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Zen Triode Phono Stage

rev 3

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Model ZP3

INTRODUCTION

The  ZP3 is an all tube, single-ended design built using the popular 12AX7 dual triodes for amplification and equalization and a 12AU7 dual triode as a cathode follower to lower output impedance for better stability and drive.

Besides being comprised of all single-ended triodes, what makes the ZP3 desirable is the complete absence of negative feedback which is typically used to accomplish the RIAA equalization. Instead the ZP3 uses a passive RIAA network between the two 12AX7 gain stages. This approach gives a more open sound with a greater sense of depth.

Additionally, the ZP3 has a power supply over 500% larger than needed and with enough capacitance to easily power a 40 watt amplifier. This was done to eliminate voltage sag by brute force rather than using a smaller power supply and fancy solid state regulation which is the norm.

To take the power supply further, a vacuum glow tube is used in series with the supply to block harmonics and RF noise on your local power grid. The result is like having pure DC power from a battery. It is a superior method of cleaning power that does not rely on power regeneration which is often noisy (fans) and will cost several thousands of dollars.

 

There are no solid state parts in a ZP3. Often used to regulate smaller power supplies or create a constant current source for tubes, these solid state parts have been deliberately omitted so that the resulting artifacts of those devices do not poison the signature of the ZP3...  a signature that has been painstakingly voiced and is completely unequaled in the market for anywhere near the price.


 

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Tone Audio Magazine issue 74.

"I continue to be impressed by the tonal delicacy, richness and contrast this phonostage offers. Unless you have an ultra megabuck analog setup and system, I’d highly suggest buying a Decware ZP3, the matching transformer and calling it a day. It’s that good. And it’s good enough to get one of our Publisher’s Choice Awards next issue, too."

 

– Jeff Dorgay

The ZP3 is constructed on a heavy gauge steel plate that screws down into a solid hardwood base.  The layout shown below is also in the owner's manual. The bottom of the illustration represents the front of the ZP3.

ZP3 LAYOUT

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What sets thE ZP3 apart?

  • The Sound - it is one of the better sounding phono stages made.

  • Vacuum tube regulated power supply with massive transformer.

  • Tube 5U4G rectified power supply is 6 times larger than needed.

  • A signal-path featuring 2 resistors and 2 capacitors.

  • Class A operation.

  • DC heater supply for tubes.

  • 4 revisions spanning 20+ years. 

  • Customer Feedback from many 1000's of sales create a highly evolved product.

  • Exotic internals.

  • Output level controls for each channel

  • Input level controls for each channel

  • Master volume

  • Optional second mono or stereo output for subs.

  • Based on the popular 12AX7 TRIODES.

  • No solid state parts and zero negative feedback.

  • Designed by audio guru Steve Deckert.

  • Parts and Labor from the USA.

  • A Lifetime Warranty.

This phono stage is designed to be used with a step up transformer when moving coil cartridges are used.  

OPTIONS

You can configure the ZP3 with options like Anniversary Mods, different kinds of wood and even tape head mods from within the shopping cart.

WOODS

You may choose from several kinds of wood bases.

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The Walnut base is standard, but for a small upcharge you can have Cherry, Maple or Oak.  Additionally we can make them in custom woods and finishes with a more substantial upcharge.  You can choose the wood from within the shopping cart.

NOTE:  We also have new custom hardwood bases!

          CLICK HERE TO SEE

Champagne

Anniversary Mods

Anniversary mods were developed to take this stage to a level where it can be used with our flagship model SE84UFO25 Zen Triode Anniversary Amp.  The mods enhance speed and the overall resolution to its maximum potential.

TAPE HEAD Mods

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Tape head mods add switching so that you can also use your ZP3 as a tape head preamp with NAB equalization.  The equalization is also adjustable which lets you add weight to the sound or lean things out to best suit the specific reel of tape you're playing.  

This requires your reel to reel machine to also be modified with RCA jacks directly wired to the playback head.

Even with a re-capped tape machine the price of tapes is hard to justify.  However an all tube signal path from the tape head to the loudspeakers is a different story.

(Recorded for headphones)

Above is a demonstration of having tape heads directly connected to a ZP3.  Watch the intro and then skip to the end to watch designer Steve Deckerts reaction to the sound!

PICTURE GALLERY

SPECIFICATIONS

Weight 13 lbs. ea.

Dimensions 8.5" H x 7.250" W x 14.75" D

Circuit type Single ended Class A Triode Passive RIAA

Gain + 42 dB With optional step up transformer + 61dB

Input  47 kOhm

Noise / Hum < 0.5 millivolts

Input Impedance

47 kOhmsOutput Impedance < 1 kOhms

Feedback ZERO negative feedback used

Rectification 5Y3GT / 5U4 tube rectification

Regulation OA3 tube regulation for entire circuit

Signal tubes 12AX7, 12AU7

Biasing Self-Biasing circuit - never needs adjustment

Resistors All resistors are audiophile grade

Signal Cap Audiophile grade poly film or copper foil caps

Filter Caps 8 x 47uf 500V F&T

AC cord  Fused IEC connector provided with removable power cord

Consumption 65 watts at full power

Input jacks RCA  / Gold 

Output jacks RCA  / Gold 

Warranty Lifetime to original owner / 90 days on tubes

REVISION HISTORY

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ZP1 & ZP2 / 2001 ~ 2006

The original Zen Phono featured a simple steel chassis and remote power supply using active RIAA equalization. ZP1 for MM ~ ZP2 for MC/MM