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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
|Product Reviews Click here to review this item|
|Great Value and Beyond|
I bought the Z-DAC to hold me over until I could get what I really want as my Cambridge Audio 840C which I use as a DAC is in need of repair for about the 3rd time. Well, I am not so sure I am going to need anything else. This thing is great. Granted, the Cambridge might be a little more refined, in a way I really cant put my finger on, but the ZDac sounds so much more realistic. Timing and placement of everything in the mix adds a clarity I just have never heard before. I think what might be what I really want is something akin to the Parasound with a more refined analog section. Anything in the pipeline, Parasound?
|- Wayne B, NY|
I have to agree with the other reviewers on this one. Very Musical , very detailed , precise soundstage. Superb on Vocals. No background noise. Nice compact package ! At the new price, it is must buy.
|- Mark Rubin, FL|
|Great sound & even greater value for the money|
I tried a few DACs before settling on the ZDAC including DACs which were a bit more expensive than the ZDACs original price. The ZDAC to me was the most musical of all that I tried. I found the sound to be detailed and harmonically richer with a wide and deep sound stage and nice focus compared to other DACS that I tried. Never harsh nor artificially warm in my opinion. Plus, it has a very solid bottom end. I was quite shocked at the performance at the original price. At this clearance price it is a no brainer. Even if you can spend more, you may not need to.
|- Lou Z, NY|
|Quite impressive under the hood . Typical Parasound quality .|
Used the Z-DAC in my secondary system last night . Started off with a little Leonard Cohen , I listened to that disc every morning for a week in anticipation of doing a comparison . With the Z the improvement was stunning . More detail , velvety female background vocals more apparent. More detail all the way around , nice tight smooth bass . Listened to it until 3:00 a.m. this morning then got up after only 3 hours of shuteye and started playing with it again . LOL ! Wish it would have made it here over the weekend . Anyway , towards the end of the listening session early this morning my senses were a little overloaded , you know how it is , you can listen for too long sometimes . Anyway, the DAC is great , it will be better after it has some time on it , still sounds a little new . I put a flashdrive in my Blue-Ray and set it for repeat so it will run all day . I want to smooth it out a little before I try it with my Quads . Pretty damn happy I must say ..
|- Mike H, NM|
|The Zdac is very impressive.|
I ran music through the Zdac 24/7 for just over a week before giving it my full attention but ever since Ive been very pleased with my purchase. Im impressed by the clean, articulate treble, natural sounding midrange truly stunning at times with my Magnepan 1.6s and the most impressive bass impact Ive heard from a sub $500 DAC. Also, with well recorded material, the Zdac allows my speakers to project the deepest and widest soundstage Ive yet heard from them. The Zdacs headphone amp sounds better driving my Grado 325s than my AKG K701s. The AKGs sound really nice driven by the Zdac but not quite as full bodied as they do with SOME my of stand alone headphone amps. The built in HP amp was obviously not just an afterthought for Parasound and is proving to be a really nice bonus to this great sounding yet lower priced DAC. As an aside, the silver Zdac looks great next to the Parasound Halo amps.
|- Kevin J, FL|