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New Portable Amp By DECWARE

post #1 of 124
Thread Starter 
http://www.decware.com/newsite/zenhead.htm

Anyone wanna give it a try?
I'm broke this month since I'm getting some Etys. Lol.
post #2 of 124
Not here, but I have sent them an email!
post #3 of 124
Looks really nice. I like their description, even if there also is this standard marketing in it, but it is nice that they after all focus on the quality rather than on the bells and whistles.

I won't get it though... After all I am happy with my D2's sound and I need the money to buy a GS-1000 and then a tube amp .
post #4 of 124
Looks nice but pricey.
post #5 of 124
Not just pricey, but the description looks like terrible marketing to me. It's full of grammatical errors, and they really overused the word 'audiophile'. On top of which, this seems to be marketed at 'audiophiles' who have no experience in the portable industry.

"look no flashlight, run over it with your car" seems like a bad attempt at marketing their product against its competition. If the latter is true, then we will indeed have a very nicely built amp. But one that can withstand 2,000+kg of force from a car... that I don't believe, but it may very well be possible.

I wouldn't mind the watch though
post #6 of 124
I ordered my Decware Zenhead today for $295 plus shipping. I've been searching a long time for a portable amp that can adequately power my Beyer DT880/250's and my Total Airhead doesn't seem to be cutting it. I know that the Beyers have more available sound to them that the Airhead isn't revealing. My last purchase was the Shure SE350s and I am hearing a lot more detail in my music now using my Shures with my Black Dragon line out dock from my Nano to the Total Airhead. I was actually impressed with the write-up on the Zenhead on the company website and the designer Steve Deckhert seems to have designed this amp for my needs in mind. I wanted a portable amp that has a warm, liquid, tubey sound to pair with my Beyer DT880's without a DAC or other bells and whistles (charging circuit, bass boost, etc.) that would muddy the sound. But, I did want cross-feed. I listen to my Nano/Black Dragon/Shure/Airhead setup at work in my cubicle and I find the sound fatiguing after 3 to 4 hours. I am hoping that the cross-feed circuit of the Zenhead will eliminate the sonic fatigue I feel.

After scanning some of his articles on his website, I was also pleased to see that Steve Deckhert seems to view Beyer DT880's as a reference headphone for purposes of tuning the sonic signature of his amps so I am very optimistic. I haven't owned or for that matter listened to any other headphone amplifiers so my only reference for comparison purposes will be my Total Airhead.

Other amps considered that may be purchased in the future:
1) iBasso D2 Boa. ( I am curious to see what a DAC/AMP combo sounds like)
2) Meier Audio Corda 2Move ( again the DAC/AMP curiosity)
3) Headroom Micro Amp with Astrodyne Power Supply (The micro amp seems like a solid amp but $500 plus shipping was a little more than I wanted to pay. I am certain it is worth the money but feel I should go to a meet and hear different desktop amps before investing more than $500 for a desktop amplifier.)
4) Woo Audio 6
5) A Meier Audio DAC/AMP combo.

I have also been in the market for a standalone DAC to connect to my laptop but nothing has jumped out at me yet in the sub $300 price point. If anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate it!
post #7 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fort_Worth_Keith View Post
I wanted a portable amp that has a warm, liquid, tubey sound to pair with my Beyer DT880's without a DAC or other bells and whistles (charging circuit, bass boost, etc.) that would muddy the sound.
Well, based on my experience with the ZenHead, you should be very happy with it, based on what you said above. It's a very nice sounding amp.
post #8 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Well, based on my experience with the ZenHead, you should be very happy with it, based on what you said above. It's a very nice sounding amp.
Thank you Skylab for the hard work you put into your reviews. If not for your reviews, I would have never even heard of DECWARE and the Zenhead.

I hope you do a comprehensive comparative review of desktop amplifiers similiar to the one you put together for portable amplifiers.

Thanks again!
post #9 of 124

Zen Head

Fort Worth Keith,

I just received my Zen Head and am putting it through its paces. So far I'm impressed. I use AKG 271s, Sennheiser 595, Grado 325i as my primary headphones. I am interested in your impression of this amp and, of course, once I've had a decent listen, I'll share mine. BTW, the crossfeed is excellent. Better than the Total Bithead (my other portable amp). I went with the Total Bithead for my computer. I choose the Zen Head for something better with my Mp3 player.

I've got a Zen amplifier in my office stereo kit (it was in my home reference music system, but I switched to powered Quad 12L speakers as my old AR M1's really were too inefficient for the Zen amp except for near field listening--which is how my office system is set up).

I'm a big Decware fan and recommend their amps and someday, I'll spring for a pair of speakers. One can't beat the service and Steve Deckert is terrific to deal with.

I hope you like your Zen Head.

Cheers,

Allan
post #10 of 124
Deckert seems to be addictive, I have a friend who repeats everything the guy says to me, believing every word of it. I'm not saying it's not true, it probably is, but it is akin to some people here in this forum being offended when people question practices of some popular vendors.

My friend does love the tube amps, and so do I, though. So don't get me wrong, Decware makes very good sounding gear.

Having said that, another amp, nothing special with it, will probably attract customers he already sold and talked to interested in headphone gear.

I wish someone came up with an amp better than the D1, meaning better parts and less clutter in signal path, that we can do opamp rolling with...
post #11 of 124
I thought his CSP-2 tube headphone amp was very, very good. Not better than my Singlepower amps, but very good nonetheless. I ended up buying the review sample he had sent me.
post #12 of 124
Yashicaman,

Sarah called me from Decware today and said that my Zenhead will be shipping out today. I agree with you that the customer service is excellent. I will post my impressions and pictures of the Zenhead as soon as it arrives. I am always curious to see how products ship and the quality of the packaging when I read reviews of portable amplifiers. I think I will listen to the Zenhead for a minimum of two weeks before posting my review. I will probably do some A/B comparisons (Airhead vs. Zenhead) with my Shure 310's and my Beyer DT 880's as well.

I really do need to make it to a meet soon. I am also interested in listening to the following pieces of equipment in addition to the other amps and DACs I listed in my previous post:

1) KICAS Caliente
2) Decware CSP-2
3) KECES 131 DAC
4) Decware CD Player
5) RSA SR-71a

I look forward to reading your impressions of the Zenhead. I am a bit envious because you evidently have some superb equipment to use as reference points in your evaluation of the Zenhead!

Yashicaman it's funny you mentioned Decware's speakers in your post. I auditioned JM Lab Chorus and Proac speakers six years ago when I lived in Portland, Oregon. I listened to two hifi setups that really really impressed me: 1) a Naim amp and CD player with Proac tower speakers; and 2) Arcam amp and CD player with JM Lab Chorus tower speakers. I know these are not the be all and end all in sound systems but I was very very impressed with these two setups. These two systems have been my reference point for the sound I am hoping to eventually have in my headphone sound system. Sorry to wander off on a tangent but I was impressed by the relatively low prices of the Decware speaker line in comparison to the Proacs and JM Lab speakers I listened to years ago. They seem to be equivalent in quality and I am thinking that perhaps the dramatic difference in price might be attributable to the fact that with Decware you are purchasing directly from the manufacturer as opposed to having to purchase from a dealer. I wonder how much the Proac's have gone up in price since the dollar's decline versus the Pound and Euro?

Anyway, I know that the Zenhead is probably not the last piece of equipment I will purchase on my sonic odyssey but I know that it is one step closer to my final destination. I like the idea however of working my way up the sound quality food chain over the next couple of years.

I don't know why Headroom doesn't have a product like the Zenhead in their lineup. I guess they are afraid of cannibalizing sales of their new Micro Amp line. I still think there is room in their lineup for a portable amp above the Airhead/Bithead and below the Micro amp line however. If they would have had a product equivalent to the Zenhead in their line-up I would have purchased it months ago.

Recephasan,

Ha! You may be right and I may be a little susceptible to effective marketing but after reading all of the positive reviews of Decware amps in Head-fi and other forums, I can't help but think the Zenhead will sound very good and will be a keeper in my audio equipment collection. One poster on another forum referred to Steve Deckhert as being “persnickity.” The poster meant it in good fun but I think it speaks to the attention to detail Steve puts into his products. I am guessing that he also has too much pride (and business savvy) to put out a mediocre sounding product as his first offering in the portable audio market.

I was very impressed with the life-time warranty for the Zenhead as well as the input gain switch on the Zenhead. I am not into “tweaking” the audio equipment I purchase and would rather buy a piece of equipment from an audio designer that is basically the best product they can create at a particular price point. But, to each his own! I enjoy reading posts about opamp rolling and other modifications to portable amps. If you ever get a chance to listen to a Zenhead I would really like to hear your opinion! It sounds as if you have heard a wide variety of portable amps and I would be curious to know if you think the Zenhead is a solid value purchase or if there are better purchases to be had at the $295 price point.
post #13 of 124

Decware

Recephasan,

Steve Deckert knows how to market. Good thkng or he'd be out of business. He also knows how to make excellent stereo gear. Buying direct is a savings and the customer service is superb. Sometimes when I read so many positive reviews, I think of a concept called groupthink. If many people say that they like something, then others may agree (even if they aren't sure they like that something) just go do along with the group (and not make waves). When I see a whole bunch of laudatory reviews, I wonder if I'm being set up; however, I've read reviews in other places than the Decware website (such as Skylab's very thourough and thoughtful review of the Zen Head) which did influence my decision to get a Zen amp and to finally spring for a Zen Head. I also knew that I could audition Decware gear and send it back for a modest restocking fee if I didn't like it. That is important to me as I'm a rather critical listener.

Regarding the Zen amp, I really should have bought two to use as monoblocks.

Fort Worth Keith,

We'll have lots to compare. It would be terrific to get to a meet. Someday I hope to make it to one as well. I think that the journey is exciting as one moves up from good to better gear. Right now, I think that the Zen Head will be my last HP amp, but in a few years, I may be tempted to try something else. Okay, I will be tempted to try something else and I will and then I'll say that I'm done, but I won't be really. So on it goes.

Headroom did make quite a few portable headphone amps. When I purchased my Total Bithead, I did consider a higher model in the portable lineup, but these models were really, really big, used D cells or car batteries or windmills and I was into easy portability. Back then (about 6 years ago), it would have cost me around 400 bucks for a D cell driven Headroom.

A small portable model just above the Bithead and just below the Micro line would be attractive; however, I would have sprung for the Zen Head anyway given my experiences with my Zen amp (and knowing that I could return it within 30 days if it didn't meet my sonic needs).

Looking forward to your review.

Cheers!
post #14 of 124
Unbelievable! My new "ZyCable HiEnd IPOD Dock Cable" arrived from Head Direct.

Head-Direct.com

What a huge jump in Sound Quality compared to my Moon Audio Black Dragon Line Out Dock. I bought this Line Out Dock to replace my Moon Audio Black Dragon Line Out Dock in my Nano Total Airhead setup and I should have bought this Line Out Dock a year ago. My DT880/250's finally sound like they are suppose to. The bottom has filled out nicely. In fairness to Moon Audio, the owner did tell me the Blue Dragon (copper) would be a better fit with the Nano and Total Airhead than the Black Dragon (all silver cable) I insisted upon. Also the plug/connector that snaps into the Nano is much better on the Zy LOD than the Moon Audio Connector (it never would lock fully onto the Nano!). If you want a high quality silver/copper cable for $49 and don't want to pay competitor's prices, this is a great choice in my humble opinion. Fort_Worth_Keith
post #15 of 124
this statement is bugging me: Something I could plug a real set of phones into and get small listening devices like IPOD's and ZUNE's to sound good over long periods of time.


Using with the zune is double amping and kills his audiophile idea...


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