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SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers) (Read 4159 times)
qaztar
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SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
11/18/08 at 04:06:47
 
[I thought to provide a general review of my gear, but realized folks owning Decware already know how good it is. What would the point be? So, I decided this review is for the lurkers … ]

The other day I unboxed my newly arrived but used (3rd owner) pair of SE84CS amps, with v-caps, purchased via the Decware classifieds. They joined a pair of similarly aged, acquired and passed-down set of RL-3’s that had been boxed away awaiting completion of some home renovations. Since my Marantz CC-48 doesn’t power up any more (?), I borrowed the TV’s Toshiba SD-5000 DVD player as a source.

One of the amps had a difficult shipping experience (silent on one side), so I used the other amp to start out with (S/N 116). Speaker placement was ‘about 2 feet in front of an 16 inch ledge by the fireplace near a power receptacle aimed at an easy chair’. It’s a large room: 20’ x 25’ with 18’ ceilings. For good measure I hooked up a pair of old monster cables for speaker connects, though the source cables were the standard “red/black ones supplied with a/v equipment’ type (frowned upon?). Actually, from an audiophile perspective probably none of the setup was ideal, but at least the speakers were aimed in the right direction.  

After about half an hour going through some random CD tracks that sounded pretty good on my SS rig, I concluded they also sounded pretty good on the new setup as well. I then put on Roger Waters “Amused to Death”. I’d had a good experience with this one in the past (auditioning a Decware Tori2+HDT rig) – wow, again the same results: yes, a sleigh went through the room.  “Okay, Qsound must be cheating” I thought. As the amp warmed it became noticeably better. What had been a ‘slightly disturbing barely perceptable mid-range static’ disappeared. The obvious 'weakest link' was then the source. Continuing, I played a few more tracks from various CD’s with no notable standouts, until Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’ track 6 came up. Huh, I’d been listening to that since 8-track days. It did the same 3-D thing. No Qsound there. I found all this a bit difficult to comprehend at first, but eight hours later I had three piles of CD’s – ‘crap’, ‘okay’, and ‘wow’.

So how about using the amps in mono? Well, the problem with the other amp was just a loose 47K resistor lead. Quickly located and fixed (another aspect of my growing love of these amps: easy to repair), I bridged them by connecting a set of black and red speaker posts together and then shorting together the direct inputs on each. The bridged performance vs. the single amp:  a bit less imaging, but more punch. Not discernibly ‘louder’ though, which is good. Maybe using an input y-cable would result in something different; but I have no complaints. So what about tube differences? Well, the amps seller was gracious to include a brand new set of SV83’s (to complement the 6922’s and 5u4g's), including a set of cryo’d 83’s. I tried them in different combinations, but think my normal ‘house noise’ (refrigerator, etc) got in the way of any detailed listening. I really didn’t notice much of a difference, but will continue the experiment once I have a proper room.  When will that be? Hopefully soon … amps and speakers have been seconded to a closet awaiting the completion of the renovation, including some acoustic room treatments (also third generation).

I’m really glad people haven’t figured out Decware gear should actually be MORE expensive used than new. After all, it’s already broken in. Thanks go out to Paul and Matt (and Bob and Steve).

I’m now saving up for a ZCD and possibly a CSP2 (yes, Steve… perhaps even ‘new’ this time).

-Tim



 


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Oppo BDP-83SE source, Torii mk3 amp, Decware RL3 speakers (first pair ever built)
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DPC
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #1 - 11/18/08 at 14:18:23
 
Tiz a match made in Heaven!  I speak from experience.

Although I don't have the ZCD, the CSP2 is in residence and also is a must have.

Welcome to the forum, qaztar! Smiley
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Lon
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #2 - 11/19/08 at 14:09:00
 
Welcome, and thanks for the review from a non-lurker.  I always love to read reviews including a Radial of any type; I'm always intrigued to hear how these speakers are received by another.

I didn't get a CSP2 until I had sold my Selects and gotten Decware SE34L Monoblock amps. . . but yes, the CSP2 really transforms the amps and gives them drive and punch.  Consider one when you can!

The ZCD is a great source as well.
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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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qaztar
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #3 - 02/13/09 at 02:59:43
 
Thanks for the warm welcome and I apologize for the long gap ... I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with the rig when I can: new speaker cables, separating them from power-line's, adding sub-plinths under the speakers (what’s with that word?), replacing power tubes with new ones, being hit in the face with measuring tape (OK, just once), purchasing y-adapters, balancing volume between the two amps, trading up from an easy chair to futon, and figuring out room acoustics by trial and error (some of which rather counterintuitive - ended up with two bass traps, a futon, and a couple 2 x 2 diffusers). I finally configured the system where I can listen to it for a really long time. The music grew strong. Speaker pretty much disappeared. The sofa rocked. I’m happy. The two amps warm the house.

I did find out it helps to have some benchmark recordings (‘Amused to Death’ was a big help), a clean set of tubes (always a good thing!), a good thick sofa with a high back (again, important -- now a permanent part of the system), and proper height adjusted tweeters (another big difference). Very interesting to change speaker toe-in and ‘watch’ the music change from ‘surround’ to stage mode (participant to observer). Sort of like the difference between in-your-face and voyeurism… really depends on the mood. It’s also a very interesting phenomenon when the mind is tricked into thinking there’s a live singer standing right in front (belting one out). I can only imagine having one beside me – yes, I still need to work on room acoustics.

I attended CES 2009 in Vegas and made it over to the Sands. There I found pretty cool Swiss speakers, stabilization platforms used for electron microscopes and the like (even wooden phase plugs). Wasn’t sure if I was in a television commercial or not at times! – you know: up-and-comers like an audience for their V.C. videos. I will admit though, a couple of $50K+ systems were simply amazing, but most were rather ‘ya-so’. Wow, $50K! I kept comparing it to my own rig, which I don't think has reached full potential. Probably the most impressive technology I saw was 3-D video (LG, etc). I find this can be used as an analogy when talking to skeptics. We will all be fortunate when the two are married.

A question. I recently purchased "MA on SA" from MA Recordings. On track 8 (Redbook) there's a trumpet ... and it sounds pretty bad at a distinct higher frequency (e.g. spot of distortion). Anybody familiar with this track ... do I need to change from a wire to resistor in back of the speakers? Front driver / ribbon wear with the RL3's?

Well. That's about it for now.

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Oppo BDP-83SE source, Torii mk3 amp, Decware RL3 speakers (first pair ever built)
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #4 - 02/14/09 at 13:10:43
 
Well, can't help you on the MA recording, don't have any of those. Could it just be that the trumpet was recorded with distortion (inadvertantly?)  

Glad you are enjoying the system!
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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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qaztar
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #5 - 03/07/09 at 05:14:14
 
Well, finally replaced my run-of-the-mill cd player (a Toshiba SD-5000 that has been standing in for my broken Marantz CC-48). Another old Marantz (though an even earlier CC-38 model) -- quite an improvement: soundstage is considerably larger, better defined, more distributed outward. Having 5 discs, inter-track continuity, and volume control again are very nice as well.

Regarding an earlier post: with the new player I'm still hearing some distortion on the 'MA on SA' redbook track 8 (with an instrument called the serpent at times (estimated) -- 4:05 (left), 4:25 (both), 4:50 (left), 5:20 (right), 5:50 (left)). Have been corresponding with MA (very helpful BTW) trying to isolate but apparently SA version is clean. Redbook still open. Did find and eliminate a jello mold resonating halfway across the house (hanging on a wall), but even after that the system appears to just run out of dynamic range at certain points in the track. Turning the volume way down doesn't make a difference. Interesting to note that with my solid state rig, I can't even discern the distortion; but I do think it's there. Will get to the bottom of it yet...

Apart from music preferences, I'd be interested to hear what others in the forum use for their 'benchmark' cd or track(s).


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Oppo BDP-83SE source, Torii mk3 amp, Decware RL3 speakers (first pair ever built)
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Lon
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #6 - 03/07/09 at 12:23:21
 
I use recordings I made of bands I was in in the late eighties, recorded in my then garage apartment.  I knew the room, the players, the instruments, the recording deck, and these recordings really help me analyze sound playback.
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qaztar
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #7 - 03/28/09 at 04:56:10
 
Lon, You're fortunate. I'm a good 'audience'. That's about it.

Just upgraded to a SACD capable source. Now experiencing a sound unfamiliar: truly 3-D, distinct, airy, revealing. Though dwelling on many of the MA sampler DSD tracks, have also wandered into a couple of other genres:

* David Slusser, 'Delight at the end of the tunnel' (good production work. Like overall style)
* Squarepusher, 'go plastic' (also good production work. Challenging, yet intriguing)

(Still awaiting EMI's Korngold & Goldmark / Sinding violin concertos, with Perlman)

I think I've arrived where I want to be.

Very cool.


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Oppo BDP-83SE source, Torii mk3 amp, Decware RL3 speakers (first pair ever built)
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Lon
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #8 - 03/28/09 at 13:46:04
 
Yeah, I've been using the Sony SCD-XA5400ES as a source for music and am very happy with both the SACD and Redbook souond!  It is so much fun to just sit and drift away with music.
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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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Cupajoe
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Re: SE84CS+RL3 (a review for the lurkers)
Reply #9 - 03/30/09 at 04:10:45
 
Quztar,
It was interesting reading your review-----WHOA---I said to much, I've got to get back to lurking.
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