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dalethorn's picture
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Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

Here is my video and text description of this really cool amp: http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/forum/headphone-reviews/3572-decware-zen-head-portable-headphone-amp-review.html

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

I was looking at the Decware website earlier, looks like great gear and I really like the brand image.

How did you find the ordering process?

I am quite interested in the Zen Triode and I wonder if it would be difficult sending a valve amp from the USA to the UK.

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

12Designs wrote:
I was looking at the Decware website earlier, looks like great gear and I really like the brand image.

How did you find the ordering process?

I am quite interested in the Zen Triode and I wonder if it would be difficult sending a valve amp from the USA to the UK.

The ordering process is slow. You order and they put you on the backlog. My little amp took at least 2 months to build, longer no doubt for bigger amps. Getting items from the UK to the US is cheap and easy, and we don't even have to pay the VAT, making many items cheaper in the UK for Americans! Sadly, the opposite will apply the other way around, and you'd likely pay the full VAT and then some. But, you could explore the "Amp is a review item only, to be returned" ploy and see if that helps. I can't say any more about that, as I don't want to suggest anything illegal.

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

Excellent, thanks!!

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

dalethorn wrote:

Getting items from the UK to the US is cheap and easy, and we don't even have to pay the VAT, making many items cheaper in the UK for Americans! Sadly, the opposite will apply the other way around, and you'd likely pay the full VAT and then some. 

OMG that's really annoying! That's a bit of a loop hole that I guess happens because they assume it's already been charged more tax than you'd pay in the US coming from the UK. Whereas over here ordering from the US you would pay 20% tax + customs + handling charge + 2 weeks for them to hold your package and make your expensive postage pointless in the first place. I hate UK customs so much - pure evil!!!
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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

quadpatch wrote:
OMG that's really annoying! That's a bit of a loop hole that I guess happens because they assume it's already been charged more tax than you'd pay in the US coming from the UK. Whereas over here ordering from the US you would pay 20% tax + customs + handling charge + 2 weeks for them to hold your package and make your expensive postage pointless in the first place. I hate UK customs so much - pure evil!!!

Well, our own dear legislature is working hard to get "states" to collect taxes directly from merchants, although I don't know how that will work with offshore items. I hate to tell you this, but the Senn IE800 that's $1k in the U.S. and £600 in the U.K. - I got it for (can't say, but scary cheap when the VAT is backed out and a little extra forgiveness is provided). I get most of my CDs from Amazon U.K., since the postage is cheap and in most cases I get better versions too. The nightmare of America though is "health" care, and being a millionaire won't help if you come down with something.

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

YEah I guess it's give and take for each system. The lack of NHS does scare me, but they're always threatening to take it away here anyway. A few weeks ago I got ill in Mexico, as long as you have a little money over there it's not a bad country to get sick in. That's not a bad option if you live near the border.

 

Anyway as much as I hate getting ripped off in the UK it's not all bad and at least we don't have to constantly add tax to things in shops or work out our own taxes each year.

 

Going back to a slightly related subject: Honestly congrats on the IE800 deal! That sounds like one heck of a bargain!!

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

quadpatch wrote:
Going back to a slightly related subject: Honestly congrats on the IE800 deal! That sounds like one heck of a bargain!!
 

Then there's a Final Audio Design FI-BA-SS on the way (eventually) - another single-driver super-IEM. I love single driver anything, or as close as possible. I've had some good 2-way speakers before, but never could appreciate multi-driver speakers with complex crossovers. I think that's why good headphones sound so good. I've had a few electrostatics long ago, but maybe one day when someone makes a planar with proper treble and presence, which I hear the LCD-3 is rather distant, then maybe I'll spring for one of those. The truly amazing thing about the IE800 is despite having a rather narrow soundstage, it has a depth and a sense of realism that I think everyone should experience at least once. I don't have the greatest collection of music - mostly just cobbled together from the occasional CD or hirez download - but a few of my tracks were just breathtakingly real with the IE800.

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

The IE800 was another one that Headfonia wanted me to review, I had to decline because I just can't get on with IEMs. It's a shame, but I will have to stick to full size headphones. I might get to review some Final Audio Design stuff soon too, looking forward to see what you think of their IEMs.

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

12Designs wrote:

I was looking at the Decware website earlier, looks like great gear and I really like the brand image.

How did you find the ordering process?

I am quite interested in the Zen Triode and I wonder if it would be difficult sending a valve amp from the USA to the UK.

Just to add, I was looking at buying a Zen, and calculated it would be about £800 in total including Shipping, Import Duty and VAT. It was much the same with Magnepan when I was looking at importing some MMGs, they are a $600 speaker but end up costing £700 after importing them! Basically change the $ price directly into £ and add a little!

I have gone down the DIY route and will be building my own (with a friend).

The Zen is one of my favourite amps, only ~2wpc but amazing with what it does!

 

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

After living with the Zen Head ($375 USD) for a month, it's clearly a more detailed amp than the various FiiO amps I have or had. Next time I spend this much or a little more, I want a DAC built in where the amp is as good as the Zen Head. I've been looking at the $500 Pico DAC/amp, but I don't know that it would be as good. There may be something made in the U.K. that's as good - don't know that either. In the meantime, since my headphones are fairly efficient, I'm getting good results with v-moda's verza DAC/amp, which provides DAC from computer USB as well as Apple and Android USBs. Then again, I'm also looking hard at the AK120 player with up to 192 gb of storage. Ultimately I hope the future is a cellphone/Internet device with all of the capabilities and quality of the AK120, or better.

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

Built a variant of this design a while ago and thought the crossfeed, compared to the tangent/meier implementations, to be pretty successful. I like the way certain instruments/vocalists sort of step out the mix - it certainly does munch batteries though.

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RE: Decware Zen Head stereo headphone amp - review

lonely boy wrote:
Built a variant of this design a while ago and thought the crossfeed, compared to the tangent/meier implementations, to be pretty successful.

I wish I had a way to analyze the crossfeed feature on the Zen Head. Crossfeed on my FiiO E12 just collapses the soundstage, and the '3D' button on the vamp verza is the opposite, making most tracks sound like they're being played in a large empty mall. The Zen Head's feature is subtle, and while I heard differences, it wasn't possible to have the board pulled out enough to toggle the switch in real time and still have the battery connected.

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