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Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 5985 times)
vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
08/27/14 at 10:09:49
 
Hi All,

I would like to have all commends or ideas of how to improve sound quality of the Mystery Amp in one place. So that members who are interested can be shared his or her experience with other members in order to benefits to all.

Thanks in advance for all member's value experience to participate in.

I would like to start with :

Improve Signal Path by get rid of brass alloy in RCA female plug and Speaker binding posts.

We have to thanks Steve for great ZMA and most reasonable price. However there are some cost constrains to manage in order to get ZMA cost attractive and reachable price for general audiophiles.

But some components are weak points which we can improve by replace them with high quality or exotic components, particularly the components in signal path.

The RCA female jack and Speaker binding posts are over looked by general audiophiles. They are one critical components in signal path. There are new changing in RCA female jack and Speaker binding posts design by using low mass materials together with pure silver or pure copper at the signal lead path instead of conventional copper alloy or brass material. The reason to change is that copper alloy or brass causes signal distortion and blur or mud sound transparency and 3D image.

I have done on line research and believe this idea. Then I did change RCA female jack in Zen Switching Box which I use together with ZMA to be WBT Next Gen Ag 0210 pure silver. And I change speaker binding posts in ZMA to be WBT Next Gen 0705 pure copper. The sound quality improvement is phenomenal. It is open my eye and worth every penny even though WBT is very expensive. Please read below link. I get same experience as his.

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?fcabl&1102955411&read&keyw&zzwbt...

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?fcabl&1109098249  
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photo_2_002.JPG

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #1 - 08/27/14 at 10:14:23
 
Zen Switching Box after upgrade with WBT RCA female jacks. I think that ZMA owner who also uses Zen switching box as in put selector should consider to do this upgrade. It is a must since Zen switching box is a weakest link in audio chain system. You will feel like get new sound level of ZMA when you did upgrade.
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photo_5.JPG

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #2 - 08/27/14 at 10:18:45
 
WBT Next Gen 0705 speaker binding post pure copper signal path. Please check carefully that it is pure copper or pure silver in signal path or not? The old version WBT uses copper alloy or brass even it is coated with gold or silver. It destroys sound transparency, micro-detail and dynamic.
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photo_3.JPG

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #3 - 08/27/14 at 10:21:22
 
ZMA after upgrade with WBT Next Gen 0705 pure copper. I highly recommend to upgrade at first priority. It is one of most worth upgrade I did.
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photo_4_001.JPG

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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busterfree
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Posts: 142
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #4 - 09/01/14 at 18:01:17
 
I think it would be great to see these aftermarket parts offered by Decware. Or, maybe they can install if I send them the parts. I am not comfortable doing the work myself.
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #5 - 09/03/14 at 09:53:10
 
My upgrade plan of ZMA has 3 sections;

1) Upgrade signal path by changing factory's RCA female jacks, Speaker binding posts and signal wire for maximize efficient flow of signal and minimize distort of signal. If we use car racing system to compare. This section is like making high speed road for racing car. If the road is not good, car cannot run as their highest speed. If the signal path is not superb high resolution and superb transparency, your expensive components cannot shine in term of transparency, speed, sound stage, focus image, transient and dynamics. It really affects all key attributes of sound quality. It is first priority.
2) Upgrade power supply section by changing factory IEC inlet and adding super high quality transient load decoupling capacitor for maximize power. It affects to transient, authority, speed, PRAT, dynamic and bass impact. This section is like fuel for racing car.
3) Upgrade key components, for example capacitors and resistors in signal path. This section is like engine, gears and brakes in racing car.

If you prepare signal path well but your section of 2 and 3 are ordinary, not thing special will be happened. It will have ordinary sound. But if you have section 2 and 3 well, but section 1 is poor then all section 2 and 3 cannot be shined. Or the sound quality is poor because of section 1.  If you have section 1 well, all section 2 and 3 are well too. The section 2 and 3 will be shined as their full potential.

This time, I upgrade resistor in signal path of switching box to be 10K Vishay VAR series 'naked" Foil Resistors. (aka. Texas Components TX2575 or Charcroft Electronics CAR Series). The result is impressive and highly recommended because total cost is not high. It is only USD 51.04 (4 resistors @ cost of USD 12.76 each) I confirm same result as Dgarretson got as below;

08-11-08: Dgarretson
What is remarkable about TX2575 in signal path(replacing Caddock MK132 and Caddock TF020/USF340, which had previously replaced Roederstein and generic carbon comp), is how much more detail & nuance of pitch & timbre TX2575 reveals across the entire spectrum, without sounding in any way thin or sterile. That said, these resistors eliminated bass slurring that some might consider warmth. There is also a blackness behind an airy, resolving yet smooth HF, that I want to believe is an attribute of a quieter resistor.

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?htech&1218474065&openfrom&1&...

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/parts/119229-vishay-audio-resistors.html

http://www.higas.net/audio-hifi/audio-reviews/vishay-var-z-foil-review/
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« Last Edit: 09/04/14 at 03:15:08 by vyokyong »  

photo_1_002.JPG

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #6 - 09/03/14 at 09:56:15
 
The picture of resistors in signal path of switching box, before changing.
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« Last Edit: 09/03/14 at 09:57:04 by vyokyong »  

photo_4_002.JPG

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #7 - 09/04/14 at 06:13:27
 

I've heard of those resistors before - I wish they were 1 watt so I could use them in some of my guitar amps that call for 1 watt resistors, that I want to get a little more detail out of.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #8 - 09/04/14 at 16:22:56
 
WBT-0102Ag RCA with my Kimber Select KS1030 Interconnects.

I can certainly appreciate how the poster in the first Audiogon thread, ...knows how good the Kimber Select 1030 is. I run a pair from my DAC to CSP3, an then a pair to my ZMA with WBT-0102Ag RCA. My new 2nd pair (.75 meter) from the CableCo, are burning in beautifully.

With the WBT-0102Ag RCA....an the ZMA as good as it is. For me?! If it ain't broke....don't fix it.
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Sony as Transport
Illuminati D-60
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
360 degree Rm Treats
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #9 - 09/05/14 at 02:37:19
 
Hi Stone of tone.

I agree with you. It is a revolution in sound quality, if the alloy metals in signal path of connectors (Male and Female RCA jack, Speaker binding posts of Amp and Spade of speaker wire and binding posts of speaker) are replaced with pure copper or pure silver metals.

If I have to buy new Zen Mystery Amp again, the first thing I do is that I will change female RCA jacks and speaker binding posts to be WBT Next Gen pure silver. The ZMA's sound quality is not just better but it moves to another level of sound quality. Now I am considering to replace my WBT male RCA (old design version which uses alloy metal in signal path) of my MIT Oracle interconnect cable to be WBT -0102 Ag RCA.
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« Last Edit: 09/05/14 at 02:39:46 by vyokyong »  

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #10 - 09/05/14 at 09:49:17
 
I forgot to provide the solder I use. It is ;

Mundorf Silver/Gold Solder

Silver/Gold is added in the M-SOLDER which itself is a pure tin copper compound. Silver is used for better conductivity and retaining superior sound qualities. Gold is applied to safeguarding the sound properties. Specifications: 95.5%Sn/0.7%Cu/3.8%AgAu (AgAu=99%Silver1%Gold) - 1mm Dia. - 2.5% Flux - Lead and Cadmium Free.
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MUNDORF-70429.jpg

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #11 - 09/05/14 at 15:33:59
 
Even though I said: "If it ain't broke don't fix it". I am seriously considering this MOD vyokyong. Both the RCA Inputs on my ZMA an the 8ohm Speaker Binding Posts with the Silver Solder, replaced with WBT's best Ag's. I am going to price it out.

Thanks for posting this vyokyong. I will have my guy at Midwest Speaker (most excellent solder slinger) do the MOD. Sometime between now an the end of November I should be able to get it done. If, I decide to do it.

In for a penny ~ in for a pound. Nice tweaks.

By the way, are/were you in the process of doing both the 8ohm an 4ohm Speaker Taps at the time of the picture posted?
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« Last Edit: 09/05/14 at 15:54:51 by stone_of_tone »  

Sony as Transport
Illuminati D-60
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
360 degree Rm Treats
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #12 - 09/05/14 at 16:30:59
 
Hi Stone of tone,

Glad that you will do mod as I do now. I can assure you that you will feel regret if you don't do mod after you get your mod ZMA back.

However I would like you to follow my step by step of mod in each section. So that you can have over all view of mods and their effects to sound quality. And then you can decide to do your mod of ZMA in one shot. That is the reason that I inform of my total mod plan because I am afraid that someone decides to do mod now and find out later that there are more mods that he wants to do.  And now his ZMA will have second time of mod.

The reason that I don't do one shot of mods because I want to learn the effects to sound quality of each parts of components. Even though I have to disassemble ZMA many many times. If it is not worth to do in any parts, I will report so that you can avoid to spend money in that parts. However until now I am very happy with the results. I will report more, please be waiting. Have a great weekend.
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Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #13 - 09/05/14 at 16:55:54
 
Hi Stone of tone,

I did only 4 ohm speaker binding posts because I have no plan to change my Avalon Avatar speakers which is 6 ohms. I feel connect with 4 ohm binding post, sound is better than 8 ohm binding post. And the cost of WBT binding post is expensive. I will change only the one I use now. I am in different situation than you because I do mod by myself. I can do it later if I want. But you have to send out for some one to do for you. And you have many speakers to use then you may need to do both.

I forgot that the holes of current binding posts are too close to each other that two sets of WBT binding posts cannot be installed together. You can see from my posted picture. I have to move location of binding post to both ends to solve the limited space. And I have to use small piece of plastic to insert between binding post of WBT and current one in order to make sure that they are not contacted each other to have short circuit in amp's operation. Then you have to decide to install only one set.
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« Last Edit: 09/05/14 at 17:02:19 by vyokyong »  

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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vyokyong
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Posts: 109
Re: Ways to improve sound quality of The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #14 - 09/05/14 at 17:12:28
 
From posted picture,  the outside end of both WBT binding posts are 4 ohms. The inner pair of factory binding posts are 8 ohms. The soldered internal output wires are rearrange to follow new location of binding posts.
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image_019.jpg

Audio Note DAC3.1 Custom modded to 4.1, DIY Duelund wire RCA IC, Offramp 5 USB SPDIF converter, Mac Mini, Pure Music
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle RCA IC. Avalon Avatar speakers. Depth Martin Logan Subwoofer.
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