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$4K System? (Read 6202 times)
nsj
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$4K System?
12/02/09 at 16:24:28
 
Hello All,

I am a new member here, and new to tube hifi as well, so bear with me. I sent Steve this question via email and I received a response from him. I would like to hear from Decware fans on this subject as well:

Steve,

My wife and I have decided to give each other a new hifi system for Christmas. In searching the www, I happened upon your website and I like what I see. I like the idea of buying something built in the US instead of Cayin, Prima Luna etc. Your lifetime warranty is icing on the cake.

Here are the particulars of our situation. We have a budget of $4k max, including cables, CD source, pre-amp/amp or integrated, speakers and shipping. Our living room is 20' x 20' with an 11' sloped ceiling. It is also open to the rest of the house (another 1600 square feet). The room has a wood ceiling, wood floor, one glass wall, 2 sheet rock walls and a 4th wall of brick fireplace.

In terms of music, we are eclectic in our tastes: 50% straight-ahead jazz (Coltrane, Miles, Parker etc) and 50% rock, everything from female vocalists to heavy metal. I do occasionally like to CRANK my Black Sabath! In the future, I plan to add a turn table, so a phono pre-stage is also desired...

Given all of these parameters, what system would give us the biggest bang for our buck of the myriad products that you produce?

Many thanks!
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Lon
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #1 - 12/02/09 at 16:58:32
 
Let me suggest the ERRs, the Torii Mark III, the fully-modded ZCD (or a similar source, I love my Sony ES 5400 SACD player better), and a CSP2 for pre-amplification. and source switching (if you are going to run Blu-Ray, etc.) The ERRs and the Torii are a killer combination.  The CSP2 adds icing to the cake.

This may be a bit over your budget, but you'll be happy about it.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #2 - 12/02/09 at 17:07:22
 
Lon, LOL, I'm sure that I WOULD be happy, but, my wife would NOT be happy! That would be a great cost no object choice, but, what would you do if you only had $4K including cables, shipping etc?

nsj
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Lon
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #3 - 12/02/09 at 17:13:09
 
Knowing what I know now, I'd do this. . . somehow.

If I had to scrimp I'd drop the CSP2 (though it's all better with it) and move to the Integrated (a fine amp, but the ERRs will love the Torii more especially on Sabbath; I'd really like to go for the new III but I have a II and can't afford a III), and look for a really nice used cd player somewhere, like a NAD universal player, etc. that will come in cheaper than the ZCD.  Get Decware cables and interconnects, might as well get those right the first time.
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« Last Edit: 12/02/09 at 17:14:37 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #4 - 12/02/09 at 17:20:53
 
OK,

So the Model SE34I.2+ Integrated, ERR's, cables etc, would almost allow for the ZCD within budget I believe...

I wonder what shipping would be?

Does the integrated have a Phono Stage, or, would I need to add one later?
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Lon
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #5 - 12/02/09 at 17:22:12
 
You'll need to add one later. No Decware amplification includes a phono stage.  

Start saving a few more thousand for your vinyl. Cheesy  I personally have resisted the urge for several decades now.

Shipping would probably be . . . 140 maybe?  Sarah or Steve can give you a good idea.

If you can . . . get all the mods on the ZCD. They made a difference on mine, getting it almost up there as my best source.
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« Last Edit: 12/02/09 at 17:23:38 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #6 - 12/02/09 at 17:32:38
 
Lon,

Many thanks for your expertise on all of this. Would you take the SE34I.2+ over the Mini Torii, and if so, why?

I have lots of vinyl from my youth that I would like to get back into...

Regarding the phono stage, I can either add a ZP3 or get a turntable with a built-in ps such as the Pro-Ject Debut USB Turntable, I guess.
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Lon
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #7 - 12/02/09 at 17:42:44
 
I don't have any experience with a min-Torii, and I have an Integrated in my bedroom system that I use every day, and used in the main system before I got the Torii Mark II, so I KNOW the Integrated and know how wonderful an amp it is.  The Mini-Torii looks like a great amp for a compact system and looks like a tube-roller's dream, but tube rolling is really something that drove me crazy in the past and I'm steering clear of lately. Also, I love the EL34 tube in guitar and audio amps and the Integrated uses these to great effect.

To me analog and vinyl are two different beasts and I find that if I great a system to one, it doesn't fare as well with the other.  One day I may set up a vinyl system but I haven't felt the need with 12000 plus cds, and most of my vinyl also in cd form.

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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #8 - 12/02/09 at 18:27:48
 
Lon,

Thanks! So far we have 3 different combinations: mine, Steve's and yours. This is very interesting; I hope that other forum members chime in...

nsj
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Chris K
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #9 - 12/02/09 at 20:06:38
 
OK here goes!
njs, I have a pair of MG944's set up with a 1st generation Decware Integrated running on a single set of EL34's only about 3.5 watts.
Read this thread first.
http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1258399932

I also have a pair of what has become known as "IT" Radials or the "retail" version of a Decware radial. That is what Lon has as well. That speaker has a front firing midbass driver like on the MG944, the same tweeter and with a radial driver on top. These are "unobtainium" at least for the short term. The ERR is a very similar speaker and is a bit more laid back than the MG944 or My radials, however it does do the same spacious imaging that the Decware radials are known for, and given your room size which we do not know yet, the ERR would not NEED the TORII MkIII power necessarily. The current Integrated is 6 watts and so is the Mini TORII. I have a Mini TORII coming in a week or two.

At this point I'd ask you what type of sound you like. More laid back and relaxed in the mid range and highs or more forward?

The MG is not a forward speaker but it is not as relaxed as the ERR.
Auditioning both at Decware the Mini TORII SEX had a magic with all the speakers that was undeniable. With the MG944's it was super good. With the ERR radials it was laid back however the big room at Decware with it's high ceilings offer a different load to the speaker. Here at home radial speakers with 8.5 foot ceilings are loading the room with plenty of bass and the imaging is to die for. The MG944 does not present as large of an image but the speaker projects into the room better and bass is different. Better? Not sure. Placement is everything. I've already said I'd like to try a set of ERR's. Just too many other things to do.

My advice is get the amp that makes the best of all the subtleties, yet has the some diversity power wise. The MkIII is a great amp I'm sure. I heard the Mini TORII with MG944, various sets of Radials, the HDT's and other non-Decware speakers. I told Steve I wanted one on the spot. It is coming soon! can't wait. Second choice would be The SE34I.2 Integrated. A little less complex than the Mini but still 6 watts.

Now back to my Integrated running at 3.5 watts per (single) output tube. VERY MUCH like the current Integrated. Steve informed me yesterday they would sound very much alike. Well with the MG944's I've not hard clipped it at ALL. Loud sweet and BIG sounding. Detailed and imaging that is precise. I have no doubts about MG944 speakers. They are entry level price but they are not entry level sound. Pricing also reflects complexity of build and parts cost so naturally the ERR is more expensive. My vote is you go simple and get your feet wet first.

MG944,
Mini TORII SEX
or
SE34I.2
ZCD (the NEW one Wink if you need a CD player
CSP 2 Preamp
or
ZenHead if you have an iPod

Don't laugh iPod is blowing me away. Why ??? Just is.

Get an iPod touch if you have enough left.

Which you Should.

Before I posted I had the iPod on the CSP2 with my integrated (remember 3.5 watts only for mine) on the MG944's and had Pink Floyd "Sheep", Ten Years After "I'd love to change the world", Floyd again from The Wall "One Of My Turns", Steve Miller Band "Take the Money and Run" playing one after the other on Pandora Radio.
Not one bit of stress or strain on the Integrated. Loud, big, beautiful!!!
I have every reason to expect same out of Mini TORII.

The got on the "Stan Getz & Luiz Bonfa" channel for a little saxophone and bossa nova. Ike Quebec "Favela" came on. Whoa! Right away a live 3d sound. Will it do Coltrane, Miles, Parker? Amen bro.

It is more forward than the radials but that room has more hard surface the room the Radials are in, here on the other side of the house in a much more cluttered living room.

The MG944 has almost no crossover. Louder than my particular Radials (not much) with all else being equal (amp and such)
The CSP2 ads weight and dynamics. And Gain control pushes the amp just that much harder but with so much control.

I'd bet that just a Mini TORII and MG944's alone would be a good start.

I'll know first hand in a week or two!!!! Count down to Mini Cheesy

Hope this helps nsj!

Decware (Steve) has never let me down. His stuff sound "right", real and your doing yourself a favor getting any of his amps. You got to hear it for yourself.





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DirtDawg
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #10 - 12/02/09 at 20:24:50
 
Quoting CK for the inherent truth of his statement:



"Decware (Steve) has never let me down. His stuff sound "right", real and your doing yourself a favor getting any of his amps. You got to hear it for yourself."



I only own two early designed amps (SE84C, used in dual mono for my two channel system) from Steve's massive array of desirables (so, I am possibly not one of the best from whom to take advice, but I have read and fully conceived of his entire set of white papers, "totally" referring to myself as "onboard with his ideas"  and fully aligned with his earthbound sets of common sense ideals) and I have personally hand-built several of his speaker enclosure designs, all of which gave even more satisfaction in use than than my elevated expectation had promised.

I have never been let down, one iota.

Honestly, I bought my first amp sight, unseen, then acquired another as soon as one came available, due to how fully satisfied I was with the first Two Watt amp.  I was so beside myself with how versatile and comforting the design was, that all my other older fancy-ish sandgear was set aside. If I had four thousand dollars to spend on audio gear today, I would only make one phone call and it would be to Steve.

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« Last Edit: 12/02/09 at 20:46:31 by DirtDawg »  
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nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #11 - 12/02/09 at 20:45:35
 
Chris and DD,

Wow, this is great information; exactly the type that I was hoping for. Chris, if you missed it, my living room, which has a lot of modern furniture which is non-negotiable in terms of placement is:

20' x 20' with an 11' sloped ceiling. It is also open to the rest of the house (another 1600 square feet). The room has a wood ceiling, wood floor, one glass wall, 2 sheet rock walls and a 4th wall of brick fireplace.

My initial thought was that the ERR might do a better, and less placement-determined, job given the space - any thoughts?

I am not going to tell you guys what system Steve suggested until I make a final decision...let's just say that Chris is on to something!

In terms of sound, I believe that I would probably fall into the "laid back" category. And yes, the $4K is to cover a CD source, speakers, amp, cables, shipping etc. (the whole shooting match).

I do have an ipod, but, I was hoping that Steve might someday come out with a Decware version of the Tascam CD-200I, which has a built-in ipod dock. Does anyone know whether this might happen?
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Lon
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #12 - 12/02/09 at 20:45:51
 
CK,

I suggested the Torii for several reasons one of which I think he could use the headroom.

nsj says:

Here are the particulars of our situation. We have a budget of $4k max, including cables, CD source, pre-amp/amp or integrated, speakers and shipping. Our living room is 20' x 20' with an 11' sloped ceiling. It is also open to the rest of the house (another 1600 square feet). The room has a wood ceiling, wood floor, one glass wall, 2 sheet rock walls and a 4th wall of brick fireplace.

I think with that size room that he needs the power. Also both the Torii and the Integrated have the sort of forgiving nature (as opposed to say the Select) that his jazz source material could use to help him enjoy the music and not always be thking of the equipment.

Anyway, he has lots of options! I'd be interested to hear what Steve's advice is.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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Chris K
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #13 - 12/02/09 at 23:35:21
 
Duhhh! Embarrassed
Sorry missed the room size. See I'm so stoked up I'm like a kid in a candy store!
Whoa all hard surfaces. Can you say echo?
Obviously Steve's recommendation is considering this so I'm gonna defer.

Here is one of my rooms with adjoining open space. I have carpet in all but kitchen.
All 8' 4" ceilings. Lots of open space for bass energy to escape.
I need treatments for midrange in both rooms. I think you will to NSJ!

The other living room has different layout but is open to kitchen on both sides as well and the dining area is not to the side but to the back so it is like a very long room.
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Chris K
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #14 - 12/02/09 at 23:39:27
 
Lon, yes I understand and indeed the Big TORII is a real good choice.
$1,000 more than the Mini TORII so its a big step. Grin
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« Last Edit: 12/02/09 at 23:39:55 by Chris K »  

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Chris K
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #15 - 12/02/09 at 23:43:00
 
You and the wife should shop for some nice wall hangings that are absorptive in nature. It is Christmas you know? Oops you budgeted all $4K for system!
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nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #16 - 12/03/09 at 00:00:35
 
Chris,

LOL, I can understand that you feel like a kid in a candy store; I feel the same way! You must be excited to receive that Mini Torii...

It looks like your plan is similar to our living room and yes, lot's of hard surfaces! The only saving graces are 3 pieces of leather furniture and window coverings on the windows. Nice drawing BTW, and I'm an architect, so I should know!

Lon's suggestions are spot on given a larger budget, but alas, that is not going to happen for now.

Let me pose a question to the two of you that I asked Steve, but, to which he has not responded. I may be giving away some of his recommendation by asking, but, here goes: "Steve, am I better off getting better speakers, e.g. ERR's and using cheaper speaker cables? I don't think that 10' Zen Styx cables will reach given our restricted room layout."

Any thoughts?
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Lon
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #17 - 12/03/09 at 00:42:16
 
Yes, the ERRs will serve you well with cheaper cables, and then bring you even more when you can afford the ZenStyx.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #18 - 12/03/09 at 01:14:03
 
Lon,

Thanks. That's what I thought, but, as I said I have not heard from Steve on this. What is a decent, not too expensive speaker cable? I'm sure that the ZEN Styx are awesome, but they are also $350 for 2 10' cables, i.e. the difference in cost between the MG944's and the ERR's!

Many thanks,

NSJ
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Chris K
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #19 - 12/03/09 at 01:24:14
 
The Zen Styx are a fine cable but they are not user friendly in one respect. They are thick twisted strands of silver plated copper. They are stiffer than a pressurized garden hose. Don't get me wrong I like em. Don't have em but they are nice.

Speaker cable is the last cable I would be fussy about. I mean you shouldn't use 15 foot runs of Home Depot 18 gauge though. Steve may disagree with me one this one I don't know. Interconnects are a real revelation. They all sound different. They have different capacitance (how they are wound and covered) and different metal (silver, copper, combination.) and therefore really do things to the highs and the soundstage. It's only dramatic sometimes and usually A,B direct comparison is the way to pinpoint those differences. I'm going to recommend that you keep your speaker runs as short as possible. 5 feet runs get your speakers 8 feet apart max. with sag. How much for the Zen Styx? How Long? With spreading banana connectors installed? Must have nice locking connectors for a tight connection.

ERR may be a better speaker in many ways. Will it serve all types of music the same? don't know. I imagine I will have a pair here at some point in time. This is tough call. MG944 has BALLS and finesse. ERR with rock & roll? Might be good just cannot say for sure. I know that whatever Steve ships to you in your price envelope whatever you decide on you simply will not be disappointed. There is a 30 day trial?

Other than you listening to all the stuff at someone's house, you've got to take the plunge. It's very little risk and you are in great hands. Smiley

FWIW I have two pair of Decware silver reference interconnects and I like them and use them regularly.
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« Last Edit: 12/03/09 at 01:27:30 by Chris K »  

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Re: $4K System?
Reply #20 - 12/03/09 at 01:50:04
 
nsj,

I really don't have a recommendation for good cheap speaker cable. In a real sense, the way that speaker cables in the high end are so astronomically priced, the ZenStyx ARE a cheap cable. Smiley  Anyway, I've gotten a glimpse of good cable sound from TARA Labs Rectangular Copper cables, and PS Audio Xstream Statement cables, which I got hghly discounted, and I still use the PS Audio in my bedrooom system. I've also used plain ole Monster Cable cheapo (slow sounding but warm) and Cat-6 single strand cable (fast and a bit bright).  I lived with all these.  But the ZenStyx are clearly in another league.  The most transparent and honest cables I've ever heard. They are stiff, but they have not been hard to deal with in my system.  They took a while to bloom, but they're just phenomenal, I can't say anything bad about them.

I'm sure others will recommend some cables to use.  I would be remiss if I didn't ask you to consider them strongly.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #21 - 12/03/09 at 01:51:58
 
Chris,

I have $169 budgeted for the interconnects. I have 2 proposed setups for the living room, which I will need to review with my better half...the room is not ideal for hifi, but, as I said previously a lot of it is non-negotiable.

I still have not heard back from Steve on this question, but, here are the systems that I and Steve envisioned:

nsj newbie: Zen Taboo $895, ZP3 Phono Stage $795, ERR speakers $1395, ZCD $799 = $4053 + Shipping (a bit over budget no speaker cables or interconnects)

Steve: Mini Torii $1395, MG944 speakers $995, ZCD $799, Interconnects $169, 10' Zen Styx $350 = $3708 + Shipping (a bit under budget no phono stage)

Interesting huh?
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #22 - 12/03/09 at 01:57:03
 
Lon,

Thanks for those recommendations. You 2 guys are a world of information!

NSJ
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Chris K
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #23 - 12/03/09 at 02:19:05
 
ZP3 Is a statement piece. I've not pursued records since it takes a lot more than an excellent phono pre Like the ZP3. I don't know what entry level encompasses as far as turntable, cartridge, and arm. You might run it past Steve what you have available. A great phono stage like the ZP3 deserves a decent source that gets at least a passing grade. In my world it is a big commitment to have a permanent, dialed in vinyl installation. I don't want to discourage you but at this point I know if you get your hands on some good digital copies of your favorite oldies, your gonna hear it like you never heard it before. The Mini TORII is a GREAT amp. I have not given the TABOO a chance. Why? Don't know. It has sounded good to me at Decware. It has been finicky. You must remember that the Mini is a newer product. Steve's endorsement of it is on top of a lot of other current owners and those of us who heard it at DecFest. If you really want the truth I'm scratching up the $hange to get it. I have to have it in the house!!! I'll sell something later if I have to. It sounded that good at the show. And with the MG944 it made music.

I'm gonna say that what you have left in the budget is not allowing for vinyl with certainty of results. Maybe the ZP3 can "polish a turd". Steve would only know that answer.
I love the CSP2 but I don't think the Mini NEEEDs the pre. If you want to blow the whole "kitty" do the digital with what Steve has recommended and get a ZenHead as a pre so you can listen reasonably to iPod. if not save the $300 go under budget get the Styx and try your hand at some home brew cable and do a comparison. Hey it can't hurt.

Pivotal selections are amp & speakers. Amp is KING. MG are good. Really good. They work together. RivieraRanch here on the forums has both. I will have both soon. It's only money! Grin
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #24 - 12/03/09 at 02:27:55
 
Lon with respect to the Radials I think you know I love the Radial series of Decware speakers almost as much as you. Even more that technology taken to Bob's version. On my side of things I've discovered I like many sonic "siganatures". I thought at one time that there was "all but the kitchen sink" speaker. If I had to pick one to live with it would be hard. If I drew straws and it was chance only one pair could stay, they all have special qualities that I would be happy to "live" with for good. I don't have to but I could. But you see I'm NUTS and I have 6 pairs of speakers right now!!!! And amps? Fuggedaboudit!
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #25 - 12/03/09 at 02:34:30
 
Quote:
I still have not heard back from Steve on this question, but, here are the systems that I and Steve envisioned:

nsj newbie: Zen Taboo $895, ZP3 Phono Stage $795, ERR speakers $1395, ZCD $799 = $4053 + Shipping (a bit over budget no speaker cables or interconnects)

Steve: Mini Torii $1395, MG944 speakers $995, ZCD $799, Interconnects $169, 10' Zen Styx $350 = $3708 + Shipping (a bit under budget no phono stage)


I may as well answer this here as it would help future customers faced with similar choices.   I got your second email but also got 84 other ones today and only got about 1/2 way through the stack...  story of my life Smiley

Anyway, the logic behind my system recommendation was to keep you under your budget with everything you would need short of a phono stage.  

I am concerned about your room as it's obviously going to be bright sounding, and yes, ERR's might be a better fit for such a space.  However the Mini Torii has a treble control that can be used to tame any brightness that your room adds, so it should sound fine.  I also figured that when you get in the mood to really rock out if you find the mini torii lacks power, we can step you up to the TORII MK III so long as it happens by Jan 15th, and still stay dangerously close to your budget.  

The mini torii will drive the ERR's very nicely, but the MG944's will be more efficient from the listening chair.  I believe that couple dB difference could be the difference between upgrading to a bigger amp or not.

Your suggestion of the Taboo is no problem at all until we get involved with a phono stage.  The taboo likes 3 t o 5 volts at the inputs to really get with the program.  The ZCD offers that.  Most CD players are 2 volts.  The phono stage at best will be 2 volts meaning that in order to really enjoy LP's you'll get sucked into purchasing a preamp.

If it were me, I would probably buy the ERR's and the TORII MKIII and use an IPOD or whatever source you can get your hands on until such a time you can add a ZCD or Phono stage or both.  But, I was really trying to honor your budget.  

Interconnects and speaker cables are indeed important but I believe any of these systems would sound better using Radio Shack cables than most other hi-end systems would while using exotic cables, so I wouldn't feel immediate pressure to get the cables right away.

Steve
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #26 - 12/03/09 at 02:36:06
 
Lon,

I just did a bit of research into speaker cables - holy sh*t, you are right, the Zen Styx now seem like a bargain compared to the other stuff out there! I guess that all of Steve's products have that in common...

Chris,

After receiving Steve's recommendation, I have settled on the Mini Torii instead of the Taboo (he must have good reasons for the endorsement). The ZCD is also a given. So now I am down to 944's vs radials for speakers and dropping the ZP3 for now. I can always get a turntable with a built-in phono stage later. The Project TT that I spoke of earlier is $500 complete.

I am making progress with forum help!
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #27 - 12/03/09 at 02:42:36
 
Steve,

Awesome, thanks for the reply! I need some time to digest all of your wisdom and get back to you, but, we DO have a large CD collection, so the ZCD will stay on the shopping list. We are just beginning to get into the Ipod scene. As a segue, what did you think about my idea about the Tascam CD-200i? Perhaps there is not enough room left in the chassis to make your Decware mods?

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Re: $4K System?
Reply #28 - 12/03/09 at 03:14:03
 
OK,

One last idea: Mini Torii $1395, NFX speakers $1495, ZCD $799, Interconnects $169, = $3858 (within budget, using budget speaker cables as Steve intimates, vinyl later)

Would the very high efficiency of the NFX satisfy the need for volume on occasion, without a larger amp upgrade?
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #29 - 12/03/09 at 03:58:03
 
Chris, I've heard my share of speakers and owned my share; I have three pairs sitting idle and may have another when the ERRs arrive in the future.

But all the speakers I had before the Radials I wanted to sound like the Radials and didn't. They sounded great HIFI, but the Radials sound natural and real to me.  They fill a room with sound the way a small club is filled by a band.  They have totally corrupted me and I've since listened to some really fine speakrs but they don't do for me and my music what the Radials do.

I often listen to tapes I recorded, live to two track analog, in my garage apartment wtih two bands that I played with in the 'eighties.  The Radials bring that playing space back out of the past. Nothing has ever done that the way that they do. And with my SACD player, CSP2 and Torii Mark II in the path it's amazing sound.  Never sounded this good in this room before.  I got together a few weeks ago with the guitarist/songwriter in one of the bands and we listened to some of the tapes now on cdr.  He was amazed.  He asked me to start another band with him. Smiley THAT'S not going to happen, but I am going to think "Radial" whenever I think "speaker." Amazing designs and execution from Steve and Bob.  In my opinion perhaps their crowning glory.

I still don't understand iPod in a main system unless using a Wadia setup to extract the digital signal. But then I'm surrounded by cds everywhere and I use the iPod in the bedroom with the Wadia dock mainly so that Anadina and I can recline for a few hours and not worry about touching the system.  I guess I could put the DEC changer in that system, but then the iPod would gather dust, only being used infrequently out of the house.  I have spent a few decades learning to love the sound of cds and they're my source, mainly because I'm obsessed with jazz and there are thousands of thousands of sessions I won't ever find or afford on vinyl available affordably on cd.

Anyway, after living with Radials and smaller amps for a while, I am just amazed at the ease and layers of texture the Torii brings to the sound.  I think they're the best thing to drive these designs unless you are in a very small listening room (I was in one for a long time).  The size of nsj's room, I think he would be BEST served by the Torii.  I just sort of wish someone could get it right the first time!  I sure couldn't/didn't. That would make me happy! Smiley
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« Last Edit: 12/03/09 at 04:00:43 by Lon »  

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Re: $4K System?
Reply #30 - 12/03/09 at 04:18:21
 
Well with TORII MkIII, ERR's, and ZCD it's at $4,690. Any chance $100 could come off or what the Christmas discounts your offering bring it down just under $4,500?

He was thinking about spending $500 on that turntable.

This is interesting.

NSJ it's CD's only for you for now buddy! Huh

SO with Christmas discount what is TORII MkIII price?
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« Last Edit: 12/03/09 at 04:49:30 by Chris K »  

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Re: $4K System?
Reply #31 - 12/03/09 at 04:19:23
 
BTW once your hooked there's no turning back. Grin
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #32 - 12/03/09 at 04:41:49
 
Lon,
I couldn't agree more. The Radials a really something else altogether as far as 3 dimensional sound and smooth delivery to the whole room. Affirmative!

I never lived with the 8" radial with no forward driver helping out. Remember I have a pair of what you have and a taller prototype of that.
I will at some point have to have ERR in the house to really get a sense of what they do in comparison to the other speaker. Sans front firing mid bass driver it will be different that's for sure. Great thing is you take a speaker that is too bright in one setting and put it another and all of a sudden everything comes right and its just heavenly. Too bright a room and the laid back speaker shines. Not that simply but you know the drill.

Good stuff guys! Thanks I had fun today chatting it up in here.
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #33 - 12/03/09 at 16:56:26
 
This has been very helpful for me guys, as well as fun. So no one likes my last idea:

Mini Torii $1395, NFX speakers $1495, ZCD $799, Interconnects $169, = $3858 (within budget, using budget speaker cables as Steve intimates, vinyl later)

Would the very high efficiency of the NFX satisfy the need for volume on occasion, without a larger amp upgrade?
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #34 - 12/03/09 at 17:22:41
 
Can't help you there, know very little about the amp and the speakers.
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #35 - 12/03/09 at 17:50:20
 
nsj,

If you're still looking at speaker cables relative to your budget, I'd throw Clear Day Cables Solid Core 8ft silver single cables into the mix.  At $120 a pair  shipped ($150-20% plus free shipping) these cables are stunning in clarity and extension.I think its about $10 each additional foot..  I have them, plus a 1 meter pair of ICs terminated with Eichmanns made form the same materil.
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #36 - 12/03/09 at 22:06:50
 
The NFX speakers will definitely get you the loudness you desire but probably not the bass you will want (need?).

Lin
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #37 - 12/03/09 at 23:09:07
 
ZenCDUser,

Thanks for that tip on speaker cables, I will definitely take a look at them!

Opny_bafld,

You don't seem baffled to me, in fact, that is the exact same response that Steve gave me via email:

Hi Neil,

The NFX would take care of any worries about upgrading amps, yes.  You would probably end up adding a subwoofer to them to pick up the bottom octave.

- Steve Deckert

Anyway, adding a subwoofer can certainly be done for less than $900, i.e. the NFX is $100 more, but, the Mini Torii is $1000 less, total delta being $900...
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #38 - 12/03/09 at 23:31:54
 
Your $4 grand system seems to be exciting everyone here to the point that you may be having trouble deciding what to buy. Starting out with 4 grand is an enviable position. Most people begin by buying a used piece of DECWARE equipment and then buying new things incrementally.

I vote for the Mini Torii and MG944 speakers along with the new ZCD player. You might have something left over for interconnects after that.

I have posted extensively about my experiences with my Mini Torii the Taboo and the MG944 speakers.

The Mini Torii DOES NOT need a preamplifier but the Taboo greatly benefits from one.

The MG944 is the best all around speaker that you can have. The bass is there in spades, the midrange is lovely and the highs are nice as well. There is no undue emphasis on either highs, mids or lows. With that Mini Torii you can drive any speaker, and the MG944's will get as loud as you will ever need.
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #39 - 12/04/09 at 00:41:21
 
Hi Rivieraranch,

I'm glad that you guys are excited, you have all been very helpful (as has Steve).

I see that the MG944's have very deep bass response, besting the radials and the NFX's. I will spend some time looking at your posts.

I would prefer to do this right the first time as Lon mentioned earlier...
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #40 - 12/04/09 at 20:49:12
 
Hello,

Looks like you found the right forum and the right gear for your needs.

$4k is going to be just fine you'll be able to have a ridiculously good sounding system that will last nearly forever.

This isn't like buying a new BluRay player that will be half the price and become obsolete within 9 months. Good two channel audio will be around until most of us are gone.

Decware gear is by far the best  I've had. In the past 3 months I've put over $10k into Decware.

Here is a quick analogy as to what you can expect from Decware. Go find the best system you've ever heard (tube or solid state) then wrap a few bath towels around the speakers and secure with duct tape. Then go and turn a small fan on in a nearby room.

Okay, listen to this and remember the sound. Play your favorite music and get a good base then take off the towels and turn off the fan and hear it again.

That dramatic change you get is the leap forward you've get ABOVE the best system you've heard once you get Decware gear. It'll become so obvious that you can't really even stand to hear basic or salon expensive gear again.

That being said I'm always a bit of a "get the best stuff" buyer and sort of miffed at myself for getting 3 Tori 2's and two ZCD's (the 160mkII's). I wish I would have got the new Tori 3 and new ZCD.

So here are my recommendations. Please note I'm not trying to step in front of steve's sale. We both know I'll be ordering more stuff and very likely lots more. If this post annoys anyone please take it down or delete it.

Source: Used ZCD (60hrs) with all the primo options: tube regulated power supply, dual stepped attenuators,, but sorry I'm hanging onto the power cord but the factory one will come with it. Retail $1,1100 but I'll sell mine for $650 plus shipping.

Speakers: New ERR's from Steve/Ziggy. I have a pair on order but I haven't got them yet. I've heard a few of Steve's radial designs and they're phenomenal. My other system is a Linkwitz Lab Orion ++ so my reference for good sound is literally world class gear. Price $1,395

Pre Amp: Don't worry about it. Really not needed $$ can go other places especially room treatment and later purchases. You'll have two source inputs on the Tori mk11 so you should be fine for a while.

Amp: Used 100 hour old Tori Mk11 with all factory tubes and factory CCE mod. This is an incredible amp. Black contemporary base with black top. Super classy and plenty of power just about any speakers you'll hook up. Currently I have this running directly off my ZCD and it is so black. You can hit pause and turn the volume up all the way and still not hear anything with your ear right up to the speaker….and I'm using 94db speaks. I would sell this for $1,700

Wires: don't get crazy here you'll pick up WAY more in fidelity with room treatment and placement etc. than you will with wires. Sort of icing on the cake. Get good gear, position it right, then work on the room. Wires are always last. Sigfied Linkwitz shipped me Radio Shack wires on my $20k plus Orion system and I haven't changed them since 2006.

That put's you at $3,745 before shipping and some inexpensive wires.

Parker,

P.S. If you get any new gear please please please realize that it all has a break in period. Back before I had tube gear (or anything really good for that matter) I didn't believe in "break in" but I can assure you that a ZCD with 1 hour on it sounds worlds different than one with 50-60 hours. In fact, some stuff can just sound out right bad for the first 50 hours. Don't fret, just set it up somewhere and let it play.



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Re: $4K System?
Reply #41 - 12/04/09 at 21:04:58
 
Wow, Parker has given you two good offers here and I really like his plan.

Parker, have you TRIED a preamp in between the ZCD and the Torii?  I have a CSP2 in the system in that slot (well, now it's in between the Sony ES SACD player and the Torii, but my fully modded ZCD has been in the same slot). There is a fullness and a tonal sollidity (don't know how else to say that) which justifies it being there.
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #42 - 12/05/09 at 00:59:27
 
Parker and Lon,

Thanks for weighing in! It's interesting that I came to some of the same conclusions yesterday and today I mailed a check to someone for a used Torii Mk2, which should make Lon happy, since that was his plan all along.

I was able to get the same amp that you offered for the same price as a new Mini Torii, so it was a no-brainer given our house configuration. I also actually prefer the look of the Mk2's black chassis to the new white chassis.

I will go with the ERR's, again, suggested by Lon and confirmed by Steve for use with the Mk2.

So far so good! Regarding source, my wife mentioned last night that a dock for the ipod was a must for parties. So my choices are the ZCD plus the Zenhead, or, wait for Steve to perfect the new ZCD-200i which he is apparently working on. I like the idea of the ipod dock being integral to the CD player, so I may just use our crappy, existing Onkyo CD Changer until the 200i is available.

I am making progress with your help!

nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #43 - 12/05/09 at 05:08:30
 
Two thumbs up! Smiley
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #44 - 12/05/09 at 08:59:57
 
Very good to hear. Tori mk 11 and ERR's are sure to be an incredible system.

Personally I would wait for the ZCD with the iPod dock integration, that seems like a better permanent solution and I think it would look cleaner as well.

I really doubt Steve will release it if it doesn't beat or at least sound as good as the ZenHead.

Way to go on selecting gear I really think you'll be happy!

Lon...Yes I have a CSP2 and I've heard lots of people say that it is the cat's meow with Tori 11 but I've never figured out which settings work well.

Generally when I've tried it I don't think it sounds as good and I just go back to ZCD>Tori direct.

Any elaboration on settings for the ZCD, CSP2 and tori. I'm open to hear everything from impedance on tori to output knobs on ZCD, trim pots on CSP2.

Please let me know. (We can pm as to not highjack this thread).

Thanks,

Parker
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #45 - 12/05/09 at 13:38:11
 
Ah, let's hijack the thread.

I've never found the perfect settings for the ZCD period in my system, it's always just a bit too forward for my situation, but I find it works best for me when the output is down, about the standard 2V or so.

But the CSP2 shines with the Torii for me when it's WIDE OPEN, full gain.  This setting on the CSP2 and my Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/CD player really shines.  Heft and weight and realism that surpasses the Torii without the CSP2, for me and my room. That's what I recommend trying, turn the gain on the CSP2 all the way up.  The Torii likes it that way.  I THINK it's adding some compression, but that seems to make cds more like lps to me.  Anyway, I've been running the system this way a few weeks and enjoying it a lot.
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« Last Edit: 12/05/09 at 15:29:39 by Lon »  

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Re: $4K System?
Reply #46 - 12/05/09 at 15:45:50
 
Lon & Parker,

Please DO hijack the thread. This all educational to me! Today I order the ERR's, but, before I do, can someone explain to me what the difference(s) is(are) between the ERR's and the "retail radial" that is also sold?

I realize that Steve will only market the 200i if it meets his high standards, but, I am willing to wit a while to see. I like the simplicity and lack of clutter of the idea...

Thanks
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #47 - 12/05/09 at 15:46:56
 
oops, I meant "wait a while"...
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #48 - 12/05/09 at 16:09:12
 
NSJ,

I only know the technical differences, not the actual sonic differences.  I hope to discover that (I will have a pair of ERRs in time, I got a great deal from Bob for two pair of speakers and got the IT Radials first).

First off:  the IT model will break your budget. Smiley  So fahgeddaboutit.

Secondly:  they're similar in design but quite different.  The IT models have a sort of "Wilson Audio" look and have the top section comprising a front firing speaker and the ribbon tweeter mounted right above that.  The horizontally mounted "radial" speaker is more concealed than on the ERR and only the top inch of the speaker cone is visible from the listening seat.

What Bob has told me and what I would surmise from comparisons between the IT and my RL2 model Radials is that the IT are more of a mix of a conventional high end speaker design and the Radial design. The best of both worlds is how I would describe it. More precise and a bit more forward than the ERRs would be my guess. They're definitely going to have a different sound from the design.  I bet I'd love either one, who knows I might love the ERR more as I have been so fascinated with the radialness of the Radials.  I'll find out!
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #49 - 12/05/09 at 16:12:30
 
A photo that Bob sent me of the IT Radials, hope it shows up.

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IT_1.jpg

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Re: $4K System?
Reply #50 - 12/05/09 at 16:34:03
 
Lon,

Thanks for that and yes, I did receive the photo. They are very impressive speakers!

I'm off to order the ERR's!  ;)

nsj
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #51 - 12/05/09 at 20:34:50
 
You have done well Grasshopper. . . .
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #52 - 12/06/09 at 06:48:38
 
Hello Everyone,

Okay I'll give those settings a shot.

Basically you're saying. Knobs on ZCD set pretty low, like 1-3 clicks. Little trim pots on CSP2 full blast. Volume on Tori relative to how loud I can take it in my room.

NSJ basically what we're talking about is playing around with the output voltages of the different sources and pre amps to see how it affects sound.

Here is something interesting in regards to the ZCD and CSP2 with headphones (no speakers). I'm running a pair of Senn HD650's in case you're curious and my cds are all originals and good examples of imaging and sonics.

When I hoooked up the ZCD tube output and factory output both to the CSP2 (note it has two inputs) and tried to level match them, I found that it was very hard to hear the difference between the two. At this point my ZCD had about 50 hours on it and my CSP2 is from 2006 so it has plenty of time on it (but I did switch to new tubes about 200 hours ago).

I mention this because when you do this with a pair of speakers (in this case I'm just talking about going ZCD>Tori>Speakers and you switch the inputs on the Tori from the Tube ZCD to the Factory ZCD it sounds remarkably different.

Of course the tube output sounds way cleaner. I really don't know how to put it other than it sounds better in every way.

So when I was on the phone with Steve a while ago I mentioned this and he wasn't surprised. Basically he was saying that the CSP2 helps so much with a source that what I was hearing with the headphones make sense.

Lon, I'll try those settings and let you know. I'm all for making things sound better and my CSP2 is just sitting around now doing nothing so why not give it a go.

Have a good night everyone,
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Parker
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #53 - 12/14/09 at 08:24:03
 
Update on CSP2 with ZCD and Tori II.

Hey Lon and Anyone Else Reading,

I tried those settings with the CSP2 and since my wall outlet only has two outlets I had to use one of those computer backup power thingys I had.

In general I didn't seem to get a big benefit from inserting the CSP2 and I really picked up more hum. My guess is that was the power transformer computer backup thingy.

I've heard lots of other people say the CSP2 is just candy between a ZCD and a Tori so I'll have to run power from somewhere else and see if I can get rid of the hum.

Have a good night all!

Parker Smiley
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #54 - 12/14/09 at 13:08:00
 
Parker,

Thanks for trying that out.

Two things:

One, I think that the ZCD and CSP2 in the chain are generating that hum. I found that when I had the Monoblocks (Steve called these his noisiest amp), the ZCD and the CSP2 in the system the hum had overwhelmed me, which was why I went for the Integrated (and then had that great offer for the Torii from Bob).  Even with these amps the ZCD and the CSP2 combo gave me noticeable hum that was just enough to ignore.

My solution was to get better sound and no hum altogether with a different cd player, the Sony SCD-XA5400ES.  When the CSP2 is all the way up there is a bit of hum (not listenable from the listening seat).

In the last few weeks I've changed my CSP2 settings again to just less than halfway on the gain pots.  I had moved my speakers and changed my listening seat from a couch to a recliner and as is the case with my system this changed the sound.  Also I had begun to feel that with the pots all the way open I was losing some dynamics in favor of that fat rich tonal balance that seemed right.  Experimenting with speaker placement and CSP2 gain I found that the pots at just under halfway work well for me now.

Experimenting is something I'm always tempted to do with this system as it is so revealing and responsive.  I confess it never really stays in the same configuration for more than a few months, as my living space changes a bit whether Anadina and I are spending a lot of time together there, which instruments and amps are living in the room for a spell, etc.

I hope you can find a nice zone for the CSP2 and Torii together, they do work very well together in my experience.  If not, you have been getting excellent sound without it so returning to that configuration is no crime! Smiley
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #55 - 12/17/09 at 22:39:15
 
NSJ,

Not only did I miss you personal emails for awhile, I guess that I missed this thread.  I usually just open up the last message posted on each main forum topic forgetting that there may have been other sub-topics going on.  Glad that everyone was able to answer your questions and that the Torrii is on its way to you.  Like I mentioned in the personal email, it is a GREAT amp and I am EXTREMELY happy with mine.

I just wanted to let you know of one other source of cables and interconnects if you are still shopping around for some.  I have used Signal Cable with my sytems for a few years now.  They are extremely affordable given what the market is generally asking for theirs, and they sound great.  I think that you can find them at www.signalcable.com.  I don't mean to take anything away from Steve, but it is another good option.  

Again, congrats on the system that you have coming in.

bill
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Re: $4K System?
Reply #56 - 12/18/09 at 01:20:57
 
Bill,

Thanks for your info. Everyone has been incredibly helpful on this forum and made a newbie feel welcome.

I have ordered the Decware interconnects, but, I am still shopping around for the speaker wires. Clear Day Cables were also suggested earlier.

Again,

Thanks!
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