Welcome, Guest. Please Login or Register
Decware Audio Forums
03/25/17 at 03:00:32 


 
 
 
 

Pages: 1 2 3 4 
Send Topic Print
The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good! (Read 6617 times)
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 11622
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #30 - 09/28/16 at 21:26:05
 
Well, thanks to the excellent customer service of Decware I now have a fully-functioning ZBIT to replace the one I broke in that had a defective stepped attenuator.

I am finding a nice spot about three clicks lower in output than I could go before with the defective unit. Allows the delicacy of the music to be preserved while also adding just the right amount of weight.

I'm looking forward to this unit being broken in and integrated into the system completely. I am very impressed with the ZBIT after seasoning. This is an elegant solution to the problem of balanced output into single-ended input and Steve's ingenuity is once again proven and enjoyed. I also believe that it is exceptionally transparent. And therefore that cables matter both before and after the unit. Randy (tubenube!--no longer an apt name) has loaned me a cable similar to the single-ended VooDoo Cable I've been using and with two XLR cables to play with it has been interesting to note the differences in sound that result. Putting excellent cables fore and aft is definitely the way to go if you can.

Okay, part of me just relaxed that hadn't since I received the first ZBIT and found it was not fully functional. Kudos to Decware once again.
Back to top
 
 

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,ZBIT,Taboo III;PS Audio DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade spkr cbl;CambridgeAud CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt, Groovetracer upgrades+Exact2;VooDoo Cbl:Stradivarius+Cremona,Iso-Pods; Mplshade:Samson v3;Oppo PM-1;Audeze LCD2
  IP Logged
Bottlehead
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 147
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #31 - 09/29/16 at 08:30:21
 
Hey Lon,
Really glad that you've got the unit back and fully functioning. As I stated before, I continue to be impressed by the way Steve does business. The ZBit has allowed me to take advantage of the increased voltage of the balanced outs of the Directstream DAC, and it really has made my system more enjoyable to listen to - much fuller and more involving sound. I had tried the ZBit before in a different configuration, and it didn't provide the effect that it does in my current system. I'm convinced now that it's a keeper, for sure.

I haven't had much time for listening sessions lately, but maybe I'll get back to it this weekend. I still don't have my Aurender music server broken in yet, but it has really taken my computer audio files to the next level. I know you're not a digital guy - I was wondering about it myself for a long time, since there was such a dropoff in SQ from my CDs. That has changed with the addition of the Aurender coupled with the Directstream DAC. And it's much more convenient having so much music at my fingertips - or maybe I've just gotten that much more lazy!

Anyway, I'm glad that you are enjoying the cables. You can take your time with them.

Randy

Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 11622
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #32 - 09/29/16 at 11:08:19
 
Glad the Aurender is proving to be a great source! I just don't see myself moving to digital files, I have so many discs, don't want to waste months of my life ripping, and actually love to handle discs and go through the collection, etc.

The ZBIT cured the one nagging concern I had with the DirectStream: the lower voltage coming out of single-ended. It just needed a little more. And with the ZBIT I get a little more and then some. Works really well with my other source too, though the CSP2+ I am using with it helps a bit more in a way it doesn't for the DirectStream which has a great sound of its own and doesn't need the CSP2+ help. I'm hoping that in a few weeks I'll have "set it and forgotten it" and this recent phase of new component fitting is done and I'm back to just spinning and spinning and spinning!
Back to top
 
 

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,ZBIT,Taboo III;PS Audio DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade spkr cbl;CambridgeAud CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt, Groovetracer upgrades+Exact2;VooDoo Cbl:Stradivarius+Cremona,Iso-Pods; Mplshade:Samson v3;Oppo PM-1;Audeze LCD2
  IP Logged
Bottlehead
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 147
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #33 - 09/30/16 at 09:19:09
 
I know that "plateau" feeling that's possible to achieve from time to time, where the music is better than it's been before, and it's satisfying on a higher level. Those are the time when we "coast", and enjoy all the tinkering that we've done with our systems. I'm in one of those moments now, and I hope that I can sustain it for a while. I agree that all the ripping is a pain. I put all my cds onto my iMac, and then transferred them to my MacBook Pro for my music server several years ago, but was never satisfied with the sound quality. Then a screaming hot deal came up on the Aurender, so I'm back in ripping mode again. Sigh. It's a pain, but the results are far above the MacBook sound.

Thanks for the kind words regarding my user name. I have been in this hobby since 2008, when I heard my first tube amps - Cary Audio (AES) Six Pacs monoblocks - and promptly bought them. Not long after that I discovered Decware, and the rest (and my wallet) is history. I have considered changing my handle, but I'm not sure what's involved. I'm "Bottlehead" over on US Audio Mart, and I see that username is not taken here, so maybe I'll switch. Depends on the degree of difficulty, and the depth of my inertia.

Anyway, happy "plateauing".
Randy
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Bottlehead
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 147
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #34 - 09/30/16 at 09:32:08
 
HOLEE CRAP! I guess it's just that easy - I changed my user name to Bottlehead by editing my profile with one click. I like it! I guess now I'm "The Artist Formerly Known As TubeNube". (Well, you know, except for the artist part). Anyway, thanks for the prod!
Randy
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 11622
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #35 - 09/30/16 at 14:03:08
 
Alright Randy, good move! Good handle too!

So glad you are participating here. Smiley
Back to top
 
 

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,ZBIT,Taboo III;PS Audio DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade spkr cbl;CambridgeAud CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt, Groovetracer upgrades+Exact2;VooDoo Cbl:Stradivarius+Cremona,Iso-Pods; Mplshade:Samson v3;Oppo PM-1;Audeze LCD2
  IP Logged
Bottlehead
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 147
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #36 - 10/02/16 at 00:42:12
 
Thanks, Lon!
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 11622
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #37 - 10/12/16 at 22:27:34
 
Alright a few weeks have gone by and. . . well. . . .

I am very happy with the ZBIT. I'm pretty sure it's broken in, I've been running signal nearly constantly through it. It has changed from day to day, but in good ways. Right now I'm getting excellent body and texture to the sound and a great tonal balance. Better than the system before its insertion. It responds very well to great cables on both sides (balanced in and single-ended out) and to my ears in my system it even responds to isolation components.

I'm glad I have one. As I have NO plans to replace the Torii in my system, ever, it makes sense to have one to have great choices in sources and their output. And this is a very elegant solution to the power of more voltage available from a balanced output and how to harness and control that. I think Steve could find a large market for this if he tried. It's a very good design and execution.
Back to top
 
 

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,ZBIT,Taboo III;PS Audio DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade spkr cbl;CambridgeAud CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt, Groovetracer upgrades+Exact2;VooDoo Cbl:Stradivarius+Cremona,Iso-Pods; Mplshade:Samson v3;Oppo PM-1;Audeze LCD2
  IP Logged
DBC
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 377
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #38 - 10/29/16 at 16:11:19
 
HI Lon,

I have the Oppo BDP105 with balanced outputs and have been following this thread.

Just curious, once listening with the ZBIT for a while do you eventually find a sweet spot setting for the output voltage and just leave it ?  Or do you find yourself adjusting it regularly depending on type of music ? Where do you have the Voltage Output Control set most of the time (0%-100%) ???

I understand the Pro's described in this thread. In your opinion, are there any Con's to having another set of cables and another box (ZBIT) in the audio chain ???

Thanks
Back to top
 
 

Main System: Oppo BDP-105D, SE84UFO amp, Omega Super Alnico Monitors, Twin Custom 15" LoFOB's (Low Frequency Open Baffle).
DBC   IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 11622
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #39 - 10/29/16 at 16:50:14
 
I'm going to start with the cons. And really there's just one: expense. It's not a cheap component, especially with the stepped attenuator and I always have preferred that in other Decware models. And . . . it's a very transparent component, window scrubbed clean. . .which in practice has meant for me that I can hear the differences in cabling before and after clearly, and I had to spend a few too many dollars to get an XLR that works really well with the single-ended cable I use to the amp. I tried three different ones (and thanks to bottlehead for lending me a VooDoo Cable XLR) and I like what I have settled on (Take Five Audio cryo'd ones) but they cost nearly as much as the ZBIT (the cabling coming out of the ZBIT cost even more, list). I even find that the ZBIT reacts favorably to isolation components, and luckily I have four different possible ones on hand to try and have found a really nice setup. In short, there's a lot of money added here, I bet my total cost to do this was as much as your Oppo, or more.

So as for level usage. . . I didn't do TOO much experimenting. The main reason that I went for this and the main benefit it provides for me is to give me just a bit more "oomph" from my DirectStream DAC. I got used to the higher output of it's predecessor, the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC. It had what subjectively seemed about a third or a bit more output. One of the sources that I run into the DirectStream, my DVR, at it's best sounding setting (Normal) was just a bit anemic via the DirectStream before the ZBIT. It was perfect for me, but my wife usually wanted it louder. . and it ran out of juice for her for many of her channels and moods. The ZBIT gives this lowest output plenty of headroom. So it fixed that problem for me without adding the heavy compression that putting the DVR in the Narrow mode does. My system is both audio and visual, and the TV gets a lot of use, so this was something I am happy to have fixed. So after some experimentation I can use the ZBIT in two different ways. I can use the DirectStream volume control to control the different volumes for the three sources it is fed (Perfectwave Transport --soon to be DirectStream Memory Player-- DVR and unversal player for Blu-ray and DVD sound). In that instance if I leave the ZBIT in the upper quarter of its range (clicks 15 to 20 or so) the system can be silly loud and I can regulate via the remote to the right volume for each source. But to be honest I like to get up and fiddle with things so what I generally do is control the volume with the ZBIT. So for Redbook the ZBIT is generally at about 12 to 14 clicks (depending on the loudness of the cd) and for DVR and universal player about 14 to 17 clicks. I think the difference is subtle, but I find a tiny bit better dynamics and clarity with the DirectStream and the Torii at max volume, and "riding the gain" with the ZBIT. It may just be my imagination though. Leaving the ZBIT wide open and controlling the volume on either other end or both is great sound too and when I do it this way I'm perfectly content with the minor differences I hear.

Hope that helps. I would not have gone this route if it weren't for the inclusion of the DVR in my system. It sounded kick-ass to me with the DirectStream straight in to the amp. It sounds different now, there is a more full-bodied sound and I've gotten used to it in comparison to the slightly more delicate and slightly more open-seeming sound without the ZBIT. But having the DVR be loud and dynamic and making Lucy happy is worth it for me. . . though I wish it weren't as high a cost as it turned out to be.

So to put it in "percentages" I'm using the ZBIT mostly betwen 60 and 90 percent and am adjusting it according to sources (and music, though that is more according to the loudness of the disc I think when using the Transport, or the loudness of the channel output from the DVR, it's wild how some are louder than others). And to address one last queston the only downside to having this one more component and cabling in the system is that it is so passive and transparent that you need to be very selective with cabling. At least you don't need to choose a power cord!

Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 10/29/16 at 17:01:57 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,ZBIT,Taboo III;PS Audio DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade spkr cbl;CambridgeAud CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt, Groovetracer upgrades+Exact2;VooDoo Cbl:Stradivarius+Cremona,Iso-Pods; Mplshade:Samson v3;Oppo PM-1;Audeze LCD2
  IP Logged
DBC
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 377
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #40 - 10/29/16 at 17:33:22
 
Thank you Lon, That helps a lot.

DBC
Back to top
 
 

Main System: Oppo BDP-105D, SE84UFO amp, Omega Super Alnico Monitors, Twin Custom 15" LoFOB's (Low Frequency Open Baffle).
DBC   IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 11622
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #41 - 10/29/16 at 17:52:23
 
You're welcome.
Back to top
 
 

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,ZBIT,Taboo III;PS Audio DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade spkr cbl;CambridgeAud CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt, Groovetracer upgrades+Exact2;VooDoo Cbl:Stradivarius+Cremona,Iso-Pods; Mplshade:Samson v3;Oppo PM-1;Audeze LCD2
  IP Logged
Dave1210
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 897
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #42 - 11/08/16 at 01:33:32
 
If folks are interested in reasonably priced XLR cables, I recommend the Benchmark Audio StarQuad cables.  My DAC is relatively close to my amp, so I can't speak for long runs, but short runs of this cable sound great.

https://benchmarkmedia.com/

A 3ft pair of cables will cost you about $80.  



Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 11/08/16 at 01:37:29 by Dave1210 »  
  IP Logged
Tommy Freefall
Verified Member
**




Posts: 38
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #43 - 11/08/16 at 18:01:38
 
Other XLR cables worth consideration are the ones from Better Cables. Steve D. has recommended these in the past.
I use these with my ZBIT.

https://bettercables.com/collections/balanced-xlr-cables
Back to top
 
 

Torii Jr., ERRx, ZBIT, Zenhead, Grado 325e
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 11622
Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #44 - 03/22/17 at 21:26:09
 
Just want to pump the ZBIT discussion up a bit.

It's been five months or so since I've had a broken-in ZBIT in my system. Twice I've taken it out for grins just to see if "I need it." Boy, do I. Being able to use the balanced output of my DAC is a real blessing to the sound of the system. The ZBIT is both "not there" (as far as transparency and clarity go) and "so there" as far as allowing me to fine tune the right amount of body and weight to the music. It's effects in this regard are very similar to what a CSP3 can achieve. . . but without another power supply and at a much smaller cost considering power cords, rolling tubes etc. And in my experience it's "less there" than one of the CSP preamps no matter how I've configured them and adjusted them.

This is a very plain-looking black box that hides an ingenious and elegant solution to the one little bit of dissatisfaction I had with my system sound, that one source was a bit challenged in output. Not only is that problem now just a memory, but there's been an improvement across the board in the sound of my digital playback.

Kudos again to Steve for this product, and I'd encourage anyone who thinks that the ZBIT might bring a benefit to their system to give it a try. I wager that it DOES.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 03/22/17 at 21:27:32 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,ZBIT,Taboo III;PS Audio DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade spkr cbl;CambridgeAud CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt, Groovetracer upgrades+Exact2;VooDoo Cbl:Stradivarius+Cremona,Iso-Pods; Mplshade:Samson v3;Oppo PM-1;Audeze LCD2
  IP Logged
Pages: 1 2 3 4 
Send Topic Print