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The ZTPRE has me Red-faced (Read 385 times)
Lon
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"Love without
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The ZTPRE has me Red-faced
09/28/17 at 21:00:42
 
If I were an audio reviewer I'd be tempted to write a long long review of the ZTPRE and would be embarrassed . . . because this is one of the few components I've ever had that is very difficult to write many long words about.

Well, I'm not an audio reviewer, just an enthusiast, and a Decware enthusiast at that. Still I'm as red-faced as the face plate on my ZTPRE about the efforts I've made to describe this preamp. And after several attempts I'm tempted to just quote what Steve writes on the product page and call it a day. . . .

Steve wrote: "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."

And though in the past I've found some of what Steve writes as descriptions a bit. . . hyperbolic. . . I have to admit that here he nails it. I am red-faced embarrassed to have held so strongly onto the idea that no preamp is better than my DAC's preamp feeding my amp, or that no preamp comes without a detriment to the overall sonic signature , that "the best preamp is no preamp." I've used two different versions of a Decware preamp, and a few others, and came to prefer the direct output of my DAC through a Decware ZBIT. This is IT I said to myself. full stop. All I can say in my defense is: I had not heard the ZTPRE.

The ZTPRE is the best preamp I have ever heard. And after weeks of use and thinking on its design (and designer) I see the reasons why. The four power supplies (toroidal transformers playing a large part, plus the just right rectification and the hum-free components), the innovative and genius design and layout that produces the simple and sweet balanced design and the Windex scrubbed clarity, the quality parts that preserve the signal integrity. . . all these add up to the magnificent sum that is the ZTPRE preamp.

To use with this preamp from my source and to my ZBIT I purchased excellent cables. Swapping a few other cables in and out makes it very clear that the ZTPRE gets out of the way and shows you exactly what you have incoming influenced by the wire. It rewards the best wire, and will help you make a confident choice.

I've rolled a number of tubes in the ZTPRE. I find the stock complement of 6N1P (especially three matched pairs of "super-cryo'd"  6N1P I installed) to be excellent, and to be an excellent complement to use when I use 6CA7 or 6SP3-E tubes in my Torii Mk III. And a six pack of Philips PC189 or Mullard and Amperex ECC189 have a special bond when I have KT66 tubes installed in the Torii. Just as with cables, the ZTPRE will show you the quality and nature of the tubes you install and system synergy will determine what may be best.

I guess I actually can say more about the ZTPRE than I thought I might be able to. I'll just say that Steve's words ring true: the ZTPRE helps create a very musical listening experience, and with its adjustable gain offers a very flexible way to fine tune the system. And mine has the remote control option. . . which I didn't think I would use. . .and use a lot. Works very well and keeps you planted in the listening chair with a grin.

I'm very happy with my ZTPRE. If you could use a preamp. . . try to swing this one!
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Jeff of Arabica
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"Music is what
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Re: The ZTPRE has me Red-faced
Reply #1 - 09/29/17 at 06:22:29
 
Nice write up Lon!  You should think about reviewing Wink

I remember when that pre-amp was released.  I was always impressed with its looks, being such a departure from the typical Decware body style.  If I had balanced connections, I would definitely have purchased one.  I would have never thought to add the ZBIT as you have - clever thinking.  

I am happy to hear that all of the additions and transitions your system has experienced as of late, has paid off.  I know you have spent a grip, but when you have gone that far, it makes no sense to let up on the throttle at the final lap.  Well, I guess I will be able to hear one in the flesh at Decfest in a couple weeks.  

It is a great looking pre and from what you have written, she doesn't only looks hot in the dark!

I have to agree on the use of a pre-amp.  I think it is very system dependent and a pre does not have to be a purity taboo.  I put my Ultra through the ringer these past couple months using the analog Tape Tour rig and in doing so, ran my vinyl rig, reel-to-reel, and CD transport through it into my ZMA.  Well, the Tape Tour rig left my house on the way to Linton on Saturday, and my Ultra is still in the chain and things are soundin' real purdy!  

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ZMA//Zen Ultra//Torii//ZDSD//PS Audio DirectStream DAC + Memory Player + P10//Rachael//Super Zen Triode//Taboo MK III//Muse Phono Stage//Zen Head//SonoruS R2R w/ tube playback pre-amp//OPPO BDP-205//Omega SAHOs//Monoliths//Ultrasone Signature Pros//UM Miracle CIEM
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Lon
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"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 12719
Re: The ZTPRE has me Red-faced
Reply #2 - 09/29/17 at 13:19:18
 
Thanks for the kind words Jeff. No desire to be a reviewer, though I do like to write. One of these days I may write one of the several novels I've attempted over the decades. . . though with my track record probably not.

Yes, I've thrown a lot of money at my system the last few years (my last gasp of doing so for a while probably, other home priorities will take precedence) and I'm happy with the results. But the beauty of the basic system I've had this decade is that it is musically satisfying and improvements are incremental, and like adding another few pieces of candy to a generously filled bowl. My system has been pleasing me for a long time!

The Ultra has always intrigued me--if I had more than a two channel system I'd have had one. Steve's designs are always functionally smart and beautifully executed.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DS,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,V2+V3;CambridgeAudio CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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