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Decware SETs vs "the other stuff" (Read 7970 times)
Randy in Caintuck
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Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
05/16/07 at 18:23:27
 
On another forum frequented by many of the lurkers and members of the Decware forum, there is a thread or two singing the praises of a low powered power amplifier and matching preamp that have received a lot of positive press.  A few comments are made indicating that these are sonically superior to the Decware SET amplifiers.

I recently spent several days listening to these pieces through some loudspeakers I am very familiar with (owning a pair myself) and through a front end component that I am VERY familiar with (being my Camelot Uther).  I also was able to spend some time listening to my Decware Select and CSP2 with the same associated gear.

To make a long story short, if anyone has been considering the purchase of the highly touted gear mentioned on the other forum and selling their Decware amplifiers ..... I would like to save you the trouble of finding out that you made a serious mistake .....  :P

The other amplification spent a lot of time in the system and was well warmed up.  Both my Select and Dave's (from Parker Audio) were each in the system for about 30 minutes, with the CSP2 running for a total  of about 60 minutes.

Not to be misunderstood, the other amplifiers sounded OK ..... but to my ears (and quite a few of the other folks who approached me after the listening session) there was simply no comparison as to the musicality and naturalness of the sound ..... with the Decware gear coming out on top.

If anyone feels that I am coming from the position of a "homer", please understand that I have bought and sold more audio gear over the past 25 to 30 years than I care to think about.  If the other amplifier / preamp combo was better sounding to my ears, I would already have placed my order for them.  I have not ..... and will not.

In the past, I was dead set against having an active preamp in my system ..... not being all that impressed with the ones I had heard.  For the past couple of years, Steve has strongly suggested that I should try one of his preamps.  Since purchasing the CSP2, I can say with absolute certainty that you have not really heard what your Zen amplifier is capable of until you have heard it with the CSP2.

The readers of this (and many other) forums are always looking for ways to better the sound of their audio systems.  Changes in the system usually bring a "different" sound ..... but, after scrutiny, different is not always better.

In Caintuck, we have a saying ..... "The grass is always greener over the septic tank" .....  ;D

Just something to think about .....

Randy
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« Last Edit: 05/17/07 at 06:39:27 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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davedutill
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #1 - 05/16/07 at 19:08:31
 
What the hey!!

I'll chime in on this one.

The Decware amps were the Amps that others were judged by on sound quality!  They ruled the fest of the South!!  Gritfest, thats right, no cream of wheat here, was rocked on more than one occassion by the mighty lil Decware amps.  Our amps were followed by an Eddie Vaughn Carina and  Joels integrated. John had brought a homebrew, what I called the cool Satchel amp.  Then bringing up the tail end was the transcendant.  Yes, it had tubes galore, it worked flawlessly as a night light for people coming in and out of the room.  

Perhaps the Transcendant could be used as a Septic cleaner?

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MikeW
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #2 - 05/16/07 at 20:23:51
 
I do agree with Randy and Dave that the Decware gear is very hard to beat and at it's price point almost impossible to beat. I too over the last few years have bought, sold, traded and exhausted myself looking for the best treat for my ears. I have gone from flea powered to high powered, from tubes to SS and back again.

Currently I prefer the sound of the SET amps as opposed to anything else. Sometimes I miss some bass response but not that often. SET amps require careful matching of components both upstream and downstream. When the match is made you have something special.

I have in my possession two of the amps that were mentioned but mine are all in stock form. I believe Dave's and Randy's Selects are tricked out a little Wink

Also the Carina I have is a prototype and I am sure there are some differences in the production Carina. I do believe that since I have added the CSP preamp that the CSP + Select does one heck of a job playing most kinds of music.

If you own Decware gear and want a better sound you will have to spend a lot of money and still might end up disappointed. I can say the same thing for the EV Carina. It is a fine amp.

Hey if we all had the same 'ears' we wouldn't need so many HI FI choices. Smiley

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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #3 - 05/16/07 at 20:44:24
 
MikeW wrote on 05/16/07 at 20:23:51:
I believe Dave's and Randy's Selects are tricked out a little Wink

If you own Decware gear and want a better sound you will have to spend a lot of money and still might end up disappointed. I can say the same thing for the EV Carina. It is a fine amp.



Howdy Mike,

While it's true that our Selects are "slightly modified", I had the privilege of hearing a stone stock Select in my system during paulc's recent visit.  The stock Select put on a great performance and held its head high .....  8-)

For purposes of clarification, the amplifier I was comparing to the Select was not the Carina.

The Carina is also a fine sounding amplifier.  The contrast between the Carina and the Select / CSP2 combo is interesting ..... with not a runt in the litter.

Best wishes,

Randy
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« Last Edit: 05/16/07 at 20:49:34 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Doorman
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #4 - 05/16/07 at 21:31:02
 
Thanks, Randy. I've not had the opportunity to listen to "that other" tube amp, but my Select is staying put!
I agree that the (tubed) pre makes all the difference. Go figure!
                                                                                                                       Don
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #5 - 05/16/07 at 22:46:25
 
You know what? I'm not even considering other equipment.  With the CSP2, the ZBox, the DEC 685 and the EL34 Monoblocks and the RL2s I have a Decware system that brings me enjoyment every day.

Yeah, I'll consider another Decware product. . . why not?  And I'll eventually have my Monoblocks modified by Steve.  But. . . I'm not tempted by any other brands. Smiley
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DaveCan
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #6 - 05/16/07 at 22:54:54
 
 I feel quite fortunate that I was able to order my Taboo last summer. I can't afford to change out gear all the time so I did the research asked around and finally put a order in for one.

I know it's a SEP and not a SET but I must say for the price my money and ears are safe sitting in a Decware chair. Now I'm itching to try a CSP2 with my amp, and if I can get one sometime I'll feel quite safe and happy to put my money with Decware.

Great products that can fit anyones budget that can compete with high dollar out of most peoples reach  stuff.    Dave Smiley

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rayd
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #7 - 05/16/07 at 23:06:10
 
There is something special about the Select - and I might add - Parker, combo. For me, it's the emotion they empart (The Last Samurai soundtrack with Japanese koto drums sounds absolutely scary through this system). I've never experienced this before. That being said, I wish I had a wee bit more power  :'(
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buzz
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #8 - 05/16/07 at 23:37:34
 
davedutill wrote on 05/16/07 at 19:08:31:
What the hey!!

I'll chime in on this one.

The Decware amps were the Amps that others were judged by on sound quality!  They ruled the fest of the South!!  Gritfest, thats right, no cream of wheat here, was rocked on more than one occassion by the mighty lil Decware amps.  Our amps were followed by an Eddie Vaughn Carina and  Joels integrated. John had brought a homebrew, what I called the cool Satchel amp.  Then bringing up the tail end was the transcendant.  Yes, it had tubes galore, it worked flawlessly as a night light for people coming in and out of the room.  

Perhaps the Transcendant could be used as a Septic cleaner?


Its a shame to bash Bruces' products... they are miles ahead of most gear, including much tube equipment. Also, he has done much to enlighten 'audiophiles', and offers tools to help the average Joe learn about what makes amps tick. (LOTS of hard work, even more difficult than building for resale) And although his amps may not sound as good as the SE84, believe it or not, there are amps that sound better than the SE84.

What will you say about Decware products when you experience that?

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« Last Edit: 05/16/07 at 23:38:34 by buzz »  
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bo
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #9 - 05/17/07 at 00:04:35
 
buzz wrote on 05/16/07 at 23:37:34:
Its a shame to bash Bruces' products...although his amps may not sound as good as the SE84, believe it or not, there are amps that sound better than the SE84.

What will you say about Decware products when you experience that?



Who is Bruce? Are you talkign about Transcendent Audio, the ones that use like 37 tubes? Play music and heat your home all at once – LOL!!  :-X
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Eli Duttman
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #10 - 05/17/07 at 03:57:42
 
bo wrote on 05/17/07 at 00:04:35:
Who is Bruce? Are you talkign about Transcendent Audio, the ones that use like 37 tubes? Play music and heat your home all at once – LOL!!  :-X



OTL amps are space heaters.  Rozenblit's are not too bad.  Look at AtmaSphere.   Tongue

JMO, you want OTL, go tube driver/MOSFET "finals".  I've got a 250 WPC in 8 Ohms AVA FET-Valve that sounds fine, thank you.   Wink
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Terry
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #11 - 05/17/07 at 04:09:13
 
Eli Duttman wrote on 05/17/07 at 03:57:42:
OTL amps are space heaters.  Rozenblit's are not too bad.  Look at AtmaSphere.   Tongue

JMO, you want OTL, go tube driver/MOSFET "finals".  I've got a 250 WPC in 8 Ohms AVA FET-Valve that sounds fine, thank you.   Wink



Eli,

What is the circuit toplogy of the FETs, class AB?

TG  [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]
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opnly_bafld
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #12 - 05/17/07 at 04:17:31
 
Eli Duttman wrote on 05/17/07 at 03:57:42:
JMO, you want OTL, go tube driver/MOSFET "finals".  I've got a 250 WPC in 8 Ohms AVA FET-Valve that sounds fine, thank you.   Wink


I agree, I love my tube amps but when I need more power I use Monarchy Audio Tube/Fet hybrid monoblocks with 200w/ch (50w class A).

Lin Smiley
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Terry
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #13 - 05/17/07 at 04:30:52
 
opnly_bafld wrote on 05/17/07 at 04:17:31:
I agree, I love my tube amps but when I need more power I use Monarchy Audio Tube/Fet hybrid monoblocks with 200w/ch (50w class A).

Lin Smiley



Monarchy Audio's sites says this:

"The current-output stage is totally transparent, so if there are any sonic characteristics  observable on (not my typo but theirs) this amp, it would be attributable to the tube’s own sonics."

Although I think their amps more than likely sound very good I don't buy that kind of sales talk, at least knowing what I know about electronics.  Everything has its sonic characteristics, however small it may be, NOTHING is totally transparent, at least not yet.

TG  [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]
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« Last Edit: 05/17/07 at 04:31:51 by Terry »  
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Randy in Caintuck
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #14 - 05/17/07 at 05:01:42
 
buzz wrote on 05/16/07 at 23:37:34:
And although his amps may not sound as good as the SE84, believe it or not, there are amps that sound better than the SE84.

What will you say about Decware products when you experience that?



Howdy Buzz,

I would probably say "I just spent a LOT more money" .....  ;)
Then again, I have owned some pretty nice amplifiers ..... including the very highly regarded Wright Sound 2A3 monoblocks and the Korneff 45 ..... and at the end of the day I sold them and still have my Decware Select.  The DH-SET amps sounded "different" for sure, but there is something about the sound of the Decware Select that is even more real and involving than the others, IMHO ..... and they cost a lot more than the Select.  I'm happy to admit that personal preference is involved, but there is a musical honesty to the Decware amps that is not often found.  When V-Caps and the CSP2 are added to the equation the situation is even better ..... much better.

One of the reasons I started this thread was that a comparison was being made between the Transcendent amps and Decware products by some folks who were previously big fans of Decware products ..... and were now treating the Decware products like a red headed step child.  While allowing for the fact that they probably did not hear the Decware gear with the benefit of V-Caps and a CSP2, the situation "stuck in my craw" and needed an outlet.  Since the issue involved Decware products, I thought it proper to use this forum to make my comments.

I welcomed the opportunity to hear both amps and preamps in the same system and had no problem deciding which products sounded better to me .....  8-)

Regards,

Randy
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« Last Edit: 05/17/07 at 06:27:06 by Randy in Caintuck »  

CEC TL-2 belt drive CD transport
Camelot Uther / Anagram DAC
Decware Model SE84C+ amplifier
Greenvalve Audio Type 10 amplifier
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"Mini Me" OBs - with Hawthorne Augies, Wild Burro Betsy drivers and Heil AMTs
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buzz
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #15 - 05/17/07 at 10:30:18
 
Randy in Caintuck wrote on 05/17/07 at 05:01:42:
Howdy Buzz,

I would probably say "I just spent a LOT more money" .....  ;)
... there is something about the sound of the Decware Select that is even more real and involving than the others, IMHO ..... and they cost a lot more than the Select.  ...
One of the reasons I started this thread was that a comparison was being made between the Transcendent amps and Decware products by some folks who were previously big fans of Decware products ..... and were now treating the Decware products like a red headed step child. ...
Randy


Ahh, yes... I agree. However, all these amps approach the level of fidelity that the source becomes the weak link. Also, the Transcendents' use of feedback will give a better bottom end (and initial appeal) but sacrifices so much. People today are stuck with a poor medium (CD). A "lot of money" must be spent to find a CD source that can find the 'midrange magic'.

I imagine, most of these converts are using CD as their source, and have never expirienced what vinyl or ultra high end digital source listeners take for granted. Sadly, they are simply trying to make the most of the (flawed) medium they listen to, which happens to sound best in the lower octaves. More joy may have been found keeping the SE84 and investing in better source equipment.

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« Last Edit: 05/17/07 at 10:43:44 by buzz »  
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mullman
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #16 - 05/17/07 at 12:50:57
 
Well, I heard the Transcendent Audio stuff at HornFest as well.
To me it was nothing special.

It made music, but I much prefer my modded Decware CS...

Sometimes simple is better.
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« Last Edit: 05/17/07 at 12:52:28 by mullman »  
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MikeW
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #17 - 05/17/07 at 13:37:23
 
Quote:
The contrast between the Carina and the Select / CSP2 combo is interesting ..... with not a runt in the litter.  


I agree........Both are SET amps but it almost seems the similarities stop there. I like both of them.
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One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people's minds.
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troutsnook
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #18 - 05/17/07 at 13:39:04
 
Randy and Buzz,

Randy, you sure know how to stir things up a bit Grin.

Buzz, I do agree with you about the source - I still like vinyl best.  You have to be realistic since everything is not available on vinyl.

I had the pleasure to listen to Randy's system last year - prior to the Zanden and CSP.  It was one of the finest systems I have heard.  The only area lacking was the bottom end - recordings I was very familiar with - substantial low bass - it just was not there.  Since that time, Randy tells me the CSP has taken care of that problem - and kept the magic as well.  I can't wait to get another listen at a later date. Smiley

So much of this is personal preference - really whatever pleases you is what you should get.  I find listening to other folks versions of "Perfection" to be enlightening.  Occasionally I learn things that help with my own set up.  Just don't forget about the transducers - your source and speakers will set the limits on what the equipment in between can do.

Bob
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bo
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #19 - 05/17/07 at 15:18:03
 
A $1000 +/- TT setup doesn’t come close to my Arcam CDP in terms of midrange magic – actually it doesn’t come close in any regard! It’s MUCH better. I’d have to drop $500+ on a cart and $2000+ on a table to match the Arcam or any Meridian for that matter.
THEN, you need to drop another $500 to $1000 on a vinyl cleaning solution and more on storage.

Forgetaboutit!


I believe most audio guys try a few midfi CDP’s and even a couple of higher end Sonys or Denons and come to the opinion that CDP’s cant’ rival even a modest vinyl rig. And that may be so with consumer brand audio - at any price level. Ever hear a $3000 Denon? They’re good but not THAT good. Ever hear a $600 Jolida with some choice tubes? Its better then the $3000 Denon in terms of musicality and magic.
Point is, its relatively easy to get a great sounding CDP if you just look past the brand names and overly popular midfi brands.

I’ve tried time and time to get back into vinyl and I just don’t see the point.


Bill Maher, New Rule:
“Stop telling me that vinyl records sound warmer than CDs. I was alive in the '70s, you dip-shit hipsters. I know what vinyl sounds like. Scratchy! And when your friend throws you the bong and it hits the tone arm, your Foghat record is ruined, man! Plus, when you've got a chick over and you're getting your groove on, every 20 minutes, you've got get up out of the beanbag chair and flip over the Ray Stevens album.”

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« Last Edit: 05/17/07 at 15:21:50 by bo »  

fate is not just whose cooking smells good but which way the wind blows
Decware Custom Select/ParkerAudio 95sigs, McAlister SE32 SET/Alon Model 2's, McAlister PL-10 pre, Arcam FMJ CD23T, KRK V12S sub, ScottNixon USBTD and other assorted wire and all sorts.
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #20 - 05/17/07 at 16:38:43
 
bo wrote on 05/17/07 at 15:18:03:
...
Point is, its relatively easy to get a great sounding CDP if you just look past the brand names and overly popular midfi brands.
...



Bo, I have 1000+ cds/dvd/sacd/dvda collecting dust. Only a couple hundred LPs. Give me a list of CDP that you think can compare with vinyl. I have heard many and sent them packing. Perhaps I need to try Arcam or Jolida? So far I cannot agree with you... but some of my favorite music is only on cd, and I wish I could find a digital source that even came close to the ZP3.

For me, I have tried time and time again to get back into digital, and I just don't see the point... Ho, hum.

As far as 'midrange magic' goes either you know what it is or you don't. To even be more cryptic... sometimes it happens or not... even with vinyl. Steve knows.




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« Last Edit: 05/17/07 at 16:46:23 by buzz »  
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Rob
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #21 - 05/17/07 at 21:14:13
 
Personally, I  LOVE  vinyl. My  friend  in NYC's  set-up is to  die  for. Of  course, it  also is about $12K in gear  :o

I  abandoned my  LP rig  several years  ago.
a) Cost  of  ownership
b) Lack of  quality/pristene  recordings
c) Flexibility of playback (i.e. skipping tracks, random  play, etc) plus  playing in my  car - discman, etc.
d) Ease  of  use/maintenance
e)  FUD factor - I  don't  worry  about  kids, pets, dust,  and  other elements  so  much  with CDs.
f) pure enjoyment  factor


The  last meaning I was  constantly obcessing over  the  sound  of  my LP  rig.
I  would  A/B  like  recordings  of CD  and LP  - and  the  vinly,  when a  good  shape  recording, WAS/IS  superior.

However,  for  me  it  is  that "law of  diminishing  returns"  rule. When  you add up  all the  factors, to  me  it  simply was not  worth it.


I  have  a  hot-modded  Shanling  CD T-100  tube  output  CD player. I  have  owned the  Musical Fidelity AC3,  Meridian 801,  Marantz 63SE  - all  very  good  players  and  all  "analog  enough" for  my tastes  not  to deal  with  the  vinyl rig.
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« Last Edit: 05/17/07 at 21:17:37 by Rob »  

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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #22 - 05/18/07 at 00:42:35
 
bo wrote on 05/17/07 at 15:18:03:
I’ve tried time and time to get back into vinyl and I just don’t see the point.


Bo, that's the point.  You get it or you don't.  If you don't appreciate what vinyl does, you won't appreciate vinyl, regardless of the pricepoint of your analog or digital setup.  That's why it's a never-ending argument, it's about personal taste in sonics and preference.  What makes or breaks the listening process for one person is not the same as what makes or breaks the listening process for others.  For some it's <40Hz, for others it's >20kHz, for others it's dynamics for others it's sheer power, for others it's subtlety, for others it's strings, for others it's vocals, etc.  There are aspects to playback that vinyl offers that digital doesn't.  Simply.  I've heard plenty of very high-end digital setups and sorry, they don't do that thing that a $20 cartridge on a $100 table does.  They do many other things (perhaps most in that instance) better, and I'll be the first to say that a high-end digital rig can be *very* enjoyable to listen to and will do many things that vinyl can't.  But I hate it when people say that one can do what the other can't, because they can't.  You can have the top-of-the-line Teres with whatever other gear you want to name with a mint new lp and, sorry, the background is not going to be as black and nonexistant as a good digital rig.  Not going to happen.  And for some that makes or breaks things, and so obviously those people won't like (or "get") vinyl.  Of course.  And obviously that's just an example and there are many other aspects that are parallel. The reverse is also true as I think most vinyl-lovers would attest, although it's a little harder to put into words as it isn't such an empirical thing as noise levels.  So rather than say that people who like vinyl are nuts, just accept the fact that you "don't get it", and nothing wrong with that.  You're not alone.

Dave
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #23 - 05/18/07 at 01:02:09
 
I have owned the Wright 3.5 2a3 monos, Decware Select monos. I currently own Electraprint 300B monos, and my current rig for a while now has Cary 805C SET monoblocks. I am very happy with my Cary SLP98P preamp and 805C monoblocks. A very good friend practically gave them to me or I would not have spent the money that they would have cost. I do remember though its been a while one of my favorite setups was my Decware ZTPRE with my Select monoblocks and my Klipschorns. Hard to beat for the money.
I have noticed the vinyl issue come up as well. I have never had a better sounding setup than my current one with features the VPI TNT 3.5 table as the centerpiece. It makes it a no brainer for me since I have over 8000 records. I have a long long long list of great records that I have upgraded and weeded out over the years. Some Mercury Living Presence or Living Stereo lp's are 50 years old and sound amazing.  It is more of a hassle to clean and such but for me thats part of it all....kind of a ritual when I find a near mint 50 year old lp for a dollar and clean it up and sit in front of the tubes and I am blown away.
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #24 - 05/18/07 at 04:13:43
 
buzz wrote on 05/17/07 at 10:30:18:
Ahh, yes... I agree. However, all these amps approach the level of fidelity that the source becomes the weak link.  A "lot of money" must be spent to find a CD source that can find the 'midrange magic'.

I imagine, most of these converts are using CD as their source, and have never expirienced what vinyl or ultra high end digital source listeners take for granted.



Well said .....

While not being at the absolute top of "the digital heap" my current rig is at least within throwing distance ..... and I can say with some certainty that most music lovers have never heard digital sounding as good as what I'm listening to now.

I have felt for a long time that it is a pretty special system that makes the Decware Select the "weak link" ..... and my opinion has not changed with a $16,000.00 (retail) digital front end.  I took my other DAC (Camelot Uther) to the recent HornFest and it opened the eyes of several people as to what digital is capable of from the comments they made to me.  I now wish that I would have taken the Genesis Digital Lens and Stereovox digital cable.  The difference would have blown some minds .....  8-)

To my ears, the Zanden is better than the Camelot Uther ..... but not 2 1/2 times better.  I would not have paid full price for the Zanden ..... my pockets are not that deep.  If I had to live with the Uther, no tears would be shed by any means ..... it's a killer piece .....  :)

BTW ..... I noticed that you have the same phono cartridge that I do.  Another benefit of having the CSP2 in the system is a second input.  The friend who built my SO Imperials just put together an audio rack for me and the turntable is now in the system for the vinyl I enjoy.  Life just keeps getting better.

As much as I hate to sound like a broken record (no pun intended), the addition of the CSP2 to my system makes at least as much of a positive difference as anything that has been done or added to the system.  With the Select and CSP2, the end result is truly greater than the sum of the parts.

Best wishes,

Randy
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« Last Edit: 05/18/07 at 04:19:48 by Randy in Caintuck »  

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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #25 - 05/18/07 at 05:02:42
 
Interesting thread.  

As usual I feel obligated to chime in about vinyl vs CD… a phrase that osculates in the most literal sense.  It’s a very black and white phrase that with a bit of irony depicts only shades of grey.  Nevertheless: It’s not so much about “getting it” with regards to vinyl as it is about hearing it “when it is set up right.”

When I am developing an amplifier I only use CD because of the consistency.  Also because most people listen only to CD and because as pointed out, CD’s do several things better then vinyl.  The reason I don’t use vinyl during amplifier development is because it’s too easy to accidentally mess something up with the tone arm, cartridge and table.  The only way to be certain what you are hearing is honest or at the full potential of your rig would be to do a serious pre flight check which can takes hours.

Having the cartridge force of by a ½ gram will destroy the magic of vinyl.  (As a friend of mine recently found out in the nick of time before selling an amp that was actually better then his own)  

The distance between the needle and the pivot point of the tone arm has to be perfect otherwise it will destroy the magic of vinyl.

The angles of the cartridge of which there are three, must be perfect otherwise it will destroy the magic of vinyl.

And the theme goes on – the height of the tone arm controlling the angle of the arm must be perfect and should be adjusted for each thickness of record you play.

On cheaper tables that use platter mats, the type of mat used can make or break the magic, it has to be the right mat.

The choice of cartridge design and proper matching it to the right tone arm , ie, high mass, low mass, uni-pivot etc., will make or break the magic.  You can spend 6 grand on a tone arm and cartridge that don’t like each other and get better sound from a 600 dollar equivalent that is properly and synergistically matched.

The anti-skate force must be perfect, and the table must be level or the magic in vinyl will go away.

It goes on from there…  

Then when you get it all perfect, you may and typically do get stuck with mediocre results that in my opinion destroy the magic of vinyl. (Due to other handicaps down stream)

To me the magic of vinyl is what it does that CD’s can not.  Comparing the very best with the very best.

People who spend 10 grand  (not excluding those who spend far less) learn how to set all these variables up, and learn how to hear what each variable does to the sound when it’s off in either direction.  They generally have a fascination for mechanical things and an appreciation for beauty in motion.  These people are unanimous in the knowledge of what vinyl does that CD can not.

FOR THE REASONS states above it is very few vinyl rigs that are set up properly to their full potential.  Many are so handicapped that they really tip the scale heavily in the Vinyl vs. CD argument to digital.

The phono stage is probably as important if not more, then all of the above.  This is assuming that you haven’t handicapped the phono stage with an inferior preamp, or amplifier, or both.

This IMO is why there even is an argument about which sounds better.    When I have completed the development of an amplifier and it’s been in service for a healthy period of time, then I find out how good it really is by going through a pre-flight ritual on my vinyl rig and listening to records.  

Regrettably this whole hi-end vinyl thing is not practical.  You have to almost be a skilled watch maker type of guy to get it absolutely right.  Tape was a much better alternative for mass enthusiasts and CD was a natural alternative to that - offering too many advantages to ignore.  It is technically superior and inferior at the same time, and so is vinyl.

Once you spend some real money on digital it gets pretty easy to happily enjoy CD’s right along with Vinyl or even instead of vinyl.  

A big reason I come off as a vinyl advocate is because a cheap and or expensive but poor sounding CD player is no comparison to a properly set up mid-fi turntable, and for sincere broke audiophiles who lust to hear how good an SET amp can sound, it’s a less expensive way to find out.

The goal of all of us should be to focus on improving digital both in sound and in value so that eventually everyone can take the digital side of the argument with no substantial opposition.  I mean even I listen to digital 90 percent of the time since I have music on all day every day in the shop.  I want it to sound as good as possible.


Steve Huh
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #26 - 05/18/07 at 05:08:45
 
Hey Randy...  remember the mono recording I did of a single imperial playing a jazz radio station that came out in sudo stereo?  The one that started the "Hell, those aren't big" thread in the Imperial forum...  well I've posted the original wav file, uncut (75megs) back on that thread and now that you have imperials I suspect you would find it an interesting listen.  Just download and burn it.  ;)
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #27 - 05/18/07 at 05:35:11
 
Steve,

Very good points on the vinyl setup process. I was almost ready to sell my TNT. I finally got it it sing like no other table,arm,cart combo, and when I put the step up you built me in the chain it has done nothing but got better with time. It was a simple trial of tracking weight and VTA which was very cruical for my combo.

Charlie
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #28 - 05/18/07 at 12:07:23
 
If all the material I have in several rooms of this house were available at the same cost and with the same ease on vinyl right now I'd be a vinyl addict. . . . I truly do know the magic of vinyl playback and there's nothing like it!  

I'll echo Randy's praise of the CSP2.  As mine has broken in and become integrated into my system it's proven to be a centerpiece that ties together threads of magic.  And having that second input is such a great thing.  Kudoes to Steve on this great machine!
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #29 - 05/20/07 at 02:39:14
 
Check out Altmann's DIY TT...with Harley Davidson inlet valve & valve guide as TT main bearing!!  

http://www.altmann.haan.de/turntable/
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #30 - 05/20/07 at 03:17:58
 
VERY low WAF! Undecided
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #31 - 05/20/07 at 12:15:20
 
bo wrote on 05/20/07 at 02:39:14:
Check out Altmann's DIY TT...with Harley Davidson inlet valve & valve guide as TT main bearing!!  

http://www.altmann.haan.de/turntable/


Now thats a WORK OF ART!!!  I am almost inspired to make a TT like that just to see what it can do.

Back in the day when all we had was vinyl, my buddies and I had bought all these special set up tools, and would spend hours setting up our TT's, it was painstaking, but for the sake of the music and the longevity of our LP's we would do it.  To this day I have LP's that are over 30 years old, that still sound wonderful.  We also use to make recordings of our LP's so we didn't have to wear out our LP's.  We use to take our LP's to a local hi-fi shop to get them cleaned once a year, use antistatic sprays, special coating treatments when you first got them, Disc3 (If I recall correctly) disc cleaners were the latest greatest thing, I had the one with the cleaner in the handle.  It was a something we put a LOT into, and when CD's came out, the idea of far less hassle was a major draw.  Looking back on it that was a large part of what being an audiophile was all about, almost a lost art when it comes to setting up a TT.

TG  [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #32 - 05/20/07 at 15:19:21
 
Steve pretty much sums up my experiences with vinyl and cdp's..

Love turntables ,but i've heard pretty darn analogue cdp's too with decent price cards these days..unison research unico cdp with triode ouptut for 1300$ for ex.(just recently heard,i was pleasantly surprised by it's anlogue round full bodied musical perfomance) ..consonance/opera audio cd120 linear (non os) 999$..
My reference for top notch cd playback is still the 1989 luxman/kusunoki fluency dac.Still using the luxman da07 dp07 combo based on it .A world class combo..beats the cheaper good digital sources in 3d imaging,it's extremely round bodied and subtle sound ... for ex.large classical is just RIGHT on this thing ; hence the price tag of 15k.

*Sidenote on luxman :
Strange story, it' aint mine,it's a 15k combo as i said.. limetd to 500;sec. hand only these days, if you find one! It's been here for 2 years and nobody seems to come and get it back! doh i contacted both parties involved!...A strange situation...but pleasent for me  :D..while it lasts.
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Explains Steve theory...normally ,when spending much, you get to experience these things,unless you're lucky or an audio reviewer.


BUT ...If you own many LP's you simply NEED a TT to listen to them,it's as simple as that to me!

..i sold my TT because i owned few and do not find to many great LP's these days and i got tired of having to watch out for bad pressed or worn sec hand LP's ... AND i found pretty darn analogue sounding digital sources..BUT yes they both have some differences due the way they 'make' music..afer all the gear doesn't matter if it plays the musical and emotional content only,and YOU enjoy...most important to me is : non fatiguing natural sound that'll touch the soul ...
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #33 - 05/24/07 at 17:03:42
 
davedutill wrote on 05/16/07 at 19:08:31:
What the hey!!


Perhaps the Transcendant could be used as a Septic cleaner?



I apologize to coming late to this thread but as an owner of both a Decware Taboo and a Transcendent GG preamp I felt I needed to add my 1 cent. I was not in attendance at the venue in which the comparison took place so I cannot speak to which completed rig is better. What I can say is that I recently put together the GG (my first kit) and it has improved the sound of the stand alone Taboo.

I know that everyone will say that had I used a Decware preamp it would sound even better maybe so, but the fact that it improved the sound at all is a testament to the quality of the Transcendent gear. To launch attacks against it because of a particular preference is wrong. We all have preferences and there is no scientific way of measuring "good sound".

I have no problem with someone saying " the gear sounded too analytical or bright" but a space heater and a septic tank? C'mon guys we are all better than that.
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #34 - 05/24/07 at 18:38:43
 
144cubits wrote on 05/24/07 at 17:03:42:

I apologize to coming late to this thread but as an owner of both a Decware Taboo and a Transcendent GG preamp I felt I needed to add my 1 cent. I was not in attendance at the venue in which the comparison took place so I cannot speak to which completed rig is better. What I can say is that I recently put together the GG (my first kit) and it has improved the sound of the stand alone Taboo.

I know that everyone will say that had I used a Decware preamp it would sound even better maybe so, but the fact that it improved the sound at all is a testament to the quality of the Transcendent gear. To launch attacks against it because of a particular preference is wrong. We all have preferences and there is no scientific way of measuring "good sound".

I have no problem with someone saying " the gear sounded too analytical or bright" but a space heater and a septic tank? C'mon guys we are all better than that.


The original comments made here and at AC were comparing two amplifiers, not preamps.

The comment about a space heater was in reference to the two amps Transcendent Sound makes that have nearly two dozen tubes. Even the manufacturer suggests that to reduce heat output “summer mode” to remove 8 of the 16 power tubes. It was in no way a negative statement in regards to sound quality – just a humorous fact.

BTW: My Select sounds better with the last couple of preamps I own(ed) then without one at all.
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #35 - 05/24/07 at 19:23:31
 
"Space heater, Night light, Septic cleaner". Forgive me but that sounds anything but praise for Transcendent's sound quality. Again I have NO problem with peoples preferences. If you don't like the gear that's fine. My issue is that it would be more constructive and yes helpful if the comments were kept to specifics such as better imaging, better low end, more detail etc. This would allow folks  who may be pondering a switch, but haven't had the benefit of listening to both side by side to make an informed decision.

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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #36 - 05/24/07 at 20:56:50
 
144cubits wrote on 05/24/07 at 19:23:31:
"Space heater, Night light, Septic cleaner". Forgive me but that sounds anything but praise for Transcendent's sound quality. Again I have NO problem with peoples preferences. If you don't like the gear that's fine. My issue is that it would be more constructive and yes helpful if the comments were kept to specifics such as better imaging, better low end, more detail etc. This would allow folks  who may be pondering a switch, but haven't had the benefit of listening to both side by side to make an informed decision.



who said that? Use the "Quote" option, its helpfull.
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #37 - 05/24/07 at 21:42:26
 
davedutill wrote on 05/16/07 at 19:08:31:
What the hey!!

Then bringing up the tail end was the transcendant.  Yes, it had tubes galore, it worked flawlessly as a night light for people coming in and out of the room.  

Perhaps the Transcendant could be used as a Septic cleaner?



Then your comment Bo, meant in jest of course. "Who is Bruce? Are you talkign about Transcendent Audio, the ones that use like 37 tubes? Play music and heat your home all at once – LOL!! "

There. helpful enough? I am not an apologist for Transcendent Audio, I'm sure Bruce can take care of himself. I again reiterate that bashing anyones gear is not helpful. Citing specific weaknesses (perceived or otherwise) IS helpful but the ultimate arbiter should be your own ears.Now frankly I'm tired of playing this game and believe I've made my position quite clear.
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #38 - 05/25/07 at 00:14:49
 
144cubits wrote on 05/24/07 at 21:42:26:

Then your comment Bo, meant in jest of course. "Who is Bruce? Are you talkign about Transcendent Audio, the ones that use like 37 tubes? Play music and heat your home all at once – LOL!! "

There. helpful enough? I am not an apologist for Transcendent Audio, I'm sure Bruce can take care of himself. I again reiterate that bashing anyones gear is not helpful. Citing specific weaknesses (perceived or otherwise) IS helpful but the ultimate arbiter should be your own ears.Now frankly I'm tired of playing this game and believe I've made my position quite clear.



The 37 tube house heater joke is a "Classic". How can it no longer be funny? Audio has gotten so complicated these days!
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #39 - 05/25/07 at 02:44:17
 
When people are joking..wel euh they're joking...Even the good can be ridiculed Cheesy

Now that you asked for it  144..i'm shure some people (those who actually compared)  will give you a good comparison if you insist ; like differences in soundstaging etc etc. Smiley

This forum is extremely helpfull about many other products and off course dec stuff , and Steve is pretty easy on 'the other brand' discussion


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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #40 - 05/25/07 at 12:52:13
 
I believe I was present at the listening session in question here. I didn't get as much time with the Transcendant stuff as I did with the decware equipment, but I did get to hear both on speakers that I am familiar with.
I believe the original intention of the post was to support Decware products in a contrast to the abilities of the other equipment here. The Decware (to my ears) had better presence and musicality. The Transcendant gear sounded good. I wouldn't turn it down if offered to me and honestly if it was considerably less money I would likely purchase one. Speaking of that comparison, bear in mind that I have no idea how much that gear costs (I haven't even looked it up). I do know the price of Steve's equipment and the point that it is priced at is low enough that I haven't looked at the other gear. I felt that the Decware gear just did a much better job overall. I heard both sets hooked up to several different speakers including some of Steve's, Ed's horns and two or three others. I wonder if the transcendant might be more leniant to lesser sources, DAC's or cables (I don't know at all) but like I said, it was a good head to head and I felt that both gave a great performance with the Decware winning the "Overall" title if there was a bout to be won.

Take care,
Robert

PS There were several jokes cracked about the night lite after some 3 or 4 coolers of beer were drank and the lights were off and it was terribly funny at the time. lol

Edit: It was this listening session and hearing the differences in Tubes in several amps (Decware, Vaughn, And some I can't name) that has me geared on learing about tube amps so it should be a testament to how much enjoyment was gained from all of the equipment presented. It even sparked my thread in the "Tube Lover's" Forum.
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #41 - 05/25/07 at 13:59:34
 
Thanx Robert for the helpful information. I agree  Decware gear is hard to beat in terms of value.  It looks like for now I'm keeping my Taboo! Wink
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #42 - 05/25/07 at 17:37:23
 
Actually, I am not sure if I heard the decware amps used with the Transcendant pre or not. I think that this was done at least once or twice. I am sure Randy could give a much better description than I of what the differences were. The thing I learned from the whole experience was that synergy is the most important factor. Even with Decware amps and pres, the changes made to cables (power and signal etc) and sources made a difference. We ended up with an Eddie Vaughn modded amp (I think) and a Decware Integrated (I personally liked the integrated better) and I believe the CSP2 the last night along with an experiment of a speaker. The power cables got swapped and I cuoldn't tell you the final verdict on what sounded best, but I bet that even that same rig in a different room would need tweaking.

I thought the transcendant gear did a good job of holding it's own in a room full of modded and unmodded equipment. I wouldn't say it sounded better than anything else, but it never sounded bad. I think Randy could definitely tell you the finer details. I would have to say overall the gear wasn't as warm as the Decware gear and maybe a little less musical but my words are not as clear as I am sure his would be.

Take care,
Robert
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #43 - 05/25/07 at 21:46:18
 
musgofasa wrote on 05/25/07 at 17:37:23:
I think Randy could definitely tell you the finer details. I would have to say overall the gear wasn't as warm as the Decware gear and maybe a little less musical but my words are not as clear as I am sure his would be.

Robert


Howdy Robert,

Your choice of words is more than adequate .....  :)

The comparison that I really wanted to hear (and didn't) was the Decware CSP2 vs the Transcendent Grounded Grid preamp mated with my Decware Select power amp.  Maybe another time.

Based on what I heard when played with the same speakers, I agree with your thoughts that the Decware gear was warmer and more musical.  I also thought they had more bloom and a more "liquid" sound.  Some might interpret this to mean that the Decware gear sounds more like "classic tube equipment" ..... and nothing could be further from the truth.  Most classic tube amplifiers sound muddy, slow and vague compared to Decware amplifiers, IMHO.

Again, not to say that the Transcendent gear was bad ..... but I was expecting to be bowled over based on the comments of a few folks who own gear from both companies, and it just didn't happen.  As I previously stated, those folks probably did not have the benefit of hearing the Decware amplifier with V-Caps installed and a CSP2.  They might very well have come to a different conclusion if that was the case.  

Oh well ..... different strokes and all that.  Just to show you how tastes vary between listeners, I much prefer the Decware SV83 / EL84 amps to the integrated.  Two totally different sounds for sure.  It all boils down to personal taste .....  8-)

It was good to meet you.  Hope to see you at the next DecFest.

Randy
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« Last Edit: 05/25/07 at 21:48:14 by Randy in Caintuck »  

CEC TL-2 belt drive CD transport
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musgofasa
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #44 - 05/25/07 at 21:57:27
 
No Doubt,
I plan on being there if there is any way I can get there!

I didn't think about it, but I really have no idea what mods had been done to any of the Decware amps I heard. The only thing I heard mentioned was the rolled tubes in the integrated amp. I didn't think we used the transcendant with any of the other amps either so that might have been a good comparison to make. Considering we bailed at some 3AM I can't imagine having enough time to actually get to listen to everything I would like to hear.

But that is what makes it really fun isn't it! I have to admit that the carina (sp?) sounded absolutely splendid with Bob's speakers and whatever other gear we ended up with that night. I don't know how long I sat in that chair with my eyes closed just enjoying the music, but it was by far the most fun I have had in a while.


Take Care,
Robert
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« Last Edit: 05/25/07 at 21:57:52 by musgofasa »  

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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #45 - 05/28/07 at 16:53:10
 
Randy in Caintuck wrote on 05/25/07 at 21:46:18:
Oh well ..... different strokes and all that.  Just to show you how tastes vary between listeners, I much prefer the Decware SV83 / EL84 amps to the integrated.  Two totally different sounds for sure.  It all boils down to personal taste .....  8-)

Randy


I feel exactly the same, I like the Select much better than any tube amp I have ever heard, it is a type of sound that no other tube has been able to produce to my ears.   I personally think it is the tube the SV83/EL84, this is why when Steve announced he was making a integrated amplifier I was hoping it was going to be SV83 based, and when he announced he was planning a push pull I was hoping it was going to be SV83 based.  Well of course he went with EL34's instead.

For some reason in audio, the EL84 is overlooked a lot, how many SET, and SEP EL84 amps are on the market?  I haven't seen but a handful, but there are plenty of 2A3's, EL34's, 45's, 300B's, and many other ones.

TG  [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #46 - 05/28/07 at 17:33:36
 
Well, just to prove it's all different. . . I really like the sound that Steve has gotten out of the EL34s in my Monoblocks.  The overall signature is very very much like the Select I had for years, but. . . more power and perhaps a bit less etched, two things going for it.
Wink
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #47 - 05/28/07 at 17:45:38
 
Funny thing is the Integrated that I liked so much had KT77 (or maybe they were KT88s?) tubes in it. I assume the construction is the same and therefore the EL34 "Base" is still there.

I have thought a lot about what we listened to that night and I have to admit I only got a few minutes to here the integrated. I stepped out to watch the TV for a little while and when I came back the Carina had been hooked up. I have to admit that amp sounded as sweet as anything I have ever heard.

I wonder if variety is as important as definitive components. When one finds a good sounding amp and a good sounding speaker, it is then to work on the room and the interconnects, power cables, placement, etc. And even after all that I would bet that tube rolling would still reveal certain things with each combination. I think when I am settled and have my amp placed, I am likely to be a constant roller of tubes simply to listen to something a little different for a while. I am also likely to build a new speaker every couple of weeks. That is just my nature. Sometimes I wish I could decide that one was the "best" and just listen to it and enjoy the music, but I am the person who enjoys hearing "different" as much as "better".

Something to think on

Take care,
Robert
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Re: Decware SETs vs "the other stuff"
Reply #48 - 05/28/07 at 17:55:47
 
Gee Terry, in the overall history of domestic tubed gear, I think you'll find the EL84/6BQ5 is not so much intentionally overlooked, as simply unseen.  

While it's easy for us to consider only separate components featuring the devices you mentioned as serious audio gear, there are probably more hidden treasure SET & SEP chassis lurking under the skin of the parent's stereo console, Grundig mantle radio or Aunt Bessie's electronic organ than we can count.  Based on the satisfaction that many of us have obtain recycling these organ donors, which even with minimal parts upgrading can deliver stunning bang for the buck, the power amp stage of many of these systems was not the weakest link - that Garrard stacking record player with Astatic crystal pickup however ......  :-X


I'd also wager that more than a few "newer" designs are based on some of these 50yr old circuits.

There's nothing transcendentally magical about the SV83 device itself, or the "glamour girls" 2A3/300B, etc., or even SS devices as heard in the latest generations of digital amps,  all of us have heard underwhelming systems using any of these.  

All real world (i.e. affordable) audio gear is a balance of acceptable compromises, and Steve's implementation of the Zen series is quite crafty; as indicated by a number of posts throughout  the history of this forum, other designers or tweakers would make some different decisions -  but as anyone who has heard the amps will affirm, it's the results that count, and there's no question these sing for themselves.
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« Last Edit: 05/28/07 at 18:02:01 by chrisby »  

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