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Zen Ecstacy (Read 2398 times)
kdwhite
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Zen Ecstacy
04/15/07 at 03:22:24
 
I'm enjoying a Victory Hop Devil Ale, in celebration as I write this.  I've had a truly remarkable expericience today.

I'm 53.  I've listened to a lot of music over the years.  My interests have run a wide gambit.  I've been an amature musician most of my life, too.  I think I have some idea of what what good music sounds like.

I purchased a Decware SE84ZS 2 or 3 months ago.  I talked Dave into selling it in kit form.  I had the hots to build something and this seemed like the perfect thing for me.  I don't have much knowledge in electronics but I can read schematics and I'm reasonably handy.

The little amp has always been a challange in my system.  (See the thread called "Dazed and Confuzed" in the Zen Triode support section.)  It sounded good but I always felt like I wasn't really getting what all the rave was about.  I replaced old corroded speaker cables.  That helped.  I discovered problems with my speakers.  (Original Klipshe Forte)  I replaced tweeter diaghragms.  Then, I got motivated to upgrade the crossovers and built custom crossovers with Hovland caps.  Then I found a buzzing sound in one of the mid range horns.  I rebuilt it myself and fixed that problem.  (The diaphragms are a bonded assembly and the glue dried out and failed.)  Things got better, but the little amp just would not play very loud without audible, yet subtle distortion.  It sounded pretty darned good but I still had doubts that the amp was everything people say it is.  So, I just remained persistant and kept looking deeper into tweaks and fixes.

Then one day, things really went haywire.  I turned on the amp and schreeching sounds were comming out of my speakers!  I turned off the amp, and franticaly pulled the input cables.  I found a burned resistor.  Why?   I talked to Dave and he said I probably had a shorted tube.  He was right.

I put my old trusty Yamaha 100w/channel amp back into service while I waited for new tubes.  It sure can play loud.  But still, something was missing.  All the notes were there.  The soundstage seemed as wide as the room.  No depth to it though.  I was noticing that details were missing that the Zen amp had taught me were there.  Hmmm.  

I ordered a new pair of 6n15n-ev tubes and a new pair of 1K 2W resistors.  They arrived yesterday and the amp was up and running only minutes later.  Wow!  I noticed things were different!  What is going on?

The amp can play louder now.  I can reach peaks of 100 dB at 1 meter.  I can't hear any distortion.   I usually turn in down to about 96 dB or maybe a tad lower.  The stereo sounded better than before!

Then... (here comes the "ecstacy" part) today my wife and I sat down to listen for a spell.  I put on Eric Clapton's "From the Cradle to the Grave."  Something undescribable happened.  The stereo disapeared!  I've had my Klipsch speakers for many years but they have NEVER sounded this good!  I was blown away by the experience.  The music sounds better than anything I've ever experienced in my home.  The stereo created the illusion of a live performance so well that I was freaking out!  SERIOUSELY!  I was getting choked up!  I was nearly in tears!  I am at a loss for words to describe how good it really sounds!  My wife was very amazed too!  (Bonus points!)

I had to put the music on pause.  It was so overwhelming.  I immediately called Decware and Dave picked up the phone!  Just the man I hoped to talk to.  I had to tell him what just happened.  I almost could not speak... still blown away by the experience.  He seemed very happy to hear about my experience.  He says that is what motivates him... the same kind of things happens to him, too.

I'm still a bit "high" from this experience.  Now, I "get it"!  This little SET amp is something you have to experience!  It is difficult to describe.  The music really is more real.  Hi-fi is an illusion... the illusion of creating live music.  The Decware SE84ZS creates this illusion better than anything I've ever heard.  Some of my friends have some pretty high end stuff but this "freak out" experience never happened to me before like this.  I've had some great moments during serious listening.  However, this beats anything I've ever heard in my life!!! Shocked

If Dave was here, I would give him a big hug right now.  I am gratefull that someone in this world is doing what he does and at a price that is reachable by the average 'Joe' like me.  My hat is off to Dave!

I'm one happy guy! Grin
KD in San  Antonio

Oppo CD-970HD cd player  (El cheapo but it works!)
SE84ZS Decware amp
Klipsche Fortes w/ custom crossovers
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60_and_up
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kids should live.

Posts: 933
Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #1 - 04/15/07 at 03:33:15
 
i think its called 'bloom'

ive never experienced it  :'(

i live in hope.. Smiley
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Peace hath higher tests of manhood than battle ever knew. ...
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60_and_up
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kids should live.

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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #2 - 04/15/07 at 03:34:02
 
who the ****s dave  ;D
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Peace hath higher tests of manhood than battle ever knew. ...
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veryoldcat
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #3 - 04/15/07 at 04:21:22
 
60,

Wherewith, as we have so unjustly erred, didst we profer to mean in earnest, "Steve",

Yea! Shouldst thou and yea verily, WOULDST thou, be henceforth justly deceived and forthwith deeply bereaved?

Dost thou art now feel retrieved and perhaps relieved as we re-receive the stately moniker, Steve?

Godspeed 60!  ;)  :-* Kiss

Karl

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SE84CS (vcapped), CSP, zbox, Dec685, ZP 1.0, Sota tt/Well-Tempered Arm/V15XMR, Parker 98's, Parker Audio *Power Chords*, cat 6 wires, OSX; a garage sale of other stuff...
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kdwhite
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #4 - 04/15/07 at 04:46:19
 
STEVE!

Dad burn it.  Getting high on hi-fi (and getting older) makes the brain do weird things.
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Terry
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #5 - 04/15/07 at 05:06:51
 
KD,

I have had my Decware amps for many years now, at first what really caught my attention was the lack of listener fatigue.  Then after rolling NOS tubes, I started getting goose bumps, so much that I started a goose bump factor scale of my own.  What is the best is when something happens and you get goosebumps, then the music intensifies and it seems like your goosebumps get goosebumps.  Now I am really one a roll since I have been using V-caps and am now thinking how good can it get.  Next I am going to try some blackgate caps, and a grid choke on the input tube.  A lot depends at this point on if what I want to do will fit inside the little Zen's chassis, but I have not heard too many amplifiers I would say are better yet.

If you really want a live experience with an incredible sound stage, try out the Horn Shoppe horns, you can go anywhere in the room and the musicians stay right on stage, up until you get within five feet of one speaker.  Those things are truly incredible, they won't reach super volumes with a Select, but they will present a incredible experience that your not soon to forget.  Then you can try Randy's thing, where he sits on the couch with the horns at his knees and the whole room in from of him becomes the stage.

TG  [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]
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rayd
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #6 - 04/15/07 at 12:32:59
 
kdwhite wrote on 04/15/07 at 03:22:24:
Then... (here comes the "ecstacy" part) ...Something undescribable happened.  The stereo disapeared!  I've had my Klipsch speakers for many years but they have NEVER sounded this good!  I was blown away by the experience.  The music sounds better than anything I've ever experienced in my home.  The stereo created the illusion of a live performance so well that I was freaking out!  SERIOUSELY!  I was getting choked up!  I was nearly in tears!  I am at a loss for words to describe how good it really sounds!  My wife was very amazed too!  (Bonus points!)


KD, congratulations! I have experienced this many times. The Select is quite a magical little amp. The emotion and realism that this little machine delivers has to be heard to be believed. It seems like mine has recently reached another plateau in performance (bloom, fine aging? who knows...). In a past forum, I mentioned that with certain recordings, I felt as though (like you) I was seated in front of a live performance (almost as if my speakers were acting as a mini-PA). It is something to experience and hard to put into words.

My next tweek is to try a passive TVC (transformer volume control) that's been getting rave reviews on AudiogoN, AA, AudioCircle and recently Enjoythemusic. This thing is blowing away the $1,600 Placette, $4,500 EAR, and S&B based passives costing multiple thou$and$. My source's output voltage is 3.5v and output impedance is 2K Ohms. The Select's input impedance is 100K Ohm (I'm pretty sure). So, I am hoping the Promitheus TVC will improve the impedance mismatch.

Hoping to get it within the month.  :)

- Ray
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« Last Edit: 04/15/07 at 16:28:33 by rayd »  

Decware SE84CS Zen Select (EV modded), vintage Philips CD880 w/CDM-1 MK2 transport, TDA1541A S1 DAC, Parker 95's, Promitheus Audio TVC Reference 1, Blue Jeans Cables, NOS Tubes, HAL-Os
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Rob
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SP1!

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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #7 - 04/15/07 at 13:29:17
 
I can totally  relate.

I  have a pair  of  older Selects and  my experience has  been like  that  for  several years. I  owned a  pair  of  Klipsch  Conwalls and  experienced some incredible  "scary  real"  moments. At the  end of the  day, the  Cornwalls were a little  "too big  for the  room"  and I  decided to  go  with a  pair  of HDTs.
Haven't looked back since.

[code] Quote:
....at first what really caught my attention was the lack of listener fatigue.
[code]

To  me, other than the  incredible  holographic  soundstage is  THE  reason I  have  kept with the Selects. I  have  never  experienced listener fatigue with  my Decware  set-up.  I have  owned  mega-buck, mega-watt,  highly  reviewed  and  recommended  SS  components/systems, and  every one of them had  my  ears  in a lots  of  discomfort  after  about  1-2hrs of  listening.

No  with  my  current set-up. I can  listen  for HOURS and  never stop.  

Welcome  to  Zen SET ectassy -  it's a  good place to  be  :)
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(2) SE84C-Selects
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Sunfire True Sub(x'ed@42hz/o gain)
Shanling CDT100(hot-modded)
PSAudio 600
Custom 99.999% silver sprk cables & ICs
Decware silver/teflon "Y"
Lots-a-tubes,cones & spikes
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Terry
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #8 - 04/15/07 at 16:51:31
 
rayd wrote on 04/15/07 at 12:32:59:
My source's output voltage is 3.5v and output impedance is 2K Ohms. The Select's input impedance is 100K Ohm (I'm pretty sure). So, I am hoping the Promitheus TVC will improve the impedance mismatch.


Ray,

I don't think you have an impedance mismatch here, ideally you want zero impedance on an output, and infinite impedance on an input, when it comes to line level coupling.  The source like a nice load on it in the output, otherwise it will start creating distortion if the load impedance is too low.  You could easily change the input impedance on the Select, by chaning out the 100K volume pot for a 2K volume pot, and have the same impedance as your sources output, but that would not be good, perhaps even disasterous.  

TG  [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #9 - 04/15/07 at 16:57:29
 
I guess I just take for granted the imaging, soundstaging and listener ease that Decware amps provide. . . .I've had them glowing for so many years now!

I could imagine having really expensive tube amps if I were ever to hit a lottery jackpot, but short of some sort of crazy windfall, I don't see myself straying from the Decware camp.  Just such amazing sound. . . and such value for money.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DVD-A1UDCI, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Stradivarius, Ultra Linear+Evo ICs, Iso-Pods,Mapleshade:Double Heiix Plus,Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Doorman
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #10 - 04/15/07 at 17:12:09
 
Seems like it's been a while since a post like this was introduced! Glad to hear your impressions, KD!
The Decware amps indeed offer something special. I've used mine exclusivley with single driver speakers, but would love to hear it with a pair of K'horns Smiley
(having bought my first hi-fi "system" in the mid '60's, the  Zen amp is the finest I've ever had)
                                                                                                                          Don
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Decware SE34I w/ CCE mod, ZCD, Heybrook/Linn/Clearaudio, Hagerman,
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rayd
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #11 - 04/15/07 at 18:15:41
 
Terry wrote on 04/15/07 at 16:51:31:
Ray,

I don't think you have an impedance mismatch here, ideally you want zero impedance on an output, and infinite impedance on an input, when it comes to line level coupling.  The source like a nice load on it in the output, otherwise it will start creating distortion if the load impedance is too low.  You could easily change the input impedance on the Select, by chaning out the 100K volume pot for a 2K volume pot, and have the same impedance as your sources output, but that would not be good, perhaps even disasterous.  

TG  [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]


Thanks Terry, although I can sling some solder, I don't think I'll attempt that  8-)

My thoughts were to go from the DAC -> TVC -> Select direct inputs - bypassing the pot. I remember Steve's paper on "HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT PREAMP" where he speaks about input/output voltages and impedance balancing so I think I am in the ballpark  ;).

A gentleman on AgoN did try the TVC with the Select and had wonderful results.

- Ray
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Decware SE84CS Zen Select (EV modded), vintage Philips CD880 w/CDM-1 MK2 transport, TDA1541A S1 DAC, Parker 95's, Promitheus Audio TVC Reference 1, Blue Jeans Cables, NOS Tubes, HAL-Os
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Rap
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #12 - 04/16/07 at 16:27:43
 
60_and_up wrote on 04/15/07 at 03:34:02:
who the ****s dave  ;D


;D Grin just what I was thinking when I read that report.
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Terry
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #13 - 04/16/07 at 18:13:52
 

It appears as though you guys haven't been around too long, Dave works for Steve.

http://www.decware.com/newsite/mainmenu.htm

There use to be pics of him and others listed on this link on the website, i remember some on the tour of his old shop, the one before last.  Also Beni posed in Steves redesign of the Jensen Imperial horns on his site years ago.

TG  [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]

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kdwhite
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Re: Zen Ecstacy
Reply #14 - 04/16/07 at 20:08:40
 
Rap wrote on 04/16/07 at 16:27:43:
;D Grin just what I was thinking when I read that report.


Hey cut an ole geezer some slack! Wink

In my excitement, I typed "Dave" when  I meant to type "Steve".  I had just had a converstation with a friend, Dave, on the phone during typing my post.

I only regret that Steve might be offended.  That would be horrible as I have enormous respect for Steve Deckert!
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