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The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 155279 times)
Archie
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #900 - 03/13/14 at 17:41:42
 
For those of you running the ZMA, how hot do your transformers get?  My inner transformers get hot enough that I can't keep my hand on them for more than a couple of seconds and after several hours the top plate gets very warm.  My ZP3 and CSP3 run relatively cool.  Some of the ZMA heat may just be heat soak from the KT-66s which run super hot.

Thanks for any input.  Also, you guys must have incredible hearing.  I find my ZMA phenomenal right out of the box!  One thing though.  At very high volume I had really bad feedback due to induced vibration of the ZMA from the (very solid) platform that it sat on.  I built a separate isolation platform using springs and the feedback was eliminated.  I built similar platforms for under my ZP3 and CSP3 and all induced vibration is eliminated from the components.  (Doesn't isolate the airborne vibrations -- of course.)  I pick springs with natural frequencies well below the audible range, say 10 Hz.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #901 - 03/13/14 at 18:11:26
 

Maybe your more heat sensitive than I am, but my power transformers don't get too hot. Really warm, but not too hot to touch. I measured it with an IR (touch free) thermometer, but I don't have my notes in front of me. I can report back later with the exact temps. Some of that heat is probably from the KT-66 as you said.

My old Zen amp on the other hand, I couldn't keep my hand on for more than a second and I'd flinch away. That was one really hot amp!

I've also noticed (and measured) that with the PS Audio P10 Power Plant, my power transformer temps dropped about 4-5 degrees, and no longer buzz with DC or other crap on the power line. Which is possibly a source for added heat by the way.
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Archie
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #902 - 03/14/14 at 00:37:05
 
LR:  The inner transformers definitely get hot.  I'm running off of a Hospital grade Triplite. I don't notice any transformer buzz on the ZMA but the ZP3 and CSPS have audible buzz.  Steve seems to have fixed any noise issues.  With everything turned full up I can barely hear anything with my ear against the speaker.  I have the red caps like you.  Maybe the difference is the CSP3 or that I've been playing LOUD a lot?  It all sounds so good I just can't help myself.  :)
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #903 - 03/14/14 at 17:59:38
 
Well, you're going to have an ever so slight hum...lets call it from the swooshing of the Tubes/Transformers. The BUZZ LR and I had, was from the Earth Ground and Audio Ground being connected. Steve sent me the instructions to do the MOD myself. It was very easy, just had to clip off a 14 gauge wire in two spots....  .75 inches of.... . The ZMA has draining resistors....so no worries when I went in there....but I was still careful....you show those CAPS...the Big Reds some Respect! It was also cool to admire the Build Quality of Steve's & Company.

Anyway, I digress, ENJOY YOUR ZMA! I love this Amp and can't wait to get my CSP3....I am watching it climb up the Build Sheet!   -Stone
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« Last Edit: 03/14/14 at 18:02:47 by stone_of_tone »  

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Archie
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #904 - 03/14/14 at 18:39:30
 
Steve told me that the transformers should NOT be running as hot as mine seem to be.  He said you should be able to touch them for a minimum of 10 seconds.  He told me to set my bias at 50ma and let him know how things are.  So far, at 50ma, the transformers are running warm to the touch.  We shall see what they are in a couple of hours.

Stone -- With my CSP3 and 91 db Monitor Audio speakers I can get the volume up well beyond what I consider too loud.  I haven't tried the ZMA without the CSP3 so I don't know how loud it would get or if I'd notice a change in sound.  When I ordered I got the capacitor upgrades on my ZP3, CSP3 and ZMA but I did not get the stepped pots.  My motivation for the CSP3 was the flexibility of having two outputs to the ZMA but there are other obvious benefits!  Steve gave me an input/output knob setup that is different from the description on the CSP3 product page.  He suggested having the ZMA volume full up and the input knobs, which are closest to the CSP3 volume knob, full up and then to set the other knobs (output level) to normal listening level with the CSP3 volume set at the halfway point.  Of course for headphone listening, the setup would be different.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #905 - 03/14/14 at 19:21:35
 
Hi Archie, I have my output tubes at 60ma and I am able to keep my hands on the inner tranny's. They are warm to hot and run a little cooler than my SE84CS Tranny' that has been in service for 13 years come May. I am sure you will get yours worked out with Steve.

I run 90-91db Speakers too. I love the added SPL I can now get with the ZMA. However, I just recently had the SE84CS back in....I love the lit from within Pentodes run in Triode musicality...and would never sell my CS! I am so glad I purchased the ZMA! It comes so close to my CS & CKC it is spooky....but with the Power added headroom when called upon.

So, why do I want a CSP3? I want the ZMA to be all it can be with what Steve exactly described in his #848 reply. Some, but very few recordings can be a little dry with the ZMA too....as compared to the whet/wet sexy hot humid....that I can get from my SE84CS. Plus, quite frankly, when I want to pound the piss out of the ZMA with Dynamics & the Organics I'm getting with through my Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable....I NEED the CSP3 to do so.  8-)

Okay, I am confused when you say "Steve gave me an input/output knob that is different.....". I do plan on having the ZMA volume full up/treating it as a straight power amp with the CSP3 running into it. I will have the volume 1/2 up on the CSP3....my DAC turned up full/for best resolution....and then from 0 volts on each left  & right channel (the ones labeled C in the CSP3 product info)....I will slowly turn those up for volume....then use the Master volume knob on the P3 to fine tune.

I guess I am confused with the: "He suggested having the ZMA volume full up and the input knobs, which are closest to the CSP3 volume knob, full up and then to set the other knobs (output level) to normal listening level with the CSP3 volume set at the halfway point".

Is this involving the B knobs illustrated in the product info/headphone knobs? Or your different output knob setup you mentioned?  
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« Last Edit: 03/14/14 at 19:57:07 by stone_of_tone »  

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jsm71
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #906 - 03/15/14 at 15:20:17
 
I picked up my ZMA Thursday from Steve and had it in the system in time to put about three hours on it that night.  Initial impressions:

1.  Heavier for sure than the Torii.  Ugh!

2.  Love the looks, including those red caps.

3.  Initial bias was indeed easy.  I haven't had to fiddle too much since.

4.  I actually thought running hours were put on this unit it sounded so good out of the box.  Steve says, "no, that's the way the amp sounds".

5.  Based on everyone's feedback on the improvements in sound to come, I'm pretty excited.  There is just a bit of edge to the sound that needs to be shaved off.  I know this will come with time.

6.  Love the power switch in the front.  No more on my knees to turn on and off.  Thank you Steve for that change.

7.  I haven't pushed volume yet but there is no doubt this amp has the goods.  Dynamics clearly have more attack, like a rim shot getting more force than before.

8.  Bass.  Ah, bass.  Yes, its there in spades and oh so tight.  I played some Count Basie where the stand up bass with the torii was in the background.  The bassist with the ZMA has taken a few steps forward and again, much more tight.

9.  I'm not a fan of the placement of the bias knobs behind the regulators.  I have short fingers and this was a PITA.  I may have to keep some longer needle nose pliers handy.  I got it ok but this is my only ergonomic issue.

10.  Quiet as a church mouse.  I could hear the faint hum from the transformers on my Torii.  Nothing with the ZMA.  I hope it stays this way as it breaks in.

So far I'm thrilled with this.  A great amp and still a relative bargain.  My JansZens are happy to have a new mate.  This combo is great.  I know David has raised his prices some but these are superb speakers that really ignite when fed a quality signal.  He will be advertising a new stand mount model soon using the same technology but with less size, fewer drivers, and lower cost of course.  I'm so happy I got mine before the good reviews hit and price increases became inevitable.  I kind of feel the same about the ZMA.  Steve can raise the price any time now that I have mine. Grin

Edit:  I do not have the ZMA's gain at full tilt.  If I did, my preamp's volume control would be too sensitive and not have much swing.  I like to get into the best sounding range of the preamp with is between 1/3 and 2/3 of its full gain.  This requires that I keep the ZMA gain lower.  Just a thought for those looking to get a preamp with their ZMA.

Scott
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« Last Edit: 03/15/14 at 15:30:04 by jsm71 »  
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Archie
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #907 - 03/15/14 at 18:52:42
 
Stone -- The CSP3 I have is stock so if you refer to the product page I think what I wrote will make sense.  The "B" knobs calibrate the volume knob for headphone use but make a difference to the overall volume when using the CSP3 to drive the amp.  With them full up you get the maximum out of the CSP3 with respect to where knobs "C" are set (0 to 30 volts).  I guess we need to have two setting positions on the "B" knobs depending whether we are using the headphones or driving an amp.  I generally adjust the loudness by tweaking the "C" knobs once I set things for a "normal listening level".

With my bias set at 50 mA (per Steve's recommendation given my high transformer heat at 60 mA) I am measuring inner transformer heat at about 110 to 115 degs F after about 3 hours.  Still hot but not burning hot.

I don't have the language to describe what I hear with the CSP3 driving the ZMA but I like it!  I put my system together based solely on the unbridled enthusiasm of Decware users and Steve's recommendations and philosophy towards quality and sound.  I'm not ashamed to stand on other's shoulders and save myself a lot of running in circles!  :)
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #908 - 03/15/14 at 20:25:47
 
Since I don't have the CSP3 yet...or any experience with it...I thought this is what you meant Archie. Thanks for the clarifications. Enjoy!

Cool Scott, you're up and running! Enjoy!
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tom collins
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #909 - 03/15/14 at 21:01:34
 
scott:  bring that basie with you tomorrow please.

tom
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #910 - 03/15/14 at 21:26:44
 
Quote:
With my bias set at 50 mA (per Steve's recommendation given my high transformer heat at 60 mA) I am measuring inner transformer heat at about 110 to 115 degs F after about 3 hours.  Still hot but not burning hot.


Thanks for reminding me about this. My typical temps are right in the 110 to 115 range as well. I've had the amp on since yesterday at about 6pm. I'm cranking the ZMA with some Keith Jarrett right now (Oppo at 100% ZMA at 90% or so), dialed in at 60ma with the gauges sightly bouncing, I'm at 122.0F on the right power transformer, and 123.2 on the left power transformer. My IR thermometer is a decent $45 one, so I'm sure it's accurate, assuming no operator error. I can put my hand on the power transformers for 10 seconds before it's uncomfortable.

Piano is the best I've ever heard on any amp.

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SteveC
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #911 - 03/15/14 at 22:04:23
 
ZMA 200 hour update

I've been burning in and listening to the ZMA without toying with the Torii3 for a while.   the ZMA has smoothed out.  it's less edgy, less critical than before.  it is an absolute joy to listen to.  

so, I just did another torii3 to ZMA side by side comparison with a mono signal again.  All the things I said before still hold true.  tight bass, power, and accuracy are mastered by the ZMA.  And again for the torii3, that, by elimination, "loose bass?", lushness, boominess?  well, whatever it is, it sounds really good too.  It's just different.  The torii3 just sounds "delicious".  But the ZMA sounds "correct", "right", by comparion.  Again, I didn't realize that quality about the torii3 until I got the ZMA.      I still love the adjustability of the torii3 to suit the mood and song.

I give up, they are both great amps.  their characteristics won't change, and I think I've reached my limit of understanding, perception, and vocabulary to tease apart differences.

a couple experiments I'll do next... try the kt66's in the torii3.  (are kt66/el34 swappable both directions?)  perhaps the sonic difference is largely the tubes?  or is it the zma power supply?  don't know.  

Also, I have a bottlehead OTL headphone amp.  I'm going to use it as a preamp of sorts to play with riding the gain before I order a csp3.  with other hobby expenses, I have to let my wallet recharge for a while.

in summary, my perception is the same as last time, but the ZMA has smoothed out noticeably, taming down the highs and getting richer lows.  It's wearing into a damn near perfect amp.  zero complaints.


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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #912 - 03/15/14 at 22:10:22
 
Steve, thanks for these further comparisons.

I'm using the KT-66 in the Torii Mk III for the first time this week. There IS a difference, but I'm sure the power supply differences between the two amps are making a large contribution to the differing characters of the amp. Would be very interested to hear what you hear though.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #913 - 03/15/14 at 22:19:04
 
Lon, yeah I saw your post about that, that's what gave me the idea to switch some tubes around.

during the comparison, since I only use one channel at a time, I can compare the kt66's in torii3 and zma at the same time.  

i'll report back later.
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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #914 - 03/15/14 at 22:35:39
 
Hey that's cool!

I was surprised that the KT-66 sound softer to me than the 6CA7 I was using. I'll probably put the 6CA7 back in soon for a comparison and because I'm missing a bit of something that I think is the result of the Hazen Grid not being in play.
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