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DNA (Donald North Audio) Headphone Amp


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Wrong thread, but in response to your post I must say that I'm in heaven with my PS Audio DL3, Zana Deux Transformer, and HD800 with 4-pin balanced plug. :D

Larry, you have the normal i.e. unmodded DLII right? Once I get mine repaired by PS Audio I will know if the purchase was worth it or if I should have gone big with the Berkeley.

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Larry, you have the normal i.e. unmodded DLII right? Once I get mine repaired by PS Audio I will know if the purchase was worth it or if I should have gone big with the Berkeley.

Yes, I have not sent mine in for the Cullen mods yet on my DLIII.

I'm still trying to decide if I need to upgrade my Woo GES to a WES or maybe a KGBHSE. And then I'd have to sell my GES, WA6, Square Wave XL, Amphora and a few other odds and ends. Just a couple of days ago I thought I was going to upgrade the WA6 to the WA22, but after comparing my ZDT to the prototype WA22 I think I already have a great dynamic amp and the WA22 would be redundant (even if one for bedroom and one for living room). Then again, it's only gonna sound as good as the source, so then I'm back to thinking about the DAC mods again. Sheesh!

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Tubes are, it turns out, extremely linear devices. The warmth and poor frequency response often attributed to them has more to do with topology and other components than the tubes themselves.

I don't know about RAM. They won't even tell their "clients" exactly what the mods are that they have installed. Which of these caps would have the biggest influence on the sound? There are no coupling caps. The rest, accept for the filter, are electrolytics. Which ones lie most directly in the signal path?

As in Donald says someplace else, it seems to me that the biggest improvements would come from a better output transformer.

What about the power supply and filter cap?

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Which of these caps would have the biggest influence on the sound? There are no coupling caps. The rest, accept for the filter, are electrolytics. Which ones lie most directly in the signal path?

There is the "signal" path, and then there is the signal path. The big JJ and the cathode bypasses are both in the signal path and will have a large influence on sound.

Pix-A.gif

Talking with Kyle at RAM, they changed out the large JJ B+ cap for a Jensen (orange color)

You can buy that cap at Parts Connexion on sale for $50 right now, and the soldering will take you about 10 minutes. It looks like it is even the same diameter so it should fit the chassis nicely.

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You can buy that cap at Parts Connexion on sale for $50 right now, and the soldering will take you about 10 minutes. It looks like it is even the same diameter so it should fit the chassis nicely.

Thanks for the tutorial. I am going to repeat your message. I know very little about electronics, but I have learned to solder and with the advice and guidance of various people on different forums I have changed a number of caps, resistors and even FETs in 3 different pieces of equipment. It's easy and fun and you can hear the differences as long as you change the right parts.

What some upgrade outfits do is install a ton of high priced parts that don't affect the sound and a few that do. They get insane rates for this.

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... I must say that I'm in heaven with my PS Audio DL3, Zana Deux Transformer, and HD800 with 4-pin balanced plug. :D
This is almost exactly the rig I'm aiming for. I'll be going for the non-transformer version though. What do you like about the transformer version versus the traditional? Any advice on deals, etc.? I already contacted Craig, a new run is starting soon, but it could be a few months before I get a Zana. I'd hate to wait that long! I'm also hearing lots of different prices on the PS DL3. The 800's I will wait on for a while, but I'll probably get some eventually.

What is the 4-pin doing for you? is it just a more solid, locking connection?

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What some upgrade outfits do is install a ton of high priced parts that don't affect the sound and a few that do. They get insane rates for this.

You mean to say that there are people selling snake oil to audiophiles?

By the way, don't take my comment that the Jensen electrolytic cap fits to be an endorsement of Jensen electrolytic caps. I've never used one and consequently I have no opinion of them. My preference would be a large film cap of some sort, but those likely won't fit in the existing hole.

It seperates channels on the return. You know, like speakers.

Most tube power amps, at least those built with a modicum of safety in mind, have the speaker returns connected to ground.

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This is almost exactly the rig I'm aiming for. I'll be going for the non-transformer version though. What do you like about the transformer version versus the traditional? Any advice on deals, etc.? I already contacted Craig, a new run is starting soon, but it could be a few months before I get a Zana. I'd hate to wait that long! I'm also hearing lots of different prices on the PS DL3. The 800's I will wait on for a while, but I'll probably get some eventually.

What is the 4-pin doing for you? is it just a more solid, locking connection?

I hate answering all this off topic, because this thread is about DNA amps (which I understand is similar to ZDT in being a dual differential transformer coupled output with a single ended input.)

1. I picked the ZDT because of the speaker outputs to use with my Stax SRD-7 Pro electrostatic headphone transformer and my K1000, as well as potentially being superior to my maxed Woo WA6 (which is also a transformer coupled amp and I really like that).

2. It turns out that the 4-pin XLR dual differential transformer coupled balanced drive output runs my K1000 better than all my other amps, and I don't need to hook them up to the speaker taps like I originally thought. Using the speaker output with the stock speaker > 4-pin pigtail is very similar but slightly less detailed due to the cheap cable, so there is no point doing it that way.

3. The 4-pin is a more solid and locking connection and more convenient that dual 3-pin cables for balanced - but it's actually there because of the "dual differential transformer coupled balanced drive output". This type out system improves power and speed (slew rate cut in half I think), and in most cases it also improves the sound-stage and channel separation as well.

4. PS Audio sells the DL3 for $699 (or $695) right off their site. Cullen Circuits also sells them, stock and modded, with the same base price.

To the others, I apologize if I have garbled up any of the terminology or information here.

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Should be slew rate is improved?

I believe it would be improved, and higher is better. Higher slew rates are one of the technical benefits of balanced drive.

I say this watching the sky for clouds, as luvdunhill is bound to stop in here and show me to be the technical :asshat: I most certainly am.

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I believe it would be improved, and higher is better. Higher slew rates are one of the technical benefits of balanced drive.

The benefit to slew rate from balanced drive comes from the ACTIVE stages. In the ZDT, the tubes are all run single ended.

You get a few extra bonuses to bandwidth and slew-rate in a push-pull tube amp compared to a single ended one because of how you can build the transformer, but then we get into the whole single ended VS push-pull tubes debate.

Its an ugly debate, the most PC thing to say is that both design camps have their own benefits and inherent compromises.

does the amp sound good, and measure well? yes: enjoy it :)

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How about starting a ZDT thread then?
Yeah, I'd like to have a fresh thread about the ZD amps too, I have lots of questions. I'm about to put a down pmt. on one as soon as Craig gives me the word. If there's still interest, we prolly ought not continue hijacking this thread.

http://www.head-case.org/forums/headphone-amplification/6772-new-zana-deux-zdt-balancing-act-thread.html#post257440

Edited by oatmeal769
added link.
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