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post #61 of 108
Originally Posted by CountChoculaBot View Post
Well, I think the case is that toroidals 'look' beefier, but in reality for whatever reason R-Cores are better technically, so I've heard. The eBay kit said it "upgraded" from a toroidal to an R-Core, so I guess it's better. Unless if they're lying
Fair enough - I am not THAT expert in trafos
post #62 of 108
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Note that the transformer in his pic is MUCH nicer looking than the one in the Chinese OEM kit.
$700 nicer?
post #63 of 108
Originally Posted by IPodPJ View Post
$700 nicer?
C'Mon PJ - you know that's not the only thing he changed

That said, I have no clue whether this DAC is any good or not - won't know until I hear it. I don't know if the OEM board is any good either. So it's all just a bunch of speculation.
post #64 of 108
There is a lengthy thread on diyaudio.com about the Chinese dac kit.
The overall opinion is pretty favorable (but then again they're talking about 100$ worth of DAC, so opinions are relative). Some of the people there expressed some concern regarding the PCB quality (or lack of it) - the copper planes and tracks are not what they should.

I have no idea if Decware has anything to do with that DAC, although there are many similarities between the two.
It would be a first (at least to my knowledge) when an American designer would do something very Chinese (imitate foreign engineering).
There already is a British one - Beresford.

But I'm sure that Decware has higher standards than this.
post #65 of 108
Can't wait to hear this. Hopefully there will be some more units in user hands soon and perhaps another "review" or two.
post #66 of 108
Still all quiet both on my order and on feedback from others who may have the unit now.
post #67 of 108
Well, mine shipped yesterday I think, due to arrive on Friday.
post #68 of 108
#004 arrived a few hours ago.

A nice looking machine. I have the ZBOX that is in the same chassis so both look nice side by side on a maple platform. Impressive "feel" to this, though it's light it feels solid and all connectors are top-notch.

It certainly presents a different presentation than my Sony SCD-XA5400ES player on redbook; I'm able to compare them side by side using the Sony as a transport. Bolder, a bit more dynamic, a bit brighter. It's very early to make any judgments. The general effect is a bit forward at this point. Experience leads me to expect that to diminish somewhat in the next few days.

The voltage output from the ZDAC-1 is a bit lesser than the Sony's which surprised me.

The sound from my cable DVR is distinctly improved via the ZDAC-1. More depth and a wider soundstage. I'm happy about that. That DVR sound is the weakest link in my system and I do like to watch TV through the system.

I only listened for a few minutes to the sound from my Sony BDP-S2000ES player into the ZDAC-1 but it sure did sound good.

So far I'm impressed and happy.

Other components:

Decware Torii Mark III integrated amplifier
Decware/Zeigler "IT Radial" tower speakers
post #69 of 108
Originally Posted by HyperDuel View Post
I know, sometimes simple one-liners get me.

The one thing that I don't like is that I don't think this accepts 48khz. I would love to get a DAC that accepts everything up to 24/96.
really? thats weird,,

i am liking this unit

how does its CS4398 chip compare with a wm 8776 or 8740?

i also like how compact this unit looks
post #70 of 108
I can't help with any personal experience of those chips and their differences. There's a lot of info on the web though.

Yesterday I'd have to say the SCD-XA5400ES won out over the ZDAC by a few hairs. When I'd compare, toggling back and forth with the ZBox, the Sony just had more warmth and more refined sound, a very integrated and clear sound. In comparison the ZDAC had a huge sound that lacked the warmth and coherence of the Sony, to a degree. A fascinating whirlpool of sound though, that was cohering gradually through the day. I'm very impressed that the ZDAC has the same degree of clear and extended tonal balance that I found so distinctive in this Sony player. In this sense, in my opinion, the ZDAC has already surprassed my seasoned ZCD. The ZDAC was shut off over night and is doing very well as it warms up with one of my favorite 'test' discs, the most recent US cd release of John Coltrane's 'Crescent.'

I'm already convinced that the ZDAC is a great machine that will be getting better day by day for a spell. In my opinion the Sony is a powerhouse player that is hard to beat., I'm so glad I took a chance on it. I found an interesting review of a modded version here:


Within the review it mentions:

"The 5400 model is a direct coupled voltage design and with no capacitors in the signal path. We all have been told that the sound of a capacitor should be to have no sound. That has been accomplished here by the process of elimination—there are none in the pathway."

That signal path seems to give it a distinctive sound that really works well with my tastes and system. The SACD output from this player was the first that really excited me, and the redbook output is still my personal referrence sound, the best I've ever had. (It's build quality and frame design have led to this being an excellent transport as well).

Already the ZDAC driven by three sources (immediately improving the sound of two) has shown itself to have a wonderful, detailed, dynamic sound. And it's design is very different than the Sony's analog output stage, with all those capacitors (if I understand correctly; I may be wrong). This illustrates Steve's discoveries that different pathways lead to sonic success. Adding the ZDAC to my system has been a win-win.
post #71 of 108

The ZDAC-1 continues to improve sonically in frequency extremes and focus. One immediate standout is how dynamic this DAC is. 


This morning Sonny Rollins' "Freelance Years" box set from Concord is in play and I'm just grabbed by Rollins and pulled into tracing his musical lines in my mind.  The ZDAC-1 is really bringing the music home.


In comparison to the same material out the Sony SCD-XA5400ES the Sony is warmer and has a more laid back presentation.  The image is behind the speakers and further back, the ZDAC-1 so far presents the music more as if you were close to the stage or control booth.  Not in a fatiguing way.  I find both the Sony and the ZDAC-1 to have nearly grain-free treble and midrange.


I hope someone contributes some headphone listening impressions soon on this thread or elsewhere.  I really can't contribute there. After a few years of wearing headphones frequently while recording and mixing performances and rehearsals of two bands I was a part of, I just don't listen to headphones as a rule. Wore me out. So I can't make comparisons or do more than blindly guess at how the output of the ZDAC-1 would translate through a headphone amp.


I've been listening to three sources via both glass Toslink optical cable and a few coaxial digital cables. Very interesting to compare the sonics of either cable with a source. This DAC will clearly delineate component and cabling changes.

post #72 of 108

Well, seems I'm talking to myself here, so here's my last and latest:


It's been more than two weeks now of heavy use, and the ZDAC-1 probably sounds mostly the way it will from now on.

What a product! For the price I think it's a great deal, so versatile and so faithful to the audio signal. I still love the analog out sound from my Sony SCD-XA5400ES -- that is also a big value product with a distinctive deep sound and in use with a ZDAC-1 is a wonderful transport (I've tried six machines on hands as transports and the 5400 clearly excels).

So though I had really good redbook playback before, the ZDAC-1 has distinctly improved the audio of my Blu-Ray plawyer (while not dramactically, it's improved) and my cable DVR (a BIG and satisfying improvement).

This is the sort of component that will match well with the revealing and rich sound of Decware amps and speakers. With the three input formats, there's a lot of versatility in one chassis. I'm very happy to have #004!

post #73 of 108

Cool!  Nice to know you like it.

post #74 of 108
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post

Cool!  Nice to know you like it.

Me too.   I very rarely if ever hear anything but praise for Steve's products.  I think i will be adding this dac to my list of "some day" equipment.. oh wait.. it was already there ;-)  well now it has a +1 by it :-)

post #75 of 108

Hi Lonson,


I see you signed up to post your impressions of the DAC, as all of your 8 posts so far are just that, in this thread.  Mind if you tell us what prompted you to do this, and your association with Decware, if any?  

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