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Antelope Zodiac + Arrived


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Haven't had much time with it. Only gripe is the volume pot skips settings; turning up from -15 to 0, I can't get -10 sometimes for example. It skips 2db at a time and almost impossible to get it set to a repeated/specific volume level.

 

Build quality is solid. Volume pot on my CI Audio passive is an alps and the pot is really "sticky"; the Zodiac is not stepped either but really really smooth. Almost too smooth, and maybe this is why it's having trouble locking to certain volume settings.

 

Also seems like the gain is lower than my Matrix-I DAC. Will test with a multi-meter later.

 

 

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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With comparisons to known DACs/CD players.

 

Please describe your system including computer, drives, cables....maybe you have, but I do not recognize any of the items that are listed below your post?

 

I believe that a bunch of folks have been looking forward to the introduction of these units and the Wyred4Sound DACs....kind of like a new generation of computer focused, reasonably priced, full featured DACs.

 

Thanks from one of this bunch!

 

Tone with Soul

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I have (4) DACs here but many users in this area have some more common ones.

 

You can search the web for the components in my sig; if you need more detail let me know, I can help with links.

 

@ CHRIS

 

Did you know about the Lynx AES16-E 192kHz bug?

 

http://www.lynxstudio.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=3105&PID=19490#19490

 

I have a custom cable two connect 2 DACs via AES to my Lynx, so I can compare it to a Matrix mini for starters; until I can borrow some other local DACs.

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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In the process of figuring the Lynx AES16-E has a mixer firmware bug, I download a nice 192kHz demo track to be sure the few I have weren't corrupt.

 

There is a great piece with some violin, not solo, but it there is so much air and definition around this violin.

 

I didn't ABX, just going from DAC to DAC with some DX1000 headphones; playing from the same Lynx card. The Matrix just sound hazy, and the Zodiac makes it sound thin and defined. By thin, I mean it is like a silver string, very well defined, whereas on the Matrix it is a thick line with edges.

 

The main thing I noticed was that with Matrix, the passage would go by and I swear it was hard to tell if it was the end of the section I wanted to hear. Very interesting subjective experience, and the Zodiac was just so well defined that I was much more into the passage.

 

I haven't done a ton of listening in the past 6 months, so I'm excited about this DAC so far.

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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I will post images soon. Frankly, I'm not shocked the Zodiac's fidelity surpasses the Matrix, but it's been a while since I could so easily A/B two DACs.

 

Headphone outputs (2), have independent gain. At 10am it is quite loud on the DX1000. I think something like -25 on the Matrix would be equivalent.

 

The Zodiac LED readout does not change when you adjust the pot for the headphone section, which makes sense.

 

Positives:

 

Mono Summing

Mute button for -40db pad

PSU has screw-in cap to secure the plug 100% into the receptacle on the Zodiac (uses the standard 1/4" cylinder whatever that is named).

AC brick has IEC connection

(3) USB speed modes

Comes with USB-b mini cable & Toslink cable

 

Design Annoyances:

 

When in USB mode, but no playback is engaged, the BRIGHT white sync light doesn't turn off, it blinks, and man is it bright.

 

I have tried WASAPI at 192kHz and I did not get any of the crackling that has plagued ASIO output in JRMC lately, when switching views etc.

 

I will be listening to this DAC for maybe a month critically before adding the word clock to Lynx and Zodiac.

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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Would be very interesting to hear another person's opinion about the Antelope. I heard the Zodiac+ and unfortunately its 16/44.1 performance left me in half a mind. But as I noted with these dacs, the 24/192 performance is really where it's at. :)

 

I personally had a hard time doing a fair comparison as the dac cannot use my existing usb cable and running thru the adapter kind of negates the use of power cord to some extent.. still, overall I found it to be a more forgiving type of sound rather than precision based.

 

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I was thinking about that USB-b (mini) cable aspect, and users who will be affected by it; I don't own any high-end USB cables. It will probably be more of a backup for me (WASAPI), but who knows.

 

Did you hear it via USB? I remember Marcel saying it is not an async implementation.

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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Just word clock input on the Zodiac+.

 

I have clocked the Lynx to the Mytek in the past with no apparent issues; maybe a point of worry...?

 

Here are some pics. I don't have my noise removal app on this PC and I have no pro lights to rig up in my living room, so sorry for some of the noise. I only see four allen wrench type bolts on the back face; almost positive there are no others anywhere on the chassis.

 

The volume pot issue turns me off a bit. a $2500 DAC should have a 100% repeatable volume setting; it's skipping -7 and -9 every time.

 

The volume knob looks REALLY cheap; it's really light weight (and has no weight when turning) and I'm questioning if it is aluminum or not.

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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IMG_9771.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

 

IMG_9773.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9773.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9773.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9776.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9777.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9778.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9780.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9782.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9783.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9785.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9786.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

IMG_9787.JPGFrom Zodiac

 

 

 

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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Hi Chris, it just means what it says. The Zodiac allows streaming of 192kHz material with native drivers.

 

I tested this out.. just plug and play with a Windows PC, playback of 24/192 and 176.4 file and it worked fine. Both LCD display indicated the bitrate, as well as audible difference. Do not have a larger bitrate file so was unable to test that.

 

Kind of makes you wonder about all the supposed lack of ability to run 24/192 on Windows natively via usb that we had been hearing all this while..

 

About the modes, am not too sure though. I was always using UF1 during my test. Am wondering if it is just a way to try to ensure that that bandwidth was always available on USB 2.0 for the device.

 

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Slightly off topic, but what are the differences between the Zodiac, the Zodiac+ and the Zodiac Gold? Do you have prices for the three of them?

 

The Zodiac+ seams to have an analogue input, is that just a "bypass" function, or does the volume work when using analogue?

 

Eloise

 

P.S. USB Full Speed mode (if they are using the term correctly) refers to USB1.1 whereas High Speed mode should refer to USB2.0.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Worked out a Lynx AES16-E mixer bug and have both of my DACs working; comparing the Zodiac to the Matrix mini-I dac is pretty revealing, as I have previously alluded to.

 

Anyway...so most kinks worked out, except that it continually skips volume values so it can't be reset to the same exact volume level. This occurs mainly near -10db but it really doesn't seem to be by design as it skips random values.

 

 

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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I can test whether its fixed or variable tonight.

 

I'm curious what's inside this thing. Opamps in the signal path. The output stage....

 

@ QUEST

 

So you demo'd a Zodiac+ ? O r bought one and didn't keep it. I wouldn't mind comparing this DAC to a Wyred 4 Sound DAC2.

 

 

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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Eloise, I think the 'Full speed' mode is already running close to 2.0 speeds, but I could be wrong.. I checked the bandwidth when I first read on the product but memory may be scratchy. Either way the first mode also still allows 24/192.

 

hifitubes, I have regular auditions or 'shootouts' for DACs almost every weekend so I have heard quite a number of them out there except the dcs debussy (which I fear for my wallet and is out of stock here). I only do home auditions for those I am more keen on - gear used is consistent for the auditions/shootout so usually not an issue unless I just want to test system synergy. So to your qn, the Zodiac+ was heard during a audition.

 

I too am curious about the W4S Dac2 but it isn't out in my country yet, though I have heard the DAC1, and what I heard of the DAC1 was rather promising - though giant killer it is not. :)

 

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What I think is confusing is the use of data speeds Mbps interweaved with units of frequency kHz. For example Hi Speed USB at 480 Mbps has nothing to do with 4x sample rates at 192 kHz. Since the manual doesn't explicitly say wether Hi Speed USB 2.0 is require for the Zodiac to function at 192 kHz I think it's confusing. Plus, I've been told native USB drivers will not support class 2 audio required for 192 kHz in Windows, and OS X has an issue with this until 10.6.4 is released.

 

Why not list something like this:

 

UF1 - 16/44.1 - 24/XX (Win & Mac)

UH1 - 16/44.1 - 24/XXX (Win)

UH2 - 16/44.1 - yy/384 kHz (Mac)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris, you are not wrong in your comments. The original manual is likely just a print out of your pdf (i did not read) and is equally confusing to me. :)

 

Nonetheless, just to repeat my comment that plugging in the Zodiac+ via USB to a Windows PC with no installation of any drivers allowed us to play 24/192 files with 192 bit rate displayed... and I do think I was using UF1. Am not sure if I am missing something, or if the Zodiac cleverly switched to UH1?

 

I can do further tests this weekend if need be.

 

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@Quest,

 

When switching from 24/192 to lets say 24/88.2, are the changes done automatically or do you have to adjust it manually?

 

It is not very clear in the manual how it's done.

 

M2Tech Young DAC - Graham Slee Solo SRGII - PSU1 Power Supply - Grado GS 1000i

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It works like most external DACs. I'm using WASAPI with JRMC mainly, and the sample rates change automatically as the DAC sees what I throw at it and syncs to it. Currently, I have JRMC set to do no resampling, but just play back the native sample rate of the file.

 

The Lynx card is set to auto-change rates.

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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