OLDER DECWARE GEAR SUPPORT >> SE34I.2 >> My SE34I.2+ has arrived!

Message started by bladesmith on 05/12/11 at 21:17:07

Title: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by bladesmith on 05/12/11 at 21:17:07

The long wait is over, the amp has arrived! First impressions is that the amp is function over form. That is not to say it does not have certain charm. Reminds me of an old radio form the 30's in some ways. It has only been running for about 5 hours but the detail seems better than my old amp. A bit base lean but I am wondering if my old SET has a bloated base. I am also thinking that the base will fill out as the burn in progresses. How long will it take to bloom?
-My amp pops quite loudly when I switch it on or off, quite. Is this normal and will it damage my DM944 speakers? I am switching on the mains to the heaters first then switching the standby to ON as per the on line manual.
-Also my amp's power transformers hum. I can hear this when no music is playing up to about 5 feet away. There is also hum from the speakers up to about 8 inches. The hum is not related to the cd player nor does it increase with the voume. There is no hiss which is nice. Is something out of speac as I thought these amps did not hum? I can only hear a hum through my old Chinese valve amp if I put my ear on the potted transformer and put my ear 2 inches from the main driver. There is a bit of hiss with that amp and the clartiy is not as good.
Can anyone answer my questions please.

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by dla405j on 05/13/11 at 12:32:05

I have the same amp/speaker combo's. as you and it is dead silent.  I turn my system on without heaters with adcom ace-115 line conditioner and no pop's.  I hope this's a great sounding smooth amp that looks great. good luck resolving these issues...should be easy..also a call to Steve may be in order...I find him very helpful and easy to reach.  let us know when you resolve this

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by bladesmith on 05/13/11 at 13:11:17

Thanks for the reply, I have tried not using the standby switches which has stopped the pop. I am using a line regulator (APC line-R 1200). I bought this to use with my Chinese tube amp as I was not convinced an 110v transformer could be wired/converted to 240v. To my mind more like 220v, but I am more than likely wrong. The Chinese amp seemed to run cooler on the APC line-R setting of 220v, with blue LED is less like a lazer at 220v! I have tried the decware amp through the APC unit and straight into the 240v mains. The hum is still there from the transformers and the speakers. I have tried running the amp at 220v which has quietened the transformers but not the hum from the speakers. I have also been doing some comparisons on the sound quality. The decware wins hands down and it is not even run it yet. The detail and imaging is better. The funny thing with decware amp is that you don't realise how loud it is as there is no distortion. I though my old amp had a good clear sound, it now sounds just ok.
What voltage are you running your amp on at what tubes are you using?

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by will on 05/15/11 at 01:12:29

I had a SE34I.2+ and really liked the liquid and open sound. When it "blooms" you will know it, as it will sound consistently more open. Steve recommends some on 5hr/off 5hr cycles if you are inclined to accelerate the process of seating the caps, and of course, play music when on!!! I can't recall how long it took with the amp, but I think it was pretty fast... maybe a week or two, then it continued to improve over time.

I never used the standby switches, turning the amp on and off with my Brickwall surge suppressor, and don't recall any popping. 120v though if that has any impact.

I did have a slight hum that could be heard when within a couple feet of the transformers or a few feet from the speakers. It never bothered me or the music though. My Torii has a very slight hum in both places too, but again, not a problem for me.

Hum seems to be a mind bender at times, there are so many ways for it to be introduced. There is a Hum troubleshooting article (and many other interesting articles) written by Steve Deckert if you would like to have a look.

Then there is calling Steve if you have a way without going broke!

Good luck and enjoy your new amp!

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by bladesmith on 05/15/11 at 22:33:53

Hi Will, well I have been playing the amp for about 5 hours or so then switching it of until it is stone cold, then listening to it again later on in the evening. The amp is at about the 20 hour mark. I have noted that electrolytic caps seem to be burned in after about 50 hours with a slight improvement there after. Was not sure if this would be the case with film caps. The amp's sound stage dose seem to be widening. My tubes are still waiting to be delivered so I bought some Svetlana winged C EL34, 1970 Svetlana 5U4G and a pair of siemens e88cc (gold pin), tubes from the 60's. I am not using the standby switches anymore, the hum is still there. When the other tubes turn up I will try them and see what happens. Anyway the sound quality is exceptional, vocals are even better than my old SET amp. The base seems to be improving, has better timing and snap. Indeed kick drums sound like kick drums not noise. Not massive slam but this is a SET amp so one has to be mindful of this. To be honest I am very happy with the SE34i.2+. I am thinking about getting the pre-amp kit as I am fed up with there being a drop in volume when one switches between CD and phono. My turn table is a project genie MK2 with an uprated arm and stylus. I have triple earthed the arm, shortened the interconnects to the 640p phono stage so the sound is better. Just wondering if putting a pre amp to this would be overkill. Do you know how to increase the gain of a phono stage? Thanks for the link, I have read this already. The hum is from the amp for sure, but which part is the question. All in good time. Al the best, Richard.

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by will on 05/16/11 at 00:10:46

Yes, the Hum could be tubes. I have a lot of different tubes and they definitely vary a bit in noise. I think these amps are so transparent that, if there is hum potential, you will hear it whether from cords, power, tubes....whatever. But you also hear the music....not just the sounds of music, so I put up with a little hum.

I think mine is partly power. I have some minor EM/RF filtering, but the hum does seem louder and quieter at different times of day.

Your amp normally comes with Winged C EL34, Ruby 5U4G and NOS 6N1Ps I think. So you have a nice tube combination, in keeping with the amps design. I suspect you will keep those Siemens in place, but you never know. The 6N1Ps will be warmer if I recall. I also, reckon your tubes will be taking 50 hours or so to come out, so you are in for some real pleasure in a few days!

The thing I remember about that amp was a liquid spaciousness and speed, but enough bass too. So I think you will find the bass will increase as it burns in too. And even if it never gets to house thumping, in my room it became very real indeed.....the kick and string bass sound like instruments in the room. Also, I found that using Decware interconnects made all the tonal attributes better, but most notable was more harmonic texture and micro detail on top, and notably deeper bass, compared to other cables I had.

That pre kit looks nice. I would give yourself 100 hours or so with your amp before judging if you think it would be overkill or not. I suspect not though. I find Steve's stuff to be so natural sounding that by adding my Zstage I got more tube sound, but only the good stuff. And like you, I questioned the extra signal path thing, including more wire, but to me this stuff works as it should and synergistically, so I did not experience overkill at all. With the Zstage it became smoother and had more 2nd order harmonics... but also the gain, a very useful bias adjustment, and sound tuning flexibility by using different tubes. Being able to tailor the dynamics, weight and tonal balance by riding the gain stage volume with the amp volume is no small thing.

I am  ignorant about adding gain to your phono stage. Sorry.

I would call Steve on that one. He is full of good ideas with loads of experience from the basis of a personal music quest...and a vinyl head. I gather it is important to him that his customers have the best experience they can have with his gear too. But it sure must be possible without a pre.

I think if I were adding a gain stage, I would try to get the gain of the phono stage closer matched to the CD player and then make my gain stage so that I could have switchable inputs, allowing you to tailor the sound of both sources. Though a great source is the thing alright, a good gain stage is awesome for easily tuning the balance for different recording qualities.

For a simpler gain, there is also the Zkit-4 and Zkit-5 together making something similar to a Zstage if you add a 100K audio taper pot to the output of the ZKIT5. The one with the regulator tube would probably be really nice.

Just imagining! Good Luck.

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by bladesmith on 05/16/11 at 10:20:22

Morning Will, Just waiting on my tubes to arrive. Looking forward to trying those 6N1P. The E88cc I am using sound very good similar to telefunken in sound quality if not a little better. I like your thinking on the gain and power kit with a taper pot. I did initially wonder if this would work. I do not know much about electronics, though I have re-capped/upgraded my previous SET and replaced all the electrolytic caps in my Rotel RCD965BXLE (all audio grade Panasonics, cerafine and nichicon). I am also waiting on some caps for the rotel as the cerafines I have used have introduced a bit of edginess to the very top end. Hopefully the nichicon muse caps will solve this issue. Pity they do not make black gates anymore otherwise it would have been a straight replacement.
The tubes have just arrived, JJ el34, Russian 6N2P and Chinese 5U4G black plates. Those 6N2P are the higher gain tubes which will be interesting to try. I tried a closely matched pair of NOS GE JAN6550 tubes (1978) in the SE34I.2+. These are quite a sweet mid tube with a lovely top end. Think one could say it is a more mellow alternative to a KT88. This tube performed well in place of the EL34 Svetlana's.

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by will on 05/16/11 at 14:23:39

JJ El34s eh. So the stock selection has been adjusted since I had mine. Steve has really good ears so it would be interesting to explore that particular group. I have heard good things about JJ EL34s but never tried them. I look forward to your sense of them.

I did not like the 6N2P compared to 6N1P at first, but recall the 6N2P smoothed out quite a bit with a long burnin. Then I notably preferred it in my setting, and wondered why it did not ship with the amp.

Interesting the 6550. You have the Hazen Grid mod in that amp that brings out a lot of good sound qualities......sort of astounding by reports of folks who experienced the pre-mod state and then the mod. If I am not mistaken the mod requires EL34. So it is interesting that, even though it is such a popular tube, the 6550 compares so favorably. Have you had a chance to look over this paper?

Happy explorations!

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by bladesmith on 05/19/11 at 22:52:59

I was comparing the 6550 to a kt88. Yes I have read the paper, very interesting to read. But I am using the Svetlana EL34 as they sound better than the 6550 when used in the SE34i.2+ amp. So what I am saying is the hazen mod does make the sound very good indeed. I did not like the 6N2P tubes, extra gain but it made the hum louder and it was really boxy sounding. Think it would need well over 100 hours burn in to sound good. The JJ tubes are quite nice and the rectifiers do their job well. Good spares to have. I like my winged C and nos signal tubes. Each to their own. I thought my amp sounded a bit bass lean at first. The amp must have gone well past the 50 hour mark by now and I think it has "bloomed" within the past few hours as the bass has become fuller. Very good transparent sound, seriously pleased with my choice of amp.

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by will on 05/19/11 at 23:51:38

Sounds like you found a good synergy with those KZ Muse caps, and them not even burned in. No matter what the original recordings sound like, it sounds like you like it! Tube comments make total sense. Happy listening.

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by bladesmith on 05/20/11 at 16:45:18

Will have edited the previous post. Well the KZ after only 24 hours burn in made the sound very coloured, spaced and 3D surround. IE not a natural presentation. A great pity. I have put back the Fine Gold caps into the cd unit as I think that is as good as it is going to get. Funny thing is that the sound seems different somehow. The bass is fuller and good recordings sound exceptional. Poor distorted recording show all their flaws. I think my amp may have bloomed at some point between this morning and now. Still trying to find out about the gain for the phono stage. I will probably contact Steve by phone next week. Have a great weekend, Richard.

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by will on 05/20/11 at 17:24:32

Hello Richard, Sorry to hear about the caps. Burnin to me is rough, in part because I am so impatient. And if the sound is "off," just a touch, I mess around while burning something in. I always come up with useful information tending to learn about different ways to accomplish synergy, but it is sometimes inefficient. I just can't help it though. Anyway, it seems the first sound "signature" and "balance" from something is often closer to the "Bloomed" sound, especially with caps. And then they proceed to jump around from lean to bright to muddled to bassy or whatever before coming back to a much better sound than the original sound, but with similar signature values. Makes me wonder what those Muze caps would sound like in 100-200 hours?????

One thing I do recall with your amp and more-so with my Torii, is that the "bloom" is just the first stage of realizing the amp's potential. It will likely fade in and out of that magical place for quite a while longer. But your baseline rises up a notch, as your points of brilliance do likewise, so it is all good!

I may be crazy too, but I always hear burnin shifts and changes longer than some folks seem too. 100-200 hours seems a bit more in line with my experience than 50-100 be it Russian tubes, or caps, or wire. And your amp has all those!

I look forward to hearing what you come up with in sorting out the phono stage.

Title: Re: My SE34I.2+ has arrived!
Post by bladesmith on 05/21/11 at 19:43:49

I read that some tubes take 100 hours minimum before they are burned in. I agree with what you have said about the caps. Those KZ sounded good straight off, but after 24 hours one gets a better idea. The bass may have become more rounded and the top end crisp. But the 3D surround and mid colouration would more than likely have stayed. I had this with my previous valve SET. If I used silmic and mudorf silver foil in oil caps the sound got this vocally recessed (3D surround thing). KZ in the place of silmic and all was good. I ended up taking the mundorf caps out soon after getting the SE23I.2+ as I realised that actually the bass was bloated. I ended up keeping the KZ in there and putting back the original film caps. Some combinations seem to work better than others.
The thing is I will have to do the amp burn in all over again as I was sent the wrong amp configuration. IE one pair of input instead of 4. An easy mistake to make but I live in the UK. Steve and his team have been demonstrated outstanding customer service in the matter and I am looking forward to my new new amp arriving soon.
Once I have a clue on the gain stage idea I will let you know.

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