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Thursday, December 04, 2008
Mini3 ZOMBiE CYGiG Edition - The Internals
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 8:54 AM --- Post#2212740486121819656


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My Mini3 ZCE is finally ready. The custom face plates has yet to come in, but your can take a look at the internals. The aim of this mod is to change the sound signature to my liking by experimenting with other components not listed on the AMB website. I will stick to AMB's recommendation of having no long exposed leads on the PCB and everything should fit nicely on the PCB. I spent a month or so reading up online and asking ppl on various components and try to get the most 'boutique' components out for use in this mod. In a way, i want to see if these boutique components really change the sound for the better. Pardon my unskilled soldering.

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Modification Over The Original Design

Some of the modification are not real modification, just an experiment with alternative components stated on the AMB website, over the stock components given by hohodiy.

- U5 is "Ultra High Fidelity Audio" LM4562, though it does not have rail to rail high current output like the AD8397, i like the sound signature of LM4562. Most of headphones/iem aint high impedance. U4 remains as OPA690.

- Resistors (Except R5) are now all Vishay Dale's CMF50. Previously was using the stock resistors given by hohodiy.

- R5 Resistors are Caddock MK132. Using 10ohm instead of 6.2. They cost me more than $12 each.

- C2 is now Elna Silmic 10uF, 35V instead of the orginal dipped tantalum capacitor.

- C3a is now Elna Silmic 47uF, 16V. I had been hearing positive comments on the Silmic in both power and singal path, some even say its better than BlackGates. Wenze calculated that even if i lower the value of C3a, the reservoir will still be enough.

- C3b is now Rubycon ZL 470uF, 16V. Rubycon ZL is said to be as good as the Panasonic FM, technically, its also of high reliability and high ripple current.

- C5a and C5b are now Rubycon ZL 100uF, 25V.

- C4, C6, C7+, C7-, C8+, C8- are now Wima 0.1uF 63V film capacitors instead of multilayer ceramic. Film caps are supposed to have faster recharge and discharge rate.

- D2 and D3 are the AMB recommended schotty's diodes instead of IN400x given by hohodiy.

- J1 is a 2.5mm power jack bought from Sim Lim Tower instead of the 2.1mm jack given by hohodiy.

- J2 and J3 are SwithCraft jacks. Switch Craft are said to be one of the best connector manufacturers.

- LEDs can now be easily changed without soldering. Two adaptor pins are soldered which to mount the LEDs. They can be pulled out and put in easily. I started with Ultra Blue, then switched to Ultra Green. The butt LED is Ultra Red.

- Knob is bought from Koba, it seems to be the last one when i bought it.

- Battery is Maha 230mA 9.6V instead of the GP 170mAh 8.4V given by hohodiy.

- Face plate will be custom printed soon.


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I changed my LED later on from Blue to Green. Looks cooler uh.

SilverMAX Ultra II Beta

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Something to go with the ZCE, its the SilverMAX Ultra II. Its still beta. Use SwitchCraft plugs this time instead of Neutrik's. This time i added a copper shield surrounding the 8x26AWG silver wires. One end is floated (to equipment), another end is connected to the ground (from source). Some unkers call it shotgun design. Supposed to reduce noise, but isit good enuff to draw away noises from hand phone signals in MRT? I tested, and it really does reduce noises from hand phones effectively, though not completely. I need to touch up on the design, aesthetic and ergonomics.


So how does the new modded ZCE sounds like? Its actually quite unfair for me to write about the sound here, mainly because im sure to be bias to me own creation. Also, i ran out of vocabulary to qualify sound.

Ok, i will try.. Erm..

The Mini3 ZCE has a marvelous tight bass and crispy highs, roll offs and sibilance are kept to the minimum. Details, transparency, imaging and stereo separation are tip top. The bass is not muddy but very tight and punchy. The highs are just right for me. This amp is able to perform well under complex sound reproduction, it is able to retain its transparency and details of each instrument even when there are many instruments playing at the same time (eg, head shaking chorus of a rock song). Vocals are smooth, and have a pinch of emotion, something like those hifi demonstrating Cai Qin's warm and soulful voice. The dynamics are excellent, some may find it aggressive though, but rock and pop lovers are going to enjoy it to the fullest.

Ok, thank you guys for reading my noob review! Contact me if you wanna try it out.

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