The Zanden in my opinion brings a purity, life, energy, excitement and soul that a lot of other state of the art digital does not. It's the real deal and the reviews I've read are on the money in describing it's sound essentially accurately.
One thing that I'd warn that is not extensively brought up is that the player as you can imagine due to it's design is quite sensitive to the transport you match it with. It can sound amazing with a good transport but transcendent with a great one. I've tried several and so have friends who also have the DAC and they've all noticed the same thing.
At T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas in January I heard the Zanden transport and the Zanden DAC in the Audiopax room and I was most impressed. I went back to that room three times for some extended listens. I can't think of any Redbook system I liked more.
Yeah, but talk about WAF! This isn't really a concern for me, but my girlfriend saw a Zanden 5000, and asked me if I was going to get one. . .then she found out the price.
What is the technology inside the Zanden and, what is it's price?
I find the WAF ok but there's plenty of stuff out there that is better in that regard. IMHO.
I spent some time in the Zanden room at HE2004, I thought the speakers were the weakest link in that setup. I brought my favorite test disc along for the ride, and even the guy in the room wanted to take my disc off the system. It just couldn't handle low end bass at all. But anyway, thats a moot point for this thread.
I've been living with a Zanden MK3 for about a month now. For my ears, the Zanden is an experience that needs to be heard. I had a friend over to hear it, and his comments were that there was no trace of digital sound. The music definately has soul now, relaxed, dynamic, and full sounding. Detail is the best I've heard.
I'm still tweaking the setup, but I'm very pleased.
James1969, this is essentially in line with what I have read about the Zanden. What are you using for a transport?
I attest Jim's comment about Zanden. I have listened to his system for a few times and this DAC upgrade is beyond what I had expected. In short, I listened to the music, not the machine. I envy you, Jim! Ken
47 Labs Flatfish used as a transport.
James1969, how is the dependability? Any problems? How about the low output voltage? Is it true that the unit has to be sent in for tube changes. I'd like to chack one out but I live in a stereo deprived area. BTW: Thanks for your responses.
Dependability is not an issue. Unless I don't understand the question? I change the tubes myself, simply open it up and swap them out. The low output voltage doesn't make a difference in my system, but then again, I have a pre-amp. Perhaps the low output voltage would be a concern to those who use passive volume controls.
In summary, I have no regrets at all, the Zanden makes my CDs sound better than I have ever heard before. Last xmas I was looking at vinyl rigs and heard some very $$$ setups (those outrages setups > $50k). Do they sound good, of course, but now, I really don't have a desire to get into vinyl because I don't have a vinyl collection to begin with. I did the silly thing of trading all my vinly in for CDs back in the early 80s. Bad mistake. I seem to learn the hard way...:)
Regardless, if you're interested in the Zanden, then do your best to try to hear one, its well worth the effort. Unless you want to take a risk and buy one sight unseen - which is what I did. :)
My short list came down to 2 dacs: Zanden and EMM DCC2. My reasoning was that I love tubes and there was a used Zanden listed on here, so I grabbed it. Maybe I've transitioned over to a hard core tube lover. :O
Good luck with your journey!
How much is the upgrade from Mk3 to Mk4 status?
I just received my new Zanden 5000 Signature with the outboard power supply and all I can say is it's performance is staggering. Bear in mind you'll have to pair this with a top notch transport to truly enjoy the Zanden's full capabilities. I've used a CEC TL1-X, Wadia 861SE (as a transport)but the new Ensemble Dirondo transport is an order of magnitude better.
James1969, Have you heard the DCC2? If so, would you mind comparing it to your Zanden?
How does it compare to Audio Note's 3.1x Balanced or 4.1x balanced versions...
The Audio Note of course is very good and there are some similarities to the Zanden which has a similar design philosophy. Having heard the 3.1x and not the 4.1x in my search for the ultimate DAC, I'd have to say that the Zanden allows you to forget somewhat more that you're listening to a playback device and to connect with the music somewhat more. My experience with the 3.1x is that it was smooth, possibly too smooth though quite pleasant to listen to, it did however impart a consistent character to everything I heard on it. The Zanden brings the musical event home with aplomb and has less of a character of slick oiled back smoothness; individuality remains but life, energy, voices, etc. have more real to life uniqueness to them IMHO.