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ZTPRE Impressions (Read 897 times)
Lon
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ZTPRE Impressions
08/19/17 at 16:00:49
 
Dear Readers,
Is it really possible there are so few impressions of the ZTPRE?

ILance gave us a good review. (And since has sold the preamp).

I'm curious about the unit. I love the ZBIT! And I have a ZROCK2 on order. But the CSP2+ is a great sound too, and if the ZTPRE is better. . . well better is better. . .. I do like the idea of running a balanced cable into the preamp and that's the only one currently in the Decware stable one can.

So what saith the owners? I'm hoping there are a few reading the forum who will chime in. Thanks!
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #1 - 08/19/17 at 19:09:07
 
I like the ZTPRE for what it is. I am not much for reviewing equipment, but I am satisfied with my purchase.

I often think about selling it, but I do not think I can do better for a simple balanced preamp that is hand wired with gain adjustments. I don't have the remote option or three inputs, but I like that I can have that later if I want.

I have not tried different tubes. I worry about getting six properly matched tubes (maybe I should not worry). I don't know. I too am interested in what others think about it.

My main goal and use for the ZTPRE is to pair it to SS balanced amps. I only have one at the moment. I listen to it more in the winter time because my SS amp is class A and warms up the room in extended listening sessions.
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #2 - 08/19/17 at 19:12:18
 
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« Last Edit: 08/19/17 at 19:13:35 by busterfree »  
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #3 - 08/19/17 at 19:18:06
 
Thanks for weighing in Buster. (And great "rack"). I can see that with one source and into a balanced amp this would be a very purist and likely "invisible in important ways" preamp. I would likely use only one input as well, but split the output via ZBIT to run to two amps or one into a preamp and then into another amp.

The more I read about it the more intrigued I am. I had set aside my CSP2+ for some time when I received the ZBIT this fall and fell under the clear and solid sound the ZBIT gave to my Torii. But because it has two stereo outputs I put my CSP2+ back in and with tube rolling I really enjoy that sound! The ZP3 may even be a better sounding option, and I have the ZBIT that I could add a second output to and use both the Torii and the Taboo (for phones).

Kicking tires and appreciate your input. I'm hoping to hear a few more impressions!
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« Last Edit: 08/19/17 at 19:35:31 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #4 - 08/19/17 at 19:54:49
 
From product page:
"A preamp like this one is very much like the preamp that you can't hear... except for the way it animates the music. It takes music that already sounds good, and makes it pop into a believable experience. It does this with dynamics, separation, pace, density and holographic imaging and does so against a backdrop of liquidity and intoxicating tone. All things which are the natural result of gimmick free circuit design and superior execution."

This is absolutely true in my experience.
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #5 - 08/19/17 at 20:24:20
 
Thanks buster. That says it all.
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #6 - 08/20/17 at 16:59:03
 
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #7 - 08/20/17 at 17:08:07
 
GREAT pic! I'm beginning to really want one.
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« Last Edit: 08/20/17 at 17:13:30 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Cisgo
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #8 - 08/21/17 at 20:12:10
 
Hey guys, I too have interest in a simple balanced preamp if it can improve my setup. I just run an Oppo 105 player into a FWatt J2 (balanced). I am happy with the sound, however I was curious as to what adding a balanced tube preamp into the chain would do and if it is worth the investment.
Have you ever ran your J2 without preamp to compare how much the preamp adds to overall sound? If so, what do you think? Thanks in advance.
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #9 - 08/22/17 at 01:54:35
 
I have not ran my J2 without a preamp. I may try one weekend and report back.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #10 - 08/22/17 at 04:05:20
 

Regarding tube changes in the ZTPRE there needn't be any fear of that.  It's a dual mono design so the tubes do not even have to match.  They simply need to all be the same type.  So if you switch to 6922, you need to do all three tubes on each channel.  The reason for this is that the heaters of the tubes are wired in series and we need them to match.

Using 6922's in the ZTPRE vs. the stock 6N1P's is like having a completely different preamp.  One with much higher resolution, focus and clarity.  You loose some of the warmth of the 6N1P.

-Steve
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Steve Deckert
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #11 - 08/22/17 at 18:30:14
 
I got this email yesterday from a customer who had problems with his ZTPRE from the beginning. It had shipping damage causing a hum problem then when I fixed the hum problem I hooked one channel up backwards making the unit out of phase from channel to channel.  BTW, QC bench modified so that can never happen again.

Anyway, I sent it back and it was the first time he had heard it work properly:



Quote:
8/18/2017:

Steve:

As I mentioned in my last note and as we discussed, I was seriously considering returning the ZTPre after all the problems I had and that I felt it was limited. I even went so far as to buy another preamp because my mind was made up.

I'll be selling the other preamp.

I ran A/B tests using switch boxes into my ZMA. My listening tests were such that I knew which preamp I was playing, but when I had my wife listen it was a blind test. We came to the same conclusion. I played LP's and 24-bit 96kHz downloads. The ZTPre highs were cleaner without being brilliant or harsh as was the other preamp even after rolling tubes therein. The ZTPre bass was tight without being boomy. The piano sounded like it should with notes clear and resonant. Guitars sounded like the instrument was in the same room and you could pick up fingers running up and down the strings. Brushes on a snare drum were clear and not muddied as were the cymbals. The overall sound was just better. It was close and if I didn't have the ZTPre, I would have been happy with the other preamp - at least until I got upgrade-itis.

The other amp did have some very compelling features such as more inputs, a Home Theater bypass, cheaper tube rolling and a much less fussy volume control. But it lost when it came to listening. So, I use an XLR switch box to be ZMA for Home Theater bypass and I doubt I'll be doing much tube rolling. I have just enough inputs for stereo listening and I can deal with the volume controls.  I'm good.

Nice job. Very nice.

Thanks for picking up the return shipping and for the extra set of tubes.

Norm
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« Last Edit: 08/22/17 at 18:32:30 by Steve Deckert »  
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #12 - 08/22/17 at 18:34:50
 
Thanks for adding both these posts of info Steve!
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #13 - 08/27/17 at 17:12:02
 
Picture bump

Today, the ZTPRE is feeding a ZBIT and SE84UFO.

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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #14 - 08/27/17 at 17:32:51
 
Thanks for sharing, this is whetting my appetite for the ZTPRE (red face) that I have arriving Thursday (previously iLance's and bottle head's).

I have a very similar/same (?) rack for my tube equipment (a Samson Ver. 2 rack that will house the ZTPRE, and houses the ZBIT, Taboo Mk IV and the Torii Mk III) and a larger (Samson Ver. 3) for all my other gear and for the TV and DVR housed on the top shelf. Love them!
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #15 - 08/27/17 at 18:17:03
 
Please share your thoughts on ZTPRE when you can.

I chose not to go with Samson V3 rack in my second system due to cost. I got a rack from cb2 that I would recommend to anyone looking for an industrial look at low cost.



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pursuitofnow
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #16 - 08/27/17 at 18:24:57
 
What a beautiful set up. I can't wait to hear your thoughts. I've always been curious how the ZTPRE would sound with the SE84UFO.
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Dave1210
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #17 - 08/27/17 at 20:05:40
 
Very nice setup Buster.  What speakers are you using in your main system?

Lon...looking forward to your impressions of the ZTPre.
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« Last Edit: 08/27/17 at 20:06:44 by Dave1210 »  
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #18 - 08/27/17 at 20:21:54
 
You'll definitely hear my impressions. . .I can't keep quiet about Decware components. Wink
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #19 - 08/27/17 at 20:36:48
 
Klipsch Forte II
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busterfree
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #20 - 08/27/17 at 20:42:05
 
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #21 - 08/27/17 at 20:43:13
 
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #22 - 08/27/17 at 20:49:00
 
I really like the ZTPRE. I do not get any listerner fatigue with it in my system.
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Dave1210
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #23 - 08/27/17 at 22:28:24
 
Thanks Buster.  Your pictures are excellent!  Great to see amazing audio systems in such great light.  I'm glad you're enjoying your ZTPre.  Best.  

-Dave
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #24 - 08/28/17 at 01:35:55
 
buster, yes the cost of the Version 3 Samson rack is substantial. . . I bit the bullet and really enjoy it. But. . . I've torn it down and moved it about six times now . . . not an easy task, those big slabs of maple are HEAVY and awkward for one person to move it. My friend David and I actually moved the entire rack assembled from my house in Austin and into a UHaul truck and back out and into my town home in Ohio. . . when we were done each time we looked at each other in wonder that we actually did that!

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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #25 - 08/31/17 at 21:56:13
 
My new (used) ZTPRE (no. 006) has arrived and is installed and the first music is being played through it. Sounds great so far!
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #26 - 08/31/17 at 23:57:01
 
I didn't get much more than 90 minutes of listening in before dinner and won't have any listening time tonight. I must say it's a beautiful machine and it cold sounded as if it wasn't there, the sound was almost identical to the sound of the source directly into the ZBIT. That's a good thing, cold, unplayed for at least a week, to sound that transparent. (But not too surprising as this has the copper foil Jupiter caps and they are very transparent in my experience).

At the end of my listening session I was getting sound that was a bit more dynamic than before after adjusting the output a bit and playing with the remote volume control. As I have new cables going to and from it I suspect a slow improvement over the next few weeks, I also have Furutech fuses to install (I know these work well in the CSP2+ and the Taboo Mk III and Mk IV and Torii Mk III) and I have both 6922 type tubes to roll and "super-cryo'd" 6N1P dated from the 'seventies from cryoset.com to roll. So finally all the new pieces I put together and ordered this month are in the system and the tweaking and enjoying begins.
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« Last Edit: 09/01/17 at 03:11:26 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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SonicSeeker
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #27 - 09/01/17 at 02:32:22
 
That is great to hear Lon.
I look forward to read your future impressions of this fine addition to your system.
Enjoy.
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #28 - 09/01/17 at 07:55:34
 
Interestingly my wife was so impressed with the looks of the ZTPRE that she wanted to hear it so we listened to a bit of her music and fiddled with gain settings and then we watched television through the ZTPRE for about three hours. It is opening up very nicely and we were both impressed with the sound.

About halfway through I swapped tubes, replacing the stock 6N1P with four Mullard ECC189 and two Amperex ECC189 that I have purchased in the last few months. BOOM! Everything changed, and went from a very neutral, transparent stance of the preamp to a dynamic colorful hefty presentation. (In part this was also the component fully warmed up). I'm eager for tomorrow and more sonic discovery.
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #29 - 09/01/17 at 14:08:49
 
Lon,

Awesome that it is working for you. It is sharp looking and i'm sure it sounds awesome.

JD
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #30 - 09/01/17 at 14:16:06
 
Yes, it's surprising me how well it's working. I may well have stumbled on the best tube set and settings as there's nothing I'd really like to change right now. . . everything is just animated. The soundstage has bloomed. The tonal balance is spot on for the rest of the system and for my tastes.

I'm playing a version of an album I have in four different editions: LP, Mobile Fidelity SACD, ORG SACD and a cd version from a Columbia box set of Duke Ellington releases, second volume. I'm playing the cd version, which always seemed just a bit bright and thin in comparison no matter what the setup. But not today. Just right, and there's more ambient information audible than I am used to hearing from this cd. Later I'll put in one of the SACDs to compare. . . but this cd is illustrating what the ZTPRE is doing so well for my system.

Of course I also upgraded XLR cables since I've heard this cd and every day my speaker placement is a bit different as I move the speakers back to the wall after listening sessions and then out into the room for listening sessions (a compromise I make for my wife's aesthetic sense). But I KNOW the ZTPRE is in here kicking serious ass 17 hours after being switched on.

This component is something else. The ZBIT makes it possible with my Torii, and my Torii is facing the challenge being all it can be.
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #31 - 09/06/17 at 18:32:01
 
Okay, have to say. . . this is a great preamp.

I have three different sets of NOS tubes I can use and really was preferring the four Mullard/two Amperex ECC189 combo. . . until I left the cryo'd 'seventies Volshod 6N1Ps burn in for about 30 hours. Now these are my favorite and are going to stay in. Been a long time since I preferred 6N1Ps but gosh the sound is really really good.

There's more ambient detail and more depth to the soundstage and some very detailed imaging going on. These new cables are also contributing to an overall ease and convincing ebb and flow.

This is the preamp that is not like any preamp I've used before. . .the one that "does no harm" and does a lot of beneficial things!
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Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #32 - 09/16/17 at 23:46:19
 
Okay, ten days have gone by without me saying a word on this thread about the ZTPRE.

That's because I've been listening to music and so happy! This is the best preamp I've ever heard, and the one preamp that I definitely say is better than NO preamp. I'll put together an in detail review later this month. Back to listening!
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« Last Edit: 09/17/17 at 15:26:56 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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SonicSeeker
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #33 - 09/17/17 at 14:44:51
 
Awesome Lon.
Is the pre stock or were there any options added.
I apologize if the info was stated previously.
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Lon
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Re: ZTPRE Impressions
Reply #34 - 09/17/17 at 14:46:47
 
The ZTPRE has the remote option, the copper foil capacitor option, and the three balanced input option. And the red face plate. . . I would have ordered it myself with the black faceplate, but Lucy really likes the red so that's a plus!
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« Last Edit: 09/17/17 at 14:54:37 by Lon »  

Decware:HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,wh belt,all Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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