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Fostex TH900 Impressions & Discussion Thread - Page 172

post #2566 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic View Post

Now that I have enough budget, I am seriously considering purchasing the Zana Deux SE for my TH900. From what people have said, it seems like one of, not the best headphone amp for the TH900 with exceptional clarity and an expansive soundstage, sounding more like an ideal solid state albeit being an OTL tube amp with unbelievably low output impedance to drive this low impedance headphone effortlessly.

 

Could anyone elaborate on their thoughts? This would probably be the end-game for me so I need to choose carefully.

 

My opinion:

 

What you said sums it up.

Shines in clarity and detail, very dynamic sound and the most expansive soundstage I heard from any HPA. If PRAT does exist then this amp got loads of it. It doesn't sound like the stereotype idea of a tube amp at all and it does sound like what you would imagine a top SS amp would sound after reading raving reviews of the best among them if that comparison makes any sense to you.

 

I had the Zana a D7000, LA7000 and various AT's, all as sensitive low impedance cans as they get.

It wasn't the best amp for the D7000, it was my best amp period.

By the book you need to put it on the low impedance setting, choosing high only makes it louder but the amp stays as clean as on the low impedance setting. You'll be playing loud with this amp, trust me.

 

Comparing it to a SS amp feels like comparing my stereo speakers driven by my Marantz PM-KI Pearl vs. the speakers B output of my Pioneer surround receiver to me. Gone dynamics, flat sound, no life. In case of a SS HPA vs. the Zana it's not that bad as with the speaker amps but you get the idea. I felt like a lot was missing when switching from the Zana to my SS amps. 

 

If you have the chance to do so try before you buy though, that's always best.

In any case TH900 + Zana is what I would consider endgame. 

post #2567 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Capturing the pattern in the wood in these cans is hard. The following was a quick hand-held effort.

 

400400400400

400 400

 

Very nice. :)

post #2568 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleheadMay View Post

 

My opinion:

 

What you said sums it up.

Shines in clarity and detail, very dynamic sound and the most expansive soundstage I heard from any HPA. If PRAT does exist then this amp got loads of it. It doesn't sound like the stereotype idea of a tube amp at all and it does sound like what you would imagine a top SS amp would sound after reading raving reviews of the best among them if that comparison makes any sense to you.

 

I had the Zana a D7000, LA7000 and various AT's, all as sensitive low impedance cans as they get.

It wasn't the best amp for the D7000, it was my best amp period.

By the book you need to put it on the low impedance setting, choosing high only makes it louder but the amp stays as clean as on the low impedance setting. You'll be playing loud with this amp, trust me.

 

Comparing it to a SS amp feels like comparing my stereo speakers driven by my Marantz PM-KI Pearl vs. the speakers B output of my Pioneer surround receiver to me. Gone dynamics, flat sound, no life. In case of a SS HPA vs. the Zana it's not that bad as with the speaker amps but you get the idea. I felt like a lot was missing when switching from the Zana to my SS amps. 

 

If you have the chance to do so try before you buy though, that's always best.

In any case TH900 + Zana is what I would consider endgame. 

 

Thank you for your valuable feedback! Since I'm throwing in huge bucks for this, I hope it's worth every penny!

 

I was planning to use my TH900 on low gain setting anyway; the output impedance is 3 ohm at low gain, at which the damping factor becomes 25/3 which is higher than 8. There's an interesting article at Headfonia that recommends the use of low gain over high gain, and I've been listening to the Soloist on the low gain setting for the best results.

 

By the way, did you order the Penny & Giles volume control upgrade for your ZDSE, or was it the stock Alps potentiometer?

post #2569 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Capturing the pattern in the wood in these cans is hard. The following was a quick hand-held effort.

 

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

400400400400

400 400

 

 

Gorgeous! It's true that it's very difficult to capture the beauty of it in person because of the shiny uruishi 

post #2570 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic View Post

 

Thank you for your valuable feedback! Since I'm throwing in huge bucks for this, I hope it's worth every penny!

 

I was planning to use my TH900 on low gain setting anyway; the output impedance is 3 ohm at low gain, at which the damping factor becomes 25/3 which is higher than 8. There's an interesting article at Headfonia that recommends the use of low gain over high gain, and I've been listening to the Soloist on the low gain setting for the best results.

 

By the way, did you order the Penny & Giles volume control upgrade for your ZDSE, or was it the stock Alps potentiometer?

Stock. The P&G pot would have taken 8 more weeks and according to Craig it wasn't worth the extra money, the Alps pot does just as well.

When I buy the Zana again I will go for a stepped attenuator this time around though. That's the only thing I would change.

I would get a balanced one again as well, according to Craig it "takes the Zana to a whole new level" but I just do it for convenience: connect the Dac via XLR to the Zana and via RCA to my Marantz Pearl amp.

post #2571 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtim6 View Post

There's a pretty interesting TH900 review at:
http://noblehifi.blogspot.com.au/


The reviewer's impressions are very similar to my own, including the comparisons with the HD800, D7000 and PS1000.

post #2572 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleheadMay View Post

Stock. The P&G pot would have taken 8 more weeks and according to Craig it wasn't worth the extra money, the Alps pot does just as well.

When I buy the Zana again I will go for a stepped attenuator this time around though. That's the only thing I would change.

I would get a balanced one again as well, according to Craig it "takes the Zana to a whole new level" but I just do it for convenience: connect the Dac via XLR to the Zana and via RCA to my Marantz Pearl amp.

 

Why would you go for a stepped attenuator if you were to buy the Zana again? Neither P&G pot nor the stock Alps pot is a stepped attenuator? Does Craig even offer an option for a stepped attenuator?

 

My Burson Soloist's stock volume control is a stepped attenuator too, but it makes these popping noises when I turn the volume. I'm not sure if a stepped attenuator would offer substantial sonic advantage compared to regular ones, though.

 

By balanced ZDSE, you mean balanced inputs, not balanced headphone outputs? I only have a single DAC that has RCA outputs only, so I guess I don't need balanced inputs for my ZDSE.

 

Again, I'm not sure if having using balanced inputs for your headphone amp would make a huge improvement if the headphone output is still single-ended anyway; it won't be a fully balanced configuration from input to output.

post #2573 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic View Post

 

Why would you go for a stepped attenuator if you were to buy the Zana again? Neither P&G pot nor the stock Alps pot is a stepped attenuator? Does Craig even offer an option for a stepped attenuator?

 

My Burson Soloist's stock volume control is a stepped attenuator too, but it makes these popping noises when I turn the volume. I'm not sure if a stepped attenuator would offer substantial sonic advantage compared to regular ones, though.

 

By balanced ZDSE, you mean balanced inputs, not balanced headphone outputs? I only have a single DAC that has RCA outputs only, so I guess I don't need balanced inputs for my ZDSE.

 

Again, I'm not sure if having using balanced inputs for your headphone amp would make a huge improvement if the headphone output is still single-ended anyway; it won't be a fully balanced configuration from input to output.

 

I had problems with the first Alps pot, a bit scratchy when dialed up slowly from 0 to 2, so Craig put in a new one for me.

Stepped ones shouldn't have that but now I read you had a different experience I might reconsider.

And yes, Craig can put in a stepped one, he does custom jobs.

 

I mean balanced inputs, yes. True balanced ones with separate input transfos, not just connectors and putting the ground together with one of the poles or whatever.

In your case you won't need them and I didn't only get them for convience sake as I said.

Craig claimed a nice improvement though.

I'm not interested in using balanced phones so no need for balanced from input to output for me.

Some pics. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by unspool View Post


The reviewer's impressions are very similar to my own, including the comparisons with the HD800, D7000 and PS1000.

 

Good to know, makes the read all the more interesting, thanks.

post #2574 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleheadMay View Post

 

I had problems with the first Alps pot, a bit scratchy when dialed up slowly from 0 to 2, so Craig put in a new one for me.

Stepped ones shouldn't have that but now I read you had a different experience I might reconsider.

And yes, Craig can put in a stepped one, he does custom jobs.

 

I mean balanced inputs, yes. True balanced ones with separate input transfos, not just connectors and putting the ground together with one of the poles or whatever.

In your case you won't need them and I didn't only get them for convience sake as I said.

Craig claimed a nice improvement though.

I'm not interested in using balanced phones so no need for balanced from input to output for me.

Some pics. 

 

 

Good to know, makes the read all the more interesting, thanks.

 

I was considering the P&G pot, but seeing as to how Craig said it's not worth the money and would significantly delay the lead time, I decided to choose the stock Alps pot. Thanks for the input!

 

Say, how would you rate the ZDSE's performance as a preamp? I know its primary use is headphone amp, but it still does have preamp functionality. My Burson Soloist and Schiit Lyr are like that too, and while the Schiit Lyr is mediocre at best when it comes to preamp, the Soloist does a surprisingly great job as a preamp as it does as a headphone amp. Considering the ZDSE's price tag of $2,200, do you think it makes a decent preamp as well as a headphone amp?

 

Also, have you tried tube rolling with the ZDSE? Were there any replacement tubes that improved sound quality over the stock 6SL7 tube?

Lastly, as the ZDSE is an OTL tube amp, were there any microphonics?

post #2575 of 8487

Hello headphiners

Im planning to buy 2nd hand Fostex - th900 from akiba store and modding it with  3.5 viablue jack. Any one experienced modding th900 before ?  

 

How to soldering the 7OFC cable without any loss in purity ?  

 Good idea to   remove  L/R coating acrylic with flame ?

How much soldering temp preferred ?     

 

the reason to mod :   1/4 jack is too big and not suit for my daily usage. (portable with MBP / Astell & kern) / 3m cable its too long .

 

Problem i worried the most : Will it critically degrade the sound ?   

 

wish for help. thanks

post #2576 of 8487

I don't know if it will still delay the lead time, that was back then when I bought it. He might as well have them on stock now so you can still decide. Ask Craig for his opinion as well, you'd want your endagme amp exactly as you like it and a few hundred bucks more or less on a price like that doesn't matter anymore then I'd say.

 

Never used it as a preamp so I can't help you with that. I like the sound sig of both my Marantz integrated amps a lot combined with B&W speakers.

I'd expect the Zana to impart at least some of it's flavor when used as a preamp with only the power amp part of the Marantz used though so next time I'll make sure to give it a try. I probably won't leaeave it connected like that all the time though since I'm pretty paranoid about ground loops. The fewer connections the better for me.

 

Yep, I did. The stock tube is pretty good though, clear and open sound.. The tubes I liked best were a Standard Radio and a black glass VT-229 Tung-Sol. Next time I'll be trying a 6SU7.

 

I didn't have any problems with microphonics. If your tubes are good and you place the amp well isolated you shouldn't have any, right?

And tube isolation for a headphone amp is pretty useless if you ask me, the phones drivers aren't gonna make the room shake. With speakers it gets much more important to dampen your tubes and the amp.

post #2577 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleheadMay View Post

 

It doesn't sound like the stereotype idea of a tube amp at all and it does sound like what you would imagine a top SS amp would sound after reading raving reviews of the best among them if that comparison makes any sense to you.

 

 

Comparing it to a SS amp feels like comparing my stereo speakers driven by my Marantz PM-KI Pearl vs. the speakers B output of my Pioneer surround receiver to me. Gone dynamics, flat sound, no life. In case of a SS HPA vs. the Zana it's not that bad as with the speaker amps but you get the idea. I felt like a lot was missing when switching from the Zana to my SS amps. 

 

 

Kinda confused here.

 

You say is sounds like what a top SS amp would. 

 

Then

 

 I felt like a lot was missing when switching from the Zana to my SS amps.

 

Is this because you don't consider your SS amps top?

 

Also, are these made to order or are they made on runs?  Do you have the option to have a balanced output instead of a SE output?

post #2578 of 8487

No, I didn't say like what a top SS amp sounds like or would sound like, I said like what you would imagine a top SS amp to sound like after reading a bunch of raving reviews about them. Quite a huge difference there.

 

I think I had a few of the best SS amps out there, so they were top for SS amps.

 

Made to order. I don't think Craig will want to make it with a balanced output, he'll point you to his BA amp instead I can imagine.


Edited by AppleheadMay - 12/9/12 at 7:49am
post #2579 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleheadMay View Post

No, I didn't say like what a top SS amp sounds like or would sound like, I said like what you would imagine a top SS amp to sound like after reading a bunch of raving reviews about them. Quite a huge difference there.

 

I think I had a few of the best SS amps out there, so they were top for SS amps.

 

Made to order. I don't think Craig will want to make it with a balanced output, he'll point you to his BA amp instead I can imagine.

 

 

Gotcha..  Makes sense...

post #2580 of 8487
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoBDylan View Post

Hello headphiners

Im planning to buy 2nd hand Fostex - th900 from akiba store and modding it with  3.5 viablue jack. Any one experienced modding th900 before ?  

 

How to soldering the 7OFC cable without any loss in purity ?  

 Good idea to   remove  L/R coating acrylic with flame ?

How much soldering temp preferred ?     

 

the reason to mod :   1/4 jack is too big and not suit for my daily usage. (portable with MBP / Astell & kern) / 3m cable its too long .

 

Problem i worried the most : Will it critically degrade the sound ?   

 

wish for help. thanks

 

I'm guessing you're buying it from e-earphone then. Then you should talk to the staff there. They have DIY parts and sell some special audio solder too - I don't know if it really works or not or if it's just snake oil, but just FYI. It's a pity to see you snip off that 1/4" plug though. It's nicely finished. If I were to mod my TH-900, I'd rather switch to balance.

 

Using it with the AK100 and MBP - i.e. portable or home use? They don't isolate well...I've tried using my TH-900 in Starbucks and you're not going to make the most out of it. Also note the AK100's 22 ohm headphone out impedance.

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