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The ZT Pre Sound (Read 1827 times)
lLance
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Posts: 153
The ZT Pre Sound
07/17/16 at 02:04:07
 
It looks like Steve's Karma is still very good. It's official, the ZT Pre is killer or as Steve put it "It is going to kick some serious ass"... Oh yeah, very good indeed. Like the CSP3, you have a lot of adjustment of voltage to tailor the sound and "ride the gain." I'm experiencing the best bass ever, and this setup has never been so quiet.  I tried to swap in the CSP3, and there was the dreaded buzz back that I have been plagued with.  I'm tired of even trying to find the problem, and it's certainly not coming from the CSP3.  It's XLRs for me from source to pre to amp.  Dead silent and black background.

I have used the CSP3 with the ZMA quite a bit and without direct A/B comparison. As good as the CSP3 is, I still believe the ZT Pre beats it hands down. The remote works very well, small increments are just fine with no change in sound quality.  You must read the manual or you'll think the remote is broken, right out of the box.

I have tried several other quality amps with the ZT Pre, all sounding good. But, it likes the ZMA the best.  The ZMA + ZT Pre have as much power as the 200 watt AVA Fet 400R going direct to the Oppo that I was using in this setup.  I'm getting just as much usable volume but lots more liquid sweetness. There's more slam in the bass region, and when I say more slam, I mean the best bass I've ever heard from my stereo period. I'm in awe of how it controls the bass.

It should be no surprise that these two components have good synergy together.  I know from experience that the ZMA sounds amazing by itself without a pre but the two have become one, a truly zen experience.  Sometimes an additional component to the chain will subtract from the quality of the sound, but not in this case. They are a match made in Heaven.  Time to do some tube rolling. I have (6) Philips PCC88 / 7DJ8 coming from Upscale.  Did I mention it is a very expensive pre to tube roll in. I wouldn't doubt that the factory complement of 6N1P-EB tubes sound the best as Steve painstakingly voices his gear. I would love to hear thoughts from some of the other ZT Pre owners.

Components:
Zen Mystery Amp
ZT preamp
Oppo 105D modded
Monitor Audio GX300 Gold speakers
PS Audio P10 regenerator
Acoustic treatments by GIK & Decware
Power cables: Triode Wire Labs, PS Audio, Mad Scientist Audio NEO
Speaker cables: Synergistic Research Element Tungstun
XLR cables are Bob Grost's Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme

Lance
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ZMA, ZTpre, VPI Scout 1.1 & Soundsmith Zepher Cart, Janszen zA2.1 Speakers, PS Audio DSD, Berkeley Audio Alpha USB, PS Audio P10, Win 8 & J River app, Morrow Cables Triode Wire Labs #7 & Lessloss PC, voodoo AES
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Dave1210
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Posts: 897
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #1 - 07/17/16 at 16:31:43
 
iLance...thanks for your observations regarding the ZTPre.  I have been on the fence about a pre.  I have always run my source direct (PS Audio DS via XLR-->ZMA) to maximize transparency.  Sounds like you aren't getting a decrease in transparency with the ZTPre in the signal chain.  Did you get the upgraded caps?  

The # of tubes in the ZTPre causes me some pause, as like you said, it's costly to tube roll (and according to the manual, ideally all the tubes should match).  That said, I trust Steve's voicing with less expensive tubes.

Are you still not getting the slam/headroom you need with your JansZen speakers?  Or is the ZTPre/ZMA combo a better match in your HT setup?  What are you using to drive the JansZens?
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lLance
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Posts: 153
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #2 - 07/17/16 at 20:07:40
 
I did get the upgraded caps. I will probably put the ZMA and ZT Pre back into the system with Janszens eventually. The Monitor Audio speakers are 90 db efficient and work very well together with the Decware best.

Currently I am trying out a Linear Tube Audio ZOTL 40 amp and Micro ZOTL as a preamp with the Janszens. This is a new company but all of his line is designed by David Berning, a more affordable version of the legendary Berning amps.

I have heard nothing as transparent as these OTL's. The ZOTL 40 is more powerful than the ZMA for pushing the Janszens and this is the first time I felt the Janszens didn't need a sub. The ZOTL 40 is good enough to be in the same neighborhood with the ZMA in the top notch tube amp category.
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ZMA, ZTpre, VPI Scout 1.1 & Soundsmith Zepher Cart, Janszen zA2.1 Speakers, PS Audio DSD, Berkeley Audio Alpha USB, PS Audio P10, Win 8 & J River app, Morrow Cables Triode Wire Labs #7 & Lessloss PC, voodoo AES
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stone_of_tone
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Listen Often/Listen
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Posts: 2217
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #3 - 07/18/16 at 16:50:22
 
Thanks for the observations as well lLance. I think I'm going to get the Linear Tube Audio ZOTL 10. My ARC LS17 SE continues to impress me with break-in. I can run balanced or unbalanced direct (from my ARC PRE-volume control/ARC) or run my high output source (ZDSD) to the unbalanced ALPS variable volume control input of the ZOTL 10.

LTA, really covered the bases for me here and I have efficient Speakers for the 10 watts per channel. The mod to my Adagio's sings with the ZMA or my little Zen's when I had them (SE84CS for 12.5 years). Well, the little Zen's within SPL reason..... .

I miss my EL84 based SE84CS....also had the Super Zen too. However, with 5 times the power.....and OTL ......even though Class A/B OTL and only a one year warranty.....I'm considering!

Thanks for the heads up.  Fun. Either the ZOTL 10 is going to impress the heck out of me and make a nice rotation with my ZMA....or I return it to Kevin and take the hit. Nothing ventured ~ nothing gained. Of course, the whole idea is to have this different transparency Amp (OTL Push Pull Class A/B output and my ZMA Ultra Linear Push / Pull ~ NO Neg feed)...but with a little more power 2 watts x 5 = 10....over my SE84CS.

Glad to read your impression of the ZOTL 40, running your JansZen's!
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« Last Edit: 07/18/16 at 19:38:19 by stone_of_tone »  

Sony as Transport
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Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
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Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
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stone_of_tone
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Listen Often/Listen
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Posts: 2217
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #4 - 07/18/16 at 18:02:32
 
Let me define different transparency. The je ne sais quoi, that Steve's pentodes run in triode/no neg feed....is a little different than my no neg feed UL ZMA. But, as we know, the ZMA pulls off most of the Steve's UFO Zen.....drum roll please.....but with POWER!

I'm hoping the 10 watt ZOTL impresses me with just a little more output SPL than a little Zen (but within reason). Futhermore, the tonal balance and detail at low volumes (like a little Zen Amp).

lLance, did you get your LTA ZOTL 40, from the local DC dealer (you're demoing) or Kevin?
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« Last Edit: 07/18/16 at 18:07:31 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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stone_of_tone
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Listen Often/Listen
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Posts: 2217
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #5 - 07/18/16 at 18:48:07
 
However, also to be considered....is getting the UFO Rachel at 6 watts per ch, EL34 based......to bring back in that pentode run in triode/no neg feed to rotate with my ZMA.

I will ponder and probably bring in the ZOTL 10 in the fall/Nov, first....to see what it can do. Your words about the 40 are encouraging lLance.
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« Last Edit: 07/18/16 at 19:41:15 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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stone_of_tone
Seasoned Member
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Posts: 2217
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #6 - 07/18/16 at 20:31:57
 
But then I should have my head examined (ZOTL can wait until Nov 2017). What I'm hearing today out of the ARC LS17 SE to ZMA.....I get why Audio Research got away from the 6922 tube types. ARC topology with the 6H30's as output Preamp tubes.....just gets out of the way of the music. So, I don't miss my CSP3. The SOUNDSTAGE and additional weight and PRaT are just so much more real.....  .

However, I DO want and like my signature I can create with the 6H30's running into my ZMA inputs....currently Telefunken E88CC's. I found that my Mullard's like to be ran direct.....I'll see how the rest of my NOS Platinum tubes sound with and without the LS17 SE Pre.....fun! Right now, 6H30's to Tele's/ZMA......stunning.


Decware Zen Mystery Amplifier
~BIASED at *60* mA~
(NOS/Platinum/Telefunken E88CC's in my A12 an B12 positions~Russian Cryoset 6H23N/P-EB's for Inverter Tubes~New NOS RCA 0A3's & New Quad of Tube Depot Stealth/Tung-Sol KT66's)

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« Last Edit: 07/18/16 at 20:34:44 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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lLance
Seasoned Member
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Posts: 153
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #7 - 07/19/16 at 00:30:34
 
Stone,

I live close to Mark Schneider so I drove to his house and picked up the amp. He is currently manufacturing in a basement of an apartment building in Wash, DC. He purchased a building in Maryland and will be in there soon with retail space (listening room) and manfacturing. It is a very new company just getting off of the ground.

Mark is an engineer but the amps are licensed and designed by David Berning. Mark has hired a bunch of fresh out of college engineering grads doing the manfacturing. He is setting up new dealers now along with Kevin from Upscale, he has his own retail outlet called Urban Hifi.

I would suggest having a listen at Axpona next year or whenever the opportunity presents itself. You're already in audio heaven. You can't go wrong with Decware gear and the ZT Pre rocks.

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ZMA, ZTpre, VPI Scout 1.1 & Soundsmith Zepher Cart, Janszen zA2.1 Speakers, PS Audio DSD, Berkeley Audio Alpha USB, PS Audio P10, Win 8 & J River app, Morrow Cables Triode Wire Labs #7 & Lessloss PC, voodoo AES
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stone_of_tone
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Listen Often/Listen
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Posts: 2217
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #8 - 07/19/16 at 13:48:59
 
Wow, thanks lLance. Great to have that close contact. I will be keeping an eye on Linear Tube Audio.
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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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maddog07
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seeker of truth

Posts: 418
Re: The ZT Pre Sound
Reply #9 - 09/20/16 at 20:21:11
 
If you're into OTL's... DIY or assembled at reasonable prices... don't forget Transcendent Sound/Bruce Rozenblit - he's been at it a long time....

http://www.transcendentsound.com/Products.html
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Decware Torii MK3, Wyred4Sound DAC2, Theta Digital Miles, Emotiva XMC-1, Emotiva XPA-5, Aesthetix Calypso, Wyred STP-SE, Martin Logan Vista, Audio Nirvana 12" Alnico's, PS Audio PW P5, Goertz, Kimber, Nordost and DIY wires, PSA pwr cords, Cary SLI-80, DM945's.....
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