Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

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ChrisOH1
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by ChrisOH1 »

Hi Mark,

I think its probable its the TPR4, its not something made to my spec, or unusual to my knowledge. Will post some pictures at the weekend if I get the chance to see.
Nobeone
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by Nobeone »

ChrisOH1 wrote: Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:21 pm Thanks mate,

I figured as much. Perhaps i should see if i can get on the loan list
I would, Kit very generously provides the loans of his ZapCap, MagicPower 72 etc cards, and Phono stage specifically so you can try them, good man he is.
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ryansoundlab
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by ryansoundlab »

ChrisOH1 and others - certainly you can get on the loaner list after Mark is done. Please pm me with your name and address to:

jc.ryan@verizon.net

I think you guys have answered most of the questions but if there still more, please repeat and I'll get on the answers. As Mark mentioned, there were numerous previous power supply prototypes so it's easy to get confused. In short, here's what I have now:
1. PSM-1 HiCap upgrade. A drop-in (solder in actually) replacement for the Naim regulator module, similar to the TPR4. 6 solders and 2 bolts.
2. PSM-2 FlatCap or DIY module which is essentially a PSM-1 with rectifiers and capacitors. Only thing needed is the xfrmr. Caps are now on the bottom of the board so it will fit in the slim FlatCap enclosure.
3. ZapCap - a full, stand-alone power supply built on the PSM-2 with a right-sized xfrmr in its own enclosure.

All are adjustable over a range of about 20-29v.

Each of these can be thought of as a progression of better dynamics and reduced upper bass bloat as you replace more and more of the HiCap.
Nobeone
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by Nobeone »

ryansoundlab wrote: Tue Mar 31, 2020 3:09 pm Each of these can be thought of as a progression of better dynamics and reduced upper bass bloat as you replace more and more of the HiCap.
Or indeed a progression from the TPR4 ... :P
Nobeone
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by Nobeone »

I can say it even if you are too polite Kit!
Nobeone
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by Nobeone »

Mark has gone quiet, could go one of two ways:

1) he hears what I hear, RSL PSUs all round!
2) he is not quite sure he likes the new balance ... might take a while longer ... might go back to the TPR4 ...

This is brightening up my lockdown :lol:
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YNWaN
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by YNWaN »

Yeah, sorry, I have gone a bit quiet, but everybody loves a ‘cliff-hanger’ right? Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that. On the one hand this self isolation business is playing havoc with my body clock; I can’t seem to get to sleep until the very early hours and then I wake up really late. On the other hand, I’m finding these kind of reports increasingly difficult to write as I have so many contrasting and conflicting thoughts and struggle to form them coherently.

What I have found, in the audiophile world, is that it is easy to achieve a difference but difficult to achieve an absolute improvement. In addition, it is easy to focus on subjective improvements to previous weaknesses in ones system whilst failing to hear new weaknesses that were not there before but now appeared. It is also easy to fool oneself into thinking different means better (and, in some cases, the other way round).

So what was the point of writing that last paragraph, what am I trying to say? Well, good question, and I’m not entirely sure myself. The ZapCap certainly has a significant impact on the overall sound of my system. My Hi-Cap sits on its own on an open top tier shelf and that makes it very easy to swop between the Hi-Cap and the ZapCap. As a result, I have done quite a number of A/B demo comparisons, but I’m still not convinced I have a full understanding of the differences between the two. Certainly the bass is quite different, but so is the overall balance and presentation. The way different parts of the mix are presented and stand forth is quite different between the two. The bass of the Hi-Cap, the lower bass that is, is much more pronounced - simply louder. I’m not sure that either power supply is actually more detailed in the bass than the other but the difference is bass balance creates quite a different balance within the music (depending on the specific music). In the midrange the ZapCap is ‘cleaner’ and does produce a wide and really well focussed sound stage. The Hi-Cap is more vague and less focussed, but voices are very palpable and there is an almost valve like euphoric character that is quite beguiling. In the upper frequencies the characteristics between the two power supplies is reversed. On the one hand the ZapCap is clean, clear and dynamic and on the other the Hi-Cap is big, lush and atmospheric.

Currently I’m thinking I’m going to invest in Kit’s Hi-Cap upgrade board. However, I also happen to have a rather nice Snaps power supply (currently being borrowed by a friend). At present it also has an Avondale TPR4 fitted but it also has a much smaller transformer and reservoir capacitance than the Hi-Cap and fitting Kit’s other upgrade board would result in a near copy of the loan unit. Oh dear, decisions, decisions.....
Mark
Nobeone
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by Nobeone »

Thanks Mark, yes I think this new world is messing with all of us to some extent, and I agree there is a difference between spotting a difference and it being better. My issue with the TPR4 is there was little change from my perspective.

My thoughts are this: Naim flat earth sound, coherent, perhaps valve like, non-"hifi" presentation can also be described as muddy and lacking detail, with reduced soundstage (that we are not supposed to care about it, but it can be a pleasing artifact). To me all Kit's stuff I have/have had on loan: Magic Power; phono stage; ZapCap, have not lost the Naim rhythm and drive but have added detail, more dynamics, more soundstage. I felt the change in ZapCap is most obvious in the bass and such a change in presentation effects the rest of the frequency range as adding a sub can effect the rest of the frequency range while you know it isn't actually audible above a few hundred Hz. I did think there was an increase in tunefulness of the bass, rather than just a reduction, it was tighter not less, but perhaps that is just an SBL thing?

Personally I didn't find downsides to the ZapCap changes. YMMV. I do definitely think it is worth an audition in your system to see if it works for you, particularly if you liked what the MagicPower cards do, as I feel there is a definite house sound to RSL, one I like!

Interestingly I was thinking PSM-1 in a Hicap may be the right balance for me, not that I don't fully accept Kit's advice on it being 1/3 the solution, more that I have issues replacing Olive boxes my wife has become blind to, with anything different! She was most offended by the advent of blue LEDs and I have had to crack open my Mose Hercules II and replace that with a green LED for domestic bliss. ZapCap has a blue light in the power button too, but a much gentler one, still it is easier for me to mess inside an Olive box than swap an Olive box for anything else.

A PSM-2 in a SNAPS or FlatCap would be 2/3 the way, perhaps a little more with their smaller transformers.

Food for thought. Hey it isn't always easy deciding whether any change suits you, particularly after a long time with the same equipment.
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YNWaN
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by YNWaN »

I can’t remember what size the transformer in a Snaps is and, as mine is currently residing in Manchester, I can’t really check; does anyone know?

When I fitted my TPR4 I thought it made quite an obvious difference for the better I and was enthused enough to do a write up of it for the pfm forum. I think it is worth stating that I am not an Avondale Audio (AA) ‘fan boy’ and had not liked a number of earlier AA designs. In particular, the 821* boards (I also tried the super versions) were not to my taste at all and I wrote honestly about my thoughts on the matter. As a result, I was very surprised (and not very confident) when Les subsequently offered me a TPR4 board to try.

* For anyone who doesn’t know, the Avondale 821 boards are replacement cards for the same Naim pre-amps the RSL boards are designed for. In the case of the 821 you are supposed to remove and bypass the Naim ‘time alignment’ boards (though you can choose to leave them in place). The whole gain structure and circuit of the pre-amp is changed with the 821 which is, I believe, a unity gain buffer circuit. For me the whole sound became very much less dynamic, even taking volume differences into account, and softer.
Mark
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YNWaN
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Re: Ryan Sound Labs ‘ZapCap’ arrives...

Post by YNWaN »

I have now ordered the Hi-Cap upgrade board from Kit - and also noticed it is 1st April - let us hope the two do not become synonymous.
Mark
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