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ZRock 2 EQ Options (Read 7716 times)
DancingSea
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ZRock 2 EQ Options
03/28/21 at 21:56:48
 
Aloha,

Iím trying to better grasp the A vs B EQ curves on the ZRock.  Is it possible to boost the bass without lowering the treble?  And Vice versus?

Thanks
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #1 - 03/28/21 at 22:05:38
 
No not really, they are two distinct curves that influence all frequencies. For boosting bass with less treble diminution I think B works best.
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DancingSea
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #2 - 03/28/21 at 22:19:23
 
How does B work?  If the bass is boosted by 3db, how many db is the treble diminished?

I know that in using Roonís digital EQ, I primarily boost the bass or midrange, and only rarely decrease the treble, and when I do, by a smaller amount than the bass boost.
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #3 - 03/28/21 at 22:28:12
 
I don't know how to answer that, I don't do measurements nor have a measuring tool. And I do NOT do computer audio or streaming and have zero experience with Roon. How B works as far as I experience it is that there's a gradual increase of bass and the more you increase the EQ the more the treble is decreased, though the treble is never as decreased as it is in A in my experience.

How you would use the EQ curves will depend so much on your room, equipment and tastes. I use the A curve predominantly and with the EQ pretty heavily applied in three systems. I love the resulting sound. And in my system tube choice and even power cable choice can be very influential on the resulting sound.

The product page sortof explains it. . . probably better than I can though I concede it can be confusing:

https://www.decware.com/newsite/ZROCK.html

But the midrange is also influenced by either EQ curve, it's hard to describe the entire effect. I will say it does not work similarly to the standard three or more band EQs. †

Maybe someone else here can be more helpful.
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Archie
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #4 - 03/28/21 at 23:13:37
 
When I was using my ZR2 I remember that my preferred setting wasn't consistent with how I understood the curves. †One gave me a good bass response plus a sparkling mid whereas the other boosted the bass but seemed to muddy the mids. †I even asked whether my switch was reversed. †I used it with the back switch down which is "B" according to the manual. †So, I guess I agree with Lon. † †I think you just have to try it out and see what works in your case.
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #5 - 03/28/21 at 23:23:43
 
Your experience with B would mirror mine. My systems seem to need to darken the mid-range and boost the bass--I have lots of midrange sparkle without the ZROCK2!
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Archie
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #6 - 03/28/21 at 23:35:33
 
I got confused by your post and I think we are actually doing the opposite of each other. †I like the B curve since it enhances the mids. †I didn't catch where you use the A setting. †Although we seem to agree on what the A and B curves do -- except for the muddiness that I hear with the A on my system.
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DancingSea
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #7 - 03/29/21 at 00:05:02
 
I found Steveís ZRock product listing description of the two EQ curves confusing.  It says itís very adjustable. Yet I wasnít clear how itís adjustability differs from a traditional multi band analog EQ.  In my system and room, the highs are generally good, itís the bass and midrange that benefits from a boost.  

Whatís annoying about Roonís digital EQ is that any boosting there can cause digital clipping and requires a reduction in gain.  Itís my assumption that EQ in the analog domain doesnít suffer from clipping, right?

Iím on the list for the ZRock, but Iím questioning if not being able to boost the bass/ mids while leaving the treble alone is going to work for me.  I donít listen to a lot of classic rock.  Seems the ZRock is designed for music that needs a simultaneous boost on the bottom and reduction on the top, with two EQ curves that do that in different ways.  Is that an accurate conclusion?
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #8 - 03/29/21 at 00:12:05
 
Archie wrote on 03/28/21 at 23:35:33:
I got confused by your post and I think we are actually doing the opposite of each other. †I like the B curve since it enhances the mids. †I didn't catch where you use the A setting. †Although we seem to agree on what the A and B curves do -- except for the muddiness that I hear with the A on my system.

I can imagine that the darkening of the midrange that I hear and need in B could be perceived as muddiness if it is not needed. I think we're hearing the same things applied to the different initial sounds of our systems.
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #9 - 03/29/21 at 00:20:46
 
The ZROCK2 is very adjustable on both curves. What may be confusing is you are comparing it to tuning with separate bands when it is in fact a tuning with multiple bands influenced at once. With just a dab of B the bass is given more "impact" and then with more applied midrange is given a bit of emphasis and treble begins to be diminished. This is all perceivable with little turns of the knob within the zone as indicated by Steve on his product page and I think the manual.

I honestly think that with light application of either A or B you may well get into a zone where your bass is increasaed and your midrange and treble not too influenced. I guess other than consulting directly with Steve you may not know til you try it in your system and room.

Note that there is gain also applied with the EQ curve . . .gain increases as you apply either curve more heavily. I can easily compensate and dial in the right gain I need in my system as I can adjust gain on two preamps, a ZBIT and the Monoblocks themselves as well as at my source and at the ZROCK2. But no, analog sources can clip with EQ and gain applied so some care is likely needed. My guess is that you are not going to be using the EQ curve heavily enough to overload and clip the next component's input.

My advice? Stay the course, endure the wait, get the ZROCK2, and if it does not work for you either return it within the trial period OR sell it here--I bet you can sell it here very easily, I sold a fouth one last week that I did not need without even advertising it for sale.
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Archie
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #10 - 03/29/21 at 00:43:29
 
I recall in one of Steve's ZROCK posts early on that he said recordings artificially suppress the low end several dBs and the ZROCK really just restores what should be there already if it were listened to live.

It's a very "organic" way of equalizing.  A "loudness" button on steroids!
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DancingSea
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #11 - 03/29/21 at 01:20:32
 
One issue I have is with my Hegel, due to its low input impedance, the ZRock will lower the gain by 10 db.  I do have a ZBox, not sure how having both the ZR2 and ZBox together would be.  The ZBox cures the impedance gain dip.
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #12 - 03/29/21 at 19:02:35
 
I hope you get the ZROCK2 soon enough and find out! It's worth the wait and the effort imo.

In my headphone only system I have a ZBOX and a ZROCK2 working together, the only tube components in that system. They compliment each other very well.
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DancingSea
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #13 - 03/30/21 at 07:23:51
 
Only have SIX MONTHS left on the waitlist, darn you Steve Guttenberg!

I am a bit apprehensive about the theory of a bass boost and treble decrease being inherently tied together - can understand classic rock would need it, but lots of music could benefit from one or the other rather than both.  However, theory is not trying.  And I got in before the ZRock price increase.

Schiit has released an updated version of their Loki 4 band EQ.  While likely give it a try in the meantime....
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Archie
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #14 - 03/30/21 at 15:52:54
 
I never experienced a bass boost and a treble decrease with the ZROCK2. If that's the way it works I am unaware.  My understanding is that it boosts at the bottom but becomes more and more neutral as you go up in frequency.
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #15 - 03/30/21 at 15:55:50
 
Read the manual Archie. Wink
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GroovySauce
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #16 - 03/30/21 at 15:58:21
 
EQ A doesn't cut treble. EQ B does cut treble.

When in EQ A as you turn the "magic knob" past the 50% point I hear it start to get a richness and fullness that's very pleasing, keep going and the bass eventually becomes over bearing.

EQ B as you turn the knob you do hear the highs rolling off as the bass is increased. Almost sounds like someone threw a blanket over the speakers. I didn't understand why Steve put this as an option. Somewhere he wrote that it's to fix mp3's, when you're listening to internet radio in the shop and it's unlistenable, flip the switch and you're good to go. A few weeks ago I experienced this. I had a buddy over listening to the system. He wanted to watch Jon Anderson state of independence live with Todmobile. It really didn't sound good. I went and switched to the EQ B and wow! we watched a bunch of YT videos and enjoyed them.
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #17 - 03/30/21 at 16:04:10
 
As I read the manual, Steve states that both reduce the treble gradually. With B (which you call A) you really have to apply the EQ to begin treble reduction.

And as I experience the ZROCK2 A is what you call B and B is what you call A. It's a topsy turvy world! A is "Up" on the switch in the back and B is "Down," on my three ZROCK2s, well four as it is also that way on the one I sold last week. . . .

And I use A as I need treble reduction as much if not more than bass addition.
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GroovySauce
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #18 - 03/30/21 at 16:13:15
 
My EQ switch is backwards from what the manual states.
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #19 - 03/30/21 at 16:21:01
 
Okay, that makes sense to me. On my second ZROCK2 that I bought the bypass reversed channels. That was something I didn't notice for a while because I don't use the bypass often at all, and for a while I was doing so on mono material only it seems! (I listen to a lot of mono).
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Archie
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #20 - 03/30/21 at 16:41:50
 
Quote:
EQ A doesn't cut treble. EQ B does cut treble.

When in EQ A as you turn the "magic knob" past the 50% point I hear it start to get a richness and fullness that's very pleasing, keep going and the bass eventually becomes over bearing.

EQ B as you turn the knob you do hear the highs rolling off as the bass is increased. Almost sounds like someone threw a blanket over the speakers. I didn't understand why Steve put this as an option. Somewhere he wrote that it's to fix mp3's, when you're listening to internet radio in the shop and it's unlistenable, flip the switch and you're good to go. A few weeks ago I experienced this. I had a buddy over listening to the system. He wanted to watch Jon Anderson state of independence live with Todmobile. It really didn't sound good. I went and switched to the EQ B and wow! we watched a bunch of YT videos and enjoyed them.


This is exactly what I experience but in reverse. †Forgetting the labels, my switch in the up position is what "B" in the above does and my switch down is what "A" in the above does. †According to the manual, A is up and B is down.

As far as treble attenuation, yes, one setting does attenuate. †The manual says that the A does NOT and the B does. †This is why I always thought my switch was reversed.

Groovy -- I see where you think your switch is also reversed.  If ours are then it's a cruel joke Steve played on us!
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #21 - 03/30/21 at 17:06:41
 
Archie wrote on 03/30/21 at 16:41:50:

As far as treble attenuation, yes, one setting does attenuate. †The manual says that the A does NOT and the B does.


Um, what the manual actually says is:

Both EQ slopes have a fairly flat response between 20 Hz ~ 60 Hz and then it shelves down till it reaches 260 Hz where it remains flat through the midrange and a slight roll in the treble.

Both attenuate treble. I agree that B doesn't seem to until you reach the very end of the curve, which is why I don't use it.
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Archie
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #22 - 03/30/21 at 17:33:43
 
That's not what the curves show.  The A curve says above the baseline "bypass" line.  The B curve dips below it.
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #23 - 03/30/21 at 17:41:07
 
That's not exactly the conclusion I reach from that graph and my ears hear treble begin to be diminished near the full adjustment of the EQ; I believe what Steve writes, and below the graph when he mentions the green zone he talks of treble diminishment and increase and the implication is for both curves as they aren't specified. . . . No matter, what matters is what we hear and what we enjoy.

Regardless this bodes well for what dancing sea wants from the unit if he chooses EQ B.
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DancingSea
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #24 - 03/30/21 at 18:03:35
 
Iíve read the manual and looked at the graph for months and am still not precisely clear what the ZRock2 actually does. This discussion has only solidified that confusion  ;D
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Archie
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #25 - 03/30/21 at 18:15:27
 
What throws me off is the volume increase which makes using the bypass to hear differences hard since you have to volume match to be fair. †So, if treble is attenuated, is it attenuated absolutely or just relative to the boost? †That's why I refer to the curves -- assuming they accurately describe what's going on.

But Lon is right that it's all about what we hear.
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ZLC
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Lon
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #26 - 03/30/21 at 18:33:23
 
Well, we should have Steve weigh in on this. I'm not myself too hung up ever on HOW something works. I don't understand "how" many machines and systems "work" that I have learned how to control and utilize. I "intuit" things more than pore over the "how." The ZROCK2 may be one of these machines. I have over two years of experience using them, every day. I understand how to use them, what the results of using them are. The "how" is far less importaant to me--enjoying the improvement they bring to my systems is more important, THE importance. Perhaps Steve can help clear up confusion. . . . My confusion is possibly minimal, and I'm not at all confused about the use of this device and its results.
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DancingSea
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #27 - 03/30/21 at 18:38:07
 
Iím also not clear if ďbass restorationĒ is different from simply turning up the bass knob on tone controls?

Yes, itís ultimately about what we hear. That said, this is not quantum physics or an esoteric topic that requires either advanced education or mystical perception to understand.  Itís just tone controls and Steve could explain the ZRockís behavior in a more precise and clear way. Though he ought to delay putting time towards that until after my ZRock ships!
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #28 - 03/30/21 at 19:12:53
 
What struck me as a handle to understand this was his reference to a "loudness" switch and how this differs. I always wanted a loudness switch that acted the way he described as I listen at lower levels than some, often by necessity and respect for others with me. How he described it thus made sense to me. . . and I ordered it. . . and the rest is history. I've bought three from hm and one used, so that I could send one in for a change and still have one in the system! To me they are just the right final ingredient for my rooms and systems.

The one that came back with modificaitons is now back in my system--a new power supply with the Anniversary mods now with all Miflex capacitors. And boy does it nail the tonal center of my system! And that allowed me to upgrade the one in my audio/visual system to one that had the Anniversary mods with Type 2 Jupiter caps from one with just the Type 2 and no mods. A great improvemrnt--The mods are a real deal....
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #29 - 03/30/21 at 23:43:44
 
I think the reference to the loudness switch is the key.  As such the ZR2 will add density and weight across the entire frequency spectrum thereby changing what one hears across the entire spectrum.  It's not just a component that restores bass, it does much more and in my experience vastly improves what is heard without one.

Mine went in for repairs and when it came back the power supply had been changed.  It had a Mundorf bypass cap with the original type 2 Jupiters.  When it came back the difference was huge.  I then sent my CSP3 in for the A-mods and you could say that it was rebuilt with all Miflex.  Again the difference was nothing short of incredible.  Each component on it's own made a big difference, combined (ZR2-A, CSP3 -A, UFO25) I refer to the sum of these 'parts' as the Deadly Trio!

A friend recently heard the "Deadly Trio".  We started off with "you and your friend".  He didn't just stop talking, he froze.  Looked like he had just seen Medusa's head.  When the song ended he just slowly turned his head towards me with a blank stare trying to collect his thoughts.  I'm not exaggerating!

So if the above is what one wants to hear, the ZR2 is a key factor.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #30 - 03/31/21 at 13:35:02
 
think the reference to the loudness switch is the key. †As such the ZR2 will add density and weight across the entire frequency spectrum thereby changing what one hears across the entire spectrum. †It's not just a component that restores bass, it does much more and in my experience vastly improves what is heard without one. This is my experience as well,Joman gets it.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #31 - 03/31/21 at 18:27:50
 
I googled ďloudness switchĒ to see what it does.  The consensus appears that a loudness switch boosts low AND high frequencies to improve listening at low volumes.  Yet the ZR2 boosts bass and lowers treble. Therefore, whatever the ZR2 does, itís not a classic loudness switch.

From what I gather here, the two ZR2 EQ curves both boost the bass, and then attenuates the trebles, though to different formulas. In fact on the Decware ZR2 description, Steve specifically states ďunlike a loudness buttonĒ.

Iím still not clear how the ZR2 specifically handles the high end. What the ratio of bottom end boost to treble attenuation is. Is it 1 to 1 db?  I find the website description unclear.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #32 - 03/31/21 at 18:30:44
 
I don't think anyone said it acts like a classic loudness switch, and we have read what Steve says about it in that regards. Maybe you should call or email Steve about it, it seems only he can satisfy your queries. I hope you don't have to wait too too long to try it in your system.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #33 - 03/31/21 at 18:42:07
 
I have. Steve is soooo busy, itís challenging to get ahold of him, especially with the time change.

I do think the ratio between bass boost and treble attenuation would be simple enough to explain.

My response was based on two posts making the loudness button comparison, when the ZR2 is clearly something different.  Itís not a criticism, just an observation.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #34 - 03/31/21 at 18:48:37
 
I think what the posts were trying to say is that rather than a simple three or more band EQ unit the ZROCK2 works more like a loudness button if a loudness button were ideal and could be used at more than low volumes. It adds body and weight to the sound at normal volumes in a way that a loudness button is designed to do at lower volumes, and doesn't accomplish at louder volumes.

My two years plus of using ZROCK2 leads me to think that if the ZROCK2 doesn't undercut the work the ZBOX is doing with your Hegel input that you'll find EQ B to work well for you as it will give you the bass boost that you need and will only decrease the treble significantly when really "goosed." And it will bring in that richness of sound that is hard to describe that we have been trying to describe, similar to what the ZBOX begins to do. I think Steve has described it in the way he wants to, which may not work for all of us; I know my own brain doesn't work the way Steve's does. Hopefully he can get back to you and you can get a better picture.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #35 - 03/31/21 at 19:39:05
 
I called and got Steve!

He explained that one of the curves does not attenuate the treble at all.  It builds a shelf from the bass into the midrange.   The other can attenuate the treble to adjustable degrees for harsh recordings.

This makes sense to me. I was struggling with the notion that the treble would always be attenuated, how could that be?  Apparently, it be not.   Which is a relief and I look forward to the ZR2ís arrival.  He said they are working double shifts to meet demand, thus it ought not be 6 months.

I have a ZBox and he thought it would go very well with the ZRock and help with any impedance matching issues my Hegel has.

He explained that the ZR2 is not a tone control as it increases density and wetness with a one knob solution rather than having to adjust a bunch of EQ knobs.

Iím all in! Not going to waste time with the new Loki.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #36 - 03/31/21 at 19:43:42
 
Awesome! Now the long wait begins.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #37 - 03/31/21 at 20:37:18
 
I would refer you to the graphs in the following post: †https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1614316467

The top one is how I set my ZROCK2. †As you can see there is a very slight presence peak in the treble that increase into lower impedance devices -- this happens naturally.



The bottom graph is how I set it to add bass to some classic rock music.



On the web page, there is also a graph, but it shows the knob turned fully clockwise. †In practice I have never encountered a situation extreme enough to ever have the knob turned that far. †Without the knob turned fully clockwise, there is no treble roll off.



These graphs are all three demonstrating the EQ switch in the non rolled-off setting. †In the more extreme setting, a treble roll off will begin to occur much earlier and be much steeper. †Additionally the bass plateau is more aggressive. †In this mode it is even less likely that any situation would call for the knob to be fully rotated clockwise.

Steve





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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #38 - 03/31/21 at 20:49:42
 
Thanks Steve. You might be surprised how close to an extreme situation I sometimes find myself in. Wink
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #39 - 03/31/21 at 22:00:09
 
I think what we need is a Google Translate for engineers.  Take the engineerís text, paste it into Google Translate, and out comes a laymanís translation  ::)
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #40 - 04/02/21 at 02:55:26
 
Dancing Sea,

I am the one Lon recently sold his extra ZROCK2 to, and I have been experimenting for only several days, so I can't claim to have a full handle on it yet. But I had similar concerns as yours, not wanting rolloff, more wanting additional lucid tube beauty and some additional bass tuning adjustment, and for me it is all good so far.

I think what is confusing is how much the gain setting effects the EQ curves. If you look at the manual and ZROCK2 webpage, you will see a notable rolloff on both A and B. But I think Steve's recent post here helps clarify this, in that these are measurements of the fully developed curves, and fully developed means with the ZROCK2 gain all the way up, somewhere Steve says he doesn't need to go.

At the same time, he illustrated what appears to closer to a favored attenuator setting spot for good resolution, that graph having a notable presence area lift, and little or no treble attenuation in the audible band. Personally, at higher settings, I think I hear treble roll off with both A and B, but it is a little confusing since higher settings increase bass in the balance, naturally influencing and overwhelming mids and highs.

At this point, the sweet area in my system, using the B setting (down) with a 12AT7 tube, is about 1:30, and maybe above 2 o'clock or 2:30, it starts to seem to apply the attenuation curve on top. Maybe the bass is masking detail complexity, but I hear what I consider rolloff with A and B starting in this general area. However, under whatever point a given knob edges us toward the sense of rolloff, below that I get really good clarity and complexity with tubes that support this.

So I think one key to the confusion is that the EQ curves are based on the gain adjustments, and it is hard to quite imagine without hearing it. Somewhere in the middle range, there starts a range where you get bass boost along with a sense of resolution boost, presumably supported by the presence lift you see in Steve's more "sweet spot" graph, and with little or no audible treble cut....

So I am currently using B (down) and with a nicely resolving and slightly warm Zaerix labelled (I think Mullard) 12AT7, I was surprised in my system how resolving the stock ZROCK2 with the VR mod only could sound with optimal settings. With my baseline volume knob setting about 1:30, and the ZBIT before and CSP3 after, in some ways I feel like I am getting more clarity across the spectrum, not less.

My other gear is highly modified toward being musically resolving and fast, and the ZROCK2 (w/VR filter mod only) does sound like it slows things down a bit. But my other components have the attenuators, RCAs and signal wires upgraded to a little faster and more resolving parts and wires, as well as cap and resistor modifications in the signal and power paths, and a fully bypassed power supply fed by more resolving IEC inlets. So I wanted to get to know the ZROCK2 without most modifications, to see just what I was working with in modifying it, and am glad I did!

Sounding like it is a little slow between faster components, along with a really masterful EQ circuit and powerfully influential tube implementation, I am getting a bit of a "magic carpet ride," sweet magic being operative. And being a resolution lover, any drops in fine detail and space from having another piece in the signal path, seem nicely compensated for with the really nice EQ, tube implementation and all else that makes up this elegant design...beautiful voicing contributing to this "magic ride."

Don't know why, but for me 12AU7s were variable, but generally a little soft in the bass, and being pretty articulate and clear mids up, a bit "off" sounding to me. So I tried 12AT7s, and some of those were too powerful and clear, articulating everything, including bass. But this particular Mullard, being naturally "warm," slightly darkish toned but pretty fully resolving of detail and space...my theory is that with the slightly slower ZROCK2, also being quite resolving, it adds just enough euphonic sweetness to make the musical experience more engaging. I heard it before with other tubes, but especially with this one, it appears like the ZROCK2's slight slowness in my setting adds a mild but beautiful touch of "syrup" without sacrifice to detail and space, just enough sweetness to make it magical but not obviously euphonic. It is sort of like the breaks go on just a little passing through the ZROCK2, and with very good tube/EQ circuit magic, without smearing, the slight slowness is seductive indeed.

1st impressions can later lead to manifesting issues for me, so I try not to comment on things until I have had more time, and I really have not given the A setting much attention yet. But I am really falling for this component, and hoped these initial impressions might further resolve some fears you had about this very interesting component.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #41 - 04/02/21 at 03:06:01
 
Thank you Will for the very thoughtful and comprehensive observations. Fascinating.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #42 - 04/02/21 at 12:14:28
 
Will, thanks for weighing in, I am so glad you are enjoying the ZROCK2. The way the gain blended with the EQ influences is hardest to describe and you have delineated this and presented the results well.

You'll enjoy experimenting and experiencing more!
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #43 - 04/03/21 at 01:44:56
 
Today I started to explore the ZROCK2 A setting. This is fun!

First impressions I had preferred B earlier, but that was with 12AU7s seeming a little soft in the bass, in my system/room, and for me, and the generally more relaxed A accentuated that. So I chose to explore B first with its greater focus on dynamics, bass and mids, especially with the open dynamics and clarity of the 12AT7 working nicely with B's particular character. Now it is interesting to try both A and B settings with this Zaerix labelled 12AT7 ...both compelling, and quite different than comparing with 12AU7s I tried.

My other pre-stage gain settings near my usual average levels, to get close to the same volume from both A and B my favored baseline of Ī 1:30 for B had to be just a touch lower. I found it interesting that this preferred setting for B gave close to equal volumes from A and B, at least with this tube.

Set this way, both A and B can be quite nice, both a little warm but clear, especially when listening to open/balanced recordings, though having different emphasis'. But once recordings shift the bass and dynamics in the balance, the EQ'd bass effect was more influential. Even on the same record, different tunes can be thrown a little more off balance if the bass setting is not optimized for the record.... defined EQ settings creating more or less mids and bass, more or less "warmth," more or less spatial information, and more or less fine detail complexity.

So with the same gain settings, comparison of subtler information was notably effected by the recording balance. †

Especially with A, tending to more fine detail, and also being more relaxed with less obvious dynamics and bass/mid focus, lean recordings could feel overly lean and detailed. Or recordings tending to more bass in the balance, either setting could shift the balance toward excess bass for ideal balance, overpowering mids and fine detail presence. So my habit of gain riding to balance bass, clarity, lucidity and dynamics, is probably more important to me using variable EQ in the mix.

On average though, I would say B has greater bass/mid focus and macro dynamic tendencies, the mids and bass stronger in the balance, and less emphasis on fine detail. By comparison to A, the top of B feels more rolled off. Detail seems mostly there, but with its more dynamic/bigger mid-to-bass focus, it shows more of its textures and decays lower down into the mids while feeling more spacious within this...more "trippy" sounding.

A here (at this test setting) has a softer/quieter bass, less mid and bass focus in general, rounder, but having nice attacks and sounding pretty real with balanced recordings. A also tends to more detail in the general balance at this setting. If this gain setting suits a recording, it feels like a more even spectral balance. And tending to more apparent complexity, particularly on open recordings, having less focussed note definition, A sounds more complex within the note and without.... and with less contrasts, it feels like the sense of space is a little slower, fuller, warmer, less empty. Also with more detail higher up, the textures, decays, and ambient information tend to show higher up.

So generally, at these settings, A sounds more fine detailed, and being less bold by comparison, it is not as dynamic/spacious as B, and has nice spectral balance overall. I find the spectral balance, in many ways, more "accurate." The wildcard for both is recordings though. Some can have pretty strong bass/mid emphasis causing less sense of high detail and space. Others can be pretty balanced and quite detailed feeling. And others, especially with A can sound like too much emphasis on detail.

So having heard some of the fundamental differences at these settings, and in this system, I will hang with A for a while. With gain tuning I was really liking B for several days, and suspect I will really like A, realizing just how important gain tuning can be for optimizing either!
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #44 - 04/03/21 at 02:02:56
 
Interesting findings. Yes, I too find gain is very important and the right gain structure CAN vary from recording to recording. EQ B just never quite seems right to me, I don't get the tonal balance I want, so I work with A and enjoy experiencing different tubes in the ZROCK2 though when I just want to listen and not futz with the sound I have one or two tubes I "set and forget," both Amperex, a 12AU7 and a 6085. I will try more time with 12AT7 types, I have a few brands, and also have variants such as a 6211 and 7062.
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #45 - 04/03/21 at 03:47:50
 
Yes, I would not be surprised if I end up preferring A also, especially with a few modifications.

I wonder. If you have been getting along so well with 12AU7s in your setup, 12AT7s might be too intense. Some of mine were for me. I have not done any tube adjustments except in the ZROCK2 to compensate though, wanting to have a clear reference to get a feel for the ZROCK2 from. In this system/room, warmer 12AT7s with gains adjusted down to compensate worked pretty nicely though. And you have a lot of variants so that might be interesting! A lot of fun!
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #46 - 04/04/21 at 02:31:36
 
Playing with tubes this morning, I continued to be amazed at how much this component effects tube sound. I don't think I have heard anything close relative to how much tubes change its sound. I probably tried 8-10 12AU7/ECC82 or variants, many I thought were nice with my ZSTAGE, and found some good ones, but could not find one that I loved. An Amperex orange globe may be a fav of those, having clarity, textures and more decent bass. Some were a bit on the veiled side with softish bass, or really good except bass being softish using this A setting. Whereas, 12AT7s generally sounded more as expected, open, articulate and vivid. Weird....wondering why I am getting these results with 12AU7 types, I decided to just go ahead and start modifying it.

As it turns out, the A setting seems closer to an unadjusted balance, and comparing it with my other components, it seems to show the sound of the mostly stock ZROCK2 parts more clearly than the more "altered" and "trippier" B setting. So trying to get ideal sound with A made it clearer that my upgraded amp and pre stages are more resolving and fast.

So I replaced the signal caps with some Audyn True Coppers I had used previously, so burned in, and bypassed them with some Mallory M150s. Started on the power supply as well with some also previously burned in Audyn True Coppers for bypasses. More experiments to go, but some nice changes. And interestingly, now the red tip Sylvania 5963 with grey plates and a horseshoe getter Steve sent with this ZROCK2 sounds quite good on the A setting.

So far I also like a Tungsram E80CC, and now am really enjoying a grey plate Westinghouse 12BH7A, so things are looking up with lower key tube variants starting to sound more right. Excited!
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #47 - 04/04/21 at 20:03:39
 
Will,

Thanks for the amazingly detailed observations.  You've referenced the bass response from various tubes.  I have a ZBox and also sought more bass and was referred to NOS RCA's by Brent Jesse.  Given the ZRock2 is an EQ of sorts and can increase bass gain, does that make the bass qualities of a given tube less important?  Can't the ZR2 bass gain compensate for any bass deficiencies of a given tube?
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Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #48 - 04/04/21 at 22:46:44
 
I can't say I have a total handle on this as the ZRock2 is new to me, but will give it a go. Hopefully those who have explored it more will comment.

I think your thought about the ZRock2 compensating for bass deficient tubes is true, but since it is the quality of the bass that matters as much as the how much is there, there are clearly wildcards in complex systems. And experiences I had preferring the B over A at first, and 12AT7s over 12AU7s are no doubt in part reflections of my particular system/room.

I was heading toward needing more articulation here in my setup in order to get natural and impactful sounding bass as well as the complex and complete tonal qualities and speed I need mids up.

So I am thinking the bass increase from the ZRock2, set higher, increases†the bass tendencies of the tube you are using, but also imparts the ZRock's particular sonic signature. And the ZRock2 or ZBox are only part of the much greater whole, with everything effecting overall tonal qualities, including bass.... † Our rooms, speakers, other components, cables, etc, each and all effect each and all....

So I figure each tube we try is effected by the signature qualities of the ZROCK2 or ZBox, but also by the rest of the particular system room.

Looked at more finitely, my observations while trying the (more difficult here) 12AU7s with the A setting, led me to doing modifications on the ZRock2 in order to balance its traits with the rest of my system that is fast and resolving, and already has good complex bass. I wanted to try to speed the ZRock up, while also expanding on its complex and refined musicality, including more complete, complex, and clarified extension.

And as it turned out, from initial modifications, the ZRock fits notably better with my system, and it is steadily getting better as the modification caps settle into their new life. Faster and more resolving itself, and better matching the system, 12AU7s, with the milder A setting, are becoming quite good to me. Earlier, I got, not the same, but similar qualities from using 12AT7s....more powerful, spacious, and articulate, so faster and clearer bottom to top. But now, with modifications in place, the ZRock2 is doing all it does more completely, the milder A setting, and milder 12AU7 types feeling closer to the 12AT7s before, but pleasantly mellower.

If we think about "bass," what do we get when it is delivered more completely, with more resolution and speed? More subtleties, more articulate edges that are also more complex, so clear, but not necessarily hard.... And speed can contribute to more "hit," with greater resolution/less smearing, there is more sense of space between sounds, increasing the sense of pace and definition, impact, etc.... and less smeared, less resolution masking, we hear more accurate representation of all that is there right down to the finest detail. Especially with the bass being harder to get right in most systems and rooms, these optimized musical qualities seem pretty critical to me.

So with all working well together, hopefully we get more depth and more of all the subtle things that make a bass note/sound....from finger hit, to wood sounds, to tonal complexities, depth and hit, decays.... With greater resolution and speed, and with the right settings, and synergistic tubes, we can just hear more!

Before I was able to get plenty of bass with the more stock ZRock2. It was just that using the milder A setting and 12AU7s, when I cranked it to pull more deep bass, it tended toward soft/thick bass and fuller mids. I could get good bass qualities and overall balance, but needed lower potentiometer settings to get that, and those settings tended not to increase my bass as much as I wanted. B was notably better at enhanced bass power, but now it is even better.

With these modifications, using 12AU7 tube types and A, the bass and all the rest, are more resolved, complex, and articulate with nice complete bass extension possible with higher settings.

I imagine this will continue to get better for some days as the caps settle. But now the qualities of the bass with 12AU7s are closer to what I got before with 12AT7s, not as intense, but nicely clean, big, and articulate ....more complete and natural sounding.

Out on a limb some, not having fully investigated all this, but I wanted to give you my observations and theories so far.

Leading to a possible bottom line for me.... I have not heard Steve's modifications, but I would expect similar results. And based on my experiences, I think the overall improvements from complimentary modifications takes these components to new levels. So I am thinking I might try to get the mods right off if possible, resulting in what I would expect to be a more refined and more flexible, and perhaps more end-game components.

Hopefully others with more experience will comment!
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Philip K. Dick

Posts: 18574
Re: ZRock 2 EQ Options
Reply #49 - 04/05/21 at 00:25:17
 
Dancing Sea, I would agree. As this component allows you to hear what each tube can do it can matter which tube you select for the quality of the bass. Will and I have a lot of tubes in our system, and we have a lot of exoerience rolling tubes and comparing their sound, so our inclination is to tune more than you are likely to at first with your ZBOX having been the first tube component.

My headphone only system has only a ZBOX and a ZROCK2 as tube components so I think I have a bit of insight on how your system might react to those two components. I have had pleasing and very involving results with the same tube in both of the components. So if you were to get a very similar tube to that which you are using now in the ZBOX you should have a good starting point. Also the tube that Steve will send with the ZROCK2 I am certain will be a very good tube for the frequency balance top to bottom. You should find a really nice "plateau" of sound to explore using that tube as a starting point--in my headphone system the one that he sent mixes well with the one that I had been using in the ZBOX.

And I agree with Will that modifications can lead to a "faster" and more complete control of the total sound. Steve's Anniversary mods are EXCELLENT--I have them on all the tube components that I own except the ZTPRE and the ZBOX and one of my ZROCK2 only has the upgraded caps and not the Anniversary Mod. That is the one that I am now using with the ZBOX, which has the standard caps of about a dozen years ago or more and no other mods than a switch and a second input connections. It is a great unit, but I have an easier time with tube choice and with tuning with the ZROCK2s I have with the mods. So I don't know if you ordered the Mods, but they are definitely an improvement worth making.

Will, I am glad that you are finding the 12AU7 type to be much more satisfying with modifications to the ZROCK2. 12AT7 can be just a bit too hard and dry for my tastes and room and system. I think I like the 6085 type so much because it is a higher gain than the standard 12AU7 and so has some of the characteristics I like in the 12AT7 but still retains what I like about the 12AU7. (And has it's own full smoothness I think being such a large tube; Amperex are nicely warm without being occluding, and the Tungsram I have also used are nicely accurate and neutral without being thin, hard or edgy).
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