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25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier (Read 288013 times)
Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #800 - 06/22/19 at 04:43:41
 

UPDATE: †Listening to the Anniversary amp/preamp with the mystery speakers on old tried and true reference material from GRP, and this speaker design has completely re-arranged my head about the importance of projection. †All my ideas about skinny little towers that imaged like they weren't even there are getting shaken to the core right now. †It's a double whammy, because the they are letting me hear how good the Anniversary gear actually is, which I thought I knew but turns out I didn't.

I can see absolutely nothing will get done this weekend!!! †It's so insane to hear music like this on anything, let alone two watts... †unbelievable. †Since it's probably going to be awhile before I can say anything specific about the speakers anyone who wants to book a listening appointment would get forced into a situation where they would have to hear them and then be sworn to secrecy possibly all summer.

This is also my introduction to a new hi-end speaker manufacture, small like ourselves, who I have no idea at this point what kind of stability is there. †So far all the right signs are in place for a solid company with good ethics and great products, so I am having conversations with them to see what kind of availability might be had for this driver in the future.

-Steve
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Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #801 - 06/22/19 at 05:34:00
 

As I listen tonight these speakers and amplifier make crystal clear the observation I've had in the studio when listening to 16 bit vs. 24 bit. †The 24 bit is smoother more correct. †The 16 bit has more slam and is sharper. †God bless 24 bit.

So as the evening continues... listening to "City of Stars" by Ryan Gosling. †At the ending I heard the female vocal lay down on the floor, stage right, and sing up to the male vocal who possibly had her in his arms. † This is pretty hardcore imaging when you see and feel that happen right in front of you as though you were setting in front of a 200 inch movie screen.


Steve
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Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #802 - 06/22/19 at 06:11:35
 

For those who stream...  I don't know about you, but I save my favorite tracks and then I create playlists of those tracks, usually always the first one being a demo playlist designed to wow the listener.  The process is simple, you listen to all of your favorited tracks and then pick the ones that are just too good to be true, stuff that is simply over the top.  That way when you want to blow someones socks off in a short amount of time you get the secret playlist out and let it rip.

Well I found myself making a new playlist tonight for the secret speakers, version 2, and after several hours have realized that almost everything I listened to I added to the playlist.  Normally with all other speakers, the items added to a demo list are about 1 in 4 or 5.  That should tell you something... that I'm not getting much sleep.

Steve
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pursuitofnow
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #803 - 06/22/19 at 20:10:59
 
Steve, these updates are really fun to follow. You keep it very exciting. I can't wait to read and learn more.

Have you or would you consider comparing the ZTPRE with anniversary mods to the new CSP3 anniversary edition? I'm really curious as to the differences between them and it sounds like these mystery speakers and the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier are up to the task.

Thanks,
Jim
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Brian
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #804 - 06/23/19 at 21:53:45
 
So much fun!
I love when you get a new speaker design.

And this anniversary amp must be the best!

Brian
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Ace-Tone
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #805 - 06/27/19 at 20:37:34
 
25th Amp is beautiful. 10 months in and I have stopped rolling tubes and tweaking...no need! My 4 yr old Ortofon 2m black needed replacing. So, instead of a retip I decided to go with something better...Soundsmith Zephyr MKIIIes.
Wow, only 10 hours on it and it is worth the price of admission. Plus I know it has not quite settled in yet.
I truly believe that, no matter the cost of the source, the 25th will keep up with anything I throw at it.  From what I am reading of Steve's posts above this more than holds true. It was a bit nerve wracking making the 25th purchase $$, but it was the right choice.
I need to get to Decfest one of these years just to A / B against my room. Wondering...."Can it get better" ....I'm sure the answer is yes!
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pursuitofnow
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #806 - 06/28/19 at 01:30:59
 
Hey Ace, I'm curious about your new cartridge. What would you say is different compared to the 2m black? Is the output roughly the same? Or do you need a step up? I mainly ask because I love the 2m black and wonder what the "upgrade" would get me?

Sorry I know this isn't directly 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier content.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #807 - 06/28/19 at 01:37:44
 

Quote:
Steve, these updates are really fun to follow. You keep it very exciting. I can't wait to read and learn more.

Have you or would you consider comparing the ZTPRE with anniversary mods to the new CSP3 anniversary edition? I'm really curious as to the differences between them and it sounds like these mystery speakers and the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier are up to the task.

Thanks,
Jim



Jim,

Comparing the ZTPRE to the CSP3 is difficult because one is balanced and one is not. That means to do a direct A/B the ZTPRE has to be fitted with transformer-coupled RCA inputs and then it's output has to be run into a ZBIT. That means a transformer, the preamp circuit, and a transformer being compared to just a preamp circuit with no transformers.

So let's talk about the preamp circuit itself. The ZTPRE is exactly two CSP3 circuits instead of one, and it has solid state regulation instead of tube. †That's going to make the fundamental signatures between the ZTPRE and CSP3 the same. The solid state rectification, large caps, and torroidal power supplies in the ZTPRE make it more neutral than the CSP3 with probably most tube compliments. †

I can tell you that I use the ZTPRE fitted with the transformer-coupled RCA inputs just to make my RCA output sources sound better, and it does big time. I could probably spend 3 times as much on a source component and it wouldn't sound better. Transformers like these add dimensionality and a nice organic shimmer to the top end. My advise is don't listen to them unless you can afford to buy them because once you hear them you are wrecked. For example, when I remove the ZTPRE and run my balanced sources directly to the ZBIT it is seldom as good. Same is true if I run the RCA sources directly into the amplifier.  My ZTPRE has just become part of my digital front end, as well as the front end for two of my tape machines. †

As for the CSP325, it does the same thing as the CSP3, in that it makes music more juicy and beautiful to listen to with greatly improved dynamics, imaging and tone. All without getting syrupy or veiled in any way. The Anniversary mods and or the CSP325 does the same thing but with greater resolution so that it doesn't detract from the resolution of the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier. †Of course I'm sure it would sound wonderful with any amplifier be it have the same resolution or not.

Steve
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pursuitofnow
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #808 - 06/28/19 at 01:55:15
 
Thanks Steve. I have a ZTPRE on order with the transformer-coupled RCA inputs, and anniversary mods. I wondered for a half a second if I should change my order to the CSP3 anniversary, but after your response I'm sticking with it. Sounds like it will be glorious.
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Brian
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #809 - 06/28/19 at 03:54:43
 
Steve said: "Transformers like these add dimensionality and a nice organic shimmer to the top end."

Steve, this makes me wonder if one of your power amps might benefit from Transformer coupling instead of RC coupling of it's driver stage to the output stage.  Have you an interest in trying Transformer coupling?

Brian
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Ace-Tone
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #810 - 06/28/19 at 16:36:22
 
Pursuit...sent you PM.  Will post in ZP3 forum when I've had more time with the Zep. So far I am very happy with it.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #811 - 06/28/19 at 19:00:44
 

Quote:
Steve said: "Transformers like these add dimensionality and a nice organic shimmer to the top end."

Steve, this makes me wonder if one of your power amps might benefit from Transformer coupling instead of RC coupling of it's driver stage to the output stage. †Have you an interest in trying Transformer coupling?


Certainly I have, yes. †It only adds $700 per stage and would require a redesigned chassis, power supply, and overall voicing to make it right if you used it in place of standard capacitive coupling. †By comparison a type II beeswax cap cost ten times less and are 90% as good. †Simply an issue of diminishing returns. †And that said, it would have little effect on the voicing of the amplifier's input signal since it is part of the amp itself. †We use the transformers to balance impedances between components and manipulate gain which is where the big boost to sound quality comes from. †This is what the ZBIT is for and why we use it.

-Steve
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #812 - 06/28/19 at 21:37:42
 
I'm wondering if such an amplifier would be a success?
Everytime that Decware ups the ante on amps, (25th anniversary ect.) it seems that they sell pretty well.
How much would customers be willing to spend? I'm thinking maybe $5K??
It seems that there is a whole industry focused on chasing that last 10%, it might be worth a little thought.
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Brian
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #813 - 06/29/19 at 03:31:47
 
I thank you Steve for the reply.

"We use the transformers to balance impedances between components and manipulate gain which is where the big boost to sound quality comes from."

Not doing those things, it does seem that an interstage transformer would be of less value to the sound.  
It is always good to get education from you.
Thanks, Brian
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #814 - 06/09/20 at 14:09:25
 
Iím still wading through this topic trying to understand the 25th anniversary mods that will be done on the base model Zen Iíve ordered. Iím only reading Steveís posts so I have a chance to finish by the time my amp arrives, and after checking out some of his music suggestions I have a humble suggestion of my own: ďChocolate Chip TripĒ off TOOLís Fear Inoculum album. Just analog synths and drums, performed by Danny Carey in one take. That might have to be my first test track when I finally get my amp.

Than
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Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #815 - 06/09/20 at 17:45:28
 

Originally my thought was not to add anniversary mods to the shopping cart on the SE84UFO because it was the base model and many people who are not on a tight budget and would be in a position to add the mods, get the SE84UFO2.  In hindsight this was pretty stupid, so the anniversary mod was added to the shopping cart about a month ago.

The anniversary mod for the SE84UFO is called the 'beeswax bypass cap mod'.  It consists of adding beeswax caps (that match the signal caps) to the plates of the audio tubes. This in turn speeds up the power supply at higher frequencies which translates to better resolution at all frequencies.

Steve

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Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #816 - 09/19/20 at 02:12:22
 

Iím back! (This is what the SE84UFO25 said to me today after months of isolation)


After a long absence posting about the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier, and the Zen Master Series Loudspeakers for that matter, tonight I brought both together for the first time in what seems like months.

I have been listening to other stuff all summer, including a lot of time outside the sweet spot listening to Tiny Radials while I work.

I like to move in waves like this, where I focus on something for a period of time and then go back to where I was before and see if the before experience changes any.

So it started rather by accident, as is usually the case.

An SE84UFO25 came in for repair, with the symptom that it hummed and could be heard in the listening chair on efficient speakersÖ

I tubed it up and put it on the QC bench to measure the noise and hum. †As I kinda expected, it was well within spec.

So just to be absolutely certain I listened to it in my LCD2 planar headphones calibrated to simulate 94dB speakers with your ear 1 inch away. †No hum.

Then I used my ZMF Eikons, calibrated to simulate a 110dB speaker which is the absolute worse case scenerio. No hum issues.

Then I took it in my listening room and hooked it to my Zen Master Series baffles which are 100dB. †Silent. †OK, well, customer isnít going to like hearing thatÖ may as well listen to it for awhile and see how it sounds.

This is where the trouble beganÖ I say that jokingly because the sound was SO INCREDIBLY LUCID that I was hopelessly distracted to the point where I couldnít focus on work.

Then I remembered this particular amplifier had VCAPs in it, and I believe my personal one has the Jupiter Beeswax, so then I panickedÖ

Because enough time has passed, or perhaps the planetary alignment, but holy crap the sound is so good, itís like the sound you fantasied about in the stereo of your dreams. Or maybe itís the VCAPS, holy crap how did I miss this! †I just donít remember it sounding this good!

OK, REASONÖ. Letís put my amp in that has the Jupiters and just see if it the capsÖ

Well, 30 minutes laterÖ no itís not the caps.

Itís just this magical amplifier paired with these speakers that just gives me goosebumps and has me shaking my head so much my neck popped!

God, I wish everyone who was reading this could hear what I am hearing right now! †Itís just so right on so many levels, you know all the typical ones, and then a whole plethora of deeper ones.

If nothing else comes from this pandemic, at least we all get to spend more time listening to music, and for me it like a gift from heaven when it happens, which is often. †I say it that way because only yesterday everything sounded like crap to me. †It was one of those daysÖ will never know if it really did sound like crap or if it was in my head. †

I guess that is what blows my mind and provoked this postÖ the giant contrast between days like yesterday and then nights like tonight, and btw, I heard this one coming as it snuck up on my day starting around 1:00 P.M. †Itís now around 8:00.  Also an interesting side note, my work related stress level continued to climb from about 1:30 to 4:30 and this is actually when I noticed the lucidity begin to develop in the sound.  

I think the lesson here is that we have an amplifier that has reached a level so high that it makes you feel like youíre hearing it for the first time every time you listen to it. †And no-one has listened to it more than I have, so what can I say. †Consider getting one before the prices go up from the trickle down effect of this pandemic on †our supply chains.[/color]
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Brian
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #817 - 09/19/20 at 05:07:12
 
You have a wonderful life!


Brian
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #818 - 09/19/20 at 16:18:52
 
What was the hum problem? House wiring? Or maybe tube-related?
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #819 - 09/19/20 at 19:28:15
 
Quote:
Then I remembered this particular amplifier had VCAPs in it, and I believe my personal one has the Jupiter Beeswax, so then I panickedÖ

Because enough time has passed, or perhaps the planetary alignment, but holy crap the sound is so good, itís like the sound you fantasied about in the stereo of your dreams. Or maybe itís the VCAPS, holy crap how did I miss this!  I just donít remember it sounding this good!


Steve...now that you had a chance to compare a seasoned VCAP 25th with your personal Jupiter cap 25th, can you give a better description of the comparison between the two?  Some have said that the VCAP can be very clinical and almost too revealing in sub par recordings.  

Now that your have lit a fire under my arse.... I am hoping to place an order when you run the annual Decfest discount.  

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Dom
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Brian
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #820 - 09/28/20 at 03:49:26
 
Steve posted:
Reply #87 - 07 Jan 2018
"Thank GOD I haven't hooked up the EGGS, because this is making tower speakers image better than the EGGS did, which we all know is impossible."

Steve, did you ever connect the Anniversary amp to the Egg speakers?

Brian
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #821 - 10/31/20 at 23:18:38
 
Great thread, fun to read!
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #822 - 11/17/20 at 19:37:52
 
My 25th Amp is a few days from landing on the build bench. My amp order shows as "stock unit" on the build/wait list. Other 25th amps show as "custom options requested" are there options that don't show in the cart? I don't want to miss an upgrade etc. and have to send it back in later. What custom options should I consider? †Many thanks for the input.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #823 - 11/19/20 at 17:34:09
 
The only options are VCAPS and glass resistors.  Glass resistors are still in stock and being installed in every UFO25.  VCAPS are not considered an upgrade, just a different signature.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #824 - 11/19/20 at 18:03:49
 
Steve, Thanks for clearing it up for me. Looking forward to the new Amp, I should have my ZF15M's finished by the time I receive the Amp and the journey can begin!
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