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Review: ZERO 24 BIT/192KHz DAC/Headphone Amp/Pre-Amp - Page 621

post #9301 of 9373

Here's another DAC that is based on one that you recommended, in fact I think it is the same one with a case and transformer:



What would be your personal opinion on these two DACs? Both cased with transformers, zero has the headamp that I really don't need and is a bit more expensive, ak4396 newer and less expensive. (of course, I will mod any. I will in fact get the pcb with soldered ICs if I can to reduce cost)

I have no affiliation with the seller on ebay and I don't think that I'll be buying from him anything, it was just an example for price and case/transformer.

post #9302 of 9373

Yeah, it's the same.

ZERO can be modded to 24/96 USB with I2S: TE7022 module. This module is very good, requires little modding and is great combination with AK DAC (when I2S output used).

ZERO has one advantage: it can be used as preamplifier. If you don't need it than AK will be better for you.


I heard my ZERO and AK DAC (DIY, but made by friend of Fikus, so it's basically Lampizator DAC) at one moment and both is detailed, neutral. To my ears it was the same, but guy who made the AK DAC told me that ZERO is little worse than his DAC.

post #9303 of 9373

Well...I guess I'll be needing line level anyway. I guess that'll be an excuse to go for a preamp as well :) I'll post back if I get the Zero, must go do some more research than pull the trigger on one them.

Thank you for your help wink.gif

post #9304 of 9373

So, I bought the OPA637 Zero Dac couple months ago. I would have opted for the cheaper versions, becouse I was gonna upgrade the op-amps anyway. But since the OPA637 was the only one that the Finnish importer had, I bought it.


My initial toughts weren't that great. Before the Zero Dac I had an Asus Xonar STX and i use HD650's as my headphones. So Like I said my initial toughts weren't that great. The Zero didn't sound bad, just felt like it had no soul. There was just music, it didn't get my foot tapping.


I was connected via USB so i tought i'd upgrade the USB-cable for a better one. The inculded one looks like it's from the 80's anyway. So I did some research and found out that the Lindy Prerium Gold cable was pretty much the best you can get under 50euros. I wanted to get the 0.5m one, it was pretty hard to find one, but i managed to order one from a small German store. The cable improved the sound quite a bit and i would say that it was now enjoyable.


After the cable upgrade i red that the stock op-amps were probably fake ones. So again i did some research and founded this topic. I red the review and ordered OPA627's for the dac section and LM4562's for the headphone section. I founded this "weird" mod with some resistor and the dual OPA 627's. A photo is probably gonna explane more here.


Picture OPA627 (Click to show)




Picture Stock OPA 637 (Click to show)



The result was amazing, it sounds so much better now and most importantly it always gets my foot tapping. I think these are the best changes for the Zero Dac, as far as price is a concern. I definitely recommend these to anyone who isn't happy with the sound, I really love the Zero now. ;)


Link for the OPA 627's : http://viewitem.eim.ebay.fi/Biasing-Mod-Burr-Brown-OPA627AP-upgrade-part-for-Matrix-mstage-AMPs/140904693084/item?transId=809719574004

Edited by WaiseCoo - 6/18/13 at 9:38am
post #9305 of 9373


Please forgive me my bad English. I am not a native speaker. Believe me that I do my best to make it at least understandable for you. Moreover: I am a laymen on the field of computer audio..


Regarding the Zero DAC (but equally important for other external DAC's) how do you avoid that lossless music is "distorted" by the sound card during playing back? I have searched for an answer on this question on the internet many times but I never found an answer that was conclusively. When I want to playback FLAC music the music player software either does not give me the opportunity to set preferences which guarantee that the FLAC music is sent directly to the DAC. Some programs give me the possiblity to choose AISO (or Kernel streaming) but it seems that the Zero DAC is not suitable to play back with this "format".Possibly the media player is also not suitable for this "format".

The only possibility which remains then is that I choose for "Direct sound", but in that case the music passes the sound card in my PC and I don't know what this has for consequences for my lossless music.

I would be very happy if any one of you specialists could give me an answer on this question!

post #9306 of 9373

I just bought the ZERO Dac -09 anout week ago, i've noticed that when i turn the volume low, right channel on my headphones shuts down, and i can only hear the left channel? Its only on low volume so it doesnt bother me almost at all, just asking is this normal with zero's or do i have a pub unit?

post #9307 of 9373

It's normal with cheap potentiometers like one in ZERO.

post #9308 of 9373

What do you guys think about the V-Dac by Musical fidelity? better than the zero and if it is, by how much?

post #9309 of 9373

I have a heavily modified DAC Zero, that to me sounds like a much more expensive DAC. Much more...


Here is what was changed in it:


The power supply was reviewed, but nothing really changed. Just adjusted the voltage and all so it would match the standard in Brazil.

The IEC was changed to a top-of-line Furutech

The RCA conectors where replaced by Vampire RCA (digital and analog)

All the analogic stage was replaced by a custom made board.

Power cable was replaced by a Cardas Twinlink that I had from another system which was sold.


All of this actually costed a bit more than the original DAC price, but I have to tell you that it was worth it. It's now a 400usd DAC that sounds better than any 500usd DAC I've heard. Easily.

post #9310 of 9373

Mine is also heavily modded (more than the one mentioned above), total cost is less than 300$. The price is lower since I'm not placebo lover so I didn't changed IEC or RCA connectors or others.

In my experience ZERO can beat many DAC/AMPs up to ~500 to 600$.

post #9311 of 9373
Originally Posted by AmarokCZ View Post

Mine is also heavily modded (more than the one mentioned above), total cost is less than 300$. The price is lower since I'm not placebo lover so I didn't changed IEC or RCA connectors or others.

In my experience ZERO can beat many DAC/AMPs up to ~500 to 600$.

I saw most of what you done on the page you linked. What have you changed in the analogic stage of the DAC? I found it to be the most important area to upgrade in my experience.

post #9312 of 9373

Yes it's the most important. I changed the setpoint of the LPF filter and in my ZERO I also changed the four decoupling caps right in front of the LPF filter. Also the OAs were changed to OPA627.

post #9313 of 9373

Hi guys,


Kind of new to the whole DACs thing and I'm having problem connecting the Zero DAC. Basically PC => Zero DAC => O2 => Earphones; but I can't get any sound, only hiss. Is my connection wrong?


Thanks in advance :D

post #9314 of 9373

If you are NOT using USB try different S/PDIF source. That it's something wrong with ZERO ... I guess.

post #9315 of 9373

I forgot to mention that I'm using the usb input. I tried the rca output and still couldn't get any sound. So is there a driver or anything for the zero DAC?

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