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Thread: Decware ZMC-2

  1. #1
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Decware ZMC-2

    Finally, received my ZMC-2 by Decware.
    It's a big box with a whole lot of nothing inside.
    Better get back to work!







  2. #2
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    is it just me, or this step-up transformer looks fairly easy to make?

    My reason for getting this unit was to achieve 4 of the following:

    1. Lower SN ratio
    2. Transparency
    3. Added Gain
    4. Better synergy with my cart.


    Here is Spec of my VTL-TP2.5

    Gain: 45dB(MM), 60dB (MC)
    SN Ratio: 85dB(MM), 70dB (MC)
    Input Imp: 47K ohms (MM), 150ohms (MC)

    Current Cart: Denon DL-301mk2
    Output: 0.4mV
    Output Imp: 33 ohms

    By adding ZMC-2(10:1), my MM stage will be bumped up to:

    Gain: 65dB
    Impedance: 5-100 ohms adjustable.

    Here is what I've noticed:

    1. Lower SN ratio:
    Background noise/SN ratio is MUCH MUCH MUCH lower. Asking all tube phono pre to offer 60+ dB gain with low SN ratio is too much of a task.

    I truly had my heart set on Aesthetix Rhea, but most of reviews I've read had mentioned about its unfavorable SN ratio. Even the King of PhonoPre, Steelhead, is said to be a bit noisy. Then I kept coming across a product named Audio Horizon TP 8.0sMCpn. This product promised one of the lowerest SN ratio in tube designed phonostage. From a 5 miniute research, I've come realize that to gain lower S/N ratio, all I need to do is to add Step-up device between my TT and phonostage. This unit rewards me with exactly that.
    Though this unit is not powered, it does offer IEC connector. It is said to eliminate hum.

    2. Transparency:
    I love tubes and what it can offer, but am aware of its negative aspects. Asking 4 tubes to offer transparency @ 60dB gain was too much. I'm sure it can be done, but not with my sub $2k phono. Standard setup is very musical and rewarding, but I music didn't quite disappear into air. I guess my phono stage is now a hybrid design. Now it has fluid-like texture of tubes and accuracy of SS. From a purists' viewpoint, adding another device such as transformers will add colour and rob resolution from music... I'm no purist and do not consider myself an audiophile. JRA wins again.

    3. Added Gain:

    I have not noticed it. If anything it almost sounds lower and less strained. One of the reason for my purchase was to accommodate lower output carts such as DL-103R and Dynavectpr 20XL. It's nice to be able to adjust input impedance as well.

    4. Synergy

    I have no idea, and I'm not just getting lazy with my post. All I know is that I'm enjoying my records even more.
    With all said an done, I'm experiencing positive results, but my music does sound a bit thin compared to my old setup. Since trannys only have about 5 hours, I guess this unit will evolved to more balanvced sounding piece in about the same time my current cart dies. All I need now is to receive KAB modded SL-1200 in mail. Hurry your ass up Kev!!!!!

    Peace,
    JRA

  3. #3
    If you can't run-walk. Bernd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    is it just me, or this step-up transformer looks fairly easy to make?

    My reason for getting this unit was to achieve 4 of the following:

    1. Lower SN ratio
    2. Transparency
    3. Added Gain
    4. Better synergy with my cart.


    Here is Spec of my VTL-TP2.5

    Gain: 45dB(MM), 60dB (MC)
    SN Ratio: 85dB(MM), 70dB (MC)
    Input Imp: 47K ohms (MM), 150ohms (MC)

    Current Cart: Denon DL-301mk2
    Output: 0.4mV
    Output Imp: 33 ohms

    By adding ZMC-2(10:1), my MM stage will be bumped up to:

    Gain: 65dB
    Impedance: 5-100 ohms adjustable.

    Here is what I've noticed:

    1. Lower SN ratio:
    Background noise/SN ratio is MUCH MUCH MUCH lower. Asking all tube phono pre to offer 60+ dB gain with low SN ratio is too much of a task.

    I truly had my heart set on Aesthetix Rhea, but most of reviews I've read had mentioned about its unfavorable SN ratio. Even the King of PhonoPre, Steelhead, is said to be a bit noisy. Then I kept coming across a product named Audio Horizon TP 8.0sMCpn. This product promised one of the lowerest SN ratio in tube designed phonostage. From a 5 miniute research, I've come realize that to gain lower S/N ratio, all I need to do is to add Step-up device between my TT and phonostage. This unit rewards me with exactly that.
    Though this unit is not powered, it does offer IEC connector. It is said to eliminate hum.

    2. Transparency:
    I love tubes and what it can offer, but am aware of its negative aspects. Asking 4 tubes to offer transparency @ 60dB gain was too much. I'm sure it can be done, but not with my sub $2k phono. Standard setup is very musical and rewarding, but I music didn't quite disappear into air. I guess my phono stage is now a hybrid design. Now it has fluid-like texture of tubes and accuracy of SS. From a purists' viewpoint, adding another device such as transformers will add colour and rob resolution from music... I'm no purist and do not consider myself an audiophile. JRA wins again.

    3. Added Gain:

    I have not noticed it. If anything it almost sounds lower and less strained. One of the reason for my purchase was to accommodate lower output carts such as DL-103R and Dynavectpr 20XL. It's nice to be able to adjust input impedance as well.

    4. Synergy

    I have no idea, and I'm not just getting lazy with my post. All I know is that I'm enjoying my records even more.
    With all said an done, I'm experiencing positive results, but my music does sound a bit thin compared to my old setup. Since trannys only have about 5 hours, I guess this unit will evolved to more balanvced sounding piece in about the same time my current cart dies. All I need now is to receive KAB modded SL-1200 in mail. Hurry your ass up Kev!!!!!

    Peace,
    JRA
    Hey Hiro,

    Congrats on getting an empty box. Enjoy. And who spreads blasphemy about the Fishy phonoamp being a bit noisy? Mine is dead quiet. So there.
    Have fun.

    Peace

    Last edited by Bernd; 08-12-2008 at 02:09 AM.
    "Let The Earth Bear Witness."

  4. #4
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Sounds great, B. Count me in!! I'll keep my eyes open for the Steelhead with $1000 in my pocket. But seriously, if you phono pre really that quiet? Perhaps my phono is badly designed. But I do expect a bit of difference between $1700 and $7200 phono pre.

    How's everything on your end?
    JRA

  5. #5
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Congrats, sorta

    I love reading stuff like this:
    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    If anything it almost sounds lower and less strained.
    ...anytime one of y'all finds some good gears I'm for it. But,

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Crunk
    With all said an done, I'm experiencing positive results, but my music does sound a bit thin compared to my old setup.
    ...just means you're gonna be buying new stuff next week. Seriously jaybo, I think you're getting to that point where you need to listen to things before you buy 'em

    Oh, btw...in re:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Bernd
    Congrats on getting an empty box. Enjoy. And who spreads blasphemy about the Fishy phonoamp being a bit noisy? Mine is dead quiet. So there.

  6. #6
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    ...just means you're gonna be buying new stuff next week. Seriously jaybo, I think you're getting to that point where you need to listen to things before you buy 'em
    Bobby,

    Nonsense. Auditioning gear to me is as useful as test driving a John Deer on a Suzuka Raceway...
    I'm thinking about buying a Hagerman iRIAA Filter to Break-in transformers.
    I still gotta break-in this young'n, nah meen?

    http://www.hagtech.com/iriaa.html

    Owned? Hilarious.
    JRA

  7. #7
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Sort of a rare occassion for me....

    Listened to alot of wax tonight, and NIN The Ghost I-IV satisfied my hunger the most.
    Anyone here own this copy on wax? They deintely got this one "Right" on LP.
    Decware was able to capture alot of subtlety my previous setup could not. My vinyl rig captures more edges than before, which is a good thing.

    I've been burning in my transformer with my CDP at the lowest setting. A rep from Decware had suggest to get a phono filter by Hagerman. So contacted Jim from Hagerman and explained my situation. He had insisted that I should use my CDP, instead of purchasing iRIAA. It was only going to be a $49 purchase, but I truly appreciate his honesty. There seems to be alot of great folks in this industry. Kevin from Upscale Audio on the other hand.........

    Will see how this unit comes around after 100+ of burn in.
    Hey sticks, you are crazy if you think I'm not going to keep this unit for more than a month. Seriously, last thing I need right now is another analog gear cuzI need new speakers, you know? But still keeping my eyes open for a used TX103 by Bent Audio.

    JRA

  8. #8
    AUTOBOT BRANDONH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    is it just me, or this step-up transformer looks fairly easy to make?

    My reason for getting this unit was to achieve 4 of the following:

    1. Lower SN ratio
    2. Transparency
    3. Added Gain
    4. Better synergy with my cart.


    Here is Spec of my VTL-TP2.5

    Gain: 45dB(MM), 60dB (MC)
    SN Ratio: 85dB(MM), 70dB (MC)
    Input Imp: 47K ohms (MM), 150ohms (MC)

    Current Cart: Denon DL-301mk2
    Output: 0.4mV
    Output Imp: 33 ohms

    By adding ZMC-2(10:1), my MM stage will be bumped up to:

    Gain: 65dB
    Impedance: 5-100 ohms adjustable.

    Here is what I've noticed:

    1. Lower SN ratio:
    Background noise/SN ratio is MUCH MUCH MUCH lower. Asking all tube phono pre to offer 60+ dB gain with low SN ratio is too much of a task.

    I truly had my heart set on Aesthetix Rhea, but most of reviews I've read had mentioned about its unfavorable SN ratio. Even the King of PhonoPre, Steelhead, is said to be a bit noisy. Then I kept coming across a product named Audio Horizon TP 8.0sMCpn. This product promised one of the lowerest SN ratio in tube designed phonostage. From a 5 miniute research, I've come realize that to gain lower S/N ratio, all I need to do is to add Step-up device between my TT and phonostage. This unit rewards me with exactly that.
    Though this unit is not powered, it does offer IEC connector. It is said to eliminate hum.

    2. Transparency:
    I love tubes and what it can offer, but am aware of its negative aspects. Asking 4 tubes to offer transparency @ 60dB gain was too much. I'm sure it can be done, but not with my sub $2k phono. Standard setup is very musical and rewarding, but I music didn't quite disappear into air. I guess my phono stage is now a hybrid design. Now it has fluid-like texture of tubes and accuracy of SS. From a purists' viewpoint, adding another device such as transformers will add colour and rob resolution from music... I'm no purist and do not consider myself an audiophile. JRA wins again.

    3. Added Gain:

    I have not noticed it. If anything it almost sounds lower and less strained. One of the reason for my purchase was to accommodate lower output carts such as DL-103R and Dynavectpr 20XL. It's nice to be able to adjust input impedance as well.

    4. Synergy

    I have no idea, and I'm not just getting lazy with my post. All I know is that I'm enjoying my records even more.
    With all said an done, I'm experiencing positive results, but my music does sound a bit thin compared to my old setup. Since trannys only have about 5 hours, I guess this unit will evolved to more balanvced sounding piece in about the same time my current cart dies. All I need now is to receive KAB modded SL-1200 in mail. Hurry your ass up Kev!!!!!

    Peace,
    JRA
    Do already have the Dyna 20XL?
    A friend of mind has been pushing me to get one.
    Keep us posted on this step-up at least its affordable my MC input on my pre is a little noisy but the MM input on my pre is dead quiet that's where I think I would benefit from a Step-up.

    Oh you mention thin do you have this now connected to your MM input?
    I am very interested.
    Edit
    OK I found the site http://www.decware.com/newsite/ZP3.htm
    I wonder if I should get the ZM1 3~25 ohms since my cart is 20 ohms or get the ZM3 3~100 ohms.
    My pre is a 100 ohms MC input.
    Last edited by BRANDONH; 08-15-2008 at 08:52 AM.
    my system
    Technics SL-1210M5G
    OC9/MLII
    Marantz AV8003
    Oppo BD-83
    Yamaha C-70
    Crown MA-12000i
    Emotiva XPA-5

  9. #9
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    I did have a chance to compare MC Step-UP + MM vs. MM setting only.
    I compared between 0.4mV cart@65gain against 4.0mV @ 45db, so overall output level is very very close.

    noise level between the 2 is basically the same and I could not detect any additional noise with a Step-Up device. So, I'm getting fidelity of LOMC with noise level of MM. I'm sure added trasnformer results to a bit of colour, but I have yet to hear it. DIY approach may be the best way to go, if you are handy. http://www.10audio.com/diy_jensen44.htm

    It's been quite an experience for me.

    I have not purchased 20XL due to a lack of funds at this moment for me. I'm trying to sell my Shelter, but I may end up keeping it. I should play more than 10 hours to get better taste, and think everyone can agree.

    JRA

  10. #10
    AUTOBOT BRANDONH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    I did have a chance to compare MC Step-UP + MM vs. MM setting only.
    I compared between 0.4mV cart@65gain against 4.0mV @ 45db, so overall output level is very very close.

    noise level between the 2 is basically the same and I could not detect any additional noise with a Step-Up device. So, I'm getting fidelity of LOMC with noise level of MM. I'm sure added trasnformer results to a bit of colour, but I have yet to hear it. DIY approach may be the best way to go, if you are handy. http://www.10audio.com/diy_jensen44.htm

    It's been quite an experience for me.

    I have not purchased 20XL due to a lack of funds at this moment for me. I'm trying to sell my Shelter, but I may end up keeping it. I should play more than 10 hours to get better taste, and think everyone can agree.

    JRA
    OK You lost me...
    What do you have the Step-up connected to on your preamp now?
    Is it the MM input on just another Axillary Audio input like for a CD?
    my system
    Technics SL-1210M5G
    OC9/MLII
    Marantz AV8003
    Oppo BD-83
    Yamaha C-70
    Crown MA-12000i
    Emotiva XPA-5

  11. #11
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    LOMC => Decware Step-Up Transformer(+20dB) => Phono Preamp(MM Input 45dB) => Integrated Amp.

    Most of Step-Up Trannies are meant to be used with 47K Ohms MM inputs.
    Matching cartridges output impedance and Transformer seems to be a critical for LOMC. ZMC-2 can be adjusted between 5-100 Ohms, so it will be able to accept majority of LOMC.

    I hope this helps.

  12. #12
    AUTOBOT BRANDONH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    LOMC => Decware Step-Up Transformer(+20dB) => Phono Preamp(MM Input 45dB) => Integrated Amp.

    Most of Step-Up Trannies are meant to be used with 47K Ohms MM inputs.
    Matching cartridges output impedance and Transformer seems to be a critical for LOMC. ZMC-2 can be adjusted between 5-100 Ohms, so it will be able to accept majority of LOMC.

    I hope this helps.
    It sure does I might just get one of these if you recommend it...or should I wait till yours is broke in?
    my system
    Technics SL-1210M5G
    OC9/MLII
    Marantz AV8003
    Oppo BD-83
    Yamaha C-70
    Crown MA-12000i
    Emotiva XPA-5

  13. #13
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    It's been almost 2 months since I've bought this unit, so decided to share what I've found.

    Of course no SUT in general, but ZMC-2 is not for me. I was excited to enjoy vinyl with decreased noise(when arranged correctly), but it was robbing LOMC and tube magic.
    Soundstage remained thin compared to VTL in MC setting.

    In another words, a hot chunky babe came down from 150 to 120lbs, but lost most of the weight in the wrong parts of her Bu-tay.

    I'm willing to loan out this unit, if anyone is interested.

    JRA

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