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The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 112741 times)
Longbowbbs
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #50 - 05/05/13 at 00:03:56
 
Is this it?

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Steve Deckert
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #51 - 05/05/13 at 00:11:15
 
It's still here...  seven power supplies feeding upto 500 milliamps per tube makes the power consumption and heat equal to ten Torii Mk III's.  It's enough BTU to heat a good size room in the dead of winter.  It's dangerous, tubes are no longer made, impractical - as most really great stuff is... it would just cost too much to make it safe enough to market... in MY market that is.   If you don't mind spending what other manufacturers are charging for the same 6C33C output tube based OTL amplifiers I could perhaps try to custom build a few.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #52 - 05/05/13 at 07:43:52
 
That's a shame. It's a beast!!!
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #53 - 05/05/13 at 19:09:52
 
OMFG!!! Wow, what a beaut!  Thanks for posting that centerfold of a shot!  Bob wasn't kidding!  So you get about 60 watts per channel out of that?  Bet that is one of your best sounding amps ever!  How would you characterize the sonic differences between your OTL and your new Tori Monos?  The new Monos put out 60 watts per channel, too so in that regard they are both similar.  
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Reply #54 - 05/05/13 at 19:11:51
 
That skull knob is just too cool!  Never saw one like that before...
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T Jacobsen
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #55 - 05/05/13 at 19:23:38
 
Steve,
What's that bubble of glass around the right rear output tube for?  Does it serve any purpose?  Interesting...
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #56 - 05/10/13 at 05:39:15
 
That's just a plasma globe setting behind it...
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #57 - 05/10/13 at 05:41:02
 
OK, It's now alive!  



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Rivieraranch
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #58 - 05/10/13 at 11:20:26
 
Isn't that a line from "Young Frankenstein?"
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Longbowbbs
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #59 - 05/10/13 at 13:18:31
 
Frau Bleucher's new amp!
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Steve Deckert
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #60 - 05/10/13 at 17:09:07
 
Well, my thoughts behind creating this thread were to give you a real time glimpse into the design process of a new amplifier.  At this stage, I have the design and how it should sound in my head and am trying to make it happen on the bench.

So step one, yes it's alive!  Sadly it sounds like crap... so let the hunt begin!  How many things did I wire wrong?



another mystery...

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Steve Deckert
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #61 - 05/14/13 at 02:43:22
 
Well, quite a few.  Of course, having nothing to look at, and no schematic / that alone increases the odds of mistakes.  However in my own defense, doing a mirror image amp, upside-down and backwards can be a real mind game when tube sockets can not be mirrored.  Turns out I had one channel output transformers out of phase and a few other minor blunders which more than explained the sounds like shit experience...

Today I got to the bottom of all that and the next step is going to be defining the bias windows to make them work perfectly and be more or less fool proof like on the monos....  Sadly, none of the work done on the monos will apply, since all the values change and have to be discovered through trial and error with a wide range of different brand output tubes.

Anyway, a few more afternoons messing with that, I'll be able to have a first real listen... then the voicing can begin.



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Reply #62 - 05/14/13 at 23:11:29
 
I love it when you take us behind the curtain and let us see what all goes into the creation of a world-class tube amp. This thing is going to be awesome!  I better start saving my money....
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Longbowbbs
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #63 - 05/15/13 at 01:59:30
 
You mean saving your money....Again!
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #64 - 05/17/13 at 04:34:33
 


After two unexpected / additional sessions with it, I was able to capture the actual moment in time of it's first true playback where I actually listened to it to see where we are... what is the starting point going to be...  thought you would enjoy the pic... in fact, here... I'll let you have the full resolution version here: http://www.decware.com/newsite/images/DSC_0052l.JPG

I believe this picture is worth a thousand words... so I'll keep it short.   What am I hearing... amazing balls, incredibly smooth, perhaps too smooth, incredible potential... the voicing will no doubt be quite a ride - I'm sure.  Can't start the voicing with something that sounds this good out the gate until it has actually broken in....  these giant caps can take some real time.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #65 - 05/17/13 at 04:53:47
 
Darn it, me want! Looks beautiful.
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Steve Deckert
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Reply #66 - 05/17/13 at 05:07:01
 
3 hours into it, the detail is increasing... it's SO the opposite of solid state... interesting.  When any other amp is having a bad hair day... meaning lots of hash in the power grid causing excessive grain and dryness...  I can already see that with this amplifier that is never going to happen...  It's smooth beyond the ability to screw it up.  Put you power plants in the ground and the decomposing steel will enrich the iron content of the soil which will in turn improve the conductivity of your ground rod that your neutral is tied to... this in turn will create blacker backgrounds and better definition than when you had it in your system.   Just a tip.  I have to say what I'm hearing right now is like battery power.  The speed of the entire amplifier is really going to be effected by the main caps...  I'm going to wait to see where it lands wondering if I'll be bypassing the electrolytic with film caps.  I also have a few other experiments going on, or planned lets say, but tonight marks the starting point, and it doesn't suck.

Fun fun fun....  wait to you hear what it took to get to this point...  I'll save that for my next post.

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Reply #67 - 05/17/13 at 05:28:11
 
Crap, I may as well write it down now, otherwise I might forget it... boy getting old sucks.

Well, when I finished the amplifier and there was nothing left to do but test it, I used a variac to slowly raise the supply voltage and remember getting to the half way point on the dial and only getting a B+ of 63 volts vs. the anticipated 210 volts... so I shut it down before I let any of the smoke out.  The smoke is btw, the most tedious process in the manufacturing of parts...  Getting the smoke in the part is expensive which is why letting smoke out of the part is usually fatal.

I don't even remember what it was, but I found the half short and fixed it.  

Try two, turned into a bias issue...  first of all I spent a day getting the bias voltages to work right... this involved a separate  bias supply for each tube operating though a ganged level control feeding a ganged balance control.   The tedium of this is getting the windows of adjust defined....  For example, if you don't want the tube to bias up beyond 80 mills as the absolute max, you have to find the voltage (26.9 volts) that gets it there.  Then you have to define the window for the balance control.  Ideally at least 10 mills minimum, more is better but dangerous in the hands of the ignorant.  So you add the initial window and the balance window together to determine the max and minimum values...  Sadly it's so touchy that even a half a volt can through everything off.  Then when you get it perfect for one band tube, it's less than perfect for another...  It took me over two weeks to get it right on the Zen Torii Mono's...  over 50 hours of testing.

So, after getting it roughed in I was able to play the amp and found I had the right channel out of phase.  In fixing that I wired the ultra linear tap to the wrong pin and connected it directly the negative bias supply.   Upon slowly raising the voltage on the vairac to the half way point, and my face right down in it to see the meters in the mirror under the amp... fireworks as a resistor exploded into shrapnel...  

After fixing that, I ran into an issue with the bias meters on the right channel not acting right... the same channel I almost blew up...  

So I fixed that, but the wired behavior continued on the right channel bias meters...

I then figured The near melt down had compromised the pots used to adjust the bias voltage and balance.  So I replaced them both.    

I then fought with the imbalance on the right channel which was still there despite being identical to the left channel that worked absolutely perfect...  

So for two more days I refined the bias windows and got them closer to a production spec, which is pretty narrow making it hard to damage the amp.  I then found that with less adjustment in balance the imbalance problem between the current draw of the two outputs tubes on the right channel got so bad I couldn't even fire up the amp without burning out one of the tubes and meter, and having the other not even conduct current....

At this stage I realize it's just the same recipe as always.... more pain and suffering = more fidelity and satisfaction.

Tonight I wasted at least two hours calibrating the finicky side just to see if I could make it work again...  getting so ridiculous... tedious... father murphius...

Determined to hear it, I clipped the carefully installed resistors on the the balance controls so that my window increased 10 fold on the right channel, just so I could listen to it tonight.

So  the answer to all this friken problems is clearly seen in tonight's photograph.  Can anyone tell me why one of the meters is overly sensitive and prone to not balance properly?


I'll continue tomorrow...

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« Last Edit: 05/17/13 at 05:41:18 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #68 - 05/17/13 at 05:43:05
 
4 hours into it and the power transformers are barely warm.... Impressive.  Starting to really open up too.  Rock and Roll lovers.... this may be your amp.
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« Last Edit: 05/17/13 at 05:43:43 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #69 - 05/17/13 at 06:24:16
 
You have my attention!
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Longbowbbs
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #70 - 05/17/13 at 12:48:30
 
Will this new family member end up between the Torii and the Mono's?
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #71 - 05/17/13 at 18:09:53
 
I am starting to wonder if Steve ever sleeps???
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #72 - 05/18/13 at 13:54:14
 
Hi Steve,

How much power did you measure with this amp so far?
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #73 - 05/18/13 at 13:55:28
 
Are those KT88's you are using as the output tubes?
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #74 - 05/20/13 at 04:00:11
 
Time for another update...

I have never had so much trouble getting bias meters to work properly!  I've had one meter give me fits since the beginning.  In fact the very first thing I did when I first fired this amp with output tubes installed, is peg one of the meters so hard I had to replace it.  

Please take a look here at how much fun it is to replace a meter in this amp!



Each meter has two green oval stickers on it (to help you locate them)  

Wouldn't have been a problem except I had the idea to make the meters even cooler than they are.  To that effect I spent a night drilling holes in the casing after taking the meters completely apart and installing just the exact right LEDs.  That's all find and dandy until you blow a meter...  

Since all ideas actually come from our higher consciousness, and or other entities in that same dimension, it's not hard to figure out that this particular idea was not from the group of dead audio gurus from ancient times that sit around their mirror pool and watch me work...no this idea was from father murphy.  Notice I won't capitalize his name out of disrespect.   In any case, the idea is.

Time out.... before I continue, can anyone guess why I spent literally 10 hours or more trying to get the action of one of the meters balanced with the rest... not to mention the value it read.   The answer is in the last photograph I posted.  If you look at the original size high res version of the photo, it is unmistakable...



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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #75 - 05/20/13 at 04:19:48
 
I guess my question would be; why meters, anyway? They don't do much for me at all, I'm not gong to stand over the amp and stare at them. Smiley

I'm sure it's going to be a great amp, but I'm just not sure Decware amps need meters. They sound so amazing you just sink into the music.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #76 - 05/20/13 at 04:31:43
 
OK... Where were we... ohh yea, the meters...  First of all setting up the bias windows is a real bitch, but then that 's because I have a particular way I want the biasing of the tubes to take place and it simply takes a lot of work to get it to happen.

Most fixed bias amplifiers have a bias pot for each tube, or at least each pair.  Well if it has one pot for a pair of tubes, it's completely useless... don't buy it.  The commonly seen approach is a separate adjustment pot for each output tube.  You would think this is an ideal solution, making it easy to adjust the bias for each tube perfectly.  Sadly it's almost always done from the same bias supply, so when you adjust the bias for one tube, the bias on the other tube chances slightly from where it was.  So, you adjust that tube, and now the one you previously set exactly where you wanted it, moves.   So, you adjust that one again, and the one you just finished has now moved again.  Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, this can go back and forth about 6 times, before getting a perfect match between the tubes.

A perfect match between the tubes is the goal.  How many mills each tube is adjusted to is also a factor, but that's the kind of thing that once you decide the value and set it, you shouldn't have to ever worry about it again unless you install different tubes.  Sadly with a bias pot for each tube this is not possible.  Even with independent bias supplies and pots for each tube, you still find yourself grouping together the bias in milliamps with the balance between each tube.   It's just ridiculous.

So what I do, is have an independent bias supply for each tube and a ganged pot to control the bias in mills for the pair.  If you want 70 mills, you turn the knob and both tubes change at the same time.  THEN we add a second ganged pot mirror wired between the top and bottom sections to create a balance control.  This balances the mills between the two tubes.   Remember as tubes and the amp warm up, bias changes.  This is why the tedious ritual I described earlier using a separate bias pot for each tube has to be repeated after an hour or so of listening, because when the output tubes are perfectly matched, something audibly exotic happens to the music.  You can be certain that if an amplifier doesn't have meters, this audibly exotic set of balances will never occur.  That's again, because the bias of the tubes change with warm up.  You need a way to adjust quickly look at the amp and see if the two tubes are drawing the exact same number of mills.  If they are not, you need a simply frikin knob to turn to make them that way... all while listening to music, uninterrupted.

This is why you buy Decware.   (whoops that one slipped, sorry)

Obviously you don't want to change the mills that the pair of tubes is set at, you just want them to match.  Perfectly matched tubes are never perfectly matched except at a particular current and temperature which only happens for a short moment during the warmup cycle of the amplifier. Basically if the place you purchased your tubes matched them at the same exact current your amplifier draws, and waiting 30 minutes before testing them, your amp will have matched tubes at the 30 minute mark.  An hour later, they will be off again.  And since most places that test tubes, do them almost cold (5 minute warm up) your amp only has matched tubes for about two minutes just after the five minute mark.

So you see, the only way to achieve zen is to be able to visually see the current draw as tubes warm up, and have a simple way to adjust the balance.   You might do it two or three times in the first 2 hours.  After that you can leave it alone and it will always arrive at the same place after the same amount of time.  However, neurotic audiophiles will always opt to match the tubes at the 10 minute mark when they start listening, at the 40 minute mark when the amp is starting to get warm, and at the 2 hour mark when the amp is totally at peace.

So now you know why father murphy had the idea to put lights in the meters, because meters are important to me in these types of amplifiers.

Anyway, anyone figured out how father murphy messes with Stevieboy?



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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #77 - 05/20/13 at 04:48:19
 
Well, here's the answer...

Any time you explore a new sector in the space of amplifier building that has anything to do with bias voltages, you run the risk of accidents and casualties... hence the first meter and tons of my time.

After pulling the meter I pegged and ruined, I thought to myself, why not save a buck and use this meter sitting here above my bench... it seems to work fine.. and this is the prototype which no one but myself will ever own... so if the meter does fail, it won't be a long embarrassing phone call...

With that I installed it into the old meters casing which I had extensively modified and wired with the LED.

THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND

I was so FOCUSED on the action and reading of the meter's dial that I didn't even notice the face after two weeks of staring right at it while it tormented me!

It wasn't until ALMOST getting it to work 70 percent right, that I realized all the bizarre values and extra parts it took to achieve operation were an obvious sign something is seriously wrong.

Then after countless hours (over a week) I finally noticed the face of the damn meter was different... took it apart and found it was actually wired as a millivolt meter (resistor in series with meter vs. meter across resistor).  



So, this was the second time the meter had to be removed and replaced.  BTW, installing the right meter solved all the problems.  Bias windows came out better than perfect.  A monkey can use it.  And it works across the entire range of tubes that might be used in this amp.

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #78 - 05/20/13 at 05:05:32
 
I thought I would share one simple thing that happens during the design and development process, the meter deal... but that's really only one.  I gave serious consideration of making this a real time accurate design log with every detail logged.  It would be great.  But it's too much information.  I'm just not comfortable with giving that much away.  So I'm going to be leaving most if not all of the voicing details out of this thread.  It probably won't seem that way, but yea... it will be.  The underlying point to all of this is that from pain comes gain.  There are no short cuts.  If it goes well, burry it in the back yard because it's a fluke.  You have to feel some real pain, real stress, and real anxiety to release an amplifier that's as good as everything else you've done because each of those things were the same deal.

This is where I part ways with so many "math guys" as I like to call them.  Impressive as they like to pretend they are, all of them voice an amplifier with a scope.  That's like trying to tune a piano with a toilet plunger...  



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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #79 - 05/20/13 at 05:27:59
 
Well, interestingly this week I answered a nagging question that's been in the back of my mind for about the last year or two...  and that is:  Can I still hear as well as before?  Do I still have it?  IT being the ability to decide when I hear it, if it's A) RIGHT or B) Not RIGHT.  There is only A and B.  

Tonight after a serious of events that have been going on all week, I found out I most certainly still got it.  I can hear.  I thought it wasn't right... heard it get right, recognized it, and am now happy with it.

While rich with potential, there were things about the sound that weren't 100%.  I'm looking for things in this amp that I haven't yet experienced in any of our other amps so far.  That means it has to do at least something better than everything we've done so far.  The two targets being the twelve thousand dollar TORII monoblocks, and the amp that inspired them, the Zen TORII Mk III.  

I want to experience some new levels in a kind and competent personality which leans to the big side of scale and power.  It has to be ear candy.  Up until tonight, it's been saccharin (artificial sugar) vs. natural real sugar found in Decware fruit.  What a tease...  certainly did pull off a few tricks that I haven't heard, but they were rather anal to be honest...

Between the two (Torii MK III and the Mystery Amp) I wouldn't have to think about it very long to choose the Torii MK III.

So the past couple days I've been deep into the voicing.  Voicing is simply math.  How many different values and brands of parts can you put in the amp and keep it working properly.  Document every combination.  Three days trying plate resistors, brands and values.  A month later after a 4 day cathode resistor examination, the plate resistor combinations must be revisited.  If any changes are made, the cathode resistor choice must be revisited... every part in the amplifier and repeated for at least three different voltages.  This is how you know what sounds best, because you've tried it all.   The original Zen Triode SE84 2 watt SET amp that started Decware has over 6000 hours of voicing.  Now after 20 years I can accomplish the same results in 60 to 300 hours depending on what mood the audio gods are in during the particular time I choose to do it.

As you can see, developing an amplifier with your own name on it is an emotional experience.  It's like giving birth to another kid... not that I'd know what that's like thank GOD, but indeed the damn amps are like children with a complete set of memories of the 9 months before they were put on the web page for sale Wink





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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #80 - 05/20/13 at 06:08:49
 
Ouch! Wrong meter???
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #81 - 05/20/13 at 06:09:15
 
The reason I'm still writing tonight is because this is the second main pivotal moment in the amps development where I finally hear it sound the way I want it to.  Until tonight, I was really wondering.  It was good... but it just wasn't doing it for me.   Finding the need to tube roll to try to find the sound I wanted was red flag number one.  BTW, I found my stash of private stock tubes is getting dangerously low.  It was a blessing though.  I was assuming my dissatisfaction lied in the input/phase inverter stage so I wanted to hear it with a variety of different compatible tubes.  Because I could only find two compatible substitutes I heard what I needed to hear but it wasn't what  I wanted to hear.  Moving to the output while waiting for more input tubes to arrive and bingo, the amp I was hoping for enters the room.  It only took about 15 seconds to know THAT sound.

So that is how the evening started, and then after 3 hours after doing something amazing, I found a problem and fixed it.  One of the output tubes vibrated out of the socket enough to turn off the heater and consequently the tube itself.  So one channel only had a single tube (push no pull) and even with this extreme handicap, it not only kept playing, but still sounded good!  I didn't notice anything happen other than the music changed.  This is a real world test that exceeded anything I've made so far...  Should the same thing have happened in the TORII MKIII I would have noticed instantly because the power of the amp would have dissipated to just a few watts resulting in massive distortion.  Yes, I had it up loud...  This experience is a real confidence booster.



So here is my desk.  This is where I'm sitting now.  Obviously I spend a great deal of time here.  To my right is the ceiling of the listening room, where music is on 24/7/365.  Tonight it's on the corner horns.



This is a view as you turn your head right from the desk...



And if you stand up and look down you have this... the listening room...  Corner horns playing.   I can hear them rather well from this vanish point, and enjoy the sound here quit a bit.  It is more revealing of frequency balance than when you down in the listening chair... down there you're too distracted by the imaging to notice anything but obvious frequency balance anomalies.  Up here though, it's like a magnifying glass on frequency balance, timber, decay, speed, and basically everything but the one on one imaging obtainable from the listening chair.

I like to use the Corner Horns for all the rough in on any amp.  They are a great reference speaker which after 25 years can still surprise me like they did tonight!

A song came on that I saved for it's low bass intro that is quite impressive... especially on the corner horns...  I've heard it perhaps 25 times on most of the amps we make driving the corner horns.

While doing all this posting tonight I heard this song come on and well, who would believe me if I told you a pair of 6 inch drivers cracked the concrete and made the entire building shudder?  That's what happened... it was like a butterfly delicately dropped an atom bomb into the space.  It's the new record for what I thought the corner horns were capable of... and if you knew about some of my secret amps you would realize what a HUGE accomplishment that is!

It was so serious, that the amp setting on a bench mounted to the opposite side of the wall from the corner horns, had one of it's tubs vibrate completely out of electrical contact with the socket.

I was sitting here and almost crapped my pants... it was effortless (the bass, not the crap)

That actually started the night, and so far I've just been snuggling into the midrange in one of the most juicy amplifiers I've ever heard...   Think Mini Torii with 10 times the power and 80 times the weight...  it's just in sane...  I really can't believe this design can sound this good...  it certainly didn't with my first choice of tubes and misc settings....

So, if I stopped tonight, it would be a success, I'm certain of it.  I'm just getting started.

-Steve









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« Last Edit: 05/20/13 at 06:54:19 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #82 - 05/20/13 at 06:17:12
 
Whoops. When I clicked the email for this thread it to me to post 74...did not see the rest and reponded with what turned out to post 80!
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #83 - 05/20/13 at 06:44:57
 
It's just after midnight and appropriately so the sound in the room is simply incredible.  I never get used to it, but with a new life form in the room breathing it's own pattern of perspectives this night is a bit better than normal.

I told Will the other day on the phone that my goal with this amp was to see how far I could take the TORII MKIII platform.  An idea that came from the Zen TORII Mono's.  The sound of those amps is very different than the TORII MK III but equally enjoyable. It's the difference that makes it exciting though.  I had two Monte Carlos.  A 71 and 72.  



This is the 71 big block.

The 72 has a detuned small block from wickedville... the 71 had a 402 big block.  The small block is impressive and has won many times... the big block however is a different feeling...  for example; rather than riding a 18 foot rocket sled with the most insane throttle response ever, we move into riding the Giza Pyramid with so much torque that it pushed 7 million tons of sand out the way as if it weren't even there...  That's the Mystery Amp.  It's sooo juicy!  And that's the beauty of the illusion because don't think it's not fast.... it's every bit as fast as the MK III, perhaps more so, but just so damn big and juicy that I finding myself able to listen to audiophile music and a fair amount of classic rock with brilliant results...  typically not possible without a bi-amp system or sub.

I don't know what the power is yet, not even sure if I'll stay with these tubes, but it is easily over twice the power, twice the current, and twice the damping of the mkIII.  

I'll know when I have success because the following will happen:  I'll walk into my listening room in the evening to do some listening.  The TORII MKIII will be sitting there along side the mystery amp.  I want it to be two completely different experiences... perhaps like two different women and difficult to choose between them them...  There can be no way to predict which amp I will choose on a given night... which is exactly what happened with the Zen TORII Mono's vs. the TORII MKIII.   However at 12 grand, not as many people get to experience their sound when compared to the MK III's very doable 3 grand price.   I wanted a more cost effective way to get the sound and performance of those monos into a ZEN TORII MK III sized package and for about half the price.     I can see now I am going to easily hit that goal.

The bass that is coming out of this amplifier... OMG!!~!!!!  And the meters don't even move.... even the Zen TORII Mono's can't do that without some serious meter action!!!  

So apparently using over twice the microfarads in the power supply does make a difference!!!  Not to mention the red caps... but we'll get to that on another night.

Nearing 1:00 A.M. the sound is getting so sickly good that I can no longer stay here at the desk... Got to go.



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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #84 - 05/20/13 at 06:47:07
 
I finished your nights writing....thanks for keeping us in the loop. Congratulations! Tube synergy settling into the rest of the long setup so far...what new doors will this open??? Can't wait to hear!
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« Last Edit: 05/20/13 at 13:41:39 by will »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #85 - 05/20/13 at 17:17:49
 
Hi Steve......I worked the graveyard last night and read your message at like 3 am.   What an interesting read!!  While I don't know amp building, I do know cars, and the analogy was perfect....firing on all cylinders so to speak.  

It's sorta like when I had my old '79 Pontiac.  Built like a Sherman tank.  It had a big block with lots of displacement.  The car was fast, not so much off the line...but once it gets going...look out!!

Now I fast forward to my current sports car, a modified 95 Lotus Esprit S4s.  It's 4Cyl. Turbo with high compression and excellent throttle response.  The key is in its lightweight by design, has low drag, and slices through the tarmac. I didn't get a chance to really see its potential until I put it on the Talladega Superspeedway.  The best part is when you lift off the throttle...its shoots fireballs !!  Talk about awesome!!

While both cars are really fast, they are completely different (just like your Monte Carlos).  Which car would I pick to drive...depends on the day, but more than likely the Lotus....it's a purist racecar, and by design it's like a piece of artwork....sorta like all Decware components!!  

This amp sounds amazing...so untame the potential beast that lies within!!  Keep us posted....I am enjoying the read.

Dom
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« Last Edit: 05/21/13 at 04:12:12 by Dominick »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #86 - 05/21/13 at 23:45:26
 
Beautiful ride Steve.

Jd
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #87 - 05/25/13 at 02:42:30
 
Hi Steve, anything new with the Mystery Amp?
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #88 - 05/25/13 at 03:22:45
 
Careful! Jason of Schiit just threatened to add $50 to the price every time someone asks about their forthcoming amp Wink
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #89 - 05/25/13 at 05:25:43
 
Quote:
AiDee,
Careful! Jason of Schiit just threatened to add $50 to the price every time someone asks about their forthcoming amp


Uh Oh ... better keep my mouth shut Grin
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #90 - 05/31/13 at 17:59:12
 
I hope to read more soon too.  -S
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #91 - 06/23/13 at 04:25:52
 
In the past 30 days I've been working with the amp across a range of speakers and with many different output tubes.   (Maybe I just work too much, but I could swear I wrote this once before, yet I can't seem to find it!) So at the risk of repeating myself...


I've been playing with different output tubes, bias levels, and output transformer ratios.  I've been wrestling with trying to decide what output transformer design I should use, ie. primary impedances and ultra-linear or not.  I feel like I'm making good progress on this front, which was my biggest concern.

I've also learned more about having twice the capacitance of the TORII MONO's combined with lower voltages.  This part of the power supply is like the camshaft in a stroked out high cubic inch motor. Getting the lift and duration and overlap right takes a lot of trial and error unless you're into computer simulations, which I am really not.  The speaker would be the rear end gear against the weight of the car. In a nutshell, we're talking about the speed of the power supply at given frequencies and combinations of frequencies.  The caps were so huge that below 120 Hz when used on the wrong output tap (which will happen in real life) and on worse case speakers, the bass lacked attack and control, although it was incredibly powerful and deeper than I've ever heard it.  I found bypassing it with equal quality electrolytic by F&T fixed the low bass problem but getting the values right is like designing a crossover.  It took two paralleled caps to fix both the low bass and mid bass. I'm now happy with it.

So far my favorite tubes have been the KT66 followed by the KT120's as a close second that I anticipate will actually be determined by the speakers and subjective tastes, so next time I write, I may like the 120's better than the 66's.  That's how this hobby goes!  Point being you can easily use either, or KT88, 6550, EL34, 6CA7.

I also have given up on the negative feedback.  The amp doesn't need it, so it's been wearing a white wedding dress for the past two weeks and never sounded better.

I took an opportunity last night to listen to it on non-decware speakers which the amplifier is largely targeted to... i.e. $7500.00 and up loudspeakers that are the typical 86 / 87dB sensitivity.  To that effect Dave Janszen came over with his latest electrostatic hybrids and we compared the TORII MONO's to the Mystery Amp until 1:30 A.M. and both liked the Mystery Amp a bit more.  It was sweeter, a bit more organic and smoother.  We started with the TORII MKIII but it didn't match well and had some detectible distortion in the low frequencies when turned up.  The Monos made the speakers sing so we used them for most of the evening.  The Mystery amp was tried in the final hours to see what would happen and we could detect no difference in power despite it being probably close to half that of the monos.

The Janszen speakers with the Mystery Amp turned out to be a digit killing combination.  In other words, all 6 digit audio systems should be nervous at risk of being embarrassed.



If you're unfamiliar with JansZen speakers, these are around $7500 and have my full endorsement.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #92 - 06/23/13 at 05:54:43
 
Very exciting that you are satisfied with the Mystery Amp at this point, and that it performs so well with less efficient speakers! I look forward to more impressions as you play the amp more. Or could it by chance be complete?!?!?
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« Last Edit: 06/25/13 at 00:53:43 by Steve Deckert »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #93 - 06/25/13 at 00:52:04
 
I'm still not sure at this point.  I want to spend several evenings with it on each Decware speaker without having the urge to tweak something.  If it really IS done, that will put us around September.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #94 - 06/25/13 at 01:10:35
 
Great news! Looking forward to more impressions.
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #95 - 07/07/13 at 04:03:47
 
I am going to start experimenting with the output transformer ratios, wire gauge, core size and see what happens.  Right now, the amp is nearly perfect on all my speakers when on the 4 ohm tap, regardless of the speakers actual impedance.  I want to get it to sound like it does now or better on a higher tap with the same speakers.  That would at minimum give me more voicing possibilities with a given speaker and ensure tight bass without feedback at all times.

That's the update.  Still centering the sound and performance around the KT66.

Steve
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #96 - 07/12/13 at 02:32:52
 
Transformers have the biggest effect on a tube amplifier's sound in my world, so it came as no surprise that this latest intrusion into the amplifiers voicing would be big. (No that's not true... it came as a big surprise!)  And now having just witnesses how different transformers effect the sound again, I still can't help but be amazed at just how much things can change!

After several evenings discussing the output winding topologies we recently tested some classic secondary arrangements with the typical taps against some dual secondary arrangements where windings of different lengths are combined on the same bobbin.  The differences ranged from something that sounded typically real good, to something that sounded magical.  Some interesting stuff since the only main difference is in the pattern of core saturation.  I expected to have to strain to hear the difference, but instead I had to check and see if we were still listening to the same amplifier.

With this rather pleasant discovery I now know this amp is going to be hugely successful.  Optimized for (but not limited to) KT66 output tubes, I'm currently witnessing it sound better than both the Zen Mono's and the TORII MK III.  That doesn't mean it is, because it's still to new and there is some infatuation that will need to wear off before I can actually hear it objectively.

I'll keep you posted as I put the fine polish on it and continue to wrap my head around it.  Right now my comment about the sound would be this:  Generally liquidity and honesty are rarely found in the same amplifier, but this seems to be a reference for both.  Almost too good to be true.  


Steve
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« Last Edit: 07/12/13 at 02:34:22 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #97 - 07/12/13 at 02:44:30
 
You know, I've built a lot of good amplifiers, but this might be the first time I've ever heard the music become this conscious on great recordings!   Help! It's alive!  



Steve  :)
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« Last Edit: 07/12/13 at 02:48:20 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #98 - 07/12/13 at 04:21:19
 
Sounds amazing Steve! Thanks for the ongoing story and impressions! If it sounds better than MY Torii is sounding these days, it is truly magical Wink

I hope I can hear it one day!!!
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« Last Edit: 07/12/13 at 04:31:52 by will »  

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Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Reply #99 - 07/12/13 at 13:32:30
 
So Steve, do you think it will be ready for Zenfest to listen to?
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