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Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments? (Read 187425 times)
Archie
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #600 - 10/06/18 at 18:00:17
 
Jeff, I still like it with most recordings (I'm 100% vinyl) but I've been noticing a few that, while not exactly muddy, do seem a bit too dense.

I missed your post about why you got rid of your's.  I did wonder.  Steve seemed to think it added the final icing, if I read his ZMA mod posts correctly.  I wonder if this is a ZMA phenomena?  
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Technics 1200G TT w/ Ortofon Jubilee MC cart
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #601 - 10/06/18 at 18:11:50
 
Man, I'm being left behind. Cry  when Steve gets the Nich'ky's in down the road ....maybe I'll do it. .....as I'm listening to my ZMA right now...not wanting to change a thing/ZMA. So, the 4 to 6 months down the road is a good thing for me.

What I will change and get, is Steve's new power regenerator & a ZBIT, first this winter. We should get to read about his power regen by the end of this month or by Thanksgiving?  The ZBIT, I want to have my ZDSD up close to me - perpendicular to my System....run a long XLR to ZBIT up near my ZMA. ZBIT with dual variable output controls.

I'm ordering the ZBIT and later the Decware Regen and compare and most likely replace my PS Audio P3.
I have a version of the ZBIT in my ZDSD....so an must have ZBIT for my long run XLR current want and future DAC. My ZDSD is going nowhere/replaced anytime soon.

Ordered my ZBIT with variable output/ch.....now to LONG XLR or NOT to LONG XLR from ZDSD.....and of course KIMBER KS1030 runs out of ZBIT to ZMA.
.....been meaning to per channel variable output of an ZBIT with the input gain direct of my ZMA. Finally, I ordered one!
.....I was going to wait and see if Steve has a Black Friday sale? No guarantee he will. I rather not wait and the ZBIT has been a long time coming for me.

Pending:
Decware Power Regen...
ZMA 25th'd.

Lon, I took your advice: "Keep Calm and place an Order"! So I did. Grin

Remember, high end cables are DOGMA. You will never want to know what your ZMA really, really can do.
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Archie
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #602 - 10/06/18 at 21:21:28
 
... did I mention the deeper soundstage?   Smiley
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #603 - 10/07/18 at 01:03:26
 
Scratch running a long XLR. I will audition a few .75 meter pairs.

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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #604 - 10/07/18 at 03:25:10
 
Scratch auditioning a few. I will audition the two for my ear brain connection from the Lending Library: Kimber KS1116 & 1121. One of the two will do it.

ZDSD > KS1116 (or KS1121) > ZBIT/attenuation per channel > KS1030 > ZMA > KS6063 > Acoustic Zen Adagio/Mundorf MCap Supremes.

https://positive-feedback.com/Issue51/kimber.htm

I will get to the 25th of my ZMA eventually. However, I have been wanting to compare the inboard genius idea of Steve's output transformer/ZDSD vs. his outboard beauty/ZBIT!  So, I'm doing this first.

It's a win ~ win. I also want the Kimber XLR and ZBIT for a future DAC. No time soon though. But, will be all set and ready.
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Lon
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #605 - 10/07/18 at 12:29:57
 
Prince "Piano and a Microphone"

I'm a big Prince fan and have almost the entire catalog. This is a welcome addition.

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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #606 - 10/07/18 at 13:43:47
 
Yes, a must have. This is a nice first release from his Vault. However, consensus has it, he would not be happy about his two iconic songs the family heirs sold rights to Capital One for use. He would be furious!
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #607 - 10/07/18 at 15:10:35
 
I will addition the KS1126 as well with the KS1116 and KS1121 still available at the Cableco.

Interesting, you can now order direct from Kimber!

However, the Lending Library is only available through the Cableco & I get my Frequent Flyer 11.5% discount. The Freq' Fly is cool....I have not purchased (no need) in three + years.....I get the cumulative 11.5%, no matter how long it has been. So, the small cost of audition is well absorbed fairly in the discount.

I do like that you can order direct from Kimber, if you knew exactly what you needed without audition and wanted to forgo the juicy discount to have it now. Nice balance protecting a great Dealer like the Cableco or if I wanted it by Tuesday to put 50 hours on it by the weekend; Kimber direct will get it to me (at full price).



No discount necessary on my ZBIT. It is fairly priced and I'm surprised Steve has not raised the price in the three + years it has been out. Very nice.
Now can I get it by Thanksgiving? Cheesy ..... That would be cool.

I'm not sucking up or anything Grin I will get it when I get it out of the que.... I know the drill. If it come by Christmas, that is cool too.

Look forward to the Decware Power Conditioner, good word coming, for under or 1k.....giant slayer potential.... Oh yeah. (Mentioned by a couple other's/it's possibly around this price range...not sure that is true...so no quoting me on that...till we get the official word).
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Lon
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #608 - 10/07/18 at 18:35:48
 
Ed Motta "Criterion of the Senses"



https://dancingaboutarchitecture.info/2018/09/27/criterion-of-the-senses-ed-mott...
a-reviewed-by-dave-franklin/
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #609 - 10/07/18 at 19:41:31
 
Your impeccable taste in music is never lost on me, Lon.

Great review, I went to order and it is a 1 to 2 month import wait. I think I will order and just have to wait.
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Lon
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #610 - 10/07/18 at 20:56:10
 
Larry, for Brazilian music I find www.dustygroove.com (a record store I've been to in Chicago) to have the best prices and no waiting or little waiting. At this moment this one from Ed is in stock:

https://www.dustygroove.com/search.php?sf=Ed+Motta
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will
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #611 - 10/07/18 at 21:20:36
 
I have been thinking about you all's interesting experiences using the ZR2 with modded amps. If I am recalling correctly, the ZR2 was developed to support and improve source material with variable EQ and lucidity, and from within the "audio language" Steve's designs were built with before the recent mod cycle got deep???

Then, as usual, in creative development toward his design goals, the ZR2 process revealed things, ZR2 discoveries becoming part of Steve's audio consciousness. Musical qualities from the ZR2, as part of the musical language from which amp mod choices evolved, the amps likely integrated some of the sonic qualities the ZR2 helped define. My guess anyway, this may be part of what caused previous ZR2 adjustment levels to be too intense with modded amps???

Meanwhile, the Zbit, and preamps, have a conceptual basis in transparency and neutrality, likely for many, working a bit more easily with the amp mods, though again, less critical. The modified amps digging deeper into lucidity, dynamics, body and weight offer more of the things some of us relied more on preamps for adjusting. At the same time, with increased amp dexterity and clarity, pre "sound" might be more present, "no pre" perhaps easier. Similar modifications to the CSP3 became relevant, enhancing its special traits more fully and more transparently. And the audio language grows in complexity and finesse as Steve works through the range!

From my own experience, I had my CSP3 nicely fine-tuned for transparency before starting modifications. But as I went inside the amps, it quickly became clear both CSP3 and Torii could benefit. So after a few initial improvements to the power supplies, I worked for extended periods on one... then when it got really good... moved into the other for a while, keeping my reference relatively solid. To a lesser degree, as the amps got better, the DIY Zbit also showed that it could benefit from a bit more musical transparency, further enhancing the Torii/CSP3's sonic flexibility.

Though the work goes on for me, now that everything is pretty complete, balanced and revealing, "gain riding" volume shifts for each of the three components are more powerful. This can at times cause the need for more care to fully dial in the balance that pulls the best from various recordings. But tuned just so...Wow! So I guess this is another factor for the ZR2 with modded amps...the clarity of the amps makes everything show more clearly, including the component signature, what it does, and the power of its adjustments.

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PSA P5/modified Brickwall/Shunyata Defender+more; RevolutionMacMini/Audirvana>modified Gustard x20pro DAC; DIY + Pi Audio PCs; DIY ICs, USB, speaker cables; Decware-Jupiter CSP3, Torii MKIV, HR1-all modified; DIY Zbit; feet-Madscientist, Archie's, isocups, DIY
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #612 - 10/07/18 at 21:23:38
 
Thanks Lon, nice site!
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Lon
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #613 - 10/07/18 at 22:44:32
 
You're welcome. They are very good at mail order, and when I was buying vinyl I found their   grading to be very consistent, and prices very good, a nice combination for buying vinyl "unseen."
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DSD,P10, PowerBases,XStream Statemt spk cb,AC-12 power cds;Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3;Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;Aurios;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Sennheiser HD800
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #614 - 10/08/18 at 23:03:37
 
Great, thanks again Lon.

Will & Lon, always the journey. I like it too.

Ordered my ZBIT on Saturday.

I will be running:

ZDSD balanced output
Kimber KS1130 balanced IC
ZBIT - Dual variable attenuation
Kimber KS1030 RCA IC
Zen Mystery Amplifier (Red Mallory original-updated resistor's & new backlit meter's)
Kimber Select KS6063 Speaker Cables
Acoustic Zen Adagio/Mundorf MCap Supremes.


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Sony as Transport
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Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #615 - 10/09/18 at 22:03:49
 
http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1503579885/0
Reread your review Lon...and it's time I try one.


For a control, I'm getting a Pangea XLR (so called best) to run and season in the cable and season the ZBIT.
https://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PGIXCASE


Then, Lending Library the KS1130 and two other's. I also have my ARC Line Stage, that has an Direct Balanced output feature. So, I need to try that in the chain as well.

Lending Library choices (after I season in with my control Pangea):

https://www.thecableco.com/ks-1130.html
https://www.thecableco.com/stradivarius-amati-edition-interconnect-5421.html
https://www.thecableco.com/cables/interconnects/ks-1136-interconnect-pair.html


To ZBIT or not to ZBIT, is this Winter's examination. I think with the satisfaction I've had with the variation of ZBIT I have coming out of my ZDSD.....the ZBIT, is something I now need to experience.

I could purchase this KS1130 today.....however, don't want to sell myself short ....need to audition the KS1130, Amati and KS1136.
https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis956ia-kimber-kable-ks-1130-pure-silver-inte...

....of course I'll kick myself...if I pick the KS1130! This AgoN deal will be long gone and none used to be found anywhere! Grin
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Lon
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"Love without
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #616 - 10/09/18 at 22:15:56
 
Cool. As Steve is using two it makes sense that adding one to the back of your ZDSD should work well. Keep us posted with impressions when you have one!
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #617 - 10/09/18 at 22:23:57
 
It reverts back to a Tascam 3000 via the XLR outputs. Knowing what it can do as a Redbook Dac/ZDSD'd via Steve's output stage...does have me excited to be able to set my ZMA input higher and let the dual adjustment ZBIT creep up on the ZMA. OR, conversely, might be best...I will find out.

I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the Pangea XLR. Of course, my high end cable bias will creep in. However, spending 50 plus hours with the Pangea XLR to ZBIT, before I pick up the Phone to the Cableco...will be a good control established.

Well, enough about this on this Thread. When I get it I'll make a Thread in the ZBIT Forum.
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Lon
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"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 14929
Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #618 - 10/09/18 at 22:46:59
 
Yeah, I wasn't thinking clearly, of course via the XLR bypasses his built-in. Here's hoping the Pangaea works out for a spell. I can hear every cable change on both sides of the ZBIT, it's very transparent. I know you'll end up with better cables if it stays for a long time in your system.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DSD,P10, PowerBases,XStream Statemt spk cb,AC-12 power cds;Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3;Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;Aurios;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Sennheiser HD800
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #619 - 10/10/18 at 11:32:48
 
Yeah, the Pangea is just a control burn in of the ZBIT. I have been into the best cabling for 18 years now. I was pleased to see a few years back Lon, you got into too, with some decent Voodoo stuff.

Anyway, the ZBIT compared to my ZDSD output stage will be fun. As I mentioned previously, when I want to change DACS, I need the ZBIT and a great XLR in wait, to drive my ZMA direct.
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Lon
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"Love without
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #620 - 10/10/18 at 12:57:04
 
Yes, I love my VooDoo Cables and they're the right fit for my system and room and needs. I tried some Kimber in the past. . . just not the right signature for me. We're all different and we have our own needs.

With the ZBIT you could also consider the ZTPRE. I was convinced that a preamp was not really needed in my system. . . until I tried the ZTPRE. It's unlike any other preamp I've used, adding magic but not calling attention to itself. The pairing with the ZBIT is awesome. I can imagine your ZDSD via single-ended into the ZTPRE than into the ZBIT as being incredible sound. The ZBIT is a very versatile tool in an audio arsenal.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DSD,P10, PowerBases,XStream Statemt spk cb,AC-12 power cds;Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3;Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;Aurios;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Sennheiser HD800
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NormD
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #621 - 10/10/18 at 13:21:17
 
It would be awesome and fun for all of us to get together and just audition our favorite cables.
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OPPO Sonica DAC
Technics SL-1200M3D Turntable
SoundSmith The Voice cartridge
JRMedia Center running on a MacMini
Oppo 103D for video
Marantz AV8802a Pre
ZTPre & ZMA for Stereo
Rotel RMB-1585 amp
Focal Electra 1038Be speakers (93 db)
2Hsu Research ULS-15 M
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Lon
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"Love without
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Philip K. D*ck

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #622 - 10/10/18 at 13:53:32
 
Thing is I think we would all need to do it in our own systems. Anyway. . . I don't want to discover new cables, spent the money I can. Wink
I would like to upgrade just one. . . need to save.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DSD,P10, PowerBases,XStream Statemt spk cb,AC-12 power cds;Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3;Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;Aurios;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Sennheiser HD800
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NormD
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #623 - 10/10/18 at 14:13:19
 
I was mostly interested in how my cables stack up to what others are using. Although I spent a tidy sum, I think it is a fraction of what you and Lon have invested. Always curious.  Not trying to best anyone.
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OPPO Sonica DAC
Technics SL-1200M3D Turntable
SoundSmith The Voice cartridge
JRMedia Center running on a MacMini
Oppo 103D for video
Marantz AV8802a Pre
ZTPre & ZMA for Stereo
Rotel RMB-1585 amp
Focal Electra 1038Be speakers (93 db)
2Hsu Research ULS-15 M
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Dominick
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #624 - 10/10/18 at 14:13:46
 
I got a chance to see and play with the ZBIT at Decfest,  and I  was totally impressed. I can’t believe what an impact it had on the new 25th anniversary Zen amp pushing the DNA 2s.   It was being fed by the ZTPRE, and the combination  was  breathtaking.  

I had brought some harpsichord music to demo, and the sound was concert like.  The ZBIT will definitely be one of my next purchases.  
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Decware ERR's [Bubinga Wood], Zstage [with Beeswax caps], Zbox, Rega P2 turntable, Velodyne dual firing sub, Yamaha THX SS A/V Receiver
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Lon
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #625 - 10/10/18 at 15:06:12
 
My post was really just meant to point out that I think the only really meaningful audition is in our own system. I've personally heard cables in another's system that wowed me there, but sounded less satisfying for me in my own system. So if we were all to get together and compare cables, the most meaningful way would be in a caravan taking a group of cables from one of our homes to the other to another. . . . Hardly practical!

These Decware components are worthy of all the electrical, isolation and cabling attention one can pay them. Amazing products!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #626 - 10/11/18 at 03:33:15
 
I’m glad I got my ZTpre and ZMA with XLR’s. One less set of cables.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #627 - 10/11/18 at 03:44:50
 
Stone (and all). I think the Zbit will be interesting to compare to the ZDSD output for sure. Thinking it through, as you can imagine, I have some thoughts based on my experience with my DIY Zbit and cabling. You have probably thought of a lot of the same things...but here goes.

Wink

The Zbit, sharing lots with the output stage in the ZDSD, seems to me the short wires connecting the transformers between the stock Tascam output stage and RCAs goes a ways toward avoiding potential cable and extra connector issues/influence. Whereas the Zbit has connectors, requires using the output connectors of the DAC, and needs cables, perhaps quite a difference depending on the connectors and cables used. But after experiencing very transparent and musical cables, as you know, good cables, compared to veils and imbalances of lesser ones, can compensate for minor sacrifices in transparency elsewhere. So, especially preparing the way for different sources, getting a Zbit and nice cables sounds like a fun experiment to me.

An upside of the Zbit, especially if you like gain riding, I like the continuous voltage adjustment, allowing very fine-tuned sonic adjustments...

Thinking of ICs, I like Kimber's approach, using really good materials and appearing to avoid shields by using complex braid geometry around a damping core. This is a similar approach that lots of experiments ended up leading me to. Every time I have tried tinned copper and copper shields, I have pulled them. Compared to the same wires and geometry without, and replacing the shields with nice wire, smears and veils that thicken the tone, reduce micro detail, and fill space, go away. Still quiet, so far I prefer no shields.

For my Zbit XLR ICs, I am pretty sure I ended up with Mundorf Silver/gold, VHAudio OCC silver in cotton, and Jupiter copper in cotton, with carbon fiber Furutech Rhodium ends on the DAC side. Without "Furutech" lettering on them, I guess they are really good copies, or "fell off the truck." They brought up the bar, cleaner and more solid sounding than some Neutrik Silvers I liked. I avoided two connectors and two cable ends by soldering the cable wires to the Zbit transformer inputs.

The writeup on the Pangea XLR does look good. I can see why you want to check it out. Wouldn't that be cool if they were as good as they sound in theory! I hope so. My only experience with Pangea was an AC9SE, which I did not like...7 gauge, it was weighted in the frequency balance too far toward bass, too dark and thick for me. Cable wire size and balance makes a big difference here for better or worse.

I look forward to your impressions of the Pangea and your coming Zbit!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #628 - 10/11/18 at 21:40:24
 
With every additional connector, cable, attenuator no matter it being the best that is available out there, there will be some kind of loss in signal. i.e input is not exactly equal to output across that connection/cable/attenuator. Gain riding/boosting/amplifying after that connector and cable will only amplify the portion of the signal that has passed though. The portion - all be it very small - of the signal that failed to pass through will not be amplified as there is nothing to amplify. Or the portion of the signal that is delayed across the connector will be amplified but be out of synch with the rest of the signal that moved ahead. Or the portion of the signal that is attenuated across the connector (different frequencies have different impedances) will be amplified but at a decibel level that is not in keeping with the rest of the signal and so bass or midrange or treble will be diminished depending on a multitude of factors. More over there is the multiplying effect: the more the connections in the signal path from the source equipment to the amplifier the more the losses while the rest of the signal will be boosted/amplified as say in a gain stage device or a pre-amplifier or a distributor.

All this even without taking self inductance and capacitance in the connectors/cables into account. Even the most so called transparent cables will still influence the signal passing through due to inductance, capacitance and the aforementioned connection losses. So the signal arriving at the amplifier will be a bit different from that output from the source equipment. The music produced ultimately will be affected.

Sometime we install a piece of equipment and hear a different perhaps perceptibly louder sound and because our bias naturally leans towards an improvement since that is what is what we are hoping after having made the effort and spent the money. Being objective is difficult so we may perceive a different sound as an improvement.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #629 - 10/12/18 at 02:34:18
 
Oh boy.....looking at 4 months out for delivery!

Will pick up where we left off/then. I'll post in the ZBIT Forum.  

Note: Once again, as I mentioned above...I'm getting a ZBIT for a future DAC. Fun however, to compare with the variation of an ZBIT, my ZDSD has/so I will do just that.

So, to reiterate, I get my ZBIT....and season in/4 or 5 months from now and comment.

********************************************************************************
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1) NOW.....Back to tube rolling and enjoying my ZMA > direct from ZDSD output stage! TREATING MYSELF TO SOME 6922's from Brent Jessee.
********************************************************************************
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If you are in your mid 50's (I'm in my mid 50's and still run 3 miles/3 times per week~and can and could run circles around most of you), live a little! If you think you are going to be in good health in your 60's (cause' ma & pa lived to be 94).....think again. Get the 6922's,....Plus, the permafrost is melting....and the methane is coming. Oh, the folly of man. We don't need permafrost! Grin

2) ZBIT (ordered)
3) Decware Power Conditioner (pending ~ look forward to Steve posting about it here or in a new thread)
4) my ZMA 25th (1, 2, 3 & 4) enhancements  {might do (but, why mess with near perfection with my cabling and Room)/pending next year some time}
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #630 - 10/12/18 at 23:18:37
 
Hey bandrade,

I guess most folks on this forum would agree with basic theories of transparency. How the theories effect our systems and the musical experience may be more complicated. This got me thinking as it relates to Decware development and the daily life of us users.

My reference is always listening, most times testing one part, cable, component or room treatment at a time. For me, the primary indicator of an undamaged signal is micro detail and spacial information, seemingly the most fragile and easiest to lose as "transparency" is compromised. The tricky part is that many sources are not so good at pulling finer detail and space. And many cables can mask it even if the source is pretty good at it, fitting your suggestion that if it is not there, it is not there. Worse, if the fine information is not fully there, it is likely the whole signal is not as good as it could be. And without a reference to show this, we can go on missing a lot without knowing.

Associated, I listen for hardness/rigidity. If a part, cable or component damages fine detail and spacial information, it is often more focussed and hard, though some parts good at micro detail seem hardish too. When all is right, the magic of the clearer representation of all that is there seems to transform rigidity into complexity... softening edges while gaining air, textures, space and nuance across the spectrum (hopefully).

As an example, really liking the clarity, smoothness, dynamics, articulation, and spaciousness of tantalum resistors, especially Audio Note non-magnetics balanced too much toward bass for me, and to a lesser degree, Shinkohs. Worse, being musically very clear and articulate in most ways, they do not convey the finest detail as fully as I need. So to me, these resistors were impressive at first, but neither transparent or neutral finally.

Interestingly, I found their slight tendencies to concentrate fine detail into macro detail can be more or less in different positions. And if I turn them "backwards," with the tolerance ring on the input side, they get notably better, losing most of the bass imbalance, opening more, and showing more fine detail. This revelation came after I made a rig for easy comparisons between burnt in resistors. I mounted spring loaded binding posts on a piece of PCV pipe, which is mounted on a 2x4 block. With nice wires soldered to resistor positions inside my CSP3, outside I can easily cross the other ends of the wires with resistor leads...held tight by the binding post springs. I use a cover so I don't touch them when powered. For these comparisons, I was running from power node to input tube plate, which is then connected by a wire to the output tube grid. An influential position!

So these tantalums were one example of how a very small part in a system equation can notably alter aspects of neutrality and transparency. In a more pronounced way, components have loads of parts, and less-than stellar power effects everything! But then, carefully put together, with excellent synergy, a lot of good components and cables can create a very transparent and balanced system/room. With so many variables, I think concepts of transparency can be tricky, but also are becoming less important.

With pretty profound advancements in innovative design and implementation, people like Steve Deckert and others are bringing maturity to the audio quest. Good ears, concepts, methods, and constant exploration continue to make musical transparency easier. And by carefully combining components from these innovative folks, in a good room, we can now put a lot of things in a system and deeply engage in the beauty of natural, complex and authentic music.

More, pretty regular comments on this forum show a trend of adding specific components in the signal path to enhance the musical experience. This includes Steve if I am recalling correctly, often auditioning the Anniversary Amp and other amp mods through a ZTPre (with an internal Zbit), a Zbit proper, and when using a DAC, another internal Zbit...lots of stuff! For most of us this defies concepts of transparency.

In my case, I just did some tests, my sound having moved a little too much toward bass with some recent Torii wire and resistor changes, including (without burnin) what appears to be a revealing, but warmish stepped attenuator. The music was more compelling and revealing of subtle things on first impressions, but weighed off-neutral toward bass.

To verify the source, I pulled the CSP3. I like to do this periodically anyway to see how each component is coming on its own, but the Zbit only comes out now and then, having proven as pretty transparent and neutral in the voltage range I use. As usual, I really liked the sound without the CSP3, better in ways, while verifying the problem was in the Torii. I changed a few things and bass got pretty close.

Reestablishing my working reference, CSP3 back in...a little gain adjustment, and I liked the sound better with all three components! The special lucidity of the OTL circuit, the ways it contributes musical clarity, body, and articulation, are always compelling to me.

All these components, including my DAC, are pretty heavily tuned. But in adding the pre, full of caps, resistors, wires, connectors, tubes...from theories of transparency, it should not sound as, or more, revealing and musical overall, but it does. For me, aside from loving the CSP3 and Zbit for gain riding (to balance recordings to my satisfaction), my Zbit is similar. It has its own special way of clarifying and enhancing my musical experience. Though I could love the Torii alone...or the Torii with either the Zbit or CSP3, I like the music best with all three.

And there is no doubt that as my interconnects got better, they made everything notably more revealing and musical. Same with power cables and USB. I agree that good cables can't reveal what is not there. But if the balance is off from an otherwise really revealing/transparent cable, one cable sure can mess with the whole! At the same time, shifting the balance or revelation with any cable or wire inside a component, power or signal, to me alters what the amp or source creates! Similarly, power cords. If all else is really good, from being off balance for a given component (usually from being under or oversized within that particular cable design and parts), it seems clear to me cables can alter how a source or amp creates the sound.

Finally, I find complex systems go way beyond the rudimentary nature of most established engineering ideas, really good designs requiring cause and effect listening/sound testing to awaken fully. And this is not all that surprising. With subatomic particles and light being primary to making music from systems, the ways light and particles can be effected by successions of quite varied wires, parts, dielectrics, etc, it gets subtle and mysterious to me!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #631 - 10/13/18 at 11:56:25
 
Will,
My experience is that depending on the source equipment, cabling, connectors, attenuators introducing a device such as a pre-amp, gain stage etc. in the mix might actually result in an improvement this inspite of the degradation of signal across these additional connectors and alteration across cables. Especially the source equipment is key. If say the DAC is not able to drive the downstream equipment (amps, speakers) because may be there is a mismatch of impedances between the DAC and the amp/connector sum along with DAC RCA output being low say between 1 to 2 V. Now in this case inspite of the losses across the additional connectors, the pre-am, gain stage or what ever may also help in impecance matching and also increase the output voltage. Here in this case the signal that survives the journey (which is the bulk of the signal) is being improved, while the losses are still there and will never be re-gained.
Now take the situation where impedances are better matched and the DAC is a studio grade DAC capable of outputting 10V or higher, having additional devices will degrade the sound as the source is able to drive the output devices on its own easily without losses across connectors.

This is also corroborated by my own experience. For the longest time I had a so so DAC - a Cocktail Audio X40 with 2V output and higher output impedance. In this case I had to buy a CSP3 (and upgrade it) to improve the overall sound. Then I bought a iFi Pro iDSD DAC which has an output of 10V and low output impedance easily driving the ZMA on its own. Here if I put back the moded CSP3 in the mix it is though it is better than before with the Cocktail Audio X40 DAC because the iFi Pro is a way better DAC but when I remove the CSP3 and had the iFi Pro iDSD DAC driving the ZMA directly the sound improved measurably and palpably. Music is now more dense and realistic, nuances not heard before are being heard, the 3D effect and field depth is more enveloping. In short with a high grade DAC with high output voltage and low impedance there is more realistic presence without the CSP3 in the mix.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #632 - 10/13/18 at 15:45:39
 
Will, thanks for the tip on  Pangea AC9SE. I run it from the wall to my PS Audio P3. I swapped it/and put in my other XLO Pro power cord, in which I also run a XLO Pro to my ZMA from the P3/only surge protected from the P3, for obvious reasons. The ZMA does not need the power regeneration I provide to my front end Gear, Line Stage/when in use and OB Bass/when in use (counterproductive for the ZMA). The Pangea is a little dark an thick. My ZMA thanks you via  XLO Pro x 2 / feeding her now. Not that the Pangea was to weighty (from the wall to P3)....just that it could cross its seductive side and into dark/thick. Pangea = gone.

With extended Listening this morning.....tonal balance better too!
I love this hobby ....makes Listening to our favorite music an EVENT, every time.
The Pangea has its place in mid-fi set ups, I would guess.

Okay, time to peel myself away once again and shave/shower.... Go watch my daughter kick arse in Division 3 Soccer...... . Defensive Forward/she is Awesome.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #633 - 10/14/18 at 03:11:19
 
Why is power regeneration counterproductive for the ZMA?  THe robust power supply?  I use the PS5 mostly to turn on the equipment I want all together instead of playing musical switches.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #634 - 10/14/18 at 03:39:57
 

UPDATE: CSP3 Anniversary Edition

I have finally gotten to have a Zen moment with the new CSP3 25th Anniversary Edition preamplifier design!

The 25th Anniversary mod for the CSP3 is a serious success, and will always be available as an option on both new and existing CSP3 preamps. That said, we are going to come out with a full blown anniversary edition to match the SE84UFO25 right down the green patina'd chassis and African hardwood base. The two will be visually matched and together will create a sound who's sum is greater than their parts.

I have the chassis design 95% completed and it will have the following changes:

There will be no headphone jack or input level controls. If headphone use is desired, simply connect headphones to the speaker jacks of the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier via the appropriate adapter. The outputs of the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier are fully balanced and the sound is over the top in headphones.

There will be THREE pair of inputs! The two in the back like the stock CSP3, and an additional pair in the front located directly in front of the input tube so that internally no wire is needed between the jack and the control grid of the tube. It is the same setup as on the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier. This particular signal path will be ultra high resolution.

The voltage regulator tubes will remain internal, one for each channel exactly like the current CSP3 with Anniversary mods. We feel this gives better performance and consistency than having them external and socketed. The internal tubes are rated for the life of the product and covered by the lifetime warranty.

There will be dual volume controls that can be your choice of attenuators or infinitely variable carbon pots.

The chassis will match the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier.

The audio tube compliment will be the same as it is now with the exception of the front input tube being changed from 6N1P to a 6N5P. The later being similarly warm but with greater resolution and focus. The rear two tubes remain 6N1P.

In addition to the two internal tubes, there will also be a pair of external magic eye tubes connected as VU meters, one per channel, mounted in the back similar to the location of the rear OA3 tubes in the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier. These magic eye tubes will be calibrated to show you if there is a signal present at the inputs of your preamp. They will also show you how hot the signal is. When the magic eye closes the input is at maximum (about 7.8 volts RMS AC).

These tubes will be able to be clearly seen from across the room and are not subject to shipping damage like a calibrated meter. While they don't typically ever wear out, should one become damaged, it can simply be replaced.

Eliminating the input level controls, the headphone section and updating the output level controls to attenuators in combination with the direct glass-resistor-coupled input jacks will ensure the purest of signal paths, just like the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier has.

I hope to be assembling the first production prototype in December/January and have it available by Spring. The pair is going to be a real brain-slayer!

Happy listening!

Steve










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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #635 - 10/14/18 at 04:36:49
 
Norm, it sounds better to me, coming out of Zone D (ZMA only). I turn everything on with one flick of my remote switch too (and off). Smiley

Zone D on the P3 is marked “HC” for High Current. Unlike zones A, B, and C, the HC zone does not output regenerated AC, and instead provides filtered and protected AC from the mains.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #636 - 10/14/18 at 11:59:37
 
Hi Steve,

Your latest design plan for the CSP3 is mouthwatering. Visually and functionally.

I now wish I had not invested so much (about $1800) in my CSP3 through mods of my own. I mean OCD level upgrades with high grade components. I even upgraded the input transformer from the stock 600V, 150mA to a 550V, 230mA version which was a profound influence. The lower voltage meant that the voltage dropping resistors resistance could be lowered resulting in less dissipated and wasted power as heat across the resistors. Also because of the now higher power rating of the input transformer I could change the CRC filter to LCRC filter with a 10 mH choke. This chock is switchable allowing for faster music or slower music variations.

Do you think any of these are worth considering for the new CSP3 upgrade? Price may be a consideration. Given all the mods I have done similar to your anniversary edition and beyond (to the extent that I even upgraded the solid state minature brigde rectifier for the filaments to a hand build wheatstone bridge rectifier with 4 Schottky diodes) I am not sure if it is worth for me to ditch mine and buy the new one. But who knows what the futrure holds. Some of the things you are planning on incorporating need a new build from scratch.

Would you be able to advice me on the 6N5P change for the front input tube? The design considerations that went into it and the changes to the resistors / capacitors required. As you know from way past I live in Canada so the motivation was to do the mods myself as the price after for duty/custom charges and shipping back and forth makes it exorbitant. As they say necessity is the mother of invention.

Cheers and thanks,

BA
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #637 - 10/14/18 at 14:51:54
 
Norm, so try it with your P5 (filtered and protected AC for your ZMA only ~ the rest/regenerate @ 120 sine). If you are not doing it. Plus, you are running good cables in your System with Morrow. I just added them to my audition list vs. my Kimber Select and Voodoo's best for XLR to my ZBIT. All that matters, is your ear brain connection. Great cables matter as you know and good power. Plus, lets not forget, we know the value and the stunning ear brain connection, that the best NOS input & inverter tubes provide.

Overkill, not necessary though........... . ...and everyone has their own definition of that/in which is also cool.  

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #638 - 10/14/18 at 21:20:30
 
from Stone: "Will, thanks for the tip on  Pangea AC9SE."

You are welcome on Stone. I am glad things got better! I also bought that cable to try into a PSAudio regen, the P5 though. Needing to improve the sound of the P5, I was hoping the Pangea reviews held up for me. I should have known this big copper cable would not be an improvement, as I had tried some really nice cables there, and they did not help increase transparency enough. So I made a super clear and quiet power cable, carefully tuning the gauge to sound. Along with running my source components through a more transparent distributer, a more transparent room receptacle, the most optimal vibration solution I could come up with, a good fuse, and some serious settings balancing, things got good with the P5.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #639 - 10/14/18 at 21:22:57
 
Steve, very exciting news! Congratulations on the decision to make a 25th CSP!

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #640 - 10/14/18 at 21:42:53
 
Hey Bandrade, in reply to Reply #631

Sounds great, your newer DAC, and I don’t doubt relevance in the analysis you used. At the same time, maybe semantics, but what I read from your posts feels uncomfortably absolute for me: that if a DAC is good enough, impedance match good and voltage output right, these largely determine whether a pre stage can be good or not…. Also, that transparency defines better.

But in a complex system, variables vast, even subtle things can add up to transparency or lack thereof. And what of transparency without musicality...in a truly transparent system wouldn’t lesser recordings sound bad, and medium, mediocre, and good, good. Or, the exact same system, in different rooms, will clearly sound different. And even with the exact same room shape/design, materials, climate, room treatments and system components, then varying power, cables, vibration management, tubes, contact treatment, etc, could make one system much more transparent than the other, creating different starting points for system changes and modifications.

Similarly, in your system/room, I guess you could test a handful of DACs widely considered really good….with admired output stages and internal pres, good impedance matching, good voltage out, good cables….and likely they would all sound notably different, some better and some worse, and for different reasons.

In the same vein, I suspect your mods sound quite different from mine, and Steve’s different again. I don’t know what you did, but though they may work in your ZMA, I could not use Obligato gold caps. Compelling open/articulate mids, but tending to hardness and coolness on music prone to these, whether in my Torii or CSP3 as PS bypasses. Similarly, I can test 5 great sounding resistors that measure very closely, and hear notable changes with each, each doing some things better or worse...Variability from a single part, of a single component, can improve or degrade the whole experience for me. And each part choice changes the others past and future.

Then, especially to get transparency from my CSP3, cables, vibration treatment, gain settings, AND TUBES...all can really change the CSP3 character here. Even after a lot of mods that made all tubes I test more complete, tubes can still make my version of the CSP3 more or less beautiful, especially in terms of resolution/transparency.

Anyway, just looking at how a single part of the chain can impact on the whole, to me illustrates, not irrelevance, but the limitations of theoretical analysis. I agree with the efficacy of keeping good theory in mind, but there are literally thousands of ways for different high quality DACs, and for cumulative modification choices to sound quite different. This to me indicates many, many ways to find synergy in individual components and in system combinations.  

Before my long mod cycle, I was seriously tuned in every way, system and room. Loving the sound, keeping everything pretty consistent was easy, establishing a pretty solid reference. My computer/DAC/source was very close to the one that won best digital source for the money, and best digital overall the several times it was shown at RMAF. Then, early in my amp mods, I modified a Gustard x20 Pro, and with the same computer setup in front, it is really, really good, so I feel good about my source, finished more-or-less in spring of 2017.

Then, as a means to keep from falling off track, I really tried to keep Steve’s basic signature balances while increasing transparency and musicality across the spectrum. Though I likely strayed some, relative consistency is not really a choice for me, defined by very sensitive perception/hearing with narrow tolerances. On one end, just enough bass to sound/feel like a real bass, it does not take much excess in the balance, a bit exaggerated and thickened, for fatigue to show up for me. Also, I need bass to balance so it does not mask mids up or overwhelm immediacy. On the other end, within the constraints of the gear, seemingly unlimited upper range helps bring out the fine detail and space I need, but with a pretty serious limitation on hardness in the mids/upper mids/low highs, something that seems easy to get from clarification without really right combinations of parts and wires. Then balance between low and high...excellent detail and quiet enhancing rich textures, spacial information, harmonics...complex throughout, and mids clear enough for darker recordings to sound good, and warm just enough for lean ones to sound like music (with gain riding)…

It takes very little deviation anywhere in the spectrum for it to sound off for me. Back when I was fine-tuning the system to the room with EQ in my player software, even a few tenths of a dB with a very narrow Q was often enough to pull it all together.

So with amp mods, no longer system/room tuning, all changes were based on a system/room standard, working to refine the amps within this foundation. I also worked intentionally for extended periods on the Torii, then shifted for a while to the CSP3, a means to keep relative reference intact. With progressively accumulated breakthroughs from Torii work, there were several times when the CSP3 was really hard to bring up to it. But with determination, and loads of experiments, so far, it has always happened.

Starting with quite useful pre-burnin with a Frybaby2, I mostly did one part, or wire at one time, and if it did not improve the sound, usually in most ways, I tried another. I think needing a single change to be a clear improvement helped keep a thread of improvement, eliminating parts lacking breadth in how they brought beauty. I guess this explains why I have been at this for about two years. With many hundreds of experiments, now maybe 100 parts, wires and cables (amps combined), from input RCAs to outputs, have changed. All I thought improved resolving musicality without degradation.

My goal, either inside gear, or as a whole, is always to get things to where almost all recordings can sound beautiful, and I suspect in many cases, better than they did in mastering rooms used to make them.

These thoughts are just pointing to the variables of how the results can vary pretty widely with similar objectives and theories. With hundreds of different sound choices, and when even one cable can change the character of the whole of a system, I don't understand absolutes about pre stages.

Edit: This is not to say necessarily that Steve's or my modded CSP3 or ZBIT in front of your DAC would be beneficial, but I think it is possible. Also not to say that with or without a pre is better in general. I totally get that in your system and room, with the particular mods you did, that using your CSP3 was finally not as good as without. I can also sort of imagine the possibility that your DAC output might be so good, it may not particularly benefit from any pre stage. But also, I can say, that in my very revealing system, I like two pre stages at this point! Again, maybe semantics, we all find the best we can, and explain it as best we can, but vast variables in complex systems make me nervous about absolutes. That said, I appreciate your thoughts and ideas and I am really glad your efforts got your system as good as it is!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #641 - 10/18/18 at 03:02:13
 
Hi Steve,
looking forward to the csp 25! Any chance that the layout will be such that the output is in the front and thus have minimal cables from there to the front input of the 25th amp?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #642 - 10/18/18 at 04:17:06
 
Steve,
That new 25th Anniversary Edition preamplifier sounds so perfect!  
Best wishes for your success with it.

Brian
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #643 - 10/18/18 at 15:06:12
 
Put me down for one of those 25th Anniv CSP3's !!!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #644 - 10/18/18 at 17:36:41
 
Stefan,

Yes, there will be rca inputs at the front. 2 pair in the back as well.
See Steve's post #634
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #645 - 10/18/18 at 18:57:57
 
So the outputs will remain at the back. You still could get by with .5 meter interconnect though I bet.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #646 - 10/18/18 at 19:56:23
 
Yeah, I was talking about the CSP outputs, not the inputs.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #647 - 10/19/18 at 00:54:41
 

The output jacks will have 7 inches of silver/Teflon wire connecting them to the output tube.  These CSP3 outputs have potentially up to 30 volts. Even at 4 volts it's only half as effected by wire as it would be with 2 volts running through it. The reason the input jacks are optionally located so close to the input tube is because the voltage is so low. The average CD will show a signal between 100mV and 500mV on average, so 1/2 a volt means cable is very important.  You can rest easy that no matter how expensive your output interconnects are, they will not be held back from 7 inches of silver/Teflon wire at these voltages : )

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #648 - 10/19/18 at 05:38:10
 
Thanks Steve, fair point with the higher voltage on the output. The other part is purely aesthetic, having the cables going from the back of one component to the front of the other component just doesn't look that good to me, but in the end the sound comes first  :). Currently listening to my Zen25 on my Tannoy's and again amazed what this little amp does with those speakers.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #649 - 10/19/18 at 20:08:21
 
Quote:
Zone D on the P3 is marked “HC” for High Current. Unlike zones A, B, and C, the HC zone does not output regenerated AC, and instead provides filtered and protected AC from the mains.


On page Page 3 of the P5 owners manual... the HC marked Zone D outputs of the P5 are "identical" to the other zones, except they are "soft start" to keep current hungry amps from tripping breakers.  On the P3 Zone D does not output regenerated AC, but on the P5 the HC zone does put out regenerated AC.

from the P5 (which I own) manual:
Quote:
Zone D on the Power Plant 5 is marked “HC” for High Current. This zone is identical to Zones A,
B, and C in terms of the quality of regenerated, regulated AC output, however it also enjoys the
benefits of an in-rush limiter. Upon powering some high-wattage-draw devices up, it is possible to
trip the circuit breaker in the residence. An in-rush limiter, such as the one found on Zone D of your
Power Plant 5, slows the pace of initial AC output. A more gradual rise in output voltage allows the
connected device to power up fully while not over-taxing either the P5 nor the mains power


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