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Massdrop x Eddie Current ZDT Jr.

Massdrop x Eddie Current ZDT Jr.

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At his heart, Craig Uthus is a music lover and an amplifier designer. The former before the latter.
Craig Uthus is the owner and chief amplifier designer of the small boutique called Eddie Current. He also used to be a partner and the engineer of Moth Audio.
He’s a favorite of the audiophile community. I was already an owner of Eddie Current and Moth Audio amps when I started at Massdrop. (I owned the Super 7 and Balancing Act. Still have a Zana Deux, Black Widow, and a Moth Audio 2a3).
Craig tunes his amplifiers to be neutral (but never sterile) and slightly “lush” (but never muddy). Eddie Current amps also create a larger “headstage” or what some describe as a holographic presentation of the music.
So naturally, we wanted to work with Craig on a project to offer his sound through Massdrop. When we approached Craig to work on an amp that could be made in higher volumes and at a lower pricepoint, Craig explained that he isn’t set up as that kind of operation but that he already had a manufacturing partner in place and a design in mind…
Years ago, Craig found a partner in Russia to make a less expensive line of amps for Eddie Current to sell. For a while, Eddie Current offered a small amp called the Lunchbox. These were low cost and had a very warm sound, perfect for the headphones from a few years ago (many were bright to the point of shrill or had spikes in the upper frequency range). Some buyers tried putting incompatible or bad, untested tubes in the amps because they fit into the sockets, which burned out parts in some of the amps. When customers started returning the amps, it became difficult to continue selling them.
Since then, Craig has experimented with producing some of his own designs in a smaller form factor made at Laconic Lab and Craig has also been interested in some of the amps designed by Laconic. One such amp that Craig liked and passed around in the community was the Night Blues Mini, which made a big splash three years ago but lots of details such as importing/exporting from Russia, product testing and certification, packaging, cosmetic changes, amp support, and the small size of Eddie Current has prohibited Craig from selling them in the United States.
This project has been a labor of love from everyone involved. It’s taken a year and a half to get amp samples back and forth between Russia and the US, find the beefy power switch & just the right volume knob that Craig likes to improve the aesthetics, add a Staron faceplate, make changes to fitment of the panels and screws, develop the packaging, test the amp for certification, set up exporting/importing/shipping/finances with Russia, and change the artwork on the product.
We’ve had some different prototypes of the amp floating around for a while in the background during development plus there were two original amps that Craig Uthus sold three years ago, so you can definitely see some impressions today with some new ones over the next couple of days.
All of the responses to this amp have been incredibly positive and I have no doubt that this amp will have a very loyal following.
That’s the backstory. :)
What is this big deal and obsession with tube amps in the audiophile community???
The short answer is that some headphones have issues that tube amps uniquely remedy. At the same time, great tube amps can improve great headphones to reach an addictive and immersive listening experience.
Even if your headphone has the right levels of bass/mids/treble, detail & resolution, there are still other aspects of musical presentation such as attack/decay, and headstage/imaging that can be improved by a great tube amp.
Some headphones sound great but the presentation through an amplifier is too “fast” sounding, sometimes described as “sterile” or unnatural sounding.
Some headphones sound great but the sound seems to come from the drivers on either side of the head with a “blob” in the middle of the head between the ears. Imaging of the instruments and singer does not place them with depth, a sense of space or “openness”.
These can be subtle cues or pretty obvious, depending upon what you are used to listening to.
While it is hard to make the jump to an amp that costs over $2,000 if you have not been able to hear one, with Craig’s help we have an amplifier that gives so much of what the top amplifiers can do in an affordable (by audiophile standards) package.
The Massdrop x Eddie Current ZDT Jr. uses transformers from Germany, a circuit design that Craig describes as “clever” and “unique”, new old stock Russian tubes from the 1960’s, manufacturing by hand in Russia, and aesthetic touches approved by Craig.
Getting this amp up and running took longer than expected. If you make it into this first run, you will probably have the only amps from us for a while. Producing the first batch (we really wanted to get things started) will take longer due to a Russian slowdown in December/January due to customs backlog that occurs, plus the Chinese New Year will slow production since some parts are manufactured there. We will set a shipping date that is safe and hope that we can produce them faster for you.
Here’s to good listening!

EDIT (11/21/17): The faceplate is actually made out of Staron, a synthetic stone or marble.
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Gain is pretty similar between the two outputs, so the low/high outputs don't serve the same purpose as a gain switch would.
CEE_TEE
I know this is a long shot, but given the delivery estimates were pretty pessimistic, any chance these would ship early?
Wow... I placed an order for this exactly 7 months ago... the wait, I don't know whether I'd wait this long again... but alas, it should be shipping soon... hopefully.
After all this time, it's getting pretty close. Any chance for a production update? CEE_TEE ? Thanks!
Getting closer to delivery, getting hyped!!!, LOLS
I'm pretty keen on one of these. Is there any chance of us latecomers actually getting one any time soon?
deniall83
I got in on the drop & I'll feel lucky to get one what with US Russian relations...
I suspect they won't have any extras since the producers were only producing a limited number before this, I hope they maintained a good quality control for this run. I'm sure some will be selling theirs but not sure if they'll have another drop anytime soon. And I suspect the production time would be similar 8-9 months.

http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/massdrop-x-eddie-current-zdt-jr-official-thread.5408/
Tex1954
Pretty close to the same amp but you might wait for people to sell their ZDT Jr. used.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Laconic-Night-Blues-MINI-Headphone-Vakuum-amp-amplifier-/172667266985


http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/laconic-lab-night-blues-tube-transformer-coupled-amp.1091/
Can anyone help me upgrade my DV 336SE to a better tube amp for under $1200? DV was my first amp and while it sounded great, it didn't have enough slam, bass and clarity in micro detail as Schiit Jotunheim. I've tried Tung-sol 7236 (for $50) and Sylvania 6SN7W (for $100) which made 10% improvement but I don't want to spend anymore on tubes which will eventually lead to costing more money than the amp itself.

I'm pretty satisfied with listening to EDM on my schiit Jotunheim. But I still find DV better at playing rock, rap, instrumental and certain pop music as it outputs cleaner vocal tones and natural, organic sound that's pleasing to the ears. But the lack of slam, bass and micro detail is killing me. Which is why I'm looking into upgrading my tube amp.

Other gears I'm using are Schiit Eitr, Modi multibit, BLJ coaxial/RCA, Sennheiser HD600/650 with CH650s cable.

From quick research, I've been reading good things about the sound quality of Massdrop x Eddie Current ZDT Jr. Could this potentially be the best tube amp for under $1200?
Heinsbeans
This amp won't have the bass or slam but should be good for micro details. Read this thread

http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/massdrop-x-eddie-current-zdt-jr-official-thread.5408/

You might look at Bottlehead Crack the problem with them is they are DIY which is not that rough but still a hassle. The other problem is the tubes cost a lot or are hard to find if you are into rolling to get a better sound.

http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/bottlehead-crack.120/
Heinsbeans
There seem to be a lot of good amps coming up. Lyr 3 is out already, MCTH is getting great reviews and Monoprice Cavalli Liquid Platinum (to be released in June I think) is getting some attention. Looks like you're spoiled for choices here.
I am still super excited for this amp!
I joined this drop and just realized it might not support the voltage here in Austria, it's 240V btw..
does someone know if i can just plug it into the wall or do i need a stepdown converter?
e.xo
If you scroll down an Australian was concerned about this too and some else pointed out that it shouldn't matter.

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-eddie-current-zdt-jr/talk/1890443?utm_source=linkshare&referer=P7R3MB
What was the price for the original drop?
Lekoguy
399
Tex1954
Thanks
CEE_TEE measurements are here:
https://superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/eddie-current-zdt-jr-technical-measurements.5549/
CEE_TEE is finding replacement tubes for the ZDT Jr. a relatively easy endeavor? I would love to order a ZDT next drop, I just have a concern about replacing the tubes once they have worn, would I contact Massdrop? Or would I search for after-market tubes that would be compatible? I'm a bit clueless as I've never owned a tube amp. I plan on buying CTH as well, but I understand from the reviews for that amp it's a very easy process. Thanks in advance BTW.
drummer307
I'll be working on this for the user manual...we'll list some replacements if needed.
You'll want to be careful whom you purchase from though (reputable sellers with tested tubes only or you can cause issues with your amp).