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How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It (Read 13049 times)
Doug
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How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
11/08/22 at 23:57:26
 
Thoughts have been rolling around in my mind for weeks regarding how to explain to fellow forum members and to Steve that my new fully modded ZROCK2 with a Cryotone 12AU7 didn’t improve the sound quality of my system.  

After waiting 14 months and 10 days, my ZROCK2 was delivered today.  It was installed 2 hours ago.  Here’s my explanation.

I am completely blown away with what the ZR2 has done for my system!  In a million years, and without having ever auditioned a ZR2, I would never have believed that this level of improvement could be had.  For now, I’ll just say this, if you are wondering whether or not to order a ZROCK2, do it today—do it this very minute! In the event that you don’t want it, for whatever crazy reason, you can immediately sell it for what you paid for it, or more likely, at a significant profit!
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Dr3wman
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #1 - 11/09/22 at 00:27:00
 
Glad to hear you like it so much Doug!

I too have a fully equipped ZROCK 2 on order and can't wait for it to arrive.

And I had a very similar experience when it comes to the Torii MKV that arrived yesterday after an extended wait.  What a gorgeous piece of equipment, and incredible sound. Years of joy are ahead for me!

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tempest62
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #2 - 11/09/22 at 03:00:03
 
Agreed, the ZR2 is an important tuning tool!

In my current system, its net effect is closer to fine tuning bass impact, more of a rounding mechanism that fills out the lower-mid frequencies a bit more that takes an already very full sound to near perfection in my small room.

In the now happily sold amp-speaker combo of a Taboo MK 4-25th & Omega Jr. XRS alnico spkrs, it was absolutely critical….the difference was literally night and day. This combo without the ZR2-25th was comparatively anemic and fairly ordinary….with the ZR2 it was very necessarily fuller and better rounded. In fact I learned to hate this comparatively dull & anemic amp-speaker combo without the ZR2, and with it the system was mostly….acceptable, which was a EEEUGE difference.

So 3 cheers for the ZR2!  

Brad
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michaelG
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #3 - 11/09/22 at 03:27:59
 
I got my zrock in august. And not only it is good from the start but it is actually getting better after a few weeks. I’’m using both setting as they both do something different and I can’t tell which one I prefer.
One thing that surprised me at first was the big drop in volume when the zrock is activated. I suspected and Steve confirmed that it is probably due to the input impedance of my current amp (50k).
this won’t be an issue anymore in a few weeks / month when I receive my ufo.
Smiley
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Kamran
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #4 - 11/09/22 at 03:41:17
 
The ZROCK was a revelation to me at Decfest. I truly didn’t get it…until I experienced it in person.  And then I was kicking myself for not ordering it earlier.

However, now that I have changed my order from Rachael to Sarah, I’m not sure it will add further benefit since it’s already part of Sarah’s design spec.
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Lon
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #5 - 11/09/22 at 03:48:11
 
I think that is a mischaracterization. There is a part of the ZROCK2 DNA in the Sarah, but just that initial gain stage, just at the precipice of the EQ changing part of the ZROCK2. So. . . not really a ZROCK2 in the Sarah, and Steve has moved away from using that term for the gain stage of the amp.
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CAJames
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #6 - 11/09/22 at 03:53:13
 
Quote:
Posted by: Lon      Posted on: Today at 03:48:11
I think that is a mischaracterization. There is a part of the ZROCK2 DNA in the Sarah, but just that initial gain stage, just at the precipice of the EQ changing part of the ZROCK2. So. . . not really a ZROCK2 in the Sarah, and Steve has moved away from using that term for the gain stage of the amp.


Yes. I think ZROCK2 inspired gain stage would be a fair characterization.
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Kamran
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #7 - 11/09/22 at 04:27:45
 
Thanks gentlemen for the correction. In other words, one shouldn’t fear redundancy getting a ZR2 for Sarah then.
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JBzen
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #8 - 11/09/22 at 10:21:40
 
No fear if you want to add or subtract from the artist/producer intentions. I still prefer a system that adds nothing to the material. The dial and switches on the Zrock2 can lead to confusion that ultimately distracts when playing familiar material...kicks the listener right out of zen. Total absorbtion of the music is not obtained instantly as turning on a swich but gradually over time as the track plays.

John

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Burgermeester
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #9 - 11/09/22 at 10:25:11
 
Well I have a ZBIT so I have gain.

As far as the ZROCK goes, isn't this a tone control with 2 curves (and gain)?

I haven't heard it and I'm not second-guessing, but with 25th anniversary pre-amp and amplification running into thousands of $$ (well over $10K with monoblocks) why would my system be so dependent on the contribution from this rather niche device? I mean, we're going from "only 3 devices in the signal path" to a tone control.

Has anyone plugged one of these into a non-DW system environment?

Sorry, just trying to understand. The ZROCK seems to fall into the "audio sweetening" category and while dumping sugar on stuff can be addicting, is that why we chose Decware? I realize this question might not have an answer. I could just shut up and try one myself but no, the queue is too long.
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JBzen
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #10 - 11/09/22 at 11:44:47
 
If the room is right and components(source player, amp, speakers)in tune a Zrock2 will seldom be needed.
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Lon
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #11 - 11/09/22 at 12:06:46
 
I think in essence it boils down to several factors: room, source material, and personal tastes and hearing.

I used for a while a ZROCK2 between an OPPO UDP-205 and a ZBIT ahead of the ZROCK2 to a DALAUDIO amp. It made a significant improvement for me and my room. I also have used a ZROCK2 between two different DACs and a PS Audio GCHA headphone amp and it improved the sound. Now both of these systems have the ZROCK2 in use in front of Decware amps making improvement.

I am NOT allowed to have room treatment in either of the rooms I have systems. NOT a chance I will. The rooms make my systems lean. The ZROCK2 allows me to tailor the sound (in concert with speaker placement, tube-rolling, etc.) to a much more accurate tonal balance. And I frankly listen to a lot of mediocre to bad recordings because the music is more important to me than the "sound." That said the ZROCK2 allows me to get better sound out of these than without.

I also have had my hearing tested and because I think I used ear protection when I was playing drums and playing in a few bands in the 'eighties, and that I rarely frequented loud music events,  I still test with good high frequency hearing. And I find I'm sensitive to treble as reproduced by every digital front end I've ever had in my home, and some analog front ends. The ZROCK2 helps me to have a more comfortable relationship with treble energy in playback.

Believe me, I used to be a "keep it simple stupid" "purist" stereo nut. But. . . that meant that I squirmed and struggled a lot with my listening, as I did not have the advantage of being able to address room problems. Steve at one point told me "you need a ZROCK2" at a time when the ZROCK2 was new and the minute I installed one I realized this was an answer for me. And I have one now in each of my systems, two of them fully modded, one with just the upgraded Jupiter caps. I LOVE THESE DEVICES, they have made my listening life so much more enjoyable. In my estimation they are not an "audio sweetening" device but a tuning and tailoring device that can be a "correction" device for some musical problems, perhaps some that one is not aware of until they can be removed. With the additional gain (I use ZBITs as well) and two EQ curves and with the adjustment of the EQ influence not just bass but treble and midrange are able to be influenced, including density and presence. A fascinating, versatile device. In my adult life what has become increasingly clear to me is that we are all different. In my case the ZROCK2 brings me INTO Zen, not kicks me out of it. And I'm not constantly fiddling with it, a setting seems to be just right for my system with most recordings until I try to improve the sound of lesser recordings.

Also I'll mention that originally Steve has stated that he targeted those who listen to internet radio and streaming of lower bit rates etc. for the ZROCK2. I don't listen to these sources but I can imagine the ZROCK2 would be a big boon for those who do.

I'll conclude with this advice: if you talk to Steve and he recommends a ZROCK2 for your system, consider that possibility.
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will
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #12 - 11/09/22 at 18:08:07
 
Being all modified well beyond A-mods, mine are not straight up representations of Decware direct from Decware. But the DNA is the same and I have struggled to keep the basic balances from Steve's choices, while improving all levels of speed and translucent transparency and resolution with more sonic completeness from the right parts and wires that musically put as little in the way of the music as possible.

Another primary goal for me has been making all music as good or better than the recording. In other words, working on making all of them with OK "bones" sound more like real music from a perspective of great instruments in great rooms. And since many recordings do not sound real on super resolving systems that are well balanced, just because they were not brilliant recordings or mixes, if we can improve on that in "real" sounding ways, to me this is seeking a more pure representation of the music. And for my tastes, I do not want clearly enhanced sound in any area...if fact I find Steve's tastes really close in most ways, but generally a little forceful for me. So my ultimate "reference" is from a love of beautiful sound from beautiful instruments and players in great rooms. And this, in my system, requires careful tuning with everything for resolution that is relatively un-truncated anywhere... ie. balanced, immediate, smooth, and for me very importantly, not limiting spatial or harmonic information across the spectrum... but also very importantly, relaxed... To me resolution, speed, and relaxed go together, indicating a lack of smearing... correct time, so more space, and more to the sound, if in balance, bringing out loads of nuance and making most all recordings more like real music. The best sonic reads I have found so far for getting the most from the recording are harmonic complexity in very clear space, and with natural immediacy and balanced speed... each, across the spectrum... and not surprisingly, the most difficult parts of the sound to get.

So I don't try for sound exactly like I imagine the recording sounded in its particular studio environment... yet another area where, beyond "that sound" being based on mix and mastering gear/room quality and skills, also, recording and mixing rooms and systems all sound different based on assumptions of accuracy, and therefore the studio developer's preferences... Likely many studios having some common threads, and perhaps closer in more cost no object studios, but still each having a different feel and sound, recordings they produce have different sound. And let's not forget... this is all in time, room tech and gear changes all the time... so no standards there either, not to mention great or not so great "re-mastering."

At the same time, many of my recordings I love, even if recorded in good rooms, with good gear for the time, are not necessarily given the time they needed to get great either.... lots of music put out pretty fast for a quick turn around and lower production costs. Then even if we are willing to listen to bad or mediocre, or even "good " recordings in an assumed "pure" state, even many quite authentic sounding recordings to me are not at all great, sound stage so often not as well considered in a mix as I would prefer...

So I seek to make as many recordings as real sounding as I can, knowing from a cross section of "reference recordings" I like to use, most not great but pretty good recordings, together I can find a balanced spectral range, the many layers of speed, harmonic complexity, spacial information, etc. A safeguard in this for me, is actually from tuning my gear and room across recordings... the average of variabilities of decent recordings setting a more complete standard to balance by for a system and room.

I learn more and more about these critical musical balances while tuning gear also. Like if some component makes the rest excitingly fast and more resolved with a range of decent recordings, but is a compensation for the rest to do this....then I went a little too far with it, or not far enough with the rest. So each piece of gear matching the others is important to me... making more real the concept of solving weak links leading to more musical potential. . . If one component gets too "good" at something, the system can sound great, but is off to me similarly to when one component is a subtle drag on the rest.

So my gear work rotates based on learning from refining improvements in one, then seeking those refinements from new ways of hearing in the others, each doing it similarly, improving the whole in a balanced way. For example, after many years and hundreds of experiments with my Torii IV and CSP3, back on forth, each taught me about how to improve the other, so they grew more transparent, fast, and resolving together. Then at some point very minor changes came slowly for a year or more, and I was thinking they were pretty much "done." In the meantime I built a ZBIT with extra transparent and resolving wires and connectors, careful damping by sound, and built in cables from the DAC with tried and true geometry, damping, connectors, and wires that are the best cables I have heard for "reference sound," while eliminating one full set full of balanced connectors into the Zbit. I really liked it as a third component and continue to use it today, many years later. It relatively transparently gave me more tune-ability in concert with the CSP3 for gain tuning with the Torii. So it helped refine adjusting resolution, harmonic complexity, weight, density, translucency and spacial openness to fit my room best, while also allowing fine tuning individual recordings to sound most balanced in these ways. Transparent gain tuning for room and individual recordings are very important tuning tools for my musical experience. And guess what, this "Zbit" also caused me to hear a little more into recordings, causing me to find new ways to improve the Torii and CSP3... bringing it all to another new level.

Then I got  Zrock2 with only the tube mod, guessing I would likely need to modify it but not sure based on many great reviews from users. And it was exciting, so tastefully done in my highly tuned setup, especially if I used it set just past unity gain, just bringing out its particular Decware sonic enhancements from well implemented tubes, caps, etc...  smoothing and harmonically richening the system sound a bit with its particular Decware signature. To me, at this gain level, it is very much Steve's Decware in sonic preferences.

In my system using the "bass control" much was not useful, except in very light doses for some recordings, indicating another musical and transparent way to fine-tune recordings to tastes. But all the rest of my system was super tuned, and this component, after the initial excitement passed, was not as complete or balanced with speed and harmonics/space in particular compared to the rest. And not surprisingly, to match the rest, mostly Decware in DNA, this too needed similar treatment....input connectors to output connectors, adjusting most parts and wires to better meet my latest standards of resolution, harmonic complexity, transparency, space, and speed.. and all of these, across the spectrum.

Working the ZRock with the fairly long experience I had from years of playing with Decware, my system stepped up again, causing me to hear deeper in, and showing some weaknesses in the Torii by comparison, pointing to refining it further....

Around and around it goes... each breakthrough leading to more. Now, after working on the Torii with only the ZBIT for many months, the system is amazing with just those two, and recently adding back in the super tuned ZRock2, it is not mind bending "better" to me with the ZRock2+, but really good, especially considering it does its beauty stuff with another gain adjustment, the additional fine-gain tuning making the whole system, and individual recordings better most of the time. And let's not forget that tubes and settings do make it many components in one...so more fine-tuning capability to whatever tastes and room.

So I "get" folks who love the ZRock2, with A-mods especially, and when it matches well with all the rest, whether fuller sound and bass supplementation is wanted or not. But I would also say that considering it "an EQ" is missing a lot of what it can offer, especially if we don't need or want much or any real EQ... the tuning within a narrowish unity range giving a little fuller richer bottom and body while also filling out the complexity and presence of the mids and highs... or the opposite if needed for recordings....  Not the same for system and recording tuning, but I would say in this gain area, it can be similar to a CSP3 or ZBIT for fine-gain tuning, but with a ZRock2 "flavor." That's how I interpret it here so far anyway.
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Geno
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #13 - 11/09/22 at 19:01:34
 
Quote:
I am NOT allowed to have room treatment in either of the rooms I have systems. NOT a chance I will.


Lon,

Several companies make very nice treatment panels that are acoustic art panels. They are done on canvas with treatment under that.

Just tell the Mrs. that you have a friend that sells nice, inexpensive artwork... Cool
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Lon
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #14 - 11/09/22 at 19:56:23
 
Nice idea, but it won't fly with my wife. I'd rather have her than not so .  . . I've made the systems work as well as they can, and I have great sound in two systems with speakers (and one with headphones).
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #15 - 11/10/22 at 00:39:46
 
 Lon, I am in the same boat as you for acoustic treatment, but I did find a way around it (sometimes). If my wife is not to be home for time, it gives me the chance to put up some simple and effective room correction. You might laugh at this, but my method really does a lot for me. I simply have three dining room chairs that I place pillows on the back of each chair. The chairs are then positioned fairly close to me as needed at the points where a first reflection would be coming from. Sometimes use 3 and sometimes I use 2 chairs. I have a memory foam bed cover that I placed over a couch that is too close to the speakers. It is very good at absorbing some mids and highs. If I do use the third chair it may be in the middle where it blocks crosstalk to some degree. I have to experiment more with it than the other 2 chairs. All this can put back up in a couple of minutes. I know, not perfect, but incredible sound and experiences with the music.
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Lon
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #16 - 11/10/22 at 00:45:16
 
That sounds great, thanks. I know I'll get in trouble, so I'm not going to try it. I have twenty five years of experience getting the best I can out of what I have to work with and I'm very very happy with the sound. . . . If I ever win the lottery I'll have other options but til then I'm not tempting fate by trying other methods.
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Doug
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #17 - 11/10/22 at 04:51:37
 
Day 2 with the new ZR2…….

Following 3 more hours of listening this evening, with the rear A/B switch in the up position, and the main control knob at 1:15 to 1:30ish, I’ve come up with a couple of specific reasons why I like the ZR2 so much.

1)  It brings a level of intimacy to each recording/performance that simply has not been there previously.  There is an increased closeness or connection to the performance and the performers unlike anything I’ve previously experienced.
2)  This intimacy and connection to the performers is resulting in significantly more satisfying listening sessions, along with very personal emotional responses to the music.

Well that’s a load of highly subjective hogwash, right?  Sorry, those are my first impressions of the ZR2.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #18 - 11/10/22 at 16:26:57
 
Doug….thanks for the reply on your connection to the music with the new ZROCK2 in the signal chain.  I have one on order since last year….so I am too looking forward to the experience once it arrives.  

I anticipate that with my ZSTAGE being used as a purist gain stage, combined with the 25th ZROCK2, I am going to be pleasantly surprised on how well the ZROCK2 works as a tuning tool.  

With the recent addition of my fully modified SE84C+ White amp, I am looking forward to hear how my system sounds compared to when I run it with my Torii MKIV 25th.  The only short term handicap that I have is that minus my ZSTAGE…the rest of my Decware gear has the Anniversay mods.  So I’m sure that sometime next year I’ll send the ZSTAGE in for that upgrade.  

Dom



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Doug
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #19 - 11/10/22 at 17:11:57
 
Another hour of listening this morning……this time to piano music.  As an aside, if you’re ever in the mood for beautiful, simple, soothing (mostly), well recorded, and incredibly well played Grieg, the three disc set of Grieg’s Complete Lyric Pieces by a local midwest guy, Nicholas Roth, will likely satisfy your longings.  I originally found the album on Spotify.

How does the ZR2 impact this recording in my system?  It seems kind of weird resorting back to what we normally think of as subjective terms, but the recording comes across to me as more relaxed and smooth, as if Nicholas was in his own home playing for himself for the sole enjoyment of the music and feelings it brings. I discern very personal sentiment in his playing.

The ZR2, in my system, and to my ears, is not in any way a tone control, or an equalizer, or a quick fix for frequency system imbalances.  Rather, it has instantly become a mysterious and magical device that makes music sound more real, more natural, and more beautiful.  And I still have not touched the control knob or A/B switch since turning it on two days ago; the control knob is barely past 1:00 and the A/B switch is up.  


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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #20 - 11/10/22 at 17:29:55
 
Sounds great Doug. Your settings seem near unity gain, but it depends on the tube used I find. Some 12AU7s tend to be in this sort of range for me, but they vary some, the "bypass" switch on and off the only way to really tell just where unity is. It does sounds like you are past it a bit by what you hear. Getting this much system improvement after only a few days of burnin is really exciting. Once the tube, the transformer and caps and all burn in, I think you will be impressed further! Happy Days!
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #21 - 11/14/22 at 01:07:58
 
Quote:
why would my system be so dependent on the contribution from this rather niche device? I mean, we're going from "only 3 devices in the signal path" to a tone control.



In it's flat setting the ZROCK2 makes your source sound better.  It gives it more density, tone, dimensionality.  It would be especially useful if you weren't running a tube preamp.

In it's slightly boosted setting using your choice of two EQ settings, one that rolls the highs and one that doesn't, the ZROCK2 remasters the recording.  Remember virtually everything you have ever listened to has been the preference of the mastering engineer and his choices of playback gear.  There is no such thing as correct, or accurate, only hearing what the mastering engineer creates.  

Be your own master.

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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #22 - 11/14/22 at 16:46:05
 
I do agree with how the Zrock adds flavor and should not be considered a garnish.

I would hope that a mastering engineer would be influenced by artist input.

John
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #23 - 11/14/22 at 17:45:12
 
John, this century most mastering engineers are influenced/directed by the label/producer. Especially those who "remaster."
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #24 - 11/14/22 at 18:50:14
 
A long time ago I had the experience of listening to a raw 1st cut of the Kiss Destroyer album.   The final released album was drastically different.  Point being that with all of the revisions that an album goes through, it is no doubt influenced by more than one person.  

What the ZROCK does to the sound is no way different in terms of altering the sound that wasn’t already done tenfold over in the studios.  

Dom
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #25 - 11/15/22 at 10:52:42
 
As I say, the queue is too long.

Then again my ZBIT shipped when it was @170 or so on the list. What a pleasant surprise. Now that's more like it.

Perhaps we can have a separate list for non-amplifier components? Right now they are mixed in with the amps which clearly take much more time to build.

Then I could order my very own mastering device and know I'd only have to wait 8 months or something.

In today's entire vast queue there are a mere 89 ZR2/ZSTAGE/ZBITs. It's clear that their relative simplicity allows them to be produced faster. Aw, c'mon.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #26 - 11/15/22 at 11:29:19
 
Bugermeester, Decware made references before that they are heading in that direction of doing easy builds in batches.

Lon, well Steve did write "masters". Totally get the remastered disconnections Wink

John
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #27 - 11/15/22 at 15:00:42
 
John my own brief experience in a studio and my research both oral and online of such things leads me to believe that even when there is "input" from the artist (a rarer thing than you would think) once that engineer surrenders the tape there are other hands that meddle with the sound at master plating etc. So the only real thing is the finished product which may or may not sound great in your system. The ZROCK2 lets you then master further. I've said this a few years ago in this forum: you can feel like a studio engineer with the ZROCK2, you can certainly make the playback more satisfying. I won't be without one; should I ever get back into recording I'd put one in that system as well. Quite a great tool, and as Will has proven it can be a great platform for modification as well.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #28 - 11/15/22 at 15:54:10
 
Thanks Lon. I'll bet most young artist are happy with the final product. While others might become very frustrated 😞 of the vultures/sharks preying on the aspiring artist. The reason why some accomplished artist breakaway and produce on their own IMO.

I can't wait to dig into the Zrock2. First thing is the hook up wire inside has to go.

John
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #29 - 11/19/22 at 04:13:09
 
Day 11 of burn-in for my new ZROCK2………

I have again been attempting to determine how to describe the incredible performance of the little ZR2 unit, but I simply don’t know where to begin.  If I were Will, I would wax on and on with unprecedented eloquence and meaningful specificity; unfortunately, I do not possess verbal skills even remotely close to what Will has. So, I decided to take an hour and quickly jot down a few descriptive words that have been written about the ZROCK2 by Decware Forum members during the past five years since its release in 2017.

The ZR2 has been said to greatly improve the following.
“Density, tone, dimensionality, imaging, fullness, richness, complexity, clarity, resolution, dynamics, sound stage, separation, transparency, presence, weight, warmness, refinement, and hit.”  I agree 100% with every single one of those descriptors!  But, there’s way more to it than just what’s on that list!

Members have also described the ZR2 as being fascinating, magical, inspiring, mysterious, wonderful, and amazing.  I also heartily agree with all of that!  

The ZROCK2 makes recordings sound more natural, more real, more satisfying, more intimate, more emotional.  I think it might have been Lon that said the ZR2 is like a “living thing.”  It is, weirdly, like a living thing!

And someone……maybe Groovysauce……quoted his daughter as saying that her system, anchored by a Mystery amp and big F15 OB’s, sounded like “shit” without the ZR2!  

I now cannot imagine my system without this little magic box!  It is by far the best $1,400 I’ve ever spent on my system building project that began Christmas day 51 years ago when I was only 12 years old.  Having said all the above, I have still fallen far short of describing what this thing does for the music.  If you don’t have a ZR2, put your 10% deposit down today!  Once in your system, it will forever change the way you listen to and experience your music!

My apologies if I misquoted anyone.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #30 - 11/19/22 at 09:14:39
 
A device with no downside. Almost essential, it would seem.

In that case, why not build this superior circuit right into my extremely expensive UFO25s -- which I was sure would sound better than shit without it, and will take another year to deliver -- so I don't have to wait another TWO YEARS to verify the above claims?

Which I can't, and won't. I'm not effing immortal
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #31 - 11/19/22 at 11:42:31
 
I don't believe there's space inside the UFO25 or any of the UFOs for the ZROCK2 circuitry et al.

The build list waiting situation sucks. It is what we have to contend with. And ZROCK2s don't often come up used. Sigh. Now we know why they say "patience is a virtue."

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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #32 - 11/19/22 at 16:37:57
 
Interesting thought, a built in ZRock.. probably have to be a different chassis as Lon pointed to though. And even though there is more stuff in a signal path with these boxes, with really good cables it works, and I like to have them separate for system flexibility.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #33 - 11/19/22 at 17:32:40
 
Well that’s what I thought was originally done with Sarah. I’m just going to bite the bullet and get on the waitlist again, but I’m assuming there will be a Black Friday discount so might as wait until next week.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #34 - 11/19/22 at 18:10:26
 
As I recall, that fire trying to claim Steve put a ZRock in the Sarah, and therefore the Sarah was "corrupted" by EQ or something, was fanned by one or two folks focussed on holding onto their own stuck interpretation of what Steve said, while imposing a personal need for discord on others... A long time ago now, but when I read through that part of the Sarah discussion, I thought what Steve originally said was that he used part of the design discovered in the ZRock as part of the first stages of the Sarah... basically beginning the tube signal path more to his liking.... and not a ZRock, or all its tuning tools.

But what you folks heard from the Sarah, no matter how it was designed, tells the real tale right?... I figure if you loved the experience, it is a great amp for you...Happy days!
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #35 - 11/19/22 at 18:25:58
 
Agreed and that is why I’m sixth on the list for a Sarah…right after Lon I recall.  Also, don’t mind starting another 2 year journey and keep looking through classifieds in the meantime.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #36 - 11/19/22 at 19:09:28
 
Will is right, a lot of discord happened here because someone got the idea the entire ZROCK2 was going to be inside the 300B when Steve said that the gain stage aspect, tailored to the point right before the EQ curves begin, was one of the two gain stages (I believe the 300B tube requires two gain stages before it) in the amp. And even when Steve explained it the disinformation continued, with an add on that it would be "misleading for audiophiles and unethical" to include an EQ in an amp that purists wouldn't like. (But there is no EQ stage, and those who study a Decware amp know what they are getting and why).

I have really only seen a few persons here that disliked the ZROCK2. One was disappointed that the bypass was not "completely transparent." At first I thought that was not true, but after some experimenting I realize there is a slight loss of transparency, very slight. Another says his system didn't need it, and the truth is all our systems and hearing and rooms are different and he's lucky if his doesn't need it at all. But in general I can imagine it being useful in almost any system. It's quite a product that has gone far beyond its original genesis as a device to improve the sound of lower fidelity streams!
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #37 - 11/19/22 at 21:20:01
 
Some people have reading comprehension problems.
I will rest on that observation.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #38 - 11/21/22 at 09:54:25
 
Sorry, my suggestion that a ZROCK might fit in a UFO was entirely meant to be bilious and not serious.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #39 - 12/04/22 at 00:25:19
 
I got my zrock in august and it’s really great. One thing to consider is the amp you’ll use it with. My current amp has a lower input impedance than my future ufo so at mid point there’s a big volume drop when I activate the zrock. to get the same volume I have to turn it up to 75/80 % but at that point the eq is already fairly significant. It kind of makes it harder to compare lower eq settings as I always need to turn the volume up and down.
I look forward to receive the ufo in a few weeks / month. no doubt the pairing will be amazing given how good the zrock already is…
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #40 - 12/04/22 at 05:58:39
 
A few more comments about my 26 day old ZR2……

Having used tube gear from Audio Research, Balanced Audio Technology, Cary Audio (4 power amps and 2 preamps), Decware (2 power amps, 1 preamp, and now the ZR2), New York Audio Labs, Vacuum Tube Logic, Eastern Electric, Aranov Audio, and maybe a few others that are not coming to mind, I think I can honestly say that the ZROCK2 is the most positively impactful of all.  My current Cary 300SEI is, by a big margin, my favorite amp of all time, but the ZR2 makes it, and the rest of the system, sound even better.  Prior to receiving the ZROCK2 I was 99% sure that I would be putting it up for sale within a few days, but it has turned out to be, as they say, a game changer.  If I have my way, the ZR2 will always be smack dab in the middle of my system.  

A couple of ZR2 performance areas that have impressed me the most are these………

1. Low bass and mid bass resolution has greatly improved.  The 8 woofers in my PAP Quintets are being driven by a LFD NCSE, which is an incredible amplifier, especially when it comes to reproducing bass frequencies, but the ZR2 has increased bass resolution even more.  Bass instruments sound more real than ever.  I really don’t see how this is possible, but it definitely is the case!

2. Mid and high frequency performance has greatly improved with the ZR2 in the system.  The most surprising part of this high frequency improvement is the way cymbals and other higher pitched percussion instruments now sound. They sound big, full, and real.  In every system I’ve ever had—and most of them across the past two decades have been rather nice—cymbals and other higher pitched instruments have always sounded more or less thin.  That is no longer true.  Cymbals now sound the way Zildjian, Sabian, and all the rest of the cymbal makers want their secret alloys to sound when struck.  How a bass booster accomplishes this, I have no idea, but it does.  The ZR2 is a true champion of mid and high frequency reproduction!

Not sure that I will post additional thoughts about my ZROCK2……we’ll see.  One thing is without doubt as I close; the ZROCK2 is a fantastic piece of audio gear!  It remains baffling to me how the lowest priced piece of gear in my system has raised the overall sound quality to the degree it has.  For $1,350, the ZR2, with all available standard modifications and upgrades, is a steal!  I higly recommend ordering one today!
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #41 - 12/04/22 at 17:46:31
 
Hey Doug,

It is really great how well the ZRock2 + A mods fits your system and tastes so beautifully... such a compliment to your clearly nice system. Thanks for your impressions.

Interestingly, as I have said, here in my system, though intensely tuned inside and outside gear, the Zrock2 needed some work. But this was largely to bring it into sync with the rest. I needed to musically bring up the speed, space, and resolution for pulling more levels of immediacy and dynamics, and equally, allowing more of the finest detail and nuance, something critical in my system needs. But I agree, especially after getting it the best I could in all areas, running with minor adjustments in the unity volume range, it is a really nice musical experience enhancing tool here.... Off hand, I might say it is good enough now I could probably do just fine without my also highly tuned CSP3. That said, having the CSP3 in again adds deeper layers of adjustability between pre stages with its characteristic ways of refining and adjusting dynamics, weight, space, and inner detail with liquidity and lucidity... things I always loved about it, now and when my system was pretty much "stock."

And no doubt a big part of this, one of the things that attracted me to Steve's work was that he so carefully designs in flexibility for tuning a piece into a system/room with tubes and adjustments.… Especially with a number of quality tube pieces, to me this is awesome!

I decided to post this just because, once again, it points to how "good" a thing is (beyond its build and design quality) being so dependent on system and room needs, and on tastes... Pretty cool, but also daunting at times without actually trying something in a system.

So I love hearing stories like yours, where a single piece of gear naturally does whatever is needed to bring the rest to a notably higher level of completion! Happy days!

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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #42 - 12/16/22 at 02:00:44
 
What I’ve liked after the first couple of weeks is when I’m severely chilling, I can keep my CXN V2 in preamp mode and adjust volume remotely with the Roon app on my phone and enjoy hi-fidelity indistinguishable from running with the preamp bypassed.
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Re: How To Tell Steve That The ZROCK2 Doesn’t Cut It
Reply #43 - 06/15/23 at 21:31:14
 
We've had a ZBIT and ZROCK2 in our system for a few months now, and can't imagine ever having a system without them in it.

Especially the ZROCK2, it has us dusting off music we haven't listened to in ages, because they were flat and or thin sounding.

Just amazing!

Thank You, Steve Great Job!
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