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Super Zen Select vs Super Zen (Read 922 times)
beowulf
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Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
03/28/14 at 01:59:48
 
SE84CKCS vs SE84CKC

Has anybody got the chance to compare the two against each other and what are your impressions?  Are we talking subtle or WOW!

Thanks!
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busterfree
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #1 - 03/28/14 at 02:39:58
 
IMO, subtle, not WOW. I think it is more about the differences in other attributes besides sound.

Super Zen Select gets you a larger footprint with wood base. Connectors on top plate instead of back. Meters. Optional balanced input. No bias switch.
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beowulf
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #2 - 03/28/14 at 09:05:06
 
Thanks busterfree, with all the talk about the Super Zen in the other forum thread I'm really thinking about one of those 2 models.  I was thinking about the Rachel too, however the consensus seems to be in favor of the Super Zen.

Considering the price between the 2 is substantial and the differences are subtle I'm thinking my wallet would appreciate the CKC Grin ... but of course it doesn't have the sexiness of the wood base and gauges. Undecided
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« Last Edit: 03/28/14 at 09:05:57 by beowulf »  
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busterfree
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #3 - 03/28/14 at 13:09:24
 
I sold my SE84C+ that was upgraded to Super Zen in favor of the Super Zen Select. This says a lot because I never intended to sell the Super Zen considering a bought a base for it and upgraded it to Super Zen status. I took a loss on that sale, but I have no regrets. The Super Zen Select is great.

The Super Zen Select does sound a little better. I like the latest physical design more than what I had, and I value the gauges. I do not have the balanced inputs, but I like the idea that I can add them later if I want.
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beowulf
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #4 - 03/28/14 at 22:20:36
 
Have you ever thought of running a pair as mono blocks?  The 8 watts should be plenty for most efficient speakers.  Albiet it would cost about $3200 if stepped attenuators are selected and that is close to Torii terratory.  

I can't recall seeing a Zen Select listed in the classifieds, but if one comes up and I happen to have the dough I'm going to jump on one!
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busterfree
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #5 - 03/29/14 at 03:09:17
 
I have thought about it, but the Rachael fills that need pretty good.

If I were going to do mono blocks, I would use two Super Zens and save a few bucks. On second thought, I would try to get a Mystery Amp before I get two Super Zens.

I wonder if we will ever see true mono blocks with SV83 tubes again.
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kevtn8
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #6 - 03/29/14 at 08:50:32
 
+1 for the Super Zen Select. You can't put a price on the custom wood bases and meters. Not only do the meters make the amp look so cool but more importantly they are so functional and useful. I could have gotten the Torii Mk4 or even ZMA but I like the smaller compact size and with the right speakers, you'd be amazed at what this little 2 watt wonder can do.
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beowulf
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #7 - 03/29/14 at 10:05:15
 
Yes, I think this is the one for me ... I only need 2 inputs (a DAC and a Turntable) and my speakers are Omega (single driver, no crossover) rated 95dB @ 8 ohms, so I think the Zen Select with option "b" output transformer fits the bill nicely ... this and a ZP3 that is Wink

Has anybody put a CSP3 or previous generation preamp (or any other vendor's preamp) in front of it and was a positive experience?
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« Last Edit: 03/29/14 at 10:37:27 by beowulf »  
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DBC
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #8 - 03/29/14 at 16:31:01
 
beowulf,

I have the Super Zen (not the Select) and am a big fan of this amp. I've had the Super Zen for about 2 years and a Zen Select for about 10 years before that. I've been to Decware twice in the past 5 years and listened to all but their most recent Mystery Amp. Last time I visited Decware I went in convinced I would order the Rachael and came out with the Super Zen on order.

To my ear this is their best sounding Amp provided your speakers are efficient enough. My speakers are 101 db at 1 watt and the combo fills my 1,400 sq/ft open floor plan vaulted ceiling home to loud levels with no problem and no strain. So any speaker 95 db or better should fill a pretty big room using the Super Zen.

I have a CSP2 pre that I have used on and off since 2006. I purchased this when it first came out in an attempt to add more weight and authority to the low end. In my experience it's tough to achieve live levels of low end weight & authority in large spaces with only 2 watts. The CSP2 improved things incrementally but was not a game changer in my system and my room at the time of purchase.

About 2 years ago I went out on a limb and installed the HSU Mid Bass Module and that changed everything. The MBM adds the UMPH in the 50 to 200 hz range that 2 watts simply can not deliver and it integrates seamlessly. Just dial in the Mid Bass level required for you room and taste. Bass guitar plucks become distinct & clear, drums have great leading edge attack and voices have more of their own space. The sound stage just gets a lot more expansive.

More recently I have been using the CSP2 again in combination with the Mid Bass Module. One thing I have noticed is a real sensitivity to the interconnect being used between the source and CSP2. I have collected several interconnect brands over the years and a couple I tried seemed to dull the high end clarity somewhat which was not acceptable. Finally I tried a set of pure silver interconnects I had on hand and these appear to be completely transparent.

After sorting out the interconnects my initial impression was the CSP2 really did not add much other than an extra volume control. I had the Zen volume control set at 50% and used the CSP2 to adjust listening volume. Because my speakers are so efficient most of the time I had the CSP2 volume control at 25% or less for normal listening levels.

Then I tried setting the CSP2 volume control at a fixed 50% and started using the Super Zen volume control to adjust listening levels and this does seem to pull out more detail, especially in the mid & upper frequencies. Just seems to be more space & air between instruments. My plan is to listen like this for a few weeks and at some point remove the CSP2 and see if I miss it. One thing for sure is with the combination of the Mid Bass Module and CSP2 I can Rock Out in a large space when I want to.

So in my room with my system if I compare the CSP2 with no Mid Bass Module vs the Mid Bass Module with No CSP2 the Mid Bass Module wins hands down as the biggest overall improvement and bang for the buck. The Mid Bass Module simply allows you to dial in the right amount of Weight & Authority for any room and or taste. This really enhances the listening experience at low to moderate listening levels as well. Add the CSP2 with the Mid Bass Module and the CSP2 appears to add some nice icing to the cake.
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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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beowulf
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #9 - 03/30/14 at 00:15:21
 
DBC thanks for the detailed observations.  I had a feeling that the Super Zen is probably one of the least to benefit from a preamp in Decware's lineup.  I'm not saying that it wouldn't benefit somewhat, but it's not like the Taboo which seems a higher gain preamp is super beneficial in comparison.  

What are the frequency extensions of the midbass module and where do you personally set things such as the phase, crossover and volume?  I realize these things are very room dependent, but I would appreciate some feedback as where to start.
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« Last Edit: 03/30/14 at 00:21:52 by beowulf »  
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Rivieraranch
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #10 - 03/30/14 at 21:11:38
 
My Super Zen benefits a lot from the ZSTAGE that is attached to it.
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DECWARE CSP2+, TABOO MK III; SE84CKC; HR1; TRAPEZIUM DESKTOP SPEAKERS; TECHNICS SL1200MK5 turntable; Ah! Njoe Tjoeb CD player; MARANTZ 2226B, 2216B receivers; SENNHEISER HD-580 headphones
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Lon
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #11 - 03/30/14 at 22:29:38
 
DBC didn't say that there was NO improvement with the preamp, just that it wasn't extensive and certainly not as beneficial as the modules.

A lot depends on the room size and speaker efficiency. A preamp made a huge difference for me in my small listening room with my Select and my SE34L Monoblocks. When I moved to a bigger room it had a much smaller impact.
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« Last Edit: 03/31/14 at 00:39:46 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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DBC
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #12 - 03/31/14 at 15:08:00
 
Lon is quite correct:

If you simply have Speakers, Super Zen & Source (minimalist system) adding a CSP does add some lower end weight & authority to the overall presentation. In my case I listen to Blues, Blues Rock and Classic Rock in a large room and adding the CSP2 did not entirely solve the issue of many recordings sounding unacceptably thin and edgy.

On the other hand back when I had 120 Solid State Watts per Channel the same recordings sounded thin and edgy then also. So solving the thin & edgy issue based on my experience is not about watts alone but more about where to apply them. For a long time I just thought many of my CD's that came across thin & edgy were simply poor recordings. Since adding and dialing in my Mid Bass Module these same CD's have now become many of my favorites.

My theory on why one or more Subwoofers will not solve this problem: I think the brain actually connects low frequencies from 20 hz all the way up to about 200 hz based on my experience with the Mid Bass Module listening to a wide variety of music.

If you visualize a horizontal line, the left extreme representing 20 hz and the right extreme representing 200 hz. Say in this example your mains drive strong down to 50 hz so you set up a sub to handle the 20 to 50 hz range and raise the volume level in this range say +6 db. At some point the brain senses the abrupt change in level around the 50 hz point and says no good.

In my case I added the Mid Bass Module raising the volume level say +6 db in the 50 to 200 hz range "Sweet". Then when I introduce the sub at +6 db the entire range (20 to 200 hz) is at the same level "Sweeter". At some point if you continue raising the volume level it just becomes obvious there is too much Bass and you just back it off a bit. So the Mid Bass Module is adjustable for any room and or taste.

Most music just does not have a lot going on below 50 hz. However once you hear the Mid Mass Module in action you will have a whole new appreciation for what level of detail is revealed in the 50 to 200 hz region. So as I've stated in other threads here if I could only have one (Sub or MBM) hands down it would be the MBM first. The MBM adds 85% of the Magic and the Sub the last 15%.

Unfortunately when most of us hear the word "BASS" it immediately brings back memories of a friends system with poorly integrated Sub set a a volume that shook the windows and just sounded awful. The Mid Bass Module does none of this. This excerpt from one of the few professional reviews online states things better than I can:

Quote:
"While this combination is relatively new to my reference system, it has been transformative. The combination of isolating and carefully presenting mid-bass frequencies (50-150Hz) through the mid-bass modules, and the superb performance of the VTF-3-Mark III true sub, has re-drawn my system in much larger and more substantial frame. The user ability to tailor these frequencies for room and source material adds a new dimension to the enjoyment of music, most especially that which may have come in a bit thin and threadbare. I don't care what the cognoscenti say about subs and audio, the slightly dry nature of the Hsu units, coupled with their flexibility and musicality add more to the experience of listening to music than you can possibly imagine without hearing them for yourself"


As Lon pointed out I was comparing the Positive Effect of a CSP2 relative to the Positive Effect of the Mid Bass Module in my system in a relatively large room. Comparing the two the Mid Bass Module has a much bigger positive impact. A welcome effect is a very full bodied musical presentation at low to moderate listening levels as well. With efficient speakers and a Mid Bass Module the Super Zen is no longer limited to near field listening in a small room.

As stated earlier in this thread I'm in the process of re-evaluating the effect of the CSP2 in my system with the Mid Bass Module. My impressions so far over the past few days is that there are subtle but worthwhile improvements in the mid to upper frequencies. The test will be when I remove the CSP2 in a week or so to see if I miss it ???
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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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DBC
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #13 - 03/31/14 at 16:20:43
 
Quote:
beowulf wrote: What are the frequency extensions of the midbass module and where do you personally set things such as the phase, crossover and volume?  I realize these things are very room dependent, but I would appreciate some feedback as where to start.


Well if you read the HSU Mid Bass Module user manual you will see that my set-up disregards virtually all the HSU recommendations. Reason being is HSU recommendations are all geared to optimizing Home Theater use. My Set-UP recommendations are geared to optimizing Music Listening. That being said I still use my system for 2-channel HT and it sounds great.

My MBM is placed along the front wall between my front speakers (it does not have to be exactly between the mains). In this location there will be no perceived localization. The output of the MBM will blend seamlessly with the Left & Right main speakers. This location also seems to more firmly anchor the soundstage and widen the listening sweet spot.

Connections are via speaker level. I use Cat-5 network cable from the Zen speaker level output terminals (left & Right) to the speaker input terminals on the MBM. Inexpensive Cat-5 cable from Lowe's is all you need, just use common sense to route around power cords as much as possible.

The MBM has a crossover By-Pass switch, set this switch to "IN" so that the MBM internal crossover is active. The MBM crossover knob is adjustable from 50-150 hz. Set the crossover to 150 hz. Your speakers and MBM will both be outputting music in the 50-150 hz range.

Since the MBM and main speakers are all placed along the front wall sound from all three should arrive at the listening position at approximately the same time. So set the MBM Phase Switch to 0. Set the MBM volume knob to it's minimum position and power up the system and MBM.

Increase the MBM volume knob to 50%. Listen for any noticeable hum. In my case I had a ground loop and some low level 60 hz hum. For some reason HSU uses a 2-prong power cord so the MBM amp is not technically grounded to your homes power outlet earth ground. I use an audio surge protector and it's metal chassis is grounded to earth ground. To eliminate my ground loop I simply attached a Radio Shack test lead with alligator clips on each end between the MBM amp chassis and the surge protector chassis.

As I found out, even a slight hum from a ground loop will degrade MBM performance. Once you start playing music and turn up the volume the MBM amplifies the hum and mucks up the Bass. So I recommend everyone at least try grounding the MBM amp chassis to earth ground as described above to be sure.

Play a selection of familiar music and simply adjust the MBM volume up & down to suite your room and taste.
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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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beowulf
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Re: Super Zen Select vs Super Zen
Reply #14 - 04/02/14 at 03:50:50
 
DBC, thanks for the details.  I've learned some great tips for sub integration and placement!  I have an Audioengine s8 subwoofer ... I doubt it's in the same league as the Hsu, but it seems decent enough for the price I paid of $250.  I'm going to set it up as close to possible in the same fashion as you described. Cool
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