC to make it with variable output voltage, or will there be any plans to do so at some point?
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #30 - 04/12/10 at 20:56:45
 
wd,

At the end of January Steve talked about developing and offering a tubed power stage in a ZBox style case for use along with the Z-DAC.  He didn't mention it, but perhaps he could add a variable output to that stage. . . .(?)

From this page, post 39

http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1249180404/41

"Bottom line is that I have actually been enjoying the upsampling dac by itself with similar satisfaction to what I was getting from the NOS dac with at least both additional stages activated.

So I continue to move forward.  Chassis will be here in another 4 weeks with any luck and then I'll be able to take pictures and make the web page.

I've changed my mind on the BLOCK1, BLOCK2, BLOCK3 naming scheme.  The dac performs so well on it's own, that I don't want to indicate a need for more with it's name.  I called it the ZDAC-1.  This way I can also leave the name of the ZBOX alone.  I'll just do the gain stage and call it the .... something... I'll figure that out at the last minute like I always do.

The thing is, all three components will be the same size and visually match each other.  The ZBOX and the Gain Stage will be optional.  Using the gain stage will simply add a touch of tube joy to the sound and give you control over the dynamics.  The ZBOX will have little effect on dynamics but will relax the presentation and make the system as a whole more forgiving of less than top notch recordings.

-Steve"
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« Last Edit: 04/12/10 at 21:08:52 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #31 - 04/16/10 at 18:43:20
 
Has anyone else received their ZDAC-1 yet ..... ?

From what I understand, at least 9 have been ordered.

Anticipation .....

Randy
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #32 - 04/18/10 at 00:32:19
 
:)  Still seems early for a lot of units to be out there yet to me Randy but I'd LOVE to see some reports.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #33 - 04/24/10 at 14:54:21
 
I'm excited to try this product out. Smiley I'm sitting here listening to the best sound I've ever heard in my home.  The Sony SCD-XA5400ES is really surprising me week after week as the Torii Mark III broke in, giving out truly dynamic and detailed and yet warm sound. It will be very interesting to compare the analog out of this player with the ZDAC-1 output! (Which should be easy to do as I can set it up so that all I need to do is toggle back and forth between the two on my Zbox with the two input option).
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« Last Edit: 04/24/10 at 14:58:43 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #34 - 04/26/10 at 15:37:14
 
There's been a thread about the ZDAC-1 on the headfi board since the DAC was announced.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f7/decware-has-released-dac-zdac-1-a-480855/index5...

At first they were going all in the wrong direction about the machine due to the board being sourced from China, but they seem to have been straightened out.

Hopefully there will be some reviews soon!
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #35 - 04/26/10 at 18:18:25
 
Yep ..... I am heading out for the HornFest on Thursday and then driving up to Michigan for the AK Fest for Saturday and Sunday.

I was hoping to take the DAC-1 for "show and tell" .....

Steve really needs to crawl under the hollow tree and kick his elves in the butt to get them moving a little faster .....

Randy

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« Last Edit: 04/26/10 at 18:19:06 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #36 - 04/27/10 at 02:25:53
 
Randy, what is the AK fest in Michigan?
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #37 - 04/27/10 at 02:28:46
 
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Reply #38 - 04/27/10 at 04:05:20
 

Yep ..... that would be it .....

Randy

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #39 - 04/28/10 at 00:19:59
 
Notice from UPS that my Zdac is on the way. I will have to find a way to take back my listening space from my kids.  Been awhile since I have had the amps cookin!  Is a Playstation 3 a good digital source?
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #40 - 04/28/10 at 12:05:43
 
I got a shipping notice, but it may be the power cord I ordered?  I didn't get any other notification.

I've no experience with Playstations (would you believe I've never played a videogame or computer game?) but thy have a good reputation as a cd player.
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« Last Edit: 04/28/10 at 12:07:21 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #41 - 04/28/10 at 13:24:01
 

It looks like several shipping notifications have gone out .....

Let the fun begin .....

Randy
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #42 - 04/28/10 at 14:02:33
 
Yeah, I notice I have to sign for this package due Friday, so it must include the ZDAC-1!
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #43 - 04/28/10 at 21:32:31
 
I totally would have gotten on board on that initial price for the first so many units sold etc, but I was really hoping for a variable output voltage like the ZCD .. I really don't want a preamp, and just want to keep things real simple.. Guess that's my fault for getting the Taboo that needs more to drive it than the others, although it's a great amp and I love it:)

So many systems I see seem to be so complicated with all sorts of cables and interconnects hooking various pieces together, it's just not how I want to go with my system etc..

All that said, it will be really interesting to read all your reports and impressions !!  Exciting indeed!!  :)
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« Last Edit: 04/28/10 at 21:34:42 by waveydavey »  
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #44 - 04/30/10 at 15:15:35
 
WD, hopefully Steve will weigh in on the possibility of a stiffer output.

I wonder if we'll see a Decware coaxial digital cable.

Steve, do you recommend leaving the ZDAC-1 powered when not in use?
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #45 - 04/30/10 at 19:04:30
 
#004 has arrived in Austin.

Impressive machine. Looks nice side by side with the ZBox.  I have the analog out of the ZDAC into the ZBox.  I'm listening to the DVR digital output and it's improved,  Initial listening to cd playback from the ZDAC and the SCD-XA5400ES is so far surprisingly close sonically.  Whcih is impressive.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #46 - 05/02/10 at 14:19:35
 
Yesterday I'd have to say the SCD-XA5400ES won out over the ZDAC by a few hairs.  When I'd compare, toggling back and forth with the ZBox, the Sony just had more warmth and more refined sound, a very integrated and clear sound.  In comparison the ZDAC had a huge sound that lacked the warmth and coherence of the Sony, to a degree.  A fascinating whirlpool of sound though, that was cohering gradually through the day.  I'm very impressed that the ZDAC has the same degree of clear and extended tonal balance that I found so distinctive in this Sony player. In this sense, in my opinion, the ZDAC has already surprassed my seasoned ZCD.  The ZDAC was shut off over night and is doing very well as it warms up with one of my favorite 'test' discs, the most recent US cd release of John Coltrane's 'Crescent.'

I'm already convinced that the ZDAC is a great machine that will be getting better day by day for a spell. In my opinion the Sony is a powerhouse player that is hard to beat., I'm so glad I took a chance on it.  I found an interesting review of a modded version here:

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue47/sonyscdxa5400es.htm

Within the review it mentions:

"The 5400 model is a direct coupled voltage design and with no capacitors in the signal path. We all have been told that the sound of a capacitor should be to have no sound. That has been accomplished here by the process of elimination—there are none in the pathway."

That signal path seems to give it a distinctive sound that really works well with my tastes and system. The SACD output from this player was the first that really excited me, and the redbook output is still my personal referrence sound, the best I've ever had. (It's build quality and frame design have led to this being an excellent transport as well).

Already the ZDAC driven by three sources has shown itself to have a wonderful, detailed, dynamic sound. And it's design is very different than the Sony's analog output stage, with all those capacitors (if I understand correctly; I may be wrong).  This illustrates Steve's discoveries that different pathways lead to sonic success.  Adding the ZDAC to my system has been a win-win.

Randy, I predict you're going to be very happy.
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« Last Edit: 05/02/10 at 15:59:33 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #47 - 05/04/10 at 18:03:38
 
Wow ..... the past week has been an audio whirlwind for me .....

My son Geoff and I headed out to the HornFest in South Carolina last Thursday morning and stayed there until Friday night.  We did an "all nighter" of 800 miles and arrived at The Audio Karma Fest in Novi, Michigan on Saturday morning.  From there, back to Caintuck on Sunday night and hit the sack about 2:30 am after unloading.

I love audio road trips, but this was a bit much even for me .....  

To make things worse, I knew that I had a new Decware ZDAC-1 waiting for me at home.  It arrived shortly before the road trip began and I only had a couple of hours to check it out before I had to start packing things up for the trip.

My original plan was to take the ZDAC with me for show and tell at the HornFest, but I decided against it because of the all too familiar situation of a brand new piece of gear with no burn in time.

Steve told me that the unit had about 4 hours of burn in time on it and it sounded like it .....    Can you say "grainy" .....

It was especially rough on the ears sitting next to the MHDT Labs Havana, which is a very mellow NOS design.

After retuning from the road trip and a good night's rest, I scurried to the listening room and fired up the ZDAC and programmed the transport to repeat while I did some yard work.

When I get back to the room, things were much improved over the first listening session.  Truthfully, I was pretty much amazed at how much better it sounded after just a few hours of burn in.  Of course, it wouldn't surprise me if the next 100 hours or so will be a bit of a "sonic roller coaster ride" based on past experience with new gear.

By the time evening had rolled around, I decided to put the Havana back in the system and listen to some of the same music that had been playing through the ZDAC.  Since I have the two pieces sitting side by side, swapping them can be done in a matter of seconds.

The following brief comments should be taken in the context that I fully expect the ZDAC to get better (possibly much better) with some additional burn in time under its belt.

First, I have to say that I am amazed that Steve has been able to get a "NOS sound" out of a very different topology ..... and I mean this as a compliment.  I previously owned a Zanden 5000 DAC, considered by many to be right at the top of the heap in the land of digital converters ..... and, make no mistake, it sounds very, very good.  When done right, a NOS DAC does a very good job of extracting detail from the CD while being easy on the ears ..... closer to analog, IMHO.  The MHDT Labs Havana is a NOS design that sounds killer for the money and I like mine a lot.

Steve's reference DAC is a NOS design and sounds very good as well.  I must admit I blinked a few times when Steve revealed that the ZDAC was not a NOS design.  Despite my respect for his ears and design talents, I thought to myself "great, another upsampling / oversampling DAC that will make my poor ears bleed".

However, even at this point in time, I hear more similarities than differences between the ZDAC and the Havana .... which is good news indeed.  As would be expected, the ZDAC has a bit more detail.  It lacks a bit of the warmth that I enjoy from the Havana, but again, this may well change with some hours of burn in.

Even at this point, the soundstage depth and width are very good as well as the focus and palpability of vocals and instruments .....

I plan to put some hours on the ZDAC over the next couple of weeks and will share my thoughts as we go.

Based on the DACs I have heard (quite a few), I would have no problem recommending this piece.  There are a lot of pricey DACs out there that are not nearly as good as this one ..... and my unit is still "wet behind the ears" .....

More to come .....

Randy
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #48 - 05/04/10 at 18:13:32
 
Sounds as if I was right, you're sounding pretty happy Randy. Smiley

I'm pretty happy too, I have been experimenting with cables and cable types and doing comparisons between analog outputs and digital outputs and having fun. The ZDAC-1 has developed a bit more bass, which is welcome.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #49 - 05/06/10 at 15:21:45
 
The ZDAC-1 continues to improve sonically in frequency extremes and focus. One immediate standout is how dynamic this DAC is.

This morning Sonny Rollins' "Freelance Years" box set from Concord is in play and I'm just grabbed by Rollins and pulled into tracing his musical lines in my mind.  The ZDAC-1 is really bringing the music home.

In comparison to the same material analog out from the Sony SCD-XA5400ES the Sony is a bit warmer and has a more laid back presentation.  The image is behind the speakers and further back, the ZDAC-1 so far presents the music more as if you were close to the stage or control booth.  Not in a fatiguing way.  I find both the Sony and the ZDAC-1 to have nearly grain-free treble and midrange.  The ZDAC-1 has a fuller, more bold sound. The Sony sounds more open and deeper, as if you were pulled into the room a bit more realistically by some supernatural agent. Smiley  It's a very appealing sound.  With SACD the Sony rocks and trounces any other digital sound I've heard.

I've been listening to three sources via both glass Toslink optical cable and a few coaxial digital cables. Very interesting to compare the sonics of either cable with a source. This DAC will clearly delineate component and cabling changes.
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« Last Edit: 05/06/10 at 15:24:23 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #50 - 05/06/10 at 16:01:24
 
I enjoy the ZDAC stories as they unfold. Please do speak to your cable experiences when you feel ready.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #51 - 05/06/10 at 16:37:54
 
So far I've used three digital cables, the best of which (by a head and shoulders) is the Creative Cable's "Black Knight" -- a cable that seems to just get it right, adds a hint of coppery romance. The other cable is a very cheap one with a sort of crisp sound that came with another component and one lableled "Acoustic Research" that is pretty good, more analytical than the Black Knight.

The Toslink cable I've been using is the glass fibered "Amphenol" cable. This is hands down the best Toslink cable I've ever heard and at less than thirty bucks a great buy.  Doesn't have the boxiness and flatness I've heard in plastic Toslink cables. A very open and dynamic cable.

The differences I hear between the Amphenol Toslink and the Black Knight coaxial cable is mainly presentation. The Toslilnk is more focused and perhaps more dynamic by just a shade. Seems very accurate.  The Black Knight has just a tiny glow to it.  It almost makes you feel as if you could hear the metal warming up.  A bit more romance and mystery. A nice difference.  I find that the Black Knight wins when the Sony SCD-XA5400ES is used as a transport.  With the DVR and the Sony BDP-S2000ES Blu-Ray the Toslink seems dead on sonically, as these components seem a tiny bit warmer and fuzzier sounding when connected to the ZDAC. I'm getting very good sound from all three sources.

Perhaps you know how it feels to use Decware interconnects and power cords. . . you can try a lot of brands but you have a referrence point, a "gold standard" where you have the best bang for the buck and all the support your components and the signal needs when you get to know the Decware cables. I would be very happy to have a Decware digital cable, or Steve's heartiest specific recommendation as a foundation cable.
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« Last Edit: 05/06/10 at 16:42:23 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #52 - 05/06/10 at 17:39:01
 
Thanks Lon, very helpful. And I agree, it would be cool if Decware sometime offered digital cables or recommendations.
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #53 - 05/07/10 at 03:49:37
 
I have been running the ZDAC for several hours each night since it arrived ..... powering it off between sessions since it has been my experience that capacitor break-in works better with some off and on time.

As I expected, it is getting better by the day .....

I have an interesting situation with the Genesis Digital Lens that sits between my transport and the DAC ..... it allows me to input five different types of digital cabling ..... coax, BNC, AESEBU (balanced), Toslink (plastic fiber) and a discreet input for glass.  It will then output coax, AESEBU or glass to the DAC.

The really neat thing is that it allows me to toggle these different inputs on the fly from the remote control.

Since my CEC transport has outputs for coax, balanced and optical ..... I can hook all of them up to the Digital Lens at the same time for a quick (instant) comparison.

Before I received the ZDAC, I had been experimenting with a couple of coax cables (a very decent budget cable from Blue Jeans cable and the venerable Illuminati D-60) and a balanced cable.

The D-60 provided the most detail, the Blue Jeans a smooth and "easy" sound and the balanced cable gave me a richer more laid back sound with the perception of slightly more bass response.

I have since returned the D-60 to its owner and have been switching back and forth between the Blue Jeans and balanced cables going from the transport to the Lens and another run of Blue Jeans cable running from the Lens to the ZDAC.

The implications of this setup are pretty amazing ..... five possible cables from the transport to the Lens and another 3 possible cables from the Lens to the DAC .....

Needless to say, there is an almost infinite variety of possible sonic signatures and flavors.

Already, I have found a very useful application for this ..... I listen to "hotter" CDs through the balanced cable and more "laid back" CDs through the coax ..... just one button push away .....

I have yet to try a decent glass cable ..... but plan to in the near future.

Some might make the argument that another component and cable could not possibly improve the sound ..... but anyone who owns a Digital Lens knows that the improvement is audible and for real.

Oh yeah ..... the ZDAC ..... from the relatively short time it has been in the system, it has acquitted itself very well indeed.  I am liking it a lot and expect to be delighted by the time it reaches "maturity".

It should certainly be on the very short list of anyone wanting to have a top notch digital front end.

More to come .....

Randy
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« Last Edit: 05/07/10 at 03:56:59 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #54 - 05/07/10 at 15:14:33
 
Hey Randy,

Thanks for the info. Great idea, using the simple switchable cable settings for signature adjustments. I have not gotten my ZDAC yet, but wanted to be prepared with a few cables when it comes. Your experience and Lon's are a big help. I ordered an "Amphenol" glass cable due to Lon's experience, and already have a blue jean coax and blue jean plastic toslink. I am encouraged enough by your experience with the Blue Jean coax to think this should get things going. I was hoping to avoid more expensive cables as I keep thinking I need a cheap out in case the ZDAC doesn't suit me. Even though my experience indicates this is absurd since I love every piece of Decware stuff I have, old habits......
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #55 - 05/07/10 at 15:27:48
 
wil,

Very interested to hear your impressions of the cable.  I'm impressed, I bought another one which I received yesterday. Very quick and personal service from Cables on Demand.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #56 - 05/07/10 at 15:41:23
 
I really surprise myself whenever I switch back and forth between the analog out of my SCD-XA5400ES and the digital out into the ZDAC-1.

Both are delivering excellent, different sound. I have to say that the ZDAC-1 is a bit more dynamic and has a bit more of a full sound. The Sony in comparison sounds more holographic, warmer, deeper soundstage and I would have to agree with my friend Shawn who said the Sony sounded more like vinyl.

I confess that if I were only planning to use the ZDAC-1 for cd playback, I would be hard-pressed to justify the expenditure as the Sony sounds so good, and I enjoy it's more relaxed presentation, I can't deny.

Those who really like a dynamic and present, crisp sound might prefer the ZDAC-1.

But the ZDAC-1 is a clear winner sound wise when used with my DVR and my Blu-Ray player. I really enjoy listening to the sound it produces when connected to these sources.

Today the system is sounding very similar to yesterday, so far. Great clear punchy sound.

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #57 - 05/10/10 at 21:22:35
 
The ZDAC-1 is really opening up.  I'm still having fun doing cd comparisons. Quite interesting, reality bending sort of thing with material I know really well.

Cd playback via the ZDAC-1 has improved over the last few days. There's more depth, more of a foundation to the sound and it's moved a tiny bit back from its more forward stance of last week.  It's moving into the sort of sound I wanted from the ZCD and never have found. So far I have two very good, very different, presentations of the recordings. An abundance of riches!  I wish I could fully describe the differences. Very cool to have both views.

For my DVR and my Blu-Ray player the ZDAC-1 is a delight. For now I've settled on using Toslink for both. The ZDAC-1 gets you right down in there, involved.  Music on programming can really suck you in. If I were looking for a DAC for a home theater system I'd look at this one.  Wow.  
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« Last Edit: 05/10/10 at 21:28:42 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #58 - 05/10/10 at 22:07:59
 
Well ..... last night proved to be a wonderful evening, indeed.

I had Miss Gillian Welch visit me in my listening room compliments of the ZDAC-1 .....

She and Dave Rawlings have produced some very fine minimalist recordings in the "Americana" and "Old Timey" genre ..... stuff that is right up my alley.

Her stuff can be found here.

It has been very interesting to this point comparing the ZDAC-1 and the MHDT Labs Havana.  The Havana has an almost cult following status ..... and rightly so.  When you pop the right vacuum tube in it (not the stock one) it is a living breathing music making machine and really draws you into the music if the recording is good and the rest of the system is up to snuff.

As I mentioned before, I honestly believe that the fact that it is a non-oversampling design accounts for a lot of its musicality.  The fact that the ZDAC has that "NOS flavor and feel" is absolutely amazing to me.

As the ZDAC has been accumulating hours of run time, it has been drawing closer and closer to the Havana in the things that the Havana does so well while maintaining the better detail retrieval that is typical of an up / over sampling DAC.

Steve used the term "image density" in referring to the ZDAC and I can appreciate what he is saying.  Miss Welch was sitting in my room with me last night giving a personal concert ..... good stuff.

I made an interesting change to my system recently ..... Dave built a custom pair of Troll bookshelf speakers for me.  They are in the new piano black finish cabinets, but instead of the standard ribbon driver he found and used a pair of smaller Heil Air Motion Transformers that are no longer in production.  Fortunately, the diaphragms are still made if mine ever get damaged.  As good as the ribbons are in the Troll Signatures (and they are really, really good), the Heil drivers put the speakers in a different league as to realism and upper frequency resolution.



These speakers give me a very clear window as to what is going on upstream ..... and what the ZDAC is doing for the sound (and Gillian's voice in particular) is something special.

More to come .....

Randy
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #59 - 05/11/10 at 01:46:16
 
Sounds like you're enjoying yourself Randy!

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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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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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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 »  

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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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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 »  

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 »  

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 »  

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #105 - 05/28/10 at 15:08:52
 

                   

   
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #106 - 05/28/10 at 15:25:35
 
Good, I'm glad you can see I'm not really as deeply in denial as one might think! Smiley

Regarding the serious listening with as little distraction as possible:  I'm a proponent. I'm lucky in that I've been able to do so more tha last two years than ever before. It's quite a meditative and rejuvenating experience. I could even be convinced that it influences my brain.  In a good, enlightening way. I've been doing less of it than I potentially could though in some ways as I've moved more towards instruments again, which also has it's meditational and restorative aspects. Life without music. . . I know for many of us here, it's just. . . hard to conceive.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #107 - 05/28/10 at 15:28:03
 
Fellow ZDACers:

I recommend after you've "broken in" the ZDAC in the traditional Decware method, leaving it on for about 48 hours straight, seems to just open up in a new way.  I did that, and then turned it off overnight. Today it's really sounding wonderful.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #108 - 05/28/10 at 17:03:11
 
I'll try it! Thanks for the tip.

My ZDAC is sounding very open and detailed now most of the way through day 12, but it has been on a lot of hours per day. On without music...I guess 10-11 hours a day, and with music or movie, I guess 6-8. It still is changing though. I look forward to its sound once all is settled.
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« Last Edit: 05/28/10 at 19:13:04 by will »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #109 - 05/31/10 at 13:47:11
 
Sounding very nice. A bit of 'ease", quite welcome, seems to have slipped in to the sound.

Hard to describe it. I still really like the analog out from the Sony player in comparison, a different, slightly more relaxed, less foucsed sound. The ZDAC however just really transforms my TV watching/listening.  No comparison, it's clearly greatly improved from the audio out of the DVR, for which I'm very grateful.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #110 - 06/01/10 at 15:40:47
 
Wow. This ZDAC-1 is still getting better.

If you think you would like this, get an order in. Wink
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #111 - 06/06/10 at 01:06:20
 
Today I ran the ZDAC-1 straight into the Torii Mk III, it's no longer connected tot he ZBox.  I had it connected to the ZBox because with the two inputs and toggle switch I had added to it, I could switch back and forth between the Sony and the ZDAC-1 and compare.  That was very instructional and brought on some very good listening through both inputs. I think I have a very good handle now on the differences and similarities.

I want to state categorically that the ZDAC-1 sounds very good with the ZBox . . .and very good not connected to the ZBox. The ZBox adds a smidgeon of relaxed depth to the sound, which may or may not be YOUR thing (a lot of the time its MY thing) but the ZDAC-1 is perhaps a smidgeon more dynamic and crystal clear on its own into the Torii.

I just can't make this DAC sound bad. Smiley
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #112 - 06/07/10 at 02:28:20
 
Lon,

Thanks for this post. I find it really interesting that your description of your ZDAC experience still indicates pretty minimal differences with or without the Zbox. Am I reading this correctly? And if so, do you have any thoughts on why? Do you think it the subtlety of the Zbox sound? Or could it be the tube choice? Might there be a better tube match for the Zbox with the ZDAC in front? Just wondering what you think.

I am loving my Smiley ZDAC now! It sounds to me like a tube source without tubes. Three weeks kicked it over into a new level altogether.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #113 - 06/07/10 at 02:55:55
 
Will, there is a difference.  But it's not as profound a difference as it is with several other players I've used.

It's a bit more forward and "pushing" as you wrote elsewhere without the ZBox.  The Zbox seems to offer a deeper soundstage and a slight softening of the dynamics. That's my take. You can change the tonal balance of the output a bit with different tubes, but I haven't found a tube that really alters the soundstage and dynamics aspects, they all seem to offer this presentation, with the exception of a few types that are just "too much," they distort.

The ZBox really makes an impact on thinner sounding or edgier sounding output from players that don't sound as great without it. The ZDAC sounds great with and without it. A bit less laidback without the ZBox.  I may go back to that chain of components in the near future, because in general I like the deeper laid-back presentation, though much of this is material related. I have lots of recordings, and so more options is always a good thing.
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« Last Edit: 06/07/10 at 02:56:43 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #114 - 06/07/10 at 06:27:05
 
Hey Lon, I think I get it. Maybe a lot of what the ZBox does that causes more profound changes in lesser DACs/players is already there in the ZDAC causing the ZBox effect on the ZDAC to be real, but more subtle?
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #115 - 06/07/10 at 11:59:22
 
That's likely.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #116 - 06/17/10 at 14:25:29
 
I went on the road for a week and a day, driving my Harley Davidson FXDF up to Bay Village, Ohio to visit my folks and my brothers and their families, and then to Arlington, Virginia to visit briefly with Helen's parents, and then briefly to Richmond to visit my sister and her family.  I had music in my head as i sped along the highways, through rain and heat and a few absolutely wonderful weather hours.

I got home about 8 last night and my ears were freaked out after 830 miles yesterday (an hour west of Nashville to Austin) but when they settled down and I settled down I put on the system and was just wowed once more by the quality, depth and scope of the sound. I had left the ZDAC on all that time. The ZDAC is sounding great, the Torii is sounding great, the IT Radials are sounding great.  Each is providing a valuable part to the magnificent whole.

I woke up early, had breakfast wih the lovely Nadine who I had missed so much, and now again those great sounds are washing over me.

Life is good.
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« Last Edit: 06/17/10 at 16:50:41 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #117 - 06/18/10 at 17:55:19
 
Hey Lon. Welcome home.

I am wondering....I guess this may be sort of a difficult question since you were a week away from your system and it was bound to be amazing with fresh ears...but also you have been comparing your Sony DAC section to the ZDAC for a long time now. It makes me wonder, do you think your ZDAC changed while you were gone? Did the week on cycle have an effect? How does it now compare with your Sony?

I get a sense that mine is still subtly changing and I have had it in serious play for 4.5 weeks. I think yours came at least a couple weeks before mine. Any thoughts?
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #118 - 06/18/10 at 19:33:13
 
Wil, it's hard to tell. . .. I don't think it changed TOO much in the week I was gone. Perhaps a bit more bass.  Perhaps, not clearly it's subtle. My ears were so changed by days of 70 plus mph wind noise. . . . Took a day or so to reset and by then impressions were morphing.

It still has the basic difference that it has had to the Sony SACD player:  a bt more forward and dynamic. The Sony still has what seem to me more vinyl like qualities:  a bit darker and more laid back.  I like both "signatures" for different material.  And SACD is awesome.  It's intrinsically better to my ears than Redbook when done right.

I sort of expect the ZDAC to change tiny bits over the next months, but to be honest I've pretty much stopped listening for changes and for "audiophile factors," and just listening to music and watching discs and TV and enjoying the doing so. The music and sound is coming through and I'm so happy to be stepping outside the "critical" zone.
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« Last Edit: 06/18/10 at 19:35:45 by Lon »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #119 - 06/19/10 at 02:04:26
 
Yes, I understand the pleasure of stepping outside the "critical" zone. I did it for a while and then went and had a bright idea... Oh crap!

Since the Mac/ZDAC brought further clarification to my sound, I thought I might experiment with removing some of the bass damping I had done to my MG944's as one of the things I did to chill the bass intensity the Torii brought to my room. Back in the madness.

So I pulled off some of the little (2mm) Marigo resonance dots from the MG driver edges, and then re-placed them preferring the minimal damping. I had also reduced the gap between the plinth and the passive radiator from the original 3/8" to 1/4. So in this experiment,  I re-opened the space back to the original, but not liking that, I incrementally closed that space back, finally to 1/4. So after several days of exploration, the MG's have ended up back where they were pre ZDAC.

But I am not complaining...before the ZDAC my sound was really, really good, and the Mac/ZDAC has improved upon that in a big way! The only drag is that all this tweeky stuff is a pain to do.

Undecided

Thankfully I worked all that out of my pathetic mind and I feel quite content with where I am.... enjoying life without that critical edge again! Man it sounds incredibly real and sweet! Truly great!

Cool
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« Last Edit: 06/19/10 at 02:05:48 by will »  

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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #120 - 06/19/10 at 12:16:22
 
Well, there were real room needs for your modifications I guess, they're still relevant now with the ZDAC.  

I haven't even dared venture into that realm of room treatment. If I happen to move in the next few years I'll perhaps address it again. But I have a feeling it may be like tube-rolling had become for me: a pathway to madness. Smiley

Really, I'm happy with the ZDAC, very very happy.  If it stays just as it is, it's more than money well-spent, it's a great source for my system. And it will probably get a bit better as it seasons in over the months.
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Re: The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!
Reply #121 - 06/19/10 at 22:32:18
 
Yes, the Torii threw me for a loop which was a surprise since the SE34I-2 gave me none of the cotton ear causing muddle I have been diligently weeding out since the MKIII came. Not having a separate room, I have been careful to make treatments as low key as I can, and this sets up its own issues, but all-in-all it worked.

Some of it was like tube rolling, especially the ART Basik bass unit which apparently absorbs slightly different frequency ranges depending on placement. It is really nice to be able to tune the sound with it though by finding the spot that cuts cluttering resonance most while leaving the most ambient soundstage. And it is little, so easy to play with. Smiley

And the most powerful tool (for solving my low-mid/bass muddle) was tuning the speakers. The Marigo dots are easy enough, adding one after another, and by using the very subtle 2mm dot on the driver edge, the changes are notable, but low-key. I just went until the damping was too much, then pulled the last one.

The plinth space adjustments were a pain, but very powerful. I just closed the gap little by little until the offending resonance frequencies were powerfully present, but not resonating. Most of the other treatments I did were pretty straight forward.

The Mac/ZDAC-1 did not fix any of this, but it helped a lot in more ways than one. It was icing on the cake for all the other work I had done, cleaning and refining the whole frequency spectrum. But as importantly, having a trustworthy, articulate, and transparent source makes everything easier to identify and solve. So for this latest speaker tuning exploration; fine tuning tube combinations; and tuning the ART Basik bass station, it was all easier than it was before because everything is more clearly presented causing the bad and good to stick out more.

One less broad result form the ZDAC is that it is much easier to use 5U4G tubes now, where the tighter bottom from 5AR4/GZ34's was usually my favorite before. Now I can use most any tube combination and find it fun! I am using some "GT Britain" labeled RCA 6JD8's and 50's RCA 5U4G-ST's right now and enjoying them a lot. But my latest speaker experiment proved to me that, even with the ZDAC's help, when I pulled the speaker tuning, I could not use these 5U4G's.

I really am glad to have this tool! It refines the sound beautifully on its own, but it makes everything I do from subtle speaker shifts to tubes, not only very clear and apparent, but trustworthy because it does not appear to present any wildcards...make a change and it holds up for most recordings. Ah the ZDAC-1.

But I hear you on tweaky-tweaky mind mess. I have not freaked out yet, but my tools are good enough now, and I understand their natures well enough to know where things are going. This is notably better since the Mac/ZDAC-1.

Wink
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« Last Edit: 06/20/10 at 00:42:47 by will »  

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