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My Zen listening space (Read 2391 times)
1stwattlife
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My Zen listening space
04/20/24 at 06:21:40
 



Ok, here it is! My first official Zen garden! ... I gotta put in a big shoutout here for my co-worker Paul. He found it in his heart to part with a couple old school Zen amps and some old bass trap/diffusion panels ( on the rear wall reflected in the TV), and didn't rake me over the coals for it. Thank you Paul, even if you don't read this.

I get it... Zen... 'cause it's practically transcendental... Nice one, Steve! ( ,and a super thanks to you too!) Wink
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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #1 - 04/20/24 at 06:28:19
 



Here is a closer gear pick...

I gotta run before the "I hope you put a blanket over that tv if want to CRITICALLY listen" police come!


Super Phill out
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Lon
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #2 - 04/20/24 at 10:28:24
 
Super Phil, congrats on scoring some well-seasoned Zen amp--from a few decades of listening to them I can look at the photo and hear the sound!

I have one recommendation: isolation. Isolation feet etc. were something that I discovered with Decware and the improvement is worth seeking out.

Have a great listening weekend.
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JBzen
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #3 - 04/20/24 at 11:03:59
 
When I saw those amps setting ontop of Decware's black boxes that was my first thought, Lon.

One of the most notable improvements to my system was isolating the components from the concrete floor.

Enjoy your time off Phil.
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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #4 - 04/20/24 at 14:47:43
 
Thanks guys.

Once I heard it, I was scared to move anything, lol. The feet on the amps are pretty squishy. I am gonna get the black boxes at least moved down a shelf where they were before I moved it to this side of the room... Or I might move the amps down there. I don't know yet. It's not the best shelf, but it works for the time being. Everything from the side of the room the stereo is on is really just piled up behind me, so there is more work to do, lol
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Lon
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #5 - 04/20/24 at 15:00:22
 
IMO "Squishy" is not a good thing. Wink
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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #6 - 04/20/24 at 17:32:54
 
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mrchipster
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #7 - 04/20/24 at 17:37:00
 
Phill,

Nice!

I bet those vintage amps are doing justice to your space. Enjoy your Zen moments.
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Lon
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #8 - 04/20/24 at 17:47:13
 
I confess it would drive me nuts if I had non-matching rectifiers in a pair of amps! I have a boxful of matching rectifiers so it just won't happen in my systems!
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Dominick
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #9 - 04/22/24 at 02:57:56
 
Congrats Phil…great setup!! Coming from a guy with matching Zen amps…it would bother me too if my tubes didn’t match.  

Dom
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mrchipster
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #10 - 04/22/24 at 19:22:25
 
I don't own mono's or matching amps but I would probably do matching rectifiers as well. Fun experiment to try mismatches though I bet.

Without getting too far off topic, I have the CSP3 (fully dressed with A-mods) and the UFO25.

Question is : would people tend to use the same rectifier in both for synergy or does it (maybe as usual) depend on the entire system make up?  

I'm looking at getting upgrades to the tubes and using the stock ones as backups.
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SE84UFO25 - CSP3 (A-mods)
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Cambridge Audio CXN V2 (ModWright)
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VIABLUE IC's & Spkr cables ; DSR3 IC's
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LiquidBlue
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #11 - 04/22/24 at 20:18:15
 
I have a similar setup as you with the CSP3-A and UFO25. I don't use matching rectifiers in my setup. My mindset is to voice my UFO25 more toward detail and a clean, transparent sound and then the CSP3 for adding some density and fullness. I found tubes I liked in the amp and then further tuned the sound of the system by adjusting gain and tube selection in the preamp. That was just my approach, for what it's worth.
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Lon
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #12 - 04/22/24 at 20:34:56
 
With two matching amps I would for sure be uncomfortable with mis-matched rectifiers--I'd want both channels to have identical tube complements so that I got a true mono when I was using mono material (I have lots) and a balanced stereo with stereo material.

In the past when using a stereo amp and a preamp I've tried different rectifiers in each. . . and kept experimenting. But when I fell in love with the Sophia Electric Aqua 274B rectifiers (and then the II version) I found that having that rectifier throughout to be the best for ME and my system (that's what I have now in my audio/visual system; my main system only has a rectifier in the SEWE300B, there's no preamp needed with that amp--which really surprised the heck out of me).
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Paul2
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #13 - 04/22/24 at 22:08:01
 
I believe Phil said that he just got the amps.

He seems pretty proud of them, as he should be.

The early SE84 amp blew my socks off in 2001 in Steves listening room.

There is time for everything.
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mrchipster
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #14 - 04/22/24 at 23:30:38
 
LiquidBlue and Lon,

Thanks for the feedback on the rectifiers.
As I suspected the answer is 'it depends'. Point taken for both cases.

To LiquidBlue's point about voicing the amp towards the clean/neutral side and pre to density, here's a little tidbit:

I've owned the CSP3 since last October and the UFO25 since last November. Believe it or not I have not 'rolled' any tubes yet. I'm at that point now which is why the original question. I've spent a lot of time getting familiar with the stock sound and rotated through all the input regulator tubes and the two input tubes that came stock in the amp. (probably have over 1200 hours on them)
   
The pre came with 3 6N1P's. I just recently decided to swap the one 6N1P in the pre with the 6N5P from the amp. I remember Steve describing the 1P as focused/neutral and maybe a little higher gain, and the 5P being warmer/fuller (one of his fav's). It wasn't night and day, but I couldn't believe the difference it made. To LiguidBlue's point, it made the soundstage a little more focused/crisp with instruments delineated more and wider soundstage (the amp?) all the while having a little more meat/density to the sound (pre?). I know this is in my room with my components but very cool none the less.
I'm really looking forward to doing some real tube rolling soon!

Phill,
Take us deeper into your listening space when you have a chance.


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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #15 - 04/23/24 at 00:43:43
 


Black Bess- this is the best I have access to at the moment,  hope it helps!

Selfie in the Avante Garde room at axpona.
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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #16 - 04/23/24 at 01:18:47
 
I will post the opposing wall pics a little later when I get that half of the room clean Smiley   I can describe things a little deeper...

...first though, this VR tube discusion is great. +10 forum points to Mr. chipster! Liquid Blue's approach is exactly what popped into my head when I read this. It happens alot here, which is nice. Then I don't have to type it all out myself cause it is already said. lOl
I don't have a pre-amp for my setup yet, but it is in the master plan.

The skinny on these amps are that one is stock(ish, at least),  and one has been 'hot rodded'. The details were briefly run by me, but I forget the exact mods. So, the finest matched pair would still not match. I only expected one, he showed up with two and I about freaked out. Sold!!

Don't match? Don't care!! Haha!

Sound wise there is a slight difference between them, in tone, not really in operation. My room is irregular so I can tweak to it...Hot amp on the one side, cooler one on the other, not that I really have to.

So, these pics are not really as much system pics, but really just capturing the moment of impact from the Decware asteroid that just crashed into my living room. It really is just me showing the first moments of good sound in my own home, and it WAS glorious! The gear has been here but I just could NOT get the speakers locked in, which traditionally I have been good at even without the technical knowledge I have picked up over the years. Now that I have the recipe I can start finalizing furniture, cabling etc. I have adjusted slightly to open the walkway a bit more and lost my intense cone of awesome, but it is replaced by a deeper and wider soundstage.

I was just thinking earlier that if I posted pictures of wiring and such I may just give a few of you heart attacks! It's far less that perfect... I think I will document it for myself to prove a couple things about some other things, but that will be another story at a much later date!

So, ultimately one of the amps will probably go into the bedroom, or on loan to my brother so he can get experience as well... I really only NEED one out here. The headroom is nice though, just saying.



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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #17 - 04/23/24 at 02:52:59
 
Behind the system against the wall are 5 boxes. They are filled with mineral wool. 2 @ 3.5in bats, separated by 2in of bubble wrap. The fronts of the boxes are opened with a 4in-ish border. These came about due to the absolutely atrocious sonic signatures in the great room of my apartment. All my furniture is light, what little there is, so I used these to tame the room down enough that I could at least make a phone call in it. I basically piled them up the wall as much as I could hoping in the least for a transformation from hard to softened. Which worked, enough. They just happen to be were I moved the stereo to. It is just what materials could be ordered or purchased locally. I may someday make some wooden frames and get some acoustic fabric, but my landscaping clothe is working just fine for the moment. The cardboard boxes make them easy to maneuvered alone with my neck/back issues.

Don't be fooled though, the real work is being done by the 5x8 wall of bass trap/ P13 quadratic diffusers on the rear wall.

The Drivers are Lii F12's in some vintage cabinets that I bought stripped years ago. They originally would have had 15in drivers in them. They have been end tables or nightstands for years. I have always wanted full range drivers to populate them, but it has always been out of budget.

I stream wifi from Qubuz to a $30 Monster branded dac that I picked up a while back for a TV through a Wiim mini. The same Wiim mini handles TV sound via Bluetooth.

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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #18 - 04/23/24 at 03:43:49
 
I took some notes the other evening... here is a rough translation into English.

Listening level: low to medium

Various media, mostly jazz

At a low level the general tone had a natural feel, very organic. The effortless agility was very engaging. The gentlest and most dulcet of tones... mmmmmm. The speed and quickness of this setup easily did the Decware thing, which is to say that it gets out of its own way. There are no stumbles and definitely no falls. Maybe like a world class figure skater.

Not to say that there are no faults. The room interferes from time to time, but its not so bad. Stupid room.

Moving up the volume scale to medium... The heft and thickness, no, maybe heft and saturation, yea, saturation, made themselves eloquently at home in my bubble. Not at a loud volume by any means. Once the real stage was set the mids and highs danced very nicely in and out of my headspace, floating along on the currents created by the low end base layer like they were on a magic carpet. Not necessarily throughout my room in a three dimensional extravaganza, but nicely enough. { if a dozen diffusion panels fell from the sky, I would not complain! lol} I don't expect end game sound from an accidental alignment of the stars and my speakers... It's not that there is NO theory behind the setup, it is just far more haphazard than planned. Even at these louder/ fuller sound levels the the real shine came through in the intricacy of the stillness between the sounds. My previous brain would have expected this type of delicate detail to be diminished at high levels vs lower levels, but that is just not he case anymore. It is this space between the  sounds that I believe gives way to the feeling of listening the the musician instead of the instrument. Some day this concept and 'being the mic' are going to have a celebrity deathmatch in my mind... I will let you know who wins, but I am betting it will be a tie.

I made a note to remind myself to keep breathing through the rests in the music... Is this normal? I think I may have a problem.

Seriously though... phenomenal to experience in my own chair. just amazing.

other scribbles included something about the bass and anti-gravity.

there is also a joke about everyone ever in history who has ragged on tube gear for its inefficiency. F#@$ those guys... Just kidding, kinda. Everyone is entitled to... you know.

other scribble: room tuning vs room treatment; just treating a space does not create the magic, the system has to be tuned to the room after the room is treated. Might sound nice, like mine did for weeks... 'nice' is not good enough. Once the system is locked in there is not stopping it...

yet another scribble on the range of effect- Soft influence over a large area at low volume complemented by a strong command of the listening space at higher volumes. Full engagement throughout the spectrum.

Last note is how the bass tuning opened everything all at once. I was confused by things when I first turned the sub on. So, I cranked it. Give me the worst and I will weed stuff out from there I thought... I started turning it down bit by bit... alllll the way down, almost. At just above audible a bubble strongly resembling the Dec-cave ( I am pretty sure Steve is Batman) opened up like a vortex in the room and away I went!

End of notes.

Thanks for listening!

... but, with your eyes?

Nevermind.

Cheers.



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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #19 - 04/23/24 at 04:21:05
 
Geez...
...I can't take me anywhere...

I forgot the Magic Black Boxes and Phono stage. On loan from Steve I have what I am calling a ZRock2.5; A ZRock3 with a Zrock2 Power supply ( and the now elusive Bypass switch). Also there is my ZSB with dual stepped volume controls and output A/B switching. In the phono line I have a nobsound phono stage with a linear power supply stepping up from a Yamaha YP-450/ Philips GA-212/ (Benjamin)Elac Miracord 630. Not all at once...



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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #20 - 04/23/24 at 05:02:32
 
Seriously, this is my life.
I'm back. Again.

Right so, none of this would have worked, didn't work, before the sub woofer. I picked up a subwoofer for the car on a one off deal from a guy ( Dual 4 ohm VC, wired for 8 ohm), bought the competitor brand's pre built box whose specs are slightly large and put it in the trunk. After my trunk stopped locking I brought it in the house. So I stole the plate amp with hi gain inputs from a JBL PB12 that wasn't worth a spit... viola.

Also there is a tripplite power conditioner feeding the amps.

OFC 12ga?/ 4mm banana jacks

Silver tinned ofc interconnects, except for the silver Interconnect/ silver rca on the phono line


If that is not all of it, you will have to wonder for the rest of eternity, I'm turning in finally!

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Lon
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #21 - 04/23/24 at 10:56:12
 
Very cool.

I think you'll really enjoy when you are using each amp separately as the "solidarity" of one amp compared to two mismatched ones will I think win you over and further transport you.

It's so exciting to begin the Decware journey at home. That experience began for me in '97 or so. I wish I had had a ZROCK2 then!
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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #22 - 04/23/24 at 22:31:58
 
Wow Lon! '97!
That explains the almost 23,500 posts!

I have known about Steve's work since then, about... Lots of guys said 'Oh, yeah, I know Steve! I'll introduce you!' Never happened... turns out most of them "knew of" Steve, or had just met him once. The rumors of the corner horns swirled in my head for MANY years before I was able to finally hear them at my interview. Later in the years it was my fault... between health issues and social/ other anxieties... but I am here now and could not be happier!


I have used the amps separately, just a bit, but not in the current configuration. It is on the agenda in the next few days hopefully. I sure would like to get one into the bedroom. I have a pair of Klipsch KG-4's to hook up back there. I can't wait to go to bed with the sweetest jazz ever as my lullaby.
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Lon
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #23 - 04/23/24 at 22:40:53
 
It's a great time to have a first Decware system or two to experience--I wish I could have started out with the amazing gear that Steve has created since then! You have a lot of amazement ahead of you--the ZROCK2 alone was a whole new plateau of sonic magnificence for me when I finally got one.
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HR-1,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SEWE300B,CSP3-25mod; Rega RP3 all GrooveTracer mods;PSAudio:PST+DSD, DAC Mk II, P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkrcbls; Mapleshade SamsonV3; VooDoo:Cremona+Amati interconnects, IsoPods; headphones: Sennheiser HD800S,ZMF Ori,Oppo PM1
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #24 - 05/01/24 at 21:01:31
 
Using the aforementioned setup as a guide to set the system up in the room, I have removed extra unneeded wiring and am in the middle of pushing everything back to a respectable distance from the wall. My bubble expanded on the first movement, which was about four inches back and three inches out. Moving the same amount again destroyed everything, but a third time returned my soundstage and gave me the bass I was missing in the original setup that was supplemented by the subwoofer. Everything is nice again, but without the subwoofer.

So, there I am relishing the more finalized setup. Then, a thought occurred to me. It was something Steve had said about the Axpona rooms. He mentioned using the sub out of phase to cancel unwanted low end. So, I experimented with that setup and have a few hours in testing. It is such a subtle thing... what it does for the nuance in the low end is really interesting.

Gotta go! Amps to build, emails to send... enjoy your day everyone!
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #25 - 05/04/24 at 00:16:57
 
The active bass cancellation experiment fun. I like it, but I need to zero this puppy in the best I can and start saving to buy wood for OB's, Iso platforms, and the like to fix my issues...

I have started to re-fine tune the turntable. I am not as mad at it as I was... still, not thrilled though. I need to do some foraging around the analog section to figure out the best way to start into a custom TT setup.

Happy Friday!
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #26 - 05/11/24 at 03:37:22
 

Quote:
I confess it would drive me nuts if I had non-matching rectifiers in a pair of amps! I have a boxful of matching rectifiers so it just won't happen in my systems!


As an experiment one time I wore an ear plug in the right ear all day.  That night I turned off the right channel and spent awhile listening to the left channel with my left ear.  I then spent the rest of the evening rolling tubes for that channel only until I found the best sound for my left speaker, my left ear and the left side of my room.

The following day I wore the ear plug in the left ear and that evening I repeated the experience of tube rolling. As I kinda expected I choose different tubes for the right channel.  After settling on the tubes for that channel, which took hours, I turned it all off, removed the ear plug and took a long rest.

After the rest I went into the listening room and experienced both channels at the same time.  It was incredible.  I recommend it highly.
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #27 - 05/11/24 at 03:49:21
 




I believe these are the actual two zen amps that I spent over 2 years working on during the development of the design in the mid 1990's on my back porch.  I built one and when I thought it couldn't get any better, I built a second one just like it.  Then after confirming the second one was the same, I went to work on the second one trying to make it sound better than the first one.  When that happened, it became the new reference and I would take the first one and try it make it sound better than the second one.  When that happened it became the new reference.  I called it amp wars.  It lasted two years and went through 90 revisions.  And of course you know it has gone through several revisions since that first one.  So these amps predated the first one.  One thing is for certain, there wasn't any variation of the parts that I didn't listen to so I knew without any doubt that it couldn't be made to sound any better.

Anyway, thought you might get a kick out the back story.



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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #28 - 05/11/24 at 10:25:39
 
Steve Deckert wrote on 05/11/24 at 03:37:22:


As an experiment one time I wore an ear plug in the right ear all day.  That night I turned off the right channel and spent awhile listening to the left channel with my left ear.  I then spent the rest of the evening rolling tubes for that channel only until I found the best sound for my left speaker, my left ear and the left side of my room.

The following day I wore the ear plug in the left ear and that evening I repeated the experience of tube rolling. As I kinda expected I choose different tubes for the right channel.  After settling on the tubes for that channel, which took hours, I turned it all off, removed the ear plug and took a long rest.

After the rest I went into the listening room and experienced both channels at the same time.  It was incredible.  I recommend it highly.


That's cool. I am not likely to do this experiment. . . and matching rectifiers would be a pre-requisite for me. I'm not entirely OCD, but that sort of basic symmetry is something I would need, and in my room/setup would likely lead to the most balanced sound..
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HR-1,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SEWE300B,CSP3-25mod; Rega RP3 all GrooveTracer mods;PSAudio:PST+DSD, DAC Mk II, P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkrcbls; Mapleshade SamsonV3; VooDoo:Cremona+Amati interconnects, IsoPods; headphones: Sennheiser HD800S,ZMF Ori,Oppo PM1
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mrchipster
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #29 - 05/11/24 at 20:47:14
 
Steve,

That experiment seems pretty interesting. I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever get the opportunity.

Thanks for the back story on those amps. I always find it very cool to learn the tidbits of Decware history. I've read quite a few threads (sometimes over again, the old ones, and the development threads) but hadn't come across that one. Thanks for the insight!
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SE84UFO25 - CSP3 (A-mods)
ZROCK2 (A-mods) - ZBIT
Cambridge Audio CXN V2 (ModWright)
Cambridge Audio CXC
Zu Audio Soul Supremes
VIABLUE IC's & Spkr cables ; DSR3 IC's
Audio-Technica TT
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Brian
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #30 - 05/13/24 at 02:38:01
 
Quote  "I always find it very cool to learn the tidbits of Decware history."

That is me as well!  Always entertaining, and educational too.
Thanks, Steve.

Brian
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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #31 - 05/28/24 at 14:57:31
 
I love history...
the backstory makes them even more fun and interesting. I have been working hard in the last couple weeks, fleshing things out and rearranging the front room yet again. I am pretty close. Pics forthcoming, hopefully soon!
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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #32 - 06/03/24 at 17:16:34
 
Hey all!
Just popping in to update the pics, I will have to pop back on later to add color commentary...





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1stwattlife
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #33 - 06/03/24 at 21:59:25
 
So... I don't have a lot of time at the moment, but..

I have a rudimental solution installed for isolation which is that the main plinth (covered in black fabric) is isolated from the oak table by sorbothane and neoprene feet at three points beneath the mdf board, likewise the mdf that the amp/ZR3/ZSB sit on is also decoupled from the main mdf board with a layer of foam. The bass trap/ diffusers are set on the rear wall flanking the TV, which has curtains and moving blankets to cover the front middle section of the wall for critical listening. The 2 additional trap/diffusors are mirrored on the rear wall approximately 24 feet away.

I am still looking for side wall solutions. This took me forever to get together, sometimes my back and shoulders do not cooperate with heavy lifting, but, it is done now.

What do you think? Smiley
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mrchipster
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Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #34 - 06/04/24 at 20:01:13
 
Many ways to skin the proverbial cat.

Looks like you're coming up with creative and unique solutions for your room and acoustic issues.

I've got a reasonable amount of treatment in my room and I'm looking to add a little more but I'm also looking at isolation of my equipment as well. Takes me a while to make decisions on things like this, lol.

Keep us posted with results of before and after.

Good luck!
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SE84UFO25 - CSP3 (A-mods)
ZROCK2 (A-mods) - ZBIT
Cambridge Audio CXN V2 (ModWright)
Cambridge Audio CXC
Zu Audio Soul Supremes
VIABLUE IC's & Spkr cables ; DSR3 IC's
Audio-Technica TT
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1stwattlife
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Posts: 116
Re: My Zen listening space
Reply #35 - 06/04/24 at 22:54:40
 
Making due with what's on hand... It is really helping to call out some of the issues that come as you move down the path. I was just talking to Steve about my biggest current flaw which is the need for open baffles for the drivers and side wall diffusion. While tracking that down I plan on getting a new armboard made for the TD125 so I can mount the arm.

At that point I can start modernizing the setup. I am stoked to be able to upgrade to UFO level gear. The Zen amps are delicious, but I crave the sound of those updated output transformers! SO GOOD!!

...in fact, I am listening to the SE84UFO on the ZF15L Master Series open baffles. It has been playing for a bit this afternoon. I heard it from the other room and spent a bit of extra mental energy while building to admire the awesome midrange singing out from the other room. A few songs I don't normally notice (some classic rock) would com on and even still make me think about how smooth yet detailed everything was. After finishing my shift and clocking out, I walked into the listening room to see what was going on before the rest f the Tuesday crew showed up... all the while thinking 'What a great Tuesday! I love it when Steve surprises us with things he has been working on or tweaking.' Man, he got me this time. I should have guessed it... sitting on an isolation platform in the listening room was a modest UFO that had been set up for this afternoons listening appointment. It just goes to show how sublime the Decware sound is across the board, not just at the top!
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