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The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 111483 times)
Dave1210
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #825 - 03/03/14 at 03:52:02
 
Steve C/Lon...Like I mentioned before, I have never had a lush/romantic amp in my system.  For me, it has always been fast, slightly dry SS or fast/transparent tube amps.  I listen to a variety of music and I have music that sounds good and music that sounds great on my system.  I don't think I have come across anything that makes me cringe yet.  That said, it's possible I have been selecting better sounding discs during the break in period to understand what the ZMA is capable of.  For me, it would be instructive if you could provide a list of music/cd's that you love, but think might not sound good with the ZMA (lets be clear, it's not just the ZMA, b/c everything else in the chain matters).  Steve C...what discs made you cringe in your recent listening session?  While I don't think this will replace the experience of hearing a Torii mk3 in my system (or a weekend at Decware to compare the amps), it's a start.  

The ZMA does so many things right (bass, transparency, musicality, etc).  My only gripe so far is that I expected it to go louder without clipping (maybe I am not assessing clipping appropriately, but I thought it was when the meters started to bounce).  My speakers are 94dB efficient (944's), so relatively efficient.  I am curious what others think about this.  


   
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #826 - 03/03/14 at 05:10:16
 
Quote:
The ZMA does so many things right (bass, transparency, musicality, etc).  My only gripe so far is that I expected it to go louder without clipping (maybe I am not assessing clipping appropriately, but I thought it was when the meters started to bounce).  My speakers are 94dB efficient (944's), so relatively efficient.  I am curious what others think about this.  


That's a very general statement. Use your ears - not the meters. I way overdrove my ZMA when it was still young, just to get a feel for how it handles clipping, and it was surprisingly smooth - reminded me of the smooth clipping of a vintage guitar amp. In fact, it made a dynamic piano sound like an electric keyboard; instead of clipping in a jarring way like a pane of glass shattering. So drive it till it doesn't sound right/good and don't mind the meters unless you're biasing.

This is one of Brianne's favorite albums, Barenaked Ladies - stunt.

I don't recall if I've played it on the ZMA, but just before the ZMA arrived, I played it on the Zen Amp, and it was so painfully harsh, I shut it off before the first song ended. I'd give this a try if you have it or can find a copy. I'll do the same when I'm back home from work, but I think this is a good example of a modern album that doesn't sound good under the magnifying glass.

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« Last Edit: 03/03/14 at 05:12:01 by Lonely Raven »  
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FarmBoss
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #827 - 03/03/14 at 11:06:27
 
Dave on my system with the Martin Logan ESL's I expected to have more than enough power to play beyond my normal volume.  I ordered the csp3 hoping this will get me there.  Right now the way I am configured my normal listening volume is around 100%.  Even at 100% I do hot have clipping and my meters are pegged at 60.

Does this amp support larger driver tubes?
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #828 - 03/03/14 at 13:38:26
 
Dave,

I'm not looking for a lush/romantic amp. But I am very worried that I wouldn't be happy with a treble that cannot be adjusted. On my Toriis you would be shocked at how much of the treble I have to be dialed down. And on the Integrated I had with treble cut circuit it was dialed down less, but it was dialed down. The amps I had before that without the treble control I was far less comfortable with the sound. I have my hearing checked each year in January and I have not had appreciable treble hearing loss below normal. The way that Steve voices amps I need the treble cut circuit.

Sigh.

Saves me money as I'm likely to stick with my Toriis. Best amps I've ever owned.
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« Last Edit: 03/03/14 at 14:45:51 by Lon »  

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Dave1210
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #829 - 03/03/14 at 15:07:42
 
LR…it is a relatively general statement and I was a little hesitant writing it last evening because I was too tired to expand.  Let me try and provide a little more background.

Below are a couple discs/tracks I have experimented with.  IMHO, these tracks scream to be played loud.  Also, they weren’t mastered with a lot of compression, so the overall volume is low compared to most modern cds.

Fleetwood Mac (Rumours): Dreams
Steely Dan (Aja): Peg
Dire Straits (Brothers in Arms): Money for Nothing

I first set the volume on the ZMA to 80-100% and then used the volume control on the DAC to adjust the volume to a level I thought was appropriate for ‘rockin out’.  I would always listen first to a short passage of music and then repeat the same passage while checking the meters on the amp.  So I am using my ears first.

I would hear slight variations of what you described (piano sounding like an electric keyboard), but in general I would describe it as a slight distortion.  A specific example would be to listen to the cymbal crashes in Dreams.  When clipped they sound slightly unnatural (less like wood on metal) and a bit harsh (I personally find these cymbal crashes to be a good test and I don’t’ think a lot of systems get them right).  Regarding the meters on the amp, they would range from moving on bass or snare drum hits to full on dancing.    

For reference, my DAC outputs a higher than normal voltage at 100% volume versus a typical source--2.83V vs. 2V.  I would have to do a little research to find the volume setting at which the DAC is outputting 2V to understand what happens at 2V output on the DAC and 100% volume on the amp.   In hindsight, I should have captured the exact volume settings on both the DAC and amp, but I didn’t.  

Another way to word what I am saying (and I’ll do the experiment), is that the amp may not get loud enough to rock out with a typical source (2V) and moderately efficient speakers (94dB) using these types of tracks (e.g. rock music w/low compression).  For me, this is a special listening circumstance.  I also understand that ‘rocking out’ is subjective.  That said, I am trying to understand what the amp is capable of and provide my perspective.

It has been said that if you are going to be listening to an amplifier loud enough for it to clip, then you are much better with a tube amp versus a SS amp.  I have no doubt about this in my experience (ears) and I am sure a scope would confirm it.      

Hopefully this provides some additional perspective.  I understand there are a lot of variables at play here and I don’t want to over generalize.  

Notes:  My tubes are biased at 60mA.
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« Last Edit: 03/03/14 at 15:16:11 by Dave1210 »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #830 - 03/03/14 at 16:21:57
 
Dave,

I meant no disrespect, I hope you didn't take it that way.

Wow, you must be really rockin' out!

I've cranked that whole Rumors album (24/96 in my case) and I've for sure made my meters bounce! I think I rock out a little less than I used to though, so it does sound like you're driving harder than me, especially with that added input voltage!

Good call on the cymbal crash, I'll pay better attention to that in the future; I typically notice distortion come in on vocals or dynamic guitar (probably because that's what I subconsciously focus on).

The ZMA is very forgiving when it clips, but I can see it turning it's beautiful reproduction of cymbals into a mess if it clips to hard - especially noticeable because it does such a great job at that reproduction in the first place!
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will
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #831 - 03/03/14 at 16:30:58
 
Hey Dave,

I think my experience was similar to yours with the Taboo and Rachel I auditioned. Just BEFORE the meters started to waver I heard distortion that I found disturbing to my listening experience. That it was "better" than some other clipping we have experienced was little consolation since I wanted a bit more clean volume for the music to come to life.

Your talk about DAC output causes me to wonder a bit though. I guess you have experimented with the DAC set for a bit lower output and the amp higher???
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jsm71
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #832 - 03/03/14 at 16:51:28
 
You guys must be looking to make your ears bleed.  I really never liked extreme volume live shows and have stayed away from bad venues that pound your ears.  I'm really looking to retain my hearing as long as I can.  What SPL are you talking about trying to achieve when "rocking out"?

I get a little uncomfortable at home once the SPL hits 80dB.  My system does that with no distortion using my Torii MK IV, and my speakers are only 87dB sensitive.  I'm really looking forward to my ZMA, but not to drive above that 80 mark.  I'm hoping for more foundation and that added liquidity Steve talks about.  I also believe I'll need the extra oomph if I ever get a larger room.  My listening room is a 13' x 12' spare bedroom.  I love Led Zeplin and Rush, but I guess at 60 I'm just an old fart.  I really deserved that label BTW at a much earlier age I suppose. Grin
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deucekazoo
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #833 - 03/03/14 at 17:55:40
 
I was thinking the same thing. With those speakers at 32 watts you are hitting 112 db. That is pretty loud. So maybe 113db at 40 watts. It would be interesting to see what the db is when you hear it clip.
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Dave1210
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #834 - 03/03/14 at 18:38:34
 
LR…I didn't take your comments in a negative way.  I shouldn't have commented until I had the time and energy to explain in more detail.  You gave me the little kick I needed to get my thoughts down, so thanks!

Will…I have experimented a little with both scenarios 1) low DAC/high amp and 2) high DAC/low amp.  Maybe I wasn't listening critically enough because I can't say I have a strong POV either way.  Also, I'm not sure my DAC really provides the level of gain necessary to fully experience 'riding the gain'.   That said, it's probably worth exploring further.

I will have to take some dB measurements with the trusty iPhone next time I feel the need to rock out.  No ear ringing yet and I know I am listening north of 80dB.  As stated before, +95% of my listening is at much lower volumes, so rocking out really is atypical.  That said, sometimes it just feels right to crank it up….

Cheers!

Note: My room is 25' x 13' x 10' (l*w*h).
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« Last Edit: 03/03/14 at 18:39:20 by Dave1210 »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #835 - 03/03/14 at 18:55:07
 
Quote:
Note: My room is 25' x 13' x 10' (l*w*h).


Wow, I wish I had that kind of space!

Steve mentioned to me; he noticed I had the ZMA cranked about 95% and was using the variable output on my Oppo as a volume control (you know, since it has a remote and sounds good). He said he felt it sounded thin with the volume down on the Oppo (possibly true) and reocmmended I crank the Oppo to 100% and try controlling the volume with the ZMA instead.

So far, I've not really noticed a difference either way, but I've not had much time for critical listening in the past week since I got my ZMA back from Steve. The only real difference is my *harumphing* each time I change a track and I have to get up and dial the ZMA volume up or down manually.

That also reminded me that I forgot to ask Steve why none of his preamps have a remote volume control - I'd be sold on one of his preamps if it had a remote volume knob.With my main source of music being digital now, I bounce around from albums and tracks, and I absolutely need to adjust the volume between tracks, or as the mood hits me...or Brianne starts talking to me.   Wink
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #836 - 03/03/14 at 19:58:42
 
Have you tried setting the ZMA volume with the Oppo at about 90 percent and that allowing you a bit of adjustment headroom via remote and even if you diminish a bit you're still in the high end of the Oppo range. . .and you're riding the gain too.
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« Last Edit: 03/03/14 at 20:01:45 by Lon »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #837 - 03/03/14 at 20:35:36
 
Lon, that's pretty much what I do by default. Both devices up pretty high, but the Oppo being my variable rather than the ZMA. Maybe that's why I'm not hearing much of a difference, because I'm pretty much there already. When Steve said the Oppo sounded thin, it was because I left it at my late night listening volume when I dropped it off with him (and I forgot to bring the remote so he could crank it - LOL)
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« Last Edit: 03/03/14 at 20:36:34 by Lonely Raven »  
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #838 - 03/03/14 at 20:41:11
 
I figured that would be how you would manage it. Yes, in Steve's situation it would sound thin. Smiley

I have a lot of ways I can ride the gain in my system, but what works for me is to have the PWD Mk II all the way up, the Torii Mk III about 90 percent, and my CSP2+ (the one with the Jupiter caps!) adjusted with the output gain so that the lowest source, my DVR, is plenty loud with the CSP2+ nearly turned all the way up. Then I generally set the volume with the CSP2+ which works for me as I listen to a disc at a time, etc.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #839 - 03/04/14 at 01:23:33
 
Digger, sorry, I did not mean to be a prick. I see now from what I wrote...was not good. I appreciate your point on the 2 way vs. 3 way and....because of your thought/insight....I am sticking to the Speakers I have. The ZMA does love them.

Furthermore, from reading further posts in this Thread...about the ZMA...and Lons insight about adding a Decware Pre and past insights....that is what I am going to do.  ....should I opt for the Bee's Wax Caps....is my question?  Digger, you have the Decware Pre too...so any insight is appreciated. I feel the ZMA could be even better with a Decware Pre....now having spent 5 weeks with it and my past experience of owning the SE84CS for 12 years and a Super Zen CKC since late 2012.....with no Pre...I think the ZMA would benefit well from its addition.  -S
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« Last Edit: 03/04/14 at 01:34:38 by stone_of_tone »  

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