DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review

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nathanm

DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« on: 5 Jan 2003, 05:55 am »
I tried this doohickey first with my normal speaker-based setup. But then it got too late at night and I felt guilted into using headphones.  This proved to be a better evaluation because it was easier to make the switch.

Speaker rig:

Michaell Gyro SE turntable-->Shanling CD-T100-->NAD 3225PE Preamp Only-->Behringer Crossover-->LeAmps with gain tweak whatchamacallit for mains-->QSC PLX-1602 amp for sub-->Norh Marble 7.0s-->VMPS New Larger subwoofer

Headphone rig:
Shanling CD-T100 (volume at MAX)-->Sennheiser HD600

I didn't do any A\B with the turntable as it is more futzy to select tracks obviously.  The review will be based on CD material only.

Music
Memory Garden "Forever"
Metallica "Master Of Puppets" (the remastered gold version)
The Police "Every Breath You Take - The Singles"
Demolition Hammer "Epidemic Of Violence"
Macabre "Dahmer"

Over speakers what I perceived was a "focusing" or "sharpening" of the sound and what seemed like a reduction in the bass output from the sub.  The image seemed to become more centered.

Over headphones I listened very intently for any changes in the inner harmonics of the guitar tones.  I experienced the "focusing" effect but I also thought it seemed as if the upper mids and treble range was boosted and perhaps grainier.  It sounded slightly more forward.  The Sennheiser 'phones have excellent detail but the bass is almost not there.  I seem to have an affinity for buying products with weak bass response. These headphones need little subwoofers installed in the earcups!  :wink:

The DeZorel seemed to clean things up a bit and give the tone more contrast, but none of these effects were obvious without intense concentration, and when you are listening for that kind of junk you aren't thinking about, or even enjoying the music, and that is a bad thing.

If your AC power is worse than mine maybe it will cure your ills, but what I heard wasn't anything I'd spend money on before doing something more useful like room treatment.  It didn't do any harm to the music, but it didn't do anything all that special either.

I don't like doing reviews on something I cannot A\B switch instantly, and I almost thought about building a switch box.  But I have no idea if the CD player would reset itself in that moment or not.  Probably more trouble than it's worth.  The DeZorel is a device that creates SMALL changes in the sound and my system is in need of something that makes BIG changes.  So if you're already nearing that plateau of performance this may be for you.  As for me, I'm more in the mood for anything that will make the music float in the air instead of hover inches away from the speaker baffles, as the 7.0s do.  I doubt that power filtration will help me achieve that goal.

audiojerry

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #1 on: 5 Jan 2003, 08:39 pm »
Thanks for the review, Nathan. As for that floating sensation, I think you should have given the Criterions a try. The HD600 are very high impedence headphones, and without a good headphone amp they will sound anemic. With the right headphoe amp, they become transformed and have great bass. I would definitely invest in a good headphone amp before the Dezorel, but when your system is reaching its potential, then something like the Dezorel makes more sense.

nathanm

DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #2 on: 5 Jan 2003, 09:13 pm »
I have an Antique Sound Labs MG Head DT headphone amp but did not use it for the test.  This amp sounds great, but as I said, these headphones are not very bassy regardless of the amp.  Everything else about the frequency response is wonderful, though.

I should say that I prefer what is most likely an "exaggerated" bass response in headphones.  I used to have various Koss phones and compared to the Sennheisers they had very warm, ear-massaging bass, but the clarity of the HD600s is much much better.  I do kinda miss that low end pressure, though.

DVV

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #3 on: 3 Feb 2003, 07:09 pm »
Quote from: nathanm
I have an Antique Sound Labs MG Head DT headphone amp but did not use it for the test.  This amp sounds great, but as I said, these headphones are not very bassy regardless of the amp.  Everything else about the frequency response is wonderful, though.

I should say that I prefer what is most likely an "exaggerated" bass response in headphones.  I used to have various Koss phones and compared to the Sennheisers they had very warm, ear-massaging bass, but the clarity of the HD600s is much much better.  I do kinda miss that low end pressure, though.


Nate, try Grado SR-60 cans, and bigger models. I think you may find that they give you the best of both worlds, deep bass and clarity. I'm in love with my Grado SR-60 cans.

Cheers,
DVV

nathanm

DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #4 on: 3 Feb 2003, 09:43 pm »
Never heard the 60s but I did  buy a pair of Grado SR-325s at the same time I got my Sennheisers and although they looked very cool they sounded even thinner and more hollow than the HD600s.  I know folks will say "burn in time!" but the Senns easily bested them in my opinion.  Circumaural is the ONLY way to go in my opinion.  Both for comfort and for bass.  Ya gotta have a good seal against your head.  The HD600s are 10x more comfortable than the Grados, easily.  Phones that press against my ears just make them sore over time.  When I listened to the Grados I immediately thought all the people whose reviews I read about them were nuts!  (I don't mean you Dejan, I know you're not nuts and certainly entitled to your opinion!) :P Pretty harsh and nasty sounding to me.    So after a week or so I decided to send them back.

With the Tung Sol 12ax7 on the amp using the OTL jack I get noticeably more bass and a much thicker sound than before.  I'm so tickled that I actually heard a meaningful, observable difference in a piece of playback gear just by changing one tube. Awesome.  I really love the transient snap that I get with this setup and I wish I could get the same through speakers, but I think much of that is a volume issue.   :cuss: in' apartment!  I think when I get my own house you won't see me posting here much because 95% of my audio problems will be solved. (wishful thinking most likely!)  LOUDER=BETTER!  8)

skchow

DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #5 on: 3 Feb 2003, 10:56 pm »
nathanm,
I've been reading your critiques and find them to parallel my experiences in that a lot of stuff that's been discussed on these audio boards seem to impact the overall sound only minutely.  My own system consists of Music Hall MMF-7 | Norh CD-1 | Kenwood KT-715 -> NAD C160 -> 2 x Le Amps -> Avinci 1.3s.  I do wonder though, whether the preamp is limiting the resolution of the overall system thus leading to hearing only minute changes when others would claim a world of difference.  So my question is, have you tried other preamps in your rig and how the switch affected your overall sound?

Sunny.

<- Needs a justification to upgrade his preamp  :D

nathanm

DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #6 on: 4 Feb 2003, 02:10 am »
Hi Skchow!

Thanks!  I'm glad we're on the same wavelength more or less.  I am a pretty skeptical guy by nature, and I like to hear very dramatic changes in the sound or I am not impressed and wonder why it matters to other people, or why they would spend money on that change.  When I was at Audiojerry's place we listened to a song and I swapped between the tube and SS outputs.  Jerry was able to identify which was which and preferred the solid state saying it had a better soundstage etc.  Now me, I heard a very very small difference and I cannot even describe what I heard, the difference was so minute.  I could live with either one.  I had never heard that song before, but if it was a song I liked I would be more than happy listening to either output.  Stuff like that just doesn't register for me yet.  Not sure if that is good or bad!

Anyway, to answer your question, no, I have not tried other preamps yet.  The NAD I'm not using in my main system anymore (I'm always swapping stuff around now, so it's always changing)  Right now I am running the Shanling tube outputs direct into the Norh SE-9 or the LeAmps the SS output goes to my crossover and then to the QSC amp powering the subwoofer.  I use the digital volume on the CD player.  Now, I've read that this is a 'bad thing' because you are limiting the resolution of the data. Makes perfect sense, however I can't say that it really matters to my ears at the moment.  

I need to get some kind of preamp so I can run both the turntable and the CD player with the sub.  Now just the CD can use the sub.  I have my eye on the ASL "Twinhead" because I like their headphone amp so much and both of them have that OTL switch.  I am a sucker for anything that claims to change the sound!  Triode\Pentode, variable feedback (Manley amps) any of that stuff piques my interest.  Those "tone controls" are all audiophile-legal, not like actual tone controls, which will get you thrown in hifi jail! :wink:  Once I jury rigged the MG head to drive a speaker.  Well, it sounded godawful and distorted, but there were BIG differences between the OTL and transformer sounds which were not quite as apparent through headphones.  Having some manner of flexibility seems cool to me.  I freely admit I don't give a dang about transparency or neutrality or whatever, I just want it to sound like what I want.  Just think of the huge range of differences in your CD collection.  Surely ONE set of circuitry cannot do justice to everything!  If I'm listening to something where it seems too grating then I'd like to have some warmth added to tone down the treble.  If it's a really crisp and clean recording then neutrality is great.  I don't think it should be as ridiculous as those "EQ presets" on mainstream gear, but having some kind of timbral control seems to make sense.

I'm not gonna lie to ya, I buy gear more for how it looks than how it sounds or measures.  I look at it as an art form.  I am smitten with the Manley 300b preamp, but lordy is it expensive!   :o  I am hoping that there's gear out there that will blow me away, but I am still skeptical.  You won't have a hard time finding anyone to tell you that the NAD is limiting you, but I've never heard your system so I can't say!  To me speakers are the big thing.  Speakers, placement and the room.  I would rather do a "shootout" with 4 different sets of speakers rather than 4 DACs.  To me, even though this has no technical validity, those components just don't matter enough for me to care.  If they work, great.  I dunno, that's just where my head's at now.  I dunno if any of this babbling helps you or not! Heh!  Good luck!

audiojerry

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #7 on: 4 Feb 2003, 02:06 pm »
FWIW, NAD has a new 50wpc integrated that's gotten big praise for its sonics in The Absolute Sound, the 320BEE, $399, and it seems to have it all: tone controls, headphone input, remote control.

The specs look great:
http://207.228.230.217/info/NAD_C320BEE.pdf

I'm interested in one for myself for a second system.    

Have you heard about it?

DVV

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #8 on: 4 Feb 2003, 10:31 pm »
Quote from: audiojerry
FWIW, NAD has a new 50wpc integrated that's gotten big praise for its sonics in The Absolute Sound, the 320BEE, $399, and it seems to have it all: tone controls, headphone input, remote control.

The specs look great:
http://207.228.230.217/info/NAD_C320BEE.pdf

I'm interested in one for myself for a second system.    

Have you heard about it?


I have. It's a very fair product for the price, strictly in the value for money group, which is something I respect.

It's got guts, it can rock'n'roll, but it can do classical with some finesse as well - a surprising amount in view of its, by current stanndards, low price.

However, in my view, it's a bit lazy, a little slow - not enough speed in response. Hard to describe, but when Vangelis comes crashing in in his "Metallic rain" song (from "Bladerunner"), I am left with a distinct feeling of being a little shortchanged, as if the music lost some of its sting and bite.

If I were you, guys, I'd investigate Rotel's latest crop, in my view, they are better still. But choosing between the two is a very personal matter, because Rotel has more speed and grit, but its ambience factor is not quite up to NAD's.

Cheers,
DVV

audiojerry

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #9 on: 5 Feb 2003, 03:56 pm »
DVV, so you've actually heard this model? Didn't it just come onto the market, or are we way behind in the USA?
Regardless, thanks for the heads-up. For that price, I might be willing to overlook some minor quibbles for a second system. I'm looking at something down the road anyways to give my wife something to use upstairs. Was the NAD fully broken in? Is the Rotel fully integrated competitive price wise? My personal experience with Rotel is very good build quality, good but uninspiring sound. You are right on the money when describing the lack of ambient factor (air) with Rotel. Maybe it's the resistors.

DVV

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #10 on: 15 Feb 2003, 11:25 pm »
Quote from: audiojerry
DVV, so you've actually heard this model? Didn't it just come onto the market, or are we way behind in the USA?
Regardless, thanks for the heads-up. For that price, I might be willing to overlook some minor quibbles for a second system. I'm looking at something down the road anyways to give my wife something to use upstairs. Was the NAD fully broken in? Is the Rotel fully integrated competitive price wise? My personal experience with Rotel is very good build quality, good but uninspiring sound. You are right on the money when describing the lack of ambient factor (air) with Rotel. Maybe it's the resistors.


I have no idea how the local distributor picked it up so fast, but I would imagine they got a few pre-release models to show around. Manufacturers do that sometimes.

Anyway, it had been broken in, it had been working 8 AM to 8 PM for at least two weeks before I even saw it.

I must say I rather liked it, despite my feeling of some lazyness. It has a relaxed sound, sort of "whoaboy, take it easy, this ain't no race track" kind of sound. But it gave out more detail and ambience than I normally expect in that price class, and in that respect, it's a clear winner over Rotel.

The Rotel on the other hand had more speed, punch and dynamics, but in my view, lacked air and ambience.

If I was buying, I'd go for the NAD, I prefer air and ambience to speed and attack, if I can't have both. For a second system, I think you'd be doing really well with it, it's good enough for the first system if you are short on the wherewithall.

Cheers,
DVV

audiojerry

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #11 on: 17 Feb 2003, 06:33 pm »
[quote="I must say I rather liked it, despite my feeling of some lazyness. It has a relaxed sound, sort of "whoaboy, take it easy, this ain't no race track" kind of sound. But it gave out more detail and ambience than I normally expect in that price class, and in that respect, it's a clear winner over Rotel.

The Rotel on the other hand had more speed, punch and dynamics, but in my view, lacked air and ambience.

If I was buying, I'd go for the NAD, I prefer air and ambience to speed and attack, if I can't have both. For a second system, I think you'd be doing really well with it, it's good enough for the first system if you are short on the wherewithall.
[/quote]
Sounds like the comments of someone who prefers tubes to solid state  :P

DVV

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #12 on: 17 Feb 2003, 10:27 pm »
Quote from: audiojerry
Sounds like the comments of someone who prefers tubes to solid state  :P


For that to be true, I would have to assume that a typical SS owner hasn't even heard of air and ambience, and prefers slam, whizz and kick to everything else. Quite the opposite of a tube audio man, who is the gentleman of audio, preferring air and ambience in his soft recordings of grass joint inspired jazz, played via his 0.1W, capacitor coupled, transformer coupled super SET audio. :mrgreen:

Come on, Jerry, air is air, ambience is ambience no matter what you play it on. Nobody has exclusive rights to it.

I always look for air and ambience, without them, the music becomes just so much orderly noise, and I'm wasting my time.

Remember when we talked about DeZorel? I told you its greatest virtue in my book was that it gave me air and ambience like nothing else I had ever heard. Hey, I've been at this for 34 years. :P

Cheers,
DVV

nathanm

DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #13 on: 17 Feb 2003, 11:40 pm »
Air and ambience comes from good microphones, good mic preamps (SS or tube) and live, reverberant rooms.  Plus I think AJ really digs the brushed snare action, and I can't say I blame him.  It's a cool sound that makes for a nice ambient wash.  

That "you are there" air and ambience is wholly dependent on the recording.  A box of circuits cannot create what isn't there, if I may state the obvious.  Unless that box of circuits is a Lexicon processor which I use to add FAKE ambience to my non-purist, evil multi-track recordings! Nyah nyah!

I'm telling ya though, it's that room sound that makes audiophiles "harder than Chinese algebra".  Get a sense of the recording space and bob's your uncle.

audiojerry

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DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #14 on: 18 Feb 2003, 04:59 pm »
Dejan, I hope you know I was pulling your leg.
Nathan, you nailed it about the recording - it has to capture the air and space, and when I hear it in a recording it makes all the difference.

PS: I just picked up a P-1A, which reclocks the digital signal and upamples to 24/96: man, the air and space around each performer has become even more palpable.

I will try to post a review on it.

nathanm

DeZorel G2 LF-A1 MkII Power Filter Review
« Reply #15 on: 18 Feb 2003, 05:13 pm »
Even better, have a fan blowing on the microphones during tracking.  You wouldn't believe the amount of air you can get!  Whoo!