Message started by mantha3 on 10/27/11 at 20:13:34

Title: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by mantha3 on 10/27/11 at 20:13:34

I lied...  My ZSTAGE is on order and I just got the "On the bench" status....  I'm pretty siked to get this in my system!!!  

I have some 12AT7 tubes from an amp that I tube roll from time to time.  I also have a clear top 5965 tube that is sort of a 12AT7 with lower gain then a 12AT7.  I also have 2 Amperex 7062 tubes that are the same gain as the 5965 but stand about a 1/2" taller then a normal 12AT7.  so the 7062 tubes would just stick out the front a bit more then a 12AT7 and have slightly less gain then a 12AT7.

So I have the 12AT7 tubes to try...  Then the 12AU7 that comes with the ZSTAGE...  And these 5965/7062 tubes that are sort of an inbetween mu/gain wise...

I think I'm going to buy a 12AU7 RCA clear top or two...  I see these for 20 - 30 bucks and they have good feedback for performace per $$.

I'm curious to hear if anyone has tried any of the tubes I mentioned and any feedback.

Can't wait!  

Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by will on 10/28/11 at 04:41:06


Seems it all depends on your source and other gear's signatures, and your tastes, but it looks like you are in a great place to explore from with the tubes you have and the one coming with the Zsage. I have a cleartop RCA 12AU7 and it sounds pretty good with my Zstage, but personally, I always prefer the 12AT7s I have, so have explored those more. I did get lucky and find some "strays" from Tube monger and got some dandies cheap. My favorite is a Siemens 12AT7 with a square getter from the 50s...very transparent with a very natural, harmonically rich sound..... Also I really like a couple different Brimar 12AT7s from the 60s which are a little bit "warmer" but no sacrifice to openness, texture and micro detail.

I think the Zstage took a while to open up but it was a fun ride for me!

And don't forget the cables! Rolling power and IC cables really made a difference for me.


Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by Lon on 10/28/11 at 15:43:44

Congrats mantha! You're going to have fun tweaking the system with the ZStage!

What are the other components in your system?

Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by mantha3 on 10/29/11 at 15:25:53

I've got a Siemens 12at7...  I'll have to try it.  I also have Phillips JAN and Mullard 12at7s. Tube Monger is a good place fer tubes.  Brent Jesse has the RCA clear top 12au7 for 19.00.  The tubes have no label but that does not bother me.  He has 140 some.

I'm running a pair of McIntosh MC75 60th Anniversary tube amps..  I have a passive preamp with a BENT Audio Attenuator remote kit.  I have a pair of 3 way speakers I built by a Troels Gravesen design..  His 3 Way Classic with Seas drivers.  Then a Sub Woofer I built with Morel stuff.  Pretty good sounding

I've got a cable Motorolla converter box that has no gain/weak signal.  I have a playstation3 for CDs.  A CD player and an AM/FM tuner that all sound much better/fuller from my system and these have a good signal.  So I'm getting the ZSTAGE to hopefully add some life to these types of sources like the Motorolla box.  

Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by Lon on 10/29/11 at 15:35:29

Sounds like a cool system! My DVR also has low output, and before I bought the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC to use for the digital output of my DVR I used the CSP2 with the analog output and the gain really helped, made the DVR sound fantastic.

Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by will on 10/29/11 at 19:26:11

The Zstage is nice and clean, so easily reflects variations of cables, tubes, and bias. The single tube is a powerful tool for sound shaping refinement, and with all the tube types that work, and with the variety you have, I think it is pretty likely you will find something that sings in your setup. I got my "organ" cleartop 12AU7 from Brent Jesse and it is definitely a nice sounding tube, just not my fav in my system/room, but it sure might be for you and yours.

With all that set to your preferences, adjusting the bias and riding the volume gains will effectively give a huge range of options for easily adjusting for front end and recordings. I wish it were made with two inputs, and I plan to see if I can get Steve to do this on mine. Even though there is not a lot of room, it looks possible one way or another. But I have enjoyed mine a lot  as is (#002)!

I look forward to hearing how it settles into your system.

Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by mantha3 on 10/29/11 at 21:23:45

I hear ya on the two inputs...  I was thinking the same.  

I like the simple passive set up I have.  The Passive Preamp can be a let down with certain input components...  Like I'm seeing with this Motorolla cable box.  I think this ZStage will add the dynamics I'm missing.  I hear great things about Decware and this ZStage.  

I do build/DIY a fair amount.  I'm thinking I may build a simple little box with 3 input RCAs and an output.  Then build some 1 foot RCAs to run from this to the ZStage.  Get a nice metal project box, some RCA jacks, A nice Elma source switch of some sort of source select switch and then some good teflon wire.  Who knows.  

Siked!  I may have to get a pair of the RCA 12AU7 from Brent Jesse now!

Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by will on 10/29/11 at 23:24:23

Sounds pretty good! I 1st had some really short copper ICs that Steve made for my Zstage. I think he used the same wire as inside the Zstage the idea being very minimal connection effect. He preferred their "more musical" sound to Decware sliver ICs in that application, but I found them too "warm" in a slightly veiled way and ended up using some MAC braided silver between the ZDAC and the ZSTAGE, suiting my tastes better. It is all what we like and how we find synergy though.....I will be interested what you come up with.

Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by mantha3 on 11/19/11 at 23:33:39

I got my ZSTAGE the other day!  Excellent!

The build quality is excellent.  I put in a RCA 12AU7 Cleartop...  Ran my system and it really opens up the sound.  I was running my Motorolla Comast box thru this thing.  Makes is sound like a quality piece of equipment.  I watched and listened a High Def remastered copy of a Nirvana concert on Palladian (I think that is the channel name) Unreal!  Like I was at the concert!

I'm listening to the high def music channels now.  

Happy  customer 100%!

Title: Re: ZSTAGE new owner
Post by mantha3 on 11/21/11 at 19:13:11

I did some tube rolling on Sat. night..  I was trying a couple 12AT7 tubes.  Real nice but maybe on the edge-y side..  Sounded better with the bias switch set to mellow.

I've got an old GE5965A tube...  Clear top with dual side getters.  This is less gain than a 12AT7 tube.  Sort of between a 12AU7 and a 12AT7 gain wise being slightly closer to the 12AT7.  A little more dynamic than the 12AU7 while not so in your face like the 12AT7.  You can find these tubes farily cheap as the demand isn't too high...  Great tubes built like tanks with 10,000 hour heater build/rating.  Anyway, I've heard enough to say they work well and would be a good thing to try for tube rollers owning a ZSTAGE for the buck.

I also tried the taller 7062 tube that has the same gain as the 5965.  I ran an Amperex 7062.  Sounded excellent as well but the tube sticks out a half inch more than the other tubes I mentioned in the front of the ZSTAGE and looks sort of funny.  

I've got the attenuator on the ZSTAGE and the dial at 13/14 out of 20 is the sweet spot.

Cheers all!

Happy camper and happy customer!!!

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