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"Recommended" – Hi-fi Choice Magazine
Brings DAC Technology to a New Level for Anywhere Near the Price
The Zdac is one of the newest entries in Parasound's Z-series of half-width audiophile components. Its size may be compact, but its performance is anything but small. In fact, the amount of advanced technology packed into the compact casework of the Zdac is impressive, and the level of performance is stunning.
In a market filled with DACs, Parasound has set a new standard for performance and value with the help of acclaimed Danish digital experts Holm Acoustics.
"Sonically the Zdac offers an immaculate soundstage, with velvety black backgrounds devoid of electronic hash or noise," reports Neil Gader in the November 2013 issue of The Absolute Sound magazine. "Orchestral details, from the most delicate pluck of a harp string to the metallic peal of a distant triangle, seem to materialize in three-dimensional space rather than being artificially flattened against a shallow back wall."
"Gloriously Analogue Sounding"
"The Zdac is gloriously analogue sounding and that is a particularly alluring faclllty, especially at its ridiculously low price, which could be doubled and it would still remain one hell of a bargain," notes Malcolm Steward in his April 2013 review for England's Hi-fi Choice magazine.
Unique Re-Clocking System
The Zdac sounds more natural and less 'digital' than DACs selling for far more because of its innovative design and high quality parts. Its unique re-clocking system preserves the original source audio data by eliminating jitter contamination that is picked up along the digital signal chain. This highly effective jitter-reduction system works on all inputs, not just the USB input, as in many other DACs. This is accomplished through the synergy of two premium parts, an Analog Devices AD1895 asynchronous sample rate converter and an AD1853 DAC IC, the same DAC IC that Holm selected for Parasound's Halo CD 1 CD player. To further improve sound quality the digital signal for all inputs is up-sampled to 422 kHz.
The Zdac accepts 24 bit word lengths and all sampling rates up to 192 kHz on S/PDIF and Optical and 96 kHz on USB. Signals are reclocked and then upsampled to 422 kHz for vivid and effortless reproduction.
"We invite you to compare the Zdac to any DAC selling for under $1500," says Parasound's President Richard Schram. "You have our permission to buy a superior DAC without a high price."
High Capacity Power Supply
Most mid-priced DACs use a small external switch-mode 'wall wart' power adaptor. The Zdac includes a built-in low noise linear power supply with a high capacity toroid power transformer for the cleanest possible sound, incredible dynamic range and high-impact bass response.
Balanced Outputs and Dedicated Headphone Stage
The Zdac lets you take maximum advantage of its sonic excellence, letting you experience its sound via both balanced XLR outputs and unbalanced gold-plated RCA jacks.
The Zdac headphone output is driven by a dedicated low-noise/high current amplifier that will drive nearly any high quality headphone with ease.
The Zdac includes fast-acting muting relays, usually found only on premium priced DACs, to eliminate any hint of transient pops or thump noises during turn on/off and when selecting inputs. Custom installers will appreciate that the Zdac immediately powers back up to the same input in the event of an AC power outage.
Driver-Free Asynchronous USB
The advanced USB interface requires no additional drivers to install or maintain/update. The USB interface is plug-and-play with all operating systems, including PC, Mac, or Linux.
The Zdac USB input uses a Texas Instruments TAS1020B USB receiver and Holm has written custom software to optimize the function of its phase locked loop (PLL), significantly enhancing sonic performance. This optimization provides a superior basis to get the most of the AD1895 and AD1853 combination to further reduce USB timing errors.
"Recommended" – Hi-fi Choice Magazine
"The Zdac is gioriously analogue sounding and that is a particularly alluring faclllty, especially at its ridiculously low price, which could be doubled and it would still remain one hell of a bargain."
"The real surprise with the Zdac was its performance as a headphone amplifier. Used driving my Focal Spirit Ones and taking a digital input from my Nairn UnitiQute, the Zdac gave a performance that was thoroughly entertaining - it was neutral, detailed, dynamic, rhythmically responsive and great fun. It also had a seemingly genuine full-range quality, not leaving me with the usual cheated feeling I have after a headphone listening session."
- Malcolm Steward, Hi-fi Choice magazine, April 2013
"Sonically the Zdac offers an immaculate soundstage, with velvety black backgrounds devoid of electronic hash or noise. Orchestral details, from the most delicate pluck of a harp string to the metallic peal of a distant triangle, seem to materialize in three-dimensional space rather than being artificially flattened against a shallow back wall".
"The Parasound unit is all about space and ease in reproducing the timbre and texture of acoustic instruments and voice. As I listened to high-resolution downloads from HDtracks like Carole King’s Tapestry or James Taylors Fire and Rain, nostalgia kicked in as I was once more able to appreciate the analog engineering of that era—the acoustic bloom of the guitars and drums, the shocking lack of post-processing artifacts and the dry, heavy damping of today’s recording studio."
- Neil Gader, The Absolute Sound magazine, November 2013
Audio Advisor - Parasound Zdac Overview
Audio Advisor - Inside the Parasound Zdac