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Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments? (Read 134366 times)
deucekazoo
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #450 - 06/19/18 at 22:36:45
 
bandrade,
I had DC on my lines a while back also. I have a SS amp running my subs and it was buzzing like crazy. I tracked it down to a bad fan speed controller. You might want to look at all the stuff you have plugged in. I had a hard time finding one also but found this one. https://emotiva.com/collections/accessories/products/cmx-2
This is the one I got and it worked perfectly. Seems they are sold out but should be back in stock soon.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #451 - 06/19/18 at 23:08:48
 
I don't know why I just thought of this, but whatever happened to the Decware vibration isolation "stand" that was shown at the last "fest?
It was pretty and Steve said that it was the only one that really worked properly.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #452 - 06/20/18 at 01:07:30
 
Steve mentioned this month I think that these are being developed for each model.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #453 - 06/20/18 at 02:47:47
 

I am in the process of installing the Nichicon 4700uf 450V caps in the ZMA since they are here and I am still waiting for the Mundorfs.  Haven't listened to them yet, getting ready to now, but something amazing did happen.

My old trusty 200 ohm 10 watt wire wound resistor that I use to discharge caps took on a new life today.  Usually if you discharge a cap by accident or with too small a resistor relative to the size of the cap, you get a sharp if not violent SNAP when the resistor leads contact it and then the charge drains down through the resistor and you feel a little heat.

This is basically how it has always been with the 2200 uf 500V caps in the ZMA and even the 2000 uf red Mallory caps used in the first 10.

Today I brought the new Nichicon caps up to speed on a variable AC transformer to form the caps a little bit before tubing up the amp and putting it into use.  After a couple hours I decided to do some other work on the amp and needed the caps to be discharged.  I didn't want to wait for the bleeder resistors at 1 volt per second to drain the 450 volts from the caps so I got the trusty 200 ohm resistor and started to discharge the caps and instead of a bright white SNAP as the lead makes contact, there was controlled plasma arc which stayed there exactly like a welder.  I would have watched it for the duration but the resistor instantly got too hot to hold.

I checked the cap and had only drained less than 100 volts off it, so it ended up taking about 5 more times to get the cap fully drained and each and every time it stuck a highly controlled plasma arc until the resistor got too hot to hold.

I have never seen this happen before, but it's pretty damn impressive demonstration of how different the this cap is from stock.  Can't wait to see if the Mundorf does this.  I'll probably have to make a video of this.

I know I wouldn't want to go any bigger than this, because I'll be honest with you, as a man who sticks his fingers into high voltage on a monthly basis... the stock ZMA caps might kill you, but these Nichicons will kill you.  It's just too much energy.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #454 - 06/20/18 at 02:57:25
 

Isolation platforms - Yes, I have been enjoying the prototypes for both the large and the small amps since last year.  It takes a lot of time to know if what you have developed is really as good as you think it is.  Sure it can all be measured with lab grade piezoelectric sensors but how does it make the stuff sound... how easy is is to use properly... how long can you use it before you wish it was just a little different so it would...  

We're at that point now, where I've used them for almost a year under a variety of conditions and do not want to change anything so I'll be submitting drawings to Bob Ziegler soon with the specs for the types of wood, and general shapes so we can hopefully get them on the site sometime this winter.

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #455 - 06/20/18 at 03:45:15
 

So now while my mind is on ZMA caps, I have to say these Nichicons look menacing as hell installed in the amp. You'll see when I snap some pictures. But as you know they weigh double what the stock caps weigh and when you tap on them it's like a solid concrete block, just completely dead. The stock caps have a resonance.  I think this mechanical resonance or lack thereof is absolutely crucial.

I thought the red Mallory caps from the surplus Nuclear Power Plant was impressive, and it is but this is taking it a giant step farther, rated at 85C instead of 65C and with over twice the capacitance it starting making me wonder how the two caps would have compared on the fateful night a few years ago when we blew one up!

Yes, believe it or not we actually blew up one of those giant red caps in a ZMA during testing! No it wasn't intentional, but it was a testament to how TUFF these red caps were and why you would want one in a nuclear power plant.

What happened was somehow a cap rated at 350V instead of 500V was mixed into the inventory of caps and other than the markings, looked identical. This cap got installed in a Mystery Amp on a Thursday and went into the test rack at the end of the bench in the build room where it played 24/7 on the radio until late Sunday night...

I remember it well, about 8:30 P.M.  I'm alone in the shop at my desk upstairs working on my computer when suddenly I felt the air pressure in the building suddenly change with a pfoomph sound followed by an eery silence that seemed to last forever while I tried to figure out in my mind what in the possible hell could that have been????  Then a loud crash... something with a lot of weight just crashed... not only was it loud but you could feel that too.  While time slowed down in reality it was only 2 seconds before the loud crash.

Now I realize that if someone didn't just drive a car into the building one of those damn UFO's have just scraped the roof off, either way I now have to get up from the desk and go investigate.

I ran into the build room (funny how I knew to run in there) with fire extinguisher in hand and whipped open the door to see what looked like a volcano had erupted and filled the room with ash.  There was so much smoke I couldn't see, so I opened the door and put on a fan.

I then saw that the Mystery amp that was on the end of the test bench was no longer in it's wood base!  One of the caps exploded and lifted this 40 pound amplifier out of the wood base and at least 30 inches up in the air (the 2 seconds) and then dropped it back down about 6 inches off to the left.

If you ever want to completely destroy a piece of property, this is the way to go.

Can you imagine this cap ran at 100 volts higher than it was rated for nearly 4 days before it melted-down and exploded. Then the energy it takes to throw a ZMA three feet into the air...  and some people probably think when they read the web page on the ZMA that the lightning bolt illustration was just hyperbole...  I wish a lightning bolt would have came out of it, because what did come out of it was a million times worse.

I found myself thinking about this while installing these Nichicons that just created a plasma welder out of my bleed-down resistor, and now completely understand I wouldn't have heard a "pfoomph" had a Nichicon been in there and rated at the same 350 volts, instead I would have head an explosion that would have probably made me deaf and God only knows how high the amp would have been tossed, I can see it getting embedded into the roof and being removed with a prybar...

Makes one realize how much trouble a person has to go to to get 40 watts to sound as good as 2... and how much easier it would be for all of us if people would just own high efficiency speakers.

Steve


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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #456 - 06/20/18 at 19:08:50
 
Been away for a few days, my son graduated from SU on Sunday!

Love visiting northern California. Had to have my muscles at Hog Island Oyster Co./San Francisco, in the Ferry Building! Hanging in town/Palo Alto & Mountain View...fun too.
But, good to be home in Mpls/St. Paul.

Great STUFF....over the last few days: ZMA Enhancment talk w/Steve, bandrade & Jeff! Plus, an Decware Power Conditioner, ah YEAH?!! + the Isolation Platforms....good to be caught up here..... .

Wow! The Plasma ARC. Lars here, will not be going under the hood/and has not. What I don't know will kill me.
YES! Picks of the Plasma Arc and the menacing Nichicons. Please.

Steve said:
"Makes one realize how much trouble a person has to go to to get 40 watts to sound as good as 2... and how much easier it would be for all of us if people would just own high efficiency speakers."

I remember when you blew up the Red Mallory! These Nichicons, wow!
Much respect to you Steve. ...designing for us 87 to 91db @ 1 watt/1 meter Speaker guys!
(Single cap, of course, in each Speaker. X-over's gutted).
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #457 - 06/20/18 at 19:24:32
 
Was just there last week Stone.  Always stop in when I am in SF.

Love the cap talk.  Educational.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #458 - 06/20/18 at 19:28:33
 
Love SF Pal & HIO.

Look forward to sending my ZMA to Steve if I can't squeeze out the road trip for delivery of... .
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #459 - 06/21/18 at 04:56:07
 
Wow! What a Bitchin' story [Cheech & Chong taught me to say that] about the capacitor explosion.  
I am glad you do such an extensive burn in before selling your products.  
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #460 - 06/23/18 at 06:13:00
 

UPDATE:  ZMA Anniversary Mods...

I have been listening to the amp for a few days now with the Nichicon caps (still waiting for the Mundorfs) and the effect was so drastic it simply isn't the same amplifier...  at least that's the overwhelming sensation I've been having.  I believe the stock amp is "liquid honesty", and honestly all week as this thing breaks in it has been a little over the top, somewhat pressing, somewhat invasive liquid honesty.  The best way I can describe it is that the sound is so real it feels like real people are in your private space, literally.  Suddenly the dynamic of your listening experience changes.

Don't worry, a lot of this most people would piss their pants the first time they heard it... it's that compelling.  Problem is the ease went away and it became the recording, not your stereo.  So it is a win, but also like coming home to a different wife...  so how do we get our loved one back... with this super deep look into the recordings...

Change to the 4 ohm tap, makes a big change. Before the mod, the 4 ohm tap on these same DNA2 speakers was never as good... that tells you something right there.

Then I decided to treat myself to a master tape copy of Supertramp and coming directly off the playback head into the ZP3 (with tape option) and then into the ZTPRE turned all the way up to compensate for the low output from the tape head, then into the listening room on a balanced line into the ZBIT also turned all the way up into the ZMA and suddenly we were getting somewhere.  The sound was at that level beyond a good LP, because the dynamic range has not been compressed for LP.  

Now I'm getting excited, for the first time since the mod, things are starting to break-in and I begging to love my amplifier again.  Then I am left with the realization that the recording is coming off a bit dry and a touch flat compared to the fantasy I have in my mind of what it could sound like...

I knew right away... if I put a ZROCK2 in the chain I might just see God.  Well, with that incentive the little magic box was connected between the ZBIT and the amplifier and as conformation that the tape was a bit dry, the ZROCK2 had to be turned up a 1/4 turn higher than normal but then holly crap!!!

Yes, it for the first time made me forget about the UFO25 which up until this moment had rewired my brain so bad nothing else I could stand to listen to, even the stock ZMA could no longer get my attention.  Now, I'm having an experience that I would find hard to believe could be reproduced on the 2 watt amplifier.  It feels so completely live.  Majestic SLAMB comes to mind... Bottomless power and bottomless headroom come to mind,  with the signal feeding the amplifier about as good as God will allow, the sound coming out of these speakers is insane.

This is very encouraging since a few hours ago I didn't know if I was ever going to like the ZMA mods.  I listened to this tape on the ZMA when I first got it so I have a reference.  i was frankly a somewhat disappointing sounding tape.  Now with the correct gain structure and the bionic upgrades to the amplifier, it's the best sounding  - well it's frustrating when there aren't words.  GOD BLESS THE ZROCK2.  Before I hooked it up I would have sold the $250 tape for $75 because that's all I heard out of it. Now you couldn't pry it out of my cold dead hands.  

I realize there are multiple points here, but the conclusion is that the ZMA mods are probably going to be legendary when it's all over.  Trust me.  And EVERYONE needs a ZROCK2.  You just do.

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #461 - 06/23/18 at 17:28:40
 
Quote:
I realize there are multiple points here, but the conclusion is that the ZMA mods are probably going to be legendary when it's all over.  Trust me.  And EVERYONE needs a ZROCK2.  You just do.


This is great news and I 100% concur about the ZROCK2!  Best addition by far.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #462 - 06/23/18 at 17:46:17
 
Why I need to visit and dial in the input & output of the ZDSD with the ZROCK2.
Plus, if "the ease went away", most definitely need to visit.

I will be the first to report what worked and didn't for my ears.
Gladly come home and sell a thing or two on Audiogon, if need be. Will see and hear?

I can't bring my treated Listening space/Room. However, we can dial in nine tenths of the law in Steve's great treated space. Some Listening, just outside nearfield, etc... . (Read: I have a small room treated to sound like a big space. I could be in my big space downstairs/with high efficency speaker's...Stone no like. I'm in a small room by design.....).




Road trip to the mother ship!

...by appointment.
(When Steve has the enhancement done to his satisfaction/ZMA).

Audition:

UFO25th     Single
UFO25th     Strapped Pair
UFO3/25th  Mono's
ZMA           Enhanced
CSP3/25th
DNA2's!




Pack and carry:

(Modified) Acoustic Zen Adagio's
The only heavy items at 78lbs. each...but, still no bother to carry really and they fit perfectly in the back seat, with grills face to face/wrapped in a blanket.....Spikes on off with ease

ZMA (in Pelican case~leaving Amp with Steve if I'm doing the enhancement/ship back)
Kimber KS6063 Speaker Cable
Kimber KS1030 IC
My additional KS1030 IC (for CSP3/25th audition)
Sony transport
Illuminati D-60
Shunyata digital p-cord for his ZDSD on tap
XLO p-cord I use to ZMA
My favorite full tube compliment(s)

...use Steve's power conditioner (when done).....so, I won't bring my P3
...use my simple isolation devices, first...
...then Steve's platforms....

Might be a lot to cover in two 8 hour Listening sessions (one night hotel stay)?! I'm up for the task and a lot can be learned....and decided.
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Stefan
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #463 - 06/23/18 at 18:01:06
 
Hi Steve,
any chance of making the ZROCKs filter an option on the CSP3? Would be nice to have it all in one package!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #464 - 06/23/18 at 18:09:32
 
I'm reminded, to reiterate what Steve mentioned "the ease went away", and what that entails/he describes... .
Do I want to change my ZMA when I've enjoyed its beauty and power for 4 years and five months and counting. Careful what you wish for..... .

Further point being: Maybe I'm coming home to sell things and I just purchased (on order to be shipped to me) the UFO25th & DNA2's. I have no problem with that...or, maybe other Gear variations of..... .

I continue to be open minded about taking a 180 to a UFO25th with DNA2's. I have owned an SE84CS for 13 years and have experience owned: ZU Speakers, Tekton & Decware Monoliths. However, I'm so spoiled by the ZMA thru the best cabling and my modified Adagio's....I have the live sound...direct from ZDSD.

Or, I could see myself with an CSP3/25th on order to drive my ZMA, after the visit..... .

A road trip to the mothership is the only way!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #465 - 06/25/18 at 22:20:21
 
Steve,
I am following your ZMA 25th anniversary mods with interest and am sure to learn from you as you journey along. My own view is that the amp is well designed in and by itself. A parts upgrade might be all that is required to make it even more liquid worthy of the title of 25th anniversary ZMA.
Can't wait for your thoughts on MUNDORF MLYTIC's once they arrive at your workshop and how they compare to the 4700 uF Nichicon caps and the original red Mallory’s.
As for me I can reiterate that my ZMA since the Mundorf mod has been worth it. The step jump in performance bought a smile knowing that the effort, time and price was not in vein.  It could be that my experience was more profound because my speakers, PSB T3’s, @ 90 dB efficiency benefited from the improved charge/discharge speed of the Mlytics. The T3s comparatively heavier mass drivers (5 drivers per speaker) I would imagine draw down deeper on the power supply and the faster charge/discharge rates of the Mundorf Mlytics helps in maintaining the required circuit voltage while more readily supplying downstream circuit and equipment. Higher ESR/ESL capacitors would get bogged down under the same high demand periods . I would think if one has high efficiency speakers this mod while still an improvement may not be as significant.
Thanks
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #466 - 07/07/18 at 06:05:13
 

I have concluded the following regarding the main filter caps in the ZMA, and that is that the Nichicon is the best fit with the mods I'm doing to the amplifier.  Keep in mind that the large cap doesn't really need to be fast, as it is a ripple soak.  The speed comes from the paralleled 47+47 uf / 500v bypass caps.  By replacing these caps with Mundorf, indeed all the above were speeded up and that would indeed have improved the amplifier.  I am however, bypassing the 47uf caps with a series of beeswax caps which is where I want the speed to come from because these are film caps that match the coupling caps.  For that reason I found the Mundorf too fast for my application and about half the current of the Nichicon.  Current is like torque, and regardless of horsepower, you can never have too much torque.  

So the final analysis is that the original red caps had a nice weight about them and were a bit slower than the black production caps we build the amp with now.  The black production caps gave the amp a touch dryer and more agile signature... an acceptable trade-off.  The Nichicon's I am experimenting with now have noticeably more weight than the red caps and more speed than the black caps.  The Mundorf's were more clinical and less compatible with my bypass scheme and other mods which you have to remember is the context for this analysis.

I am also happy to report that for the first time since starting this project, I am thrilled with what I am hearing from the ZMA!  Today I had another "urge" if you will, that came from the realization that everything I've done so far has increased the resolution/speed of the amplifier but it was only making it more apparent that it wasn't the SE84UFO25 which was frankly quite bothersome.  I figured the local feedback in the output stage that naturally results from ultra-linear operation is the obstacle that I can't get past.  I then thought why not reduce it, eliminate any parasitic osculations that might be manifesting as a result of all this speed, and drop the screen grid voltage a touch to relax the amplifier a bit.  

The solution is a 500 ohm non-inductive wire wound 6.5W DALE resistor soldered in series with the ultra-linear tap of each output tube.  It's the magic bullet that made EVERYTHING come together.  Like the conductor of an orchestra it told everyone to quit screwing off and get tuned to each other so we can have some real music please...

I have also installed glass resistors in various places along the way, and have to say that right now the sound is on par with the SE84UFO25... believe it or not!  I knew I would have it when I could no longer decide which amp was actually better... didn't know it would ever actually happen though...  Apparently the Audio Gods overheard my phone conversation yesterday where I stated that a stone-cold, never played before, SE84UFO25 right off the bench, sounded better than the ZMA.  Up until tonight, even with all the mods it was a true statement.  Now with the magic bullet this has turned into a "holy-shit" amplifier!!!  Couldn't be more happy, and frankly never stop being amazed at how the tiniest things can make such big changes!

This amplifier is now I would say twice as good as a stock ZMA.  My plan will be to start building the amplifiers this way stock, and raise the price.  

As I listen to the amp right now, the tone is just out of this world!  The textures and the bottomless dynamics are scary.  The amplifier has retained all of it's original liquidity, honesty and musicality in an even balance, just multiplied.

It's such a Zen thing to add one part and end up with less which then equals more.  I love this hobby!  When I'm sure I'm done I'll come up with a price for the mods to existing ZMA probably in August.

Right now I'm jumping on the bed sort of speak... slamming the room with some electronic big hard hit music.  The amp has just the right amount of flex.  It's like getting a mattress that's finally just right... and how fun is it to jump on the bed!  That's what it feels like when you flex this new ZMA into a pair of DNA2's at midnight and start hitting live SPL's.

Going to be a good weekend!


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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #467 - 07/07/18 at 11:54:10
 
Great news! A great amp made greater. That's the recent Decware way!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #468 - 07/07/18 at 12:17:50
 
Congratulations Steve!  Now to decide between 25th Anniversary modifications to my ZMA or picking up a new SE84UFO25 Zen. Well, just might have to head out to Peoria this Fall for Decfest for a head to head listening session between the two.

Look forward to your continued listening and additional information on the modifications.  Choices, choices, choices.  I don't think I could go wrong either way.

HK
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #469 - 07/07/18 at 14:39:57
 

Steve: Don't ever 'finish' this amplifier... You know what the Chinese say:
" Man finish amplifier, man die..."

So, as long as you keep it a work in progress, you'll be around to tell everyone about it...  (m.)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #470 - 07/07/18 at 23:06:29
 
The whole of what you have written Steve in your latest post for the ZMA.....has alleviated my fears about losing my ZMA.

I look forward to your pricing in August and affording it by November (is my plan).

Thank you for taking it to where only you can.

I OPEN a SURLY Heat Slayer at this moment in your honor, on this fine Saturday evening in the Twin Cities.
CHEERS to you SIR!!!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #471 - 07/08/18 at 06:27:18
 
Great update Steve!  After installing the tantalum resistors on the grid and plates of the input and inverters, as well as the control grid on the output tubes, I couldn't agree more ------->

Quote:
Couldn't be more happy, and frankly never stop being amazed at how the tiniest things can make such big changes!


I am curious to experiment with the screen grid resistor on pin 4 of the output tubes as you have suggested on my modded amp.  While I didn't bypass my current 47uF caps, I believe my amp - with the speed gained by the low ESR/ESL Mundorf Mlytics (4-Pole wired specifically) along with the ultra fast Munforf TubeCaps (film) - could benefit from this 500 ohm wirewound screen grid resistors.  Ill give it a shot as there really is only one way to truly know, and it's a cheap and easy project.  

Anyway, thanks so much for sharing in your journey.  My impatience, coupled with your success speeding up the 2-watt Zen amp motivated me to experiment with the power chain caps and I appreciate the details you shared with your approach to the upgrade/modification of the ZMA.  

I am curious... what resistors did you replace with the glass ones you referenced in your post?

I wholeheartedly believe this amp with the upgrades deserves the ZMA2 designation!

Congrats on the success of your ZMA improvements.  It's gotta feel great knowing there are current and future ZMA owners that have no idea the greatness to come, but soon will!!


 
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #472 - 07/08/18 at 07:16:40
 

I've thought about it... I loved the ZMA the way it was.  I began to modify it and saw big performance gains but the musicality struggled. Compared to the UFO25, I really stopped enjoying the amp despite all the fancy caps and resistor upgrades.  I would say I enjoyed it better without any of the mods.  Then when I installed the 500 ohm resistors on the ultra-linear taps of each output tube the amplifier changed into a different amplifier.  It's like a ZMA that's ascended to a higher place.

Please do the mod to your amp and tell me what happened to it...  

I have been collecting different values and type of the precision resistors like the ones I talked about in the 25th Anniversary amp launch.  A glass or ceramic envelope with sealed gas envelope, just like a vacuum tube.

So you see, despite the $1000 of additional fancy caps and the resistor upgrades the sound got better, a lot better.... yet you just could easily walk away from it like so many amplifiers...  So it's not fancy parts that do it... it's the right parts in the right place that make it happen.  I've been trying to go to bed for several hours and it has me locked in my listening chair.  It's just not the same amp, but it is the same amp.  

ZMA2 is definitely a justifiable designation...  in the 40 watt world, which competes in the 400 watt world of solid state, this amp is going to be a complete slayer.  I don't see much of anything sounding better that is similarly powered...  of course I would say that, but if you know me by now you know I only say it when I'm sure I'm right.

So, attempt number one, the first amp I couldn't stand to listen to after the UFO25... success... now so much better it is again much harder to decide between the two.  I wonder which amp will be next?

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #473 - 07/08/18 at 13:21:11
 
Good question...”Which amp will be next?”

As you were developing the ZMA2 I did not think that it would be possible to take an ultra linear design and bring it to the UFO25 level of performance.  As I considered that it left me somewhat uneasy.  The 2 watt ZEN is more than enough for me and I ordered one, but not having the same “level” of performance in other Decware amps leaves others out of the progressing Decware ”experience” and that would be a real shame.  So I’m glad you succeeded and I’m somewhat more at ease.

I say somewhat because as you consider which one is next, I think you should consider if all the various amps that are currently in the line up are necessary.  The answer to that will become appearent as you work through the amps in the line up and you are the best one to determine that.  Maybe they are, maybe they are not and IF all are not necessary then choosing which to buy is made unnecessarily harder.

You may be able to make choosing which amp to buy easier.  In todays audiophile market people are conditioned to think that high power is necessary. Getting around that idea is hard enough.  Even 40 watts is really not high power comparatively speaking, let alone 2 watts.  Once one begins to accept that mega power amps are really not necessary but really is not fully there yet, one is then faced with which one to choose.  Can it be made easier to choose by streamlining the offering should it become obvious to do so?

After all, you did take an ultra linear design to the UFO25 level, so the rest should be easy? Right? Cool  
   



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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #474 - 07/08/18 at 14:43:41
 
Steve, all these mods sound like great improvements.  I'm a little afraid to hear them though, fearing they'll ruin me for my current stable of Decware Gear... Smiley.

What I'd really like to see is a simple Tube tester for dummies. One that would test the tubes used in both the EL-34 and EL-84 based Amps.  I am very bad about writing down test data given when I buy tubes so I'm often faced with tubes I know nothing about except for their markings. What ballpark would such a tester cost to buy.  Just adding to the "Wish List".

Also what testers available would you recommend for a non-technical guy. Thanks, Mark.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #475 - 07/08/18 at 15:06:43
 
Steve/previous post:
"I would say I enjoyed it better without any of the mods (ZMA).  Then when I installed the 500 ohm resistors on the ultra-linear taps of each output tube the amplifier changed into a different amplifier.

So it's not fancy parts that do it... it's the right parts in the right place that make it happen.

I don't see much of anything sounding better that is similarly powered...  of course I would say that, but if you know me by now you know I only say it when I'm sure I'm right."


I know wholeheartedly, if the ZMA did not take the leap with the 500 ohm resistor in conjunction with the rest of the bypass, et al, (GOLDILOCKS Zone of the Nichicon's) . ....you would have told me/us, to enjoy as is....because it is an great Amp as is!
However, you did make it something more.....look forward to hearing it.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #476 - 07/08/18 at 15:12:28
 
Steve, will there at least be an option to have a top plate and base to match the 25th Aniv amp in the CPS3. I have the amp on order and would like to also have a matching CPS3-25
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #477 - 07/08/18 at 18:39:28
 
Quote:
Then when I installed the 500 ohm resistors on the ultra-linear taps of each output tube the amplifier changed into a different amplifier.  It's like a ZMA that's ascended to a higher place.


So, is it worth investigating the changes in reverse order?  Is it possible that the ZMA doesn't need all of the fancy cap changes?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #478 - 07/08/18 at 18:44:38
 
Wondering that same thing Arch...I was just going to ask...and you did. But, keep the Nichicon's?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #479 - 07/08/18 at 19:09:29
 
I'm not speaking for Steve here, but from my personal experience with the cap changes without the screen grid resistors at the ultra-linear taps (which I will be adding).

You definitely want to modify the caps!  Part of me is hesitant to touch my amp right now.  It is that good with the modification of the caps and resistors that I have recently added to my ZMA.  It doesn't sound ordinary and I have been so captivated by the sound, I have been glued to my listening seat.  But my mods are different than what Steve did.  Unfortunately, I am the only one that can hear my amp right now, but based on my experience with these upgraded caps, and what Steve has written about the cap changes he has made, I couldn't imagine this amp without the speed improvements that these cap modifications bring about.  Huge soundstage, 3-D, and micro detail improvements!! Absolutely stunning.   I also experienced a significant step improvement from key resistor changes.  I did this after the cap modifications and the improvements were not subtle.  Fortunately, the tantalum resistors I used are cheap ($3-$4 ea), relatively speaking.

The question is...  Are there parasitic oscillations with the stock ZMA topology?  Or is it the capacitor upgrades that created changes in the amp that then resulted in the oscillations?  If the answer to the former is "No," then perhaps no need for the screen grid resistor as there would be no improvement to be had.  This is Steve's territory to confirm.  

Fun stuff!!   Smiley
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #480 - 07/12/18 at 03:57:02
 

Quote:
The question is...  Are there parasitic oscillations with the stock ZMA topology?  Or is it the capacitor upgrades that created changes in the amp that then resulted in the oscillations?  If the answer to the former is "No," then perhaps no need for the screen grid resistor as there would be no improvement to be had.  This is Steve's territory to confirm.


The stock ZMA topology has never been found or even suspected of it no...  And we're very sure about that because we look for it. I wouldn't have even mentioned it, except for the fact that it would be possible with the speed increase to invite new unforeseen results.  I am still somewhat puzzled by how the musicality suffered as the detail and performance increased.  It was incredibly good, but as I mentioned something unnatural about it.  You have to wonder if perhaps there was a parasitic oscillation behind it?  

I'm happy to report that with the last mod to the ultra linear taps (which would make the oscillations impossible) the amp transformed back into the INCREDIBLY musical high performance masterpiece it used to be but is now just a better sounding amplifier from top to bottom and imaging is significantly enhanced as well.  Couldn't be happier with the result. It's just such a great sounding, well balanced amplifier!

I realize I said all this a few posts back, but I keep waiting to wake up from a dream all pissed off that it was a dream... and every time I turn it on -- and on any source -- and at any volume, there it is... that sound.

Today I had a guest from Texas who wanted to hear the speakers louder than we could achieve with the 2 watt amplifiers and I already knew louder than all the other amplifiers as well, with the possible exception of the ZMA or TORII MONO's.  We switched over to the ZMA and rotated the dial to needle dancing level on a pair of the DNA2 speakers and it was loud!  Louder than crap in fact, but never got ugly or compressed or smeared.  

When asked to hear some Hendrix I decided to play my master tape of Hendrix working on Voodoo Child with his band.  It was recorded live two-track with a pair of microphones directly into the tape machine as was often the practice with session tapes like this.  Anyway, it was memorable played about 4 or 5 dB louder than usual and just amazed us both!

This amp is a real ass kicker with sound that is closer to the UFO25 than any of us thought possible.  I know what will happen... people who hear this, or have a ZMA and get it modded will listen to it and say "the UFO25 is better than this? Impossible..." so you can see what that will start.



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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #481 - 07/12/18 at 05:10:47
 
Thanks for the clarification Steve on that particular question.  I am actually installing the four 500 Ohm wirewound resistors at this very moment.  I just took a short break.  Can't wait to finish and fire it up and give it a listen!

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #482 - 07/12/18 at 21:24:39
 


So....should I be looking to drop off my ZMA on Monday??

~Eric~
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #483 - 07/14/18 at 01:12:45
 
As I indicated a couple days ago, I installed the screen grid wirewound resistors per Steve’s recommendation.  I was buying other supplies from HiFi Collective in the UK so threw in an order for these resistors.  They had Mills MRA-12 wirewound resistors in 470 Ohm so I grabbed a set of four.  These are highly regarded in the audiophile DIY commmunity so I felt comfortable with the substitution.  I am no solder slinger by any means but I can handle the iron.  I emabarked on this journey solo.   I get them all placed with relative ease.  

When I first fired up the amp two nights ago, right after the install, I damn near had a panic attack.  It sounded awful!  Anemic, lifeless.  A complete opposite of what it sounded like prior to the UL screen grid mod.  I listened for 4 hours that night, shutting the ZMA off at 2:30 in hopes I was just having a bad dream.  Went to sleep on it scratching my head as to what could have gone wrong.  

After a long day and night at work last night, I fired it up at 11:30pm and listened for a couple hours.  I will admit, I was starting to perceive signs of life.  I reset my reference playback lineup and started over.  I felt much better after I shutdown last night.  This morning, riding off last night’s momentum, I powered the ZMA back up and spent 3 hours in complete, uninterrupted isolation.  The rate of rise in improvement, starting last night and continuing through the morning was something that took me aback.  I have experienced burn-in and what time can do for new components.  However, this was the most dramatic change from “sounding like s$!t” to “holy shit” that I have ever experienced with any of my equipment.  Steve, I am not sure if you experienced the same with the wirewounds you used.  Fast forward to now, the system has completely opened up.  The soundstage came back in amazing fashion!  The detail returned.  When I upgraded the caps and the resistors, the detail was so shockingly clear and real.  That fell apart a couple nights ago, but it returned, thank <Audio> God!  

It was such a trip to experience the collapse and rise. I have a new found respect for burn-in.  Not that I didn’t believe in it, but this experience would have made even the most extreme skeptics believers.  

Steve, I know exactly what your were describing with the changes these resistors bring.  Thank you for the discovery and motivation to apply it to my ZMA2.  I simply am astonished by the improvements this, the signal path and plate resistors and power capacitor modifications have brought.  Kudos on a stellar amp as it was - and what it can become.  
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #484 - 07/14/18 at 02:58:13
 

Jeff, that's great news!  Keep us posted as I'm sure you will!

Have a great weekend!

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #485 - 07/19/18 at 19:40:22
 

Is the screen grid mod something that can be done by itself, or are other mods required before the screen grid mod?

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