Massdrop x Eddie Current ZDT Jr. impressions thread
Jul 27, 2018 at 3:39 PM Post #47 of 129

Dnguyen926

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it never got close to 375 units sold. I had one on order but cancelled after a month.
It was $430 with shipping, but the thing is the drop was last fall, and I paid in Nov, 8 months ago.

Drop was for 375 units, but I don't think it sold out, I don't remember how many were actually sold.
I would expect some units to show up for sale in the near future.

Thank you, guess ill be subscribing and keeping an eye out on this thread. Hope they don't drop it around october though :\ Also anticipating the Cavalli Liquid Platinum from monoprice.
 
Jul 29, 2018 at 2:30 PM Post #49 of 129

givemetacos

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Seems like quite a few cancelled, so maybe Massdrop will offer them after they finish this drop?

Yeah looking back at my very first e-mail update from MD on this they said "you and 226 others..." so that is pretty specific that they sold 227 of these in that drop. And I agree that I wouldn't be surprised if something like 10-20% of those orders got cancelled. But since the production time of these was so long I also wonder if some of those orders got cancelled before even being built? Based on the hassle this drop seemed to be for MD and the lackluster response to it I also wouldn't be surprised if this was a one and done drop and these 227 units that got made are it.
 
Oct 13, 2018 at 12:24 AM Post #50 of 129

JNKM

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Haven't seen too many impressions of the ZDT Jr. after the last round of deliveries, so I thought I'd share my two cents, for what it's worth.

Well, after spending some time with this amp, it ultimately wasn't to my tastes. Even if I were to ignore the humming issue, which my unit was not immune to, I just could not get used to the way it sounded -- with both of my headphones (Atticus and HD650) -- and this is with the better GE tubes (JAN 5654W). Perhaps it was a synergy issue or perhaps it just didn't match my personal sound preferences, but long story short, my issues with the sound, as I heard it, were essentially two-fold: (1) the overly forward/aggressive presentation of the upper-mids/lower-treble and (2) the narrow/compressed staging.

With regard to (1), I did most of my listening with the Atticus, which is already relaxed in the treble (though mid-forward). I found most modern music tracks (pop, rock, EDM, etc.) to be too strident and piercing in the upper-mid/lower-treble regions. This meant that oftentimes, for example, female vocals were uncomfortably right up in your face or shouting in your ears. It also meant giving the sound a kind of painful brightness that was completely unexpected/uncharacteristic of the usually toasty warm (if not dark) Atticus. (I suppose this could work better for classical or folk genres [not sure about jazz], but those are further afield from my preferred music.) Perhaps this was an issue of synergy with my headphones, or perhaps I'm simply very sensitive to these regions, but I just couldn't get on board with the way it diverged from my sound preferences.

With regard to (2), I found the staging to be narrow and cramped, if not claustrophobic. Instruments and vocals often competed for the same sonic space, and layering was not particularly strong. Perhaps this amp required a much longer burn-in time than I gave it, but I'm skeptical as to how much more the stage could open up from its baseline, and honestly, I wasn't that interested in finding out.

I found my Valhalla 2 (especially with the Tung-Sol 2C51 tubes) to be a much better match for the Atticus (as well as the HD650). I thought the Western Electric 396A tubes to work well for the HD650, which brought a nice warmth and increased resolution to the mid-range, but I found it to be too much (too forward) for the already mid-forward Atticus. The Tung-Sol 2C51s push the centered vocalist back a step (the slightest U-shape, at least compared to the WE 396As), which balances out the Atticus' frequency response and stage nicely. Going from the ZDT Jr. to the V2, the V2 might seem like it has a "veil" since the upper-mids/lower-treble are stepped back slightly, giving it a sense that vocals and upper-register instruments are overly smoothed and coming at you from behind a clear glass window. But I actually prefer this smoothness since it makes for a much more pleasant listening experience, though it can be said that the ZDT Jr. has a faster, more dynamic, "livelier" midrange overall. Finally, the more balanced/smoothed/warmed up presentation of the V2 also gives the bass more weight as well, at least relative to the ZDT Jr., which might have bass quality, but it was hard to evaluate more thoroughly since the upper registers overwhelmed it in quantity.

I also prefer the staging on V2: I hear significantly more space between instruments and between vocals, which makes for a much more enveloping soundscape and "realistic" (read: "live") presentation of the music. After hearing music presented like this, it's hard to go back to a narrower, more confined stage. In the end, the wider soundstage coupled with the mellower tonal balance is just so much more relaxing to listen to, whereas with the ZDT Jr., I felt like I was bracing myself the whole time I was listening to it.

All in all, it was an illuminating experience to hear the ZDT Jr., and I'm glad I was able to hear it, especially since I have limited exposure to high-end personal audio. I do hope Massdrop gets hum-gate solved, if only so that more people get a chance to hear this amp!
 
Jan 26, 2019 at 1:42 PM Post #51 of 129

ShredOhr

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Hello, i find it very stange that on head-fi the discussion about the ZDT Jr. is as good as dead. Nobody talks about it like it was a failed product or some sort for niche product no one cares about. I know the amp is based on the Laconic Night Blues Mini that is already some years old but still to this day nobody can deny that this amp has a very good price/performance-ratio. More so if you want to tame the HD800 peaks. This amp extends very well in the highs and tames the peaks of the HD800 a bit so it makes for a good synnergy.

I feel that the last poster is a bit harsh about the ZDT and i cannot fully agree with everything. I mean, i am having the ZDT myself and i dont find the staging claustrophobic at all. Everything is wery well presented and i dont feel like something is off.
Of course this amp does not have the last word on bass impact and tightness, imaging and separation but for the asking price of 399$ it is still a very solid deal. I feel that the tonality stands out more as difference between the Valhalla 2 than their technicalities.

Whereas the V2 is more laid back and has more bassy presentation, the ZDT aims for transparency. The tonality of the DAC is more apparent with the ZDT as it does not color the music that much and tries to stay neutral.
So my honest opinion is that for 400$ the ZDT is a great choice if someone likes transparent amplifiers. For more bass slam you probably want to go with a Schiit amp. But i have still not used the suggested WE tubes with the ZDT which apparently improve on bass delivery....

For info, i am using the ZDT with the good ol' Sennheiser HD545 Reference. They are not laid back like the HD650 and i would guess that the tonality is leaning more to the HD600.
With the 545 the sound is revealing, dynamic, lively but not bright at all. Highs seem smooth enough, mids have the sweetness i need. Mids are not too forward and intimate like with the 650 and soundstage is bigger. Yeah, Sennheisers are not known for bass impact but i improved it with the Dekoni sheep skin pads. Not sure if i should have went with the perforated Dekonis to make the sound "breath" a bit more....
 
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Jul 3, 2019 at 12:13 AM Post #52 of 129

Wheel Hoss

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Mine is on the way. Ordered GE Drivers, too.

This will be my first tube amp since buying a Fender Twin Reverb about 27 years ago.

Pretty hyped. So is my Atticus. I can tell we have never really understood each other. Eddie Current is about to do some couples’ therapy.
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 3:21 AM Post #53 of 129

robert766

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I ordered a ZDT jr too. I read on a different forum how they fixed the hum issue on the latest batch of amps at least. Very encouraging.

Will be my first tube amp and I'm pretty excited to try it out. I think I'll give it some time before trying different tubes.I wouldn't even know where to start and order tubes anyway.
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 9:51 AM Post #54 of 129

JNKM

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Mine is on the way. Ordered GE Drivers, too.

This will be my first tube amp since buying a Fender Twin Reverb about 27 years ago.

Pretty hyped. So is my Atticus. I can tell we have never really understood each other. Eddie Current is about to do some couples’ therapy.

I’ve been curious to hear what others think about this amp, especially with the Atticus. It wasn’t to my taste, as I shared above, turning the Atticus into something rather unrecognizable to me, and I much preferred the Valhalla 2 pairing, and now, the Lyr 3 even more.

But based on all the great commentary around this amp, it must be much better than what I heard, which makes me wonder if I had a defective or anomalous unit... Maybe one day I’ll get to hear it again. But in the meantime, I hope the experience works out well for everyone in the new drop!
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 11:00 AM Post #55 of 129

Wheel Hoss

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I’ve been curious to hear what others think about this amp, especially with the Atticus. It wasn’t to my taste, as I shared above, turning the Atticus into something rather unrecognizable to me, and I much preferred the Valhalla 2 pairing, and now, the Lyr 3 even more.

But based on all the great commentary around this amp, it must be much better than what I heard, which makes me wonder if I had a defective or anomalous unit... Maybe one day I’ll get to hear it again. But in the meantime, I hope the experience works out well for everyone in the new drop!

I’m convinced so much of the disparity in regards to synergy comes from variations in taste in music. I listen to very specific music with very little bass and super mid focused. So what the Atticus sounds like to me most of the time might be very different from you.

Bottom line is Zach recommended this amp to me directly and steered me away from The Valhalla. And every recommendation he has made has been correct.
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 2:08 PM Post #56 of 129

Wheel Hoss

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Everyone is recommending GE drivers. Our resident tube guru @Wes S has different thoughts:

“Honestly, I have read all the info in regards, to the EC Jr. amp, and the ‘heavy hitters,’ don't really seem like avid tube rollers to me. On all the major tube rolling threads, and tube roller post, there is a theme in regards to GE tubes. The theme is, you could not pay me, to put them in my amp.:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Some amps do just jive better with some of the lesser tubes, however those situations are usually trying to fix an issue with the frequency response, where the lesser tube's and lesser amp's issues, offset each other. In a good neutral and clean sounding tube amp, the better tubes will shine. I have found that Mullard, are my favorite, followed by Brimar. Western Electric tubes are also always killer, and that is why I suggested those tubes. The 6AK5, is the driver tube for that amp, and there are not that many to choose from, but I would start with Mullard, if it were me.”
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 2:49 PM Post #57 of 129

robert766

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Buy a tube amp they said, it will be fun they said

I found a review of this particular tube in an old thread here on head-fi.

3.7 GE JAN5654W

These military spec tubes really have a sense of quality construction about them. The first thing I noticed about these tubes when they arrived is just how neat and solid its internals look. Their sound doesn’t disappoint either with incredibly good treble extension, clarity and quietness that reminds me of the GE 5 Star tubes reviewed above. Its upfront sound is in keeping with the GE family sound, violins sounded desperately beautiful with these tubes. In the bass department, PRAT and OOMPH are the first adjectives that come to mind. Compared to the Mullard M8100, these tubes are airier and their bass not as soupy. These tubes also have exceptionally clean vocal and lends itself well to modern jazz recordings such as Eva Cassidy’s “Live at Blues Valley” where the reverb of the room is clearly audible.
Bass: 19
Mid: 19
Treble: 20
Detail: 18
Soundstage: 17
Total: 93/100
I'm having trouble find matched pairs of these tubes in Europe so far.
 
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Jul 5, 2019 at 6:31 PM Post #58 of 129

Wheel Hoss

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From the official discussion:

“For your third question, all of the units being sold now were produced in the same batch as the units that were originally sold. All of the units were sent to a technician to apply the fix which is why it has taken so long for the ZDT Jr. to be back up for sale.”

Glad I waited!
 
Jul 6, 2019 at 4:57 PM Post #59 of 129

Wheel Hoss

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C458875F-16F3-4BCA-B5F4-719F609E1EA8.jpeg
Bad boy is legit. Detailed impressions in the Atticus thread to come.
 
Jul 6, 2019 at 8:19 PM Post #60 of 129

kdoof

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Got one of these open-box from Blinq which arrived today. No hum yet! Which is a relief. Obviously still in the tube burn-in period but so far my impressions are:

Hd800’s: Excellent. The imaging of the ZDT Jr really compliments 800’s massive soundstage and makes for a really compelling listen. Highs are a bit harsh still but which will probably be mitigated by burn in.

ZMF Ori’s: screwing amazing. These are my go-to for when I want some thump and this combo delivers. Surprisingly out of the high impedance output it sounded not great, kind of chaotic, but from the low impedance output there’s some incredible synergy. Midbass bucks like a bronco, bass extension is phenomenal. The high end is a tad recessed but not detrimentally so, and naturally this can change. Not what I expected since inefficient planars are not considered this amps bread and butter but I assure you, it was an experience.

HD600/650’s: Surprisingly, not my favorite pairing so far. The 600’s are my jazz babies and so I played some Chet Baker tunes and it all sounded more anemic than via my Asgard or CTH of ole, and I wasn’t crazy about what this did for the timbre, which was surprising since...tubes. Overall the ZDT Jr is not as wet and tubey as I was expecting anyway, at least via the high output. The 650s I tend to use for more lo-fi indie rock type stuff, like Pile or Modest Mouse, and I similarly wasn’t crazy about the pairing. Maybe it’s the new tubes but the highs are not particularly refined and that seems to bleed down into the mids a touch. Songs where the vocals are maybe more prominent or more ‘mic’-y in their production are overwhelmed by the vocals via the ZDT Jr... but, again, it’s brand new, only a few hours in.

I overall like it but I think I was hoping for an even wetter sound a la some ampsandsounds stuff I’ve heard before. I’m hoping the highs will mellow out a bit and maybe provide a less harsh, more syrupy tone as the tubes mature, but part of me also just wants to return this and go with a Liquid Platinum and be done with it already. I have a 789 incoming but am getting impatient and kind of fed up with my Asgard 2’s shoutiness.
 

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