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The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 165969 times)
Steve Deckert
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The MYSTERY AMP !
04/05/13 at 03:55:19
 
I'm working on something new. This is a picture of it. A creative moment captured just before things get serious... kind of like the long ride to the top of a roller coaster. Not entirely sure what will happen during the heat of it, but it's sure to be memorable and who knows, I might learn something! (BTW, I have discovered the reason you never quit learning is because you start forgetting things you already knew.)




What makes this the mystery amp?  Lack of information. Thought you might enjoy speculating on what it might be. The only hint is that it is not replacing anything in the current amplifier line. I know, it's an obvious hint, but that's all I'm giving up.

-Steve  ;)
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« Last Edit: 04/26/13 at 17:30:19 by Steve Deckert »  
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beowulf
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #1 - 04/05/13 at 04:01:20
 
Hi Steve, can you at least tell us if it is an "Integrated" or not? Huh
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #2 - 04/05/13 at 05:07:16
 
Well, I don't know anything about the technology behind Decware's great amps, but this one seems to me some kind of dual mono design, around only 4 tubes per mono side, with two volume pots and a treble control.

It seems also to show toroidal transformers and what may be a push-pull arrangement, with only two output tubes (in PP) and two drivers, per mono side.

It also seems to show (maybe), two gauges per mono side, one for each of the PP output tubes on each mono side.

Or not!
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« Last Edit: 04/05/13 at 05:08:46 by Fireblade »  

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deucekazoo
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #3 - 04/05/13 at 05:26:38
 
Lets see, four gauges, two caps that look like the ones from the Torii Monos, two stereo volume pots, one master in the center.
My guess would be a 4 channel home theater amp.

John
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Pale Rider
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #4 - 04/05/13 at 05:39:53
 
Quote:
My guess would be a 4 channel home theater amp.

Now, that would be cool.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #5 - 04/05/13 at 07:40:08
 
Please be a full function preamp with built in phono!
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will
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #6 - 04/05/13 at 13:56:07
 
What a brutal tease! It looks like two channels with four tubes per side, two power and two input? And a volume with maybe a bass and treble pot on either side of it? And four gauges? I am thinking a high wattage integrated.
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Mark
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #7 - 04/05/13 at 17:22:04
 
I would go for the world's first high performance telephone answering machine...
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Syd
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #8 - 04/05/13 at 18:54:00
 
There could be a couple of tube sockets lying behind the gauges...phono signal ? Two gains and a master volume dial ? Big smoothing caps...No transformer. Now if you were to build a 2 unit amp with outboard power supply.......
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #9 - 04/06/13 at 05:00:20
 


A view from above with the glow of my Edison lamp capturing the focus of the camera lens... basically a slow drip of karma off the bulb onto the amplifier is one of the ingredients of this fine recipe.

Steve
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will
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #10 - 04/06/13 at 20:54:16
 
Looks like you are close to listening tests! May there be many more drops of creative karma to clarify musical reality!
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« Last Edit: 04/06/13 at 20:54:52 by will »  

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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #11 - 04/09/13 at 05:10:59
 
Anymore clues?
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #12 - 04/09/13 at 17:08:08
 
Well, I'm not where near close to a listening test yet, as I'm doing this in my spare moments of which there are few...  so plan on it taking awhile...

Here is another clue.



-Steve
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will
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #13 - 04/09/13 at 17:32:35
 
With only two caps on the inside power area, I guessed those new round things behind the gauges might be power supply. This pic makes more sense since Steve is into "overdoing" the power supply so that there is well enough....bigass power supplies? I am still hanging with the high power integrated.
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« Last Edit: 04/09/13 at 17:33:42 by will »  

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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #14 - 04/09/13 at 22:08:33
 
What about a KT88 integrated?
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #15 - 04/09/13 at 22:37:34
 
a new dual mono preamp?
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #16 - 04/09/13 at 22:43:25
 
a small 15 watt amp (medium torii), something to fit between the mini and zen torii?
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Donnie
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #17 - 04/09/13 at 23:15:57
 
Zen Torii MK IV !
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #18 - 04/10/13 at 00:07:23
 
Probably a new Zen Torii, with huge caps instead of the traditional input/output tube voltage regulation stages, incorporating what was learned from the recent Zen Torii Mono design process.

I still think this is a dual mono configuration, sort of a lesser powered dual Torii Monos, in a single chassis.

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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #19 - 04/10/13 at 00:13:19
 
You could be right, Donnie.  I seem to recall that Steve mentioned moving away from the tube regulation due to uncertain availability of the tubes.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #20 - 04/10/13 at 00:31:26
 
$3275, 32 WPC.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #21 - 04/10/13 at 02:08:55
 
I don't know what it is, but I'm glad it's not replacing any current models.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #22 - 04/10/13 at 16:54:14
 
It's good advertising!
Keep 'em pumped!
(with it's pedigree, it's bound to be interesting!)
Don
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #23 - 04/10/13 at 23:30:34
 
Hi Steve,
Is it an OTL amp of some kind?
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #24 - 04/11/13 at 00:29:44
 
Well I don't have the knowledge to say what it might be but I do know one thing for certain…
I want one. Wink
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Donnie
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #25 - 04/11/13 at 00:42:19
 
More predictions: Wired with wire that has been treated with the tears of a clown: The bases will be made from wood taken from the Vatican's rec room: The knobs will be made from a TiCabon composit made by NASA: 8 speed switches!?: The tubes all will be heat treated, tempered, Cryoed,and then re-heat treated and tempered again: It will be only offered with a red top plate!
I may have gleaned a bit more from the photo's than the rest of you.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #26 - 04/11/13 at 00:54:10
 
Super tori 60 wpc
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« Last Edit: 04/11/13 at 01:10:09 by jameskk »  
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #27 - 04/11/13 at 03:52:10
 
I would love to see a Decware competitor for the Cary SLI-80.....
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #28 - 04/11/13 at 04:59:18
 
Like Damien,

I want one too.

Actually I want ONE PAIR. Wink
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #29 - 04/11/13 at 21:05:21
 
Well...Those two HUMONGOUS round things in the middle area with the two connectors each are caps...(motor run type?)maybe oil filled? Whatever it is, it sure looks nice! WOW Shocked
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #30 - 04/12/13 at 00:13:28
 
Tube cell phone.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #31 - 04/12/13 at 00:33:49
 
Quote:
Donnie,
More predictions: Wired with wire that has been treated with the tears of a clown: The bases will be made from wood taken from the Vatican's rec room: The knobs will be made from a TiCabon composit made by NASA: 8 speed switches!?: The tubes all will be heat treated, tempered, Cryoed,and then re-heat treated and tempered again: It will be only offered with a red top plate!
I may have gleaned a bit more from the photo's than the rest of you.


I'm with Donnie on this one, I mean it's so obvious from the pictures isn't it?  I just hope Steve is feeding the clowns locked up in his storage room! Grin
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #32 - 04/14/13 at 00:32:23
 
The process begins....

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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #33 - 04/15/13 at 22:58:22
 
50-1......300B
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #34 - 04/16/13 at 00:04:19
 


Got a few more moments with the mystery amp today...  this is an interesting point in the build of this (or any) amplifier.  For those of you who aren't amp builders, you might not realize that everything you see completed in the photo is just the power supply, chassis and hardware.  The actual amplifier circuit or parts are not yet there.  In fact I could use this to build several different kinds of amplifiers, or at least, several different variations of this one.

The process is the same on every amplifier...

1) Install the hardware onto the chassis
2) Establish your ground path.  In this case - a single straight 10AWG piece of copper about 10 inches long located in the exact center of the amplifier and terminated to the earth ground lug on the IEC connector also located in the exact center of the amplifier.  This sets the stage for a mirror image layout where all wires are equal length from side to side throughout the entire amp.
3) Wire up the transformers to get all those long leads out of the way
4) Install the main power supply caps

Then stand back and begin to plan your next move as I am now.


Some insight into this power supply which as you know came from the development of the Zen TORII Mono's.  It is unique and Zen like in it's simplicity - part of the appeal to me, but it's the performance that really matters.  My wanting to continue exploring it is the motivation for this amplifier.

What makes this different are all the things that are missing.  Typically you have a tube rectifier converting the AC into ragged DC which is smoothed with a capacitor.  That makes it somewhat less ragged, but it takes more.  Either a choke or a large high wattage resistor is needed followed by another capacitor is what it takes to complete the smoothing process enough to work with.  Of course these steps are repeated further down stream to continue reducing the AC ripple to a point where it's nearly gone - the same as battery power.  So the high wattage resistor and additional capacitor are repeated a minimum of once for each additional stage in the amplifier, usually twice.

The result of adding the chokes or high wattage resistors is limited current and reduced voltage.  Any amplifier designer will tell you that where good power supplies are concerned you always want as much current as you can get.  And if you're new to tube electronics, the picture above will have more to do with the sound of the amp than the actual parts used to create the amplifier circuit itself.  The quality of DC power being delivered by the supply determines the quality of the amplifier and the resulting fidelity.  So you can imagine how a preamp stage being 3 to 4 resistors and or chokes away from the power source will greatly rob current flow.  This hampers dynamics.  There is also a delay in time for the current to pass through these filters which can have profound effects on the transparency of your amplifier.

By replacing the current limiting tube rectifier with high current fast recovery diodes we eliminate the current limiting, the voltage sag, and of course a massive amount of heat.  Normally tube rectifiers sound better but that is in the context of using 10 to 100 microfarad capacitors.  When you use a 2000 microfarad capacitor that's the size of a milk bottle the game changes and the tube rectifier becomes the clear looser in this contest.

Using such a large cap stores so much energy that it becomes a black hole for all AC ripple and noise on the line.  It eliminates the need for a choke or a large high wattage resistor with additional capacitors.  That give us zero current limiting and zero voltage loss and zero heat.  It's a win, win, win.

Of course to feed the preamp stage (smaller tubes) we need to drop the voltage and the common way to do that is a high wattage resistor followed by a small capacitor.  That is how the Torii Mono's were done.  In this amp, I am replacing this resistor with a vacuum diode aka voltage regulation tube (OA3) which will give me the same voltage drop as the resistor but with 20 times the ripple reduction and 100% decoupling so that harmonics from dirty power grids in your city do not contaminate the pure DC power feeding your critical preamp stage.  This also means that again 100% of the heat has been eliminated.

This will be the first power supply I've ever done that has zero resistors and zero chokes.  It's so Zen it's scary.




Steve  ;)
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« Last Edit: 04/16/13 at 00:56:48 by Steve Deckert »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #35 - 04/16/13 at 00:13:09
 
300B odds are higher than that I'm afraid.  Actually you don't know now many times I've been tempted but the temptation was purely sales.  The truth is, my original testing back in the 1990's during the development of the Zen Triode amplifier showed me I can get better sound with more neutrality from other tubes that just happen to cost a fraction of the price.  And unlike 2A3 and 300B amps you won't have to wonder how much better your amp would sound if you could afford the really good tubes at $1000 a pair.  

I am asked repeatably to build a 2A3 or 300B amplifier, but unless I find a way to make one justify the cost of the tubes AND sound better, I'm just not interested.  Plus you can buy a lot of nice used 300B amps now days that have been discarded by Decware customers. Wink

-Steve
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #36 - 04/16/13 at 01:51:36
 
What, no clown tears? Are you crazy?
So I've been rounding up clowns for the last few days for nothing?
I've spent over $59.24 in cotton candy alone. That is what I get for speculating in the clown tears market. Nothing but heartbreak and squeeky noses to show for it.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #37 - 04/16/13 at 03:13:48
 
Are you sure it's not clown ears instead of tears?
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #38 - 04/16/13 at 13:22:20
 
Steve explained:
Quote:
Using such a large cap stores so much energy that it becomes a black hole for all AC ripple and noise on the line.  It eliminates the need for a choke or a large high wattage resistor with additional capacitors.  That give us zero current limiting and zero voltage loss and zero heat.  It's a win, win, win.

I thought thsi was a very interesting discussion, especially since I just received in my email one of Paul McGowan's posts about power supplies, in which, during the course of noting how a switching power supply could be designed to achieve some of the same objectives, he noted this:
Quote:
In the past the best sounding option was to go with a linear supply – making sure it was over built for the task.  The problem with these supplies is that they are neither clean nor pretty – and the best results with any form of amplifier come when you have a pretty, clean and DC-like output on your power supply.  Even your classic A or A/B amps benefit greatly from a better supply – and a few traditional amp manufacturers even go so far as to regulate their amp’s power supply.  But the vast majority of amps do not regulate nor do they do anything about the ripple, jaggies and noise associated with this supply type.

These are two radically different approaches to achieving similar results. McGowan is right: the vast majority of amp designers do little or nothing about this problem. We happen to be fortunate that Steve is part of the small minority, and is extremely focused about creating clean power for his amps; and yes, his approach is very Zen. I especially love that elegance.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #39 - 04/24/13 at 04:02:15
 
No No I think it's a welder, not an amp.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #40 - 04/24/13 at 05:10:35
 


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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #41 - 04/24/13 at 09:29:06
 

This looks like a cross between a Zen Torii Mk3 and the Zen Mono-blocks.

It looks like a really serious (in terms of power o/p)  amp with the transformer/s setup so my guess is that this is like a MINI version of the Zen mono blocks but with VR.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #42 - 04/24/13 at 13:51:44
 
I think it actually looks like a cross between the Taboo and the Torii monos. It looks like the holes on the back, left and right, look like headphone holes for the XLR plugs and a normal phono jacks.
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Re: The Mystery Amp
Reply #43 - 04/24/13 at 15:35:47
 
Or balanced output connections
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #44 - 05/01/13 at 15:17:08
 
....might be Balanced (XLR) INputs (Line Level RCA IN too of course)... .

I know I want one.  

SuperZen CKC, SE84CS (Stock), Mystery Amplifier & the new Taboo Amp/Headphone Amplifier.....will be the only Amps I need to Own for Reference Two Channel MUSIC.

I bet the new Mystery Amplifier, equals or EXCEEDS the new Audio Research REF75 ($9000.00) at half the price and roughly, half the watts.    -Stone
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« Last Edit: 05/01/13 at 23:33:53 by stone_of_tone »  

Sony as Transport
Illuminati D-60
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro
Audio Magic Mystic Reference I2S
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Kimber Select 1030
Zen Select #76
Kimber Select 3033
Polk Audio LS-90
Tri-config/TipToes & Vibropods underneath Speakers
360 degree Rm Treats
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Bottlehead
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #45 - 05/02/13 at 23:13:06
 
Hey Steve,

I have no idea what this amp is, but it looks so cool, how about naming it "Zenfinity"?
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T Jacobsen
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #46 - 05/03/13 at 22:34:40
 
How many watts per channel are you shooting for?  What price range are you going for?
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Steve Deckert
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If the 1st watt
sucks why continue?

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #47 - 05/04/13 at 02:02:24
 
Watts could be more than a TORII Mk III and less than the TORII Mono's.  Price somewhere between the two.
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Steve Deckert
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If the 1st watt
sucks why continue?

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #48 - 05/04/13 at 02:08:37
 
At the rate I'm going, Zenfinity is the time it's going to take to finish it!  I'm after a very specific signature and character with this amp.. and of course at my age achieving this goal with the least number of rebuilds possible turns out to be the real goal!

 
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T Jacobsen
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #49 - 05/04/13 at 22:56:26
 
Steve,
What ever happened to your OTL amp you were planning on bringing to market?  Did that die a quick death for some reason?  Bob Zeigler told me it was the best sounding amp he's ever heard...
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