A Visit to Eddie's Shop in Hong Kong - more modds...Despite I am a happy user of Stello's DA-100, having read about Zhaolu here I just couldn't resist to find out more from Eddie. I visited his workshop mid last week and would like to share with you all what I have seen / learned.
In my short 45 minutes visit I watched at least 6 modified Zhaolu D2.0 sold and went out of the door, while some other customers were listening and comparing the effect of various modds amongst themselves in the other corner of the workshop.
More interestingly, I saw at least 30 boxes of original Zhaolu D2.0 stacked inside the workshop, making rooms to get around rather limited. Looks like Eddie was having very good business with Zhaolu modifications.
I have to wait (literally queueing after his work bench) for 20 minutes until I have a chance to order my Zhaolu. I picked the CS version, and the usual Black Gate upgrade. Also asked to have the DAC heat sink modified to reduce temperature for more consistent performance. I presume the standard upgrade package (upgrading around a dozen of the resistors) also applies. I heard that clock can also be upgraded but forgot to asked. (will do next time)
I inquired about headamp modification and did not quite like the "standard" upgrade to LT1057 too much, and suggested putting in OP128 (or at least AD8620 or OP627). Then I was told a larger, upgraded headamp board will be available end of May / early June (which will offer higher current capabilities). I told Eddie that I will wait until the improved headamp board is available, hopefully I do not need to wait too long.
I also inquired if the RCA connectors can be upgraded for better performance, and was told the original ones, though plain looking, are already rhodium plated. So, I skipped that idea.
Regarding optical vs SPDIF, Eddie shared his opinion that for the Zhaolu coaxial is the way to go, unless we are talking about very long distance between the source and the DAC. He said the coaxial should bring audible difference (better) compared to Toslink.
I looked at the Zhaolu's internal and asked if the transformer can be upgraded (from look only the transformer seems to be a weak point in the overall product) . Eddie told me that this will be difficult - mainly due to space limitation. Then I become aware that Eddie is experimenting a "battery version" of the "Ultimate Zhaolu" - with 2 x 12V batteries in series (to provide the internal 24V and 5 V required). He is planning to put the batteries and the charging circuit into a separate box but not sure if he is going to offer this to public as an "upgrade". Eddie told me that the batteries provide an ultra quiet and clear power source to bring the Zhaolu to a next level of performance. BTW, this battery powered prototype can power the DAC for almost 3 days ! So, more should be in the pipeline......
I am planning to go back to Eddie's place in 2 weeks time to check on my own Zhaolu modification, and hopefully will have more news to share.