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Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael (Read 1425 times)
nightsky
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Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
02/23/14 at 20:11:24
 
Hey folks,

I'm having a hard time deciding whether to order an SE84, SE34, or Mini Torii. How does the Mini Torii sound compare to the Rachael? The SE34 is described as being voiced very similar to the SE84, with a touch more warmth. Is the Mini Torii also a bit warmer? I'm asking about the stock tube configurations.

I like a smooth, warmish sound with sweet highs. The treble adjustment on the MT is a very appealing feature for some digital sources and recordings, and possibly for single driver speakers. I've ordered a pair of Omega 3i speakers for a tryout.

Also, how does the MT do with 2V sources given its 1V input sensitivity? Is there a hair-trigger volume issue? I want to be able to make fine adjustments to the volume and have full, detailed sound at lowish volumes (60-65 dB).

Thanks to all who contribute to this forum. Lots of great info here.

-Michael
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seikosha
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #1 - 02/23/14 at 20:51:23
 
I can't help you with the Rachael comparison, but I do have a Mini Torii and an SE84 (both the latest versions) and have lived with them both for awhile now playing on Omega Super3XRS speakers.

In short, they are actually very different sounding amps in my room.  The Mini is darker, denser and (for lack of a better word) stronger  sounding.  It's strengths are the increased power and it has a way about it of making it sound like your system is bigger than it is.

I think this this is accomplished via a midbass presentation that is much stronger than that what I get on the SE84.  No question, the highs on the MT are less prominent than what I get on the SE84.

Putting the SE84 into the system after having lived with the MT is always eye opening to me and the first thought that always comes into my mind is transparency.  It's like someone turned a light on in the back of the concert hall and said..."hey, have you seen everything that's going on back here?"  With the SE84, the soundstage opens up in width and in the back corners and imaging becomes more pin point.  It's a very light fast presentation.  With the MT, a group of violins sounds syrupy and beautifully mellow, with the SE84, you get more sound of the resin and bite of a bow stroke and you the sense that you can actually count the violins that are there.

Interestingly enough, to me, even though the SE84 has less power than the MT, when you get below the midbass, it seems like the SE84 comes across like it goes lower.  It could be a psycho acoustic affect of the lighter mid bass though.

I've never felt like I needed more power than the MT provided, however, maybe 5% of my listening time, I'll have occurrences with the SE84 where I wish it had just a tiny bit more in reserve.

I've tried some tube rolling with the MT.  Heck, I even have some OC3's coming tomorrow.  However, it seems like every switch I make improves one area but at the expense of another and I always end up going back to the stock compliment.  I have absolutely no desire to roll anything in the SE84.  I wouldn't dare.

I have no problem with the gain on the MT.  Sure the volume control does ramp up fast, but not too fast.  If I rebought it, I would however get the 20 step attenuator as I'm always between detents on the 10 step setup getting the volume I want.

Even though I prefer the SE84, I just haven't quite been able to bring myself to sell the MT as I still get the urge to throw it into the system and listen to it.

At the end of the day, it will all come down to your personal tonal preferences.  While my main fault with the MT is that it just sounds a little too dense, at the same time, I'd understand if others thought the SE84 didn't have enough warmth, and of course, in different rooms, with different speakers, results could swing your preferences 180 degrees.

If anyone else has a MT and a SE84, I'd love to hear their impressions and of course, I'd be interested to hear how the Rachael compares as well.

Good luck with your decision and let us know how it turns out.
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Fireblade
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #2 - 02/23/14 at 21:30:05
 
I can only relate to the Mini-Torii, white chassis. I've had it for 21 months now, and I still love it.

I would like to complement seikosha's comments by saying that I fixed the darker tone of the stock tube complement in the Mini-Torii through moderate tube-rolling, with significant success.

Select 12AU7's would do it too (especially if you want better lower frequency details and texture), but in general, several 12AT7's and especially intermediate gainers like 7062, 6414, etc., really open the sound and separate all instruments, especially using 6V6 G ST output tubes.

So, IMO, darker is not a natural tone in the amp, but the result of the stock tube set with which it is shipped. One needs to either change those drivers or replace the OA3's by OB3's or OC3's, or a combination of these and that will do the trick, in general.

Of course, the beam-tetrode amp is very peppy and projects its sound seemingly well beyond the mere 3.3 Watts it yields at 4 Ohms, in my setup. It also projects female voices with delicacy and texture better than any SS amp i tried before.

Theoretically, the middle-of-the-ground here and best tradeoff would be the Rachael. Somewhere between the data-mining and texture-oriented Super Zen and the dynamic beam-tetrode M-T, the Rachael brings out the best of both worlds in a more powerful version.

Unfortunately, I cannot speak about either beyond this theoretical frame, an argument that is entirely dependent on implementation.

Good luck with your decision. I'm sure whichever you choose, Decware will not disappoint.
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« Last Edit: 02/23/14 at 21:31:51 by Fireblade »  

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nightsky
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #3 - 02/23/14 at 22:51:47
 
Thanks so much for your detailed, informative replies. Very helpful.

seikosha, do your Omega's have the RS5 drivers? How is the high end with them and the SE84? I was leaning towards going with the SE84, but I have some concerns about the single-driver Omegas being too hot on the high end, which is what got me looking seriously at the Mini Torii.

Fireblade, it is good to know that if I found the MT too dark in its stock config, I could open up the sound with some different tubes. I actually like a darkish sound, so I suspect I would really like the MT. I kind of wish you hadn't said that about the Rachael, as it would be helpful if I could narrow my choices to two. Smiley  But your theory seems plausible. With its input sensitivity at 2.5V, the Rachael also might give me the greater control over the gain that I desire.
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seikosha
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #4 - 02/23/14 at 23:00:14
 
Hi nightsky,

Yes, I'm running the rs5 drivers in my Omegas.  For me, the highs aren't hot at all with the SE84.  When I say that the SE84 sounds lighter than the Mini Torii it's because the dense mid bass of the MT isn't there with the SE84.

The highs on the SE84 definitely have more of a sparkle (not in a bad way) than what I get with the Mini Torii.  For example, the ring of a triangle or cymbal will actually shimmer more.
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beowulf
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #5 - 02/23/14 at 23:12:34
 
This is a great question and is something I've always wondered myself, thanks seikosha and fireblade for chiming in with your detailed impressions.
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« Last Edit: 02/23/14 at 23:13:35 by beowulf »  
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busterfree
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #6 - 02/24/14 at 02:07:01
 
I have:
Mini Torii white top with upgrades
SE84C+ upgraded to SuperZen
SE84CKCS
SE34I.32 white top, one input, v caps (aka Rachael)

I am not great at describing how they sound different from one another. I switch them out often, but I always seem to come back to the SE84CKCS for my speakers [Decware Traps]. It is my favorite with these speakers. I like it's transparency over everything else. I think it mates well because of the low impedance of the speakers. Reaching a loud volume in my desktop situation is not a problem.

If I were to get some Omegas [and I want to] I would go with the X. I really don't know. Sorry.
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busterfree
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #7 - 02/24/14 at 03:41:49
 
I pulled the SE84CKCS and put in the Mini Torii.

After an hour of warm up, I listened to the same CD again. Bass is a little stronger, more robust. This could be + or - depending on your taste. It is a little darker in the lower frequencies, and the sound stage does not seem to be as deep.

I do not know how much this can be contributed to or blamed on the tubes. Only stock tubes are the regulators. Other have been changed out a while ago. No treble cut used in this comparison. These are my impressions about half way thru the CD.

If I did not have the other amps, I think I would be happy with the Mini Torii. I do not think you can pick a wrong amp with your Omegas. Your room size and listening levels are important factors to push you in one direction versus the other.

Source is a PS Audio PWT and PWD MKII on power bases plugged into PS Audio P500 power plant.
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nightsky
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #8 - 02/24/14 at 04:12:51
 
Thanks for your comments, busterfree. I see that the Decware Traps have a sensitivity of only 89dB, with 4 ohm nominal impedance. And yet they sound great to you with the 2W amp; very interesting. I have some bookshelf speakers that are 90db and 6 ohm; I will definitely try these with whichever Decware amp I get, along with the Omegas.

When you compare your four Decware amps, does the Rachael sound fall kind of midway between the two SE84s and the Mini Torii, or is it more similar to the two SE84s, or more similar to the Mini Torii? What do you like best about the Rachael? Do you ever use the treble cut on the MT, e.g., for streaming music?
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DBC
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #9 - 02/24/14 at 17:21:09
 
I've been to Decware a couple times and heard all their amps except for the ZMA. Almost 15 years ago I purchased the Zen and now for the past 2 years have had the Super Zen. To my ear the Rachael and Mini just don't have quite the same Transparency as the Super Zen. For me the Loss of Transparency is too much of a trade off but that is a personal taste I suppose.

At the 2012 DecFest I heard the Super Zen and Rachael back to back with the Decware HDT speakers. I was surprised that the maximum volume capability of each amp in that room with those speakers was not much if any IMO. I went into DecFest thinking I would purchase the more powerful Rachael and came out ordering a Super Zen.

Another here mentioned the Super Zen's mid-bass is a bit weaker than the Mini. I will agree the one weak point of the Zen for me was the mid-bass (only 2 watts). I completely solved that issue however by adding the HSU Mid Bass Module. The Zen's 2 watts for Mids & Highs and the Mid Bass Modules 350 watts for the mid bass.
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Palomino
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #10 - 02/24/14 at 18:11:01
 
As a Rachael owner, I would agree with DBC's comments about transparency.  I can't say much about the mid bass as I did not have enough of a listen, but the transparency was immediately evident.

There is just something about that amp.  I will own a Zen some day.
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DBC
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #11 - 02/25/14 at 00:08:07
 
Quote:
Palomino Wrote:  As a Rachael owner, I would agree with DBC's comments about transparency.  I can't say much about the mid bass as I did not have enough of a listen, but the transparency was immediately evident.


I should be more specific with regard to the Super Zen mid bass performance since I listen primarily to Blues, Blues Rock & Rock. Although I like to listen at higher volumes from time to time most of my listening is at moderate volumes. So with 2 watts, this style of music and at moderate volume it is difficult to achieve a "Live Performance" mid bass underpinning that tends to expand the sound-stage and envelope the listener.

The Super Zen is a great amp that far exceeds what it's 2 watts would suggest. I'm sure many have passed on the Super Zen thinking any respectable listening level is not achievable (which is not the case today with the right speakers). What captivated me was Transparency like I had never heard before. The amps mid bass is more than ample for many styles of music and individual tastes.

When it comes to the style of music I prefer, I needed a bit more mid bass than 2 watts could produce. So by adding the Mid Bass Module (and in effect Biamping) the Super Zen became the perfect amp for me and my music listening preferences.
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SteveC
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #12 - 02/25/14 at 00:43:41
 
To those who don't own any Decware amp yet,

Once in a while, we get a thread like this comparing Decware amps.  While we use words like "missing" "lacking" "better" "worse", I think it's worth reminding people that these comparisons are all relative on a small scale.  Those who own more than one these amps know that.  My SuperZen has more speed and clarity than my Torii3.  My Torii 3 has more bottom end weight and balls than the super zen.  They are both amazing sounding amps. I use my zen in a small office with trapeziums and never max out the volume. I use my tori in a large open space with HDT's and never max out the volume.  Both systems make music sound "Real" and very engaging.  Compared to many other amp brands.... the differences are bigger.

In short, these are all great amps.  It's easy to get too stuck on the relatively smaller differences.  

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Palomino
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #13 - 02/25/14 at 00:46:30
 
I will have to see if I can get Raven to bring his Zen amp over some time to see how it plays with my horns.  

Where I saw the transparency in the superzen was with my trapeziums at Zenfest.  It wasn't the most comfortable sitting on those stools in the amp assembly room, but I sure enjoyed the sound.  

I did hook up the trapeziums to Rachael and it was very good, but not the same.
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Lon
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #14 - 02/25/14 at 01:25:47
 
SteveC wrote on 02/25/14 at 00:43:41:
To those who don't own any Decware amp yet,

Once in a while, we get a thread like this comparing Decware amps.  While we use words like "missing" "lacking" "better" "worse", I think it's worth reminding people that these comparisons are all relative on a small scale.  Those who own more than one these amps know that.  My SuperZen has more speed and clarity than my Torii3.  My Torii 3 has more bottom end weight and balls than the super zen.  They are both amazing sounding amps. I use my zen in a small office with trapeziums and never max out the volume. I use my tori in a large open space with HDT's and never max out the volume.  Both systems make music sound "Real" and very engaging.  Compared to many other amp brands.... the differences are bigger.

In short, these are all great amps.  It's easy to get too stuck on the relatively smaller differences.  


Very good point and well said Steve. Cool
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busterfree
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #15 - 02/25/14 at 01:25:50
 
Quote:
When you compare your four Decware amps, does the Rachael sound fall kind of midway between the two SE84s and the Mini Torii, or is it more similar to the two SE84s, or more similar to the Mini Torii? What do you like best about the Rachael? Do you ever use the treble cut on the MT, e.g., for streaming music?


Rachael is closer to the SE84s than the Mini Torii, but we are talking minor differences. I think speaker matching plays into it as well. The Rachael plays well with the Traps, but the SE84s are a better match. Consider that I bought the Rachael to use with a difference 8 ohm speaker that is in storage.

I do not use treble cut at all. I do not stream. At my desktop system, I only spin disks with PWT and PWD.
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busterfree
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #16 - 02/25/14 at 01:36:26
 
Quote:
Once in a while, we get a thread like this comparing Decware amps.  While we use words like "missing" "lacking" "better" "worse", I think it's worth reminding people that these comparisons are all relative on a small scale.  Those who own more than one these amps know that.  My SuperZen has more speed and clarity than my Torii3.  My Torii 3 has more bottom end weight and balls than the super zen.  They are both amazing sounding amps. I use my zen in a small office with trapeziums and never max out the volume. I use my tori in a large open space with HDT's and never max out the volume.  Both systems make music sound "Real" and very engaging.  Compared to many other amp brands.... the differences are bigger.

In short, these are all great amps.  It's easy to get too stuck on the relatively smaller differences.  


I totally agree. I am usually do not comment on the differences and try to enjoy the music. The differences are so small, and you sometimes feel like you are nit picking on amp that did nothing wrong.

I rather point out design differences to steer one to a particular amp. For example, I bought the mini torii for its preamp stage, dual mono, preamp out design, small footprint, tube regulation, and low heat.

I bought the SE84CKCS because my other SE84 did so well with my Traps, not because the SE84 was lacking something.
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nightsky
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #17 - 02/25/14 at 04:37:05
 
Thanks for your thoughts everyone. I started this thread hoping to get a better sense of how the Mini Torii sounds relative to the SE34 and SE84, and thanks to your comments, I feel like I got it.

I started reading about the Decware amps about a year ago. For a long time the Rachael was the one I wanted, mainly because it has more WPC than the others in my price range. I was thinking that with the Rachael I could probably use conventional two-way speakers with ~90 dB sensitivity, e.g., a pair of Tannoy monitors I already have, Paradigms, PSBs, etc.

Opinions about high sensitivity speakers - horns, single driver, and other designs - are mixed; they get panned for being shouty or rolled off, and this made me reluctant to try them. Getting over that hurdle took some time, but after reading a lot of positive reviews about the Omegas, as well as the Zu, Decware, and Tekton speakers, I decided to bite the bullet and order some Omegas for a tryout. I should have them in a couple weeks, and am looking forward to hearing them. Louis at Omega has warned me that they will need 80 - 100 hours of break-in before the frequency response flattens out.

When I ordered the Omegas, I had all but decided to order an SE84. But doubts about the single driver speakers possibly being tipped up started creeping in. That made me look hard at the Mini Torii, with its
treble cut and other attractive features (low heat, tube rolling options, pre-outs, and higher WPC and built in preamp for more oomph).

As attractive as the Mini Torii is though, I've decided to go with the SE84CKC, and placed an order today. Hearing those of you who have compared it with other Decware amps in your own rooms talk about how amazing it sounds decided it for me. Thanks so much for your input. Now I just have to ... wait.   Smiley

-Michael
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beowulf
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #18 - 02/25/14 at 05:12:16
 
Which would play better with an 8 ohm speaker?

a. The Rachel

or

b. Super Zen with the 2-6 ohm transformer (I believe its also referred to as Output Transformer A)?

I always heard that the Super Zen is voiced in particular and sounds better with the "A" transformer. But if one's speakers mostly lie within 8 ohms range how would transformer "A" perform?  Would you still try the "A" transformer?

Thanks guys!
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #19 - 02/25/14 at 16:13:21
 
Quote:
Which would play better with an 8 ohm speaker?

a. The Rachel

or

b. Super Zen with the 2-6 ohm transformer (I believe its also referred to as Output Transformer A)?

I always heard that the Super Zen is voiced in particular and sounds better with the "A" transformer. But if one's speakers mostly lie within 8 ohms range how would transformer "A" perform?  Would you still try the "A" transformer?


I have a 12 year old Zen that has the original 2-6 Ohm output transformers and a 2 year old Super Zen with the 6-16 Ohm output transformers.  My Klipsch RF-7 mains are a nominal 8 Ohms but do have some dips well below that.

I went with 6-16 Ohm output transformers on the Super Zen because more speakers fall within that range. Thought this would give me more options if I ever wanted to try other speakers.

Out of the box The Super Zen clearly sounded better than my Original Zen. I was not expecting this type of obvious improvement. With use (break-in) things got better, the upgrade was a great investment.

The Super Zen also seems to have more muscle (plays louder) compared to the Original Zen with my RF-7's. May be the 6-16 Ohm output transformers with my speakers, I don't know.

I've not heard the Super Zen with 2-6 Ohm output transformers on my speakers. All I can say is that my Super Zen with 6-16 Ohm output transformers elevated the level of Transparency & Clarity in my system. As a result I have never questioned the choice to go with the 6-16 transformers.
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #20 - 02/25/14 at 21:53:32
 
Quote:
DBC said,
All I can say is that my Super Zen with 6-16 Ohm output transformers elevated the level of Transparency & Clarity in my system. As a result I have never questioned the choice to go with the 6-16 transformers.


Thanks DBC, it's good to know.  I think your right about the additional speaker choices using the B Transformer.  I wonder just how much difference there can be between the two.
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #21 - 02/26/14 at 02:18:37
 
Quote:
Posted by: beowulf      Posted on: Yesterday at 21:12:16
Which would play better with an 8 ohm speaker?

a. The Rachel

or

b. Super Zen with the 2-6 ohm transformer (I believe its also referred to as Output Transformer A)?

I always heard that the Super Zen is voiced in particular and sounds better with the "A" transformer. But if one's speakers mostly lie within 8 ohms range how would transformer "A" perform?  Would you still try the "A" transformer?

Thanks guys!



Great question. And, this leads me to two other questions about the speaker.

Is it a "true" 8 ohm speaker or 8 ohm for marketing purposes only?
Does the speaker have a complicated crossover robbing the amp of its power?

For a speaker like Omega, all of this is less of an issue since it is a single driver with no crossover.

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« Last Edit: 02/26/14 at 02:19:39 by busterfree »  
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Re: Mini Torii sound compared to Rachael
Reply #22 - 03/03/14 at 02:36:08
 
Nightsky, I think you made a great call with the SuperZen. Please let me explain my story. I was introduced to Decware less than a year ago by my friend who owns the Torii Mk3. I was so impressed by the amp ( I had heard his system in the past with a diff amp and it sounded too sterile and clinical) that I started looking into starting a tube system built around Decware amps. After doing some research and talking to Steve, I ordered the SuperZen Select. I'm pairing this with his DM945s and although still new, the sound is just phenomenal. The detail, transparency, dynamics, and musicality exceeded my friend's system. The only thing his Torii Mk3 does better is stronger low bass and midbass. However, imo the SuperZen has better high and low end extensions and also better transparency and speed. The SuperZen really needs the right speakers to truly perform and as a result I'm having the DM945s modified/upgraded to improve the midrange and low bass. I just bought the companion horn cabinets for the 945s to augment the sub bass. Steve will also install a custom phase guide ( based on his DFR8 driver) on the Silver Flutes to augment the midrange. We'll see how all this will play out but I truly believe with the right efficient speakers , the Super Zen is the best overall Decware amplifier for the money. I'll keep everyone updated once its here.  :)
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