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The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good! (Read 14663 times)
Steve Deckert
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The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
04/19/15 at 19:33:17
 


After overwhelming positive response from all those who ordered one of these before it was official, it brings me great pleasure to finally have this killer box on the site and able to be ordered!

Web Page: http://www.decware.com/newsite/ZBIT.html

Enjoy!

Steve
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« Last Edit: 08/17/15 at 17:33:13 by Steve Deckert »  
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lLance
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Re: The ZBIT XLR to RCA converter is now available
Reply #1 - 04/19/15 at 23:36:17
 
This is tempting but I have to wait to see what the new preamp will cost. If I can't afford the preamp the Zbit and my CSP3 will work.
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Re: The ZBIT XLR to RCA converter is now available
Reply #2 - 05/14/15 at 16:26:59
 
Finally!  I stumbled on Steve's post here a month late. My Bad. I own it (originally had #002, but a small update changed it to #004). I gave it a short and very positive review elsewhere in the forums. I still love it and recommend it to all CSP2/3 owners.

A good technical explanation of why it works so well can be found on the Jensen Transformers website at: http://www.jensen-transformers.com/application-notes/

The file to download is "AN003". Jensen used to allow the download without registration as an "Insider"; that's no longer the case.
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System 3: Fisher:R200/X202B > Magnapan MMG
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riknbkr330
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Re: The ZBIT XLR to RCA converter is now available
Reply #3 - 07/15/15 at 03:42:49
 
So I purchased this in the classifieds from one of our members (great transaction, btw), and I'm amazed at what my Oppo BD105 has transformed (no pun intended) into.   The Zbit was definitely needed to get the full "high fidelity" into my Rachel.  

I'm currently listening to a FLAC copy of The Jam's "All Mod Cons/Sound Affects" MFSL two-fer.   Amazing...btw, this is the best CD pressing of these two titles.   Bruce Foxton's bass has that extension...it's like I can feel the roundwound strings against my fingers and hear the fullness of the bass...just amazing.
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Re: The ZBIT XLR to RCA converter is now available
Reply #4 - 07/15/15 at 11:01:18
 
Glad you like it. Mine is on its way already, but I still need the Yggdrasil to get here early August to test the ZBit.
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« Last Edit: 07/15/15 at 11:01:40 by Fireblade »  

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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #5 - 04/22/16 at 13:12:21
 
After my SET amp settled down, my ZBit is working just great with it. Now, I use it for acoustic Jazz and those selections which do not require heavy orchestration. For those, I replace the ZBit with my Preamp for more slam and oomph.

All in all, I like the ZBit and what it does for the sound in my rig. It may take a while before it settles, especially if the amp is also new, but once these two devices get to steady state, it is a very good addition to the gear.
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Lon
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #6 - 07/16/16 at 20:14:48
 
Okay. . . I ordered a ZBit with a single stepped attenuator. Want to see if it will make a difference with my DirectStream and/or Denon player. Now the wait begins.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #7 - 08/06/16 at 17:50:26
 
Let me know what you think when you get this Lon.
Just received the TORII JR. last night and was considering one of these also.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #8 - 08/06/16 at 17:55:16
 
Will do. Don't hold your breath. It's been only three weeks. . . probably eight more or so to go. Sigh.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #9 - 08/06/16 at 20:03:54
 
I know the feeling.
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #10 - 08/08/16 at 19:12:28
 
Sonic, I recently received my Torii Jr. And I've got a ZBIT on order.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #11 - 08/09/16 at 22:43:10
 
Tommy
Where are you at on the list?
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #12 - 08/10/16 at 00:37:23
 
I think Tom's will be shipping soon. I bet his is in "Quality Control Testing" right now and for a few days.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #13 - 08/10/16 at 01:56:07
 
Excellent
Since he has the Jr like I do I will be very interested to here what he has to say.
Thanks Lon
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #14 - 08/10/16 at 19:54:03
 
Lon, you are correct.
I'll likely receive it sometime next week.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #15 - 08/19/16 at 01:25:13
 
Did you receive it yet Tom
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Lon
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #16 - 08/31/16 at 22:09:41
 
Mine has reached "parts pulled" status.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #17 - 09/05/16 at 07:43:19
 
I'm thinking about one of these for my Vega DAC, but it would be a custom unit with a fixed -6db for use with my Tortuga Audio LDR. I can't see myself spending 3K on the ones from Empirical Audio. I know someone who can make something nice with Finemet cores but it would be $1800 before wiring and plugs.

Seems like quite a wiat list?
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #18 - 09/05/16 at 12:12:00
 
Yes, I'm guessing it's about 8 weeks to wait after ordering. . . perhaps longer for a custom order? Calling Steve is your best bet for an estimate.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #19 - 09/07/16 at 00:29:25
 
My ZBIT shipped today, when it arrives on Thursday it will be almost exactly 8 weeks from order to receiving the component.

Looking forward to checking it out.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #20 - 09/08/16 at 07:13:10
 
Hey Lon,
I have had a ZBit for a while now, and I found that it worked well in some situations, and added extra compilcation in others. Just recently, I bought a PS Audio Directstream dac thanks to reviews from you, LR, and others. Maybe it's because the Directstream provides such wonderful detail, but after a tip from forum member Dave, I switched to the balanced outs, into the ZBit, and into my 10W Pacific Creek 300B amp (RCA inputs only). What a difference the extra voltage made! SO much fuller sound - esp in the midrange. I believe that you are in for a treat, so enjoy, and thanks for sharing all your accumulated audio wisdom.
Randy
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #21 - 09/08/16 at 14:19:52
 
Randy, thanks for weighing in on the ZBIT and the DirectStream. I'll have mine tomorrow, and I've broken in a pair of XLR cables from Take Five Audio that I think will work well with my VooDoo Cable Stradivarius Cremona single-ended cables (similar PC-OCC wire and also cryo treated). So I'm ready to experiment. I just hope that there's not added "brightnes"--the comments about "sparkle" give me a bit of trepidation. I can always send it back. . . though I've never done that before (but should have with the cd player).

Appreciate your impressions and hope I'm equally pleased.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #22 - 09/09/16 at 20:39:53
 
Well, received the ZBIT this afternoon. Puzzlingly, I could only get one channel out of the DirectStream (after getting two channels out just before with other cables, XLR to RCA.) So after being very frustrated I got two channels out of my Denon universal player and I'm just leaving it there for now. If there's a difference it's subtle at the moment.

I guess it's possible that I managed to somehow short out one of the DirectStream's outputs in the process. Hope not. Works fine single-ended. I'll leave things as they are this weekend (I get very little time to mess with these things on the weekend) and see what's what next week.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #23 - 09/09/16 at 21:01:43
 
Okay I figured it out, there are areas on the volume control where only one channel is output. I am getting two channels out of the DirectStream now. Interesting sound with the ZBIT turned up nearly all the way. Now to start making dinner.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #24 - 09/10/16 at 01:55:42
 
Glad you figured out the problem. That's where my ZBit lives, too - almost all the way up. 'Course with only 10W of 300B amplification into open baffle speakers, I need pretty much all it's got to give - even if the drivers are Steve's FRX2s. I may not have all the volume that I want at times, but I'm way pleased with the sound quality that I'm getting. I'll be interested to hear how you characterize the changes to the sound as your ZBit breaks in.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #25 - 09/13/16 at 22:22:57
 
A few good days of listening to the ZBIT and I have a bit of an idea of what it can do. I ran it as much as I could the weekend and then a lot yesterday and today, I'd say I have about 40 plus hours on the unit now.

I seem to have a problem with the stepped attenuator, much below "all the way up" it is not functioning as it should, there is a big channel imbalance and in some positions one channel does not come through at all. My guess is that it is best used turned up so this may not be a problem really but I may send it back to the mothership to be looked at a later time.

There is a bit more treble and "sparkle" and a bit more of a forward stance than using the single-ended inputs of my DirectStream. When listening to the material recorded myself this isn't a tiny bit compressed and colored as when I use the DirectStream with the CSP2+ which is good and probably why I will be keeping it. I can handle the treble increase with the (cherished by me) treble cut circuit on the Torii Mk III amp. Overall there's certainly more volume to be had from the source (which is a boon for my DVR output) and there's a bit more dynamics (the system is so dynamic that though I think the increase is appropriate and accurate it sometimes seems TOO dynamic!). Every aspect of it is an improvement, though not as large scale as a component upgrade, etc. I like it. I'll keep it. I'm getting used to it, and taking it out of the system briefly I was surprised that I wanted it back in.

This was a larger expense for me as I am convinced that I needed to preserve the characteristics of my great interconnects and didn't want to compromise the single-ended VooDoo Cable Stradivarius Cremona by pairing them with the wrong XLR interconnect. I settled on a Take Five Deluxe XLR interconnect as I have been using one of their Deluxe coaxial digital cables and love it, and the wire types and structure and cryo treatment are very similar to the VooDoo Cable at a third of the VooDoo Cable list price. I broke this XLR cable in using it on my Denon universal player with a Reality cable that is XLR to RCA that I have on hand, and it does sound really good. I wonder however if part of the brightness and forwardness is this new cable adding these characteristics to the sound. . . but I can't know without using a VooDoo Cable Stradivarius Cremono XLR interconnect and I am not going to buy one. (Guess I could rent one from the Cable Company. . . hmmmm).

Anyway, I'm enjoying the change in sound and I think the improvement will deepen with more use. I do think though whether the total cost is worth the improvement if like me you are also buying an expensive cable to use with the unit. If you have great XLR cables on hand, definitely, this is a nice improvement for the (not tiny) cost. If you are spending additional hundreds on cables. . . perhaps there are other roads to travel.

Will keep on playing and will update this thread soon.

I know this would also improve the sound of my Denon universal player, but that sounds fantastic running single-ended through the CSP2+. I think I'd be better served in the future by trying the ZTPRE for these two sources and a single-ended input on that for the CS2+ in tandem with the ZP3. That's a lot more coin. . . and another cable and a power cable and. . . well that option is pie in the sky for me and it's not raining pie filling yet. And my next target is the new PS Audio Transport coming out at the end of the year. . . .

This is an expensive hobby! But a rewarding one.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #26 - 09/16/16 at 03:24:58
 
Rewarding (and expensive), indeed. Most of the time I end up buying used, so that I can try more things.

I'm glad that you are liking the ZBit. It really filled out the sound in my system. Amazing what a little extra voltage can do!
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #27 - 09/16/16 at 11:34:14
 
I'm not sure it has made as big a difference in my system, especially when considering the added cable cost. It's improved a bit over the last few days. But the stepped attenuator is NOT working properly. . . it is only really giving proper channel balance at 7/8 to full up and I'd like to lower the volume control more and can't. I hate to send it back in but I'll have to at some point. Sigh.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #28 - 09/17/16 at 05:28:34
 
Yeah, that sucks. Having to send stuff back is one of my least favorite things, too.

I'm thinking that the difference in impact of the ZBit on our systems might be due to the difference in wattage. You've got 25 watts, and I've got 10. So your headroom is much greater than mine. Probably accounts for at least some of the increased effect that I'm getting.

On another subject, my audio friends have been raving about the Audioquest Rocket 88 speaker cables. I've been pretty happy with my Mapleshade Double Helix Plus, but I noticed that when I got my Directstream dac, the highs got just a little more boost than I was expecting. Not fatiguing, but more than I was used to. I ran across a great deal on the Rocket 88s, so I went for it. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of changing two variables at the same time. Sucker play. I changed the crossover module in my Hsu Research sub amp from the stock 55Hz to 109Hz. Really filled in the mid-bass, but the sound is not quite as dynamic on the upper end as it was. So now I'm not sure whether the effect is totally b/c of the change in crossover freq., or a combination of both. Rookie. I'm going to get a little more acquainted with the sound before I put the Mapleshades back in to see where the sweet spot is. Learning experiences abound. Especially when you are not careful/systematic in your exploration.

Randy

P.S. Lon, I sent you a PM. Check it out.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #29 - 09/17/16 at 12:45:05
 
Thanks for the PM Randy.

I agree that probably the difference with the ZBIT in our two systems may be that power differential and the headroom situations that presents. The ZBIT has broken in a little more and sounds nice, though it's now the weekend and a three day one for my birthday girl Lucy and I won't get much chance to do more than headphone listening, and the headphones are fed by my Denon universal player. . . so it will be Monday before I can set up the speakers into the room and give another critical listening.

Interesting component.

Like you I did notice a bit of a treble boost (but with real clarity) with the Mapleshade speakers. I tame this well with the treble cut circuit and with the the complement I've been running I'm really happy with the system sound with those cables, but will be very interested to hear how the AQ sound in comparison.
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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.
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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

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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!
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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".
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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!
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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
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #36 - 10/02/16 at 00:42:12
 
Thanks, Lon!
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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.
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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
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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!

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

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



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« Last Edit: 11/08/16 at 01:37:29 by Dave1210 »  
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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
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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.
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« Last Edit: 03/22/17 at 21:27:32 by Lon »  

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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #45 - 03/23/17 at 07:28:31
 
+1, Lon. I have only taken my ZBit out of my system once, and my immediate reaction was, "Well, I won't be doing THAT, again".
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #46 - 03/23/17 at 13:14:11
 
Yes, it's clearly helping both our systems out. It was your impressions that ultimately led me to a purchase, I thank you once again.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #47 - 03/24/17 at 03:29:19
 
Glad I could help, Lon. I've gotten so much information from this forum over the years, it's great to be able to give a little back.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #48 - 08/02/17 at 19:49:02
 
Just something I'm trying to figure out in this thread...If I have a new CPS3, does the addition of the ZBIT to the DAC output add something beneficial?

Thanks, Ken
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #49 - 08/02/17 at 20:11:43
 
I just tried this with my ZBIT and CSP2+ . . . I have to say. . . no, it really doesn't help things, I think the CSP2+ on its own gives the best sound.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #50 - 08/18/17 at 15:44:54
 
A week ago I received a pair of VooDoo Cable Evolution XLR interconnects to use with my ZBIT (purchased from bottlehead/Randy, he has one pair left to sell). I was happy with the 2' Take Five Audio cables I bought purposefully instead of VooDoo Cable XLRs for the ZBIT. . . I didn't want to pay the VooDoo Cable new price and the Take Five are very similar in construction and materials and are also cryo'd. But I thought that the 2' length would be fine and it isn't, I just needed another foot to place the ZBIT where it works best, so I went for the Evolutions, knowing that Randy is fantastic to deal with.

Well these Evolution from VooDoo Cable are just better than the Take Five in a few important ways: they are a bit more refined and a bit more neutral in tonal balance. They bring out tiny details in spatial and rhythmic ways and draw me into the music. With the Take Five Audio cables I felt that the ZBIT and the CSP2+ were both equally great ways to get sound from the DSD DAC to the Torii, but with the Evolution cables the ZBIT method is just a bit superior. I'm so hoping that the ZBIT and the ZROCK2 will work well together as this should give me the best, adjustable, sound.

The ZBIT just is such a transformative device in my system. This elegant little brainchild of Steve's keeps impressing me, and it will respond to cabling and placement and keep dishing out wonderful sound.

I'm so impressed with the Evolutions that when a friend repaid me a loan I made him seven years ago (! ! !) I invested in a pair of VooDoo Cable Stradivarius Amati XLR cables that the Cable Company showed as a special (probably demo) pair from VooDoo Cable at a price that was the best I've seen. . . . I hope those are actually at VooDoo to ship (the Cable Company wasn't yet sure) and I know (as I have Stradivarius interconnect cables everywhere else in my system) that these will be EVEN BETTER.
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« Last Edit: 08/18/17 at 15:46:16 by Lon »  

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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #51 - 08/20/17 at 15:09:16
 
I ordered another ZBIT. I needed to have a second set of stereo outputs added to my ZBIT . . .and a) I couldn't bear to think of a few weeks or more without it and b) I have another excellent set of XLR cables and a great source with a balanced output upstairs in that little system. . . so I decided to order another ZBIT to use with that system.  I know from experience that the ZBIT driving the modded C amp is an excellent sound. . . and with both balanced and unbalanced outputs on that source I can also drive the Taboo Mk III there for headphones.

I'm a Decware addict!
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #52 - 08/20/17 at 17:20:59
 
Haha!  Aren't we all Lon.  Not a bad "substance" to be addicted to, though.  Doesn't require any dark alleys or shady acquaintances.

I suspect my ZBIT will ship this week.  Been in testing/QC for awhile.  Can wait to get it attached to my DirectStream w/ Huron.  Although, this DAC attached to my Torii MKIV and Omega SAHO's has a noticeable increase in weight and drive.  Could be a product of system synergy and/or break in time.  Ive got quite a few hours in on it.  Whatever the reason, it is sounding really good just out of the RCAs.  I can't imagine how awesome it will sound with the ZBIT in place!
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #53 - 08/20/17 at 17:26:54
 
I added the ZBIT during the Torreys OS days and did the Huron update with the ZBIT but. . . well I love the DirectStream either with the ZBIT via the XLR or the CSP2+ via the RCA, may prefer the ZBIT by a hair for a certain refinement it maintains. You're going to be happy!

I actually really like the DirectStream straight from the RCAs into my Torii MK III a LOT. I just needed a bit more gain for one input (DVR in "Normal" not "Narrow" mode) as it wasn't quite loud enough for my wife--she likes her TV loud! That is what started me on the ZBIT trail and I'm glad I did, plenty of gain now and though I guess there is more body and heft it's not heavily painted and all subtleties remain.

Glad yours is shipping soon! I know you'll share your impressions Jeff!
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« Last Edit: 08/20/17 at 18:34:10 by Lon »  

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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #54 - 10/19/17 at 22:27:42
 
Well, thirteen months after ZBIT #29 hit here ZBIT #34 hit here. I had this one built with two stereo outputs (silver RCA) and two stepped attenuators. It's a beauty. It spent a long time in "Testing" and "Quality Control" and sounds pretty darned good right off the bat.

With the two outputs I can feed one of them to my Torii Mk III and one to my Taboo Mk IV. I had been disconnecting and reconnecting and disconnecting and reconnecting to use one or the other of the two amps for a few months and not really enjoying that (plus that's a lot of wear and tear on connections and connectors).

I love the ZBIT. My original ZBIT is now in my second system feeding my Taboo Mk III from the XLR output of the Denon universal player and sounding quite good. I think I may be able to use it in place of the CSP2+ I have there and simplify that system. I think that means I have three Decware preamps and three Decware amps in excess. . . I'm going to have to start selling items soon. Maybe I can sell enough to afford a ZMA! Wink
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #55 - 10/21/17 at 06:29:47
 
Ha!  That actually sounds like a damn fine idea!  You should do it  ;)
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #56 - 10/21/17 at 11:03:41
 
Maybe. It's so hard for me to sell stuff. But I may get on the stick.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #57 - 10/21/17 at 14:27:43
 
Gotta say it's so nice to have the dual stereo output on this new ZBIT. And it already sounds really nice. . . the ZBIT is a great component, Steve really struck a rich vein with the Jensen transformers and their integration into components.
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #58 - 11/19/17 at 02:16:37
 
I just received my ZBIT with two outputs and one volume control.  In my system in my livingroom, I am feeding a Hegel HD30 DAC into a Copland push-pull (with KT120ís) with ProAc D28 speakers and a TABOO mkIII with an Audeze LCD-2.  Hegel has both RCA and XLR outputs.  Even at its full-volume (Hegelís volume), I did not enjoy listening to the TABOO much as it lacked something in the bass compartment (my usual problem).  I had a feeling from what I have read on the Forum that the ZBIT would resolve the issue by doubling the input into the TABOO.  And baaam!  Here it is!

As I am writing this, I am listening to some Robert Glasper, and I have never heard the TABOO and the Audeze sound this good.  By the way, volumes on the TABOO are at full (both the gains and output) and the ZBIT is at 2:00 oíclock.  The lucid mode is off.  The tube compartment of the TABOO includes a NOS Siemens 6922, the stock SV83ís and a NOS RCA 5Y3GT.  

When I fed the Copland with the ZBIT, I must admit I did not care much for it.  Direct feed from Hegel into the Copland via RCAís sounds so good already, I felt like the ZBIT took part of the body out.  

Is the ZBIT a keeper?  Hell yeah!  With the TABOO, it is amazing!  I cannot wait till it fully breaks in.  

In the meantime, I think I am done for the time being in terms of sources, DACís, pre- and power amps.  The only itch I am left with is a pair of speakers for my bedroom, maybe a pair of Zuís...

Thanks for another wonderful product, Steve!!!
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #59 - 11/19/17 at 16:52:48
 
Alper, I totally agree that the Taboo and the ZBIT are a great combination. Steve alerted me that the Taboo loves a ton of gain and the ZBIT allowing all those volts in is a great boon to the sound. When used as an amplifier for speakers even MORE gain can be beneficial--in my second system I use the Taboo Mk III to drive Trapezium speakers and a ZBIT feeding a CSP2+ preamplifier gives me the best sound.

I'm surprised that the ZBIT isn't contributing to the BEST sound in your system with the DAC but there are so many factors . . . . In my own system the ZBIT mated to my DAC's balanced output yields the very best sound. . . . over the last year as I have grown more knowledgeable about the ZBIT and its use and spent BIG bucks on XLR interconnects the sound has bloomed and blossomed and with the ZTPRE added before the ZBIT I have really found clear, dynamic, vivid sound a daily occurrence and am living the good life!

On top of that there's now the ZROCK2 in my system. More than a cherry on top!
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #60 - 11/19/17 at 18:44:02
 
Thanks for the note, Lon.  My Copland is an integrated pre- and poweramp (both tube).  It does not require a high-output source, and the RCA connections from my DAC at its full output gives me a very satisfactory sound, which the ZBIT did not contribute (actually, it even deteriorated).  And my take is usually to keep the signal chain as simple as possible.  So, if it is working fine, I would not add any other component to the signal chain.  

With the TABOO - Audeze combination, it was a different story till I introduced the ZBIT into signal chain.  

But, I will definitely give it another try.  Maybe the two outputs of the ZBIT are different, I do not know.  I need to experiment a little bit!  :)

Best,

Alper
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #61 - 11/19/17 at 19:02:54
 
Cool. Unlike the Copland the Decware amps DO like to have more volts pumped into them so the ZBIT (and the gain possibilities of the ZTPRE) really do fill that need and get them hopping!

I really used to be a "as little in the path as possible" guy and as Decware moved towards all these boxes to put in the chain I was actually taken aback and a bit pissed. But. . . I have reversed my thinking and the proof is in the pudding: the ZBIT and the ZTPRE and now the ZROCK2 have each IMPROVED the sound with no degradation. So I've drunk the Koolaid, so much that I have to take bathroom breaks. . . Wink
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #62 - 11/19/17 at 19:46:58
 
Smiley Smiley Smiley

I just tried it again, Lon.  

Hegel HD30 --> ZBIT --> Copland

Two observations...

- The RCA outputs of the Hegel gives as much volume as when the ZBIT is fully cranked up.  Should not be the case, but I wonder this has anything to do with the Hegel, or the input stage of my Copland.

- The sound without the ZBIT is fuller with a deeper soundstage.

But with the TABOO, it is a different story.  In my setup, the TABOO is all the way up and the ZBIT is around 2:00 o'clock.  And maybe the first time, I am enjoying the TABOO this much with the headphones...
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Re: The ZBIT makes many DAC's sound twice as good!
Reply #63 - 11/19/17 at 20:10:32
 
Interesting. I wonder why that is with the DAC and amp but hey it sounds great so no worries!

Yes, the ZBIT and Taboo are truly a great match. I also this weekend tried ZBIT into ZROCK2 and into Taboo Mk IV and WHOA. That's a very good WHOA.
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