EQUIPMENT FORUMS >> SE34I.5 >> Rachel power output vs. Zen

Message started by Ellsworth on 08/20/15 at 02:21:06

Title: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by Ellsworth on 08/20/15 at 02:21:06

After buying Omega Super Alnico monitors a couple weeks ago, I am now halfway into the High efficiency/SET world.  The big question for me is whether to go with the Rachel or the Zen.  I would be curious to know if the power difference between the two amps really comes into play if you have reasonable listening habits.

If using a 2v source, the Rachel specs translate to 4.8 watts while the Zen puts out 2 watts.  In a decent size room (12x20), is that power difference going to be noticeable with 93db/8 ohm speakers?

I am tempted to buy a cheap 2 watt amp to test whether or not it will work in my system and then sell it off.  That is not very practical but I would hate to get a shiny new Zen Select and find out that it doesn't have enough gas....Any comments are appreciated.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by mark58 on 08/20/15 at 03:21:44

My guess is that both would be fine.  I don't own either Amp but do have a pair of Zen Signature Monoblocks (2.3 WPC) that drive Omega Alincos with clicks to spare on the volume knobs.  But I listen near field and probably at lower volumes than most here.

There are lots of fans for the Rachael here...I'd get one with the new transformers and have some extra headroom.  Why wonder about the Zen?  my two cents.  Mark.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by 4krow on 08/20/15 at 03:22:11

It's really a good question. I was in a similar situation with my system. Room size being roughly the same and speakers being fairly close, I will guess that the Rachael would be my pick. No matter what, if your short a watt, there is no making it up. So the Rachael would lend a couple watts of headroom, that could come in handy. Sometimes I listen to an album that just wasn't up to par as far as volume. Yup, I gotta turn it up just to 'get there'.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by Steve Deckert on 08/20/15 at 03:37:16

Hi Ellsworth,

Saw your post an wanted to say first of all welcome.  And to thank you for posting perhaps the perfect question relating to tube amplifiers!

In the world of watts all things are not actually equal as they should be.  It's not only the difference between solid state watts and tube watts but the difference in a particular amplifiers ability to drive a complex load and finding a cheap 2 watt amp to see if it's enough power would be a disservice since the results are so tilted to be inferior to a 2 watt Zen amp.  It's about the amplifiers ability to drive a difficult and variable impedance (loudspeaker) and the Zen does this better than most.  So if you were to buy the inexpensive amp to hear what 2 watts is like you might well perceive a Zen at 7 or 8 watts .  

In fact, I remember the last time I measured the power of a Zen it was considerably more into a speaker than it was into a dummy load ( 8 ohm resistor) which is the standard for measuring power. I seem to remember that RMS into an 8 ohm resistor being about 2 watts whereas peek power into a 7 ohm planar magnetic loudspeaker was 14 watts.  

I wrote an article about "usable power" in the articles section that dovetails into this discussion and would be well worth a read to anyone interested.

My recommendation is this.... save some money, get the Zen 2 watt from the get go, and then call me if you don't think it gets loud enough or has enough punch, and we'll have a common point of reference to determine if the next size up will be fully satisfying or just a step in the right direction.  Assuming after our conversation that I recommend the next step up, we would then build it for you and let you continue to enjoy the 2 watt amp until the new one is finished.  Then we would simply charge the difference less shipping between the two amp amps and of course wave the restock fees.

My guess is that you would be pretty happy with 2 watts on those speakers.  I lived with 90dB speakers on the same 2 watt amp for almost 4 years before I decided I needed more volume. It took that long because that amp was so good you just didn't care if it got super loud or not.  It had better dynamics at lower volumes than any high power amp so you begin to realize its not about power, it's about the kind of power.... usable power, that matters.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by Ellsworth on 08/20/15 at 11:57:23

All. Thanks so much for the great responses.  I am going to take Steve's advice and try out the 2 watt amp first.  I don't go super  loud so my instinct is that it will work.  The next step is to sell my old speakers and then order the amp.  Thanks again.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by hdrider on 08/21/15 at 21:35:27

Ellsworth - Steve's words are like the sermon on the on. I started 9 years ago with a Zen CS84SE+ kit (think that was the model) and that started the whole direction change for me. Still have the 2 watter and now also a Rachael with 4 inputs, ZP3 phono driving Omega 7XRS's and an Omega 8'' sub. Both amps drive the 7's fine, the Rachael wins out on the ability for my wife to switch inputs with out touching cables (no we don't want to go there do we?). Take Zen Master Steve up on his plan, you will not be unhappy. Amazing products, amazing people to deal with!! Happy listening, Chris.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by Ellsworth on 08/22/15 at 01:00:21

Hdrider.  Thanks for the comments.  I plan to place an order in September and will post an update.  

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by hdrider on 08/22/15 at 06:33:12

It really took a leap of faith to jump from the ARC/Krell blah blah into the Zen/Omega sonic soundscape. Have faith. If you are anywhere near Santa Cruz California send me a PM. I would be happy to have any Decware/Omega potential trekkie over for a listen. It is hard getting past the mind set that we are so used to. Happy listening, Chris.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by DBC on 08/30/15 at 23:21:49


I have heard the Super Zen and Rachael back to back with the Decware HDT's at Deckfest. To my ear the Super Zen was able to play every bit as loud as the Rachael. Needless to say I ended up purchasing the Super Zen. IMO the Clarity & Resolution of the Super Zen can't be beat.

I purchased a pair of Omega Alnico Monitors this past winter. At 93 db I expected the Super Zen would have a hard time driving them to acceptable volumes but not the case. Add a DeepOmega 12 sub to the combo and the system will really Rock.


Just curious how you have your DeepOmega 8 set up. I understand speaker level connections. Do you have the sub on an isolation platform to minimize unwanted floor vibrations? Have you tried setting the sub crossover up into the 150hz range for more Mid Bass attack? Where do you have it placed relative to your mains?

I have my twin HSU Mid Bass Modules running 50 to 150hz and the Mid Bass attack is tight & impressive. Was wondering the the DeepOmega 8 can play cleanly up at the higher frequencies as my Mid Bass Modules do?

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by hdrider on 08/30/15 at 23:46:07

DCB- I have my Omega 8'' placed on the outside of the left speaker, approx 1 foot behind it. I have played with the x-over settings and choose to keep it down at the 60hz range. All I wanted was the very bottom to be fleshed out. I like the 7's mid bass and don't feel it needs help. I have not brought an isolation stand home yet, but will when I feel motivated to move one of the Mains after service one Sunday. They do make a huge difference, as I have one under each main cabinet where I mix (2-15'' lows, 2-8'' mids and 1.5'' horn) and the iso stand totally cleaned up the bottom end in the mix. I use a track from Rush's album Power Windows called Territories to set up subs at home/work. Starts with the kick mixed dead middle and later has bass pedals coming in. When the bass is centered and has the punch I want, I play with the phase a little to clean it up a little. I love the combo of the 7XRS's and the 8'' sub. Plays loud enough and I have all the Zen single end / single driver magic I can handle. Love it, no regrets. Happy listening, Chris.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by alper_yilmaz on 08/31/15 at 09:24:04

As much as I like the SE34 series amps (I use an SE34I.2+ with relatively less efficient speakers in my bedroom system for late night listening), I would still pick the Zen.  I have not had a chance to A/B the two amps, as I owned them at different times, but I have this affinity for EL84 (as a matter of fact, SV83's) tubes based on my experience in guitar amplification.  It has been more than a decade that I have not heard a Zen, but I remember loving it even with my 91dB B&W's with complex crossovers...  With a 93dB single-driver Omega, it would really shine and I do not think the Rachael would bring significantly more volume to the table...

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by Ellsworth on 09/02/15 at 02:21:32

Thanks for the continued input.   It is great to come on here and get  opinions and hear about different experiences.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by hdrider on 09/30/15 at 20:45:31

Elsworth - any amp yet? September is over today. I'm kinda looking forward to winter (or as much winter as the Santa Cruz mtns are going to get) when I can hole up and play with the gear. One year into my Rachael / ZP3 I am one happy camper, everything mates well with the Omega 7XRS and sub. Happy listening, Chris.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by Ellsworth on 11/21/15 at 22:29:46

All, I thought I would circle back to this thread and post an update.  Last week I received the Zen Select to pair with my Omega Super Alnicos.  I haven't tested the outer limits yet but so far volume is not an issue at all.

I have about 10 hours on it and am loving the imaging and texture of the sounds.  This is a nice way to listen to music.  The Zen doesn't quite do bass like my Rogue Audio Medusa did but everything else is more enjoyable.

One concern is that I only have 2 inches of clearance above the rectifier tube.  It doesn't seem to get real hot but I may drill a couple holes in my rack (IKEA shelving) to let some heat escape.

Many thanks to the friendly forum members for helping me make the decision to take the leap - it was well worth it.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by hdrider on 11/22/15 at 15:23:12

Ellsworth- Try the break in Steve talks about- 5 hours on, 5 hours off and repeat 5 times. It does speed the process along quite well. The Zen will change all for the better and the heat issue in the rack really doesn't hurt anything. Keep us posted on the progress and happy listening, Chris.

Title: Re: Rachel power output vs. Zen
Post by HIFI JEFF on 11/17/16 at 18:00:52

I have had my Super Zen UFO for about 7 months now and it keeps getting better and better. I used to question if I needed more power but since recently upgrading my dac that outputs at 2VRMS instead of 1.5 VRMS all is right as rain. I was listening to it last night and had to actually turn it down from the 1oclock position. It sounds amazing and my Omega Super 3XRS's love this amp! I too was a little concerned about having my amp in an entertainment stand but it has more than 10 inches of clearance between the tube and top of the cabinet and is pretty wide and deep too, I am sure it is fine.    

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