Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

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YNWaN
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Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by YNWaN »

I have just had delivered the UK loan sample of the Kit Ryan designed Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’. Now on the face of it this is quite a prosaic product that follows a well trodden path, but look a little deeper and it’s actually quite a radical departure from the norm. So what is this ZapCap I imagine you asking? The answer is simple and quite niche (though I guess it could be modified, or implemented, to work in a wider context; the ZapCap is intended as an alternative to the venerable Naim Hi-Cap - predominantly the power supply element for a number of Naim pre-amps.

First let’s look at the similarities to the Hi-Cap. Like the Hi-Cap the ZapCap is a linear power supply, it’s not a switch-mode design. It consists of a transformer, storage/reservoir capacitors and a regulating circuit. It’s purpose is to provide the pre-amp with a clean and steady, dual rail, supply of electricity. However, when we start to look at the differences we first need to consider the path that Naim have historically taken with their power supply development. In the ‘old days’ (1978 to 1989) there was the Snaps power supply.

Image

A simple design, a large toroidal transformer, a large reservoir capacitor (the blue cylinder) and a basic regulating circuit. Eventually this was replaced by the Hi-Cap (still in production now):

Image

Differences were pretty small in terms of technical sophistication. The size of the transformer was raised to a whopping 500VA (larger than found in many power amps) and the reservoir capacitance was more than doubled - these changes meant the unit had to double in size. The actual circuit was much the same though.

Finally, in 2012, Naim reinvented the regulation circuit of the Hi-Cap and called it the DR upgrade. The common link with all Naim’s power supply development is the increase in size - bigger (very big) transformers and huge amounts of reservoir capacitance. Kit Ryan, with the ZapCap raises the question of whether this design decision to pursue ‘grunt’ was a wise one. In stark contrast to the Hi-Cap the ZapCap uses a much smaller transformer, a number of much smaller reservoir capacitors and a sophisticated regulation circuit.

To be continued....
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sq225917
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by sq225917 »

More...
Paradise phonostage, benz lp, kuzma stabi s 12
Bpbp, nuerochrome mod86p bridged monos
Yamaha ns100m, quarter cut Oak veneer, raal 140-15d ribbons
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by YNWaN »

It’s ‘warming up’ in the system at this minute - I’ll have a listen in an hour or so. I see it’s built into the same case as the RSL phonostage (which makes sense) - as such it’s a similar proportion to a Hi-Cap but about half the size (still a weighty chunk of metal though).
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

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Well I have now had a bit of a listen. Initially I put on my new Smoke Fairies album; it’s not exactly an audiophile recording but it is very catchy and I like it. Yep, it sounded pretty good - so good I listened to the whole of the first side. I then swapped back to my Hi-Cap (mine is fitted with an Avondale TPR4 reg) and listened again. Much to my surprise there is a pretty obvious difference! Predominantly, and in comparison, my Hi-Cap made the sound quite a bit ‘thicker’ and almost syrupy in the mid bass down. The mid sounded a bit lifeless too - which is not something I’ve ever thought before! I then listened to the most recent Aldous Harding album ‘Designer’ (mine is such a noisy pressing :() - other than the surface noise it sounded great, really good.

I’ve got to do some more listening to a greater range of music but, so far, I’m really impressed - shockingly so in fact!

I see Kit also does an upgrade for the Hi-Cap called the PSM-1 and I think I will email him about that....

Image
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by Nobeone »

Looking forward to this ... perhaps it isn't just me that finds Hicap and TPR4 have a bass bloom :shock:

:P
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

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Hmm... perhaps not just you...

I’ve done a bit more listening today (I’m absolutely loving that Lamb album I bought recently) and I’m really very impressed. Image focus seems really excellent and doesn’t waver with pitch etc. There is certainly no shortage of bass extension either.

Listening continues tomorrow.....
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

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As ‘Nobeone’ is now a member here I hope he doesn’t mind if I copy in a review he wrote of the ZapCap for the pfm forum (if you do mind I’ll delete it). It gives lots of good detail that I would just be repeating and his experience would give me something to easily respond to.
nobeone wrote: I have previously taken Kit Ryan of Ryan Sound Labs (RSL) up on his kind offers of loan equipment: the MagicPower plug in cards for Naim preamps in my 72 https://pinkfishmedia.net/forum/thr...a ... ps.229036/; and his phono stage https://pinkfishmedia.net/forum/threads ... ew.228038/

I have bought the MagicPower upgrades and would love a phono stage but ne upgrade at a time ...

I was pleased to recieved an email from Kit suggesting I might like to try something new, his ZapCap power supply - a replacement for a Hicap. Yes please ...

I will post some photos later but, spoiler alert, the photos will be my poor efforts on a cheapo phone but I know people will like to see, in the meantime I would say it looks a lot like the phono stage you can see on the RSL www site http://ryansoundlab.com/

It is a smaller than a Hicap, still a weighty item, comprising a toroidal transformer Kit has carefully selected for the sound he is looking for, and his PSM-2 power supply module http://ryansoundlab.com/index.php?main_ ... ucts_id=22 all packed in the same style of case as the phono stage. It has a standard IEC socket and 3 DIN sockets on the rear. The 3 DIN sockets provide indentical wiring to the first 3 DIN sockets on a Hicap. If you need the 4th Hicap socket (and to be honest I don't know what it is for!) then this is not the power supply for you.

The loan kit comes with a standard UK IEC mains lead that fits very snuggly in the back of the ZapCap. The front has a blue LED lit power button. Nothing much to see but in my opinion well made, solid, and definitely not a flatcap style PSU full of air. It did not come with a SNAIC so I reused my existing cables.

My existing system is a Naim 72/Hicap/NAXO/Hicap/2x250/SBLs with the Hicap on the 72 running an Avondale TRP4 and using Avondale power only wiring from that to the 72 and signal only wiring from the 72 to the NAXO Hicap. Flashback cables. NACA5 speaker cables.

Replacing the Hicap/TPR4 with the ZapCap I listened to a few LPs, playing a track with the Hicap/TRP4 then with the ZapCap and vice versa. Bit of a faff but if I can't tell a difference AB (sighted I appreciate but please that is another thread!) then I am not interested.

I have to say I was surprised, when I did this with a stock Hicap and a Hicap/TPR4 I could not hear much difference, to me they sound much of a muchness. I thought perhaps I have cloth ears, or maybe the Avondale power only wiring to the 72 reduces the impact of the TPR4, anyway it certainly wasn't worse than the stock Hicap so I never reversed the mod, can't say I thought it much better either. Well the ZapCap has clearly audible differences.

Perhaps the most noticable difference is a tightening in the bass, I had never thought of the Hicap/TPR4 as having a bloom in the bass or being at all soggy, but it is in comparison with the ZapCap. Like the MagicPower cards, there is a sharpening to dynamics, tightening in the bass, and something we flat earthers try to ignore: if you sneakingly do like a bit of width to your soundstage, I feel the ZapCap gives you a bit more.

So how does Kit do this? Kit attributes the differences to several things:

The transformer is I believe a 120W item, certainly smaller, nothing like the size of the Hicap, Kit assures me the Hicap is totally over engineered and that this actually leads to some of the audible differences.

The ZapCap runs modern regulators, in parrallel too, not old school LM317s.

The ZapCap uses a pair of 10,000uf/50v Nichicon Audio Grade KW capacitors rather than the monsters that Kit refers to as computer caps (!!!) in the Hicap.

These three elements have been tried and tested by Kit (I notice the PCB has gone through many many revisions too!) to produce the ZapCap.

I understand that the ZapCap I have is soon to be called on for others to try and that it is intended as a loan unit in the same way Kit has provided loans of the MagicPower and phono stage. If you have a Naim item that can be powered from a Hicap, I would suggest you owe it to yourself to take Kit up on his kind offer of a loan of the ZapCap and see if you like what it does.

Any errors here are my own and I am sure Kit can correct me. I have tried to do justice in a few words to his work, but of course it is just my point of view. I get nothing from Kit but good service and the same loan items you too can sign up for.

The ZapCap deserves an audition.
Mark
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YNWaN
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by YNWaN »

There are some very informative photos too:
nobeone wrote:Some photos:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by Nobeone »

YNWaN wrote: Mon Mar 30, 2020 1:59 pm As ‘Nobeone’ is now a member here I hope he doesn’t mind if I copy in a review he wrote of the ZapCap for the pfm forum
All good by me, don't expect to throw my toys anytime soon, though this lockdown is going to test many of us ...
sq225917
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by sq225917 »

Who's stolen the caps from it?
Paradise phonostage, benz lp, kuzma stabi s 12
Bpbp, nuerochrome mod86p bridged monos
Yamaha ns100m, quarter cut Oak veneer, raal 140-15d ribbons
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