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The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 134182 times)
FarmBoss
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #800 - 03/01/14 at 13:04:35
 
It is now morning and I will get to the bottom of this today.  I will have to drive to Radio Shack in the next town for the fuses.  I will also try a few other phono amps and focus on getting the bugs worked out of the ZMA first. Agreed that the Ipod is weak but it was all I thought of last night.  I also may swap out some old Advants to take the ML out of the picture.  

I don't have the right spare tubes to try to trouble shoot the ZP3 today.  I will call Steve next week on that.



Thanks for
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FarmBoss
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #801 - 03/01/14 at 13:30:04
 
It looks like the ZP3 phono stage has a ground that needs a plug.  Any idea of type of male connection I need to add to my tone arm grounding wire? All of my other phono amps just have a lug I tighten against the bare grounding wire.
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #802 - 03/01/14 at 15:21:36
 
Hmmm. . .on my ZP3 I simply tightened a bare wire down to the lug, though a small banana would have worked better. . . .

Sorry your tubes don't light up, makes little sense three would and two wouldn't. I'm sure the rectifier must have lit up if any did. .. .
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #803 - 03/01/14 at 16:08:26
 
Farmboss, call ahead to Radio Shack and have them check in the drawer for 5, 6, 7 & 8 amp fuses (you mentioned an hour drive-you have). I live in a major metropolitan area...and it was like going on a snipe hunt, plus finding a smoke shifter and a sky hook to find the 7 & 8 amp fuses....but, Rat Shack came through!

It is nice they still keep them in drawer's at the Shack'.  However, instead of being sold by the handful for 20 cents each they are packaged by 4 for $3.49 at the Shack....and 4.29 at the Depot and 4.99 for 4 at my ACE Hardware.
Oh, I miss the good old days....going with my Grandpa to the Hardware store, "grab a handful of those 5 amp quick blows for me Larry, then will go get some fresh eggs at the Farm"...miss those days and him.  -S
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« Last Edit: 03/01/14 at 16:20:36 by stone_of_tone »  

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FarmBoss
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #804 - 03/01/14 at 16:36:00
 
I ended up getting 6.3 amp fuse.  That was the max they had.  I also got 8 amp but they are 125v so I tried the 6.3 and they work so far.  Now I hooked up my yaqin ms12b as the phono stage.  The yaqin has two out put and i used the .7v out.

The mystery amp and the yaquin sound pretty good but I have both set to maximum volume and I don't nearly have enough power to play them as loud as I want.  Any chance I have the mystery amp set too low.  I have the meters at 60.  Does it get louder as the amp breaks in?
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FarmBoss
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #805 - 03/01/14 at 16:52:00
 
I tested the decibel level with my iphone.  Average is 65.  Hooking up the ipod through the other input in the yaquin is better at about 75.  I do have a high output moving coil dynavecter cartrige that I do not have a step up for.  I always was powerful enought with my mini torrie without the step up.  I will keep changing stuff around/ switch up the input tube on the yaquin.
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Donnie
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #806 - 03/01/14 at 17:15:35
 
FarmBoss, It is all about input voltage. I fought the problem with using a iPod for a source. Once I got a true digital output to my DAC the problem went away. RCA out of a iPod isn't enough.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #807 - 03/01/14 at 17:53:18
 
I believe Steve said the ZMA needs 2v for full output. If you're only feeding it .7v, you are no where near where the ZMA needs to be to drive the volume you're looking for.
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FarmBoss
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #808 - 03/01/14 at 18:57:54
 
Slowly getting there- got the zp3 working.  As I did not have a manual I used the manual on the web to install the tubes.  It looks like the manual was based on a different design than I got so I had the two big tubes in the wrong sockets. No harm done it is hooked up to the mystery amp and does sound better and (a tiny bit) louder.  I don't know what the zp3 output is but I will go look it up.  Still needs a lot more power until I will be happy.  It does sound good though.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #809 - 03/01/14 at 19:22:43
 
....you need to get that line level voltage output at least to the industry standard of 2 volts output, as pretty much stated.

On a different note, I just A-B-A'd my Pangea AC-9SE Power Cord. I know you have one too LR. I have 80 hours on mine so decided to switch it out....and the Pangea will be staying in. Nice tonal balance from top to bottom with tight bass. Relaxed, but not messing with the vibrancy of the music and its staccato.  Deep bass I should add..... .

I will highly recommend for the ZMA. Get one while they are still available at Audio Advisor. I did the comparisons on the fly too...like LR & Palamino did. Those big Caps with stored energy did not skip a beat pretty much.  -Stone
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« Last Edit: 03/01/14 at 19:31:28 by stone_of_tone »  

Sony as Transport
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #810 - 03/01/14 at 19:33:37
 
Glad you dig it Stone. I've heard one, similar build and sound to the PS Audio that I love so much, I prefer the PS Audio quite a bit but they sure cost a lot. (I've bought most of mine nicely used).
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #811 - 03/01/14 at 22:00:34
 
FarmBoss wrote on 03/01/14 at 18:57:54:
Slowly getting there- got the zp3 working.  As I did not have a manual I used the manual on the web to install the tubes.  It looks like the manual was based on a different design than I got so I had the two big tubes in the wrong sockets. No harm done it is hooked up to the mystery amp and does sound better and (a tiny bit) louder.  I don't know what the zp3 output is but I will go look it up.  Still needs a lot more power until I will be happy.  It does sound good though.


So glad you got the ZP3 going! It's a great phono preamp.
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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FarmBoss
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #812 - 03/01/14 at 22:23:59
 
i finally got it so I can get it loud enough.  I ran the Zp3 phono stage to the yaquin preamp then to the mystery amp.  The yaquin will need to go back to my mini torrie so I need a more permanent solution.

I think I could do one of two things to boost the input.  The first one is to buy a step up transformer the other is to get a csp3.  Both would be about the same cost.  The csp3 looks like it could also help if I were to hook up another source.  Not sure which would work best.
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Digger
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #813 - 03/01/14 at 22:31:48
 

    I sure like my CSP3+ if I did have a Mystery amp it would be up front. You would not be disappointed I'm sure. I love mine. Do the CSP3 you'll love it.


Cool
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #814 - 03/01/14 at 22:39:17
 
Wow. Does the Decware step-up transformer cost that much? I was going to suggest that as you wouldn't have to wait months for one to be built, my guess (I could be wrong).

The CSP2, CSP2+ or CSP3 preamps are amazing components. I have a CSP2 and three CSP2+ in my first and second systems and my Dad's system. They are indispensble for me.
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Syd
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #815 - 03/01/14 at 23:45:07
 
I use both. The ZMC is around 1/3 price of the CSP. If your dynavector is the high output version of my one, 20xL, .28mv then it`s 2.8mv. I step mine up x20 (ZMC1) that would equal around 6mv going into the ZP3.  So you might need to double the output of yours, or more. The ZMC2 is for high output carts and if you specify the cart when ordering you`ll get the best match.

CSP, I`ve got the 2+, is a superb tool. Pre in/out trims plus volume control, and lots of scope for future tube rolling.
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Decware: Rachaels x 2 bridged, C. SP2+, ZP3, ZMC1, DSC i/c`s, DHC-1 pw/cbl`s Michell Orbe + SME V + M.Benz LP s , Nakamichi LX5, Lowther acoustas DX2`s, WE 16g sp/cbl`s, Isotek mains sub
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #816 - 03/02/14 at 21:23:29
 
Well, I figure since 2/3rd's of my dance card has been punched this past month...I am ordering a pair of Acoustic Zen Adagio's tomorrow. Lars, livin' large in the Northland!  I will report back once I put some hours on them. -S


My System for ZMA:

Dedicated Listening Room is 9' x 11'

Acoustically treated/Michael Green Room Tunes
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

& Home Brew 20" x 30" open filter panels = 18 of them.
System Tri-configured on floor (no rack) on flat shelves/on full carpeted room/floor underneath-concrete ...Townsend CD Seismic Sync under digital Audio Alchemy components ...Pangea AC-9SE Power Cord to ZMA ...Adcom AC-enhancer 515 ...all four components plugged into it...has sequential on off start & shut down~

Sony DVD Player as Transport
Illuminati D-60 Digital Coax/BNC
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro32 (Set at 20 bit dither & sometimes 22 bit)
i2s Prophecy Cryo Digital (sends jitter reduced music 20 bit dither signal separate from clock signal in which it also sends to DAC)
Audio Alchemy v3.0 DAC (dual ladder DACS-w/remote wand volume/adjustable voltage output/driving directly into ZMA)
Kimber Select 1030 Interconnect RCA
ZEN MYSTERY AMPLIFIER (3lb Brass Weight on each inside Transformer)
Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable
ACOUSTIC ZEN ADAGIO

*PS-ALL components in the Listening Room, including my Decware Torii III/sold, SE84CS & CKC = were purchased new.

Yes, I have owned the Audio Alchemy Digital new, since 1995 & the LS 90's new since 1993. NO Redbook front end under 6K has beat my Audio Alchemy front end (I have had in-quite a few/and recently). The only thing I have found that can....is a 6K Esoteric Player.
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« Last Edit: 03/02/14 at 21:28:24 by stone_of_tone »  

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Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
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Digger
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #817 - 03/02/14 at 21:50:51
 
Stone of Tone,
      Are you by chance able to hear them before purchase? I have a custom pair of 2 ways and comparing them with my 3-way polks and Pioneer HPM 100's I prefer the Polk setup over the 2 ways. I believe you have the mid base setup also they may work out with those running with them. I have the 2 way with 10" Aura subs integrated into the cabinet and my feelings for music they don't work the best for music but HT they are great. It seems even with the sub there is a lack of connection in the bass of the 2 ways to the sub a gap you might say they don't layer together as nicely I would like. Just my thoughts on 2 ways. I know different builders can make a difference but that has been my experiences with 2 way speakers. I know I've read 2 ways can actually sound much better than a good 3 way but so far have not come across a set that I could say that yep there right. Most have smaller woofers and leave a lot to be desired in the bottom end of the music. Integrating a more full bottom has always been a problem! I've read some of the reviews on these they spec out ok but would need to hear them in person to drop the bucks.




Cool
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« Last Edit: 03/02/14 at 22:21:36 by Digger »  
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #818 - 03/02/14 at 23:17:09
 
If you are on the fence when it comes to ordering this Amp/ZMA. I would get on the Build Sheet. I would raise the price if I were Steve/and he will.

So, figure out what you're going to sell?!  Or, grow a pair and stand up to the better-half. My Pair(s) of Speakers...with this Amp are incredible. The Acoustic Zen Adagio's will take it to another level in Treble Extension with Musical Transparency.

Peace, Stone
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Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
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Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #819 - 03/02/14 at 23:28:20
 
Hey Lars, I just might do that but I need to know first if I can have the treble cut circuit added. I need to have that on any Decware amp, it's the best option I could add.

I'm thinking about it, and the new PS Audio DAC. A lot of money, but I might be able to swing it if I come out of tax season unscathed.
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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SteveC
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #820 - 03/02/14 at 23:56:31
 
~36 hour ZMA update.

I listened to a lot of music last night.  The power, authority, and clarity of the music coming out of this thing just gives me perma-grin.  

I did not do any comparison with the torii3... I'll wait for a while until I'm thoroughly accustomed to the ZMA, then i'll put the Torii back in again and see if my first impression is Wow, or hmm, dull.  That will be telling.  (This is how I learned how fast the superzen was compared to the tori... it was when I switch back to the superzen that it blew my socks off).

So, my observations are the same as before.  it doesn't pitch up like the Torii...  There were only a couple cd's where I thought I'd want a treble cut.  Mostly it was just great.

It is still definitely apparent that some cd's sound great, some sound unlistenable.  The ZMA does not compromise.  garbage in, garbage out.  It will put a magnifying glass on your source in an unforgiving way.   if your source/cd is great. It will sound amazingly great.  If it's junk, you will cringe.  The Torii3 definitely treats bad cd's better.  I guess that's the price to play when it comes to this level of accuracy, honesty.  

I mentioned before a difference in how the volume level comes on with the zma and torii3.  Torii seems to get louder faster.  ZMA gets louder later on the volume knob, but it comes on strong and clean.  I think this and the transparency/clarity are what are responsible for my hearing more of the soft details and flaws in the music.  some songs that have very quiet intros before the music really starts... these things are clearly audible on the ZMA.  more so than on the Torii.  these same songs in my car... I can't hear the intro.  sounds like a long pause, then suddenly the music starts.  On the ZMA, I also hear more noise... tape hiss.  flaws in the original recording.  The ZMA is extremely revealing that way.  It will show you the ass hair of a gnat on a flower in a field.  it's amazing.  Good source material is a must.    I cringed on the bad cd's.

what confuses me is why I didn't realized such a big difference at decfest between the torii Mk4 and the ZMA.  I knew it was different, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  Of course it's easier to compare my ZMA to my torii3 on my speakers in my room. (because I'm accustomed it).  At decfest, I was comparing two unfamiliar things.   but, it could also be that the Torii4 (~30% better? (sharper?) than the torii3 according to Steve right?).  is more similar to the ZMA when running kt66's, etc.  maybe the decfest differences really were smaller.   I don't know.

You guys gotta do that torii3 torii4 zma shootout.  

So, the ZMA makes some of my music no fun... but makes some of it amazing beyond anything I've heard yet.  so far, I enjoy the trade off.


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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #821 - 03/03/14 at 00:25:24
 
See, this is what makes me feel I should stick with the Torii. I'm excited by the "liquidity" part of the reports of the ZMA but very worried about the "honesty." A large number of the large number of recordings I have are not good recordings. If the Torii "makes more of a bad cd," that is probably the right amp for me. I notice that Steve's designs get "sharper" and more revealing as the years go by, and those attributes don't bring me closer to "musicality" because I don't listen to audiophile recordings.

Slowly I've been seduced by these reports and the idea and design of the ZMA but if it is a lot less flexble than the Torii and there's no treble cut available for it (and on top of that it can have only one input). . . . I'm better suited with the Torii for my listening world.

And I do love my Toriis. I may love my oldest Torii more than the new one, still. It would be hard to part with either.

I need to step away from this thread for a while. Smiley
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« Last Edit: 03/03/14 at 00:26:45 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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SteveC
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #822 - 03/03/14 at 00:42:39
 
I hear you Lon.

Yeah, I'm discovering all of this as I go and wondering... "do I like this? Or that?"  "Is this more important than that?"  

I forgot to say, Here's my component chain (no preamp).

pc>foobar2000 with wasapi(~bitperfect)>toslink>zdac>decware ics>ZMA>styx>HDTs>ears.

(when schiit finally comes out with their Yggdrasil DAC, I'm going for it.)

Anyway, I don't have anything in here to buffer the crud (handle less than optimal source material).   I haven't tried using a preamp to de-edge bad source, because I also subscribe to KISS, preferring minimal everything.    

But maybe that's the right thing for me downstream to get back the part of my cd collection that I "lose".

 

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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #823 - 03/03/14 at 00:53:24
 
Thanks for that info Steve.

I was long a proponent of the keep it simple syndrome. . . and for the longest time got by without a preamp but I finally needed to add more sources (getting a chance to move to the living room/dining room and to use it for video as well as audio service) and went with a CSP2. . . and now I feel that every source and amp is better with one of CSP preamps in front of it. It is still simple enough and there's so much benefit in the body and dynamics and tonal balance areas.

I've tried a few other preamps since I went with CSP2 and CSP2+s . . . I'll politely say all preamps are not created equal. Smiley
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« Last Edit: 03/03/14 at 00:54:28 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Digger
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #824 - 03/03/14 at 01:00:36
 
      I didn't ask for arrogance while wanting to engage in conversation on this thread! I just asked a question to see if you personally heard the speakers sorry you took it whatever way you did no harm meant in my part just an observation I've had with some 2 way designs. As far as purchasing a ZMA I wouldn't need to sell a thing if I choose to do something on one of these amps nor would I need to grow any nuts to get it done. Further more I'm not really sure that an amp of this caliber would be necessarily what I would need to own to be perfectly happy with my sound. I have some thoughts about it as we are all gathering information. I have similar concerns as Lon's not much of my music is perfectly mixed and recorded and it may not in the end seem like a sound step up if all other things aren't equal in quality. The decision becomes just how far do I want to chase it. I've been around live music for years and mixing and recording and seen some of the best sound come from middle of the road equipment it became technique and synergy in the end.


Cheers!



Cool
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #840 - 03/04/14 at 01:35:59
 
Stone,  I vote for the Bees Wax Caps.  I can't compare since I have had them in all my Decware Gear from the start....CSP3, ZP3, Taboo MK III and Torii MK IV...but Lon has had his CSP2s with and without them and will tell you they're worth the added expense.  I've also run my Amps with and without the CSP3 and with is best in my opinion.  Mark.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #841 - 03/04/14 at 01:48:44
 
Get the Jupiter caps. Not an inexpensive option, but a worthy one.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #842 - 03/04/14 at 01:52:08
 
Stone, another option I got was two stereo outputs rather than one stereo and one mono as is standard on the CSP3.  That way I can have both my Speaker Amp and Headphone Amp hooked up at the same time...ready to go just by turning on the Amp I want to use for my listening session. And if you want to run a sub you can get an adapter.  Mark.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #843 - 03/04/14 at 02:02:17
 
Thanks, Lon & Mark. It was meant to be....I had the late afternoon today...listening to the ZMA....and realizing you know what this needs Larry...a PreAmp....I go to the ZMA Thread...and you guys are talking about this aspect...in detail!  Dave1210....on thru.... .

I am ordering the Pre right now with the Jupiter Caps & the Double Line Level outputs.  Thanks guys, this is what it is all about. This Pre of Steve's...I can see now being so successful...when you have 0 to 6 volts of gain to adjust per channel...out of the Pre...besides the ZMA gain and my up to 3.6 volt gain out of my Audio Alchemy DAC. Of course I have to get another .5 meter of IC...but well worth it.    -S
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« Last Edit: 03/04/14 at 02:34:26 by stone_of_tone »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #844 - 03/04/14 at 02:13:43
 
Stone,
       No offense taken! I felt a bit bad about my response. Didn't mean to catch you wrong. I value all of you guys input on these amps there are so many variables to all of this equipment to reach there potential. I love my CSP3 I feel at this point with my current equipment it is truly the core of my sound. I like Lon, have had issues with the high frequencies in my system and have had to settle for a bit less resolution to tame it down to where I like it. As far as the two way speakers you were looking at I have not had the opportunity to hear for myself but wanted to point out shortfalls that I have experienced with 2 ways. I have to say the best 2 way sound I have experienced was not with home audio gear but with a Mackie PA system I used to own. The bad thing about a power system is your not really looking for imagining and 3d depth like we are all listening for in our home audio systems but sound balance tonal balance and volume is where it is at with PA's. Not worried about sweet spots to listen from in a room. I was running two 15's in the mains with horns and 2 18" EV Eliminator subs and I have to say that has been the only 2 ways I have heard where the low frequencies from the subs integrated to the mains.
      Just wanted to let you know two ways can be difficult at times depending on your taste in sound. I think you would probably really like the CSP3 with the mystery amp it will provide a bit more flexibility in your system with some tube rolling. The Mystery amp I am sure is a bit flexible also but with the CSP3 it should provide a bit more control without the need to EQ. The CSP3 has kept me from adding unnecessary equipment. The simpler the better. You can't beat Decware.

Thanks for your response back Stone! Its all good.


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« Last Edit: 03/04/14 at 22:20:34 by Digger »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #845 - 03/04/14 at 02:30:43
 
Yes, hammer/nail on the head-Digger...I think you're right....the CSP3 will provide more control without the need for EQ.

.....CSP3 ordered!
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« Last Edit: 03/04/14 at 03:15:47 by stone_of_tone »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #846 - 03/04/14 at 03:28:05
 
Funny how we are all on the same page on this.  I never needed a preamp on my Mini Torrie, but in my opinion the mystery amp requires one.  Running the ZP3 directly to the mystery amp really does not give me enough gain.  I also changed tables and tested a moving magnet cartridge and really didn't see any improvement so my conclusion is that my high output moving coil cart was not the problem.  I ordered the preamp this weekend without the Jupiter caps but today I was thinking about how much I have already spent and my goal has been to put together a top notch system and another $275 is just a drop in the bucket at this point.  I added them tonight.  Is there any reason you didn't opt for the 0-12 volt option.  IMHO why limit myself to less control by going with the 0-6 option.  I am sure there is some downside somewhere.
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Reply #847 - 03/04/14 at 04:03:16
 
FB,  this is what Steve says in the write up for the CSP3....

"Output level 0-6 volts or optionally 0-12 volts.
You would only need 0-12 volts with certain SUPER HARD TO DRIVE amplifiers like some SET amps that omit the first gain stage."

I haven't heard of anyone who has the 0 to 12 volt option.  It would probably be best to ask Steve about it. Mark.
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« Last Edit: 03/04/14 at 04:06:45 by mark58 »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #848 - 03/04/14 at 04:44:07
 
The Mini Torii was designed with an additional gain stage to accommodate an iPod.  Specifically, it has enough gain to make an iPod sound like it actually has balls.  This is a must for a desktop amplifier like the mini torii.   It is the first and only Decware amplifier to have two gain stages, and on a 2 volt source it clips at just past half volume.  This is fairly typical and what most people are used to.   That said, the "Decware" way to handle gain is normally to move the input sensitivity of our amplifiers up to and in some cases past the 2 volt mark making it A) Difficult to clip and B) In the higher better sounding range of the gain/volume control of the amplifier.  That means the normal volume control position when no preamp is used will be somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 volume to hit a normal listening level.

What happens when you add a CSP3 is you flush out the full 2 volts from any source or recording.  In fact, you can take a CSP3 and transform a 2 volt input from your CD player into a  whopping 30 volt output and then squeeze it back down at the input of the amplifier via the amp's volume control set to 1/2 vol.  This creates incredible weight, explosive dynamics and impressive tone (tube love) which is what all digital needs to sound right.

So when you compare "how loud" an amp gets relative to the volume control on the amp, you are comparing INPUT SENSITIVITY aka GAIN / Not the amplifiers POWER.  A Mystery amp ranges from 33 watts RMS to 48 watts RMS depending on the speaker impedance and the output taps you're using.  If you're not trying both sets, you could be cheating yourself.  Peak Power on this amp ranges between 68 and 98 watts.  That is with a laboratory grade 2 volt reference source at 442Hz.  The Mystery Amp has by far the least distortion during clipping of any Decware Amplifier, and I have yet to rudely clip it with over 2 volts to see what it can really do... and that's likely because I am surrounded by 92~94 dB efficient speakers at 1w/1m and can reach almost any SPL I want without strain.  For the same performance and sound quality on lower efficiency speakers we have the Zen Torii Mono's.  But more often than not it is more cost effective to get a higher efficiency speaker than to increase the power of your amplifier(s).

Bottom line, the ZDAC or similar caliber DAC's like the TEAC UD501 are the minimally acceptable sources for a ZMA if you going direct with no preamp, and only really enjoyable when using 24 bit recordings.  All other cases will benefit greatly with the CSP3 and frankly, so would the better DAC's in most cases... it just handles digital so well you forget about formats, gear, and everything else...as it should be.

KISS principle - observation:  

If every audio component was like a glass filled with 1 inch of water, and the water was not perfect... it had in fact a slight cloudiness to it, you would never know because there was only 1 inch of water.  In a clear glass cup, you could see right through the bottom of the cup with respectable transparency.  However, add two or three more components of equal quality (cloudiness) and now you have a glass cup filled with the 3 inches or more of water and the cloudiness is now apparent.  

If you were to do the same test as above with transparent water that was not cloudy, (Decware gear) you would find little difference between the cup with 1 inch of water and 3 inches of water.  This is how a CSP3 can actually improve things without the stereotypical tradeoffs common with mass produced audio gear.

Now that we can build a CSP3 with Beeswax caps (incredible transparency) there really should be no fear.

FarmBoss, sorry for the rocky start and thanks for fastening your seatbelt.

Oh, a note about the CSP3 voltage option... the 0-6 volt vs. the 0-12 volt options were designed to reduce noise or hum to undetectable levels in even the most adverse situations.  Shortly after production of the CSP3 we got it down so good that we are now making all of them 0-30 volts like the the original but with zero noise or hum.   I hope to get the web page updated soon by eliminating this option from the shopping cart.  This preamp has never been this good.

-Steve




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« Last Edit: 03/04/14 at 04:46:42 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #849 - 03/04/14 at 05:29:18
 
Did you see that?  How smoothly Steve just sold me a CSP3?  He's so sly Wink.  

it makes perfect sense.  I'm waiting for a new DAC, now I'm saving for a preamp.  The hobby that never ends.... Smiley

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