ZBox   Review

 

Well, the knitpicky sound issues remaining with my stereo system seem to have been solved.  First of all, I found my midbass!!!  It was in the Z-box!  Isn't that always the last place  you look?  Wink
 
The soundstage has widened 4 feet in either direction, which in turn has pulled the instruments that seemed to be on top of eachother, apart. There is now air, and space around each instrument, and by god, I noticed a new instrument way down in the mix in the first song I listened to, after I got it up and running correctly.
 
How can I describe this little devil...DEEP, smooth, effortless, sure-footed.  I play my acoustic guitar in the same listening position that I listen to the stereo, so I have a pretty good handle on how my stereo was different from live sound. The accuracy of the Dec-685 player was doing pretty good justice to reproducing live sound, but thinness, and lack of a smooth spectrum from top to bottom was a real problem.  I also had a pretty gritty, harsh high end that caused cringing on some recordings when the volume was high.
 
Through the Z-box, all of the detail the Dec-685 produces is not only maintained, but in fact, is clarified.  Its like a slight double-image has been pulled into gorgeous, brilliant 3-D focus. As far as the frequency spectrum...everything south of center has fattened and warmed...everything north of center has sweetened, and relaxed. Stereo pan is smoother as things move through the stereo field. Noisefloor has dropped to zero allowing your attention to widen to pick up more details and depth.  On one acoustic guitar part that I know like the back of my hand, I could suddenly hear a slight buzz on the artist's B string that made me smile every time he hit it, because it sent that buzz down into the wood body of the guitar to pick up reverb.  
 
Everything just sounds so alive, smooth, and musical right now it blows me away. By comparison, the Dec-685 alone sounds cold, sterile, and robotic. Now its a relaxed, happy musician, on the top of his/her game.
 
The stock outputs through the Z-box help reveal what the Z-box itself is adding to the mix. You can still hear a similar widening and deepening of the soundstage, and the noisefloor is similarly removed, but the ultra-realistic detail isn't there as it is with the modded Decware outputs.
 
I can say that my stereo sounds so close to live music now, on a great recording that I am suprised. Highs are sweet and not the slightest bit irritating. Lows are smooooth, powerful, and controlled.  Mids are 3-dimensional, realistic, and in the room with you.
 
The stereo just doesnt sound strained and electronic now...it seems like it has tons of headroom to spare, and like its not even breaking a sweat anymore.  Fast, punchy, accurate. Lovely.

I can start by saying, I had tremendously high expectations for this unit going in.  I could hear the stereo I wanted my stereo to be...just inside the sound...wanting to get out...and I expected the Z-box to just magically deliver it. To pull back the veil and make the stereo of my dreams appear for a very small price of admission.
 
It did.
 
Well worth the EXCRUCIATINGLY long wait.

 

 

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