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ZHAOLOOSER 101 impressions and pic

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
Well I just got back last night from an out of town job I was doing, and the DAC was waiting. First I need to comment on the absolutely beautiful job Renato (looser101) did in placing and connecting all the new components. It looks fantastic as anyone who’s been keeping up with this mod in the “mod your Zhaolu “ thread has seen from his pics.
The faceplate had several empty holes due to the internal amp and LED’s being removed. The only thing on the front panel now is the power switch. So the first order of business was installing the new faceplate I had made earlier. I should also mention that while waiting for the mods I upgraded my balanced interconnects and power cable for the DAC.
Now for impressions about sound quality. I knew that I was going to hear a pretty nice improvement due to Renato and Philodox’s impressions, but I was not at all prepared for what I heard when I placed the first CD in my transport (Dire Straits). This is in no way the same DAC I sent to Canada. There is no resemblance to the sound of a stock Zhaolu D2C. This DAC sounds much closer to the sound I heard out of bahamaman’s $6000.00 Accustic Arts CD player I heard at the Dallas meet, than to the $225.00 Zhaolu I sent Renato, no kidding! I’m not only impressed, I’m absolutely shocked at the difference. I don’t know how to expound on the changes, because it really bares no similarities to the old unit at all, so I’ll treat my review as an Impression of a new unit. The highs are extremely smooth and lush, the mids are exactly where they belong, not too far forward, but not too far recessed either. And the bass, Oh my god the bass! The bass is so full yet tight and controlled. My K340’s have always been considered a bit bass shy, but with the addition of my Darkvoice amp/Kenrad combo I thought I had a good handle on the problem. Well with this DAC in the stream there is no more bass problem. It’s there in spades! And it’s heaven, I can actually consider my K340’s for classic rock now. The velvety liquidity of the sound is just addicting. I’m listening to Nora Jones and I’ve got goosebumps! The soundstaging is absolutely remarkable! My speaker system is a 2 way bookshelf setup already impressive in it’s ability to create a remarkable soundstage, but this DAC takes it to a level I didn’t know I could achieve. I feel like I just won the audio lottery. This is the biggest improvement I’ve ever heard in my system bar none! I had no idea that a source change could make such a huge difference. Anyone considering this mod, don’t walk but run to your computer and order the Zapfilter immediately! I have about $500.00 in this DAC, and it will undoubtedly compete favorably with units costing many times that pricepoint. I’m sporting a grin on my face that just won’t go away.

post #2 of 65
Holy crap! Wow, that's a heck of an affirmation to the mods! Wow, that is incredible, congratulations. I wish I could hear it. Your original unit came from Wei, right? Stock? No mods prior to this?
post #3 of 65
Nice swt61
post #4 of 65
Congrats, you lucky bastard

Glad to hear that you really love the thing, I want one too Sounds like one of the best source deals out there, but the problem is that you'd have to know your way around soldering/electronics to be able to get it. Ugh, I want it so badly to complete my system. Is there a guide on how to install the Zapfilter into the Zhaolu? Are there any places that would be willing to mod Zhaolu's with Zapfilters?
post #5 of 65
i'd like to see how the zapfiltered output stage thing competes against the ori output stage....
what power cable did you add to it?
post #6 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean H
Holy crap! Wow, that's a heck of an affirmation to the mods! Wow, that is incredible, congratulations. I wish I could hear it. Your original unit came from Wei, right? Stock? No mods prior to this?
Correct, stock D2C with no mods before this one. I'm going to the Austin meet Oct. 7th where I hope to compare it with bahamaman's Accustic Arts player. Keep an eye out for those impressions.
post #7 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azure
Congrats, you lucky bastard

Glad to hear that you really love the thing, I want one too Sounds like one of the best source deals out there, but the problem is that you'd have to know your way around soldering/electronics to be able to get it. Ugh, I want it so badly to complete my system. Is there a guide on how to install the Zapfilter into the Zhaolu? Are there any places that would be willing to mod Zhaolu's with Zapfilters?
Check with Renato (looser 101) on answers to both questions. He's a heck of a nice guy, and I'm sure will be more than happy to answer your questions and give you more insight than I can. It's and incredible mod, I can't begin to tell you how amazing it sounds now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by granodemostasa
i'd like to see how the zapfiltered output stage thing competes against the ori output stage....
what power cable did you add to it?
It's a beautiful cord made by Grandenigma1. Here's a pic of the exact cord I now own.

post #8 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by swt61
Correct, stock D2C with no mods before this one. I'm going to the Austin meet Oct. 7th where I hope to compare it with bahamman's Audio Arts player. Keep an eye out for those impressions.
Oh you'll be there too? There's a chance my D02A could arrive in time for the meet I'll see you there!
post #9 of 65
Before people fill my mailbox with requests, please note that I have no interest in providing this mod. I'm a DIYourselfer and I have my own projects to work on. I hope you understand.

On the other hand, I will provide help to anyone who needs some direction in modding their own. Most of the info and pics are in the Mod Your Zhaolu thread, so I suggest you start there.

Steve, I'm glad you are so happy with your DAC.

Renato
post #10 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thaddy
Oh you'll be there too? There's a chance my D02A could arrive in time for the meet I'll see you there!
Now that sounds like a comparison I would like to read about.

-R-
post #11 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thaddy
Oh you'll be there too? There's a chance my D02A could arrive in time for the meet I'll see you there!
Cool! I asked just that question in the meet thread. I hope it shows up in time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by looser101
Before people fill my mailbox with requests, please note that I have no interest in providing this mod. I'm a DIYourselfer and I have my own projects to work on. I hope you understand.

On the other hand, I will provide help to anyone who needs some direction in modding their own. Most of the info and pics are in the Mod Your Zhaolu thread, so I suggest you start there.

Steve, I'm glad you are so happy with your DAC.

Renato
That helps me answer all the PM's I've been getting. I'll let them know you'll be happy to answer questions, but not to ask you to mod theirs.
post #12 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by looser101
Now that sounds like a comparison I would like to read about.

-R-
Me too! I'm sure some jaws are gonna drop when they hear this puppy though.
post #13 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by swt61
Me too! I'm sure some jaws are gonna drop when they hear this puppy though.
Ya I lost some sleep with that puppy. Listening, not modding.

-R-
post #14 of 65
What other sources have you guys (that heard this DAC; swt61 and looser101?) listened to? How does it compare to higher end sources/other sources in the same price range? Was the front plate hand-madeor did you use a service?
post #15 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azure
What other sources have you guys (that heard this DAC; swt61 and looser101?) listened to? How does it compare to higher end sources/other sources in the same price range? Was the front plate hand-madeor did you use a service?
Philodox and I did a bit of a shootout awhile back. Philodox did a great job with his impressions. You can read them HERE.

I have a modded VDA-1. I like it alot but the modded zhaolu was a step above.

Steve (swt61) made his own face plate. I saw his previous one when he shipped it to me and I can assure you that pictures do not do it justice. The birds eye maple (correction: quilted maple) was beautiful and his workmanship is exemplary.

In case you missed it, pictures of the internals are HERE.

-R-
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