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Holly Crap Batman! (Read 1338 times)
Steve Deckert
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Holly Crap Batman!
09/30/17 at 04:36:00
 

Boy... ever have one of those nights when everything exploded into what can best be described as your magical fantasy of what your stereo would sound like in heaven after your dead... I'm talking about the stereo in your higher self's apartment... this is what it must sound like.

You know, everything just explodes into insanity... the sound is 4 times bigger, 4 times more real sounding... and you know you must be dreaming because it's firkin digital!  What?  

I did three things differently tonight...  

1) I turned the modified Teac / ZDAC2 up to +10dB over standard and ran it's output's into the ZTPRE.  The ZTPRE drives a ZBIT on the other side of the room.  The ZBIT drives the ZMA.  In the ZMA is a quad of solid grafite KT88's from TJ Full Music tubes.  I modified the amp to bias up these tubes at 60 mA so I could listen to them.  ( I'm sorry, as I write this... I just can believe what I'm hearing... hang on.)  

It's just in sane.  It's so loud, and so big, yet so real and non offensive. Just organic, dripping holographic textures of pure musical ecstasy that drift through the space as intelligent energy there to please and impress... at your service master.  And talk about dynamics, density and weight... it's simply impossible to believe from a pair of 8 inch drivers.

How can something be this animated, and this FORWARD and be so laid back at the same time...  could only happen in heaven.  

What a combination... oh yea I almost forgot, I revisited Tidal as I do every year and now I am hear to stay.  The Master quality algorithm is brilliance and the poor bastard that wrote it should be rewarded.

So all of these thing came together at the same time tonight and it's just completely disarming... the digital that actually sounds good, and the insane gain/presense resulting from the ZDAC2 transformer coupled output feeding the ZPTRE's transformer coupled RCA inputs, and then the  output of the ZPTRE on MAX feeding the ZBIT on MAX feeding the ZMA on about 3/4 vol.  Speakers are the Eggs, which are a true radial driven by our FRX2 drivers.

Holly shit... If I die tomorrow let the universe record this sound forever. It's too good to believe and it's only 10:00 P.M.!  

Literally it's so good on the stellar recordings I'm listening to, that I'm actually afraid to listen to the vinyl rig or tape machine in fear I might piss off the audio gods and this view into sonic bliss will evaporate.,. and the lesson lost.

God I love music!

... minutes later...

I'm astounded that I'm listening to an internet stream up sampled to DSD that sounds this good. After all I've been doing it all year... and suddenly tonight the magic elixir/algorithm and gain structures came together in such a way that I have never heard anything sound this good.

Going to take some time to wrap my brain around this.  

I'm going to be really frikin pissed if this is just a dream.

Happy listening,

Steve

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« Last Edit: 09/30/17 at 04:53:00 by Steve Deckert »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #1 - 09/30/17 at 05:39:43
 
Still listening...feel like I'm at Jurassic park.  The music is that big.  And to the speakers unbelievable credit, the sound is phenomenal standing up, setting down, and even setting on the floor.  No difference in dimensionality scale and even the  perspective is hardly altered.  Just unreal.  I would drive a thousand miles to hear this if I knew it was possible before tonight...

You might think that a $1200 quad of tubes is the reason, but I don't think that's what behind it by any means... it's the algorithm and the gain structure nicely polished by the tubes.  I've listened to these tubes for 6 months and always thought they sounded best, but never even close to this, so obviously the tubes are only a small part of what is happening here tonight.

Boy, if I could have went forward in time when I wrote the middle of the night bloom articles to tonight, I would have surly pissed my pants.

So, with that, let's get some alcohol involved and see what happens... : )

God help us.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #2 - 09/30/17 at 06:27:45
 
Yea, this is just sick.  The most holographic 3D experience I've consistently ever had. This is really a wake up call for these speakers.  A di-pole line source combined with an true omini 360 x 270 degree sphere all emanating from a 1 inch voice coil... and crossover less full range... it's impossible yet hear it is!

Oh and btw, God bless Borris Blank!  I am certain if he were here and could listen to his own mixing on this system he too would piss his pants.

Proof Father Murphy was a discredited audiophile... Now that I have just carpeted the listening room, everyone is going to piss their pants and it will all be destroyed!

But seriously, I bet if he were here right now... yes, I would bet my life on it.  I truly would.  This is so sick...

This has actually caused me to do something I suck at, and that is memorize the location of the speakers: 5'-11" from the front wall, 48" from the side wall, +/- 1/4" ~ Listening distance is 9' 6", but can be any distance because the bi-polar slot can be rotated so that by line of sight the listener can see through each slot perfectly. This fixes the imaging for any listening position.

The imaging I am getting is simply unreal.  It surpasses everything so far and by a large margin too.  Hyperbole... I can promise you not.  That's the beauty of DECFEST... Friday night and Saturday night until the wee hours of the morning... you can hear it for yourself.  It starts happening after dark, which is getting to be around 8:00 P.M.  

Steve  :)
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #3 - 09/30/17 at 07:09:26
 
I'm sorry but this is just too unbelievable not to document.  I swear when I go in there and sit in the spot, I levitate. The music is levitating like never before and demands the listener participate.  

Probably after Bob gets here on Monday night... we'll play some Borris Blank on 45RPM LP and see where that leads...  

Thinking about this gain structure... a DAC with balanced outputs set at +10dB probably putting out close to 10 volts, feeding a balanced wide bandwidth transformer that is feeding an identical transformer in reverse at the RCA input of the ZTPRE which then drives a third identical transformer (ZBIT) which then drives the amplifier. This magic elixir is making the master series Tidal stream up sampled to DSD sound better than anything digital I've ever heard since 1981 when I got my first CD player.


Several minutes later...

OK, The only sound you don't hear is by the shadow of your own back.  let's call it 335 degrees of imaging.

The clarity is absolutely breathtaking... never seen anything this clear.  I'm pretty sure now that I'm dreaming.... dammit.

The energy is unreal. Remember the Star Trek movie with the whales... and the alien probe with the egg shaped transducer that when on simply grabs reality and takes complete and unrelenting control... creates giant oceanic storms on earth... that's what I'm experiencing from the sound that comes off these... is literally feels like there is maybe 60,000 watts focused in the center of each egg, enough to vaporize the entire block, and it's just coasting at around 2 watts... just teasing you with infinite possibilities... putting you right on the edge of the Grand Canyon without a safety net.  It's so real it's almost a sensory overdose.  

I honestly can't believe it.  If I can get here again tomorrow night, then I know it's real, if not I'll be quick the let you know the name of the beer.

Good night!

Steve



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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #4 - 09/30/17 at 12:46:18
 
Very exciting Steve! I can imagine how this can be as I am really enjoying the ZTPRE into ZBIT portion of the triumvirate of transformers partially responsible for this revelation.

Those Jensen transformers are something else!

I'm not sure I have the fortitude to fly THAT close to the sun, but I'm enjoying basking in the sunny audio rays my system is now delivering, thanks in large part to the wonderful Decware components. Thanks in large part therefore to your audio aviation skills!
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« Last Edit: 09/30/17 at 12:46:37 by Lon »  

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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #5 - 09/30/17 at 15:15:19
 
Nice Steve!

It must have been a good audio day. I had some breakthroughs yesterday that brought many months of work to fruition! Beautiful. Not so dramatic as your experience, but a really good day! And it is still good today!

I love how it always remains a creative process for you Steve...that grand quest for beauty that helps a lot of our lives! Wink
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« Last Edit: 10/01/17 at 00:19:42 by will »  

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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #6 - 09/30/17 at 17:31:49
 
It sounds like you had one of those moments we all strive for.
Getting close to the place in our mind, that even though we may have not been to, we know exists.
Audio Heaven.
I am closer now than I would have ever been if I had not stumbled upon this sight and became an idiot, see other post " your all idiots".
Thanks Steve for your continued passionate pursuit to giving us new and exciting pathways to enjoying our obsession.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #7 - 10/01/17 at 03:56:03
 

I checked today at around 1:00 P.M. and the sound was still there, even stone cold.  That almost never happens.  Now that it's evening when I would be expecting it to arrive if it were to visit, I find that it's still here from last night and this afternoon.  It has never left!

Any time you can get repeatable results, you're doing good! So I will relax a bit more and marvel at what I hear.  I think that is the operative word ( marvel) that captures the entire experience in a single word.

Listening is nice, but marveling is bliss.

Happy marveling

Steve



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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #8 - 10/01/17 at 05:31:33
 
You're going to love this...  at the same time I was having last nights audio experience, I was also testing the feed. Seeing if it would go the distance at just around 3000 kbps without crashing for 24 hours... Of course I forgot about that, just as everyone does at the fest incidentally...



So surprise... I have video evidence Wink. Here is the first song of the night...  it's pretty easy to hear the magic even through the iMac speakers and headphones!

https://decware.wistia.com/medias/92a9t2sked

Gotta have more!

Steve

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« Last Edit: 10/01/17 at 05:43:17 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #9 - 10/01/17 at 14:32:24
 
It sounded so amazing even the cats curiosity was piqued.
It sounded great just through my pc's speakers.
Nice.
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #10 - 10/01/17 at 15:22:09
 
I found my next Decware purchase. I look forward to the Live feed next weekend too.
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #11 - 10/01/17 at 16:59:05
 
EGGS, the final frontier!

HK
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #12 - 10/01/17 at 18:27:26
 
Steve, love what i'm reading and hearing on your post. My CM947's are really shining since I added mapleshade jumpers. Last 2 nites have been amazing (best I've heard my system in last 3 years of upgrades and tweaks). I hope your synergy continues and I look forward to hearing more during Decfest.
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #13 - 10/01/17 at 19:55:43
 
Glad you got great jumpers for your DM's, Ace. They are a must. The DM's are very good. However, they were no match for my modified Adagio/Tweeter's and Driver's ability to crush at all SPL levels. This is not a dig on the DM's.....just the way it sits.

Although I would never part with my modded' Adagio's run into by my KS6063......I'm very interested in the EGG's with my ZMA. I take in all challenger's and give them a fair shake.

From preliminary judging..... I might end up having the Egg's and my Adagio's for rotation. Ugh, now to budget for those puppies.
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #14 - 10/01/17 at 23:43:29
 
On the road, it sounds obvoiusly good on our MacBook Pro Steve. Not much bass in it with these little speakers, but the sheer resolution, space, natural timbre, and clarity without edge is quite apparent and beautiful! Congratulations!
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« Last Edit: 10/02/17 at 01:56:04 by will »  

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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #15 - 10/02/17 at 00:19:29
 
Sounds very good through low end PC speakers.  I look forward to getting a chance to listen next Saturday.   Cool
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #16 - 10/02/17 at 03:50:43
 
Well, it's day three and it's still happening and that makes it official.  Also I am able to reproduce it with a different computer and that makes it not only official, but real.

It was not without a few hiccups that some of you who use tidal might benefit from...

THE SOUND DIED AND CAME BACK

I went from my favorite iMac (yes some sound better than others) to a fresh and totally cleaned HP laptop PC running windows ten.  I installed the NT-503 driver on the laptop and the high res DSD player.  Then I installed the desktop version of TIDAL and set it on Master.  

I played some music on it, and the magic had left the building.  Ahh, the digital I've come to know and hate... you know, it almost sounds good but yet never quite does.  Hmmm....

In checking the settings, I noticed that the box was checked allowing the output from TIDAL to go to the default sound buss.  This in turn made the front of the ZDAC2 read 192kHz PCM where before it has always said 44kHz PCM.  The sound that I was hearing was indistinct, lacked dynamics, wasn't very clean, had bloated bass, and was completely non-animated.  Frankly by comparison it sucked and there was no way I could use it as planned for the fest.

Then I checked the box telling it to go direct to the DAC and instantly the  sound shot into the room, perhaps 4 dB louder despite all the volumes being locked on full, and the transparency and slam was back.  So apparently the HP laptop when set to default was up sampling to 192 and doing God knows what else with it.

You see this is why I have had such an attitude over the years with digital.  It doesn't matter how good it sounds if the reality is that there are so many variables (literally hundreds) that have to be lined up like the planets to play right...

This is the problem with USB DAC's in general... too many ways to kill the sound with the very computer that is used to operate the DAC.

Nevertheless, with the proper settings for the TIDAL stream, the HP laptop seems to sound the same as the iMac, so we're back in business.

Of course there is a moral to this story, or I wouldn't have bothered you with it.


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« Last Edit: 10/02/17 at 05:14:27 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #17 - 10/02/17 at 05:13:21
 

A RANT ABOUT THAT

Also, for me todays experience proved that the giant leap in sound quality was a happy accident of getting just the right digital planetary alignment and not anything that has been done with the gear used for playback necessarily.

This is just a shuddering reminder of how we only hear our systems sound as good as the weakest link in the audio chain permits. In this case that was the source, and not even the source, but the computers running it... actually not even the computers, but the operating systems and the software.

The difference in sound was literally like going back in time a week, when digital was always not analog. If anyone had read the prior nights ramblings at the beginning of this thread and then come in tonight and heard the PC before the checkbox was checked, they would have been crushed as their ears told them I was on drugs and all hyperbole. That's really kind of scary when you think about it. The magic of Decware is that it's real.

How many people even know how to get inside the settings on a PC and adjust the sample and bit rates, and so on. How many guys would see 192kHz on the face plate and not think that's a good thing. How many more would choose 44K over 192K because they knew that was the native rate of the steam?

The DAC is up sampling to DSD, so it's either up sampling from 44K to DSD or from 192K to DSD, it doesn't care. But you can be certain that a piece of dedicated hardware is going to be far better at up sampling than your computer. It's a fact. This is also why I have always had reservations about the many popular software programs to play your music. Some even when you think you have disabled all the bells and whistles and are at a bit perfect output are actually still going through the buss and the sound is still being effected.

Once nice feature of this DAC, is that it will also play files from your computer network server and stream directly from the internet. Both of these options let the hardware in the DAC do everything. The computer is only serving up digital files, not trying to play them.

The only drawback to this is the limitations of the particular app that is used to control it from either a smart phone or tablet.

Again, I have to contrast the difference in sound I heard tonight. Sound A before the correct settings sounded like everyday ho hum digital. Sound B sounded like someone just brought in a pair of speakers that cost ten times more, and the same for the amplifiers. So using that math, you could say that a fair amount of people who have speakers that cost ten times more, and have the great amplifiers may only being hearing it sound half as good as it could. I've seen it so many times I've lost count, and I've done it to myself so many times I've lost count.

IF someone had the idea to toss up a laptop during the fest and run TIDAL on it, and repeat my exact experience, there is no way anyone would have thought to look into the settings because music was playing, it sounded fine, it sounded good... just like another ho hum audio show. All would have thought the speakers and amps which rate a solid 10 out of 10, were actually models that rated a solid 5 out of 10... and while it still may have been better than some were used to, it is an audio sin to chain your stereo to a tree.

It's just scary how easy it is to make an extraordinary and exceptional pair of speakers drop to their knees and pretend to be a pair of Polk Audio towers.

If we look at the audio chain, the speakers are about 3 or 4 links in the chain. There is the driver(s), cabinet, crossover and how it's all setup. The amplifier is about 3 or 4 links as well. It's links are the output transformer, the output tube, the input tube and the overall design and execution.

If you use a preamp it's about the same as the amplifier as far as links in the chain. A turntable would add about 4 more links... mainly the cartridge, the tonearm, the table, the how it's all setup.

Each cable in your system is one link. So if we add it all up it's not really that long of a chain. Then comes digital. We replace the 4 links of the turntable with a solid state output stage made from Opamps.

An Opamp has 27 transistors in it. Then there are the processors in the DAC chip itself which count in the millions, then there is the software, each line of assembled code, the computer itself by it's very nature is millions of links in the chain if not billions.

So you have a nice clean short audio chain that is about a foot long, and somehow we let them persuade us to buy a chain that is 912 miles in length to add to the end of it and give that a listen.

Digital has never been bad, but the delivery systems have always sucked. Plastic CD's that read errors in a different sector every time it's played and the spinning transports... you had to spend 30 grand to get it right while the rest of us suffered.  

Then the computer replaced the transport but came with it's own host of problems. Then asynchronous USB finally happened and jitter dropped drastically, but again, so many ways to botch it that despite how good many think they have it sounding it's only because they haven't heard what it actually could sound like if an alien popped into your room and just fixed everything.

We'll get there, the progress has been tremendous but success in how good your stereo sounds is proportional to how many different ways you've been able to configure and test it. Adding the infinite potential of variables a computer brings to the mix diminishes the trustworthiness of the data.

Nevertheless here I sit so traumatized by computers over the past 37 years that even when in a state of audio bliss because the music is so good I still have to bitch about it. ; )





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« Last Edit: 10/02/17 at 05:14:43 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #18 - 10/02/17 at 15:34:39
 
Steve,

All I can say is WOW.  Congratulations on the system set up, TIDAL settings, and getting everything dialed in.  The ZDAC2 truly sounds like a very special piece, based on the recording link you posted.  So glad I put my order in early last month.  Now I am totally stoked for delivery of my new ZDAC2 and re-upping my subscription to TIDAL.

I hope you will find time or include a post on proper settings for TIDAL  on ones computer and the ZDAC2, so we can get things right.  Thanks and have an enjoyable DECFEST 2017.  I plan to be there next year.

HK
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Re: Holly Crap Batman!
Reply #19 - 10/02/17 at 18:37:28
 


Steve, I'm glad to see you've found some little bit of digital nirvana. I hope it keeps you interested.

Your issues with the settings is *exactly* why I asked to have the digital section in the forums, and why I've been touting using specific software that bypasses the build in OS settings that crush the music. Using good software, it's quite easy to avoid most of those pitfalls. In fact, some companies like PS Audio even provide a file you can play in your chosen software that will (as a test) light up a check box on the DirectStream DAC to tell you that the DAC is receiving bit perfect information.

True audiophile digital audio is still relatively in it's infancy, so there are some growing pains. A lot of it can be resolved with good software or good all-in-one hardware.


I'm really looking forward to Decfest this weekend! I'm excited to hear this magical sound! In fact, I'm coming in as early as you can accept me on Friday for a listen.

Come to think of it, I'll be working in Peoria on Thursday, so I can stop by Thursday night to help setup if you need a hand.
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