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Has anyone else built or bought one of these? (Read 5243 times)
archeion
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Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
05/10/19 at 23:56:57
 
I have been following Decware for many years and love that they still support the DIY side of the audio hobby even though it probably doesn't make them as much money.  I built a  Decware Deathbox sub in college and later a pair of SE84C clones that I love. They don't get much playtime with a child and no dedicated listening space.  This looks like a fun project!  If anyone else has tried this, please let me know.  Any tips?  How does it sound?  What did you pair it with?
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dank
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #1 - 05/11/19 at 22:21:13
 
Decware has proven that they are a tube loving group as only one Zkit60 has been sold to date. †Quite a surprise to everyone involved. †The amp itself sounds wonderful, nothing less would be allowed on the Decware site. †The same amplifier, assembled and in a different chassis (not as nice - much smaller heat sinks), is selling quite well under the SET120 name on the Audio by VanAlstine web site. †The same basic design has also inspired a higher power SET400 and a fully differential †SET600 mono block.

The only tip I have is buy your own chassis, more than likely from China on Ebay. †This will get you what you want (0, 1, or 2 volume controls) and save you some shipping. †The original chassis is here:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/silver-aluminum-both-sides-radiator-amplifier-chassis-a...

If you prefer a smaller chassis, a "2412" style can also be used, but is a little tighter inside and requires the PCB's to be mounted "mirror image" (one up side down) on the heat sinks so there is room for the transformer:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/2412C-Full-Aluminum-Enclosure-mini-AMP-case-power-ampli...

If you build one and it fails to work it can be sent to me for repair at a reasonable rate.


Dan
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #2 - 05/22/19 at 20:42:28
 
Given the high praise for their sound - Iím intrigued by these ZKit amps.
I realize Ė given that this is a kit Ė one shouldnít expect the built-like-a-tank level of build quality that say, a Bryston has, but how good is the build quality?
Would they be in the same league as the Decware tube amps?
With similar long term reliability and durability?
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deucekazoo
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #3 - 05/22/19 at 23:20:50
 
I would think the build quality would be the same or better than an amp that is mass produced. The reason I would say that, taking build skill out of the equation, because the builder will take their time building it and making sure everything is up to their level of quality or how they want to see the final product. That is why I like kits. It's up to the builder to make it custom to what they like to see as the final product. It's the little details that matter to some builders. For example, when I built the last amp I made sure all the resistors faced the same way and the value facing out. It makes it look nice and easy to trouble shoot if there are issue. I don't think someone building an amp for mass production would take time to do this. It also gives you the chance to put in better components if you feel they would improve the sound. I believe a custom built amp will always be better in quality than something mass produced. That is why Decware amps have life time warranties.
If I did not have a few amps sitting around I would love to build one of these to see how it sounds.

John
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Donnie
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #4 - 06/30/22 at 22:28:09
 
I want to revive this thread on the ZKIT 60.

Has anyone else purchased one of these great amps?

I've had mine for a couple of years and am amazed with it. So much quality sound for so little money.

And here is a little insider tip: Buy one of these while waiting for your other amp on the waiting list. It is readably available for a quick taste of quality audio at a great price.

Here is a picture of my "Pimped Out" ZKIT 60.
I have the taste of a Russian Oligarch.



I've got no dog in this hunt other than wanting people to be able to enjoy a great sounding amp.
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lazb
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #5 - 06/30/22 at 23:17:47
 
Donnie, only a chance influx of a little cash at a critical moment allowed me to have SE84UFO 25th Anniversary amp instead of this one. It is a great sounding amp, really, at any price. I have helped both my daughters decide to use one of these and they are wonderful!
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Brian D
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I think Iím going to take the plunge
Reply #6 - 09/01/22 at 03:45:18
 
A few months ago I was looking into building my first pair of speakers, and I was googling Jeff Bagbys Continuum design.  One of the links brought me here, and some fella named Donnie was writing of his experiences with the speakers and an amp that was available as a kit. HmmmmmÖ

So Iíve built the speakers, love the speakers, and feel a little adventurous. Iíve done a bit of research and I think Iím ready to try my first audio amp.  This will be a slow build, but hopefully by early 2023 Iíll have something to show!  I wanted to take this post to say thank you to everyone here for the inspiration, especially Donnie and of course Dan.  Also massive thanks to Decware for continuing to support the diy community.
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Mannytheseacow
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #7 - 09/01/22 at 05:26:00
 
Welcome Brian! Glad to see another DIYer on here. I havenít done the 60 kit but gave it a lot of consideration early on. I ended up with the zkit 1 just because it had so many more mod options and documentation available.
And for sure, Donnieís work is awesome and inspiring.
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Donnie
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #8 - 09/01/22 at 14:57:05
 
The ZKIT 60 is a awesome amp!

I've never heard the adjective inspiring used at any time around me or my work!

I am normally known as being the "Bad Example" as in don't do what I do.

Brian D, I'm so glad that you have taken on the project of building the ZKIT 60. I expect a lot of build progress reports from you on this project.
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Brian D
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #9 - 11/18/22 at 22:46:26
 
Sorry Donnie, haven't been any updates except for this one...

IT LIVES!!

I ordered the amp in early September but I wasn't able to start working on it until mid October. †Construction went well, I took my time and double checked everything. †I haven't done anything like this since I built Heathkits back in the early '80's. †I used a Dissipante case from DIY audio store, it took a little modifying because the case is pretty low profile, but I'm real happy with the finished result. †I've been listening to it all day today, and so far I'm really happy with it. †My previous amp was a Willsenton R35 EL34 integrated, which was very "tubey" I guess, but seemed to mask details compared to previous setups. †Zkit60 seems to be as easy on the ears but there is a lot more musical nuance coming through. †

If anyone is reading this wondering if they should take the plunge I will whole heartedly say yes! †I have a real pride in ownership now, and as long as you are careful and can follow instructions implicitly, it was pretty easy and fun to assemble. †I am very happy with the sound as well, and as burn in occurs and I listen more, I will update the thread.

Thanks again to Decware, DanK, and the "inspiring" †:D Donnie!

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Brian D
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #10 - 11/18/22 at 22:58:26
 
No internal shots yet, but I will get some soon.




my picture download
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4krow
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #11 - 11/19/22 at 00:50:03
 
Man, that is a great looking chassis! Really, so many that I have built in the past are so-so. Yes, of course, we need to see the insides too.
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Donnie
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #12 - 11/19/22 at 01:43:48
 
Wow, that is stunning!

Great job and I know that it sounds great.

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dank
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #13 - 11/19/22 at 21:29:39
 
Brian (and Donnie)

Thanks for the nice email, Brian

Here's a little tip for you, discovered about a year ago so it's got possibilities for Donnie too: †If you are getting an audible hum at the listening position in between songs (when no music is playing), SOMETIMES this can be reduced, sometimes substantially, by rotating the transformer to "null out" the noise at idle. †Obviously, once the best "null spot" is found you tighten the transformer back down. †I've seen this fix some pretty bad noise issues and have incorporated this adjustment as one of the last steps in the build process.

Dan
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Brian D
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #14 - 11/21/22 at 04:15:27
 
Thank you for the compliments guys, I appreciate it. †Dan, thanks for the tip on rotating the transformer. †Through some kind of dumb luck, my amp is completely silent at idle, but I will remember if anything starts. †I'm still making changes to my system to clean things up.

I do have a couple inside pics, please excuse the floating led - I haven't decided how to mount it yet. †Hopefully it all looks good - I feel a little like I'm pulling my knickers down in public.





gif hosting

Thanks again to all!
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4krow
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #15 - 01/14/23 at 05:01:35
 
Well, that is a fine build in and out. I see that you took time to make things look right. I appreciate the advice about rotating the transformer. Pretty cool.
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Brian D
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #16 - 01/29/23 at 06:58:49
 
Thank you, I appreciate the kind words.  I'm still really happy with this amp and how it performs with my system.  I'm comparing some different cables and it's interesting to here how well the system resolves the different "seasonings".  I've had some very different types of equipment over the years, some detailed to the point of being kind of unmusical, some with really nice "tone" but rounding off of all the little edges, etc.  This amp has helped me get to what I feel is a really nice, musical system.
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Brian D
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #17 - 06/20/23 at 01:51:12
 
I made some changes to my amp. †Finding a preamp that fit my budget and what I felt was complimentary performance to the amp took some time. I have 2 sources and donít like pulling cables to switch them, so I had a Schiit sys that I used to begin with. I was actually pretty happy with it sonically but I hated the tiny knob and the lightness of the unit. Looked at a bunch of used preamps but ended up with a new Schiit Freya S. It worked, but the gain stages were a little noisy and the passive was good but a little lifeless (which makes no sense but seemed to be the case).

I found a post at another forum talking about autoformer volume controls, and did some research into them. I liked the basic idea, and found Dave Slagles autoformers at Intact Audio. His mono modules looked like they would fit my case! †Hmm, could the best preamp be no preamp?

I got it working late last Friday night, and Iíve had only limited time to listen, but I am very happy! †The clarity and dynamics at low volumes are a major step up, and the gain structure in my system allows it to be as loud as I would ever want.

So I want to show off a bit, and hopefully give anyone looking into this amp a little more inspiration as to what can be done. Excuse the temporary front panel, knobs and machine tools are on order to make the switches fit the 10mm thick case front plate.

Thanks again to all involved with making this amp available!




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Mannytheseacow
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #18 - 06/20/23 at 03:48:48
 
Been there, done that. Lol.
I had a sys and felt the same way. At this point I am fine with unplugging and replugging cables to save an extra leg of wires and switching.
You could easily add a few inputs and a switch into the amp diy and skip the preamp.
Thanks for sharing the update!
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Brian D
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #19 - 06/20/23 at 06:03:22
 
Ah, yeah the rear panel pic isnít very good, I added another set of input rcaís and a Elma rotary switch in front. Wa-la, all I ever needed!  Plus I at least got rid of 1 set of interconnects and Iím pretty sure the wire Iím using is decent enough to not limit the design (Kimber).
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JBzen
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Re: Has anyone else built or bought one of these?
Reply #20 - 06/20/23 at 10:00:12
 
I built something similar in designed by Auzzie, Hugh Dean. Used it solely for almost 20 years. Never did like the stock pots and might add the auto formers in the 100w SS amp as well as eventually replacing the CSP2+ in the Decware lineup.

Looks good Brian 👍

John
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