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Diary of a recent Zen Head # 1 (Read 3279 times)
Steve Deckert

If the 1st watt
sucks why continue?

Posts: 4525
Diary of a recent Zen Head # 1
11/10/08 at 14:40:38
FortworthKeith writes:

08-17-2008, 03:37 PM:

I ordered my Decware Zenhead today for $295 plus shipping. I've been searching a long time for a portable amp that can adequately power my Beyer DT880/250's and my Total Airhead doesn't seem to be cutting it. I know that the Beyers have more available sound to them that the Airhead isn't revealing. My last purchase was the Shure SE350s and I am hearing a lot more detail in my music now using my Shures with my Black Dragon line out dock from my Nano to the Total Airhead. I was actually impressed with the write-up on the Zenhead on the company website and the designer Steve Deckhert seems to have designed this amp for my needs in mind. I wanted a portable amp that has a warm, liquid, tubey sound to pair with my Beyer DT880's without a DAC or other bells and whistles (charging circuit, bass boost, etc.) that would muddy the sound. But, I did want cross-feed. I listen to my Nano/Black Dragon/Shure/Airhead setup at work in my cubicle and I find the sound fatiguing after 3 to 4 hours. I am hoping that the cross-feed circuit of the Zenhead will eliminate the sonic fatigue I feel.

09-17-2008, 04:02 AM:

Okay, here is my feeble attempt to describe the signature sound of my Zen Head ZH1. Remember those old Marantz and Akai receivers from the 70's and 80's? Remember how butter smooth and liquid the signature sound of those receivers were? Okay fix that liquid "sound" in your mind as a starting point as we move onto the bass and treble knobs of our imaginary receiver. Now imagine that the bass knob is slightly past 12 o'clock and the treble is at 12 (or zero) or slightly to the left of 12 (or zero). The overall sound is rich and bassy without being muddy and I don't get any blasts of sonic shrillness that hurt my eardrums like I usually do with my 2006 Total Airhead. My Airhead has plenty of high frequency detail, but the problem is that to hear the lower frequency detail I would find myself turning up the volume to a point that was fatiguing to me. My Zen Head doesn't have this problem. It's like I am listening to my uncle's high end Akai receiver and turntable from back in the day! Keep in mind that my source is Itunes and my laptop! My mp3 files have bit rates ranging from 128 kbs and up. IMHO the two big advantages to this amp is that the signature sound is enjoyable and non-fatiquing for HOURS of continuous listening and it also seems to smooth out mp3 files.

Anyway, it's a keeper at this point. I would like to hear the new RSA Blackbird SR-71a but the price was announced at $450 plus shipping so I guess I will wait to hear one at a meet. I am hoping Steve comes out with a double 9V battery version of the Zen Head to go up against the RSA SR-71a. I paid $295 for my ZH1 and I feel its well worth it.

Anyway, Steve and Sarah at Decware were a pleasure to deal with and if you want an amp that has detail and plenty of bassy oomph, but isn't fatiguing that you can listen to for hours at a stretch, this a great choice in my opinion.

09-19-2008, 04:22 AM:

The amp really does shine with classical music. I think Steve on the Decware site really does explain well in the owner's manual of the ZenHead the non-fatiguing sound signature he was after.


I have been reading posts in Head Fi off and on for over two years and a common complaint I have heard again and again is that the 2005 Beyer DT 880's are "too bright" and "too sibilant". It struck me today that real problem has been that the Beyer's aren't "too bright" but that most portable amplifers are too fatiguing because too much high frequency material is brought to foreground of the soundstage as a consequence of decisions made by the designers of most portable amplifiers.

If you already own a pair of Beyer DT 880's, you really owe it too yourself to try them with a ZenHead.

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