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Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp (Read 33942 times)
brashgordon
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Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
03/30/11 at 10:32:38
 
Please forgive me if I've hi-jacked newly posted information and started a new topic about which the ink is barely dry ...

BUT this should be in the Times ... or the Post ... and now it's in the Enquirer ...

I have a tremendous interest in this 6 channel pre-amp, presumably to compliment the DIY mono block amps you have recently begun offering... Wowzer !

Would love to have a HI FI surround sound system ...with a nice AV controller that supports HDMI 1.4 but doesn't get in the way ...

a dog that can take blood pressure and AC1 readings, bring me food they don't have to advertize on TV to get medicare to pay for,  (and even local wild life or visiting teenagers wont eat) ...

Shucks, watching stealth TV in 3D while listening to Jefferson Airplane singing  Crown of Creation ....what could be better ??

Again, please forgive my excitement and pushy post ... but I really love the possibilities these new products offer...

You can kill me ... but you can't eat me ... I've been told I'm toxic ...

Wink Wink Wink
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Donnie
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #1 - 03/30/11 at 22:48:20
 
I like the cut of your jib.
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Owner of the infamous RED TORII
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Pale Rider
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #2 - 03/31/11 at 01:52:55
 
The Zen Ultra sounds too good to be true. But it sounds like it addresses exactly what I was thinking of putting together with multiple ZSTAGEs feeding multiple amps for my HT system.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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brashgordon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #3 - 04/02/11 at 09:00:25
 
I waited until April 2nd and still no quick link.   Not that I'm impatient ... I did wait until the 2nd.

Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes
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« Last Edit: 04/02/11 at 09:01:04 by brashgordon »  
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brashgordon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #4 - 04/05/11 at 06:46:32
 
Early morning, April 4 ...

actually missed that opportunity about 18 hours ago ...


Still waiting patiently for news.

Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
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Pale Rider
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #5 - 04/06/11 at 03:58:52
 
Sure hope this wasn't a ~4/1 joke.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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brashgordon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #6 - 04/06/11 at 04:23:36
 
I doubt it ... too much creedence, in the line and previous successes ...

Probably just sitting in a back room making power cords ...
ignoring those of us ... viewing this site ... no worry , no shame ...

Those new speakers manufacture them selves ... ya' know

huge market for cables, these days ...

A virtual monkey's ... gone to heaven  
room to believe... and room  ... to myself

Don't care... if I mumble ...

Was that inappropriate  ??

Huh Huh Huh
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #7 - 04/08/11 at 18:41:56
 
The Zen ULTRA is delayed by at least 30 days due to a paint problem with the initial batch of 50 chassis, which all have to be re-made.

However, I am making progress on the web page and about 1/2 done with the supporting article, so both will be online in the next week or three...

I'm super busy right now, so I'm not going to take questions on it, until after the web page is up and the article is in place.

But, just to be a tease, here is a couple pictures of the new Zen ULTRA, price still pending.









Cheers

Steve  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #8 - 04/09/11 at 02:47:18
 
Here is the completed paper on the Zen Ultra:

http://www.decware.com/newsite/paper120.html

May be a week or two before the web page is done.

Steve
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Pale Rider
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #9 - 04/09/11 at 04:18:52
 
Too cool. Put me on the list.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Lon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #10 - 04/09/11 at 14:07:59
 
I've noticed that the excellent Sony BDP-S5000ES is being heavily discounted lately, available new between 400 and 500 dollars. I'd wager this would be an excellent model to use with this preamp; it has discrete outputs for all channels that are purported to sound really really good, close in quality to its sister ES SACD player, which I have and adore the sound of.. Picture quality is also reported to be excellent, especially DVD upscaled image. I'll have one here on Monday, though I only use 2 channel audio for video, and can't comment on the surround sound.




I sprang for this because it matches the looks (and shares important design characteristics) with my Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD player, and  I couldn't resist the price (this started out as a 2000 dollar player). I'll move my current Sony BDP-S2000ES into my bedroom system where I  know it will shine as both a cd and video source.

Just thought it would be a good price point for someone interested in quality audio with great picture, and not needing to stream movies, etc.
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« Last Edit: 04/09/11 at 14:14:27 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Lon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #11 - 04/09/11 at 18:47:13
 
Started a thread about the Ultra on the Steve Hoffman board to drum up some interest (and there IS some interest!)

http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=247250
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« Last Edit: 04/09/11 at 18:47:38 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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seank
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #12 - 04/09/11 at 21:40:10
 
Lon, I saw your note about the Sony player.  Do you know of any Sony Authorized dealers selling at these prices?

I found some dealers on the Internet, but they are not Sony dealers and thus the 5 year ES warranty would not be honored.  All of the authorized Sony sites I visited say the product is discontinued.

I'm a little concerned about throwing $500.00 at a product that has no support.  What's your take on it?
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Lon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #13 - 04/10/11 at 00:10:21
 
Actually, if you hurry, it's more like 400 or less to risk:

http://shop.avscience.com/Sony-BDP-5000ES-Blu-ray-Player_p_216.html

Here's the deal with Sony: Early this year Sony discontinued selling their ES series from any dealer over the internet. It's all brick and mortar and maybe SonyStyle.com, which shows this model as discontinued. Yes it has been discontinued. I've been told that the warranty is good if its new and in the box and has a warranty card.

So yes, you're not going to get this price from a store if they have some in stock. To me the price is worth the risk. I've had my SACD player half way through the warranty period right now with not one lick of a problem, not even a hint. I expect the same with this player, I'm going to send off the warranty card and enjoy it.

Sony replaced this model in the ES series sort of with one half the price in a plastic case and reportedly with a much inferior analog output stage. There doesn't seem to be plans to put out a new one in a metal case, heavily built like this and with this sort of attention to quality playback. So I'm grabbing this model because in my opinion that's the way to go with players, and those type of players are generally more expensive even than the list price of these players.
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« Last Edit: 04/10/11 at 00:14:18 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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seank
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #14 - 04/10/11 at 04:24:17
 
Thanks Lon!

I just ordered one for $349 plus free shipping.

I think the Sony will work perfect with the Zen Ultra, because you'll need high quality analog outputs for the Ultra.

More and more DVD players are skipping 5.1 analog and just providing HDMI and 2.0 stereo outputs.


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Lon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #15 - 04/10/11 at 05:04:33
 
Yes, and more and more are in small plastic cases and full of cheap crap. Glad you took advantage of that deal, I think it's going to be seen s as an "epic" one. Smiley
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Pale Rider
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #16 - 04/10/11 at 16:07:59
 
Agreed. I have to say I am very happy with the Oppo BDP-95 I recently installed. Solidly made, with a lot of attention to audio detail, including the ability to drive both 2-channel and 7.1 component audio and a reasonable quality DAC. How this will pair up with the Ultra remains to be seen, but I am jazzed about this possibility.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #17 - 04/11/11 at 02:32:21
 
Well, boy web page creation can sure eat up some time...  Nevertheless I have the Zen ULTRA page  done and on the site.  I also bit the bullet on the pricing on this one, despite what it might look like.  Even though there is less IRON on this than there is on a TORII, there are 4 times as many internal parts which translates to more than twice as long to build and test.  It's a very labor intensive build.

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

-Steve  :)

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Lon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #18 - 04/11/11 at 16:20:27
 
The effort is worth it Steve, always a fascinating read.

I think this product (though not on MY list) may prove to open a few new doors for Decware as there's really little that comes close to being like it out there and for some reason Smiley people love surround sound. Including people who don't yet know they're audiophiles and haven't yet encountered a need (so they think) for a Decware component.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #19 - 04/11/11 at 17:44:55
 
Quote:
Cool!!! So the 7.1 HD DTS Master will or won't be decodable? I ask because I set my HT system (when I had money) for 7.1 only to realize there was no material then and still isn't much. This makes me wonder if Blu Ray is a flash in the pan or not.  Only now after years and years I'm starting to see stuff, i.e. TRON, MONSTER's  made for 7.1. Yet my 7 dedicated channels cannot decode it. I thought I was decoding it by running the analog outputs via the OPPO 83SE into the analog inputs of the Meridian but nothing doing, they tried to tell me that in discrete mode its 7.1. Not the case, I ran the tests and its blending the sides and rears. End of story. Why aren't the extra two channels mixed in there discretely?


In the end how would I blend all 7 channels or would I even want to try if I keep all my equipment. I do have a very large room. Actually I always thought the 5.1 sounded pretty good anyway.

John

How many channels do you have hooked up?


John,

I have experimented with 7.1 from my Blu Ray player, set up the side channels per spec and was equally disappointed, which left me to wonder why they came up with 7.1 in the first place.  

My guess is that the typical home theater system with tiny little speakers leave so much to be desired from a dispersion standpoint that 7.1 was an effort to keep the sound from JUMPING from the front to the rear.  Adding that extra side speaker should make for a smoother transition.

If you set up good rear channels for wide dispersion, like I have, the system can create an image anywhere between the front and rear speakers making for a seamless sound field.  Example, a motorcycle sound as it drives can go between the right front and right rear speakers without disappearing in the middle.  

In my tests, 7.1 with the two extra speakers is a waste of time.

Steve
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Pale Rider
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #20 - 04/13/11 at 15:25:34
 
One word: ordered.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Lon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #21 - 04/13/11 at 16:19:31
 
Gee, what a surprise! Smiley

Looks like a wonderful unit. I know you'll be happy. The waiting begins!
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Pale Rider
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #22 - 04/13/11 at 19:23:56
 
Yeah, I know, I am completely obtuse. Oh well.

But the way I figure it, this solves every one of my concerns about integrating stereo, home theater, and headphone listening. I shared the page with several friends and they all had the same reaction: this solves all the problems they had between excellent stereo and good HT.
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« Last Edit: 04/13/11 at 19:33:53 by Pale Rider »  

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Pale Rider
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #23 - 04/13/11 at 20:02:57
 
Any thoughts on these Ediswans as the signal tubes in the Ultra: http://www.upscaleaudio.com/tubes/6922/edi-cv2492.html . I have found Russian rubes as cheap as a buck, but something tells me the Ultra will merit better.
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« Last Edit: 04/13/11 at 20:06:57 by Pale Rider »  

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Lon
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #24 - 04/14/11 at 14:16:14
 
I'd seriously recommend hunkering down for the long wait for the Ultra and listening to the stock tube complement for a month or two.  And then deciding what to do.

Tubes react differently in each circuit, so if I were to say "MAN THEY SOUND INCREDIBLE IN MY AMP!" doesn't mean they'll be the cats's meow in the Ultra.  In your shoes I'd get the Ultra, listen through break-in and then decide what you might want another tube set to accomplish, and then maybe ask Steve about tube choices, who is the one person on the planet who will have more experience with the Ultra than you. Smiley
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #25 - 04/14/11 at 19:48:12
 
Lon:

I think that is great advice.

Right now, my order for the Ultra is without tubes, bur maybe I will rethink that.

Greg
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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mac5u
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #26 - 04/17/11 at 17:50:08
 
I agree with Lon.  It would be a good idea to establish a frame of reference using the tubes the designer voiced the amp around first.  Are you already familiar with the stock tubes and have identified a particular sound you know won't be achieved with these tubes?

About voicing, does anyone know why amp designers (it could be Steve or any other amp manufacturer for that matter) choose  a particular stock tube "configuration"?  Is it just to meet a price point?  Is it because the chosen configuration meets a minimum level of acceptable sound quality? Something else, maybe?
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #27 - 04/18/11 at 00:06:20
 
mac5u, as I noted in response to Lon, I think it is good advice to hear what Steve thinks sounds good in the Ultra. I did that with my Taboo. Having said that, it is also true Steve encourages tube rolling. So, I don't think there is any harm in the discussion.

As I said, I am rethinking ordering the Ultra with the stock set. I may love 'em, and in fact, I am confident I will. Steve's philosophy seems to be about superlative sound and good value. More than once, his design notes discuss achieving great results without requiring exotic tubes. Just the same, the prices of sweet NOS tubes just keeps going up, so no harm in thinking about options as I hunker down for the wait.

As for voicing, I have heard several designers offer differing explanations. Alex Cavalli, for example, a headphone amp designer and the maker of the Liquid Fire, which I ordered, says he did not voice to a particular tube or headphone. He says he designed it to met certain engineering goals. It so happens his amp allegedly sounds great with my favorite cans. We'll see. Personally, I like Steve's approach and how easy he makes it to roll your own.
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« Last Edit: 06/04/11 at 17:29:06 by Pale Rider »  

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #28 - 04/18/11 at 01:25:19
 
Since you are one of the first, maybe even the first, to order an Ultra, I look forward to reading about your impressions once you get it.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #29 - 04/18/11 at 01:32:05
 
Since you are one of the first, maybe even the first, to order an Ultra, I look forward to reading about your impressions once you get it.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #30 - 04/19/11 at 16:04:30
 
Re: Sony BDP-S5000ES: my unit arrived a week ago and has been heavily in use. Incredible build quality, made in Japan. FANTASTIC picture. The best picture for DVD and Blu-Ray I've ever had before. The 2 channel analog out is excellent. Not as good for Redbook as my Sony SCD-XA5400ES, but really good. Coaxial out to the ZDAC-1 sounds excellent, movie playback is detailed and dynamic. For the price this was going for (400 or so) a solid steal of a bargain.

Weighs 22 pounds! Build quality (which is important to me, why do you think I love Decware?) is really something. I'm so glad I have one. I'm convinced it would be a great choice for use with the Ultra.
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« Last Edit: 04/19/11 at 16:04:52 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #31 - 04/23/11 at 17:38:39
 
Blu Ray players with analog outputs will smoke this sony player, OPPO sells one or three that I think are pretty good. I have a Arcam older DV-79 w/analog output that cost 1700 new now sell for 400 on audiogon that my OPPO BDP 83 SE kills despite what the dealer says and OPPO 95 slightly modified will stand up against big ticket Blu ray players. I think Steve mentioned that Blu Ray for Sound is far superior than DVD so why waste a dime on a DVD player when Blu Ray will be obsolete soon enough.

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #32 - 04/23/11 at 17:43:28
 
BTY, my new Torii Mk III is breaking in nicely:) and happily waiting for a brother, sister and ZEN ULTRA, dream system in the works. What would be a great set up with ZEN speaker's including subs, surrounds fronts and center, any idea's will be very appreciated. I already have a projector, big room and lots of long HQ speaker wire:)
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #33 - 04/23/11 at 20:57:16
 
love the music, IT"S NOT A DVD PLAYER I'M TALKING ABOUT HERE: It's the last flagship Sony Blu-Ray player that I'm talking about, the BDP-S5000ES player.  I've heard a friend's Oppo BDP-93 and he's heard my Sony and we both agree the analog out is better on the Sony. And he also agrees the Sony is built way better than the Oppo as far as case and design. He's ordered one of the Sonys for his main system. And I've read whole pages of reviews of this player, many of them saying it has a better analog sound than Oppos. So I'm trusting my ears and making a recommendation based on my experience. I'm NOT talking about a DVD player here, but I will say that the DVD picture on this Blu-Ray player has freaked me out, it's so damned good. I am not impressed with the build quality of Oppos in comparison to this flagship Sony Blu-Ray player at its current discounted price. Anyway, I just think at 400 or 500 dollars it's a helluva deal, but I have no vested interest other than just spreading a little news about a great machine at a great price.

I'm glad that your Mk III is sounding great (how could it not?)  I love mine. From my cold dead hands.  . . . Wink  I can only imagine how an Ultra and a system based around it would sound. I'm not into surround sound, but for those that are, I'm sure it's the best option. If I were going to go the Ultra based system route I'd recommend another Torii and ERRs front and back. I'm not a fan of subs in a system, and with two pair of ERRs, I don't think you'd need subs. As for cabling: I always recommend Steve's interconnects, speaker cable, and power cords, they're incredible value for the money.
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« Last Edit: 04/23/11 at 22:22:47 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #34 - 04/24/11 at 17:59:21
 
Lon, I am not at all surprised by the quality of that Sony unit. And at its price now—seriously? $400? Think about that!—it is a bargain.  And I agree its build qulity is better. I didn't get to "heft" it when I heard it, but it sure seemed well-built. But it ought to smoke the Oppo BDP-93, because it is better built, and each had a different target when released. Moreover, I believe its audio section got much more design attention. I have listened to that Sony, and it is very very good. I chose to stick with my decision to buy the Oppo BDP-95. I had already waited months, because I thought the 93's Achilles' heel was its audio. But in its price range, I don't think the same is true of the 95. When Steve announced the Ultra, I swear I thought the 95 was made for it.
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« Last Edit: 04/24/11 at 18:09:35 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #35 - 04/24/11 at 18:12:15
 
I'm sure the 95 and the Ultra are going to be a great combo and hard to beat!

I'm just a luddite when it comes to component casing and stuff. I need cases to be strong and heavy. I gave away a Sony BDP-S350 a few weeks ago to a friend because I thought I could be happy with it in my second system where picture and audio quality isn't that big a deal for dvd and Blu-Ray, but. . . it was so flimsy I just couldn't bear it. Smiley The friend is happy! Smiley He was using a Panasonic that was even flimsier!  I really dislike this trend to make everything cheap and plastic.

Anyway, it looks as if the cheap Sony BDP-S5000ES units are drying up. . . I'm struggling against the urge to buy another one to leave in the box in a closet. It's insane to do so but. . . yeah, I've talked myself out of it successfully so far.
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« Last Edit: 04/24/11 at 18:14:47 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #36 - 04/24/11 at 19:28:26
 
Lon, you and me both. I much prefer sturdiness to mere good looks. FWIW, the Oppo 95 Is in a closer weight class to the Sony. And the difference between the 93 and the 95 is almost all in the audio section. Flimsy it is not.

I also noticed that low prices on the Sony seem to be harder to find than just a few weeks ago. I only found one vendor today with a sub-$600 price.
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« Last Edit: 04/24/11 at 20:05:21 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #37 - 04/24/11 at 22:26:36
 
Lon, my bad on the DVD thing, I missed that the Sony was Blu Ray. I actually have an ARCAM that smokes the OPPO and it is a DVD player, only in sound not video, cost much much more, using that now due to selling my Ayre CD5xeMP. Yeah, I'd say the OPPO 95 with good power cord and interconnects all analog will handily beat the Sony but at triple the cost or so. I have an OPPO 83SE and it's really good stock, modified by Tweak Audio, Ric Schultz bring it to cost no object sound possibly but at a pretty penny, like at least 2K total but will smoke just about everything.OPPO's 95 is supposed to be 10% better than the 83SE which is a lot better. For the money the OPPO 95 has great performance, especially in the analog outputs, balanced two channel and the video is amazing for that price. I think you know that, fully modified takes it to a whole new level, but try selling the dam thing afterwards, not easy. The only problem with modifying gear its seems hard to sell.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #38 - 04/24/11 at 22:32:51
 
That may be true, Probably is. I don't have specifics because I just don't sell stuff. I should. I may, I have amps just sitting around. Among other things!

I'm watching a Blu-Ray on this Sony right now and am just blown away.So glad it's been available at this discounted price and I have it. I'm set if I were to ever go "Ultra Surround." Not bloody likely! Smiley I'm loving my sort of two channel surround with my Radials and Torii!

I'm glad you also have a great video source. That's the thing with the Decware line. . . it forces you eventually to seek out superior sources. You can't escape it!
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« Last Edit: 04/24/11 at 22:35:03 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #39 - 04/24/11 at 22:36:15
 
I contradicted myself. My Arcam sounds better than the OPPO 83SE..For me to go all out and reduce two full blown systems down to one will be quite a project. I am not sure it works for me, I like my two channel situation and I do like my HT. Having a whole new HT by Decware may have to wait for a 5 channel ZEN Ultra AMP which may be NEXT...hint hint if it can be done.....I think Steve is capable of anything frankly.
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« Last Edit: 04/24/11 at 22:42:59 by lovethemusic »  
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #40 - 04/24/11 at 23:32:41
 
I'm sure he already has one. Smiley Making one to sell, well if the Ultra picks up new business as I think it will. . . there you go.

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #41 - 04/25/11 at 16:56:28
 
That is indeed a tantalizing prospect.

I hear you lovethemusic. I went back and forth on this issue of integrating a two channel setup with the HT rig. At the end of the day, for me, it was just an issue of house logistics. I tried to set up two different systems, one for audio and one for HT, and the net result was tha neither got used! That wasn't so much a reflection on what was in each room, as that changed family circumstances made me realize there is only so much "entertainment" time and elasticity in my family situation. And my personal, "hi-res, quality listening" time is spent with headphones. So, having one system that lets me do 2.0 and 5.1/7.1 is probably my better approach.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #42 - 04/25/11 at 18:24:52
 
Pale Rider, If I am not mistaken 7.1 is not going to happen affectively anytime soon. NO MOVIES hardly in 7.1 and it doesn't sound right. Steve and I concluded it thru quite a lot of trial and error. I thought I had a 7.1 Meridian system all along only to find out the sides were playing the same as the rears and only the latest greatest most expensive hardware via HDMI will play it and the sound I heard is not all that.  This left a whole lot of high ender HT guys like me wondering what the F, not to mention properly setting up a computer based surround processor is ridiculous.
Though, the prospect of and ALL IN ONE is very inviting to me. Its the amp thing I haven't figured out. I could use my Meridian amps, they are actually the best thing Meridian ever sold IMO. Great transistors if there is such a thing. Then all I need to do is sell of the Meridian Processor which I will lose 8K on and buy the Ultra and run the whole set up via the ULTRA thru the existing speakers, amps and cables, plus the sub and in the end keep my higher end goodies upstairs for late night listening and extra fun.......so's not to wake the three little one's

lovethemusic Grin Grin
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #43 - 04/26/11 at 04:18:17
 
Don't get me wrong, I don't worry about 7.1. I was only referencing the capabilities of the player. Interestingly, I have a Denon receiver somewhere that I picked up in 2006 that had 7.1 even then. At one point, I had it hooked up  with  a bunch of cheap HT speakers in a small room, but I never heard anything worth listening to.

But 5.1 is something else altogether, and between the BDP-95 and the Ultra, I expect to have something worth watching and listening to.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #44 - 04/26/11 at 07:05:45
 
Pale Rider, It's all good trying to get 7.I to sound good, I did and actually thought it sounded good until I learned it wasn't even true 7.I that's me. Live and learn. Audio sure is a tuff one to figure. All I know is Steve and Crew are genius's.

When is the 6 channel amp coming out to match the Ultra is my question. Maybe even a recommended set up by Steve replete with speakers  etc. A complete surround and two channel high end system to live with and love for a very long time, like my wife. She actually lovesthemusic too.
I'm a lucky guy I married a jazz lover. ok to much information there.
thanks for all the fun talk guys. It's all fun and innocent that's what I like, it's work but fun work.... I would like my job to be as fun...... I guess if it was my job it wouldn't be so fun maybe but I doubt it, the music takes up any slack.... cheers
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #45 - 04/26/11 at 07:50:36
 
Seems like this is what we've all been asking ...

for ... except ...

Now it's an OPPO / Sony shoot-out ....

C'mon ... old tired Dad's ... and young wanna-beezz ...

What would you do ... for a Klon-dyke bar ...

Shoot a Sony...or orally gratify ...  an  OPPO ...


Crap ... get back on topic....


Tongue Tongue Tongue Tongue Tongue Tongue Tongue Tongue Tongue
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #46 - 04/26/11 at 08:10:55
 
Ok,  I did get a bit off track. OPPO hands down then, no contest. Stock SE version. Hope to get the 95 and mod it at Tweak Audio, it'll smoke just about anything. What's our deal, best for the least? agreed.

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #47 - 04/26/11 at 08:15:13
 
Oh so poetic, I forgot to mention hooking it up to the new ZEN ULTRA (the coolest piece of audio gear I have ever seen) with Three TORII MK III and 5 ZOB's and of course a OPPO 95 modded to hilt with VCAPS all around and last but not least attenuated volume controls, a must. Did I miss anything.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #48 - 04/26/11 at 12:57:25
 
OK brash, I'm through talking about the Sony I was just alerting anyone who is interested in the Ultra to the great deal on the Sony which is a killer machine. And the trend for players is to move away from discrete analog outputs to multi-channel through HDMI, which won't help anyone with the Ultra.(Not to mention that most players are now built like a disposable piece of shit).  Sorry, I've never been impressed with Oppo but I'm willing to believe that the model especially built for audio is one to target.  

The Sony deal seems to be dried up so it's a moot point. So glad I have mine, I now have great Sony ES Blu-Ray sources for my two systems, and a Marantz as a back up. I'm good. I love Blu-Ray.
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« Last Edit: 04/26/11 at 14:53:46 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #49 - 04/26/11 at 13:56:22
 
Lon, does that mean you caved and bought a second Sony?
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #50 - 04/26/11 at 14:51:53
 
No, I have had for over three years the previous Sony ES Flagship, the BPD-S2000ES. It sometimes acts funky with Blu-Rays, and it's now in my second system where I mainly use it for cd playback (sounds pretty damned good with redbook cd, and makes DVDs look fantastic, I'm happy with it except when it won't play a Blu-Ray for some reason. It also has 7.1 discrete outputs and is built like a tank. I bought a Marantz 7034 at a price that was hard to say no to when this Sony started acting up, but it's actually inferior to the Sonys in all aspects: build, picture, sound. It's my backup BDP for both systems at the moment.
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« Last Edit: 04/26/11 at 14:52:55 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #51 - 04/26/11 at 15:52:01
 
Gotcha. I still have access to a Sony at a good price and am still debating.

The hardest thing for me to assess is whether I will really get my money's worth in use out of it. Almost all of my listening is from ripped files on external RAID arrays attached to dedicated computers. I am continuing to work with a Synology NAS on my network at home, but am still not satisfied that the network performance is as good as standalone. I will shortly test a drive attached directly to the Oppo. I am hopeful on that. Having the Oppo for a front end and as a controller for my files would be nice.

So far, the Oppo is great for BluRay discs, SACD, and surround discs. Just not sure if a second player will deliver the right ROI. Decisions, decisions.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #52 - 04/26/11 at 16:33:10
 
Decision is easy for me because I have ZERO interest in using musical files, computer as a source, etc. So many discs on hand, and I like the physical product.s. So. . . easy to lust for the machines.

And the Decware amplification, cabling and speakers mean you really have to have a great quality front end.  

So. . .in your shoes I can definitely understand standing pat with what you got. In my shoes, the Sony is a smart move I've been congratulating myself with. Smiley
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #53 - 04/27/11 at 01:28:07
 
Lon, I think the Sony blu ray player your talking about is killer, as is the SACD player you have. I wish I had them both, as far as build quality it is a luxury to get audio gear with some heft to it. How does that Blu ray stack up against the SACD 5400 by the way sound wise on for CD play back comparison. I'm interested. I saw the 5400 for sale for around 1100.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #54 - 04/27/11 at 02:13:45
 
LTM,

I'm in love with the Sony SCD-XA5400ES. You know how it is with Decware systems, they show you so much of your source. I just couldn't relax into the music with the ZCD, the NAD T585 I had seemed better but I felt there was something missing, and then I took a chance on the SCD-XA5400ES and even before break-in I knew there was magic in this machine.

I'm not really sure what specifically it is, I think it's a combination of a few things. . . the build quality (it makes the Decware TEAC seem liek a toy), the DACs (they have to be good), the fact that apparently Redbook is sort of turned into DSD (not sure how that happens but from my reading that is sort of what happens), or the fact that strangely it appears there's no capacitor in the signal path, but the Redbook cd sound on this is outstanding. It's very detailed, but not fatiguing, and I can listen to the many recordings I have that are of lesser quality without obsessing about the sound, I can just relax into it. But when I listen to the reference stuff I have (mostly cds I've listened to on many systems and also recordings I made myself of bands I was in recorded in my then garage apartment) it's not as if they're smoothed over, everything is there. I can't speak more highly of this player.  Even the Redbook cd sound from the ZDAC-1, which is VERY VERY GOOD, doesn''t best it in my opinion.

The BDP-S5000ES Blu-Ray player has very good sound for DVDs and Blu-Rays. On Redbook cd it just frankly does not have the magic that the SCD-XA5400ES has, I wish it does. It sounds VERY, VERY GOOD, similar (yet a bit more "rounded") sounding to the ZDAC-1. Which is a compliment. Really, it's sounding quite good for cds, but not quite like it's "twin" (their cases and faces are identical) the SCD-XA5400ES. I sound like a broken record because I gush whenever anyone asks me about the SCD-XA5400ES---I put it right up there with my Torii Mk III and CSP2 and IT Radials as components that I just can't imagine living without. Just the ticket for me and my desire to "set it and forget it."

If you can audition one, do so.  Especially if you can get one that is pretty seasoned, or audition one for three or four hundred hours.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #55 - 04/27/11 at 02:15:46
 
Lon, you are absolutely right that having the Decware signal path requires a good front end. Getting the Taboo and the ZStage into my system made me appreciate the decision to rip uncompressed, bit perfect files, and a quality DAC.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #56 - 04/27/11 at 02:30:55
 
Yes, that's definitely not the route I've taken, nor going to take, but I'm glad you agree that the best source really pays off in dividends with these systems.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #57 - 04/27/11 at 14:04:53
 
Steve has written more than once that you really cannot "over-upgrade" your system once you have a Decware amp in it. I don't think he put it in quite those terms, but the amps just keep revealing more as other flaws or shortcomings are revealed or rectified. On a computer based system, that means addressing file integrity, the DAC, clock/jitter, etc., and with the Decware signal path, it's all worthwhile.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #58 - 04/27/11 at 14:32:40
 
Well, from my outlook and experience, I think way too much has been made of the "bit perfect cd" possible by computer to DAC route, if you were implying that route was somehow superior. I've heard a few implementations that are impressive but I'm still just as impressed with my sources. And I know that hi-res recordings can be amazing, but I'm just not going to obsess about the very best individual sounds, it's like tube-rolling, an addiction/obsession I just don't want to invite.

None-the-less I know that if were younger, and if I did not have 15.000 plus recordings on hand I'd be investing in that route. Still for me it makes little sense. If I were really going to pursue "the perfect sound" I'd pedal back to vinyl and phono pre-amplification. The problem for me is that I just can't find on vinyl the amount of music I want to listen to and many many specific titles, and I don't' love "the hunt" or "listening only to the very best recordings" mindsets enough to begin to develop them at this state of my life.

So until my ship comes in and I can invest in something like a Meitner or DCS front end, my current sources have enough magic to make me enjoy even lousy recordings and relax into the music. Mission accomplished for me.  I respect anyone who has found the same satisfaction and accomplishment via other routes.
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« Last Edit: 04/27/11 at 14:51:39 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #59 - 04/29/11 at 00:55:40
 
Seems to me that bringing in the Sony Player bargain and benefits fits quite well with both a primary intent of the Ultra, but also in the context of forums being tools for learning from, and helping one another...in this case, letting us know about a good multichannel player at a great price. Computer versus transport....hmmmm, maybe off the thread, but interesting. So I propose we work that over in its own thread. A few comments first, and then a link to a new thread for this discussion....Please join in!

No matter what circuits or transport mechanism we use to decode and convey CD data, in the beginning, it is just that....data. CD Players, a combined transport and DAC in a one box, are one of our options to get the data into music. But transports bring with them the issues of error correction and jitter, issues inherent to transports and the CDs themselves. So a big part of its job is extracting the data with as little error and jitter as possible, and then the DAC section removes or masks what remains, while converting the data into analog music.

Properly done, with a good computer and a good setup, errors and jitter are for the most part solved. Technically, in this, I think we have as good a beginning as is presently possible to get the CD data ready for the data-to-music conversion. Regardless of other circuit decisions, I can't conceive of any question as to the efficacy of eliminating the errors and jitter from the start.

With either method, choosing circuits and circuit paths to the end of what we like brings a designers preferred tonal attributes to the stuff that shows up at the output jacks.

Then, the fun part....the preferences of us listeners . It seems to me that this is really where the questions of personal tastes come in, and that this is separate from the questions of the technology. How satisfied are we with how the data became music within a given system?

My take right now anyway.....and I find this area fascinating.

Here is a link to a more fleshed out thought process if you are interested.
http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1304032802/0#0
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« Last Edit: 04/29/11 at 00:57:16 by will »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #60 - 04/29/11 at 15:57:25
 
Guilty as charged. I contributed to the thread drift, er, capsize. Anyway, back to the Ultra. Man oh man, this is going to be fun. Every time I re-read the info, it amazes me how Steve has solved the problems of audio and HT.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #61 - 05/02/11 at 19:52:35
 
For analog, maybe.  It certainly would be great to see the UltraZen compared alongside some other good multi-channel pre-amps such as from Parasound, Classe, McCormack, Mac, or CJ.  

Whether Steve has solved the problems of audio and HT, I don't see how that can be unless you have taken care of the room and don't need much in the way of bass management and room EQ, especially with multi-channel music, or don't care about such things.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #62 - 05/04/11 at 01:29:39
 
macSu, I don't see that part as "Steve's job." Sure, room treatment is a significant issue, but that is already within the control—or the power of control—of the end user. I care about such things, but I can address them now. And Steve provides tools and tactics for solving that issue.

I am not sure I understand your distinction about "analog." As opposed to what? "Digital"? Sure, but I don't think the Ultra was intended to solve anything other than the Hobson's choice that previously existed for audiophiles who also wanted HT in the same room, and in the same system. And for the preamp part of the equation, as well as the ability to configure for both 2-channel quality sound and 6-channel quality sound, the Ultra does exactly that. It solves the problem of having audiophile quality 2-channel and 5.1 channel operation in a single electronics chain.

Perhaps you and I see this quite differently. In any case, some of my friends who are also both 2-channel and HT enthusiasts, certainly had no trouble understanding what a breakthrough this preamp is.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #63 - 05/04/11 at 02:00:39
 
I agree Pale Rider, I've showed the page to a few friends and they see how versatile and clever the Ultra is. Knowing Steve's skill at designing pre-amplifying circuitry I know how good this will sound. And the ways that you can set this up with so many inputs and mix them together, wow, that makes this nearly unique in the market and a real tool to dial in a system.

The minute I saw the announcement and initial information I thought this product had a mass appeal and popular application, perhsps more than any other Decware product.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #64 - 05/04/11 at 02:44:56
 
Lon, I don't want to sound like the poster child for the Ultra, especially since I have yet to hear it, but it does seem to me to solve some problems that previously were not solved in the market. As macSu noted, there are very good multi-channel preamps out there, but I don't think they solve for both 2-channel and 5.1 equally well.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #65 - 05/04/11 at 22:42:15
 
Pale Rider,

After reading your last two posts, I am sure I probably over-interpreted your comment as to "how Steve has solved the problems of audio and HT."  And made an assumption or two that, after re-reading the thread, probably weren't supported by your prior statements.    

I realize I am on a Forum that champions, among other ideas, analog, and until very recently, two-channel stereo only.  My focus of late has been on addressing room issues, and since [extensively] treating a room the way some do is pretty much out of the question, I am left with trying to fix certain problem in the digital domain.  

Once I get that done, I will upgrade equipment and try and develop a well-implemented multi-channel music system and HT.

Most DVD / Blu-Ray players have been quite limited in the bass management and channel-leveling tools they offered.  Even setting speaker distances was fairly basic on many players.  Oppo has recently added more sophisticated tools to its newest generation of players but it still pales by comparison to what one can do with a modern pre-pro.  HDMI has its issues to be certain but Room EQ and bass management can't be properly addressed via analog.  At least that is what I think and was the point I meant to make.

I need to re-read the information on the Ultra again, but I am curious (genuinely, not sarcastically) as to which problem or problems in particular the Ultra is solving for two channel and 5.1 HT that other multi-channel pre-amps as mentioned above have not solved?
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« Last Edit: 05/04/11 at 22:49:00 by mac5u »  
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #66 - 05/04/11 at 23:33:42
 
macSu, just to be clear, I didn't take anything you wrote as sarcastic or negative. I just wanted to make sure I understood you. For me, the Ultra lets you do all the things you might want: full on home theater, pure two-channel, mixed three-channel "stereo," up mixing and down mixing, individualized volume adjustments, plus master volume, center/sub alignment, bi-amp/tri-amp. etc. When I read the description page (can't wait to read the manual), my reaction was: "all problems solved."
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #67 - 05/06/11 at 00:09:17
 
Greg,

OK, I see what your point.  From my own perspective, if one has any need for general DSP, room correction, and bass and channel management, (and I do and I suspect many others do as well), HDMI is the better choice since it optimizes those options.  

If Steve could somehow clone the magic he does (OK, I don't own any Decware equipment yet but I am accepting what ya'all are writing at face value for now) with his amps inside a modern pre/pro, my guess is the Decware world as you know it would change radically. And for those of us who have decided to go digital, there would not be any need for a separate two-channel pre for those times when we want to enjoy the music via analog.  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #68 - 05/06/11 at 00:28:50
 
macSu, although I have been generally satisfied with HDMI in my HT setup, what I have heard so far does not appear to be of audiophile quality. This is not necessarily a black & white—or what we might call a binary  ;) —assessment, but it does seem to me that there are some limitations thus far in HDMI. Just so we are clear, I like the convenience of HDMI myself, and for certain DRM matters, it is unavoidable. But in audio, that is not the case. Someone on Computer Audiophile referred this link over, and while it is focused on video, it is worth a read:

http://forum.ecoustics.com/bbs/messages/34579/122868.html

I have read a number of comments and articles that suggest HDMI's evolution as a "standard" is a bit of a work in progress, and some have even called it a mess. My Oppo BDP-95 manual makes this comment about HDMI for audio:
Quote:
HDMI is a single cable that can transport both audio AND video from your player to your display. Be aware, however, that HDMI is an evolving standard, and there could be compatibility issues. A receiver that supports audio input over HDMI is required. Some receivers offer HDMI ports solely for video switching. If your receiver does not have audio input capability, please read the following sections regarding other connection methods.
In order to play multi-channel audio for all formats, the receiver must support HDMI v1.1 or later. For Blu-ray Disc, a receiver that supports HDMI v1.3 with decoding capability for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio is preferred. Please check the specifications of your receiver to ensure that it meets the requirements.
The HDMI outputs on the BDP-95 are HDMI v1.4, which is compatible with HDMI v1.3 and earlier versions.


On my Denon Receiver, it all seems to work reasonably well, but I am looking forward to the Ultra and a return to something more audio focused.

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« Last Edit: 05/06/11 at 00:29:25 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #69 - 05/06/11 at 01:43:17
 
Greg,

Kal Rubinson said it best:  “HDMI is the invention of the Devil.”  While he was writing pointedly about how “the connector can be easily displaced from or misaligned with the chassis connector”, my guess is a lot of people think HDMI is invention of the Devil.  Period.
Wink


In audio matters alone, I am not ready to make the argument that in a well-treated room, HDMI will sound better.  Not at all, it is just that with the compromises I have to make, analog can't help, and I see no reason why I can't get a multi-channel system and HT set-up to sound sublime.  It will just take work.

About three years ago, I almost pulled the trigger and bought a CJ Met-1 but could not quite bring myself to buy it.  Looking over the feature set of the Zen Ultra now vs. the Met-1, I am thrilled to see something like the Zen Ultra hit the market.  The versatility of this thing is amazing.  And, I can't say I quite understand yet the import of it all.  

So, Pale Rider, are you number 1 in the queue?  Any updates from Steve?  It was almost a month ago that Steve announced at least a 30-day delay due to a paint problem on the chassis.
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« Last Edit: 05/06/11 at 01:46:47 by mac5u »  
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #70 - 05/06/11 at 14:13:58
 
I hear you. And I agree: you definitely ought to be able to do exactly that.

I don't know where I am in the queue. I believe I am early in line.  ;)
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #71 - 05/08/11 at 21:35:40
 
Maybe it has been like this since the page was first put up by Steve, but has the link to the Owner's Manual always not worked?
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #72 - 05/08/11 at 22:09:00
 
I don't think that link has ever been active.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #73 - 05/14/11 at 19:28:48
 
I decided to keep my order "tubeless" and so began assembling my tube complement. For the 6922 signal tubes, it came down to a choice between the NOS Ediswan here:

http://www.upscaleaudio.com/tubes/6922/edi-cv2492.html

Or the NOS National here:

http://www.upscaleaudio.com/tubes/6922/mat-7dj8.html

I chose the National based on the review of the same by a fellow Decware owner who wrote about it in his Torii Mk III:

Quote:
National 7DJ8 betters Russian 6N1P and 6N23 Review by Datman
Rating (5stars)
I purchased a pair of these on Kevin's recommendation for the input/driver tubes for my Decware Torii MK III. These improve on this amp's already superb imaging and transparancy by fleshing out the bottom end and reproducing highs with crystal clarity and NO PAIN. The "crunchy" quality of the Russian tubes is now officially a thing of the past.


I have no doubt I will eventually try the Ediswans as well, but this seemed like a good place to start. And with the Toriis also on he way, I can try both in them as well.

I also have several different rectifiers to try, including a Mullard GZ33, a Winged "C" (SED) 5U4-G Black Plate, and the original 5U4 that came with my Taboo, and a couple others.

For the VR, I have some NOS RCA and Raytheon 0A3 tubes, that I picked up along with lots of 0B3, 0C3, and 0D3 tubes for the Toriis. Funny, when I was younger, I "tired" of tube issues with my Dyna ST-70 and PAS-3X, and now, almost 4 decades later, I am wallowing in tube fun. I like to call it Valve Drunk.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #74 - 05/14/11 at 20:30:04
 
Pale, Very exciting news... the Ultra AND Toriis on the way!

Sounds like you have what it takes for some fun tube tuning.  I recently ordered some of those National 7DJ8s for my Torii after really enjoying some Telefunken 7DJ8's in it.

http://www.tubemonger.com/Telefunken_PCC88_Bundeswehr_Falcon_Diamond_Bottom_p/65...

I like the Telefunkens. They seem to nicely bridge the open clarity I love with good 6DJ8s with a nice body and depth. They have really nice dynamics too. So I am interested in more 7DJ8s as these are a nice addition. I am guessing the Nationals will be really nice!

Have fun!
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« Last Edit: 05/14/11 at 20:35:24 by will »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #75 - 05/14/11 at 20:54:21
 
Will, thanks much for the rec. Picked up the last 4 with "imperfect" test scores. I have been wanting to try some Telefunkens, but confess to being somewhat bewildered by the array of choices, and the varying opinions and "web voodoo" on them.
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« Last Edit: 05/14/11 at 21:02:06 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #76 - 05/14/11 at 21:47:16
 
Pale,

This is a quote from tubemonger from when i asked them about using imperfect test score tubes as inputs on the Torii.

"For critical gain stages, it is not a good idea to use tubes with imperfect scores."

I asked because they are cheap and I don't even know what imperfect scores are. So I am still ignorant, just passing on the tubemonger view. You seem to know a lot, but just in case, there is time to change if you feel inclined and the tubemonger folks are very efficient and accommodating in my experience. Wink
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #77 - 05/14/11 at 21:56:49
 
Indeed, they are cheaper by 1/3. But, like you, I am still unclear on what it means to have an imperfect score.. I suspect it is, among other things, a tube that does not test out perfectly as new. Just as I suspect some of my formerly new NOS tubes would now test. This seems to me a good reason to fire up my new-to-me B&K 707 tester!

Just the same, I will write them and point them to my intended use in the Ultra and/or Toriis.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #78 - 05/15/11 at 02:42:52
 
Well, they were very responsive, but I got a similar "not familiar with your amplifier circuit, but may not be suitable for critical application" sort of response. So, I upgraded to the quad matched set. Will see how they sound. And you were right about Tubemonger being efficient. They were ready to ship in less than two hours. I barely got the order changed in time.
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« Last Edit: 05/15/11 at 02:48:40 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #79 - 05/15/11 at 06:23:03
 
Yeah, who knows. I guess you were probably right that the imperfects would be fine, but I sure would like to know that before buying a bunch. I bet it is just some matching standards they use....like the triodes being off by 15%, or one of the triodes being under some standard.

I can say that I can hear the usual stuff like cables and different tubes with this amp...probably like your Taboo and your coming Ultra, but slightly imperfect tubes....got me. Hope the tubes suit you. Mine took a while to settle in. Looking forward to your impressions of them and your Toriis and Ultra. Man, you have got some exciting explorations coming! Cool
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #80 - 05/16/11 at 03:15:56
 
At the end of the day, saving $14 per tube just isn't worth the uncertainty. Granted, that price differential is almost the price for what Decware charges for a 6922 or 6N1P, but still.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #81 - 05/16/11 at 05:12:54
 
I think the stock tubes sound great, and for reasonable prices. But after getting a taste for a nice variety of NOS tubes and their potential for amazing synergy, even having tried a couple varieties of cryo'd NOS 6N1Ps, I just can't use them. Had I not gotten into tubes though....I would have been very happy with stock. Tube play just opens bigger and deeper doorways when I get the right ones working together.

I had not tried a Telefunken either....too mythical and precious. But these 7DJ8s are a relatively inexpensive and welcome taste of them, and I understand the attraction now!
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #82 - 05/16/11 at 17:34:05
 
I suppose we could be trying these:

https://www.tubeworld.com/el34metal.htm

Only $1150 for a matched pair. Sheesh. I think I will stick with my Hazen Grid devices and more reasonable tubes.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #83 - 05/16/11 at 18:03:16
 
Ouch!
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #84 - 05/16/11 at 23:56:27
 
My guess is he'll sell them -- probably to some banker bailed out with TARP funds.

(With semi-sincere appologies to any bankers on this forum).
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« Last Edit: 05/17/11 at 01:14:12 by mac5u »  
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #85 - 05/17/11 at 01:35:32
 
...And with another set of apologies to Brash who started this thread, until we get more information on the Zen Ultra, I am afraid this thread will continue to drift...

Wink

First, I don't know that I have ever seen amps and associated equipment mounted vertically, but it certainly seems Steve has flipped his equipment over on its side.


Also, I can't quite make out everything in the photo.  The Zen Ultra is at the top.  I don't recognize the piece of equipment with the gauges -- is that one of the earlier Toriis?  And below that, what, Zstages?  And then cometh the Zen CD player?
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« Last Edit: 05/17/11 at 01:39:37 by mac5u »  
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #86 - 05/17/11 at 14:16:56
 
Hey mac5u, yes, a little thread drift might be unavoidable, but commenting on a picture from the Ultra page is probably topical. Wink

Anyway, I wondered about those gauges as well, and about the associated equipment, too.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #87 - 05/17/11 at 14:25:32
 
I think the gauges are just further proof that Steve IS a mad scientist.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #88 - 05/20/11 at 04:43:23
 
Ah, the good old fine line between madness and genius!

But seeing the pic again reminds me that I have to find a proper stand that will permit access to the Ultra and Toriis, and even show them off, along with other components I care less about seeing, and also leaving room for center channel speakers that are likely to be ERRs.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #89 - 05/20/11 at 14:08:05
 
Pale Rider-
Have you checked out the Z-Rack by Decware? It has adjustable shelves and can have the same type of wood as your ERR's.
Just a thought
Mike
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #90 - 05/20/11 at 14:21:41
 
Mike, thanks. In fact, the Zrack is on my list. I am considering two.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #91 - 05/20/11 at 14:28:58
 
I'd also consider the Mapleshade Samson rack. I've had one for a long time now, and it's never going to be replaced. Makes everything sound great.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #92 - 05/20/11 at 14:47:19
 
Thanks Lon. Will check it out. Which Samson do you have?
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« Last Edit: 05/20/11 at 14:52:20 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #93 - 05/20/11 at 14:58:50
 
I have a three shelf V. 1. with 2" shelves. At the time I wish I could have afforded 4" shelves. Smiley

http://shop.mapleshadestore.com/SAMSON-V1/departments/17/

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« Last Edit: 05/20/11 at 15:00:48 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #94 - 05/20/11 at 16:55:29
 
Thanks Lon. Those are beauties indeed.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #95 - 05/22/11 at 18:09:03
 
I am beginning to feel like Brash was when he started this thread -- ready for some news!  (Wish I had a crickets chirping emoticon).

Dear Steve -- any word on the paint issue and a possible date for production  Thank you.

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #96 - 06/04/11 at 17:42:23
 
Crickets chirping indeed. I am almost afraid to ask. Anyway, Lon said it well when he advised hunkering down for the long wait. On the other hand, I did not heed his very sound advice to order the Ultra with tubes. And it is sound advice. But.......... I kept my order tubeless and ordered a full cryo'ed set of these National NOS tubes. And of course, a variety of 0A3s and alternatives, a Mullard GZ37 and some other rectifier alternatives, to go along with some very nice NOS Sylvania, Mullard, and SED Winged C I already have. See, this is how I am keeping myself from gnawing off any more extremities in anticipation. Wink I will build a little worksheet of tube combinations to start with for the Ultra and the Toriis, break them in, make notes, and then attempt to exercise some self-discipline as I listen, live with each combo for a while, and record impressions.

I also ended up getting two ZRACKs of the taller size that Steve recommended.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #97 - 06/05/11 at 00:33:24
 
That spreadsheet idea is a good one, Greg.  Keep us updated with your impressions.  There are some great posts here about tube combinations.  I am almost tempted to copy and paste all the posts (with the authors' permissions, of course), into one thread.
Smiley
Maintaining it becomes another matter...

Roll Eyes
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #98 - 06/05/11 at 01:16:22
 
Michael, that is a great idea!
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #99 - 06/06/11 at 23:31:18
 
Just heard from Sarah that build is starting this week on my ULTRA. The team is apparently still waiting on the stepped attenuator, but this is encouraging!
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #100 - 06/06/11 at 23:50:31
 
Pale Rider, sounds like fun. Are you consolidating systems into one or expanding a two channel?
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #101 - 06/07/11 at 00:02:22
 
Alright! Ultra building team. . .it's almost like something in a science fiction movie!

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« Last Edit: 06/07/11 at 00:09:36 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #102 - 06/07/11 at 00:10:22
 
Quote:
Pale Rider, sounds like fun. Are you consolidating systems into one or expanding a two channel?
A bit of both. For a variety of reasons, my HT and my listening room are the same. Historically, my critical listening has been via headphone. The ULTRA made me decide to change that. So, going all in: ULTRA, two Toriis, an 84ZS and 3 pairs of ERRs.

Lon, that is too funny! Grin
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« Last Edit: 06/07/11 at 00:42:53 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #103 - 06/07/11 at 01:14:09
 
Wow, that is a beautiful system. Let me know the details around dialing in the sound after Zen Ultra break-in. I'd be most interested. I have a similar plan except I want to consolidate two systems. Wife would really like to get upstairs main room back. It's got a full blown two channel set up. tThe problem is selling stuff nowadays is not that easy I am finding out unless I cut prices way down to serious loss and I do not like that but may have no choice or put everything in attic.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #104 - 06/07/11 at 04:44:38
 
I hear you ltm. I sold some stuff at a loss, thinking it better that it have a home. The only Decware equipment I have now are the Taboo, ZSTAGE, interconnects and power cords. But those were enough to convince me I had found something that could be my end game for some time to come. So, I took the plunge. Will definitely keep the group apprised of progress. Should be easy to break the Ultra in, because I won't have anything to connect it to for a while. Will hook it up to the Oppo, play the Esoteric Isotek CD for about a thousand hours. Wink
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #105 - 06/11/11 at 20:45:29
 
I wonder when Steve might set up an Ultra forum under the Tube Gear section. Anyway, I have this feeling my Ultra and ERRs (or at least some of them) will be done before my Toriis. Will make for interesting break in. Guess I could cob my Taboo from the headphone rig for a while until the Toriis show.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #106 - 07/12/11 at 21:49:26
 
Actually, it appears hat almost everything is going to be done in a similar time frame. My first Torii arrived yesterday, my Radials shipped today, my Ultra is packed, and that leaves just the second Torii and the Zen SE84ZS.
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« Last Edit: 07/16/11 at 16:27:39 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #107 - 07/12/11 at 22:05:16
 
GREAT NEWS!

You really must connect the Torii to a pair of ERRs as soon as you can. That's what it's all about!  Once you spend a few days with that combo, you'll be very happy you formulated this plan.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #108 - 07/12/11 at 22:27:47
 
Lon, how are you feeling today about your ERR/HR-1 comparison?
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #109 - 07/12/11 at 22:43:40
 
I love both of those sets of speakers. They're different enough, and similar enough.

Right now I've been truly enjoying the ERRs. I've gotten wrapped up in their enveloping sound, and now that they're really broken in they're letting me hear the system in an excellent, different way, as I get myself slightly tangled in tube and power changes.

I truly enjoy the way they add dimension to the sound of my Blu-Ray player and my DVR. They let me just slip into the soundfield. They're excellent for most musical material as well. The HR-1 is sometimes the preferred vehicle for cd playback, because it brings a precision to well-done studio recordings and less expansive material such as string quartets, jazz trios and quintets, among others. But the ERRs bring a lot to the table even with these.

Ideally I would have both speakers somehow in the same spot and could wave them in and out of the signal path with a magic gesture. Hmmm. . . that's not going to happen. So for now the ERRs are here entertaining me in the living room.
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« Last Edit: 07/13/11 at 02:41:14 by Lon »  

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #110 - 07/17/11 at 16:13:23
 
Greg,

How are things going over there?  Did the ERRs arrive yet?  Was that for a pair or all 6?
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #111 - 07/17/11 at 16:22:08
 
Hey M: the ERRs are due here Tuesday....all 6 of them. Bob shared with me some of the build process, and some of the ideas he tried out while building my three pairs. It really is great to get hand-built equipment, built by the people who actualized their own ideas. Every single one of us truly has an individual work of art and science. One pair should be built "in reverse," with the tweeters firing backward, so the binding post and wiring remain behind the speakers. Can't wait to set them up.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #112 - 09/08/11 at 20:20:49
 
Pale Rider,

Any updates yet on your setup?
Please, let us know how it works out for you...
Thanks!

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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #113 - 09/08/11 at 23:47:58
 
Costas:

I have been posting impressions and experiences on other threads in this, the ERR, and the Torii forums. The primary challenges with the system have been around convenience (source switching and input controls having been a significant issue). The system itself is amazing. Sound quality, soundstage, detail, tonality, dynamics, all just amazing.

I may have a microphonic tube or two in my Ultra (I put Nationals in the Ultra, allegedly platinum grade from Upscale Audio), so I am going to spend a few hours next weekend bird-dogging that.

Greg
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #114 - 11/21/11 at 03:48:15
 
It must not be broken in uh?
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #115 - 11/21/11 at 03:51:07
 
PR, the break in on a tori w/ vcap is extreme in case you haven't found out, my sounded broken, garbled, like someone was banging on the turntable. The all of sudden 1200 hours later and 300$ in electricity bam it opened up and now I need to upscale all the other equipment. It's that amazing.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #116 - 11/21/11 at 03:52:29
 
whoops, PR, I see you popped for am Ultra and a tori how may I ask is it all working out. I know the tori is great but how do you like the Ultra so far?
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #117 - 11/21/11 at 12:38:52
 
Uncharacteristically, PR has not posted in a week or more. I hope all is well.

If you look through the board, you'll find that PR is quite pleased with his Ultra and Torii Mk IIIs.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #118 - 11/21/11 at 15:32:05
 
I'm still in the process of building a speaker kit with a 97db efficiency on the top and midrange driver only for my Tori III w/ vcap as the two 12" drivers on the bottom are pushed by their own 370 servo amp. I put some Jupiter caps in the crossovers of my Open Baffle speakers. To go along with that set up I will put a highly tweaked Oppo 95 from EVS or Tweak Audio still out at the job. Can't wait to see if all this so called fancy less expensive stuff is really any better or as good as the mega buck stuff. I am sure it's still all in the details. I hope to hear great things of the   Ultra as once I can I want one to stomp all over this Meridian G68.
I'm just around the corner from that, but do want some feedback on the Ultra.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #119 - 11/21/11 at 16:35:44
 
Wow, that's a lot of power for 97db speakers.

If you put "Ultra" into the forum search engine and select Pale Rider as the "posts made by" you'll get a string of all his posts on the Ultra. I believe he is the only one who really has posted impressions as an owner.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #120 - 11/21/11 at 18:10:49
 
I asked Steve and he said the amp would work great with this speaker. He's aware of the speaker I got. I think your right though, its really going to have output. We'll see, currently the amp is hooked up to 91db and it clips pretty easily if cranked at all so I know 91db in my big room is no good. The amp is only pushing a 12" MID with a big built in forward and back firing modified tweeter so only time will tell.
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #121 - 11/21/11 at 19:29:24
 
Cool. It's such a great amp!
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Re: Decware Zen ULTRA  six channel preamp
Reply #122 - 01/23/12 at 21:31:50
 
ltm, it sounds like it should be a great pairing. As Lon has noted, I have posted a fair number of time about my experience with the Ultra and two Toriis.  I love the combo. Just this weekend, I posted in the What's Spinning thread my experience with having the Ulta/Torii/ERR combo kick the ever-loving' crap out of my drywall and floorboards.

I recently replaced the National tubes inmy Ultra with some 1960s NOS Siemens-Halske 6922 tubes, and they seem to have opened up the dynamics quite a bit. Simply superb stuff.

I have owned and/or built a lot of equipment in my life, but nothing that brought as much pure pleasure as my Decware system. The 69 Lotus Seven comes close. Well, it's second, but it's not really close.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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