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Eddie Current Zana Deux SE

Posted

Pros: Euphonics; tonality, body, warmth... smooth, linear sound with excellent precision. Excellent depth, layering, speed.

Cons: Amp runs physically hot. Old SE version is for high impedance headphones.

Eddie Current's Zana Deux reviewed...

 

Pre-amble - the Zana Deux original vs the new Zana Deux Super...

- There are two versions of this tube amplifier. Both are output transformerless (OTL) amplifiers; the original model being the "Zana Deux" with one single ended output most suited for driving high impedance headphones such as the HD-600/650/800's. The newer version being the "Zana Deux Super", with a single ended output that offers a low impedance and high impedance output. The Super improves on the original in that it is suitable for driving both lower impedance headphones such as planars, and higher impedance headphones. I have the original version, and based my review listening on the HD-650's and HD-800's. I also listened with my LCD-3 fazor's, and found the original Zana Deux to drive them superbly. I can only imagine that the new Zana Deux would do the same.

 

Looks/etc...

- I had my reservations about this amp looking a bit "industrial" for my living room. When it arrived, however, I was quite surprised at how much I appreciated its look. The black/grey scheme looks slick, despite the visible screws holding everything in place. The two fat Russian 6C33C-B power tubes at the top near the front of the amp are also damn right intimidating, and when their heaters are glowing orange, it's apparent that this amp means business. I normally allow for a good 20 minutes of warm up time for tube amps, and the Zana Deux definitely warms up. The body of the amp gets nice and hot, so I would strongly recommend having some space around it.

 

Sound and Impressions...

- Simply put, this amp is stunning. I have never heard an OTL amplifier that comes anywhere close to the presentation of the Zana Deux. My initial impressions were speed, clarity, amazing euphonics, and a deep, precise response. There is a nice linear response, from the solid, tight bass, through the midrange, and into the treble, with perhaps a slight emphasis on the treble. It doesn't sound dry or analytical at all; I would describe the treble as being "present" in a way that doesn't push, or feel unnatural. 

 

The euphonics this amp is presenting are really what make it something special. I've yet to hear another design that takes the euphonic qualities tubes can present, and allow them to naturally flow into the music, without muddying it up with bloom or excessive warmth. These natural euphonics allow for instruments, vocals, and percussion to naturally flow in layers, with details and clarity emerging from songs I've listened to hundreds of times before. The speed and precision achieved by the Zana Deux is also satisfying on a level that easily competes with many solid state offerings. I've read in the past that Eddie Current amplifiers somehow satisfy both solid state fans and tube fans, but hearing this myself was a revelation. This amp is musical, and warm, but at the same time, the Zana Deux extracts and presents details other OTL amps simply cannot resolve.  

 

Comparing to the Woo WA2, which I found to be silky smooth, airy and elegant, the Zana Deux replaces the WA2's excessive warmth with clarity, precision and speed. I no longer feel like the midrange is being EQ'd through whatever tubes I'm using in the amp... I'm hearing resolution, euphonics, and a very satisfying cohesion from top to bottom. Experienced WA2 owners will agree that tube rolling is key to achieving the very best sound from their amp, however this amp is in another league in comparison with many tube combos I've rolled in my WA2. It sounds powerful, elegant, smooth, yet also refined... qualities I could pull out of many different tube combos I've tried in the WA2, but never hearing all of them combined in the way the Zana Deux does. The euphonics present remind me of what I hear in pinched waist 6922 tubes, a sound that creates a truly luxurious experience with my music.

 

My overall verdict/recommendation...

- The very best OTL amp for HD-650's. If you are a fan of the HD-600's or HD-650 and also a fan of tubes, this is it. You can get some of the sound if you go another route, and try rolling in different NOS tubes, (which will probably cost more than this amp anyway) but there is no equal. 

 

I'd also recommend this amp if you enjoy the HD-800's, but want to bring some warmth into them. It drives the 800's very well, and offers a nicely detailed, rich experience. A bit of warmth, and a lot of euphonics, without sacrificing what the HD-800's do very well. Even fans of solid state gear should consider checking out the Zana Deux... you may be surprised where it takes you.

 

Eddie Current has done something very special in the Zana Deux. It's an OTL amp that satisfies on many levels, without resorting to costly tube rolling. Give it a listen, and allow it to take you somewhere you may never have been with your music...

Eddie Current Zana Deux SE
Description:

The most talked-about line/headphone amplifier on the market, the Zana Deux is audio art, offering exceptional musicality and design. These amps are handcrafted and offered at an exceptional price point for American-made audio art, in both sound stage and appearance. The Zana Deux SE's Hi/ Lo impedance switch will drive most headphones and the nickel plated caps enhance the detail in design. This edition has clear annodized top and bottom plates to accentuate the detail of the amp's industrial design and beauty. 100V - 240V available.

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