Zanden 9600 MK2 Mono Amps: Review by Alan Sircom

Marcus

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Oct 5, 2012
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#21
When do you do think Yamada San may be delivering the 9150s?
Yamada San visited our representative a few weeks ago and we had a short talk. He didn't tell me when exactly the 9150 will be finished but from his enthusiasm, tech. information he revealed and knowing his tempo in designing new products, I speculate we should see it somewhere in the middle of 2020. Would be great if would be sooner but doubt it.
 

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Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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#22
Do you have direct experience with the 9600 mk2? BTW, Loyd has high impedance, high efficiency speakers ...
I have played for many years with the Zanden 9500 mk iii (845) amps and I have heard the 9600 mk ii on several occasions, including in a combination with the Magico Q7 loudspeakers and a full DCS Vivaldi stack.

I know Lloyd could use the Zanden amps with his current loudspeakers. And in all honesty I am not a (big) fan of the big Gryphon amps, including the Mephisto that I have heard in a vinyl set up with the Continuum Caliburn turntable a while back. The large Gryphon amps are imho too slow and I really miss the refinement and unmechanicalness of set amps. To me - but that is just me - these qualities are (much) more important than power/headroom.
 
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Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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#23
Long-term that makes a lot of sense...but big transducers are also the biggest cost (in many but not all systems), and so that switch can be particularly costly. That being said, I am currently sitting with one of the more all-out scale speakers that is relatively easy to drive. And yet the one 'above it' that I keep my eye on is far more difficult to drive! (The Arrakis)...it is simply a tremendous state-of-the-art speaker that also has a manageable footprint 2' x 3' and 6'9" in height. 60cm x 90cm x 2.1m
Fully understand where you are coming from Lloyd. I am sure more Arrakis loudspeakers will come available at reasonable prices once Andy will unleash the ‘big brother’ of the Lyra.
 

Jazzhead

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Aug 26, 2012
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#24
I have a Zanden 3000mk1, if anybody wants to take up acquiring one and ship to Japan to update to MK2 status, inbox me please.
 

Marcus

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Oct 5, 2012
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#25
I have a Zanden 3000mk1, if anybody wants to take up acquiring one and ship to Japan to update to MK2 status, inbox me please.
Not sure if the upgrade is possible Jazzhead.
 

Jazzhead

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#26
Not sure if the upgrade is possible Jazzhead.
Think it is , that's what I understood after speaking to Yamada San , last in HKG. Will reconfirm...
 
May 30, 2010
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#27
I have played for many years with the Zanden 9500 mk iii (845) amps and I have heard the 9600 mk ii on several occasions, including in a combination with the Magico Q7 loudspeakers and a full DCS Vivaldi stack.

I know Lloyd could use the Zanden amps with his current loudspeakers. And in all honesty I am not a (big) fan of the big Gryphon amps, including the Mephisto that I have heard in a vinyl set up with the Continuum Caliburn turntable a while back. The large Gryphon amps are imho too slow and I really miss the refinement and unmechanicalness of set amps. To me - but that is just me - these qualities are (much) more important than power/headroom.
Thanks - did you find that the 9600 mk ii could drive the Q7's? IMHO they need more power than XLF's, but it is just a subjective feeling, I have never seen any measurements of the Q7. Curious that DCS Vivaldi stack was used in such company, what was the preamplifier?
 

Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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#28
Thanks - did you find that the 9600 mk ii could drive the Q7's? IMHO they need more power than XLF's, but it is just a subjective feeling, I have never seen any measurements of the Q7. Curious that DCS Vivaldi stack was used in such company, what was the preamplifier?
Yes, in my view the 9600 mk ii Zanden amps could drive the Q7 (btw, mk i) loudspeakers. They used a Zanden 3000 linestage, a device I am very familiar with as I have played with it (and the Zanden 1200 mk iii phonostage) for many years.

Just curious: Why do you consider it curious that a full Dcs Vivaldi stack was being used?
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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#29
I have played for many years with the Zanden 9500 mk iii (845) amps and I have heard the 9600 mk ii on several occasions, including in a combination with the Magico Q7 loudspeakers and a full DCS Vivaldi stack.

I know Lloyd could use the Zanden amps with his current loudspeakers. And in all honesty I am not a (big) fan of the big Gryphon amps, including the Mephisto that I have heard in a vinyl set up with the Continuum Caliburn turntable a while back. The large Gryphon amps are imho too slow and I really miss the refinement and unmechanicalness of set amps. To me - but that is just me - these qualities are (much) more important than power/headroom.
Totally respect that. Absolute refinement and absolute lack of mechanical was only one the amazing things I remember about your earlier system.

That was undoubtedly due to "everything" you did...but it surely also included your SET amps. I have often considered if I "knew" I would never move from big Wilsons and their efficiency (not sure if XLF is easy to drive or not), I could certainly think about an 'all Zanden system' which, just saying those words, actually sounds pretty awesome.
 

Marcus

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Oct 5, 2012
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#30
Some thoughts about the 9600 mk2 power amps from Audiofreaks:

"Whether on their own, or (even more so) when partnered with the new Zanden Model 3000Mk2 valve remote line preamplifier, the overall sound quality of the Model 9600Mk2 in every imaginable aspect is so convincingly superior to anything else we have experienced over the past 30+ years in the area of power amplification, that they have become our new reference! Yes, they may develop “just” 100W of pure, unadulterated (valve power supply, valve input stage, a pair of KR845s in the output stage) power, but the degree of musical reality, ability to resolve without effort, uncompressed micro and macro dynamics, very tangible and palpable three dimensional soundstaging, deep controlled bass, almost electrostatic quality of midrange and silky, open, but never bright or aggressive treble – all this and so much more comngregates into an overall musical experience beyond words. All, but most difficult to drive and largest loudspeaker systems will be served to ample levels (even in large rooms) by the unforced stamina of the Model 9600Mk2. A fully differential (balanced) design. it also redefines the standards of lowest audible audio circuit noise being utterly and totally silent through any of the loudspeakers we use. A truly remarkable achievement and our warmest congratulations to Kazutoshi Yamada on another masterful product!!!"
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
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#31
Thanks! Curious that you use the CJ ARTs with your Zanden 3000 MkII. Any insights about how the 9600s compare with your ARTs?
Some thoughts about the 9600 mk2 power amps from Audiofreaks:

"Whether on their own, or (even more so) when partnered with the new Zanden Model 3000Mk2 valve remote line preamplifier, the overall sound quality of the Model 9600Mk2 in every imaginable aspect is so convincingly superior to anything else we have experienced over the past 30+ years in the area of power amplification, that they have become our new reference! Yes, they may develop “just” 100W of pure, unadulterated (valve power supply, valve input stage, a pair of KR845s in the output stage) power, but the degree of musical reality, ability to resolve without effort, uncompressed micro and macro dynamics, very tangible and palpable three dimensional soundstaging, deep controlled bass, almost electrostatic quality of midrange and silky, open, but never bright or aggressive treble – all this and so much more comngregates into an overall musical experience beyond words. All, but most difficult to drive and largest loudspeaker systems will be served to ample levels (even in large rooms) by the unforced stamina of the Model 9600Mk2. A fully differential (balanced) design. it also redefines the standards of lowest audible audio circuit noise being utterly and totally silent through any of the loudspeakers we use. A truly remarkable achievement and our warmest congratulations to Kazutoshi Yamada on another masterful product!!!"
 

Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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#32
Totally respect that. Absolute refinement and absolute lack of mechanical was only one the amazing things I remember about your earlier system.

That was undoubtedly due to "everything" you did...but it surely also included your SET amps. I have often considered if I "knew" I would never move from big Wilsons and their efficiency (not sure if XLF is easy to drive or not), I could certainly think about an 'all Zanden system' which, just saying those words, actually sounds pretty awesome.
Fully appreciate that audiophiles value other/different aspects of music reproduction than I do, Lloyd. Just keen on enjoying your Gryphon amps. Really hope for you that the Mephisto will be a (big) leap forward in your audio set up.
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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#33
Fully appreciate that audiophiles value other/different aspects of music reproduction than I do, Lloyd. Just keen on enjoying your Gryphon amps. Really hope for you that the Mephisto will be a (big) leap forward in your audio set up.
Thank you! Not there yet...want to see the Colosseum sold. That said, I take comfort I knowing that Andy Payor has put such stock in Gryphon amps. This is someone whose entire business never seems to have been about major marketing, regular upgrades...but rather just low-key, super solid design, build quality and great personal attention to detail. And just as importantly, I have heard such remarkable sound at Ernie Lau's in Hong Kong with the Arrakis. The only one that also blew my mind was your earlier system...and the ways you both got there was quite different. Ernie used 4 sets of VTL Siegfried IIs vs your Kondos.

I can only imagine what your new system must be like. I will PM you about that.
 

Marcus

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Oct 5, 2012
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#34
Thanks! Curious that you use the CJ ARTs with your Zanden 3000 MkII. Any insights about how the 9600s compare with your ARTs?
I was quite surprised that Zanden 3000mk2 and cj ART go so well together and that makes the wait for Zanden 9150 monos much easier. Have no doubt 9600mk2 is vastly superior to the ART considering reports of a friend whose opinion I appreciate. After all I bought 3000mk2 based primarily on his suggestion. But as I said earlier, a relatively low power rating is a concern for many including me.

In the TAS Electronics designer roundtable (http://www.theabsolutesound.com/arti...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 (and a few other important facts) is a basis of my firm belief that 9150 monos will be as great as 9600mk2.
 
May 30, 2010
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#35
Yes, in my view the 9600 mk ii Zanden amps could drive the Q7 (btw, mk i) loudspeakers. They used a Zanden 3000 linestage, a device I am very familiar with as I have played with it (and the Zanden 1200 mk iii phonostage) for many years.

Just curious: Why do you consider it curious that a full Dcs Vivaldi stack was being used?
Because it is also my feeling that it should be a great system - I really prefer the DCS Vivaldi stack with tubes. But I seldom see it with low power tubes or even SETs.
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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#36
Because it is also my feeling that it should be a great system - I really prefer the DCS Vivaldi stack with tubes. But I seldom see it with low power tubes or even SETs.
Hang on...are the XLFs back in the House of Microstrip? I see the change in your signature. Do we hear an all Zanden pre/power system coming next perhaps?
 
May 30, 2010
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#37
Hang on...are the XLFs back in the House of Microstrip? I see the change in your signature. Do we hear an all Zanden pre/power system coming next perhaps?
They are just finishing burn-in - 150 hours of continuous play of chamber music, mostly with a Quad 606 driven by the Vivaldi in repeat mode. Some different tube electronics will arrive by the middle of the month, but it will not be Zanden. :D
 
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LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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#38
Very nice! Congrats!!! Are they new? What color? When you say some new electronics...are you going ARC or CJ or VTL or something else?
 
May 30, 2010
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#39
Very nice! Congrats!!! Are they new? What color? When you say some new electronics...are you going ARC or CJ or VTL or something else?
They are mocha black, my favorite Wilson color. The great news considering finish is that now the screws are matte black - I was never pleased with the stainless steel finish of the previous version!

ARC, cj and VTL are now being played, the new electronics will arrive next week ...
The big decision must be taken by the end of the month - November will be a cleaning month!
 
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LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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#40
Fantastic! Look forward to reading more...what made you bring them back? I recall that you originally had them, then thought to sell them when you began thinking about the next gen XLF...and then thought it might have been a mistake. What crystallized your thinking NOT to wait for XLF Gen 2?
 

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