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The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 180418 times)
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #480 - 01/08/14 at 11:16:32
 
SWEET!

It must be nice to be the first to be in possession of the jewel of the fleet.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #481 - 01/08/14 at 11:34:02
 
Okay, I canceled the Gold Inlay in order to speed shipment up (hehe).

I checked; we still have no manual. I suppose Steve can shove a note in the box where to set the millivolts setting for both the KT66 and KT120.
Plus, the balance control for each channel pair for drift.

IT's all good!  -S
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #482 - 01/08/14 at 13:25:50
 
I guess I should explain -  ;D

So, the story behind what happened is, IMHO, as important as what happened as Steve and I had another one of our Zen moments that coincided.

So, Monday, I warm up my car and toss in my gear and started on my 150 mile trek down to Peoria for work. About 60 miles down my boss sends me an E-mail saying I can work from home if I want, the weather and the roads were a bit rough...I'm like, so where were you 1.25 hours ago boss! Made it to Peoria and started my work day.






Tuesday, the GM of the hotel I worked at said maybe I should head out early so I'm not skating down the highway in the dark - it was about 2:30pm and I had some paperwork to finish up, I didn't leave till about 3:33pm and for some reason I was suddenly just anxious to just hit the road. I had just hit the highway and was crossing the bridge towards East Peoria when my phone rings in it's dashboard cradle, I hit speaker and I hear "Eric, it's Steve Deckert, can you call the shop line" he said something about my amp being half-done (which didn't sound good and worried me) I'm like "hey Steve, I'm just leaving Peoria, how about I swing by?" He said this was good - I look up, and the exit I need to go to his house is literally right in front of me. I dive down the exit I'm at his place 15 minutes later.



So I walk in, the shop is busy - Rich, Dave, and Steve are all working madly on amps - music is playing in every room - it's kinda crazy, but the one Steve is working on a ZMA that looks pretty well along, it looks like he's installing the big red caps. He hardly looks up, says hi, he thought I might be about ready for my amp - it's clear he's thinking, working, and talking at the same time so I didn't catch some of it - but then he's like "I thought you might like this one" - he flips the base over and I see:








Apparently this is the one in the Build Thread - the one we listened to during Decfest, he just finished the bias mod to protect the tubes if one  blows, and he installed the big red caps which I believe he said were 30 years old and were intended for use in a nuclear power station(!). I asked my question about longevity and Dave said that being basically milspec and good old school caps, they should be good for 30 years if not my lifetime and I shouldn't worry about them.  Steve dresses up the amp with my choice of knobs, gets me my big plastic case and I'm off! It didn't even cost me a bottle of Scotch! Smiley




It was just getting dark as I left, but I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement. It was just very serendipitous that I did make it down to Peoria this week, that I happened to be leaving when I was, and Steve got the inkling that he wanted to sell #000 - I guess the audio gods whispered in his ear that I might be in the area, or as Steve said "might be ready for it".





We seem to have a few of these Zen synchronizations, and I for one am thankful.

Thanks Steve - this really made my day!
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« Last Edit: 01/08/14 at 18:08:36 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #483 - 01/08/14 at 13:46:46
 
Great story! Glad you have that one in hand, and enjoy!
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stone_of_tone
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #484 - 01/08/14 at 16:32:38
 
Serendipitous story, is an understatement!

Wow, I am jealous. Your passion for Decware, friendship with Steve and the kind of miles you drive for work?  I am glad you have #0000 in hand!
Enjoy, ......give us early impressions....and most of all....have fun with the best custom built Stereo Amplifier on the Planet.   Cheers, Stone

Note: I added another "0" to the serial #'s. Steve is being modest. I think he will exceed #999.  Yeah, you got away without showing up with that Single Malt Scotch too....as you eluded too...geez!   Grin

PS-when you're ready, get back to us on the bias adjustments & the balance dial-in after warm-up and into Listening.
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« Last Edit: 01/08/14 at 16:42:03 by stone_of_tone »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #485 - 01/08/14 at 18:44:12
 
Don't expect first impressions from me right away. After the long drive home (road noise and shot nerves) I was in no state for proper listening. Plus I'm having some power issues at home, and I didn't get home till late last night. So I have some things to sort out in the room before I can give the amp a proper chance. And Steve reminded me I need to burn in the "new" caps.

As for bias - it's super simple. Steve said "you can use any tube you want, just don't bias over 65ma as the power transformers won't handle that long term"

To set the Bias

So, you drop the KT66s in, power on - Steve has the "bias window" set so the amp will come on in the ballpark of the tubes we would be using. (this is a great design/safety feature)  Using this image for reference -

http://www.decware.com/newsite/images/DSC_0014big.jpg

The two tiny white knobs behind the voltage regulator tubes are the bias knobs - one for each channel. Dial them in till they are close to 60ma, which is what Steve said is right for the KT66.

Now, say the tubes are pretty damn close right off the bat; you dial the bias in and it comes to 58 on one tube and 62 on the other. You use the bias balance next to the volume knob to sweep them closer or further - in this case closer so they both line up to 60ma. Do the same for the other side.

If you sweep the balance knob full left or full right and can't get the tubes to match, they are out of range and need replacing (or rematching in extreme cases I would assume).

As the tubes warm up you can tweak as needed to keep them on track. After an hour or so, they should have settled and and you can simply leave that setting till next time. Or, you can tweak, tweak, tweak and dial them in as they warm up...but they will eventually end up in that same spot after an hour.

Tubes can and will drift with age - so the bias when the tubes are new will most likely be different as the tubes age, and are aged.

I can dial in my tubes in about 15 seconds - and after 4 hours, they were within .5ma still.
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« Last Edit: 01/08/14 at 18:47:55 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #486 - 01/08/14 at 20:31:19
 
Thanks Eric. I will be good to go!

In case anyone is wondering, the 0A3's do not get hot or even warm, if I recall correctly with my Torii III. So, this is a great place Steve put the bias knobs for each channel....out of the way and not to be seen or messed with when done with. Of course, the balance knobs per channel are in the perfect spot...where they should be.

Cheers, thanks...hope you get your power issue taken care of ASAP. -S
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maddog07
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #487 - 01/08/14 at 22:59:24
 
Oops… never said full-rangers were the only way to reach nirvana Stone… and if implied that – that was not my intention either.  If I thought this, I would not have seven completely different types of speakers around the house currently.  I was merely trying to convey that the particular full-rangers I have, in the enclosure size/type that I have them in, driven by a Decware Torii is a very special combination & synergy and makes beautiful music – some of the best I’ve heard.  And that anybody who gets a chance to hear this combo or would be so inclined to DIY experiment for themselves, I highly recommend it.  But there are surely as many paths to sonic bliss as there are stars in the sky....

And I do plan on taking my Torii to my friend’s house to try on his AG 3’s Stone - thanks for putting that bug in my ear!!!  In fact I just talked to him, and found out his AG 3’s are actually the current 3.5’s he tells me.  I never paid close attention to them before – just listened to them.  And I will also be hooking my Torii up to his Avantgarde Duo’s  he just got back while I’m there to boot.!!!!  My covert objective is to get him to want to try some Decware amps with his Duo's...I'm thinking SE84’s would be a perfect match.  I don’t think it will take much convincing once I get the Torii hooked to them, dialed in and warmed to "thermal stability" as Steve likes to say.

LR, super congrats on #000!  I along with a lot of other folks I suspect, are “anxious” (master of understatement), to read your forthcoming review on your experience with your zma.  I listened to the demo zma at Zen for quite a while late sat. all by meself.  I definitely preferred it over the demo IV that was on display.  But I never did get quite settled within my own frame of reference with what I was hearing – I couldn’t quite verbalize, categorize, compare and contrast  with a high degree of certainty and repeatability about what I was hearing.  For me, this kind of cognitive dissonance, when it comes to anything audio, is a sure sign that I needed to spend more time with it… and probably on my own speaks.  As you and I have recently discovered, we tend to think and hear alike when it comes to things audio – so I’m really eager to hear about your zma experience after you've had time to become familiar with it a bit.  Enjoy dude…!!!!  And please don’t make us wait too long…   Grin
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Lonely Raven
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #488 - 01/08/14 at 23:41:33
 
Quote:
For me, this kind of cognitive dissonance, when it comes to anything audio, is a sure sign that I needed to spend more time with it… and probably on my own speaks.  As you and I have recently discovered, we tend to think and hear alike when it comes to things audio – so I’m really eager to hear about your zma experience after you've had time to become familiar with it a bit.  Enjoy dude…!!!!  And please don’t make us wait too long…


I think you nailed it right there...I had trouble describing it and could only say it didn't have *more* detail, but more harmonics to the detail that was there...or something like that. Just the few short minutes with it made me realize I definitely have some things to sort out in my listening room and need much more time to sort out what's going on.



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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #489 - 01/09/14 at 00:16:00
 
Maddog-
The Audio Nirvana's deserve to be listened too. Just as I have and will have, a couple more Amplifiers to Listen to Music with....I should revisit full range driver's again. Just because my experience with  Zu or Parker's was not so favorable...does not mean the AN's, for a lot of or just a fare amount, of what I listen to.....they might be pretty darn good/incredible. ....like you said...you have your other Speakers too....but the AN's you enjoy as well!

Seriously, I am game. In what cabinet choice do you have your 12" Alnico's?     -Stone

Also, way cool, 3.5 Gallo's & Avantgarde Duo's at your friends house! I have always wanted to hear the AD's.....that will be fun with the Torii...even though the AD's might be better suited for SE84's as you mentioned.....but the Torii on them....should be pretty damn good to make him a potential convert to Decware!  
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« Last Edit: 01/14/14 at 22:30:43 by stone_of_tone »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #490 - 01/09/14 at 20:11:22
 
OK, so I'm itching to say something, even though I really don't have much to say. So I'll just do my usual flow of consciousness writing that I'm sure makes no sense.

So, Tuesday night, I get home, explain to Brianne what happened and why I'm so late, pop the amp out of it's fancy case and let it warm up.

It sounded rough. Like, I just sat there with this sinking feeling in my stomach rough. A couple things happened here - #1 my Zen amp has recently blossomed and probably sounds as good as it can be. #2 I've tweaked the system, the whole room in fact, around the Zen amp - which I think was making the ZMA sound weird dropped in it's place. #3, I'm sick, I'm bushed, I just drove 150 miles in a car with damaged exhaust, white knuckling it over ice and snow - not a good way to do some critical listening. #4, My Decware Silver Reference ICs were acting like antenna and injecting some major noise in the system (e.g. Something in the room, probably power related, is causing havoc with the sound) - so I had to downgrade to...heavily shielded monster cable...ugh.

Wednesday night, terrible day at work, just got back from a visit to the doctors office, I'm tired, I've hardly eaten, only had to drive 80 miles in my loud car today - I come home to find the ZMA on...I ask Brianne if she's been listening and she says "no, I just warmed it up for you"

Yes, she's a keeper.

The amp had 4-5 hours on it with the new caps the previous night, I could already hear it was sounding better. Put 4-5 more hours of background listening while I did other stuff, and by the end of the night, I found myself turning it down lower and lower as the night went on. The amp reminded me of a big horse going from a trot to a gallop and I needed to reign it in - gone with the thin reedy sound from the night before, now it was starting to have some weight and detail!

Still no where as smooth and rich as it was when we demo'd it during Decfest. The big reds clearly need to be "seated in", but I can start to hear the heft that I expected from an amp of this caliber. That sinking feeling is long gone and replaced with excitement for what's coming!

I don't have a lot of experience with amps at this level, and, keep in mind, I'm leaping (through time) from an early 2 watt Zen to the 40 watt ZMA - I don't have a Torii III to compare to. I'm also not one who spends money like this - so I'm going to be super critical of this $4600 expenditure. This beast needs to prove to me it's worth this (to me) extravagant expenditure. Wattage and volume doesn't impress me - I need to hear that liquid honesty. For now, I'll be burning it with the recommended - 5 hours on, 5 hours off, till the amp starts to level out. I feel has a long way till it's bloom. I will do my best to give my (hopefully) humble, and honest thoughts as the amp comes into it's own.





P.S. About the room: I do still have power and noise issues to sort out that weren't really objectionable with the little Zen amp. The ZMA somehow makes me feel like I need a *bigger* room(!), or at very least I need to completely re-position the speakers and listening position...which in turn means adjusting the sound treatments as well.

I'll have more as the thoughts come to me.  

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« Last Edit: 01/09/14 at 21:27:47 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #491 - 01/09/14 at 23:19:59
 
Thanks for the early impressions!

It only gets better.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #492 - 01/10/14 at 00:44:08
 
Lon, speaking of power cords - tell me if you see a great deal on one of the PS Audio ones. I'm using my fancy DIY A/C cable made from Zen Styx cabling, but it's unshielded - I'd like to compare my work to a decent shielded cable so I can see if I can hear a difference and maybe tweak my design.

I beat Brianne home from work tonight, let the amp warm up for about 20 minutes (had to tweak the bias balance on one side, it was off by about .5ma), then woke the amp up with Heart Barracuda (cranked pretty loud), and moved on to Keith Jarret Koln concert (WOT - Wide Open Throttle). I think I drove that too hard, too soon. While it was neat hearing the creak of a door opening in the background (talk about detail in this recording), I think I was pushing it too hard as the Piano started sounding like an electric piano...which is kinda neat actually...because while it wasn't correct, it also wasn't objectionable - those even order harmonics at work, much like a guitar amp going into warm overdrive.

I'm back down at a normal listening level now, just burning the amp in with Bitches Brew and soon moving on to Hendrix thanks to the What's Spinning thread.
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« Last Edit: 01/10/14 at 00:46:37 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #493 - 01/10/14 at 01:29:43
 
Lonely Raven wrote on 01/10/14 at 00:44:08:
Lon, speaking of power cords - tell me if you see a great deal on one of the PS Audio ones. I'm using my fancy DIY A/C cable made from Zen Styx cabling, but it's unshielded - I'd like to compare my work to a decent shielded cable so I can see if I can hear a difference and maybe tweak my design.



It's a rather lean time for the Perfectwave AC series bargains. A few months ago there were incredible closeout deals. They were blowing out the excellent AC-10 series and also closing out some lengths of AC-12. Right now the best assuredly legit deal I see is for an AC-5, about 40 percent off, at usedcables.com

Unless you can handle a half meter length (and these aren't very flexible) in which case audioadvisor.com has great deals on AC-10.
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« Last Edit: 01/10/14 at 01:31:08 by Lon »  

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Lon
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #494 - 01/10/14 at 01:38:26
 
Also, as has been reported here on the board, and as I've read elsewhere, Pangea cables offer a great value. One of the engineers that designed the Ps Audio Perfectwave AC series of cables is responsible for these, and the "Signature Edition" of the 9 cable is triple-shielded and has the PCOCC coppper that I believe is partially responsible for the real success of the PS Audio series.

http://www.audioadvisor.com/Pangea-Audio-AC-9SE-Signature-Power-Cable/productinf...

It's also available in a cheaper edition with different wire (no PCOCC)
http://www.audioadvisor.com/Pangea-Audio-AC-9-Power-Cable/productinfo/PGAC9/2073...

I haven't heard them, I don't really know how they compare to those that I use, but she likes them.

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