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The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 100639 times)
stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #350 - 12/04/13 at 17:43:54
 
LR, no bottle of ZMA for me. (heHe)

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/august/cooling-glove-research-082912.html

...I will get "The Glove".....I turn 50 in February....I still run 21 miles per week in the Winter & 35 per week in the summer. Music high & runner's high...can't be bought.    -S
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #351 - 12/04/13 at 19:16:11
 

I saw a video on that glove many years ago when they were developing it. Seems like an awesome idea, and so simple when you think about it.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #352 - 12/04/13 at 20:42:51
 
Yes, it has been around for a few years. The last couple of years you can get one for a grand. They say it really works. Recover that core Temp down and resume training.  I don't race anymore...so I don't need it (read: old). I would like to try it though.

I will live vicariously through my son, whom is waiting word back from Stanford for acceptance. However, he probably will go to Rice in Houston. He takes after his mother.....smart.   -S Cheesy

I live The Secret Life of Walter Mitty!
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« Last Edit: 12/04/13 at 20:47:22 by stone_of_tone »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #353 - 12/05/13 at 17:32:54
 
I've been discussing the single input issue with Steve.  I have the ZMA and the ZP3 on order.  After noticing the single inputs on the ZMA I started to look for a switch box (ZSB).  However, I read one of Steve's papers on preamps (How To Select The Right Preamp) and realized that the ZP3 might not provide optimal input voltage to the amp.  Consequently, I started looking at the CSP3.  Steve has suggested that I will get better sound with the CSP3 over the ZSB offering control over the weight, dynamics and volume of the music.

Steve has not specifically said that the ZMA would be improved by the CSP3 but that is my impression.  Moreover, since my phono is my primary source, I want to make sure that I don't inadvertently handicap the sound by not optimising my phono input to the amp.

Bottom line for me is that I've added the CSP3 to my order!
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #354 - 12/06/13 at 21:54:27
 
Well, after a lot of back & forth research....I have decided to get a pair of Steve's ERRx's. I will continue to use and love the Speakers I have been listening to...with my SE84CS & CKC (MA...will be a nice addition).
However, the radial design has always intrigued me...so it's happening.
-S
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #355 - 12/06/13 at 23:13:47
 

I just spoke with Steve about the volume pot - I was all set to upgrade mine to stepped - he said he prefers the infinitely variable. He said that most pots sound worse down low, but his amps are setup to use the volume higher up. So the sound difference between the two at listening levels could only really be heard if you dig into it. He prefers the infinite adjust ability since the sound difference is negligible.  

I also asked about KT120 and KT150 tubes, he said the KT120 is "warmer, and more romantic", but the KT150 is a no go.

So the gist of it is, the amp is good to go as it, just get it and enjoy it. And that's what I'm going to do.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #356 - 12/07/13 at 04:23:03
 
Quote:
LR said,
I just spoke with Steve about the volume pot - I was all set to upgrade mine to stepped - he said he prefers the infinitely variable. He said that most pots sound worse down low, but his amps are setup to use the volume higher up. So the sound difference between the two at listening levels could only really be heard if you dig into it. He prefers the infinite adjust ability since the sound difference is negligible.  

I also asked about KT120 and KT150 tubes, he said the KT120 is "warmer, and more romantic", but the KT150 is a no go.

So the gist of it is, the amp is good to go as it, just get it and enjoy it. And that's what I'm going to do.


Thanks for that ... I know a lot of people like the stepped, but I don't think I can agree with getting the volume "just perfect" without having an infinite knob ... It just seems that there will be times where one knotch is too low and one too high and that the benefits would be negligible overall.  Still those striving for that last 1-5% have their points too.

Did you by chance ask him about additional inputs and preamps?  I'm really interested to know why there is only one set of inputs rather than at least two.  I just need 2 for myself (really three would be optimum though).
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #357 - 12/07/13 at 04:43:45
 

I did not ask him about inputs and preamps since I'm (currently) fine the way it is, and I didn't know exactly what I should ask. In fact (thinking back to the pot), if I was really worried about that last 1%, I could probably have him bypass the vol pot all together since I'm using the variable volume on my Oppo. So my needs are a bit different than others.

I'm always curious to see what he says though if you ask.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #358 - 12/07/13 at 05:18:02
 
For myself, I have the following sources and I seriously doubt that I would ever need more unless a really new and powerful media came out.

1. Phono Stage
2. DAC (connected to my PC)
3. Universal Disc Player

Unless somebody has a reel to reel or tuner, I would not think that many others would need much more than 3-4 inputs max.  I have to agree with Lon in the aspect that I doubt Steve would make a preamp such as this - as it just doesn't seem like his type of product.  But wow, I think it's a huge hole in their lineup that leads customers to look elsewhere who aren't satisfied with the CSP3 limitations.

The way I see it, the CSP3 is too much of a middle of the road product to please most ~ it doesn't have the flexibility of a full blown preamp (with only 2 inputs) and he already has one of the best headphone amps out there with the Taboo.  Why not ditch the CSP3 altogether and get a freaking awesome Preamp which we all know he is capabe of doing!
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #359 - 12/07/13 at 11:06:23
 
I think if you hear the CSP2+ or CSP3 you'd change your tune! It's likely to sound better than the full featured preamp Decware might make, which I think is why Decware doesn't make one currently. Amazing preamp for the price. Imo the answer is: buy more than one CSP3 if your Decware amp has two inputs. Or as many here seem to prefer the amps with no gain stage ahead of it, the switch box.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #360 - 12/07/13 at 15:38:04
 

What if Steve could find a 3-4 point switch that didn't degrade the sound appreciably, and simply had a CSP3+ with 3-4 inputs based off that switch?

I don't know if the layout of the CSP3 would allow that, but if he can do two with a quality two way switch, why not 4 with an equal quality "audiophile" switch.

Would that sound like what you guys needed? Or am I missing something?

Maybe if we all whisper to the audio gods they'll whisper it into his ear late one night.   Grin

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #361 - 12/07/13 at 15:44:13
 

A quick Google search, and this was the first thing that came up.


http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/switch_audibility_e.html

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #362 - 12/08/13 at 17:48:55
 
"So the gist of it is, the amp is good to go as it is, just get it and enjoy it. And that's what I'm going to do..."  ...you said.

I agree LR.  I will get KT120's too...which is a gamble, because I could end up just preferring the KT66's. However, the curiosity of using them will win out. At first though, ...I'll only use the Tube compliment Steve sends.  

I do look forward to the Manual coming to the Web Page too.   -S
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #363 - 12/10/13 at 01:54:27
 
Steve, Can you comment on the overall benefit of the XLR input on the mystery amp apart from the obvious extra input, and reduced chance for hum? What voltage will it support?

Are there additional sonic benefits based on your design or your listening sessions? trying to determine if its worth the 600. I need additional input and have XLR on my dac so its tempting.

Thanks, Aaron
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« Last Edit: 12/10/13 at 01:55:14 by stellablues »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #364 - 12/11/13 at 00:37:14
 
Regarding the XLR inputs, Steve told me that they do not result in a second set of inputs on the ZMA.  It's still XLR or RCA even if you have both on the amp.  He recommended that I stick with just the RCAs.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #365 - 12/11/13 at 02:42:12
 

I remember Steve said something about the XLR simply "adding more parts to the path" and recommended I stick with the RCA inputs as well.

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Reply #366 - 12/11/13 at 05:47:58
 
Thanks for the feedback.

Looking at the Mystery page its a bit vague. one statement says "You may optionally have your amplifier configured with an additional pair of fully transformer balanced XLR inputs from within the shopping cart."

and another has a reference to the mono II which themselves have dual input RCA and XLR.

If you look at the mystery photos you can clearly see both RCA and XLR inputs but i don't see a switch to select the input.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #367 - 12/11/13 at 16:42:20
 
stellablues,

The shopping cart also lists the 600 upgrade option as "Single-Ended RCA inputs & Balanced XLR $600"
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« Last Edit: 12/11/13 at 16:42:54 by will »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #368 - 12/11/13 at 16:47:22
 
This is from Steve's email to me:  

"The amplifier is only capable of one pair of inputs used at a time.  When we put XLR inputs on it, the RCA are still active but can not be used at the same time as the XLR or even have cables hooked up to it."
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #369 - 12/11/13 at 17:09:04
 
Thanks Archie. I get it now.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #370 - 12/11/13 at 18:58:03
 
XLR for long IC runs only.
RCA Coax for .5 meter to 2 meters.
If XLR was better for my KS1030 IC RCA....it would be XLR.

Steve, stated in this thread and/or on the Web Page for the Amp you can use only one input at a time.

LR, Sweet....I only see Chris W./T IV ....ahead of our parts being pulled!
SWEET!    

(Hearin' those Anthony Gallo Acoustics 3.1's tonight(!)...with cash in hand.   0 degree's with a wind chill of 22 below zero tonight....yeah, I love Winter = NOT).

Enjoying.....the Stone of Tone  8-)
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #371 - 12/11/13 at 19:38:20
 
Yeah, I'm trying not to bounce in my seat at the thought of the ZMA's being started! While I hope Steve and crew have a great holiday, I hope they don't...I don't know, take the whole rest of the month off after this week. LOL

I'm still hoping on two weeks for my ZMA.


I'm really, really curious to hear what you think about those Gallo's. It looks like they've come up in price from $2999 to $3999. I'm honestly not sure my MG944 (with my 21" subwoofer) are going to get me where I want to be with that 3D holographic sound...I won't give up on them till I get the ZMA, and build my fleet of diffusers...but I'm keeping my eyes open for other options just in case.

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #372 - 12/11/13 at 20:43:15
 
http://images.craigslist.org/00505_edDPjnKjdZd_600x450.jpg

Yeah, a couple weeks would be nice.... . I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer but, with bench testing....I figure mid-January?

Here is pic of my Listening tonight!    -S

PS-now, this gentlemen does not have my Acoustic Room Treatment (he has none/obviously), this room is to big, or my Front End, Cabling or a ZMA on the way! So, I will have to discern their sound the best I can.  I will let you know.
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« Last Edit: 12/11/13 at 20:50:47 by stone_of_tone »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #373 - 12/11/13 at 20:54:34
 

LOL, I was about to say that I find rooms without sound treatment appalling, but you beat me to it.
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Reply #374 - 12/12/13 at 03:40:48
 
Not surprising, Steve is consistent with his advice.  "RCA will sound better then XLR b/c of less parts in the signal path".  I was hesitant to add XLR based on his advice, but chose to for future flexibility.  I don't know where or what my audio room will look like in 5 years, nor do I know what my pre-amp situation will be.  Initial listening will be done via RCA.  I will provide my listening impressions once I have the amp broken in and look forward to reading what everyone else has to say.  The first batch of ZMAs is about to be built.  Cheers.      
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Reply #375 - 12/12/13 at 05:00:33
 
http://images.craigslist.org/00505_edDPjnKjdZd_600x450.jpg
Anthony Gallo Acoustics 3.1

I bought them LR! They are in mint condition. New, they sold for $3000.00. I got them for $1500.00. Plus, I got the 4" Mapleshade platforms and Mapleshade Brass Feet for $500.00-see Link ($900.00 new from Mapleshade). So, a nice tidy $1900.00 in savings. All mint, and playing like the day they were new.

Currently, I have them mounted with their original Plinth and Feet from the factory. Josh/he, had switched out the Mapleshade Platforms to test as equipment bases. I will put the Mapleshades back on soon.

Impressions at Josh's House were nice. He had a Vincent Integrated (Tube pre/Solid State Hybrid), with Vincent CD Player. Even though it had that Solid State edge & the Room was not treated.....the 3.1's are musical. The Vincent is not to shabby. But, certainly not my Rig.

So, I get them home...frigin'  -3 degree's out....but worth the 42 miles each way!
Dont' cha know...the SE84CS can drive them. Now, within reason...I don't have the Mapleshade Plinths on yet or positioned the absolute best yet...but the imaging and soundstage and what I heard of the dynamics at Josh's....I am glad I bought them. The ZMA will deliver the goods into these guys.

Playing the 3.1's right now within reason for the SE84CS....reconfirms for me how my other two pair....that are a little more efficient....can play louder and more dynamic-with tone/truth of timbre & air only Decware can provide. Plus my Kimber Select with Decware and the Speakers-now including the 3.1's=matters.  So, I look forward to driving them with the ZMA too. However, the Gallo 3.1's, I am pretty sure, I can make them completely disappear as advertised with the juice they need from the ZMA.  

I am very pleased! Plus, to get the Mapleshade Plinths and Brass Feet!
Stone is Toned!  
PS-they came with the hardware to mount the Mapleshade Plinths, original boxes with encapsulated foam and the over top grills-mint.
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« Last Edit: 12/12/13 at 05:24:31 by stone_of_tone »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #376 - 12/12/13 at 14:14:24
 

WOW! I'm super Jealous! That's a great price on great kit! I'm really hoping my MG944 bloom with the ZMA - they sound great with the SE84-A, but I'm not getting them to disappear yet!

Parts pulled on the first ZMA!! Makes me wish I hadn't hemmed and hawed and just put my order in with Steve at Decfest....but being the second ZMA owner is OK as well.   Wink
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #377 - 12/12/13 at 15:21:18
 
LR…I currently have a SuperZen driving MG944’s and will soon be driving them with the ZMA.  

Multiple discussions with Steve suggest the 944’s are definitely going to bloom with the ZMA.  Steve mentioned multiple times (and maybe he can chime in here) that the 944’s sound like electrostats when driven by the Mono’s/ZMA.  He didn’t realize what the speakers were capable of until he drove them with his higher power amps.  I am certainly looking forward to assessing the combo and hope you are too.    

Not sure how much listening was done with the ZMA/944 combo at Decfest, but it would be nice to get some impressions from folks.  

I plan to post my impressions in the coming weeks/months and look forward to what you have to say.  

Cheers.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #378 - 12/12/13 at 15:38:29
 
Quote:
LR…I currently have a SuperZen driving MG944’s and will soon be driving them with the ZMA.  

Multiple discussions with Steve suggest the 944’s are definitely going to bloom with the ZMA.  Steve mentioned multiple times (and maybe he can chime in here) that the 944’s sound like electrostats when driven by the Mono’s/ZMA.  He didn’t realize what the speakers were capable of until he drove them with his higher power amps.  I am certainly looking forward to assessing the combo and hope you are too.    

Not sure how much listening was done with the ZMA/944 combo at Decfest, but it would be nice to get some impressions from folks.  

I plan to post my impressions in the coming weeks/months and look forward to what you have to say.  

Cheers.



I did give Steve's well broken in MG944 a listen on the ZMA at Decfest - it was only short bursts since so many other people wanted to step in and do their own thing...in fact, someone did without asking me first...but that's a story for another day.

I can't quite describe what I heard, except it was very liquid...and it had harmonic content that the MK IV didn't have. I know Steve mentioned the ZMA is *the* amp for high-def files, but I was listening to my own CD rips, and I definitely heard difference on his MG944. It wasn't night and day, but it was a step up for sure.

Now, all that said, my MG944 are not like anyone else's. Mine have trapezium sides....and a crossover. Mine were a modified version Bob built for himself that I happened to get because they were there and I had cash in hand. My issues - I'm hearing some distortion at a very specific frequency, and I can't decide if it's the speakers, or my Zen amp...and my speakers aren't disappearing - which could totally be a room issue; I know that better than most. Personally, I feel the crossover, no matter how good, is adding distortion at this specific frequency. Bob assured me it's not the drivers, that they are pretty bulletproof in this setup, and I am running only 2 watts after all.

So, why don't I open up the speakers and tweak or bypass the crossover and see? Yeah, well, Bob installed the crossover, *before* assembling the speakers. So I can not access the crossover at all. I can kinda see one cap if I take the jack plate off and that's it. LOL So yeah, I could bypass the crossover still, but I don't want to go through the hassle (and expense - I'd need new caps and breakin time!) - and I'm giving the speakers the benefit of the doubt. The distortion could still be me driving the Zen amp a little too hard, and I want to give the speakers a couple thousand hours of break in.

Edit to add: I got my Zen amp modified and back the same day I got the MG944 speakers, and my Zen Amp is a one off as well, so the distortion could be a small side effect of the modification I guess. I think Steve would have caught it, but I don't know how much listen time he gave to it. It's a very, very small amount of distortion, at a certain frequency...but others have heard it as well when critical listening.

So, the short version is, I'm waiting on the ZMA to show up. If I still have the distortion, I'll either work something out with Bob or Steve to get different speakers, or I'll try bypassing the crossover by wiring directly to the drivers, and adding a capacitor to each tweeter.
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« Last Edit: 12/12/13 at 15:43:23 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #379 - 12/12/13 at 16:04:29
 
Yes LR.  Parts are pulled! Nice to have a cup of coffee in hand and see that email.  -S
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #380 - 12/12/13 at 19:29:25
 
Stone…congrats on the speakers and parts being pulled.  95% of the waiting seemed to go by quickly for me (In fact, I almost missed the window to change my order from a Torii to the Mystery), but I am positive the last 5% will seem like forever.  

LR…thanks for the update and description of your gear.  I am a new contributor to the forum, so hopefully most of the information wasn’t common knowledge.  Sounds like you have a couple cool custom pieces.  

Nice to know you were at Decfest to hear the ZMA in person.  

Out of curiosity, what was your favorite speaker pairing with the ZMA?  

In your post above, when you said “definitely heard the difference on his MG944”, do you mean the difference in hi res vs. CD rips?  

I’m still not sure what to make of Steve’s comment regarding *the* amp for high def files yet.  I think I need to make my own assessment.  Not sure if this factors in or not, but I may be one of the few people that purchased a Decware product and returned it--the Zen CD player.  I felt it added a slight distortion and compression to the music that didn’t sound right to me.  We did some troubleshooting before I returned it and it turns out there wasn’t anything wrong with the player.  

So, if the comparison of hi res vs. standard res digital is a digital download played on a computer vs. Redbook CD on the Zen CD player, I am not convinced.  My preference, and maybe this is what was done, would be a comparison of files Steve recorded himself at a high bit depth and sampling rate (e.g. 24/192) versus the same file downsampled to 16/44.  Both files would be played back through the same software on the computer and without any up-sampling.  

Does this sound right to you guys?  Do you have additional insight into HD vs. SD?
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #381 - 12/12/13 at 19:51:59
 
Quote:
Out of curiosity, what was your favorite speaker pairing with the ZMA?  


Honestly, there was a lot people bustling about and wanting to do their own thing, so I didn't have time to play as much as I wanted to. Plus, I had just purchased the MG944, so I didn't want to covet another speaker just yet. All the Radial speakers sounded pretty amazing.

Quote:
In your post above, when you said “definitely heard the difference on his MG944”, do you mean the difference in hi res vs. CD rips?  

I’m still not sure what to make of Steve’s comment regarding *the* amp for high def files yet.


I meant the difference between MK IV and ZMA - lots of people were saying the two amps were very, very close (the Mk IV is that good), but didn't feel the ZMA was worth the difference *unless you were listening to high def audio files*.  I guess Steve said somewhere along the line that the ZMA really bring high def files to life.

After playing my short selection of demo tunes, I had several people that listened in with me ask if they were high def files...(since it was rumored ZMA was *the* amp for high def). I said, "no, these are just CDs I ripped really quickly before heading down here". I think we were all a bit surprised by how good Redbook level audio sounded on such a detailed amp. I had totally forgotten what Steve said about the high def files, and it made me think "if it sounds this good with Redbook, WOW, what will high def do!" That fact, and the fantastic harmonic content were what sold me on the amp. Even if it was only 10% better than the Mk IV, it is *the* amp for me.

I don't know if I explained that well enough - my poor memory makes it difficult to relay stuff if you weren't there.   Grin


During our demos, and I'm assuming during Steve's voicing of the amps, and his own listening pleasure, Steve streams digital music via a Teac DAC. He has access to tons of music, both SD and HD, and I believe that DAC can even upsample and downsample and all that on the fly.

Either way, my point is that I felt the ZMA was a noticeable step up from the Mk IV, more than others did apparently, and this was on SD audio files. Since ordering my ZMA, I've started ripping  my whole CD collection to FLAC, and downloading HD files from HDTracks and other sources. With my Oppo universal player and the ZMA, I think I'm pushing into the leading edge of digital playback. I think I'd have to go with a high dollar (PS Audio) DAC to really go further at this point.

I can't speak to the Zen CD player - IMHO (and this is only my opinion), it's kind of outdated with all these very fine DACs available at all sorts of price ranges. That tube output stage can only do so much to enhance a "decent" player.  
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« Last Edit: 12/12/13 at 19:54:11 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #382 - 12/12/13 at 20:10:14
 
Dave1210 wrote on 12/12/13 at 19:29:25:
 Not sure if this factors in or not, but I may be one of the few people that purchased a Decware product and returned it--the Zen CD player.  I felt it added a slight distortion and compression to the music that didn’t sound right to me.  We did some troubleshooting before I returned it and it turns out there wasn’t anything wrong with the player.


I never returned my Zen CD player, but I ultimately didn't keep it and it sent me on a search for a great front end that really ended with the PS Audion Duo.  I returned the Zen CD for all the options when I was sure it was broken in and still didn't like the sound. . . After tht I kept it far too long, hopng I'd learn to like it and I just never warmed to it. Just wasn't right for me, especially tonally. I sold it very cheap. . . .
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« Last Edit: 12/12/13 at 20:27:40 by Lon »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #383 - 12/13/13 at 02:27:53
 
LR…very much appreciate your perspective from Decfest.  You definitely explained it well.  Sounds like you are having fun prepping for arrival of the ZMA.  

I have heard good things about the TEAC DAC, but haven't had an opportunity to audition it.  Enough good things have already been said about Oppo.  Can those guys win anymore awards?  

LR & Lon…My digital front end is the PS Audio PW Trans/DAC.  I am currently running direct to the SuperZen and will do all of my initial listening direct to ZMA.  I hope the PS Audio/ZMA/944 combo turns out to be a good one.  I will definitely report back.

I have a few HD files and at the moment I am burning them to DVD and playing them back on the Transport.  Not ideal from a work process, but I don't own the PS Audio bridge, and I hear differences between different software players, so for reference listening I am playing discs.

I would appreciate your opinion on any great sounding HD tracks you pick up (or any HD tracks that sounded particularly good at Decfest).  I am a bit skeptical of the current HD market, but that's a different topic.    

Cheers!  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #384 - 12/13/13 at 02:36:52
 
Dave, I can't imagine that the ZMA and 944 won't be a great fit with the 944s.

One day you should try a CSP2+ or CSP3 in between. I mean I really like the PS Audio into the amp, but the preamp really seals the deal for me, makes me not hunger for any other front end (other than my SACD player). My preferenxce for hi-res is the SACD format, I've run some hi-res files via DVD-R into the PWD Mk II and they sound great, but SACD is so convenient and is a disc format, sue me I like discs, I don't like files, I don't like mixing music and computers. I know you'll dig the hi-res files on DVD-R into the ZMA, it's going to be awesome, just as SACDs are da bomb for me, and Redbook to be honest (98 percent of my digital collection) sounds amazing to me and I'm sure does and will for you.

I think you have a lot of great musical fun ahead of you!
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #385 - 12/13/13 at 03:09:04
 
Quote:
LR & Lon…My digital front end is the PS Audio PW Trans/DAC.  I am currently running direct to the SuperZen and will do all of my initial listening direct to ZMA.  I hope the PS Audio/ZMA/944 combo turns out to be a good one.  I will definitely report back.


Oh wow, that's my dream setup!

I was very, very close to doing 12 months same as cash at Music Direct for that Tras/DAC

Quote:
but SACD is so convenient and is a disc format, sue me I like discs, I don't like files,


Lon, until very recently, I was the same way. Getting all my files on this hard drive really made the difference for me. It also helps that the digital files sound so much better than the discs *in this player*.

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« Last Edit: 12/13/13 at 03:11:37 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #386 - 12/13/13 at 03:15:13
 
Lon…Sounds like I should arrange for some pre-amp demos in the future.  I appreciate your level of enthusiasm.  This may just be the push I need to investigate further.  Thanks for the advice.

I suppose I like discs too.  I certainly have a lot of them (98% of my music collection is Rebook CD too) and while I have incorporated the computer into the mix on occasion, it appears there are more factors influencing sound than I expected.  Maybe I shouldn't be surprised.  As an example, if cd players sound different, I should have expected software players to sound different.

I am looking forward to the road ahead.  I am not in a bad place with my current system, but I know there is room for improvement.  For example, there are some discs I just can't play loud enough with the SuperZen (these are the discs I am looking forward to playing loud b/c they aren't overly compressed).  

Also, I need to improve soundstage depth at some point.  I have heard better than my current system and room treatments really aren't an option for me (I have tried a few and took a lot of heat, so not sure I want to go there).  The ZMA should take care of the former.  The latter is likely the next step.  

Sounds like the radials were well received at Decfest.  What are your thoughts?  If you already covered this elsewhere…just point me in the direction.

Cheers,
Dave
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #387 - 12/13/13 at 04:07:33
 
LR…sorry I missed your post.  I must have been typing.  

Based on my experience, I think you are onto something with ripped files sounding better than discs played on a typical CD player.

In my experience, a MacBook running on battery (computer power supplies are less than ideal) w/Audirvana software connected to the PS Audio DAC via USB sounds similar to using the PW Transport into the PW  DAC.   Most CD players cannot compete with either of these scenarios.

Thinking about the product design of the PS Audio Transport, it was designed to play audio like a computer (e.g. plays from memory), but without the issues of a typical computer (e.g. bad power supply).  

Can a computer be a great sounding source?  Yes.  In fact, I think with the right setup it will be better than most CD players.  

Not sure if any of that made sense.
 
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #388 - 12/13/13 at 10:50:09
 
Well LR, I've heard a MAC Mini set up for audio through my system, a friend who is a digital engineer and was at that time stayting with me set it up, he knows what he's doing and he loves computer audio.

Did nothing for me. Didn't sound better than the PWT/PWD Mk II, and I just don't like the process. And I could spend the rest of my life trying to rip and file all my discs. I have zero interest in doing that. I get why so many dig the whole hting, and if I were dong mobile music of any kind (I don't, partly being a motorcycle only rider for a few decades and also having been unable to do so at work for a long time, never developed the habit) maybe that would lead me to it. But I'm very happy with all my discs and players and am not at all drawn to computer audio. In fact the opposite, it seems strongly the wrong direction for me.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #389 - 12/13/13 at 10:56:10
 
Dave1210 wrote on 12/13/13 at 03:15:13:
Sounds like the radials were well received at Decfest.  What are your thoughts?  If you already covered this elsewhere…just point me in the direction.

Cheers,
Dave


Dave, I've never been to and don't plan on being to a Decfest so can't answer as to how they've been received there. My speakers have been Decware/Zeigler Radials in one form or another for over a dozen years, and I really can't imagine not owning a pair. With the right room placement (alas I can't quite achieve this in my current situation) there IS a LOT of depth to the music. I think what I like moste about them are a) they are not as forward as most other speaker designs, I prefer a natural, laid back presentation to a forward one and b) tonally thwy seem to be richer and sweeter, leading to a more forgiving than analytical sound, my preferrence and what works best for my thousands of discs, moste of which are far from great recordings.

I understand why many DISLIKE them as well, so I know they are not for everyone, probably best to try listening before buying. . . . But I'm set probably for life now, and just don't see myself with another speaker design. Steve and Bob hooked me.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #390 - 12/13/13 at 12:45:46
 
Lon,

Best description yet of the radials.  I find that you can make subtle changes in the sound with various tubes but the signature that you described stays true (I only have the ERR's). For example in the input position I find my nos mullard cv2493's add warmth and have a slightly loose top end where my telefunken e88cc's (fav so far) have a real airy 3d quality that envelops you with a tighter top end...the speakers truly disappear.

JD
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #391 - 12/13/13 at 13:15:36
 
Quote:
Based on my experience, I think you are onto something with ripped files sounding better than discs played on a typical CD player.


I may have mentioned this somewhere else in the forum, but just in case - long story short, I was ripping my CD collection to FLAC, and decided to test them on a USB flash drive on my new Oppo Universal player, just to make sure I did them correctly (first time doing this). I popped the USB Flash Drive in and went into the kitchen to make some dinner...even in another room I could hear the difference; the sound was sharper (in a good way) and more accurate, and the music seemed to come down into the kitchen and say "hey, come listen". So I stopped making dinner and ran back into the liviingroom/theater/listening room and did an A/B and sure enough, the ripped files sounded better! It wasn't until a month or two later when Steve from Herbie's Audio Lab said "put your hand on the player when the CD's spinning". So I did, and the damn thing was practically hopping up and down with the rotation of the unbalanced CD! Some were better than others, but all of them at least sent a tremor through the player! That physical vibration is sure to cause electronic jitter as the player tries to piece all that music back together. With the ripped files, most of that has been sorted out and verified during the ripping process, and the DAC can put it's horsepower to playback rather than piecing together the music through the jitter.


Quote:
Did nothing for me. Didn't sound better than the PWT/PWD Mk II, and I just don't like the process.


From everything I'm reading about that Paul writes, it doesn't even seem a fair comparison. He knows all about what I've written above, and had dealt with it in that PWT PWD setup. I really think it's the ideal setup, assuming it can do all the same DAC work my Oppo does with the Bridge installed that is.
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« Last Edit: 12/13/13 at 14:26:50 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #392 - 12/13/13 at 14:12:04
 
JD, the ERRs are just special. I've finally fallen under the spell of the HR-1s and have learned how to get them to be most ERR-like, and they're an even more "jack of all trades" implement for musical playback, but for some material, the ERR just can't be beaten (and for video material as well). I can only imagine how the new ERR sound!

Glad my description seemed on the mark. The HR-1s share the trademarks of the ERRs but I've never yet made them quite disappear into a sonic landscape the way the ERRs do. Very close, and I may have something room related (in two rooms) or system related holding that back from happening. And with the sound they get, close IS a cigar. I'm very happy.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #393 - 12/13/13 at 15:52:37
 
LR/Lon…I think the overall message is…do what works for you.    

LR…You said it better than me.  I think taking certain things out of the equation during playback (e.g. possibility for errors while reading a spinning disc) are strong reasons to believe that a computer can be an excellent source.  

I think I have a sense for Lon’s comments on process (re: computer audio).  There are a lot of variables to consider and seemingly benign things like the graphic interface, or the programs used to import, organize and search music all impact how you interact with the source.  If any part of the process starts to feel like work, it will likely make the entire experience less fun and may ultimately get in the way of just enjoying the music.  

Placing a disc into the PW Transport and hitting play is about as simple as it gets and I think there is beauty in the simplicity of the process.  There is nothing that gets in the way of the music.  

That said, I am working on a computer source.  My current process of downloading and burning .wav files to disc feels like work and is an extra step I want to avoid.  I don’t plan on ripping my entire CD collection, but would like to use the computer as a source for any files I download.        

Sounds like you are having fun getting your digital playback system up and running, and that’s a good thing.  Keep us updated on what is working and what the pinch points may be.  

It won’t be too long before we are discussing how the ZMA sounds on each of our systems.  I am really looking forward to that.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #394 - 12/13/13 at 17:07:28
 

Lon has a lifetime worth of media, so I can totally see how he wouldn't want to rip it to digital...it would be a lifetime of ripping and archiving...and it would be like a part time job. I only have like 1000 CDs or so (I used to have over 3000 but many were lost or stolen - crappy room mates) and even just those 1000 CDs took me two months of ripping a dozen every week night and dozens on the weekend.

That said, now that Oppo just released a "Media Control" software for Android devices, I'm able to control my Universal player with my phone or tablet, including browsing the network to reach a NAS, computer, or my portable hard drive (that is now my music base) directly connected - I'm pretty  much in heaven right now.

Last night I put sound absorbers in front of all my equipment (blocking all the lights and fans and whatever) and tried out this new Media Control software, it was absolutely fantastic! Any song that I could think of that is in my collection was easily dialed up during the last 10 seconds of whatever song was playing, and I seamlessly jumped from song to song, album to album, personal collection to downloaded collection. *This* is what I was envisioning for digital music playback - it brought me closer to that "nothing but the controller, chair, and dark room" that I've been wanting for a long time now.

I'm even more eager for the ZMA now (if that's even possible)!
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #395 - 12/13/13 at 18:02:27
 
Wow, we have such different ideas of heaven! Smiley I hate phones and I love the total inconvenience of searching for what I want to hear among my shelves.

Glad you got to your heaven though!

Both you and Dave are right. I just don't have fun with computer audio, it seems like work to me and the results have not been worth it. And I have so much meida to make digital that it's overwhelming to even think of starting.

If I needed music on the go, if I wanted the convenience, and a handful of other reasons, sure, it would be worth it. But it just doesn't appeal to me or fill any needs.

I have great players (I'm in awe of my Denon SACD player, and the PS Audio Duo is amazing) and I love my Torii (bonded with it, don't need a ZMA) and I'm SET.
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« Last Edit: 12/13/13 at 18:08:58 by Lon »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #396 - 12/13/13 at 19:22:29
 

Yeah, making it work doesn't make it fun at all. And I don't have that ritual that you LP Record guys go through (I do appreciate rituals, my coffee making is somewhere between Tai Chi, Meditation, and Chemistry). The portable thing means nothing to me (currently) - I hate listening in my car (which needs a new and expensive exhaust anyways), and I only listen to audio books on the road.

Ultimately I hope to have a setup that I presume is something like Mark's Listening Cave - my little Audio Temple - cut out all distractions and go for that "out of body experience" as Steve would call it.

I really do enjoy these online discussions with you, Lon; it helps keep me grounded, and I enjoy seeing things from your point of view.

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #397 - 12/13/13 at 20:04:42
 
I enjoy the discussions too.

I had my own listening and video world just the way i like it for about five years . . . and I had the money to evolve it into a Torii-HR-1 system which is the cat's meow. . . and then once again I had to sacrifice what I want and maybe need for some other persons, this time my parents, and I'm back in a less than ideal room and with less than ideal time to listen and view. . . .

But what I like about it is that I appreciate the hours I do get to spend with the system more. And also that the hours I have at my disposal are now weekday afternoon hours and there are no neighbors home and I get to explore my great collection of guitars and basses with far less limiting self-consciousness to plague me and that has really helped. I sure have the blues, and I have been able to expunge them a bit by playing them. My latest guitars and basses and amp have been of the coolest quality and just inspiring. So that is a new factor that is uplifting (though most of the experience back here in Ohio has been rather depressing and being away from my gal and my friends. . . really hard).

What's constant is the appreciation of the great quality and nature of the system, a large part of which Decware is responsible for. That's what we all have in common here, which makes this a great hang!
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #398 - 12/14/13 at 14:52:57
 

I was hoping to see the first Zen Mystery Amp had shipped yesterday. Looks like lots of parts pulled on different things (probably a little burst to get ahead before the holidays) but none shipping yet.

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on your own ZMA, Stone!

Brianne is looking forward to me getting mine, so I'd finally shut up about it! LOL Little does she know....

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #399 - 12/14/13 at 15:29:32
 
It's been my observation that Decware ships out on TUESDAYs. And only on Tuesdays. I could be wrong, but that seems the case this last year.
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