Review: Carver ZR1600 Amplifier


Category: Amplifiers

Some of you might have read my previous reviews and comments on the Carver ZR series amplifiers. Anyway after multiple modifications my system has reached new heights. I recently added a set of Daedalus Audiophile speakers. A review is coming, however, these are the most dynamic speakers that I have ever heard (96 DB efficiency with the ability to take 600 watts 8 ohms per speakers).

But these comments are about one of my Carver ZR1600’s. One has been modified by 8th Nerve. Reference Audio Mods (RAM) recently modified the second. It is the RAM modified Carver that I am writing about.

After a day of listening, I will put my RAM modified ZR up against any amps that you might have, and you will likely go home envious.

Clarity, sound stage, individual instruments nicely spotlighted with natural "natural" tonal color. Woodwind, brass, bowed string, plucked string, voice and so on can now be heard with unbelievable clarity and specificity as distinctive not merely homogenized into an aural soup...

No weak spots at any frequency, clarity (double what it used to be), musicality, dynamics the very best, possibly the best that has ever been produced. An almost silkiness and musicality throughout the audio range – 25 cycle to 20,000 cycles. It is that good.

When you listen to a symphony orchestra and find realism that was formerly unachievable with electronic reproduction. Unbelievable, almost like being in the concert hall, and the ZR1600 is not even broken-in. Yes you need the dynamics and clarity of the Daedalus to fully experience it, but now with the newly modified Carver, you can very nearly experience concert hall realism. I'm listening to Mahler Symphony No 2, 1st movement Sinfonte Orchestra Frankfurt on Denon GES-9515. Sound stage, size and depth and clarity formerly unachievable. Or Hyperion SACDA67270 Gustav Holst the Planets by The Halle’ Orchestra – You can actually delineate the orchestral soundstage, even with multiple sections playing together.

So what did RAM do - The list of component modifications includes the following:

Removal / modification of both input and output circuitry.
6 Jensen Electronics 6800uF 100 V Four Pole Radial, Asym Pin Cfg
2 Jensen Electrolytic 10000uF 25V Four Pole Radial, Asym Pin Cfg
2 Harris High Speed Soft Recovery (FRED) Diodes (TO-251) 6A 1200V TRR<65N
1 15V Neg Q-Power Regulator
1 5V Neg Q-Power Regulator
2 4uF 400VAC film & foil, paper-in-oil NOS capcitors
2 Black Gate N 10uF 50V
2 Black Gate NX 0.47uF 50V
3 10W Heatsink for TO-220
2 11Hy Silver/Wood Inductors
30ft Audio Consulting silver wire.

Talk to Kyle Takenaga at RAM for additional specifications. They will be offering the mods commercially.

You might have spent $10 grand or more on your amp, but my new RAM modified Carver ZR is likely a whole lot better. You can see a picture of it on AudioCircle at http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=10678&highlight=zr1600

Associated gear
Sony TA-P9000ES Modified by Stan Warren
Phillips SACD 100 Modified by Stan Warren
Goertz Alpha Core Python MI 2 speaker cables
Stealth Silver Interconnects
jccornelison
Interesting review.

It is an amplifier that is worth a listen.

The problem is the lack of reference.
When you make statements like :

"these are the most dynamic speakers that I have ever heard"

"clarity (double what it used to be), musicality, dynamics the very best, possibly the best that has ever been produced."

" When you listen to a symphony orchestra and find realism that was formerly unachievable with electronic reproduction. "

...it is very hard to find meaning without reference. My neighbor could say all those things and more about just about any system he would listen to, as the extent of his Hi Fi experience is hearing my system while he's sitting on his porch when i happen to have my windows open.

How does this amplifier hold up on less efficient speakers ? Does it still provide low level detail, as well as the dynamic energy it exudes on efficient speakers?

My point is that there is more to offering a meaningful product review than stating things that sound like "this is my new amplifier and it is the bestest amplifier i have ever heard and it can beat up any other amplifier that comes along !"
Obviously i am exadurating here to make a point, but hopefully you see what i am getting at.

I am sure you have owned and listened to a lot of fine hardware in the time before you listened to the ZR1600, but we don't know that from reading your review or looking at your other extensive contributions here (well, to be fair, in your review of another Carver ZR series amplifier you mention that it replaced a Plineus amp).
Correction, the amplifier you mentioned in the previous review of the ZR500 was an Acurus DIA 100, not a Plinius.
Can I get it with those $400 wood knobs?