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NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007 (Read 57520 times)
Steve Deckert
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NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
08/24/07 at 13:15:11
 
While there will be a few new things presented at this years fest,  one in particular should be well worth the drive!  

For the serious SET enthusiast there is no question that the SE84CS and more recently SE84ZS Zen Triode Selects have been the most popular amp Decware sells.

In the spirit of "how far can it be taken" - how good can a single SV83 output tube per channel really get - I am pleased to announce the debut of the SE84ZSM Zen Triode Monoblocks.  As you know we had signature mono blocks on the market for many years -  those are pictured below:



The new SE84ZSM's are better. Smiley  In fact they're a lot better.  Truth is they smoke every Zen Triode amp that has ever been built, and not by just a narrow margin.

With over 2 years in development they are now a reality.  Some major changes that have occurred include the following:

1) A 900 volt 26MFD first section filter - increasing the compatibility with exotic rectifier tubes like the 274B.
2) A choke regulated pure polypropylene power supply - giving the amp incredible speed and dynamics.
3) OA3 Tube voltage regulation - also pure polypropylene - regulates the input stage.
4) A more refined output tube bias circuit that actually increased output tube life and power.
5) Direct and variable inputs where the input jacks are 2 inches away from the input stage.
6) General Electric Military Polypropylene Film coupling caps or optional Mundorf or VCAPS.

These new amps are built on our anniversary platform and are mirror imaged, ie. left and right.  Simply beautiful.



My guess is that these amps will dominate the fest.  Cost will be over a pair of SE84ZS or TABOO amps - but still more than reasonable.

Also it should be noted that while these amps like their predecessors still excel at driving low impedances down to 1 ohm, they WILL play a pair of 8 ohm HDT loudspeakers http://www.decware.com/newsite/HDT.htm insanely LOUD!!!  In fact a single SE84ZSM monoblock hooked to a single HDT loudspeaker will play as loud as a pair of HDT's hooked to a SE84ZS stereo model. They've really got some nuts!

When you hear these it is likely you will want to say goodbye to your copy cat and tweaked out Zens for good.

Come to the DECFEST and hear the best Zen Triode amps ever built!

Steve Smiley
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« Last Edit: 09/07/07 at 16:53:55 by Steve Deckert »  
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MikeW
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #1 - 08/24/07 at 13:30:08
 
Cool.....very cool indeed Smiley
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Terry
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #2 - 08/24/07 at 15:56:59
 

Uh oh!   Randy better bring his check book.

TG
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buzz
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #3 - 08/24/07 at 16:39:16
 
If a new DAC is released im going to freak out.  :o
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kyrill
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #4 - 08/24/07 at 17:15:46
 
Congratulations Steve Smiley

How many watts ( 6 watts)? We know it will sound gorgeous
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« Last Edit: 08/24/07 at 17:18:39 by kyrill »  


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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #5 - 08/24/07 at 17:21:52
 
Ah, even the content and complacent will be . . . atwitter! Smiley
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #6 - 08/24/07 at 18:19:26
 
Terry wrote on 08/24/07 at 15:56:59:
Uh oh!   Randy better bring his check book.

TG



Nah .....

I'm certain that the new amps won't work very well with the CSP2 .....   Undecided

Randy
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rayd
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #7 - 08/24/07 at 18:47:52
 
Steve, any specs yet? How many watts per channel into 2 Ohms? And also, is it one output tube per channel?

Been considering the old mono's whenever they come up on Agon or somewhere (they do look sexy) but this might be a viable option.

Thanks,

- Ray
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buzz
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #8 - 08/24/07 at 19:04:09
 
I think I know what one of the new products is, Steve told me about it almost two years ago... he, he. (Not the ZS monoblocks) Amazing the R&D that Steve puts into every piece. I'm sure the forum will be FILLED with new faces!  ;)

Steve, thanks for your hard work!

buzz
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« Last Edit: 08/24/07 at 19:31:38 by buzz »  
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selmerdave
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #9 - 08/24/07 at 20:16:50
 
Ray,

I'm pretty sure it's one output tube, which any way you slice it is going to be a max of 2 or 2.5w per channel if it's triode strapped.

"In the spirit of "how far can it be taken" - how good can a single SV83 output tube per channel really get - I am pleased to announce the debut of the SE84ZSM Zen Triode Monoblocks."

I think it's a good thing for Decware to have a flagship SET, bravo Steve.  I'm curious about the OPT's.


Dave
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« Last Edit: 08/24/07 at 20:18:45 by selmerdave »  
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Terry
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #10 - 08/24/07 at 20:37:15
 

This was going to be my recomendation to Steve while visiting, as we really have just tipped the iceberg of what this combination of tubes can do.  In 2001 forum members talked about choke pi filters, and more recently all polly caps.  I really like the idea of optional coupling caps, this create the ability for his amp to make anyone happy.  I tried the Mundorf Silver Supremes in the Select, they sound wonderful, but not to my liking, I guess most of us that have fallen in love with the select are detail fanatics, we like the treble detail.  In reality you basically have to want a certain type of sound to like the Select, it is kind of like Lowthers in that once you have it you can't live without it, they say Lowther for life, I say SE84 for life.

Steve,

Have the SE84 series of amplfiers been the best sellers of all your line of amplfiers?

TG
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intraman
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #11 - 08/24/07 at 21:35:26
 
This is indeed great news .... I was calculating my outlay in boutique parts alone for my tweaked Zen and figured it was close to $900...  Plus all that time... Great news Steve!

Tim
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Steve Deckert
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #12 - 08/24/07 at 21:38:28
 
Regarding a DAC, yes I've done quite a bit of R&D on one, but it's still up in the air.  I had been working with Apogee over the past year and regrettably they got me so mad I just had to pull the plug on the whole project.  Details are between me and my poor neighbors who no doubt got to hear the grand finale last week.

I,ve taken it as a sign.  It would have just pissed off most of the people on this forum anyway since the price was likely to be several grand.  

In the meanwhile I am going to go back to a tubed CD player that will equal or surpass the previous two that I have done and it will be under a grand.

Steve

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intraman
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #13 - 08/24/07 at 21:42:39
 
Smiley More good news... And on the new Zen ....


"Uh oh!   Randy better bring his check book."

Indeed

Tim
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #14 - 08/24/07 at 23:08:22
 
Thanks Dave. I agree, glad Steve is bringing back the monos - albeit in a new suit  :-)

Even though I never owned a pair - but I did hear them (Dens) - I always get a warm fuzzy when I see photos of them  [smiley=peanuts21.gif]

- Ray
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #15 - 08/24/07 at 23:51:44
 
Looking forward to further reports! (just when I got my credit card payed off too! Roll Eyes)
Any info on the cdp?, type of transport, etc??
                                                                                                         Don
                         
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« Last Edit: 08/25/07 at 03:36:50 by Doorman »  

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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #16 - 08/25/07 at 03:42:55
 
Will the power supply redesign be able to be applied to produce a signiture version of  the CSP2 as well? ie: all poly caps, and choke regulated?

John C.

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subman
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #17 - 08/25/07 at 12:40:41
 
AH, THIS IS THE PRODUCT i HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR. A 240v version I hope Steve.
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #18 - 08/26/07 at 21:24:39
 
Oh Crap!!!!

I thought I had finished the upgrading on my amps. Just got settled with a pair pf CS`s and a CSP lol and along come these beauties.

When can we see some specs and design notes Steve?
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« Last Edit: 08/26/07 at 21:26:27 by Andy831 »  

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stone_of_tone
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #19 - 08/27/07 at 13:54:21
 
Standard input voltage from CDPlayer at 2 volts?  My AA Dac can be bumped up higher, but I prefer to keep it at 2V.....and use no preamp.  Awesome new Amps, Road Trip!!!

Stone of Tone  8-)
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #20 - 08/30/07 at 02:14:48
 
Steve, can this be pre-ordered?, I cant wait to get them in system.
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Corey
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #21 - 08/31/07 at 03:27:49
 
Glory to God!
 
Oh boy... Smiley
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« Last Edit: 09/16/07 at 19:23:31 by Corey »  


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paulc
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #22 - 08/31/07 at 14:37:07
 
Sorry Corey but there are still some of us that are "dancing with the one that brung us".
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #23 - 08/31/07 at 15:47:06
 
paulc wrote on 08/31/07 at 14:37:07:
Sorry Corey but there are still some of us that are "dancing with the one that brung us".



I know a couple of people who are dyed-in-the-wool DH-SET fans and will simply not listen to any amplifier that is not in that camp.  I have owned a couple of very highly regarded DH-SET amps (Korneff 45 and Wright Sound 2A3 monos).  They are fine amplifiers.  They sound a lot different than my SV83/EL84 based Decware Select (stock or modified).  Are they better ?  Some might think so .....  :-/

I'm still using the "tiny bottles" amp and the DH-SET amps went to live with someone else .....  ;)

In this hobby, personal taste is everything .....  8-)

Randy
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buzz
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #24 - 08/31/07 at 19:21:02
 
Randy in Caintuck wrote on 08/31/07 at 15:47:06:
I know a couple of people who are dyed-in-the-wool DH-SET fans and will simply not listen to any amplifier that is not in that camp.  I have owned a couple of very highly regarded DH-SET amps (Korneff 45 and Wright Sound 2A3 monos).  They are fine amplifiers.  They sound a lot different than my SV83/EL84 based Decware Select (stock or modified).  Are they better ?  Some might think so .....  :-/

I'm still using the "tiny bottles" amp and the DH-SET amps went to live with someone else .....  ;)

In this hobby, personal taste is everything .....  8-)

Randy



I love my 300B's but I know that nothing compares to the 'fast' SV83 tube. Each has their own sound. I'd like to hear how awful my amps sound next to Steves new monoblocks. I am not so sensitive to be upset over having an inferior sounding amp. That problem is easily fixed. I think hearing the differences first hand would be an education for me.

buzz
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #25 - 08/31/07 at 19:53:27
 
Howdy buzz,

The guys I know that love their 300Bs and 2A3s prefer them to my Select.  I have no problem with that.

I doubt that your amplifiers sound "awful" compared to anything on the market.  From what I understand, they are top shelf ..... but, as you observed, "each has their own sound".

The best way to hear for yourself is to bring your amps to the DecFest in October ..... and your speakers of choice, if possible .....  8-)

It would be great to meet you in person,

Randy
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Terry
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #26 - 08/31/07 at 22:00:05
 


Just to throw a couple of pennies in here,  I think the closest sounding tube to the EL84 variety is the 45, sounds very similar to me.  But at the prices matches pairs are fetching, their not worth it to me.

TG
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Steve Deckert
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #27 - 08/31/07 at 23:39:11
 
Corey wrote on 08/31/07 at 03:27:49:
 
Oh boy... Smiley


Smiley Ego check!  

I know statements like that are more damaging then productive from a sales point of view BUT I've listened to probably more SET amps in the same room and on more supporting gear then anyone in this forum.  I believe the statement is completely true - that's why I said it.

I will admit that with a tweaked Sony Playstation as a source, there is no question that a DHT 2A3, 300B or 45 amp is absolutely going to sound sweeter then mine.  

Steve
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selmerdave
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #28 - 08/31/07 at 23:47:17
 
LOL!

Dave
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #29 - 09/01/07 at 02:46:31
 
Smiley
   Don
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Corey
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #30 - 09/02/07 at 05:47:49
 
Steve,

You seemed to have grasped the concept of the reality of "spirits" in this world as based on a post of your's a while back. No doubt the spirit of ourselves and the spirit of the person(s) singing, for example, on a recording dramatically contributes to our experience of the song. There is certainly something to be said comparing the voice of Gene Simmons growling into the mic with his tongue hanging out vs. a dainty damsel singing alongside a harp. Gene's voice will have his spirit and all his friends tagging along with him in the mix, hence the various cackling, rasping, hoarsness etc.   If the person is a perverted drug addict like Gene, well, he might resonate with that music because that's what his friends tagging along with him like to hear.

Talk to me 2-3 years ago, and I would be found in that category of people. A perverted, drunk, drug addicted, angry individual and my taste in music, or should I say my taste in sound reflected that: up front and personal.

Today things are different. I own 4 music discs and they all contain musicans who are sanctified, holy and born of the Spirit of God. The experience is in a word, purity. Seeing I myself also now am the same, well, my taste in sound reflects my choice in an amp: clean, immediate and velvety pure. I am not saying that one has to go to a DHT amp to get this, but you sure can't reach it running cheap electrolytic capacitors. No doubt your new amp will sound better, much cleaner, much blacker, but to say the previous amps sound the best, well, sorry, perhaps under the $1000.00 price range. There is lots of expensive stuff out there, and I don't mean commercial amps. I mean expensive components like output transformers etc.


Corey




Give God the praise and the honor for everything! Praise God!

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« Last Edit: 09/16/07 at 19:16:47 by Corey »  


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paulc
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #31 - 09/02/07 at 08:50:05
 
A coherent sentence?
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #32 - 09/02/07 at 17:37:10
 
Expensive components do NOT always make a better amp, its the way they are mixed together. Thats what put Decware on the map! Steve has proven to me that you don't need silver wound transformers or hand rolled caps to make a GREAT amp!!          Tish
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #33 - 09/02/07 at 18:37:44
 
Corey wrote on 09/02/07 at 05:47:49:
The experience is in a word, purity. Seeing I myself also now am the same, well, my taste in sound reflects my choice in an amp: clean, immediate and velvety pure.


Decware is the SIN PIT amp!  [smiley=laught.gif] Smiley Smiley Smiley
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #34 - 09/02/07 at 19:01:02
 
Tish wrote on 09/02/07 at 17:37:10:
Expensive components do NOT always make a better amp, its the way they are mixed together. Thats what put Decware on the map! Steve has proven to me that you don't need silver wound transformers or hand rolled caps to make a GREAT amp!!          Tish


*Well* said.

Dave
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #35 - 09/02/07 at 19:32:24
 
Tish wrote on 09/02/07 at 17:37:10:
Expensive components do NOT always make a better amp, its the way they are mixed together.


True, but going with something in the premium range of output iron, for example, like Tamura or Plitron, doesn't take much mixing. You drop $2k and bolt it on. The iron alone is worth more than 2 of the amps Steve mentioned as being the "best."  I am not defending my amp, just living in reality.  There are alot of one-off custom amps out there that sound exceptional, every time they are turned on.



Corey
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Tish
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #36 - 09/02/07 at 19:56:08
 
Again,  Dropping 2K on some trannies and bolting them on does NOT guaranty great sound. Its the total mix of the curcuit and ALL the components. If you mix them correctly (like Steve has done) you can make a GREAT amp without dropping 2K. You seem to be mixing sound quality with $ spent.    Tish
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #37 - 09/02/07 at 20:17:23
 
Yeah, I would add that I have compared my Zen side-by-side with an $8k Airtight SET with Tamura iron and every expensive part in the book.  This was with a $30k front end and while it sounded good I did prefer my Zen.

I'll let Randy speak for himself but I doubt the iron in his SET amps that he dumped was shabby.

Dave
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MikeW
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #38 - 09/02/07 at 23:15:14
 
Quote:
I am not defending my amp, just living in reality.


I kinda think the way you introduced yourself to this thread, set the stage for the reactions you are getting Corey. With the Oh Boy remark about something that many folks were excited about.

FWIW, I may be joining the DHT amp owners myself but I still like the Decware products.

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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #39 - 09/04/07 at 03:15:03
 
Funny how an announcement about a new amp gets mired in talk about exotic iron, DHT amps, and spirituality.  Now I expect some of the Decware faithful to shoot down other opinions, but yes there are some good amps out there.  I am curious about the new flagship amp, and listening to it at Zenfest.  

Steve
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #40 - 09/04/07 at 11:30:33
 
I am never shot down.....just shot at Wink
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Steve Deckert
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #41 - 09/07/07 at 16:50:46
 
I have revised the first post of this thread.... please go to the top of page 1 and RE-READ it  :).

http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1187957711/0

Thanks,

Steve
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« Last Edit: 09/07/07 at 17:19:14 by Steve Deckert »  
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MikeW
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #42 - 09/07/07 at 18:00:22
 
Quote:
When you hear these it is likely you will want to say goodbye to your copy cat and tweaked out Zens for good.


Whoa Nellie Smiley Smiley Smiley

I can not come to the Zenfest but I will look forward to the impressions
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« Last Edit: 09/07/07 at 20:48:09 by dc007 »  
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scott_m
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #43 - 09/07/07 at 18:29:58
 
Man, those are beautiful!!  If they sound as good as they look...

Scott.
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #44 - 09/07/07 at 19:10:46
 
Very nice.  That answers the OPT question, and I have to ask.  Any other amp in a similar price range has considerably more substantial OPT's.  I think if the potential buyer thinks that these OPT's are anything less than top notch - especially in this price range, they'll spend the money on a competitor's amp.  So I'm just wondering, Steve, if you can explain how it is that the Decware OPT's can be competitive with nice OPT's from Electraprint or Sowter or Magnequest, particularly when their iron for similar applications is across the board significantly larger.  Not that I doubt it but just wondering what the explanation is where all other high-end iron is larger, most cheaper iron is smaller, and Decware OPT's are also smaller.  With the Zen amps I can understand it's a simple issue of cost management, and that the OPT's supplied are the best combination of performance at a reasonable price (and I would agree about that), but in the close-to-$2k category I think that could be a turn-off, particularly in light of competitor's products.

Dave
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #45 - 09/07/07 at 19:41:28
 
Howdy Dave,

I think you should quit beating around the bush and just make your point .....  ;)

But, seriously, I think it is probably a design choice.  From the discussions I have had with Steve and a couple of other well respected amplifier designers it seems that there is no "perfect" iron.  Larger iron has its advantages and smaller iron does as well.  The final signature of the amplifier will be largely determined by the size of the OPTs ..... and Steve has made his preference a part of the design.

Of course, if I'm wrong about this, I'm sure that Steve will kindly correct me .....  :-?

Have a good weekend,

Randy
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« Last Edit: 09/07/07 at 19:49:27 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #46 - 09/07/07 at 21:37:25
 
I think you're probably right.  It just seems that conventional wisdom is that OPT's are the most important single part of a tube amp, any SET that I am aware of in the $1500+ price range includes some healthy-sized iron and that is often a selling point and price-justifier.  I also notice the Torii II has some big iron although I know PP and SET iron are fundamentally different.  Now as I pointed out in another thread, you for one dumped your other amps with bigger iron for your Select, and you aren't the only one around here that did that.  So I'm not necessarily going to have a hard time believing that there is a reason to choose the smaller iron, but given that Decware is virtually alone on it I would like to know why it's better than the bigger iron typically found on competitor's $2k amps.

Dave
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #47 - 09/07/07 at 23:50:22
 
This is a great reservation to bring up because I'm sure most people share it.  Nevertheless it annoys me to no end.  Between 1993 and 1996 when I was developing the Zen amps guess what I worked on almost the entire 3 years?  Please don't think it took 3 years to figure out how to arrange 2 resistors and 1 coupling cap for the best sound...

Yes, output transformers.  The output transformers in all of our amplifiers are EVERY BIT THE QUALITY OF - IF NOT MORE SO than Electraprint or Sowter or Magnequest or Peerless, regardless of cost.  Talk to the gurus who design output transformers and they will tell you that the prices some of these BIG HIGH END trannys bring is insane.

We live in an ignorant world where bigger is always better.  I have 14 e-mails in today's inbox alone urging me to increase my penis size.

In the development of the Zen output transformers (which are clearly the biggest secret to their sound quality) I spent no less then 2000 hours winding, listening to and unwinding transformers.  

I was blessed along the way with a chance encounter by an 80 year old man who worked for Peerless. He was a friend of a friend of mine and that friend brought him over to my house because he thought the old guy would get a real kick out of my dedication to finding the best way to wind a transformer for sound quality. Indeed the gentlemen took a real liking to me and shared many of his deepest secrets which I took seriously. He was one of the designers of the then famous Peerless iron that Altec and others used in their amplifiers.

Interestingly enough your concerns about our small transformers were addressed in a paper I wrote years ago. The President of Peerless call me on the phone after reading it to let me know he had no idea what I was talking about when I say scramble wound. I explained it to him exactly as the old guy explained it to me.

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« Last Edit: 09/08/07 at 00:17:11 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #48 - 09/07/07 at 23:52:53
 
Here is the paper for those who don't like to read the articles section of the site:

The secret behind the Zen Triode output transformers is that they are patterned after the older Peerless iron that was hand-scramble-wound for ultra wide bandwidth and flat response. If you are familiar with the any of the all time great vintage tube amps you already know the Peerless output transformers were a large factor.

Our transformers are also hand scramble wound using a winding topology that evolved from several prototypes.  The air-gapped cores are made from top grade USA made grain- oriented-silicon-steel - the heart of any transformer.  The better the core the less of it you need and the lower the saturation.  In contrast transformers made in China do not have the same quality steel and suffer as a result.

Add to that the fact that I choose to locate them on a different plane than the power transformer and at the opposite end of the amp where no field is present.  Instead of using end-bells the chassis is used to shield it- making the transformers appear about 1/2 the size they actually are.

I also choose a single 6 ohm tap because I found the single tap prototypes sounded better than the multi-taps, something about the unused taps.  The primary impedance is 9800 ohms with 2850 winds.  This makes the el84 and SV83 tubes couple more power as the speaker impedance drops.  Max power is at 2 ohms.

If you measure the current and voltage on an SE84C Zen Triode Amp with a 1KHZ sign at 2 volts you will find the current output actually exceeds the voltage.

Many people think transformers have to be huge to be good, but its all in the quality of the steel.

Another rather unique feature of our output transformers is that they float.  They have no reference to ground.  This is difficult to do in all but the most stable amplifier circuits.
Now there is a big fuss is over COBALT transformers

There is no evidence that "cobalt" transformer will sound better than our transformers in a Zen Triode Amp.  What it has going for it is a catchy name, high cost, low availability, and it's the hot topic over in Magnaquest/Bottlehead land.  I'm sure it's good, as is nickel, but after reading all the chit chat about it on the Internet I recognize that it's being largely overblown.  The majority if not all are done without air-gaps necessitating a para feed design.  We went through all that three years ago and concluded that para feed does not sound better to our ears.  It does however perform better which brings us down to the brass tacks of building amps that excel in performance (ie. para feed, constant current, etc.) or simpler "zen" like designs that to our ears sound better (but perform worse).  Take your choice.

The main advantages that nickel has over steel is less saturation.  There are two ways to deal with saturation.  A) use nickel or "cobalt", or B) just size the damn things 3 times bigger than they need to be so they don't saturate.  Our transformers do not saturate until somewhere between 15 and 20 watts.  Now depending on the amp we build, that is between 3 and 10 times over sized.  You can be sure that if someone is using expensive core materials like nickel or cobalt they aren't likely to oversize the transformers.

Many engineers will point out that transformers in general induce distortions and therefore not using one is better than using one.  Output transformer less amps (tube) are often great sounding amplifiers, however they are also finicky about speakers and have many other disadvantages.  We feel the transformer is a major key to why most people think tube amps sound better than solid state.  The transformer couples the output stage to the hostile impedance of the loudspeaker in a synergistic way not possible without one.

The common way of doing things in the high power high-end audio world is to build high power amplifiers with high dampening ratios so that they will better control the speaker and be less effected by the feedback voltage generated by it.  On the other end are speakers with high power ratings, low efficiency and complex crossovers that attempt to show the amp a less hostile impedance curve.  Basically put, amps that are less effected by (can't feel) the speakers, and speakers that are less effected by (can't feel) the amps.  

In a great high fidelity tube system the output transformer makes the speaker aware of the amp, and the amp aware of the speaker.  The two work together, reacting to each other with any given passage of music.  This is call synergy.  It is made possible by output transformers.  The best vintage solid state amps I've heard from the 60's and 70's used output transformers.
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« Last Edit: 09/07/07 at 23:57:29 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: NEW DECWARE AMP at DECFEST2007
Reply #49 - 09/08/07 at 00:23:47
 
And yes, you're right - that answers the OPT question.  If there were something clearly superior to a Zen OPT I would have used it in these monos.  There isn't.

Steve Deckert

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