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Should I get the Stepped Attenuator? (Read 3375 times)
NormD
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Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
08/20/16 at 22:56:58
 
I'm about to place my order for the ZMA with the balanced inputs, but I am not sure about the benefits of the stepped attenuator since there is a single volume control  I don't see adjusting the volume on the amp much once I fire it up and if I read the manual correctly, the gain control will probably be in the max position most of the time anyway..  I will be using a Marantz AV8801 as a pre/pro and listening to downloaded 24-bit recordings, LP's and 24-bit converted LP's, BluRays, Pandora and infrequently movies.   Thoughts?
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JRMedia Center running on a MacMini
Oppo 103D for video
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Rotel RMB-1585 amp
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2Hsu Research ULS-15 M
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Lon
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #1 - 08/20/16 at 23:22:20
 
I find that I prefer the stepped attenuators . . . they seem to be just a tiny bit more transparent. I tend to adjust the volume more than you seem to be going to so it may make no difference.
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vyokyong
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #2 - 08/23/16 at 04:53:38
 
Hi,

Just my experience, I have modified my ZMA by taking out stepped attenuator. It provides much more clarity, subtle details, timbre, dynamic contrast and better 3D imaging.
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NormD
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #3 - 08/23/16 at 11:37:42
 
So are you running the ZMA at maximum amplification and controlling volume with the input?
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OPPO Sonica DAC
Technics SL-1200M3D Turntable
SoundSmith The Voice cartridge
JRMedia Center running on a MacMini
Oppo 103D for video
Marantz AV8802a Pre
ZTPre & ZMA for Stereo
Rotel RMB-1585 amp
Focal Electra 1038Be speakers (93 db)
2Hsu Research ULS-15 M
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #4 - 08/24/16 at 15:55:53
 
You do not want the stepped attenuator....as vyokyong stated.






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« Last Edit: 08/24/16 at 15:56:16 by stone_of_tone »  

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Archie
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #5 - 08/24/16 at 17:11:20
 
Quote:
You do not want the stepped attenuator....as vyokyong stated.



I'm just lurking here but to clarify, vyokyong removed his volume pot altogether and hard wired his ZMA at full volume.  Unless we want to do that, which attenuator would be preferred?  Steve recommended that I keep my ZMA at full volume and regulate with my CSP3 (which I do not do).  At full volume is there a difference in attenuator fidelity?
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Lon
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #6 - 08/24/16 at 17:57:37
 
Personally I think that if you bypass the volume control altogether as it seems V has done then you have the best fidelity when controlling volume from another source.

In my experience the stepped attenuator sounds better than the "infinite volume" one by a hair. I bet if they were both at maximum the sound is likely nearly identical.
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NormD
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #7 - 08/25/16 at 00:51:20
 
I ordered the stepped attenuator, as a discrete connection seems better than a wiper on a coil of wire.  I'll have to hear the amp with my system before I do anything to it.

BTW, here is how Steve suggested I run the amp:  "As for adjustment, you'll find that the higher you make the signal feeding the ZMA and the more you turn down the ZMA's input control to compensate, the better everything will usually sound."

That makes good sense to me and I'll give that a try when i get my amp.
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OPPO Sonica DAC
Technics SL-1200M3D Turntable
SoundSmith The Voice cartridge
JRMedia Center running on a MacMini
Oppo 103D for video
Marantz AV8802a Pre
ZTPre & ZMA for Stereo
Rotel RMB-1585 amp
Focal Electra 1038Be speakers (93 db)
2Hsu Research ULS-15 M
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Archie
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #8 - 08/25/16 at 01:23:31
 
Quote:
BTW, here is how Steve suggested I run the amp:  "As for adjustment, you'll find that the higher you make the signal feeding the ZMA and the more you turn down the ZMA's input control to compensate, the better everything will usually sound."

That makes good sense to me and I'll give that a try when i get my amp.


LOL, that closer to where I ended up despite him suggesting the full volume on the ZMA.  He may have been trying to simplify things for me since the CSP3 has so many knobs!

I'd be tempted to bypass my volume pot if I had skills.
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NormD
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #9 - 08/25/16 at 01:41:32
 
I'm thinking of not using a preamp at all for serious listening and instead use the Decware switch between my ADC, DAC and Marantz pre/pro (for HT).  All of those have volume controls, but I have to get up to adjust the volume - a PITA - for the non-Marantz inputs.   For now I will use my Marantz pre/pro as the input to the ZMA, using it's DAC and have the ADC coming through it.  That way I have total control over volume from the comfort of my chair.  Later I will try a direct DAC connection and see how it compared to the Marantz.  It is unlikely I will remove the ZMA volume control.
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OPPO Sonica DAC
Technics SL-1200M3D Turntable
SoundSmith The Voice cartridge
JRMedia Center running on a MacMini
Oppo 103D for video
Marantz AV8802a Pre
ZTPre & ZMA for Stereo
Rotel RMB-1585 amp
Focal Electra 1038Be speakers (93 db)
2Hsu Research ULS-15 M
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Jeff1
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Posts: 58
Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #10 - 08/26/16 at 20:20:48
 
Norm, my thought process was the same in regards to the type of volume control. I eventually went with not stepped but reading about your current equipment and the numerous sources you use I think you made a good choice. I use my ZMA full gain. I have not noticed any sound quality differences with using a lower level on the ZMA. I use my source component for volume and only turn down the amp for power up and power down.
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vyokyong
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Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #11 - 08/31/16 at 06:28:27
 
Hi,

Sorry for late reply.
My system, the signal path from source to ZMA does not pass any resistors volume control or stepped attenuator volume control. I use pre-amp to control volume and the pre-amp uses the transformer based mono volume pots.

The Coincident Statement Line Stage is the most direct, purest approach in active pre amplification. The input signal travels from the transformer based mono volume pots to the transformer input and then to the 101D tubes for gain and lastly out through the output transformer. The 101D tubes are directly heated triodes that are the most linear amplifying devices ever invented.

Normally, volume control in source, pre-amp and amp use resistors attenuator for volume control. The clarity and transparency will be little lost depend on quality of volume pot.

I think that we should plan the system as whole system from source to amp. And then decide which direction to go and fix your need. For me, I give Clarity and transparency is the first priority. That is the reason I avoid resistors attenuator. I believe reality LIVE music hifi system starts with CLARITY and TRANSPARENCY.

Enjoy your listening.
Regards.
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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, Amarra Symphony player,
Zen Mystery Amp. MIT Oracle speaker wire, Avalon Eidolon Diamond speakers. Coincident Statement preamp, Martin Logan Depth subwoofer
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Jeff1
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Posts: 58
Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #12 - 11/05/16 at 17:05:40
 
Norm i figure you have your amp by now so what did you come up with in your use of the volume on the map and or sources? How is it so far?
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Esoteric SA-50, ZMA, Legacy Sigs SE w/Metro Sub, PI Audio Uberbuss, All Cables OmegaMikro, Room treatment absorbers, diffusers and tube traps.
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NormD
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Posts: 37
Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #13 - 11/07/16 at 03:33:57
 
Hello Jeff!

Yes, I have my ZMA and I am totally pleased with it. When I first hooked it up it was like a muffler was pulled off my tweeter! I heard crystal clear highs I never heard before with such clarity. The bass is clear and distinctive with midrange of such clarity I am constantly amazed.  I am using the amp to push my Focal Electra 1028be's and it has no problem driving them. I am keeping the ZMA stepped attenuator volume control about 3/4 of max and it seems to be fine for all my sources. I am using subwoofers crossed over at 60hz so the amp does not get too loaded down when I crank up the volume but I am not totally sure I really need to. I am glad I bought this amp!
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OPPO Sonica DAC
Technics SL-1200M3D Turntable
SoundSmith The Voice cartridge
JRMedia Center running on a MacMini
Oppo 103D for video
Marantz AV8802a Pre
ZTPre & ZMA for Stereo
Rotel RMB-1585 amp
Focal Electra 1038Be speakers (93 db)
2Hsu Research ULS-15 M
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Jeff1
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Posts: 58
Re: Should I get the Stepped Attenuator?
Reply #14 - 11/08/16 at 03:43:12
 
Good to hear. After experimenting I am finding that about 3/4 on the amp gain is my preference as well.
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Esoteric SA-50, ZMA, Legacy Sigs SE w/Metro Sub, PI Audio Uberbuss, All Cables OmegaMikro, Room treatment absorbers, diffusers and tube traps.
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