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Know knothing of ZDAC/ZStage/ZBOX -- advice please (Read 602 times)
Zenfire
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Know knothing of ZDAC/ZStage/ZBOX -- advice please
10/02/11 at 10:08:39
 
Hi, I am ready to go up a knotch.  Can you advise me what the benefits to my Zen/CSP2/ERR system will gain from any and all of the ZDAC-ZSTAGE-ZBOX possibilities?  

I plan to upgrade to the Torii Mk III in a few months.  And am also open to learn about upgraded IC's and wires.  Thanks.

PS, I know ZDAC is discontinued, so is it best to avoid used, or grab it quick?  And what instead that goes with the rest -- or completely different than Decware for these upgrades -- in same price range or less.  Cheers! Kiss
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Zen 84C+, CSP2+ Mod Mixer, ERR's, IC's, WP's, Styx; Tekton OB4.5's w/ 8" match subs, Mdht Havana/vCaps/toslink, Pure i20, Fostex HP-P1, Digizoid Zo, AKG701, Sony EX5770; MacBook Pro. MkIII soon.

Interested in tube rolling/power ideas/multiple speaker connectio
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Lon
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Re: Know knothing of ZDAC/ZStage/ZBOX -- advice please
Reply #1 - 10/02/11 at 14:49:07
 
What digital front end are you using now?  If you're unhappy with a cdplayer and if it can serve as a good transport you'll likely hear an improvement if you can find a ZDAC-1 to use. Or if you're using a computer front end will and donnie and a few others here have had great improvement using it to that end.

I wouldn't be concerned about a bad part, many of us here have used a ZDAC-1 with no incident. It's unfortunate that donnie has been unlucky several times. Seems an anamoly to me.

The ZDAC-1 brings a very dynamic and clear picture of the recording. Its signature is warm and detailed in my system. For the money it is a great value. I did replace it in my system, but with an item that cost more than three times it's cost, and the improvement was of course not three times as improved! What took several thousand dollars to improve was a refinement of instrumental textures and an openness to the sound that opens up the inner workings of the recording a bit more and adds a bit of ease.

If you read around the forum you'll find a very well-detailed description of the benefits of the ZSTAGE in a system courtesy of the excellent describer will  In fact Steve makes a fascinating description of what a gain stage can do in the product page for the ZSTAGE. Thing is with your CSP2 you have even more control over gain channel-by-channel, and I don't think the ZSTAGE will really bring you any great benefit. The tube stage there may improve the sound from your front end a bit, but a ZBox would be a cheaper route for you to accomplish that end. The ZBox is a very nice device for improving the sound of a mediocre source, but if you do add a ZDAC-1 or really nice source, it's a bit superfluous--I find that when you achieve a certain level of transparency and tonal correctness in a source such as the ZDAC-1 or many others, the ZBox doesn't really add to the experience and adds a sort of texture that may or may not be desirable.

If you have more coin to spend and are looking for a DAC beyond the ZDAC-1, I've had a great experience with the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC (and Transport) which is an expensive but wonderful product. If I hadn't bought that I would have been tempted to try out the Wyred for Sound DAC2---that has gotten great reviews and a correspondent of mine sings its praises in his system, and I trust his ears. Also the DAC2 has an i2S connection via HDMI input which I have found is a killer connection via transport (my PS Audio PerfectWave Transport and DAC are connected in this fashion) and there may be more transports in the future than take advantage of this excellent jitter-free connection. I think the DAC2 may well be worth investigating.

So a) tell us a bit about your source and b) read a bit on the forum and product pages about the ZStage and ZBox. And let us know your thoughts. Welcome!

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« Last Edit: 10/02/11 at 15:17:59 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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Donnie
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Re: Know knothing of ZDAC/ZStage/ZBOX -- advice please
Reply #2 - 10/02/11 at 19:21:55
 
I'm going to agree with Lon on his assessment of tha ZDAC. I find it fluid and detailed.
It started out a bit forward but after a few days it backed off. The real strong point is the bass extention that it brings to my system.
I use mine two ways, mostly using the digital coax output from a Wadia 170i Ipod dock or less often from a computer using a USB connection. I'm of the opinion that the Ipod actually sounds better, but I need to work more on the computer part of the equation.
Now I will give you the negative part of my experience. My ZDAC has stopped working 3 times. In saying this I can't for sure say that the problem isn't self induced. I can't imagine what I am doing wrong, but for it to go down 3 times the same way makes me wonder if some other piece of my equipment isn't causing the problem.
I am planning to take my equipment with me up to the Zen Fest this upcoming Friday and see if there is something that I am overlooking.
I must also tell you what wonderful people the Decware folks are. Steve and Sarah have both been extremely friendly and helpful.
I really don't think that you would go wrong in getting a ZDAC, and I am positive that you would LOVE a Torii MKIII !
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Zenfire
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Re: Know knothing of ZDAC/ZStage/ZBOX -- advice please
Reply #3 - 10/02/11 at 20:40:23
 
You folks are awesome, and I continue to love being a part of the Decware community.  Enjoy the Fest!  I'll look in on you from L.A.

From your advice and the conversation I had the other day with Steve I will look for a ZDAC used, and if I can't come up with one, go with something cheaper like a Musical Fidelity VDAC, and a DigiZoid ZO -- which if you haven't heard, is allegedly the best $100 in 'sub-woofer stage' for headphones and computer sourced systems -- and V2 is out this month mid Oct, until I can afford more fun like you've mentioned.  

My source is MacBook Pro, iPhone 4, since I sold my ZCD to my office in Chicago.  So I feel I should look at some of the more high-end IC's between these and the Amps, etc, until I can afford a  new ZCD or other CD transport.  

Steve did feel that the Decware ZDAC could be hindered by parts problems and no warranty, and that I should consider other DACs, yet I love Decware blend enough to risk it at this point...

Cheers!  Steve
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Zen 84C+, CSP2+ Mod Mixer, ERR's, IC's, WP's, Styx; Tekton OB4.5's w/ 8" match subs, Mdht Havana/vCaps/toslink, Pure i20, Fostex HP-P1, Digizoid Zo, AKG701, Sony EX5770; MacBook Pro. MkIII soon.

Interested in tube rolling/power ideas/multiple speaker connectio
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