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How good is the ZDAC ..... (Read 10523 times)
Randy in Caintuck
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How good is the ZDAC .....
05/25/10 at 13:28:25
 
Well ..... I have had the new ZDAC in my system for the past few weeks and have a pretty good handle on its sound and capabilities.

Bear with me as I set up the scenario for my comments …..

A lot of water has passed under the “audio bridge” over the past few years and I was in the digital game from pretty early on  ..... my first player being one of the horribly over-priced and atrocious sounding early Sony units.  I don’t even remember the model number ….. it has been mercifully blocked from my memory …..

As Will recently posted in another thread ….. “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.”

I agree wholeheartedly with his statements.  To this day, when I try to play some of the early CD releases of the music that I loved on vinyl it makes me sick to my stomach ….. and I have found no player or DAC (including the $10,000.00 Zanden) that will make these abominations sound anything like music.

Fortunately, as Will observes, things have gotten a lot better at both the recording and playback end and I am now able to sit for hours at a time listening to CDs with a big smile on my face.  There is a lot of music on “non-audiophile” labels that sounds very good indeed ….. and some labels (such as the German Stockfisch goodies) are nipping at the heels of decent analog, IMHO.

Now, to the question at hand, how good is the new ZDAC ?  To dispense with the suspense, it is very good indeed.  Steve has plunged head first into a body of water that is infested with competition ….. some of it very attractively priced and good sounding to boot.  Having owned some of the better (and more costly) DACs and having heard many of the others that are available, I feel confident that I can offer some thoughts on the matter.  Of course, personal taste is the ultimate qualifier in this hobby.  Before I bought a Zanden 5000, I had been checking out the used gear for a period of several months on AudioGon and noticed that several of the “well regarded” CD players and DACs showed up for sale on a pretty regular basis.  I concluded that these units were probably pretty impressive on the initial listening session but tended to “wear the owner out” over a period of time.  I won’t mention any names, but if you check out the digital listings on AudioGon you will see what I mean.

I read several reviews on the Zanden and noticed that they didn’t come up for sale very often ….. and when one became available (because the current owner had to have the latest model and had $14,000.00 burning a hole in his pocket) I jumped on it.  To my ears, it was everything that it was advertised to be ….. resolving, detailed and musical while being easy on the ears at the same time.  It also convinced me that there was something special about a NOS design, when properly done.

When I developed a life threatening illness, I decided to sell off all of my expensive gear (including the Zanden DAC) so that my wife would not have to deal with it if I took the dirt nap.  It also bothered me that if service work was needed on the Zanden, it had to be shipped back to Japan.

After the doctors told me that I might stick around for a while, I started to buy some audio gear to rebuild my system.  I read some glowing reports about the MHDT Labs Havana and since it was based on the NOS platform I decided to give it a try.  I was not disappointed.  It had a lot of sonic similarities to the Zanden.  Not as good in an absolute sense ….. but very musical and easy to enjoy over extended listening sessions.  With well recorded CDs it could even approach “breathtaking” and I have no complaints with the sound, especially at the price point.  This DAC has a “near cult” status among those who own it.

So, how does the ZDAC compare to the Havana ….. which is in the very same ballpark pricewise ?

Here is what I found.  To make the comparison as fair as possible, I set my system up so that (using the same transport and Genesis Digital Lens) I could change immediately between the two with the flip of a switch.  I had a couple of assistants help over the course of the comparison so that I could remain in the listening seat and not miss a beat.  It should also be noted that my current loudspeakers (the custom built and one of a kind Parker Audio Troll Magnums with Heil Air Motion Transformers) are EXTREMELY revealing and allow me to hear a gnat fart if such is on the recording.  When combined with the ATT glass digital cable that runs from the transport to the Genesis Digital Lens I am getting a very clear view of everything upstream.  If the source is good, it can be mesmerizing ….. if the source is bad it lets me know about it within a few notes.

Steve has made a couple of statements concerning the ZDAC that have to be taken into consideration in relation to my thoughts …..

1 –  The ZDAC-1 is a 24/192 up-sampling DAC with USB, COAX, OPTICAL inputs released in April 2010 and priced below $1000.00  It has been designed to be competitive with DAC's retailing at over twice that amount.”

2 -  Modular design suggests a matching tube gain stage and a tube buffer stage may be in the future.

Concerning the second statement, the MHDT Labs DAC has a tube buffer stage.  Going head to head, the ZDAC sounded better to me than the Havana with the supplied stock tube.  There are some old stock tubes that work in the Havana that sound very, very good ….. but are unfortunately very hard to find and very expensive if you can find them.  I had been collecting tubes for the Havana and have a lifetime supply of some of the very best ones.  With the best tubes, I felt that the Havana was slightly better sounding than the ZDAC, with more bloom and texture.  Of course, it is quite possible that the ZDAC mated with a Z-Box or other tube buffer stage would equal or better the Havana.  The amazing thing to me is that the ZDAC sounds as fabulous as it does with no tube buffer and is as easy on the ears as an NOS design.  Unless a person can find a stash of the very best tubes for the Havana, the care and feeding of the ZDAC would be much easier with very similar sonic results.  The ZDAC has the ability to put the performers in the listening room, which is not an easy thing to accomplish.

Concerning the first statement, I also had Parker Audio Dave bring his Camelot Uther DAC over to see how it compared to the other DACs.  The Uther is a $4000.00 piece and the version with the Swiss Anagram stage is one of the very best digital processors available.  It is definitely in the same sonic ballpark as the Zanden.  I owned both at the same time and was able to compare them side by side.  Honestly, I probably convinced myself that a DAC that cost 10 grand just HAD to be better than one that “only cost 4 grand” ….. but the fact is that I have NEVER heard a DAC that is better than the Uther.  

When Steve says that the ZDAC “has been designed to be competitive with DAC's retailing at over twice that amount” he is not blowing smoke.
The Uther was better than the ZDAC to my ears, but the ZDAC had nothing to be embarrassed about.  For five times the money, the Uther should be better ….. and we are talking subtleties here, not day and night differences ….. as heard through a very revealing system.

The bottom line is that the ZDAC is a very worthy and musical component that will only be limited by the other equipment in the system.  It extracts gobs of detail from the recording without subjecting its owner to listener fatigue.  It is user friendly and can be “seasoned to taste” with the Decware Z-Box or a possible tube buffer and /or gain stage in the future.  I have to believe that anyone who chooses to own one will not be disappointed in the least.

If you could have been sitting in my listening seat a couple of nights ago hearing Gillian Welch putting on a private concert, you would know what I mean …..

Nicely done, Steve.

Randy
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #1 - 05/25/10 at 16:28:46
 
Nice review Randy, thanks, I really enjoy reading your impressions and your evaluation.

I can mirror your enthusiasm about the ZDAC-1.  I'm really enjoying the sound. The most improved is the sound from my cable box, wow, it's worth it for that alone.  The difference between the analog out of my Blu-Ray player and that same player as a transport for the ZDAC-1 is not as broad, but it's there.  The analog out is warmer and perhaps more romantic, the ZDAC-1s presentation is more neutral and detailed. Both can be the best depending on material. The same is true in a more profound way with the differences between the ZDAC-1 and my Sony SACD player, the SCD-XA5400ES.  The Sony has a more vinyl like, creamy and romantic sound, the ZDAC-1 is a more upfront and dynamic picture. I like looking at both. The Sony is the best redbook player I've ever had before, reading on the web I've found I'm not the only listener that believes the Sony is a real bargain for the sound. The SACD playback from this machine is really something, and the redbook really shines for classical and jazz. I'm very happy to have the Sony AND the ZDAC-1.  These players give me two great options to play back the many varied cds I have (varied both in genre and sonic character).

As Randy notes, I'd be surprised if anyone purchasing the ZDAC-1 will be disappointed.  And I'd say to we Decware-owners:  if you think this would be great in your system, yeah, it will be.
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #2 - 05/25/10 at 19:51:18
 
Yes, thanks for sharing your impressions, Randy!
I'm really curious as to how it'd do mated to my ZCD.
Don
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will
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #3 - 06/07/10 at 07:07:55
 
Here's another ZDAC-1 review folks.... Wink

I feel like my ZDAC has finally become nicely resolved the last few days, and though I am still learning how to use it, I feel ready to comment. It has been in hard play (6-8 hrs a day) for 3 weeks. And from Lon's suggestion a few days ago, I left it on for a couple days, and I agree, this did something good.

Equipment compared:

Rega Apollo, Rega through ZDAC (amphenol glass toslink), Macbook Pro through ZDAC (Kimber's cheaper USB cable).

Playback system:

Decware: TORII MkIII, Styx speaker cables, Reference ICs, MG944 speakers. VHAudio DIY power cords. Brickhouse power box. And several of Alan Maher's cheaper power conditioning boxes.

Room treatments: Diaphragmatic bass trap (26x16x36)-low bass; open 703 fiber (15x15x36)-other bass; assorted corner 703 fiber; 4 Cathedral Sound room damping panels; Marigo Labs damping dots (mostly 30mm) on speakers, windows and cabinet; Synergistic System's A.R.T Basik system; and an adjustable SK Schumann Resonator (from Tweekgeek). This is cool. It puts out 7.84 Hz. Once set right, what I hear is a cleaner and more atmospheric room sound that refines the sound stage. Too much loses focus, but just a touch higher than first audible, it really brings a nice, sweet, clarity to my system. All treatments contribute to what I think is a reasonably controlled, but live sound, and my living room still looks mostly like a living room!

Smiley

The ZDAC-1. Things I have learned so far:

I heard a big difference in digital cables, and though inexpensive (30 and $42 respectively) I like glass "amphenol" toslink, and Kimber USB, finding them more complete and natural sounding than the original "stock" cables I tried.

I heard a BIG improvement from a better power cable on the ZDAC1.

Also using large Brightstar Isonodes under the Rega (which the ZDAC sits on) were easily heard. They brought out clarity and detail throughout the spectrum.

ZDAC Burn in:

Trying to look at the subtle differences in my playback options before two weeks was useful, but a little like treading water as I waited impatiently for the ZDAC to wake up. For a long time it didn't offer much improvement for me. I heard a big shift days 8-10 and steady refinement since. But after three weeks, the resolution across the frequency range finally indicates to me the ZDAC1 is at least close to being burned in. No more electronic congestion in any part of the range. Now all three playback options are notably different.

The digital players.

I had a good thing going before, so the ZDAC1 did not at first appear to be a revelation, but more an advanced study in refinement.

1) Rega Apollo/no ZDAC1

Because of the ZDAC experiment, I realize my Rega Apollo, though sounding quite good, is definitely subtly colored, with a "laid back" sound (or is it a bit veiled?). Nicely, the Rega somehow isolates the players in the sound stage. Maybe the electronics chosen bring a touch of compressed midrange punch (giving the players extra body and focus) and perhaps a little upper mid and high hit, bringing a sense of presence and openness. I can't really say, but I think Rega's attempt at an analog sound worked pretty well, offering a nice "warmth" with a "live" clarification of the musicians and impressive black between them.

But after insane comparisons, I feel a little ripped off by the Rega sound tweaks. Though for the most part it makes quite respectable music, the times I hear the coloring for what it is…electronic adjustments toward a sound effect, I find it a touch tricky and crave more transparency.

2) Rega Apollo/ZDAC1:

The Rega as transport for the ZDAC-1 was very seductive. The ZDAC changed the Rega. There is enhanced punch, detail and "body." With the Rega, the dynamic transparency and relatively effortless presentation from the ZDAC appears somewhat as prowess, bringing a slight forwardness...more push. And with the ZDAC's pleasantly smooth refinement, it sounds pretty real...but a little pushy and demanding in the end, with too much of that "analog warmth" Rega created. Impressive still with the right tubes, but finally, a little false.

3) Macbook Pro/ZDAC1:

After hearing so much difference in toslink cables, I figured I needed a half decent USB cable to fairly audition the computer source. So I avoided the Mac/ZDAC until the Kimber came, and that was good. I have been using the Mac for 5-6 days.

Coming from the warm and punchy Rega/ZDAC, the Macbook/ZDAC sounded more even, neutral and transparent, but by comparison, too sterile and coolish. Then, though inclined to like the more impressive sound of the Rega/ZDAC, from hard listening, I started hearing the computer combination as potentially more "true"...enough so to dig in and see what I find. I decided to play only through the computer for a while.

File Type Impressions:

I am using uncompressed 44.1K 16bit WAV files (same as most CDs) extracted with error correction using XLD to rip, and iTunes for playback. I compared Apple Lossless to WAV and though it is very good, to me, it sounded a touch less musical. Going into, and/or coming out of this compression algorithm was somehow thinning parts of the sound. Oddly, it appeared more "thinned" in different tonal areas on different tunes. Subtle, but intentionally losing even a little fidelity would be defeating my need for the best possible musical realism. Wav files being roughly twice the size of Apple Lossless, I chose the necessity for bigger hard drives. Not too big of a deal these days.

Adjusting to the Mac/ZDAC1:

Interestingly, the USB/ZDAC sound is closest to the Rega alone but as I listened more I heard the USB/ZDAC-1 had MUCH to explore. I wanted to look at the depth of subtlety the ZDAC offers.

This new sound, with its clarified accuracy, seemed to have better potential in every way as long as it did not end up being too clean. To this end, I needed to treat it differently from the Rega alone or Rega/ZDAC sounds. Since just the right amp adjustments and tube combination brought the Rega into a sense of depth and realism, there was no reason to think this would not be the case for the Mac/ZDAC.

With my personal preference for detail and clarity, I had brightened the Rega sound. No wonder the USB/ZDAC sound began coolish, and "digital" God forbid. But the digital signal is only that….unadjusted, and the ZDAC1 seems to effortlessly and transparently bring smoothness, harmonic detail, definition, weight and body…READ CLARITY, to every aspect of the frequency range. It was a new sound for sure and needed research.

Down came the treble on the TORII, and my warmer tubes became more necessary. The combo of the day… early 60's Bugle Boy 6DJ8's, cryo'd Sovtek GZ34's (cryoset), and OB3 voltage regulators (more "open" than the OA3)…the rest stock MkIII. For most input tubes I tend to fall back to GZ34's over 5U4G's, usually preferring their tighter sound, and the Sovteks do this with warmth and detail. And I have loved this tube combination before the ZDAC, but both the Bugle Boys and Sovteks have darkish low mid tendencies, and with some recordings, they could push the low-mid/high-bass too much for me. But as it turned out, the Rega was contributing to this! With the Mac/ZDAC, I am working from a clean slate….no more guessing. And guess what? The over enhanced low mids thing has, for the most part, been "cured" by this shift.

Cool

Also with the more transparent Mac/ZDAC, the "warm" bias switch and the high impedance speaker setting on the MkIII became more usable for signature shifting. Before the warm bias was sometimes "hard" in the mids, but now, on many recordings it sounds, well… "warm." And without the forwardness from the Rega/ZDAC, the high impedance setting is really pretty nicely clarifying on leaner or flabbier stuff.

So at this point, I would say the ZDAC/Mac is sounding very, very good! Actually, in my system, the musical representation of the USB/ZDAC1 seems close to impeccable. From deep, tight bass to harmonically rich mids, and open airy highs. My older ears don't hear any roll off, actually hearing a bit more tape hiss if it is there, but I love the high extension.

And the harmonic detail that keeps getting my attention…it brings a natural timber to every instrument. Archie Schepp's breath across the damp reeds is almost surreal. And it goes low…where the vibrating reeds move metal and space giving an unmistakable sense of unrestricted harmonic depth...his horn sound appearing to have no limits. Or Yo-Yo Ma's solo cello… there is clarified harmonic texture right down to the lowest bass notes. And bass? The ZDAC handles standup bass with unpretentious authority, revealing every nuance of the wood, fingers and strings while N-H Orsted Pederson prods Schepp through "Looking at Bird." Finally, I find that all of these qualities are handled with great smoothness as the broad range of musical information seamlessly integrates and transitions.

Is the ZDAC forgiving? For me, to get the best sound out of the ZDAC/Mac, it has also become quite forgiving on lesser recordings without sacrifice to great recordings. Also after burn in, the ZDAC-1 has definitely become more "tube like" with its warm, smooth, and wide ranging harmonic detail. All without contrivance…. without any trace of trying to sound warm.

Smiley

The Computer:

Though resistant, after mustering the nerve to explore the computer source for a while, there is no more question for me that this is a really solid foundation. A foundation, without particular color, while being complete thanks to the ZDAC-1. After tuning the system to this sound, it is surprisingly easy to play with, detailing the sound with simple tube, or amp adjustments. No more intense attempts to squeeze that next state of musical wonder out of my "thoroughbred" system. Now it is quite well mannered…easy. This is a profound improvement to my musical experience and though a few things have shifted within the ZDAC experiment, I attribute this transformational refinement to the ZDAC-1.

So what first appeared to be a study in refined subtlety is in fact a revelation. My system was really, really good, I might even have said GREAT. But now it is on a new level. And the ZDAC-1 is the big player in this shift, both through its own sound, but also because it stimulated me to look carefully into uncompressed, error-free computer sourcing. Without that leap of faith, I would not have gotten where I did. I would be playing my Rega as transport and been happy. The sound I have now though, is far more real and more flexible for various music, recording qualities, and tube play. So, though I resist losing my CD's, the touch and look of them, I am comforted by having reached a new level toward the most "real" sound I can get. I don't see myself going back.

Wink

Listening to Patricia Barber sing Autumn Leaves with only a string bass behind her, there appears to be nothing more to do but enjoy…..I hear every nuance from her rich and beautiful voice! I hear the fingers hit the bass strings….feel and hear the wood and body of the bass! There is detail, pace and nuance I have not heard before and it all sounds rich, textured and "right."

Are the players "in the room"? Hmmm….. At night, with my eyes closed, as I get seduced by the vibe of the tune, finding the musicians in space, amazed by meriad details…expanded by the dynamic performance as it fills the air beyond my walls…drawn into the breath and lips as they bring presence to the resonance from the stomach, chest, and Heart…And as the voice weaves its story, I feel the bass player stretch for notes as he explores his need to "speak" through string and wood…his heart entering the heart of the song…..Yes, they feel here with me. And if it is not them, it does not matter, I am loving whoever it is as I experience them playing their hearts out in my living room!

To me, the ZDAC-1 is not just a great audio tool, it is also a great teacher! With the Mac source, it is subtle and supple. It is rich without color. It is not obvious or "in your face" but clear, expressive and articulate. It goes deep and wide with little sense of effort. I could almost say the sound is so complete, that it is not there. It won't surprise me if I could say this unequivocally after burn in refinement. I guess you can tell I like it!
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« Last Edit: 06/07/10 at 15:19:34 by will »  

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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #4 - 06/07/10 at 18:26:35
 
Your "are the players in the room" paragraph is one of the best descriptions of lucid sound that I've ever read!  Impressive writing!

Also interesting is that so much of your room acoustic issues with the bass were being aggravated by your source... and perhaps even why you liked the 6N23P tubes which I found to be unnaturally thin.

Just goes to show the source is everything.  

It would be nice if everyone could bring home a 2 inch mastering deck with at least one or two live two track recordings to hear what is actually possible where sources are concerned.  

The closest thing to that might be a good 45 RMP direct to disk analog master LP with reference grade table arm and cartridge/phono stage.

When you have this sound as a reference in your head, and use it to design and voice amplifiers, it becomes really hard to accept the fact that most customers will never hear how good the amps really are.

As you can see, from the review above, the ZDAC-1 is a respectable starting point that will allow you to quickly dial in your system without gross handicaps.  Why is this important?  Imagine if instead of a Rega CD player, something not even that good was used to audition the TORII MK III.  You would have heard little difference between it and any other good tube amp.  I would have got the amp back for that reason.  Now I'm willing to bet that if Will were to remove the TORII MKIII and re-install his original amp, he would probably vomit.

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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #5 - 06/07/10 at 18:31:10
 
That's such a good point, about a source tape to evaluate and set up.  I use tapes that I recorded live to analog two-track in my garage apartment and at two local clubs of two bands that I was in.  I know the sound of the room(s), the players, the instruments, and how the mikes were placed.  It's the best way for ME to evaluate playback components.

I still balk whenever I see "players in the room." I know what is meant, but I've HAD players in my room, I "play" in my room, and there's no reproduction of that that is really "players in the room" in my opinion. We're still talking reproduction, a copy, and in reality a very inferior one, and often a highly jacked with one in the studio.  But I know what is meant. . . .
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« Last Edit: 06/07/10 at 18:33:00 by Lon »  

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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #6 - 06/08/10 at 08:56:31
 
Steve, I agree entirely that source is vital. A "respectable starting point that will allow you to quickly dial in your system without gross handicaps." is what the Mac/ZDAC-1 provided for me. But this journey was at first quite honestly a study in refinement, especially since I had already sorted out the majority of the room stuff (with your help!)

And though removing the Rega resolved most of what bits remained, it was pretty minor at that point. Maybe not in audio head terms where every minute detail is present...but, well, you know.

So, I didn't mean to run the Rega down that bad. It is really a very good sounding player for the most part. In fact during most of our auditioning with and without the ZDAC, my wife liked the Rega alone best and her ears are pretty good. And I often agreed, but from my hair-splitting audio head, I was listening for details and potential as much as "the sound." And the ZDAC showed potential I needed to explore.

By direct comparison alone though, I think the Rega/ZDAC was better, but not outrageously so, and the Mac/ZDAC was articulate, but not all that friendly.  

It was after adjusting the system to the Mac/ZDAC sound that it got transformative. And I don't think this was an easy or obvious step to take with direct comparison (with perhaps minor adjustments) as the basis. So along with your point that a good source is primary, to me the "moral of the story" was: depending on where we are starting from, the best source is not necessarily obvious.

For me it took a round-about route to get there.

Huh

In retrospect this is not all that surprising since system synergy involves so many parts, and in my system, they all matter. The Torii MkIII alone has 2 switch sets, 2 treble controls, 5 tube sets, and the amp electronics. That is ten areas that adjust system sound, and with various tube combinations and treble knobs, there are countless variations before you ever get out of the amp. Then there is the matrix of individual room treatment devices and placement, power, sources, speaker choice and placement, IC, power and speaker cables, feet....the lot. So there is a lot to work with to get happy, but there is also a lot that can confuse at least me on the way!

[Update: ZDAC-1 Day 24. I noticed yesterday the ZDAC was sounding just a little heavy. But today, it is way better than ever! Then my wife took her computer so I am listening through the Rega. It has been about 5-6 days since we stopped comparing source combinations, and several days more of burn in. I just did some direct comparisons between the Rega and the Rega/ZDAC. Though I prefer the computer for its transparency, having "transformed" my listening experience, I still would have kept the ZDAC with the Rega as transport and been pleased. It would have been a very good and worthy upgrade, though (5-6 days ago) perhaps not an "outrageous" one. I would rephrase that today! It sounds way better! The ZDAC-1 has shifted yet again, and with the Rega as transport, it is a brilliant improvement in every way over the Rega alone! The ZDAC-1 is scaring me it is sounding so good! And my wife agrees. If it keeps changing like this, it might blow my mind!]

Wink


I am sorry I can't plug in the 6N23P's because I broke one. Did I like them because of the Rega faults…room…ears…mind….probably all of the above. I have always been averse to strong low-mid/high-bass whether in a good control room, home or car. Maybe it is because I had a lot earaches as a kid. But this aversion/preference has caused me to adjust all my systems toward tight bass and openness. I did run the 6N23P with sovtek GZ34's most of the time though, which I find warm in the mid and low ranges, filling out some of the extreme articulation of the 6N23P. Also, not unlike the ZDAC-1, both of these tubes took exceptionally long (100-200 hours) to come into themselves. But it does not surprise me that in your room and setup the tubes were thin.

Even now, with my system/room "carrying me away" I suspect it is is still darkish, and yours is likely pretty impeccable. This brings up the question of validity of any reviews where the room is not impeccably treated. We all start comparisons from wherever we are, and I suspect I have gone farther than most to treat my living room. And I really do like my room as part of an outrageously revealing system, but I doubt it is close to perfect. The question becomes, unless all our rooms are equal and really good, with complex systems, what is real?

Wink

That said, I am loving the ZDAC-1, and am truly grateful for the revelations it offered and the pleasure it brings!

Thanks for designing and building it, and for the food for thought. I enjoy exploring from within a complex matrix as I look for simplicity!
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« Last Edit: 06/09/10 at 07:19:46 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, CSP3, TORII MkIV, Morrow SP-7, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PSAudio P5 and Shunyata Defender, PI Audio and DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab isocups and tube dampers...
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will
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #7 - 06/08/10 at 09:36:47
 
Lon, Thinking about "Players in the Room" I realize that I have always liked recordings, this being my ticket to most music from my first getting sucked into the early Beatles records on my dad's old Fischer (tube) rig when I was a pre-teen. And it has always been players who made the recordings in my mind.

I hear the "recording" parts of the sound...mics, room, reverb, compression, tape…all that stuff, but I love those sounds too when I think they enhance the experience and disappear into the playing. And thank god for it since it makes music available. It is another art form, and like most art, to me simple is better. But I have recordings with a lot of electronic tweaks that I can get absorbed by too.

So, I get the reality of the comparative differences with truly live, un-amplified players in a room, but I also never thought "that is a recording of John Coltrane, or that is a recording of Bob Dylan." It is definitely Bob Dylan singing "the Man in the Long Black Coat" when I listen to Oh Mercy, or Coltrane playing "Wise One" from Crescent. And those are definitely their band members helping them.

And this is exactly what my (mostly Decware) system is all about to me… helping those recordings bring all those inspired artists to my room in the most convincing and enthralling way possible. Then if it is recorded well, with good sound and image, the enhancement my system brings to the presentation lets me settle into the awe of it. It makes me comfortable experiencing the music, and music is made by players recorded or not.

This is the bottom line of why I love the ZDAC-1! Cool It helps me lose myself in the experience of music by convincingly defining players in my space.
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« Last Edit: 06/08/10 at 09:47:25 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, CSP3, TORII MkIV, Morrow SP-7, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PSAudio P5 and Shunyata Defender, PI Audio and DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab isocups and tube dampers...
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #8 - 06/08/10 at 12:15:29
 
Okay.  I just can never get to the "players in the room" and "NOT listening to a recording," not because the system doesn't present it as yours does, it's a mental discipline thing, I only allow myself so much fantasy, or else my mind turns into a fantastic playground. Smiley  It just is NOT players in the room, it is a recording, and I have to keep that clear. I know musicians, I've been one, and there's quite a gulf between real and reproduced that I MYSELF have to remain congnizant of. It's just me.

Years ago I was full of hope and desire for escape and fantasy and now I have moved myself towards wallowing in reality.  I guess that's at the heart of it.  I know what you mean, but I also know. .. it's all shadows, echoes.  And I agree, it's wonderful we have them, and they can be very present and powerful, but I remind myself that they are not "real." I've also seen the term so overused in reviews and sales pitches that. . . it introduces unrealistic expectations and disappointment.  I flinch when I see it, now a few decades into this hobby.

Just my personal thing, I'll keep it to myself. Sorry to rain on the parade. Carry on! Smiley
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« Last Edit: 06/08/10 at 12:17:36 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #9 - 06/08/10 at 15:02:49
 
Fair enough Lon! Smiley

Peace.
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #10 - 08/02/10 at 03:29:33
 
I am sorry (well not actually) that I have been so busy with my other hobbies of restoring tractors that I have not even plugged in my ZDAC serial #002.   Embarrassed
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #11 - 08/02/10 at 05:02:10
 
Alright. . .I think the audio police need to be alerted to keep an eye on you!

Sad

Wink
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #12 - 08/04/10 at 01:34:54
 
it's gr9t it's work good Cool
thank u
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #13 - 08/04/10 at 02:07:44
 
Welcome reg!
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Re: How good is the ZDAC .....
Reply #14 - 10/20/10 at 15:31:21
 
Randy,

I had decided to buy the MHDT Labs Havana when I ran across the  Zen 24/192 Upsampling DAC model ZDAC-1. I liked the non-oversampling digital filterless DAC concept from Ryohei Kusunoki, because of the notion that a filter is what causes the harshness and time smearing of CD's, and that upsampling merely increases the jitter problem. (Before I ran across  Kusunoki's writings I had always assumed that the problem was random phase shift in the higher frequencies due to the fact that the sampling rate is too low. In fact, I have a Tony Taddeo digital antidote which Tony says addresses this problem. It did make somewhat of a difference.)

I'm trying to find a sound from a CD that does not have any of the harshness or unnaturalness I normally associate with CD's. I would sacrifice some detail to get rid of the digital artifacts. Is the ZDAC as analog sounding (or sans digital artifacts) as the Havana with the stock tubes?

Darth
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