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The MYSTERY AMP ! (Read 110149 times)
Lon
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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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Steve Deckert
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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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« Last Edit: 05/20/13 at 04:51:42 by Steve Deckert »  
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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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« Last Edit: 05/20/13 at 06:48:55 by Steve Deckert »  
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will
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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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will
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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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will
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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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Dom
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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 Dom »  
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JD
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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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