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FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X (Read 11114 times)
Rivieraranch
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FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
06/25/09 at 03:42:10
 
I took delivery of my new Mini Torii SE-X amp a few weeks ago. I bought it without tubes because I enjoy the hunt, so to speak. I had been buying tubes for it even before I put my order in so prior to its arrival I would have accumulated the tubes it takes. The monkey wrench in this plan was that my tube tester, sent for calibration in March, has still not been returned to me. I did not feel comfortable placing untested tubes in the amp. I was urged to try the amp with the tubes anyway even though I would have much rather tested all of them prior to placing them in.

The tubes are Sovtek 5881WXT; 1957 CBS OD3 voltage regulators; 1969 JAN Sylvania 6X4 rectifiers; 1960 RCA OC2 voltage regulators; and 1959 square getter Sylvania Baldwin 12AU7.  (The Sovteks and Baldwins had been tested already and the other tubes were NOS. The likelihood that one would have been bad was slight).  I have a pair of JAN Sylvania 6V6 tubes that I would like to try. Before doing that I want to obtain a pair of OA3 voltage regulators.

Once I figured out what all these gizmos were for and where to connect everything, thanks to the online manual, I was ready to turn it on. I connected it to my CSP2, opened the Torii's volume control all the way and used the CSP's gain control to regulate the volume. The gain pots on the CSP2 were turned up only moderately. I turned these pots up a lot more when using my Taboo. I tried the Torii with the CSP2 and without it. I ordered the amp with gold knobs to match my CSP2 instead of the standard retro "chicken head" knobs. That was a good move.

My first conclusion is that this amp does not need a preamp to come to a robust, or even ear shattering volume. It is written that it will handle an input voltage as low as 1 volt. The Taboo likes a 3 volt source. That is where the CSP2 comes in handy with the Taboo. It is not necessary with the Mini Torii.  I may revisit using the CSP2 with this amp, but I would have to do a lot of experimenting. For example, there may be a combination of a certain gain on the CSP2 with a certain volume level on both units that might be more pleasing than using the amp without the preamp. But again, this amp does not require a preamp.  

The quality of the stereo separation is noticeable immediately. In addition, although I have not listened to this thing at length, there seems to be added depth to the sound field. The imaging and focus is very tight and coherent. My speakers are Von Schweikert VR-1 Mini Monitors and with the amp they sound BIG. This is despite their 89db rating. The EX transformers in the Mini Torii SE-X drive the 8 OHM load well.

I do not have anything further to add at this time. I will post further impressions when I log more listening time. Of course, as with all DECWARE gear, it was carefully packaged and shipped timely. It was everything they promised. The unit works well with no problems of any kind, no hum or anything else undesireable.      
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« Last Edit: 06/26/09 at 03:40:02 by Rivieraranch »  

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KimKman
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #1 - 06/25/09 at 04:39:18
 
Thanks Rivieraranch. Good to hear the amp is working well with your VR-1's ... I have a set of VR4's here I am using with the TORII MKII. I do plan to test the Mini with them however. I am going to be using HDT's though in the in with the Mini in my office setup here at home. Should be fun. Will also experiment with tube rolling. Thanks for the time taken to comment and look forward to reading more.

Regards,
KimKman
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #2 - 06/26/09 at 03:39:31
 
I listened to it some more tonight. I spun some discs from the Horace Parlan Mosaic set and also a good audiophile quality vocal recording, "Dinah Sings, Previn Plays."  The quality of stereo separation still is the most prominent thing for me at least. I have never had a dual mono unit or monoblocks so now I can appreciate what this design brings to the table.  

I continue to notice a greater depth of sound stage, more accuracy and presence within the stage. My Taboo has a nice soundstage and some depth but this Mini Torii outshines the Taboo in that department. I have used the "Dinah Sings" title as a reference to evaluate my systems and changes, along with a Diana Krall disc. I have not listened to any other vocals with this unit yet.  

I would like to get my tube tester back, test the 6V6's and install Mullard CV4024's (12AT7's) or 1950's JAN Sylvania 12AT7WA's in front to begin comparing tone. I recently bought a pair of Bendix 12AU7 tubes with heavy duty construction. They have the Sylvania 312 manufacturer code and 1958 date code so they were not made at Red Bank. I wonder how they'd sound. I also scored a pair of Winged "C" 6L6GC's with 1999 date codes. They were auctioned off on ebay as simply  "Russian Military Tubes" with lousy photos that showed only part of the tube. I could see that they were Winged "C" on account of the construction. I believe they cost only $9.99 plus postage. The cost of a new pair is about $50.00, so if these are any good I got a helluva bargain.  I just bought a Hickok 230 emissions tester for $84.00 postpaid. This will become my front line tester to rule out bad tubes before placing them into my Hickok 6000. If the 230 arrives before the 6000 I will begin testing with it.

There is truly a lot to evaluate with this unit and I am enjoying it.  
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« Last Edit: 06/26/09 at 03:43:35 by Rivieraranch »  

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KimKman
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #3 - 06/26/09 at 06:35:26
 
Nice! Thanks for the pics as well. Let us know when you get around to listening test without the CSP2 and your impressions. I have a CSP2 that will arrive shortly but will be using it in main listening room. The Mini will go in the office at first without a preamp at all hooked to music server and HDT's. May then try the CSP2 and ARC LS22 just to see what difference I notice but I am hoping for no preamp at all. Have some pairs, Bendix 5992 and Brimar CV511 to try along with a pair of Siemens/Halske 12AU7 ECC82 Silver Plate so far waiting to play with. Should be fun for sure.
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Lon
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #4 - 06/26/09 at 11:15:15
 
RR,

Thanks for the impressions.  I think you're going to have a lot of fun with this amp and tube-swapping!

Are those Monster Cable speaker cables?  I used to use cables that look like those years ago.  I have to say my system started to shine when I started using TARA Labs and then other cables (now someone will have to pry my Zen Styx from my cold dead hands!)
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #5 - 06/26/09 at 13:39:18
 
The speaker cables are plain 12 gauge copper wire with clear cover, bannana terminals at both ends. This has worked well for me. I have DECWARE interconencts.

I am not using the CSP2 with the Torii right now. I want to wait until I can determine best how to integrate it into the mix. I can't come up with the right combination of trim pot settings on the CSP2 and the volume controls on the CSP2 and Mini Torii.  
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« Last Edit: 06/28/09 at 02:15:15 by Rivieraranch »  

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Lon
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #6 - 06/26/09 at 14:55:51
 
Cool. Looks very similar to the Monster Cable basic 12 gauage.

If you find yourself with extra cash and are wanting to experiment, I highly recommend the Zen Styx.  I never thought I'd like a cable with silver, but I wish I'd gone right there as soon as I could. Took a while to settle in but when it did it was so right for the system.
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tybee
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #7 - 06/27/09 at 05:04:53
 
I have been watching for impressions of the Mini Torii as the design and footprint has much appeal as I also try to downsize oversized equipment. I would like to offer some thoughts on the 6x4 rectifier.  My 6x4 rectifier collection now includes over 20 brands including the square getter Sylvanias.  While I do like older Sylvania 6x4s as well as 12AU7 types, these tubes would be a suggested starting point for the Mini Torii.  For better overall balance, I would suggest trying 50s Raytheons and 50 or 60s Tung Sols with a wavy getter.  They are better balanced compared to the Sylvanias.  I also have 6x4s from Mullard, GEs, GEC, several varieties of RCAs, Valvo, and another favorite, Mazda.  Rolling the 6x4 rectifier may provide the biggest sonic surprise with the Torii besides the power tubes. Many over on other forums give high praise for the the new issue Tung Sols 6V6, so let the tube rolling begin.
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #8 - 06/27/09 at 19:05:30
 
It is funny that you mention the Raytheon 6X4 with a wavy getter. I bought a fist full of 6X4's a couple of months ago in anticipation of landing this amp. I remembered that they were Sylvanias. I looked in the box of untested tubes today and noticed that 3 of them are NOS Raytheon yellow label tubes with the wavy getter. Are you convinced that these will sound better than the 1969 JAN Sylvanias I have in there now?

Are these Raytheons 1950's or 1960's?
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« Last Edit: 06/27/09 at 19:12:32 by Rivieraranch »  

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tybee
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #9 - 06/27/09 at 21:02:35
 
I have many sylvania 6x4s and like the older black plate sq getters, but I always find sylvanias seem to emphasize the midrange and treble over bass.  I have 3 or 4 Raytheons like the tube in your picture, but I also have some early 50s Raytheons with orange print screening which I prefer as well as the Tung Sols for US made tubes.  It my understanding that Raytheon made tubes as well as outsourced to CBS/Hytron as well as other makers, but I am not an expert of who made what when.  

Several years ago, I purchased a large of batch of 6x4s on ebay for $15.00. None of the tubes tested below new and included mostly US made square or D getters including Sylvania, Westinghouse, Tung Sol, GE, Raytheon, and RCA.  Anyway 6x4s are still very plentiful and cheap compared to the bigger rectifiers which makes tube rolling on the Mini Torii easy on the pocket. All of the regulator tubes are also very inexpensive to purchase.

In the end, I recommend acquiring a few different pair of 6x4s to find the sound you like best with your system.
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« Last Edit: 06/27/09 at 21:05:58 by tybee »  
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #10 - 06/27/09 at 21:44:24
 
You all made me do it. I am going to run the amp with Winged "C" 6L6GCs, Raytheon wavy getter 6X4W's and GE JAN 6189/12AU7WA input tubes. I have tested all of these and they are fine.

The only voltage regulators I have for the outputs are the 1957 CBS OD3's I bought. I don't know what effect the lesser voltage tubes would have.    
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« Last Edit: 06/28/09 at 02:13:36 by Rivieraranch »  

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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #11 - 06/29/09 at 03:18:23
 
I have had a chance to listen to the amp with the new tube complement in it. The unit has stepped volume controls, probably so you could dial in an identical level on both channels. I can raise the volume 6 clicks and it is plenty loud; but on the 7th click I begin to hear distortion. Luckily there is plenty of detail at all volumes. I just wanted to see how far I could push the unit. The tubes I swapped into the amp were all old stock. They sound better than they did last night, most likely due to settling in.  

Last night I listened to Diana Krall Girl In The Other Room. Tonight I listened to Cal Tjader Mary Stallings; George Shearing and the Montgomery Brothers and Dinah Sings, Previn Plays.  

The Winged "C" tubes have a better midrange than the Sovteks, and easier highs. I found with either output tube, the bass was plentiful.

The Shore disc is a real simple recording, piano and vocals, augmented by bass and drums on some of the tracks. It is very handy for evaluating changes to the system. I balance that against any Diana Krall recording, to see how the newer stuff sounds as well. Not having been very familiar with Shore when she was alive, looking back I now see what an impeccable lady she was. You can tell by how she is dressed on the album cover, with that very smart coral/orange sweater, matching lipstick and five strands of pearls. They don't make them like that any more.      
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #12 - 07/04/09 at 18:59:46
 
Not that anybody around here has been too interested . . .but I switched the 6L6GC tubes for JAN SYLVANIA 6V6's but have not extensively evaluated the sound. I have been busy with work and life, including sending back my Hickok tube tester again because of a meter problem that most likely developed during transit.  

I really want to get my hands on some OA3 tubes. I have used only the OD3 tubes I got.    
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« Last Edit: 07/04/09 at 19:00:52 by Rivieraranch »  

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Lon
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #13 - 07/04/09 at 20:50:05
 
Thanks for keeping us informed and hope you're having a nice holiday.

This is an intriguing amp and I enjoy reading your impressions.
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KimKman
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #14 - 07/06/09 at 05:00:05
 
"I am not using the CSP2 with the Torii right now. I want to wait until I can determine best how to integrate it into the mix. I can't come up with the right combination of trim pot settings on the CSP2 and the volume controls on the CSP2 and Mini Torii."

Too much gain on amp? Was considering the CSP2 in the mix here so I would have headphone amp also. The CSP2 is an awesome head amp. May try the one I have first then before getting one for the Mini Torrii. Got mine the end of the week. Getting things setup in the office now. Have to figure out another couple stair climbs first for the HDT's
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Steve Deckert
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MINI TORII GAIN
Reply #15 - 07/07/09 at 02:05:20
 
A note about the gain of the Mini Torii. With a standard two volt source,  the amp can be taken to around 1/2 volume (5 or 6 clicks) without distortion. Interestingly enough when you use a variable source with a max output of 5 volts or so, you can find a magic point on the source volume where the amp really starts to hit. So with the gain control on the amp set to 1/2 volume or less, the amp can tolerate and enjoys a lot of gain at the source or preamp. On the other hand, if you're driving the amp with an IPOD or perhaps off a single DAC chip where you're lucky to get a full volt of output, then you can run the Mini Torii volume at almost max or max.

Steve
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« Last Edit: 07/07/09 at 02:06:45 by Steve Deckert »  
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #16 - 07/18/09 at 01:42:29
 
The comments about gain are dead-on. I just secured some Tung sol reissue 6V6 tubes and OA3 voltage regulators. I am "beginning at the beginning with the amp. Soon I will post a full, thrilling report complete with snapshots.

For now, a picture of my canine doggie, Desi.   
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« Last Edit: 07/18/09 at 01:51:38 by Rivieraranch »  

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KimKman
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #17 - 07/21/09 at 04:28:44
 
Still in the process of setting up my office system. Some cleanup and finally carried the HDT's up the steps.

So, was thinking tonight let's take the Mini Torii downstairs and have a listen. Hooked the amp up to my Von S VR4's (90db) the CSP2 and ZP3.

Amp is out of the box stock. Extremely impressed. Silky smooth yet incredible detail along with a bass I was having a little trouble getting over. It was almost as if I had a bass guitar plugged straight into the amp. One of the best live replications I have heard. On top of all this I had plenty of power to listen at my normal listening levels and even pushed it a bit above that to test things out. I would not have an issue listening to this amp full time on these speakers although will be happy when I get all setup in the office with the HDT's.

Anyway great amp and an extremely good value in my mind.

Regards,
KimKman
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #18 - 08/05/09 at 02:00:27
 
After several days of not listening to my unit I swapped the OA3 voltage regulators for OD3's with the 6V6 power tubes in place. It seems to attenuate the sound. I am not sure that I like the higher voltage being applied to the outputs. I also have OB3 and OC3 tubes as well. Maybe there is a middle ground with the output voltage.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #19 - 08/05/09 at 03:04:31
 
Quote:
I am not sure that I like the higher voltage being applied to the outputs. I also have OB3 and OC3 tubes as well. Maybe there is a middle ground with the output voltage.


One thing you can try is running some 12AT7's in the front end and see what that does with the OD3.  BTW, the OA3 is a 75 volt tube, meaning that is the voltage drop it shows to the grid of the output tube.  The OA3 is showing the grid the highest voltage (least drop) of all the VR tubes.  The OD3 shows the output tube grid the lowest voltage, hence the lower output.

I actually listen to mine with the stock tube compliment I ship in the amps.

Steve
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #20 - 08/06/09 at 01:15:29
 
I tried running Mullard CV4024 (12AT7) in front, with the new Tung Sol 6L6GT STR and OA3 tubes I got from Jim McShane. The sound is very BIG with no loss of detail or distortion. The bass is incredible.
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #21 - 08/06/09 at 03:44:08
 
I am still impressed with the Mini in stock form with the 6P6S(6n6c) tubes. Bass guitar is astounding. Will play though Smiley
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #22 - 08/07/09 at 03:02:08
 
I backed off the voltage regulators to OC3's with the 6L6GC's and it sounds smoother, but still BIG, which is nice.
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #23 - 08/16/09 at 01:41:16
 
I think that the 6v6 variant sound best . I scored 3 5992 on Ebay braned 6V6gta Sylvania, and they sound great. I gess every body was slipping that day. The 6l6 sound good maby fuller and more relaxed with less focus. Just my opinion.   Brian
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #24 - 09/04/09 at 18:34:23
 
Disclaimer: I am a newbie to Decware.

After looking at the Decware herd, my preferences and my budget I determined that the Mini Torii SEX would work best for my primary system, and I am intrigued by this thread where it seems that most everyone is using it at a secondary system in their offices and not as their main rig. Why is that so?  
My speakers are large Back Loaded Horns using an 8' single driver Fostex 206 ES-R @ 98db efficiency.
Any input on this would be much appreciated.  
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #25 - 09/06/09 at 13:09:35
 
I am using the Mini Torii as a main home amplifier, not an office system. It has all the authority, spank, heft, or whatever your favorite term is for something substantial. I think that some of the other amps, such as the SE84 would be better in an office system.

If your speakers are 2 OHM impedance you might want to ask Steve whether or not to order the Mini Torii with the regular (not-EX) transformers.
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #26 - 09/07/09 at 00:00:59
 
eagertrader

Welcome to the forum.....

If you read the papers Steve has written on the Mini Torii the size was perfect for a desk top amp and I think a lot of guys bought for just that purpose. With that said, after talking to Steve quite a bit about the Mini Torii, and him telling me the version we heard at last years Decfest was just a diamond in the rough, (can't wait to hear the production unit at this years Decfest) what I heard will be a great main system amp given the speakers you are using.  I don't know how much better the amp could have gotten, as I would have bought what I heard last year, time will only tell, which is now just a month away.

The Mini Torii should be a perfect match for BLH Fostex's...

ZYGI
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #27 - 09/07/09 at 02:43:40
 
Thank you all for your feed back. I stand notified. When I first contacted Steve Deckert and told him of what I wanted from a system, what I have and my musical preferences, he reccomended the Mini Torii SEX because my speakers are 8 ohms and very efficient.
He's the guru and I am not, thus I had already decided to defer to his advise. Your comments further validates what I've been reading about this rig. Can't wait to get my hands on one.
I will play it with the stock tubes for a few months  at first until I get used to its sound and it breaks in (I'd also appreciate any comments as to how long this takes). Then, I may do some tube rolling, although I suspect that Decware did a lot of that until they settled on what they felt works best. No harm in exploring though.
Once I settled on the best tube combination for my taste and use, I may explore rolling the caps w/V-caps, Mundorf or maybe even Audio Notes (if any of you has experimented w/that on the Mini I'd also like to hear about it). Not being a tech person I would probably consult w/Steve before any cap replacements.
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #28 - 10/13/09 at 02:02:05
 
The Mini Torii SEX is back from a change in potentiometers (pots) and the repair of one of the on/off switches. I slipped some new JJ 6V6's in with 1957 OA3 regulators, 1969 JAN Phillips 6X4WA's, 1960 RCA OC2 and 1959 Sylvania Baldwin square getter 12AU7's. The new volume controls are superb; the originals had steps that limited the modulation in volume to a series of steps. These new ones are regular pots that turn without clicking.

I tried it for a few days with the CSP2 feeding it, but for some reason, when the CD player is connected directly to the TORII it sings. Either I don't know how to coordinate the CSP2 with the Mini, or it is not workable.  I think the Mini does not need a pre and in fact does better without one.  It seems like the preamp holds it back.

Now with the Mini connected directly to the CD player I hear thunderous bass and a nice midrange. The stereo separation is wonderful. I am sure that my speakers are part of this mix.  
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« Last Edit: 10/13/09 at 02:02:49 by Rivieraranch »  

DECWARE CSP2+, TABOO MK III; SE84CKC; HR1; TRAPEZIUM DESKTOP SPEAKERS; TECHNICS SL1200MK5 turntable; Ah! Njoe Tjoeb CD player; MARANTZ 2226B, 2216B receivers; SENNHEISER HD-580 headphones
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Chris K
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #29 - 10/14/09 at 01:50:04
 
RR,
What/who did the new pots? What kind are they? Please do tell.
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #30 - 10/15/09 at 02:32:44
 
Steve Deckert did the new pots. They had ordered some better ones and these went into mine.
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DECWARE CSP2+, TABOO MK III; SE84CKC; HR1; TRAPEZIUM DESKTOP SPEAKERS; TECHNICS SL1200MK5 turntable; Ah! Njoe Tjoeb CD player; MARANTZ 2226B, 2216B receivers; SENNHEISER HD-580 headphones
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Rivieraranch
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Re: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MINI TORII SE-X
Reply #31 - 01/19/10 at 03:35:02
 
I got my Mini Torii in June 2009 and the MG944 speakers at the end of August. In October the Mini went back to DECWARE for replacement of the volume controls and one of the on/off switches that I was rough with and broke; it was a tough little switch so it was not all my fault.

For several months I used some JJ 6V6S power tubes a friend gave me with 1956 Sylvania JAN black plate 12AT7 out front, and OA3 voltage regulators. This was a nice combination with a more focused soundstage and all that.

Last night I swapped the power tubes, placing some JAN Sylvania 1971 6V6WGTA brown base black plate tubes. While the JJ's have a big bottle and look nice, these little military 6V6's do extremely well. in fact, the vacuum is so tight on them that you can see a violet glow on the glass, very nice to look at in the night. I have not evaluated them critically yet but I am sure that they may exceed the performance of the JJ's. I also have a pair of Tung Sol reissue 6V6GT that likewise did well in the amp. It is difficult to decide which tube combination is best. In the end it is mostly subjective I suppose.      
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DECWARE CSP2+, TABOO MK III; SE84CKC; HR1; TRAPEZIUM DESKTOP SPEAKERS; TECHNICS SL1200MK5 turntable; Ah! Njoe Tjoeb CD player; MARANTZ 2226B, 2216B receivers; SENNHEISER HD-580 headphones
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