Massdrop x Eddie Current ZDT Jr. (Official Thread)

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Hands, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. Sanjeev Jain

    Sanjeev Jain Acquaintance

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    @StageOne

    I got my VOSKHOD rear driver tubes from this listing on eBay
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/6N24P-lot-4-pcs-6FC7-ECC89-Double-Triode-USSR-VOSKHOD-NEW-NOS/183854893732
    It took some time for them to arrive from Russia.

    My ZDT Jr. was having a considerable buzz on one of the channels. Based on all discussions around hum and buzz for this amp, initially I thought it's a shielding issue around transformers. So I got the steel roll from zampotech and shielded all the 3 transformers. When re-assembled, the same buzz was there.

    Just for the heck of it I flipped the position of the rear driver tubes and the buzz switched to another channel. So figured it was due to one of the bad driver tubes in rear.

    I got the replacement tubes from the listing I mentioned above.

    Also tried GE 6AK5W and Raytheon 6AK5W tubes in the front and vastly prefers GE 6AK5W as compared to others. It has more fuller body to the music as compared to Raytheons and the stock tubes.

    Hope this could help.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  2. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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  3. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Poopsmith

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    The ZDT Jr was always an amp that I was always really curious about. Seemed to receive quite the high praise, but initially I wrote it off a bit because back then I listened primarily to power-hungry planars. Now though, most of my headphones are dynamics, so when the loaner was recovered curiosity won and I decided to take a serious listen.

    The tiny tubes in the front aren't the stock tubes (I think these are the JAN 5654W tubes), but the back tubes look to be stock. I haven't rolled the other stock Russian tubes (I haven't had any urge because it sounds fantastic in the state it came in the mail). Also, impressions below use high Z output; I tried the low Z, but it just didn't sound as good (it seemed dynamically a bit flat and kind of boring. Don't know why this is).

    It sounds mostly neutral really, tilted towards the warm side with a hint of lushness and wetness in the tone. Honestly a really nice sound; it just doesn't stage super huge, nor does it seem o help with imaging performance. Not the kind of sound you get if you want super grippy bass, or need the kind of drive and power to grip headphone drivers by the scrotum, or want something neutral and more analytical. But as someone who likes this kind of presentation (heck, I love the DNA prototype), it's fantastic.

    Headphone Pairings:

    • Focal Clear: Mega-like. Honestly it reminded me of the Euforia in a lot of ways, and while I still think the Clear + Euforia is still better and suits my tastes more, the ZDT Jr comes really, really close and has a slightly different presentation. In comparison to the Euforia, the ZDT is more neutral and seems to have more shimmer in the highs, whereas the Euforia is bloomier and more tubey, but has incredible midrange and bass timbre and does a better job with stage and imaging (still not amazing in this regard). Both Euforia and ZDT Jr do a lot to flesh out the Clear's sound and fix my main complaints about it, with the Euforia just being a little bit better in most ways (maybe I'm biased because I own this Euforia and want it to be better, so grain of salt warning).
    • Sennheiser HD 6XX (stock): This is where I really felt the Euforia was superior. Still good, still retains all of the qualities above, but the ZDT Jr really does make the HD 6XX feel three-blob in stage. Doesn't really do too many favors to the bass (sounds bloated). The Euforia is just better here top-to-bottom.
    • ZMF Auteur (Auteur Lambskin pads): Leans on the side of being too much of a good thing; a bit too rich for my blood. The DNA prototype is just flat-out better in every way with this pairing. That being said, it's certainly a fun listen; just does seem a touch veiled and overly rich. I felt this way about Auteur + Euforia, except the Euforia didn't really seem veiled for some reason.
    • AKG K7XX: Surprise, surprise, actually not bad! Doesn't do anything to help imaging, but warms up the K7XX's tone nicely and somewhat reigns in its almost aloof airy personality. This is puzzling to me since the Euforia was just awful with the K7XX. Also puzzling is that the DNA prototype seems to pair better on its low Z output despite the ZDT Jr being the thicker-sounding and warmer-sounding amp (my guess is that this is related to the DNA's ability to layer sounds like crazy). But anyhow, not bad at all.*
    Like many others have said here, definitely recommended for many dynamic cans. I'm tempted to buy one for myself to call it my own.

    *aside: I'm beginning to believe that the K7XX might be the most amp-picky headphone I own. It's ridiculously hard to match and just sounds terrible out of some amps. In comparison, the Auteur plays the nicest with most amps, followed by the HD 6XX (which does change quite a bit due to changes in upstream gear, but I haven't had an amp which made the Sennheiser sound terrible yet). I'm not sure why this is, but it might partially explain why my friend hated the AKG when he tried it; might have been a severe mismatch.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  4. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    You didn't find Clear out of high Z to have boosted, bloaty mid bass? Perhaps it wasn't that bad compared to what you're used to from Euforia? (not to say you like boosted, bloaty bass)
     
  5. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Poopsmith

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    The Clear's bass was not bloated out of either amp, but definitely was slightly boosted. I just didn't like the low Z out of the ZDT Jr with any headphone; sounds a bit soulless.

    For reference, the Clear sounds terrible out of the high Z output from the DNA prototype, but sounds good from the low Z.

    My time with ZMF cans have taught me that I generally like slightly downward sloping FR, but don't mind a bit of a sparkle in the treble. Also, I'm not treble-sensitive. The Clear out of high Z on ZDT Jr just pushes it in a direction I like since I find it ever so slightly bass light.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  6. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Yeah, Clear + ZDT Jr is too phat sounding, I think. It has an overall lower impedance than the Elear/Utopia, so the impedance hump just stands out that much more.

    Then again, I never found the Clear to be bass light.
     
  7. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Poopsmith

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    It's entirely possible I'm deaf and/or am a basshead.
     
  8. klyrish

    klyrish Facebook Friend

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    I've had this amp for about two days now and I'm loving it. Using GE JAN 5654W tubes that came with it (and have a bunch of extras that the seller included). I forgot how much I loved my Vali 2 as it's been the better part of a year since I've had it. The warmth, the sound/headstage, the 3D imaging, the slightly rolled treble is all so beautiful. I do miss the bass authority that Ragnarok has comparatively but providing such a pleasant, non-harsh sound more than makes up for it. And it's not like bass is non-existent, it's just not as powerful or detailed. I was getting fatigued and even some headaches from treble on the Ragnarok using the Clear and LCD-X (with parametric EQ specific to each headphone via Roon) but was unable to satisfyingly adjust the EQs to reduce that.

    Now, with the ZDT Jr., it's not a concern at all. There is no fatigue and haven't had a headache either.

    I broke my HD6XX out of retirement (did not like them AT ALL on the Ragnarok. They sounded thin and just...wrong) and am absolutely blown away by how good they sound. I have a pretty fantastic parametric EQ profile for them that I believe I found on Reddit and it seriously brought tears to my eyes last night. Before this amp, my headphone rankings were:
    1. LCD-X
    2. Clear
    3. HD6XX
    But now, through the ZDT Jr., it's:
    1. HD6XX
    2. LCD-X
    3. Clear
    I do not like the Clear through this amp AT ALL. They still resolve all of Gungnir Multibit's great detail but bring absolutely no enjoyment to music. Maybe I just need to give them another chance in a little while after I get over how good the HD6XX are now, but if I had to decide right now, I'd sell the Clear and never look back. The HD6XX are doing everything the Clear do but better and, somehow, with better bass. And they're unmodded. Maybe I should try the parametric EQ profile for HD6XX with the Clear...

    Regardless, I was shocked at how great the LCD-X sound on this amp. I thought given how dark they are it would not be a good match, but it's beautiful. Definitely dark and missing a little sparkle in the treble (especially apparent on bootlegs) but the sound/headstage and 3D imaging is awesome and I thought it was great through the Ragnarok. With both the LCD-X and HD6XX, music feels like it's completely enveloping me and I'm EXPERIENCING the music. With the Clear, I feel like I'm listening from outside; the immersion just isn't there.

    Bootlegs are especially awesome on the LCD-X and HD6XX. The warmth and imaging of the amp helps bring these recordings to life and also helps tame some of the harshness so often found on bootlegs. They feel more organic and like I'm in the crowd (or that I could at least imagine I am if I close my eyes).

    I honestly don't know how much use the Ragnarok is going to get going forward. I don't plan on selling it yet as I do love the amp but for the time being, it'll be taking a long break. It's still great for when I want to get analytical and really listen closely to recordings but for regular day-to-day use while working, the ZDT Jr. wins, no question. It's so great to have tube magic back in my life and I don't think I'll be without this amp until I can afford something in the $2500+ range.

    One question, though: is there supposed to be a difference in, say, levels between the low-Z and high-Z jacks? I've used all three headphones on both and notice no difference whatsoever. I thought at the very least there would be a volume change on the high-Z jack but there isn't. The HD6XX sound and work great out of either jack; same with the LCD-X. I noticed no difference with the Clear (they were disappointing no matter what).
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  9. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I find high Z to be slightly louder.
     
  10. tommytakis

    tommytakis MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    @klyrish I find that High Z punches harder and sounds more dynamic in general. I didn't like the low Z on the HD650.
     
  11. klyrish

    klyrish Facebook Friend

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    Okay, just wanted to be sure that there wasn't something off with the amp or my headphones. I really thought there'd be a noticeable increase in gain.
     
  12. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    When I opened my NBM to check the shielding around the transformers, I saw a single pair of output lines going to a small PCB at the headphone outs. IIRC, it looked like a direct out to the high Z output and maybe some resistors doing something to reduce the impedance of the low Z out (maybe like a version of this headphone attenuation adapter that only reduces the zout by about about 1/2, and that doesn't attenuate as much?).

    Edit: The extra resistors in the path may be what's gimping the low Z out for some. I don't feel I'm missing anything with Clears compared to the high Z out and the FR is more to my liking. Analogous to some preferring Andro with iEMatch and others not liking it, I guess. HD650M definitely sounds better of out high Z for me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  13. Ntbm3

    Ntbm3 Friend

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    I Joined the ZDT Jr fan boy club...

    After spending some time with a few friends ZDT's I was very impressed. It matched what you guys were saying on this thread.

    I had to have one and found a used one with a white dot next to the serial number on E-Bay. Yay maybe hum fix already!

    This amp has no hum at all and is dead quiet. Significantly quieter that my woo wa6-se even with my quiet tubes..

    I picked up some NOS Raytheon 5654 and NOS Mullard ECC89, which I put in right away.

    This amp has legitimately blown me away. So much detail and organic texture without any hint of harshness. Impressive 3D soundstage that I was looking for. Again better than my WA6-SE.. stupid woo..

    It's sounds great on on all my headphones (LCD-X, HD800s, HD650) with the best synergy being the HD650. Just something special, no question.

    Most important... all I want to do is listen to it and have been finishing full albums with out dicking around with stuff. I think this says the most about what this little thing can offer.

    The time I have spend with the ZDT has confirmed I am a tube guy... so much so I put a deposit down on the new DNA Starlett..... fawk...

    Plan is ZDT for work set up and Starlett epicness at home... all tubes all the time!
     
  14. klyrish

    klyrish Facebook Friend

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    I did, too! Can't wait for December/January to get mine.
     
  15. lagadu

    lagadu Facebook Friend

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    @Ntbm3 So you were the one who nabbed that ZDT Jr. from me (was being sold from the UK, right?) Good to hear that at least it found a good home :)

    How does it compare to your woo in terms of dynamics and warmth?
     
  16. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    So, I bought this used from usaudiomart, the guy sent what is I'm sure the 220v version with no power cable. Is there any hope here?
     
  17. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Step up transformer? Heck, some might even argue it's an opportunity to use a nice power supply if you're worried about having grody mains. Worst case scenario I guess you sell it at zero or minimal loss and try finding a 110V unit on the market.
     
  18. Ntbm3

    Ntbm3 Friend

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    Actually this was a random one on ebay I happen to find. Came from Florida.

    The WA6-SE with my favorite tube set is a hint more SS sounding. They are more similar that different in my opinion.

    Finally I prefer the ZDT just a hint more for it's tone/texture and good synergy with the HD600/800. XDT jr is also dead quiet... woo is not.

    Currently I have moved the ZDT jr to it's final destination of my work set-up with Aeon Closed. Works surprisingly well with the uber low impedance of the Aeon's. I am a happy guys now at work.
     
  19. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    oooh nice power supply sounds awesome!....you tell me what to do here, cuz this is just confusing:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  20. Ksaurav402

    Ksaurav402 Friend

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    But it says AC120V/0.5A
    I can't see other image but i dont see the issue here.
     

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