EQUIPMENT FORUMS >> ZP3 / ZMC1,2,3 >> ZP3 - fast?

Message started by tubeshy on 12/09/20 at 18:24:07

Title: ZP3 - fast?
Post by tubeshy on 12/09/20 at 18:24:07

Hello, I am contemplating my first Decware piece, a ZP3. Reviews are glowing and the warranty is fantastic so I'm digging deeper to see if it will fit my needs.

My concern is whether the ZP3 will accommodate fast music. I listen to decidedly non-audiophile music and very little jazz. Things more akin to black metal and things of that nature.


Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by hdrider on 12/09/20 at 20:45:10

Tubeshy - The ZP3 is the best phonostage that I have owned in the 45 years of playing with audio systems, period. Doesn't matter what music you listen to, if the music stirs your soul it will not be the ZP3 that will be the limiting factor. Happy listening, Chris.

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by tubeshy on 12/09/20 at 22:48:18

Thank you Chris.

I appreciate your insight.

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by hdrider on 12/10/20 at 01:45:59

Tubeshy- Keep reading, checking and adding to the forums. Some of the peeps on this will give you way more than a Masters Degree in all things Decware. Keep us posted on your travels down this rabbit hole.... Love my ZP3, waiting for my cartridge repair to come back. Happy listening, Chris.

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by Archie on 12/10/20 at 06:08:13

Be careful, I came for the ZP3 and you can see what I ended up with!  lol

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by tubeshy on 12/21/20 at 22:26:15

OK well I'm fairly certain I'll go with the ZP3. AFter the new year I'll have to come to a definitive point obviously.

I am curious about the beeswax cap upgrade ($140). From what I am reading it ups the detail and makes the sound more analytical than the stock sound. As I spin much music thats not well recorded or mixed it seems this would not be advisable.

Any opinions?

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by GroovySauce on 12/22/20 at 00:22:38


I haven't experienced with and without the bees wax caps. I do have a fully loaded ZP3. The ZP3 has extreme flexibility for finding the sound you like. Just with rectifiers you can. Go from rich full harmonics (Tubestore branded 5ar4) to wispy, airy, shimmering highs. (Tubestore branded 5u4/274b) Mine shipped with a ??? 5u4 which is in the middle between them. Different makes and vintages will also offer different sounds. Then you can get into the signal tubes and your options explode with possibilities!

That's a long way of saying, I would get the bees wax caps if it's in your budget.

I listen to mostly to "non audiophile approved" records.

I'm not sure what you mean by analytical. When I think analytical I think of dead, flat, lifeless, boring, limited dynamics, etc. The ZP3 with bees wax caps and bypass mods is the antithesis of that.

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by tubeshy on 12/22/20 at 17:20:11

I think what I was reading had more to do with the cap bypass (which I don't understand to be honest). If I recall they stated that there's much more top end detail and it tends to expose bad recordings. I'm all for detail but I don't want to sacrifice musicality.

I would like to add the Beeswax upgrade and not feel I left something on the table as it were, but I don't want pieces that get surgical with the music either (some do and thats fine, I'm about emotion).

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by Archie on 12/22/20 at 18:15:33

tubeshy, I get the feeling that you'll never know until you hear one.  I've had my ZP3 since 2014 (I think) and I loved it then and I love it now that it's been Anniversary modified -- 100%.  There is no way, to my thinking, that this can ever sound like you fear.  I just don't see a point-to-point wired resistor and capacitor and tube component sounding solid-state.

Keep in mind though, the ZP3 may not be the dominant component in your system.  In other words, it may not be what you hear most.  When I started out, I was going for the ZP3 but talking to Steve, he thought my amp was my "weak link."  Result is that I changed my entire chain.  See below.   8-)

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by GroovySauce on 12/22/20 at 18:21:22

Others can explain what, why and how of bypassing. I know just enough to cause confusion and give wrong and/or misleading information.

The ZP3 allows the heart, soul and emotion to flow. Again this is my experience with 25th mods... the full boat.

I'm not shy about the fact I tear up, get misty eyed listening to my vinyl setup. That's pulling the heart strings of emotion!

I'm guessing without the mods it also has the ability to unlock that. I cannot confirm.

I get what you mean by the high end detail becoming harsh and killing the emotion of the music causing it to be less engaging.

If you are new to tubes, tubes open up options to tailor the sound to your liking. Especially with Decware amps.

Example. Mine shipped with a ruby? 5u4, (1) HP 5963 (12au7),  (2) Tungsol 12ax7 Sounds great with the supplied tubes. If it's a little hot on the top end for you. Swap the 5u4 out with a Tubestore preferred 5ar4. or swap one of the tungsol 12ax7's with a Gold Lion ECC83 (12ax7). Both of these are going to change the sound and smooth out the highs. You can also do both at the same time. Want more swap both the tungsol's for GL... more? throw 3 GL's in.

You might need to try a few different tubes and combos of tubes to get exactly what you are looking for.

It does cut both ways and you can get lost rolling tubes. Some people love that aspect. I usually go a week or two rolling a few tubes then sit back relax and listen for months without thinking about it.

I agree with Archie, sometimes you just need to go for it.

Title: Re: ZP3 - fast?
Post by tubeshy on 12/22/20 at 22:43:30

Thanks. My line stage (which is also tube) probably dominates the sound if I had to guess. Its tubed but very clean and solid state sounding IMO. Its my first tubed piece of equipment so I've gone rounds with trying to tube roll and getting bunk tubes and what not. In my system, as it sits, its the one piece I am not 100% on. But for now I want to finish things up with a new phono before replacing anything (I hate buying gear) else.

In spite of my trials with tubes, the thought of a tubed phono excites me. So I'm either not sold on what I have or am a glutton for punishment. That said, I am super interested in the Decware but am also not ruling out a Don Sachs PH-16. Both are fine I'm sure, just afraid to make a mistake.

As for the mods, yes I am sure that there's only one way to know. So If this is the direction I go (looking like it more and more) then I will have to flip a coin. I keep searching for like a clip of each somewhere. No dice.

As was mentioned about tearing up, I have 2 tracks that can almost do this to me. So when I get to the point where it happens every time I play those specific tracks then I know I'm where I want to be and I can go back to bearing records, which is so much more fun than buying equipment.

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