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Torii, Harbeth and phono stages (Read 1403 times)
raferx
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Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
03/07/14 at 02:17:18
 
Hi all,

New to the Decware forums, but after reading about their products for a while now and I'm very interested in the Torii MK III or IV amplifier.

I'm looking at running the amp in a two-channel vinyl system with a Sutherland Ph3D battery-powered phono stage. This stage has no controls other than internal jumpers to adjust gain and impedance, so I'd be reliant on the Torii's "volume" control.
Is anyone else using a Torii without a traditional preamp per se?
I've read that most prefer the sound straight out of the amp, so would I be OK with this set up?
Also, I bought an audiophile iPod 30-pin to RCA cable so my girlfriend can play ALAC files. Would this be OK in the system as well?
Also, I'm running Harbeth P3ESR speakers that have a 83.5 dB rating, but present a very easy 6-ohm load, and since I know that even 10w SET amps (Audio Note Oto) have driven this speaker to very respectable volume levels, I'm hoping the Torii's 25 watts would fare even better?
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, TIA.
–Rafe
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tom collins
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #1 - 03/07/14 at 20:33:00
 
I don't know about the Harbeths, but I run my Decware Phono Pre through SUT directly into the amp.  I used to use a preamp, but sold it after I was convinced that it was not needed back when I was using 90 db. efficient Dali 800 Helicons.  However, I had to have the volume at around 80% to make those speakers sing.  They sounded good, but, I think they were dynamically compressed because it took so much wattage just to run at a normal volume. I now use Decware ERR speakers, so 94 db efficient.  Very synergistic.  No higher than 25% volume and that is pushing it.  Dynamics with 2 subs are all there.  Hint:  KT66 tubes will really smooth out the overall response.  EL34s are gorgeous, but the midrange tends to be highlighted at the expense of the extremes.  Could be a good alternative for your Harbeths.  Sounds like a totally different amp.  I used to have a Cary 120S with 60 watts triode and 120 ultralinear.  The 66 vs. 34 is very much like that amp, much more muscular with 66, very little sacrifice in delicacy and layering.  Of course, if I feel like a female singer-songwriter night, I just pop the vintage Mullard 34s back in and sonic heaven pours forth.  Torii 3 by the way.  Get one, you won't look back.
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Lin
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #2 - 03/07/14 at 22:22:22
 
What size is your room?
Have you ever checked spl levels with a meter when listening?
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raferx
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #3 - 03/08/14 at 02:04:38
 
Thanks for responses guys. I appreciate the feedback.
My room is about 12' x 17', I've never used anything to measure the sound levels.
I just know what sounds "right." I like it loud, but not fatiguing, if that makes sense.
I need to hear every nuance of the song, which is why I love the Harbeths, not very efficient, but what sound!
The P3s I'm running now are 83.5 dB, and the plan is to jump up the chain to the Harbeth M30.1s, only marginally better at 85 dB, but an improved frequency range due to their size.
I'd love more efficient speakers for tubes, but I've not heard anything as good as the Harbeth line so far, and I've done a fair amount of listening to kit.
That said, I'm always open to have my hair blown back by something new.
Cheers,
–R

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Lon
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #4 - 03/08/14 at 02:53:11
 
R, welcome! We were talking about this on another forum.

I think the Torii may struggle with speakers of that efficiency, but one never know do one? (as Fats Waller used to say).

My best advice? Give Steve Deckert a call. He loves to talk to potential customers and customers and he knows more than we'll ever know about these amps and what they can do with what. . . .
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Lin
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #5 - 03/08/14 at 02:58:56
 
If that is your system and the Sonneteer Champion provided enough power, the Torii will be fine.
Whether or not you have enough gain to drive the Torii depends on the Sutherland and cartridge you are using, you should be okay.
My guess is that the i-pod will not work very well without an additional gain stage (preamp).
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raferx
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #6 - 03/08/14 at 03:21:37
 
Hi guys,

Yes, that is my system.
As for carts I'm looking at the Audio Technica AT33-EV, the Sutherland will do 60 dB of gain.
The Sonneteer is only 33 watts, but it is a very sweet, transparent and well-controlled 33 watts (44 into 6 ohms, which is what my Harbeths are).
I have some hardcore audiophile friends running the Harbeth P3s with the Audio Note Oto SE and PP (10 watts) and swear by it, which is why I was thinking the Torii might really have the juice at 25 watts.
I'm really looking to get into the glorious 3D tube sound (did quite a bit of listening to Harbeth M40.1s with an Audio Note M8 preamp – HEAVEN!) and from everything I'm hearing in various audiophile forums I frequent, the Torii should have the mustard.
IS the sound stage, imaging and bass control all that I'm reading?
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Lon
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #7 - 03/08/14 at 11:47:23
 
Good news! I think you would really enjoy a Torii Mk III or Mk IV.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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seikosha
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #8 - 03/08/14 at 14:31:28
 
Raferx fwiw, I'm a harbeth fan.  I have a set of p3ESR's and as much as I like them, in my room, I greatly prefer my Decware and Omega setup.  There is a real synergy between low watt set amps and high efficiency speakers that I just haven't been able to match using conventional components.  I could be wrong, but I do wonder if the Torii would be the way to go if you really want to stick with Harbeths.
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Mini Torii, SE84CKC, Omega Super3XRS, Oppo95 as Transport, Shiit Bifrost UBER Dac, PS Audio P3 Powerplant
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raferx
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #9 - 03/08/14 at 20:49:02
 
Could you describe how the sound of the two speakers differs?
Not easy, I know, but I'm always interested in someone who has Harbeth and ends up preferring something else.
Is it merely because of the amp? If the amp is that good than it must really be something special to prefer higher-efficiency speaker just to keep the amp.
Owning the P3s, you know what amazing timbral accuracy they have, and how true they are in voicing instruments and reproducing the human voice.
I've yet to hear another speaker do it better, with the M40.1 being the best I've heard. I love the P3s, but they are my entry into Harbeth as the M30.1 seems to strike the best price/performance ratio in the lineup for me, having demoed every Harbeth for at least several hours.
The Omegas look very lovely, but I'm not yet familiar with full-range speakers that possess no crossover, I'm guessing they have a very unique sound.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts/impressions.
Thanks man!
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seikosha
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #10 - 03/09/14 at 00:02:59
 
Hi Raferx,

First, here's some thoughts I posted on another forum:

I converted to a Single Drive Low Watt setup last year. Mentally it was a big step and truthfully, I don't think I could have done it if I hadn't gotten a chance to hear this approach before I took the plunge. After having lived with my setup now, I'm a total convert.

What I get with my SET and single driver setup is a speed, coherency and a very unbox like sound with the best soundstaging and imaging capabilities of any speakers I've owned. I have two systems set up, besides my Omega Decware system, I have another that I rotate Kef LS50's and Harbeth P3ESR's in and out of. I have to say, it's hard to listen to the Kefs and Harbeths after listening to the Omegas. Both sound slow, boxy and very discontinuous. It's like you can hear the transition from the midrange to the tweeter and I sometimes hear an odd phasiness (for lack of a better word) with those speakers that the Omegas don't have. It's common for two way speakers to have the tweeters wired out of phase with the woofers and both the Kefs and Harbeths are designed this way. It's possible that I can now hear this after living with the Omegas. Before I owned the Omegas, I NEVER  heard these colorations on the Kefs or Harbeths and if someone told me these speakers had them, I'd think that they had their systems set up wrong.  Now they jump out at me instantly. When listening to the Omegas I am often reminded of the sound I used to get with some Magnepans I used to have.  It's a very open sound.

That said, I can understand where the single driver concept isn't for everyone. Shortcomings of my system and I can easily live with them is that the sound ultimately isn't as big or with the impact of traditional speakers. After all, this is a single small driver and at the end of the day, it's not going to move as much air as a big multi way system. For me, it's not an issue, but for others, I could understand how it could be. I know some people play their music quite loud and for those folks, I'm sure some of them would miss some of the big sound you get from multiple driver setups.

Also, ultimate bass response is limited. According to my SPL meter, in my room, my Omega's start to roll off right at 60hz. I'm not a bass freak so it's not a big deal and there are other single driver speakers with larger drivers so as you move up in driver size, this could become less of an issue.

Don't get me wrong, my system will play loud and with impact, but if you are the type of person that blasts Midnight Oil with 100db+ peaks, you'll notice that they don't have the slam that a comparable well designed two way with bigger drivers has.

As far as music styles, I'm all over the place. Basically everything except for hardcore rap and heavy metal.

Okay, now to try and give some comparisons to the P3's.  First of all, this is in a room that's relatively small at 12x11 feet.  The room is treated with panels and bass traps.  Like most small speakers the Harbeths have the typical bass hump in the 100 -200 range.  At the same time, the Omegas are actually a little depressed in the same range so this is what you'd first notice.  I've confirmed this with SPL measurements.  Remember though, the room is as important as a component as anything and if your room is different than mine, things won't be the same.

Ultimately, the Harbeths probably will play louder and I'd say that when you get up in the top of the high frequency range, the Harbeths are better.  I've always thought that the tweeter in the Harbeths was exceptionally refined sounding.  At the end of the day, what will really tip you one way or the other will be how your ear reacts to that midbass area between 100 -200hz.

For me, it's much easier going from the room I have my Harbeths in to my SET system.  When I turn the SET system on, I feel like my ears are relaxing and it just sounds right.  When I go from the SET system to the Harbeths, the sound just feels heavier and slower.  It can take an hour or two before my ears kind of readjust but I still always feel like they just aren't doing things as well as the Omegas.

Harbeths are nice though and I've heard some of their bigger speakers as well.  There definitely is a house sound to them and out of all the small conventional speakers I've owned, they are my favorites.  My favorite amp with them was  Musical Fidelity M3i, but I never heard them with a tube amp more powerful than a few watts, so I'm just not sure what that kind of combination would tease out of the system.  FWIW, I've spoken to the guy (Louis) who makes Omegas and he's actually met Allan Shaw, the Harbeth designer.  Louis has told me that he admires the P3 and it's actually his favorite of the Harbeth designs.  

Last thing...their is some sort of magic synergy between these low watt amps and high efficiency speakers.  If I put the Omegas in the system that I run the Harbeths in, it's a toss up.  The magic of the Omegas is diminished and they lose some of their dimensionality and refinement so if you go to something like a high efficiency speaker, you really should take a system approach to it.

Good luck with your decision!

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Mini Torii, SE84CKC, Omega Super3XRS, Oppo95 as Transport, Shiit Bifrost UBER Dac, PS Audio P3 Powerplant
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raferx
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #11 - 03/09/14 at 10:23:25
 
Hey Lin,
Thanks for the advice regarding the iPod, as far as preamps go, do most recommend Decware? Are many using SS preamps, or is it best to go tube/tube for synergy?

TIA
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raferx
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #12 - 03/09/14 at 10:26:46
 
Hi Lon,

I think giving Steve a call is great advice, many thanks Smiley

–Rafe
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raferx
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #13 - 03/09/14 at 10:39:00
 
Thanks so much for the detailed response Seikosha, I'll reply at length tomorrow.
Cheers!
–R
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raferx
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Re: Torii, Harbeth and phono stages
Reply #14 - 03/10/14 at 02:13:46
 
Hey Seikosha,

Very interesting, and well thought-out response, thanks for that man.
Also interesting that you are running Harbeths and LS50s, as my father runs the KEFs and we sometimes swap them out for listening sessions on our respective amps/sources (he's a CD/FLAC guy), I'm all vinyl.

While I really like the LS50s, I find them fatiguing compared to the P3s (YMMV), so I'm quite curious to hear a very efficient speaker again (I used to have Klipsch Heresy IIs) but it's been a couple years and I didn't really have my ears "trained" or "broken-in" to what true hi fi sound was. Since then I've spent a lot of time listening to a fair number of high-end systems with either audiophile LP remasters or 24/192 high-res FLAC recordings... always a work in progress, but at least I can say my ears have taste up to this point, and I'm hoping to improve.

The Decware gear is fascinating to me as I've never taken a hard look at tube amps and 90dB+ speakers with a critical eye, so it's quite an awakening to consider the synergy between the two and the state of mind/philosophy behind it.

The P3s are really amazing me, and the M30.1s really put my hair straight back (want them next), so I'm hesitant, because to think that if I go the tube route that Harbeth might not work really puts a kink in my upgrade path... that said, the road less travelled, etc.

If my friends running Audio Note SETs into P3s swear by them, I think I need to make the trip (several hours by car and ferry) and hear their systems for myself before I commit to anything.

If a 10w Oto SE can make the Harbeth's sing, then I owe it to myself to hear it, because the Torii at 25w should really knock me out.

Since I listen mostly to jazz and vocal (90 per cent), folk, folk-rock (Wizz Jones!) some classic rock, a pinch of electronic and classical, the Harbeth's really hit it out of the park for me, so I don't know if I could forfeit their timbral accuracy for speed, and transient attack.

I'm also actively looking at Audio Note & Croft gear, (which is tube/SS hybrid) and very well reviewed. I love my Sonneteer, but a little more "oomph" is called for I believe, and my tube friends in Victoria at Soundhounds say SET is the way to go for huge sound stage, 3D/timbral accuracy and real bass.

I love the look and vibe of the Decware gear, and this forum is great. Just seems like a real laid back company and attitude where the sound comes first, and that's what it's all about for me.

Time for a glass of wine.

Cheers
–R
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