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post #91 of 108

Bravo Lonson, an actual opinion on experience. Some members here base their opinions on what they read on the net and not by experience. I'm not one of those people.

post #92 of 108

The issue actually is how much of the base unit is an outsourced  ready made (low cost) circuit that is generally available in nearly the same config from HK/China vs the Decware variant (at nearly 3X the cost). Having seen many a DAC board over the past 3 years from HK.China (since I began DIY'ong my own low cost DAC's) this current trend from recognized Western manufacturers to OEM a unit with an offshore ready to slip into chassis A B or C kit has become a popular way of doing things (with low end gear by Western pricing standards). What was being questioned (before the internal pics were pulled here and at Steve's website) was how much of this DAC is actually Decware and how much of it is off the shelf low cost DIY kit based product with few changes (key or meaningless, yet to be determined).....


It was a legit question then just as it still is now. Please note that no one has mentioned anything about it's SQ WRT "the question" but rather if it's any different from it's kit based cousin. I'm not casting any doubt over the DAC...in fact some of the kit dac's perform very very well with modifications and I bet Steve has recognized this fact and put his mind to releasing this "tweaked" unit. How the Decware performs next to the standard kit version...well...


That is the million dollar question.



post #93 of 108

About Lonson: We know who he is, so there's no drama now. Some people too might describe me in the same way when I discuss a certain company's products which I own a few of. Anyway, it would be interesting to get his impressions on the DAC, though hopefully he can compare it to other gear when he does so.

post #94 of 108

I've given my impressions on the ZDAC-1. I'm not going to be buying any other DACs to compare it to in the near future, I'm done buying right now. This DAC is giving me great sound on all three of my sources.  If I were to decide to improve the sound on my sources in my bedroom system, I'd buy another ZDAC-1. That's how impressed and satisfied I am with this machine and with the Decware product line in general, from over a dozen years of heavy use. (Music playback is what I do, followed by video sources, I spend a lot more time listening than many).  



Perhaps the biggest part of DAC sound is how the chipset is powered and how the analog output sage is built and voiced. Steve has incorporated a LARGE power supply and a very carefully put together output stage, including a buffer, that results in full and dynamic sound. I think it likely differs in many ways from other kits made from these sourced parts, and Steve's attention to vibration control and rugged chassis etc. also pay off. If he were to build the input board from scratch, it would cost more for possibly no real gain.  I know he inspects each board he gets carefully to see that it's what he ordered and the quality he paid for. 


For me, the proof is in the sound, this machine sounds like a Decware product, which to me is a very good thing. Sure, I'd love to have an even better DAC, one with another coaxial or Toslink input for example, a tubed preamp stage, and additional analog ins, and probably a headphone stage in case I ever have to or wish to return to headphone listening.  But I can't afford what that would cost, and I think past the quality stage of the ZDAC-1 I'd likely encounter some diminishing sonic returns for the money. I'm very much enjoying the sound of this DAC and am very satisfied with the quality of all aspects of build and design. It's not going back, it's passed its probation period with me.  It's sitting in a revealing system and really putting out music. It's on par with the playback I get from my Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD player, which is a product benchmark for me, the best digital sound I'd encountered in my home until this machine was introduced into the system. (Well okay, I think with most materials it may excel over the Sony's redbook playback a bit, the SACD playback on the Sony is still just the best I've heard in my home).  Great sound at this price point.


Here's hoping others with experience with the ZDAC-1 will weigh in. Here's a link to a review by another long-time Decware owner:




Have a great week.

Edited by Lonson - 5/27/10 at 9:48am
post #95 of 108

A 10K Zanden ? C'mon.



post #96 of 108

I believe him. He's talked about it over the last few years, and others have reported visiting him there.


I'm sure the Zanden sounded better. But over 9 thousand more. how much better?

post #97 of 108

post #98 of 108
Originally Posted by Lil' Knight View Post

Originally Posted by purrin View Post
I think it's absolutely horrible that the manufacturer in China decided to "borrow" Steve's design and offer their own "version" of it at $120.00 on Ebay after mass producing tens of thousands of copies.
The Chinese DAC has been on eBay for a long time, before the Decware is announced. Not sure what you meant here.


According to Steve from http://www.decware.com/newsite/paper151.html

"NOTE TO D.I.Y. guys:

The company we use in China to produce the boards for our DAC is also producing their own version of it and selling it on eBay.  Admittedly this gave me great pause for obvious reasons..."

post #99 of 108

That's interesting info.  Never thought about the need to protect the design sent out for manufacture by encoding the schematics with multiple errors that can then be corrected in house.  Since it's probably too hard (cost, effort, etc.) legally to stop this, the practice certainly makes sense.  It's the price you pay for balancing cost against performance.

post #100 of 108

In so many ways, each day now is a new frontier!


I'm continuing to enjoy this great DAC. I'm listening to an AIR cd right now and the percussion is so FAST!

post #101 of 108
Originally Posted by Lonson View Post

In so many ways, each day now is a new frontier!


I'm continuing to enjoy this great DAC. I'm listening to an AIR cd right now and the percussion is so FAST!

Cost shipped to you . . $900. What if each day now is not a new frontier? The 30 day return policy refunds your money less 10% for "restocking" and you pay shipping both ways. Total audition cost about $140 (more if you're nearer an ocean). Not exactly a low risk trial, in my view. YMMV.

Edited by julius_the_cat - 6/1/10 at 2:13pm
post #102 of 108

I can see that.  It's a very low risk for me, because since 1997 I've had Decware products in my home and I know their build quality and their value. 


I don't expect any component to be new every day forever. . . . This long weekend past the DAC did move forward into a new level of great sound. The top end opened up and the bass became a bit more pronounced. I'm really enjoying it, that's all I can say. . . . I don't think I'm unique or anything, I can understand that there's a risk.  In my case I don't even think of it as Decware products have a history with me and are my first audition if I'm in need of something new.


Edit to add:  newly listed Operator's Manual for ZDAC-1: http://www.decware.com/newsite/ZDAC1ownersmanual.pdf

Edited by Lonson - 6/2/10 at 7:08am
post #103 of 108
Originally Posted by Lonson View Post


Edit to add:  newly listed Operator's Manual for ZDAC-1: http://www.decware.com/newsite/ZDAC1ownersmanual.pdf

For those interested (myself included), the manual has an image of the internals. Looks like the entire board, caps and all, were coated in some coating. Presumably to reduce vibrations.


Compare these with the ones on ebay (search for Gigawork DAC) and come to your own conclusion.


I'm sure that QC with Steve is alot better than the OEM seller (Ian Ma).

I picked up a cased version of the Gigawork DAC. And it stopped working after two days. I had to send it back. It was a loose connection somewhere. It came back with a bonus (PCM1738 card).


Sadly, I haven't had a chance to test it since I've been travelling. 

I'm going to catch up on impresson

post #104 of 108
Originally Posted by Lonson View Post

There is the low res version of the internal guts of the ZDAC-1 on this page in the Decware forums:

Forums - The DECWARE ZEN DAC-1 is HERE!

I have one on order. I've been buying Decware components since 1998. Yes, this may not be "anything special" in some ways, but I do know that Steve has been working for years on a digital front end that he's proud of and I want to hear this. The attention to vibration isolation, buffering the signal and amplifying the signal should yield very accurate and listenable sound.

PPS: This version of the internals are from the 'older' version of the Chinese Gigawork OEM model.


The newer version (as pictured in the ZDAC manual) features the newer blue board and r-core trafo instead of the toroid as pictured above.


Again, the ebay listing shows the old and new versions.

post #105 of 108

Looks like they coated the entire board and circuitry with something, maybe to absorb micro-vibrations.  Pity there's no chance I'll get to audition one, it would be interesting.

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