I have been a ZenWave cable fan since auditioning the D3 in March 2014 during one of Dave's Cable tours. I have used the ZenWave D3 as a reference since May 2017. The original D3 uses Neotech UPOCC Silver / Gold Alloy and Furutech FP-101(G) with a special filament-spring type center pin. The D3 has a detailed, forward, lit up presentation, exciting but not too bright, it is a good all around cable especially if your system has been sounding a little laid back lately.
Recently I organized a Hapa cable tour with our Tucson Audiophile group and Dave sent me the new ZenWave DSR interconnect so we could compare it to the Hapa cables since the DSR is in the same price range. A couple of weeks ago I received the new updated ZenWave D4 so I dived back into another cable evaluation.
My system is the same as for the Hapa cable review
Electronics are all Van Alstine with the Fet Valve Hybrid DAC, Fet Valve CFR preamp, and Vision SET 400 amp
Music (flac files) are streamed from my office computer to a custom low powered fanless music server I built using a Paul Pang Audiophile Grade USB card
. The USB card and SSD are powered by two separate linear regulated power supplies. Software is Windows 10 and JRiver Media Center. The excellent JMaxwell Data Only USB cable
goes to a Kingrex UC384 32bit/384Khz asynchronous USB/SPDIF converter with it’s own linear regulated power supply.
Speaker cables are a double run of Kimber 4VS with the mysterious, magical EVS Ground Enhancers
Speakers are custom mesquite Salk HT2-TL with a 1-3/4" thick solid mesquite front baffle for a very focused sound and vanishingly low cabinet resonance. Low end is handled by a REL Gibraltar G2 sub with the digital crossover readout set at 33 Hz.
In addition to the music used for the Hapa review I added a few more albums to the mix:
Ani DiFranco - Revolutionary Love
John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen - The River Flows
Jorma Kaukonen - Quah
Otis Taylor - Hey Joe Opus Red Meat
David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name
Jeff Tweedy - Love is the King
All of ZenWave's cables are excellent, at this level of perfection changing cables are like expensive tone controls. No stereo is perfect, the proper cable selection can snap the sound into focus and balance the presentation, with the right combination you will realize what all the fuss is about. Your stereo becomes a time machine, not only recreating past performances but also transporting you into the venue.
The ZenWave DSR is in some ways a departure from the ZenWave sound. Instead of Gold/Silver conductors it uses a UPOCC silver ribbon cable with 17g conductors with super low capacitance. The cable's tone is warmer and rounder than either the D3 or D4. The bass and treble appear to be the same across all three cables I auditioned but the DSR has more density, definitely an analog feel to the sound. I like it a lot.
"Sluice" on The Future Sound of London's album "Cascade" (2020) is dark and ominous with deep bass, the DSR conveys the threatening tone perfectly, the trickling water at the end is clear and wet.
Jorma Kaukonen is keeping time on the floor on "Genesis", the first song on "Quah". The foot taps are deep and clear and attest to the DSR's ability to play deep subterranean bass.
David Crosby's 1971 debut solo album "If I Could Only Remember My Name" sounds wonderful on vinyl, the highs are mixed a little hot so the album sparkles. The CD is too bright but the DSR cable brings out a nice warmth, keeps the highs in check and makes the album listenable.
The updated ZenWave D4 has evolved into a wonderful step up from the D3. The original D4 (2014) was too bright and detailed in my system. The current D4 is now completely neutral with more meat on it's bones. If you like the D3 you will love the D4. The cable is not as analog sounding as the DSR, it won't warm up an already lean system but if your stereo is balanced the D4 will let you hear everything while moving you up a couple of rows.
If the DSR cable were slippers, the D4 cables would be dancing shoes.
The Salk HT2-TL speakers are closer to a studio monitor sound. In my stereo the DSR is a better all around cable, I can relax into the music. If you always want to be upfront at a concert, your music is well recorded and need to hear everything then the D4 is your ticket. The D3 will get you to 80% of the D4 but that last 20% is where the magic happens.