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The Antelope Zodiac / Zodiac + / Zodiac Gold DAC Thread - Page 30

post #436 of 491

After owning the Zodiac plus for over a year with 1000+ hours on it, I would like to share my impressions of the Zodiac plus. To start off, I don't think there can be a fair evaluation of the Zodiac until it is fully broken in. As many have already stated, the DAC takes a long time to break-in to reach its potential.

 

During the break-in period, I had a love-hate relationship with the DAC and contemplated selling it on numerous occasions. At times, the Zodiac would sound harsh, sibilant and fatiguing, weaknesses that were hard to swallow given the price, and I much preferred the sound of my other DAC, an audio-gd reference 7.0 that is almost like the Zodiac's antithesis in terms of being on the warmer and darker side.

 

However, I am glad that I stuck it out, because the Zodiac has reached a level that now surpasses the reference 7.0 in my system. Now that the sound has settled (i.e., sound quality is pretty consistent), the best word to describe the tonal balance of this DAC is "beautiful." There is hardly any residue of the harshness, sibilance, and fatigue from early on. The sound has become very smooth, musical, and sweet. It is also neutral without sounding clinical, and I would say one of its strengths is the layering of sounds  I recall another review on this site that described the sound signature as "wet" - I am not sure what connotation this description has, but I'm guessing the reviewer was referring to its lushness.

 

Compared to the reference 7.0, the treble extends higher but there is no longer any harshness, and there is better layering of sounds that adds to depth of soundstage. The reference 7.0 still has advantage in wider and taller soundstage. The lower region took the longest to fully form with break-in, and now there is a solidity and weight to the imaging that gives the impression that vocals and instruments are on leveled on the same sound stage, and gives a presence of the musicians as opposed to sounds that are just floating in air.

 

To give some context to my impressions, my system entails the following: FLAC --> Transporter --> AES ---> Zodiac Plus --> XLR --> Audio-gd Master  8 --> HE-6, LCD-2, HD-650 /// --> Audio-gd Master 3 --> Magnepan 3.6. Power conditioner is Equitech Son of Q.

 

I have found the Zodiac Plus to have decent synergy with all components I have paired it with. Its interesting that even using the de-jittered digital out to another DAC imparts the Zodiac sound signature, which gives me impression that digital section of Zodiac is quite robust.

 

I would like to add that it took some tweaking to get best sound of the DAC. Here are tweaks based on order of improvement:

 

1. After-market power supply: I think this is a must. The sound is a bit thin without the after-market PSU. I use a reasonably priced one from Wellborne. It seems like the Volitikus is the gold standard though.

 

2. Power cable: The Zodiac seems sensitive to power cables, and I've had best luck with PCs that known to be musical. I experimented with quite a few and settled on a custom one that a friend made and sold me for $100. I also used a entry level Synergistic Research PC (paid $50 used) that worked well. I don't think you have a break the bank to get a PC with good synergy, but I think experimentation is important.

 

3. Vibration footer: The footer made a minimal improvement, but I noticed right away that the bass went deeper with the footers. I was able to replicate this subtle change by A-B with and without footer. I used some cheap sorthobane ones that I got for $30 or so. I put them directly under the current footers.

 

4. Interconnects: The different digital cables and XLR cables I tried didn't seem to change sound much. I settled on DH Labs Silversonic AES cable, and Norse Audio XLR cable.

 

Regarding my impressions, I go back and forth between my DACs so I don't think my impressions are merely based on my ears adjusting to the sound of Zodiac. I believe the break-in time for Zodiac is very real and it requires some tweaking to reach its full potential.

 

Thanks for reading!


Edited by BoyNamedSue - 3/16/13 at 8:57pm
post #437 of 491

Anyone using Zodiac Gold ASIO 384kHz on Windows yet?

post #438 of 491

I own a second hand Antelope Gold for a week now and use it via the headphone amp together with my HD800.

To what desktop headphone amp can the internal headphone amp of the Zodiac be compared with best?

What would be at least the budget I need to end up with a higher quality desktop amp than the internel one of the Zodiac?

What would be a good matching desktop headphone amp with both the Zodiac and the HD800?


Edited by willemr2 - 4/30/13 at 5:35am
post #439 of 491
Quote:
Originally Posted by willemr2 View Post

I own a second hand Antelope Gold for a week now and use it via the headphone amp together with my HD800.

To what desktop headphone amp can the internal headphone amp of the Zodiac be compared with best?

What would be at least the budget I need to end up with a higher quality desktop amp than the internel one of the Zodiac?

What would be a good matching desktop headphone amp with both the Zodiac and the HD800?

I use the HeadAmp GS-X mk2 and looking for a dac like the Zodiac Gold, so I'm actually doing the opposite. Its a great amp that works well with the HD800s

 

The HeadAmp GS-X Thread

post #440 of 491
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoyNamedSue View Post

After owning the Zodiac plus for over a year with 1000+ hours on it, I would like to share my impressions of the Zodiac plus. To start off, I don't think there can be a fair evaluation of the Zodiac until it is fully broken in. As many have already stated, the DAC takes a long time to break-in to reach its potential.

 

During the break-in period, I had a love-hate relationship with the DAC and contemplated selling it on numerous occasions. At times, the Zodiac would sound harsh, sibilant and fatiguing, weaknesses that were hard to swallow given the price, and I much preferred the sound of my other DAC, an audio-gd reference 7.0 that is almost like the Zodiac's antithesis in terms of being on the warmer and darker side.

 

However, I am glad that I stuck it out, because the Zodiac has reached a level that now surpasses the reference 7.0 in my system. Now that the sound has settled (i.e., sound quality is pretty consistent), the best word to describe the tonal balance of this DAC is "beautiful." There is hardly any residue of the harshness, sibilance, and fatigue from early on. The sound has become very smooth, musical, and sweet. It is also neutral without sounding clinical, and I would say one of its strengths is the layering of sounds  I recall another review on this site that described the sound signature as "wet" - I am not sure what connotation this description has, but I'm guessing the reviewer was referring to its lushness.

 

Compared to the reference 7.0, the treble extends higher but there is no longer any harshness, and there is better layering of sounds that adds to depth of soundstage. The reference 7.0 still has advantage in wider and taller soundstage. The lower region took the longest to fully form with break-in, and now there is a solidity and weight to the imaging that gives the impression that vocals and instruments are on leveled on the same sound stage, and gives a presence of the musicians as opposed to sounds that are just floating in air.

 

To give some context to my impressions, my system entails the following: FLAC --> Transporter --> AES ---> Zodiac Plus --> XLR --> Audio-gd Master  8 --> HE-6, LCD-2, HD-650 /// --> Audio-gd Master 3 --> Magnepan 3.6. Power conditioner is Equitech Son of Q.

 

I have found the Zodiac Plus to have decent synergy with all components I have paired it with. Its interesting that even using the de-jittered digital out to another DAC imparts the Zodiac sound signature, which gives me impression that digital section of Zodiac is quite robust.

 

I would like to add that it took some tweaking to get best sound of the DAC. Here are tweaks based on order of improvement:

 

1. After-market power supply: I think this is a must. The sound is a bit thin without the after-market PSU. I use a reasonably priced one from Wellborne. It seems like the Volitikus is the gold standard though.

 

2. Power cable: The Zodiac seems sensitive to power cables, and I've had best luck with PCs that known to be musical. I experimented with quite a few and settled on a custom one that a friend made and sold me for $100. I also used a entry level Synergistic Research PC (paid $50 used) that worked well. I don't think you have a break the bank to get a PC with good synergy, but I think experimentation is important.

 

3. Vibration footer: The footer made a minimal improvement, but I noticed right away that the bass went deeper with the footers. I was able to replicate this subtle change by A-B with and without footer. I used some cheap sorthobane ones that I got for $30 or so. I put them directly under the current footers.

 

4. Interconnects: The different digital cables and XLR cables I tried didn't seem to change sound much. I settled on DH Labs Silversonic AES cable, and Norse Audio XLR cable.

 

Regarding my impressions, I go back and forth between my DACs so I don't think my impressions are merely based on my ears adjusting to the sound of Zodiac. I believe the break-in time for Zodiac is very real and it requires some tweaking to reach its full potential.

 

Thanks for reading!

Great review and impressions BoyNamedSue, cool name too, I'm looking at the Audio-GD master 7, But always have been curious about the Zodiac series even more so after reading your post. Cheers Mate.......

beerchug.gif

post #441 of 491

Antelope-Zodiak-Silver-front.jpg

 

My review is slated for Wednesday. For now, I've just got a couple images.

post #442 of 491

shigzeo, what do you want to review ? About color ? smile.gif

post #443 of 491

Review is officially behind schedule (again). Sorry Maximuslt, what did you mean?

post #444 of 491

What are you going to tell our review ?

post #445 of 491

Review will be out next week. Mainly a review of SQ and interface elements. So far, I'm pretty impressed. The DAC errs on the detailed side, which is good and the Headphone amp is good but not excellent. Very low noise floor is killer. 

post #446 of 491
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

Review will be out next week. Mainly a review of SQ and interface elements. So far, I'm pretty impressed. The DAC errs on the detailed side, which is good and the Headphone amp is good but not excellent. Very low noise floor is killer. 

Looking forward to reading your take on the Zodiac shigzeo beerchug.gif

post #447 of 491
+1

Edited by daniel_hokkaido - 5/11/13 at 7:04am
post #448 of 491

Should be a go this week. Cheers for the support. Daniel: if you are or were in Hokkaido, will you make any headphone events down here in Osaka and Tokyo?

post #449 of 491

Well, at long last my review is up.


Edited by shigzeo - 2/23/14 at 10:42pm
post #450 of 491

One thing the Zodiac absolutely rocks for is as a source. The analogue outputs at the back are excellent. Very clean, great balance. Even the low pass filter is one of the best I've heard in an outboard/dedicated DAC.

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