ZANDEN Choku, Chukoh and Jinpu

Audiocrack

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2012
2,019
67
48
#41
Wow...that is interesting. I did not know that about the UK Distributor. (I also did not know there was a new Kondo G1000!! I recall that you preferred mk1 over mk2 Kondo m1000....how much is the G1000?
I am not sure whether the official retail price of the G1000 had been set yet, but one of the Kondo distributors I am in contact with informed me that it will be probably around usd 100.000,- (only linestage). It weighs 60 kg(!) and its development took around five years. I suppose you have to add another usd 100k for the phonostage. These crazy prices are really getting out of hand.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,935
143
63
#42
I am not sure whether the official retail price of the G1000 had been set yet, but one of the Kondo distributors I am in contact with informed me that it will be probably around usd 100.000,- (only linestage). It weighs 60 kg(!) and its development took around five years. I suppose you have to add another usd 100k for the phonostage. These crazy prices are really getting out of hand.
Agree, though it remains 'relative'...its just that the bar keeps moving up. I cannot deny the GAT, the Gryphon, the Zanden, the Wilson X1s, any of the TA Opus or RefMM2 or the Velodyne (let alone the 'tweaks') are 'insanely' expensive even at the 2nd hand/demo prices we paid...its just that the market has pretty much gone on to create 6-figure reference pieces for nearly EVERY category now (TT, Digital, Preamp, Amp, Speaker, Cables, and even Grounding boxes if you add a system's worth of it.)
 

Audiocrack

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2012
2,019
67
48
#43
Hi AC , it's probably the tube rectification of the MK1 that you prefer v/s the SS recti in the MK2 . How does the Kondo do in the see thru / transparency stakes . One virtue , that I feel is a strong forte of the Z3000 . The Z3000 has the ability to help the orchestra breath naturally , teasing out sonorous nuances of massed strings , tonal differentiation amongst woodwinds . While being able to expand and bellow , when the big moments arrive . Not ultimate scale given my room and speakers , but very satisfactory nonetheless. I am sure given Yamada San's penchant for live recordings, the Choku and the Chukoh must be very special indeed .
Hi Jazzhead,

Yes, I am pretty sure that the tube rectification in the M1000 mk i makes the difference that I like.

For me the most important aspect of music reproduction is emotional involvement. From that perspective I have not yet heard a more appealing preamp than the Kondo m1000 mk 1. There will undoubtedly more transparent, more dynamic and more revealing preamps. Bot none of them that I have heard so far is capable to recreate the fluidity, subtlety, refinement and emotional feel like the M1000 mk i.

And if you listen intensively you will notice that preamps like the m1000 and the Zanden linestage do present all the details in the recordings, albeit in a less 'upfront' and more nuanced - and for me more appealing/real - way. A lot of the so called top preamps sound too 'audiophile' to me, that is highlighting all kind of different sounds in an unnatural way, that is in a way you do not hear in the concerthall. Such a presentation might be appealing to a great number of audiophiles, but I am not one of them.

Lastly, the various Tripoint Audio devices and ultra transparent speakers like my 'diamond' Tidal La Assoluta loudspeakers are a great help to get the maximum out my Kondo equipment.
 
May 30, 2010
15,508
716
113
Portugal
#44
Thanks micro, so you think ypsilon technically should be able to drive a low input impedance SS amp as well as the VTL?
Most probably. But the technical details about the active mode topology are scarce.
 

Marcus

Member Sponsor
Oct 5, 2012
257
33
28
#45
And now back to the theme of this thread.

In the TAS Electronics designer roundtable (http://www.theabsolutesound.com/art...gner-roundtable-the-art-of-the-small-speaker/) Kazutoshi Yamada said:

"Both the model 3100 and model 8120 are excellent examples of this product philosophy. They share the same basic architecture as their more illustrious siblings. The primary differences with our flagship-level offerings are the cost of materials. Although the cost of the model 3100 and 8120 is significantly less than our flagship models, the effect on performance is minute."

This "philosophy" can be a firm indicator of the influence that Choku, Chukoh and Jinpu cost-no-object designs will have on future Zanden products. Can't wait for mk2 versions of 3000 line stage (finally with the remote) and 9600 power amp.
 

Audiocrack

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2012
2,019
67
48
#46
And now back to the theme of this thread.

In the TAS Electronics designer roundtable (http://www.theabsolutesound.com/art...gner-roundtable-the-art-of-the-small-speaker/) Kazutoshi Yamada said:

"Both the model 3100 and model 8120 are excellent examples of this product philosophy. They share the same basic architecture as their more illustrious siblings. The primary differences with our flagship-level offerings are the cost of materials. Although the cost of the model 3100 and 8120 is significantly less than our flagship models, the effect on performance is minute."

This "philosophy" can be a firm indicator of the influence that Choku, Chukoh and Jinpu cost-no-object designs will have on future Zanden products. Can't wait for mk2 versions of 3000 line stage (finally with the remote) and 9600 power amp.
I am always afraid that a remote will have negative effects on the sound quality of audio units. So I always opted for preamps and phonostages without a remote. Am I too conservative in this respect? Anyway I have never considered is a problem to get up and walk to my audio equipment.

Furthermore I do not understand why mister Yamada decided for the balanced 9600 and stopped producing the single ended 9500 amps. I prefer the latter to the former from a sound perspective. Was his choice maybe motivated by production reasons? I cannot believe mister Yamada considers his 9600 amps better sounding than the 9500 amps but maybe I am (also) wrong on this?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#47
I am always afraid that a remote will have negative effects on the sound quality of audio units. So I always opted for preamps and phonostages without a remote. Am I too conservative in this respect? Anyway I have never considered is a problem to get up and walk to my audio equipment.

Furthermore I do not understand why mister Yamada decided for the balanced 9600 and stopped producing the single ended 9500 amps. I prefer the latter to the former from a sound perspective. Was his choice maybe motivated by production reasons? I cannot believe mister Yamada considers his 9600 amps better sounding than the 9500 amps but maybe I am (also) wrong on this?

Lamm is of the same school of thought as he will never make a preamp or phono with a remote
 

Marcus

Member Sponsor
Oct 5, 2012
257
33
28
#48
I am always afraid that a remote will have negative effects on the sound quality of audio units. So I always opted for preamps and phonostages without a remote. Am I too conservative in this respect? Anyway I have never considered is a problem to get up and walk to my audio equipment.

Furthermore I do not understand why mister Yamada decided for the balanced 9600 and stopped producing the single ended 9500 amps. I prefer the latter to the former from a sound perspective. Was his choice maybe motivated by production reasons? I cannot believe mister Yamada considers his 9600 amps better sounding than the 9500 amps but maybe I am (also) wrong on this?
There are some high quality remote volume controls out there. Conrad-Johnson's microprocessor controlled with lots of Vishay resistors is one of them IMO. But what bothers me with the volume control like the one in Zanden 3000 is that it's so hard or near impossible to repeat settings, although this is more of a problem if you review gear a lot.

I don't have an answer to your second question but would be glad to hear your opinion on the difference between 9500 and 9600 amps. I've heard both but unfortunately not in comparative circumstances. Why do you think 9500 is sonically better? Knowing Yamada, he would never produce a new amp if the wouldn't be absolutely convinced it's better than the old one.

BTW, has anybody heard this new Zanden trio? Comments on AE forum are extremely enthusiastic.
 

Audiocrack

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2012
2,019
67
48
#49
There are some high quality remote volume controls out there. Conrad-Johnson's microprocessor controlled with lots of Vishay resistors is one of them IMO. But what bothers me with the volume control like the one in Zanden 3000 is that it's so hard or near impossible to repeat settings, although this is more of a problem if you review gear a lot.

I don't have an answer to your second question but would be glad to hear your opinion on the difference between 9500 and 9600 amps. I've heard both but unfortunately not in comparative circumstances. Why do you think 9500 is sonically better? Knowing Yamada, he would never produce a new amp if the wouldn't be absolutely convinced it's better than the old one.

BTW, has anybody heard this new Zanden trio? Comments on AE forum are extremely enthusiastic.
A lot of manufacturers have opted for balanced audio products. But I am doubtful if this choice was (really) made on musical grounds. Is this choice maybe motivated by better specs, demand in the audio market place or possibly production reasons? Of course audiophiles that need long ic's and loudspeaker cables - eg because the equipment is not positioned between the loudspeakers (and I can fully understand such a choice) - are happy with balanced equipment.

However, to my ears (most of the) balanced equipment somehow robs the reproduced music of its 'soul'.

I have the highest respect for some audio manufacturers such as the late Kondo san and Yamada san. I believe both men were/are really music lovers and motivated by their passion for music. And although the (only balanced) Zanden 9600 amps are very good amps indeed, to my ears the (single ended) 9500 amps recreate the musical event in a more natural, less forcefull/homogeneous way.

Does the balanced mode bring any real sonic advantages in your view, Marcus, apart from apparently 'better' dynamics?
 
Last edited:

Audiocrack

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2012
2,019
67
48
#50
There are some high quality remote volume controls out there. Conrad-Johnson's microprocessor controlled with lots of Vishay resistors is one of them IMO. But what bothers me with the volume control like the one in Zanden 3000 is that it's so hard or near impossible to repeat settings, although this is more of a problem if you review gear a lot.

I don't have an answer to your second question but would be glad to hear your opinion on the difference between 9500 and 9600 amps. I've heard both but unfortunately not in comparative circumstances. Why do you think 9500 is sonically better? Knowing Yamada, he would never produce a new amp if the wouldn't be absolutely convinced it's better than the old one.

BTW, has anybody heard this new Zanden trio? Comments on AE forum are extremely enthusiastic.
I am highly sceptical about the hype that is being produced on a regular basis on the AE website. Sometimes I wonder - but maybe these are really bad thoughts of mine? - if all the names that contribute to this site are real persons or maybe just ghostwriters? The list of once hyped products that are later being 'dumped' and never heard of again on the AE website is nearly endless.

That said I am convinced that Yamada san has produced some wonderful products with his latest top of the line (pre)amps. For a reliable source I refer you to Miguel of Tripoint Audio who has participated in the latest three AE shows and has worked with the Zanden Chouku and Chukoh. Miguel has razor sharp ears and his comments/views really mean something (to me anyway).
 

Marcus

Member Sponsor
Oct 5, 2012
257
33
28
#51
Does the balanced mode bring any real sonic advantages in your view, Marcus, apart from apparently 'better' dynamics?
Don't know. Never used balanced equipment in my system. But I use 5m interconnect between GAT and power amps and don't' have (hear) any problems...
 
May 30, 2010
15,508
716
113
Portugal
#52
There are some high quality remote volume controls out there. Conrad-Johnson's microprocessor controlled with lots of Vishay resistors is one of them IMO. But what bothers me with the volume control like the one in Zanden 3000 is that it's so hard or near impossible to repeat settings, although this is more of a problem if you review gear a lot. (...)
I had the same problem with the original Dartzeel volume control - it was even worst : no scale in a continuous rotary knob! Fortunately the upgraded version got a numerical display.

But yes, the cj volume control is great. But for me the king is still the Ayre volume control - a step motor driving two large solid high quality commutators through a dented belt. But, until you get used to it, the mechanical noise of the step motors is as disturbing as the clicking noise of the cj relays.
 

Audiocrack

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2012
2,019
67
48
#53
I had the same problem with the original Dartzeel volume control - it was even worst : no scale in a continuous rotary knob! Fortunately the upgraded version got a numerical display.

But yes, the cj volume control is great. But for me the king is still the Ayre volume control - a step motor driving two large solid high quality commutators through a dented belt. But, until you get used to it, the mechanical noise of the step motors is as disturbing as the clicking noise of the cj relays.
Micro, what are your thoughts about balanced versus unbalanced?
 
May 30, 2010
15,508
716
113
Portugal
#54
Micro, what are your thoughts about balanced versus unbalanced?
No real preference for any of these modes in absolute. IMHO, the layout of typical high-end systems is too simple to create a real advantage for the intrinsic noise rejecting capabilities of true balanced equipment connected using balanced cables. Then we are just listening to implementations of a particular topology.

If a balanced system is implemented with transformers you get the sonic signature of the transformers. I have some experience with them - the best I have tried is the great SMC Audio Flex-Connect http://smcaudio.com/products/flex-connect/, that operates miracles in many systems. However as its gain (attenuation) is -12dB I am not sure of the real cause of the improvements - too many factors were being changed when I inserted it.

Usually balanced systems are much more complex in terms of electronics than unbalanced systems - but not all of them. An integrally balanced system from input to the speaker output does not suffer from the typical pattern of distortions created by the inverting/summing input stage of most equipment that can accept both type of signals. But such systems are the exception.

The great drawback of the balanced/unbalanced is that we should have duplicates of cables to compare equipment in equal conditions - most of my better cables are balanced, I currently feel that sometimes I am not giving a fair opportunity to single ended equipment in my system, unless I use the Flex-Connect, that strongly distorts the results of the comparison.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,935
143
63
#55
No real preference for any of these modes in absolute. IMHO, the layout of typical high-end systems is too simple to create a real advantage for the intrinsic noise rejecting capabilities of true balanced equipment connected using balanced cables. Then we are just listening to implementations of a particular topology.

If a balanced system is implemented with transformers you get the sonic signature of the transformers. I have some experience with them - the best I have tried is the great SMC Audio Flex-Connect http://smcaudio.com/products/flex-connect/, that operates miracles in many systems. However as its gain (attenuation) is -12dB I am not sure of the real cause of the improvements - too many factors were being changed when I inserted it.

Usually balanced systems are much more complex in terms of electronics than unbalanced systems - but not all of them. An integrally balanced system from input to the speaker output does not suffer from the typical pattern of distortions created by the inverting/summing input stage of most equipment that can accept both type of signals. But such systems are the exception.

The great drawback of the balanced/unbalanced is that we should have duplicates of cables to compare equipment in equal conditions - most of my better cables are balanced, I currently feel that sometimes I am not giving a fair opportunity to single ended equipment in my system, unless I use the Flex-Connect, that strongly distorts the results of the comparison.
Interesting reading as always, Micro. Thanks. What would you think of the SMC Flexconnect in my own setup? CJ GAT to Gryphon Colosseum. I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever, and even Gryphon said to leave it given that I enjoy the CJ GAT. That said, what would you expect would happen here (assuming i maintained the same level of Transparent Interconnects between the CJ GAT and the Gryphon)?

On the one hand, is there a benefit in my setup to use this FlexConnect in terms of balanced vs unbalanced? On the other hand, does more equipment in the chain potentially result in degradation?
 
May 30, 2010
15,508
716
113
Portugal
#56
Interesting reading as always, Micro. Thanks. What would you think of the SMC Flexconnect in my own setup? CJ GAT to Gryphon Colosseum. I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever, and even Gryphon said to leave it given that I enjoy the CJ GAT. That said, what would you expect would happen here (assuming i maintained the same level of Transparent Interconnects between the CJ GAT and the Gryphon)?

On the one hand, is there a benefit in my setup to use this Flex Connect in terms of balanced vs unbalanced? On the other hand, does more equipment in the chain potentially result in degradation?
Good questions, but hard to answer ... My experience has been mainly connecting balanced preamplifiers to single ended amplifiers - the opposite of what you have. Separating grounds can be a good think, and since your speakers have high efficiency and the Gryphons are high gain, operating the preamplifier at higher gain can result in improvements. Please see this old thread http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?6376-Burmester-911-mk3/page61. Remember that at that time the Flex Connect was called the Interocitor.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,935
143
63
#57
Good questions, but hard to answer ... My experience has been mainly connecting balanced preamplifiers to single ended amplifiers - the opposite of what you have. Separating grounds can be a good think, and since your speakers have high efficiency and the Gryphons are high gain, operating the preamplifier at higher gain can result in improvements. Please see this old thread http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?6376-Burmester-911-mk3/page61. Remember that at that time the Flex Connect was called the Interocitor.
Hi Micro, when you mean operate the preamp at higher gain, i presume you mean that (since the GAT gain is high at 26db), you are suggested i lower the gain via the Flex Connect (gain of 12db), so that i can turn the volume up more on the GAT?
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,935
143
63
#58
Good questions, but hard to answer ... My experience has been mainly connecting balanced preamplifiers to single ended amplifiers - the opposite of what you have. Separating grounds can be a good think, and since your speakers have high efficiency and the Gryphons are high gain, operating the preamplifier at higher gain can result in improvements. Please see this old thread http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?6376-Burmester-911-mk3/page61. Remember that at that time the Flex Connect was called the Interocitor.
Thanks! I have just read and asked Gary WHY/HOW he felt the Flex Connect made 'all' Preamp SE to Amp XLR connections better. He seemed to suggest it wasnt always an improvement when going XLR pre to SE amp, but he clearly felt the reverse configuration is universally improved by using the Flex Connect. I wonder what the improvements are and why? I have asked Gary in that other thread.
 
May 30, 2010
15,508
716
113
Portugal
#59
Hi Micro, when you mean operate the preamp at higher gain, i presume you mean that (since the GAT gain is high at 26db), you are suggested i lower the gain via the Flex Connect (gain of 12db), so that i can turn the volume up more on the GAT?
Yes. The immediate consequence is that the signal to noise ratio is improved, and in the particular case of the GAT the impedance of the preamplifier is increased - perhaps also a nice think when using the Zandem.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,935
143
63
#60
Yes. The immediate consequence is that the signal to noise ratio is improved, and in the particular case of the GAT the impedance of the preamplifier is increased - perhaps also a nice think when using the Zandem.
Good to know...thanks! If i did this, would i need to recalibrate the TA interconnect as a result of the changed impedance? (Of course, i would ALSO have to get another TA cable as well...a very expensive option!)
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing