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Welcome to the Mystery Amp Support Forum! (Read 4117 times)
Steve Deckert
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Welcome to the Mystery Amp Support Forum!
05/30/14 at 04:36:00
 
The Mystery Amp started out as an experiment which has been documented since the beginning in the ZEN MYSTERY AMP thread in the top of this forum.  

It's time to create a forum for it instead of a single 75 page thread, so here we go!

The mystery is the question "Why can't I stop listening to this damn thing?"
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RickVee
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Reply #1 - 06/07/14 at 23:10:55
 
Hello, all!  Greetings from hot, dry New Mexico ... this is my first post.  I have been upgrading my 20 y.o. system, the better to enjoy my music collection in my retirement.  The Bose 901s are sold (I know, I know, don't say it) and replaced with GoldenEar Triton Two towers.  I have upgraded my Rega P3 beyond recognition, and bought an OPPO 105.  So, how to replace my Nakamichi A/V 8 receiver, running in stereo mode?  I was seriously considering PrimaLuna, or Mystere, or Rogue, or Cary (I was interested in tubes) when a Google search brought me to these forums, and .... here I am.  I couldn't decide between the ToriiIV and the ZMA, and after an e-mail to Steve, he provided a very informative reply regarding which amp would work best with my speakers.  So, last week I ordered a ZMA (it is still a mystery to my wife).  I was amused reading the early posts in this topic, regarding the impatient, nail biting anticipation of the early ZMA buyers watching the waiting list.  Now the shoe is on my foot, and I check the list twice every day.  There are now only three new orders ahead of me, before my parts are pulled. (I hope it doesn't hurt.) I do have one question for you all, since I live where the dust blows.  Has anyone purchased or fabricated a plexiglas or other dust cover for a Decware amp?  If so, any recommendations?  I will be here regularly ... after the ZMA, the phono pre might be next.
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Reply #2 - 06/08/14 at 08:31:35
 
Welcome to the Decware forums Rick.  I'm jealous of your ZMA purchase and I've heard some good things about the Tritons as well, I'm sure you will love it.  

Since you have 2 sources, do you plan on switching cables or getting a preamp?
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Reply #3 - 06/09/14 at 03:29:32
 
Thanks, Beowulf -

I ordered the ZMA with the transformer balanced XLR inputs, after Steve wrote that the upgrade would take the ZMA/OPPO 105/Triton combo to a different place.  I'm looking forward to that different place.  My tt/stage will connect to the unbalanced RCA inputs.  I understand that the balanced and unbalanced inputs are not switched and are both active when the power is on, so I can only plug in one set of cables at a time.  The OPPO will be a sort of preamp for all my digital sources (disc, tv, laptop, ipod dock).  The tt/stage will plug directly into the ZMA.  I suppose that a good tube preamp with XLR and RCA inputs might be that much better.  Any ideas?
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Reply #4 - 06/09/14 at 23:59:26
 
Well Decware has the CSP3 which I've heard is pretty awesome, but I needed a remote and more than 2 inputs so I ended up picking up a McIntosh C220.  I was a little worried about combining the puristic approach of my Decware Taboo MK II with the complex (everything but the kitchen sink) McIntosh C220, but the gain was a perfect match as the Taboo needs about 2.5v for max output and my source was only about 2.1v ... that extra .4v seems negligible, but after putting the Mac before the Taboo it really opened up and it pounces.  I know that it may seem strange to say "pounces" within the same sentence as the 6 watt Taboo, but this thing has some serious balls when it's fed right!

Anyways the Mac was a great fit, but probably an even better fit (if you don't need the remote and extra inputs) would be the Decware CSP3, however if you're lazy like me there are some great choices out there ... from experience I know that the Mac works splendid and I have also heard great feedback on the Wyred4Sound STP-SE and Aesthetix Calypso preamps.

There are some tradeoffs with a Preamp though and I feel that there may be a slight veiling and loss of (just a tad) micro details, however the soundstage really opened up for me and it was worth the slight trade off in my opinion.

p.s. I forgot to mention that the C220 remote (which for a preamp remote is a work of art in function) is excellent ... not only can it raise volume, but I can also set trim levels for each source, balance levels and input selection all from the sweet spot on my couch.  The mm phono stage is outstanding as well. Cool
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« Last Edit: 06/10/14 at 02:57:32 by beowulf »  
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Reply #5 - 06/11/14 at 22:20:36
 
Rick,

I too run the Oppo BDP-105 as a Preamp, and run directly to the ZMA.

The XLR inputs are a good choice - at first I had only the RCA inputs, but I wanted to try Pro-sumer level Reel to Reel and had to have the XLR added to do this - which sounded good. But then I tried the XLR from the Oppo and it was *WOW* good. The Oppo uses a proper differential XLR output like pro level gear does, and the Mystery Amp sure liked the voltage!

As for preamp - I don't have one (yet), and I honestly feel the XLR inputs got me what I was expecting from a preamp. That said, I have put a bug in Steve's ear about an XLR preamp. But Steve moves at the speed of inspiration...which means it could be years before we actually see an XLR, switchable preamp. I'd run your setup as is for now and see how you feel about it first.

So - Steve burns in the amps well before shipping them out. The big caps cause them to sound edgy and thin until the caps form property. My amp didn't have this kind of break in, and the first 25 hours were painful. After that, it played like a steam engine gathering speed. I felt the amp hit sweet spots (leveled up!) around 125 hours and again at 250 hours. You'll notice that steam engine like power, and the amp will be clear, dynamic, and just simply *seem louder*.  After that it's pretty much leveled out and is very consistent. I'm up over 500 hours (stopped keeping track after 350 or so) now, and the amp sounds great right off the bat, and amazing after 30 minutes of warm up.

I'd love to hear your thoughts when you get everything together - this amp has been a real revelation to my listening - I can't imagine anything better honestly.
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« Last Edit: 06/11/14 at 22:23:20 by Lonely Raven »  
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Reply #6 - 06/12/14 at 18:19:54
 
Okay, I now have 118 hours on my CSP3 and 481 hours on my ZMA. I love this combo...transparency is all there with musicality. What I love best about the System Alchemy I have configured now.....I can play Audiophile recordings and Pop Jazz/Smooth Jazz recordings (Euge Groove, Grover Washington, Chuck Loeb, Larry Carlton, etc...)  and my System can flesh out the music an keep you glued to your Listening spot.  Solid State can't do this for me! The ZMA just freakin' rules with my new CSP3 with bee's wax Jupiter Caps!

However, I am intrigued to add the XLR to hear if it matters in the short run/XLR cables, over my RCA IC cables? I know it is all that an a bag of chips with the Tape Steve is running...but I'm skeptical for my application when I have the CSP3 now and premium RCA IC's?

Rick, I'm going to audition the Triton's an Focal's new 926.
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Reply #7 - 06/13/14 at 02:13:55
 
Stone, what's your source, and what kind of XLR output is it? I think that makes a difference as Steve's mentioned. I was surprised that the Oppo uses a differential output, but there it is.
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Reply #8 - 06/13/14 at 05:03:17
 
I could use my Anedio DAC. Or, get a 105.
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« Last Edit: 06/13/14 at 11:25:09 by stone_of_tone »  

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Reply #9 - 06/13/14 at 23:48:08
 
Lots of good advice and info from Beowulf and Lonely Raven, but for now I will be using the 105 as a digital pre into the XLRs, and my phono stage into the RCAs.  I might think about a preamp down the road if I decide to hook up my old nakamichi casette deck or a tuner.  My next step is probably to retire my elderly Creek phonostage and get something more suitable for the ZMA.

Stone, I think you will like the Tritons.  I compared them to Focal and B&W, and several other floor standers in the same price range and thought the others required a separate subwoofer to have the same sonic impact.

The big news for me is that my amp is at the testing stage, after construction began earlier in the week.  Now I am getting anxious - how long is the testing and burn in, 70-80 hours?  If so, my ZMA might ship next week?
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stone_of_tone
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Reply #10 - 06/14/14 at 14:29:33
 
Cool Rick, I look forward to getting out to Stereoland (finally-my retail shack, here in MN that carries them) to hear the whole Triton line. Sandy Gross uses them personally, with Tubes by design. Also, why my Vintage Polk SDA-1's (Xover's rebuilt & Spider's) can be used with 2 watts (within reason) or 38 of course with the ZMA....because of Sandy's long tenure at Polk. I have a pair of Anthony Gallo Reference 3.1's too...that I rotate thru my Listening Room.

Hey question? Maybe you know LR or Steve will see this an respond. I could call him too....but it is Saturday. Steve either purposefully omitted or by accident forgot mention of the use of KT120's in the ZMA (ZMA Manual)? Before I order a matched quad of 120's....I want to make sure the green light is still open on them.  

I have to hear KT120's Signature within Steve's design. All other designer's just max the 120 Tubes out with some negative feedback applied for bass slam.  If I get some creepy bass Jones' for bass...I'll get JL Audio's new 2K Sub and use my CSP3 (provided) output into it.... . I look forward to hearing the bass integration of the Triton's. Even under crappy showroom conditions with Solid State...I should be able to discern if I want to bring a pair home for Trial..... .

I have 500 hours on my ZMA an 125 on my CSP3....now ready to hear the KT120's!   Cool  

I'm sticking with RCA IC's...as Steve has stated the playing field is leveled by my adding the CSP3 with Jup' Caps...transparency is maintained or the CSP3 would be gone.  Incredible combo (CSP3 & ZMA).

Rick another note, I had Primaluna in and a lot of other equipment in last year.....you won't be disappointed in the ZMA...it kicks Prima to the curb.


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« Last Edit: 06/14/14 at 15:01:58 by stone_of_tone »  

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Reply #11 - 06/15/14 at 03:04:38
 
I think Steve backed off on the KT120 because the current draw is so much for the power supply. I think he originally said as long as you keep it under 60ma you can use any tubes you want.

It's funny you brought this up though, during the Tape Fest I saw a Post-It with the math drawn up for KT120, and it looked like the numbers didn't jibe if I was reading it correctly. Which I guess explains why KT120 isn't included in the manual.

I'd still run it past Steve and see what he says - what I've said above is my bad memory and speculation.  :)
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« Last Edit: 06/15/14 at 03:05:01 by Lonely Raven »  
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Reply #12 - 06/15/14 at 15:43:31
 
Thanks for the info LR. I'm fine with not using them from what you mentioned. Maybe Steve will chime in. The Amp sounds so damn good voiced with the Tung-Sol KT66's...= no worries. But, inquiring minds want to know. Some time this year I'm ordering a matched quad of the Genelex Gold Lion KT66's to compare to the Tung-Sol's. One of the Quads will then sit as backup or replacement which ever comes first.  
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« Last Edit: 06/15/14 at 15:44:33 by stone_of_tone »  

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Reply #13 - 06/15/14 at 15:49:09
 
I LOVE the sound of the Torii Mk III with the cryo'd Tung-Sol (reissue) KT-66 tubes. I bought this set from Mike here on the board, they only had about a thousand hours on them. He prefers the Genalex, and I decided to order a cryo'd quad of these and should have them tomorrow. This way I'll have a quad of one or the other brand to try in the Torii Mk II that sounds so great in my system at my parents' place.
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« Last Edit: 06/15/14 at 15:49:28 by Lon »  

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Reply #14 - 06/15/14 at 16:45:28
 
Cool Lon, it will be nice to hear your impressions thru the III an II. I look forward to comparing an enjoying these two top reissues in the ZMA.

Here's hoping everyone has a great summer outside an happy Listening with Decware inside.....before the Snow flies again... .   Cool
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Reply #15 - 06/17/14 at 06:37:18
 
RickVee asked:
"I suppose that a good tube preamp with XLR and RCA inputs might be that much better.  Any ideas?"

Hello Rick.
Do either your phono amp or your BluRay player have gain controls? Do you know how much is the maximum voltage they can put out?  Do you know the output impedance of either device?

It seems to me that there are three purposes for a preamp. Adjust voltage, impedance match a source to your power amp, convenience as a switch box.  

I ask the panel, am I right in thinking Rick has impedance matching covered now that he has the XLR transformers on his power amp inputs?

As for voltage adjustment, this is a nice way to control the sound, but if you already have gain controls on both of your sources then I don't see that an additional gain stage can help your sound, unless one of your sources turned up to full volume is still under volted for it's best possible sound.  

- Brian
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Reply #16 - 06/17/14 at 19:01:24
 
Hello Brian,

Thanks for raising these issues.  My OPPO BluRay has an output voltage of 2.1 Vrms RCA, and 4.2 Vrms XLR, with an output impedance of 100 ohms.  It also has a gain control.

The phono stage is an old Creek OBH 8, with an output of 250 mV, and an output impedance of 750 Ohms.  It has no gain control.  I plan to replace it after I recover from the purchase of speakers, the BluRay, and the ZMA.

With the addition of a better phono preamp, I probably will not need a line preamp.

Rick
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Reply #17 - 06/21/14 at 04:44:54
 
Having some fun tomorrow night....pitting the SE84CS against the ZMA with an without my CSP3......... .

I was able to switch her in early today....and as much as I like my ZMA's power an lower end and head room... . I still love my SE84CS! The lit from within qualities of it...do it for me. I have the CSP3 dialed into it nicely. I am going to keep it in for awhile then put the ZMA back in an then the Super Zen CKC.  Musical - musical and musical!   -Stone
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« Last Edit: 06/21/14 at 21:26:21 by stone_of_tone »  

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Reply #18 - 06/21/14 at 22:18:56
 
Hi Rick,
I think you are right. It sounds like OPPO is doing all a preamp would do.  
One of the Decware preamps goes to a maximum of 30 Volts out, so a more driven sound could be had if it were desired.
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Reply #19 - 06/30/14 at 18:34:11
 
I was just notified that my ZMA has shipped, so I just have to wait for it to make the long (but not perilous) journey from Peoria to Albuquerque.  More to come ....
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Reply #20 - 07/01/14 at 04:52:25
 

Congrats! I'm sure you'll like it, especially with the Oppo!
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Reply #21 - 07/02/14 at 14:20:22
 
Cool Rick! You're just days away from hearing this ZMA masterpiece.

I put the ZMA back in (on Saturday) after doing a tour of my SE84CS an CKC. Ohhh, I love (an missed) the ZMA in the System with my CSP3.... .
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Reply #22 - 07/03/14 at 17:13:03
 
Guys, I was wondering about the KT120s as well.  I don't understand tubes that well.  Would the 120s require more current above the 60 MA "limit" to sound correct?

A friend of mine has fallen in love (on paper) with the Quicksilver Silver 88 monos because they produce 80 watts/ch and can run the 120s as well as the new KT150s.  I guess I need to understand what that amp does so differently to be indifferent on the tube choices.  Are the stock KT88s that it uses that different of a tube over the KT66s?  Are all these KT tubes basically the same with different current requirements or are there significant differences?  

Just trying to get some education here.  I do love the sound of my ZMA, but if I could urge a tad more power just with different tubes ...

Scott
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Reply #23 - 07/03/14 at 18:45:46
 
Someone else I'm sure will chime in here. Maybe Steve will too.
With negative feedback in the Quick Silver you can drive the hell out of it with power.... .

But, in regards to "...if I could urge a tad more power ...through the ZMA..."

This is the age old question? More power though...LESS FIDELITY.

I could own the the 88's or
http://www.vac-amps.com/productPages/Phi200.html

.....but I won't give up the Fidelity of Steve's Amps for the Power.

My CSP3 with Jupiter Bee's wax caps...pushes definition quite well...that is a great option...I love mine with ZMA (NO negative feedback an clean power design).

Plus, this begs the question. How loud do you listen? My ZMA with CSP3, when I want to, can do 88db SPL peaks....with fidelity that beats said above Amps.  
The CSP3 is a Transparent ass kicker of Definition an Weight through my ZMA.
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« Last Edit: 07/03/14 at 19:13:09 by stone_of_tone »  

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Reply #24 - 07/04/14 at 03:06:20
 
Quote:
Guys, I was wondering about the KT120s as well.  I don't understand tubes that well.  Would the 120s require more current above the 60 MA "limit" to sound correct?

A friend of mine has fallen in love (on paper) with the Quicksilver Silver 88 monos because they produce 80 watts/ch and can run the 120s as well as the new KT150s.  I guess I need to understand what that amp does so differently to be indifferent on the tube choices.  Are the stock KT88s that it uses that different of a tube over the KT66s?  Are all these KT tubes basically the same with different current requirements or are there significant differences?  


I'm no expert, and most of my experience is with guitar amps, but I have read up a bit and built a few (kit) amps before - so I have a basic understanding.

KT66 and KT88 tubes have been around for ages, they are part of the Kinkless Tetrode family (where the KT comes from) - they are designed similarly to the 6L6/EL34 audio tubes, but designed to handle more current and therefore can output more power.

The KT120 and KT150 are modern interpretations of those classic tubes, bigger, more output. Not necessarily *better* (not saying worse either - just bigger, more output). These bigger tubes simply require more current, and unless the amp is designed to supply this current required the least that could happen is the tube is starved and sounds cold and weak, at worst it would cook the amp because they are trying to draw too much juice.

ZMA is built around the more classic tubes, and just doesn't have the juice to power those bigger tubes like the fancy KT150.

I have no experience with these big tubes, and they could sound awesome, but I feel the design of the amp is really what makes or breaks the sound, not what tubes you pop in or how many watts they produce.
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Reply #25 - 07/04/14 at 14:56:30
 
Thanks for the input.  That pretty much matches what I assumed.  I thought negative feedback had to be in there somewhere as a crutch.  Usually the designers who use feedback don't talk about it on their web pages unless it is zero.

Quote:
Plus, this begs the question. How loud do you listen?


For me the ZMA as designed gives me plenty of volume.  It can go louder without any apparent negative impact to fidelity than I care to listen to.  My max volume in my small room is at about 80dB.  The room is very quiet so 80 seems loud.  I pushed it once with no bad effects up to about 90db but that was way too much for me.  Big impact sounds happen all the time that likely go above 90dB but I don't count those.  The amp is doing just fine and my JansZens are only 87dB.  The only interest in more power would be if I had a bigger room when I retire and need more output.  Like most of Steve's customers I won't give up fidelity to achieve that however.
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Reply #26 - 07/17/14 at 19:59:15
 
"I have no experience with these big tubes, and they could sound awesome, but I feel the design of the amp is really what makes or breaks the sound, not what tubes you pop in or how many watts they produce."

I've read a number of reports that the KT-150s are a big improvement over the KT-120s from ARC REF 75 owners.

Can the ZMA be upgraded to run these tubes?

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Reply #27 - 07/17/14 at 22:49:55
 
Hi, all --
The monsoon season has arrived in NM, and so has my ZMA (10 days ago).  We had an inch of rain last night (nothing for the eastern half of the USA), but as much as we have had for the first half of the year.

The ZMA is all that I expected and a worthy replacement for my old Nakamichi receiver.  Full, unadorned sound no matter whether I am playing Palestrina on BluRay audio, or Pink Floyd on my new vinyl repressing.  Despite having no controls on my phono pre, the ZMA has enough volume (92 dB speakers) on "Dark Side of the Moon" to drive my 90 lb. pitbull, Satchel, to the other end of the house (wife not home of course).

Even broadcast and satellite radio, with my NAD M4 tuner connected directly via rca, is superior.  As everything burns in nicely, I have one naive question for the group.  Since the amp has both rca and balanced inputs, not switchable, only one at a time, can I leave the cables in place, so long as only one source is powered on?  I ask because the maker of my balanced cables says they are temperamental, and do not like to be moved around, and will be cranky for a day or so after being replugged in.  This sounds a bit "barmy" to me, but ... any opinions/info would be appreciated.
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Lonely Raven
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Reply #28 - 07/17/14 at 22:52:09
 
Quote:
I've read a number of reports that the KT-150s are a big improvement over the KT-120s from ARC REF 75 owners.

Can the ZMA be upgraded to run these tubes?


That would require at very least a whole new power transformer setup, and probably a power supply circuit adjustment all down the line.

I'd ask (call) Steve, but that's practically designing a new amp at that point, as any major changes like that, the amp would need to be revoiced (IMHO)
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« Last Edit: 07/17/14 at 22:53:25 by Lonely Raven »  
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Reply #29 - 07/17/14 at 22:56:11
 
Edited:
Even broadcast and satellite radio, with my NAD M4 tuner connected directly via rca, is superior.  As everything burns in nicely, I have one naive question for the group.  Since the amp has both rca and balanced inputs, not switchable, only one at a time, can I leave the cables in place, so long as only one source is powered on?  I ask because the maker of my balanced cables says they are temperamental, and do not like to be moved around, and will be cranky for a day or so after being replugged in.  This sounds a bit "barmy" to me, but ... any opinions/info would be appreciated.


The RCA inputs supersede the XLR inputs when both are plugged in. I think Steve said he would unplug the RCA before using the XLR. I'd double check with him, as I could be remembering that wrong.

Once I went XLR, I never looked back - such a great improvement with the Oppo and Reel to Reel. The ZMA really likes that voltage. But if you had to swap between the two regularly, maybe it's time to look into a preamp?
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« Last Edit: 07/17/14 at 22:58:16 by Lonely Raven »  
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Reply #30 - 07/28/14 at 21:34:28
 
I added a Kimber Select 1030 RCA IC coming from my DAC to CSP3. I already have a Select 1030 going from CSP3 to ZMA. I had a Kimber Silver Streak from DAC to Pre. It does an admirable job...but, can't do what the Select 1030 can do in holographic fidelity. ZMA then runs Kimber Select 3035.

I write this for high end Lurkers with good digital front ends and premium cables...like Kimber Select or Kubala Sosna. You can't go wrong purchasing the CSP3 an ZMA (both pieces with Steve's premium Caps). Go ahead, bring both in your Listening Room....an Listen.
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Reply #31 - 07/28/14 at 22:18:08
 

Stone, do they make an XLR version of those Kimber? While I don't see me buying $1500 ICs anytime soon. I might grab something better than my $300 Morrow cables if I find a great deal somewhere.

Now that I think about it, I've not tried the DirectStream via RCA at all. Maybe I should at least give that a spin as well. The lower voltage on the DS has been slightly disappointing though....
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Reply #32 - 08/12/14 at 16:37:17
 
Yes of course they make an XLR version.  ;)

Anyway, I am back from vacation....kicked it off with Sir Paul at Target Field Aug 2nd. Then I went to Miami Beach/South Beach an the Bahamas. We got lucky an had great weather (missed Bertha).

I got to spend last night with my CSP3 & ZMA. They continue to amaze me!
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Reply #33 - 08/25/14 at 11:28:26
 
I have been breaking my system in for a while now and i still am not real happy with it.  I have Martin Logan ESL's and in addition tomthe Mystery Amp have added the phono stage ZP3 and the pre-amp csp3.  I still need more volume occasionally.  I am forced to back off the volume due,to clipping.  Given all of the tubes involved I am wondering where to start in swapping input or outputs to get the most gain.  I would appreciate any advise.  I don't want to buy new speakers.
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Reply #34 - 08/26/14 at 06:42:19
 
Well, assuming you aren't dialing in the gains incorrectly, you have only three options I can think of.

#1 More efficient speakers. I know you already said no new speakers, but it's the #1 thing that changes the volume of your system.
Your ESL are 91db - the amp is ~40 watts, so.
1watt = 91db
2watt = 94db
4watt = 97db
8watt = 100db
16watt = 103db
32watt = 106db

106db is pretty loud honestly. I start disliking the volume around 98db myself.

#2 You could get a bigger amp. But to go louder, you need to double your power for every 3db (as shown in #1).

#3 And this is the one most people don't really think about - you could lower the noise floor of your listening room. Chances are, you have ambient noise, and room reflections mucking up your sound. Try to tame some of that with sound treatments, rugs, furniture, curtains. If you bring the noise floor down, the apparent volume goes up, though nothing in the system has changed except for the room. You'll simply be able to hear the music better.

Seeing as how you're easily outputting 100db with that amp into those speakers, I'm wondering if your system is really setup correctly, or your room is really that bad?

Maybe it's time to give Steve a call and look for his suggestions?

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« Last Edit: 08/26/14 at 06:48:24 by Lonely Raven »  
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Reply #35 - 08/27/14 at 01:37:47
 
Raven thanks for the advise. I can not really change the room.  It is in a workshop in my garage.  I am way out in the country and play it with the garage door open.  The speakers do not have any back wall at all and I suspect I am losing a lot of sound.  If I was to close the door then sure it is pretty loud.  I guess maybe a box type speaker might be better in this situation.  I sure do love those ESLs though.  I listen to a lot of hard rock and if I were to get new speakers I would want something that had big woofers.  It seems like todays speaker designs usually have much smaller woofers than the speakers of the 70's.  I run a sub with the ESL's and dislike the disconnect of having to set the cutoff.  Thank for the chart it is pretty neat.
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Reply #36 - 08/27/14 at 02:36:55
 

Oh yeah, that's a big difference when you don't have that back wall. In fact, for critical listening, as long as the out-doors doesn't drown out your music, you're probably getting better stereo imaging than I would in-doors! But you're also throwing away all that sound energy, and that's where your problem lies.

When you're seeing a live performance that's out doors, they *need* that multi-thousand watt PA since that energy is emanating out and not back at all. You've got 40 watts.

If you have a smart phone, try this out - go search for a sound meter app and install it. Play a song at your typical volume with the door open and the app measuring the sound, then do it again with the door closed. It's probably a measurable volume jump with the door closed.
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Reply #37 - 08/27/14 at 16:51:26
 
Farm Boss. I am sorry I am not home to try it, but in my Torii MKIII 6N1P inputs put out a lot less volume than 6922s, 623NP, 7DJ8 or 6DJ8s. I have not compared in the CSP3 for volume, only for sound. But it may give you a hit to change the input and the outputs if they are 6N1P. If you don't have some inputs around to play with, I can check after the weekend if you are not in too big a hurry.
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Reply #38 - 08/28/14 at 16:12:31
 
Farmboss, the ML speakers being dipoles need wall relections to support the soundstage.  I had Magnepans and they are similar in room setup.  Given your garage setup I would consider looking at Tekton Pendragons.  They are "only" $2500/pair, have twin 10" drivers and will rock all day long since they are 98dB sensitive.  They get a lot of praise from the high efficiency crowd.  The ZMA would drive them superbly.
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Reply #39 - 08/28/14 at 23:43:16
 
Love the suggestions.  Will I am looking into changing the output tubes on the preamp.  That seems like a pretty inexpensive option.  Any suggestions for the brand to buy?  Also I am now researching the Tekton Pendragons.  I know how this will end.  Any thoughts on this speaker vs the Zu lineup?
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Reply #40 - 09/01/14 at 02:45:48
 
Farm Boss,

I am finally home and did some listening with the CSP3. I can't tell much (if any) difference in volume between 6922 and 6N1P in the output position, so I am thinking my guess was off. I don't know how it works in these circuits. The difference in the MKIII input position is notable but not in the CSP3 output.
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« Last Edit: 09/01/14 at 02:46:32 by will »  

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Reply #41 - 09/02/14 at 02:15:15
 
Will, I really appreciate that you would try this out for me.  Thank you.  Great idea though.  Meanwhile I have been playing around with the two different speaker outputs.  I have now moved them to the inside terminals also I changed my speaker placement and subwoofer settings..  My sound improved dramatically especially the low end.  I think I will pass on any speaker updates for now.
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Reply #42 - 09/02/14 at 13:55:03
 
If you have fixed your speaker setup that is always preferable to shopping for new speakers.  I was trying to envision the MLs in a garage and those speakers really need some boundaries.  I'm glad you have gotten some improvements.
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Reply #43 - 09/08/14 at 17:11:54
 
I'm torn between starting my own thread now that the ZMA has it's own forum, or just continuing on this one. This will be a brief post since I'm at work and only have a couple minutes while I'm on hold with support.

I picked up these speakers form Stone of Tone yesterday - got them setup, and right off the bat I knew they are something special.








As I said, I only have a minute, but here are my initial impressions of the speakers.

I quickly set them up, and right away knew I was on to something good. I had them setup just inside of my venerable MG-944, and once I realized I was hearing good things, I pushed the MG944 back to give the Gallo Reference 3.1 some room to project. I've currently have the 3.1s setup about 3' from the back wall, and pointed straight into the room, no toe-in yet (the manual said try both ways). I don't have the Reference sub amp for these speakers, so I've currently got the ZMA hooked up to the top binding posts which run the MTM + Sub all off the ZMA.

My setup, as most of you already knonw:
Lenovo Mini-PC with Windows 2012 Server in Core Mode with Audiophile Optomizer software - running Foobar2000  in a Bitperfect format (no processing). All music off my NAS, mostly FLAC rips of my own CDs, plus some DSD tracks from Blue Coast Records and Opus3.

USB from PC to PS Audio DirectStream using Pangea .5m Silver USB Cable
XLR outs (Morrow audio - whatever their $300 1m cable is) to the ZMA
My version of the Decware STyx to the Gallo Reference 3.1
Everything powered by a PS Audio P10 and Pangea or Wireworld power cables.

First off, the tweeters on these speakers are amazing. This 300 degree dispersion is very musical instrument like, much like the HR-1 radial driver, but all the way up to 50khz!

Acoustic instruments sound much more realistic and lifelike. I played several acoustic guitar pieces and violin pieces, and they were mind-bendingly realistic. I felt like I could hear the wood resonate in the room just like a real instrument would!

Mids on these speakers are only OK. While the instruments, especially acoustic ones sound amazing, sharp and solid of image, I'm finding the vocals on all recordings seem to be a little fuzzy around the edges and more in the background of the sound stage.

Bass - this is the weak link. Even with the ZMA grunt and torque, the bass is good, but not as fast and dynamic as the MG-944. While the Gallos seem to have more deeper punch due to the bigger drivers, it just feels slow on the attack. The fantastic tweeters help make the acoustic bass sound more lifelike (you hear all the high frequency bowing or slapping or fingers sliding up and down the strings), but it's not enough to make up for the lack of speed.

I'm going to play with these speakers a bit - they do some things better than the MG-944; in my L-shaped room, the 300 degree wrap around tweeters help my imaging compared to the laser beam of the 944. The life like reproduction of acoustic instruments is amazing. But the 944 are more efficient, have a better speed and attack, and simply amazing bass for an MTM design without sub. The Decware speakers in general are simply amazing for the money, that I have to go to speakers costing twice the price to only start to do things better!

Final notes: the Gallos are 88db speakers, with the ZMA I can get them to my usual listening level, which is under 100db. I'm absolutely fine with these 88db speakers on the ZMA. As mentioned, the Reference 3.1 can have a Gallo designed sub-amp hooked up directly to the subs, which I think could be the missing link to getting the bass to keep up with the MG-944 - but then again, that's extra expense, and might not do anything but make the existing bass louder for all I know. More research on this in the coming weeks. So right now these aren't replacing the venerable 944, but they are on par with them (in my room and setup), and do some things better for me.

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« Last Edit: 09/08/14 at 17:25:01 by Lonely Raven »  
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Reply #44 - 09/09/14 at 23:25:21
 
Hey All,  just got my ZMA last night and had my first 5 hours of listening.  Running Klipsch KLF-30s.  Lots of grip on the base.  I'm looking forward to the continued burn in.

Several questions if anyone knows:

Steve notes to not remove the tubes for 8 hours after the huge caps charge.  Is that true even with speakers connected?  IOW, how long do I wait after shutting down before I can swap out tubes?  

Can I run 6N2P-EV in the driver slots?

Anyone tried Genelex KT-66  or  Reflector 6P3S-E (6L6 GC / 5881) yet?

Can I hot swap between speakers, or do I have to shut down first?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
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Reply #45 - 09/10/14 at 04:07:12
 

I can only answer some of those - great questions all!

Quote:
Steve notes to not remove the tubes for 8 hours after the huge caps charge.  Is that true even with speakers connected?  IOW, how long do I wait after shutting down before I can swap out tubes?  


I was at Steve's shop while he was setting up my amp, and he swapped tubes - there was quite an arc due to the caps holding so much juice - not good!

It's my feeling (but I'm not Steve, nor do I work for Decware - so take what I say with a grain of salt), that if you pull the power plug while music is playing, it will drain the the caps getting those last few bars of music out. I don't think the caps would arc much if at all during a tube swap after that. Again, I don't know if this is safe for the amp, but it's what I would do if I wanted to swap tubes fast.

Quote:
Can I run 6N2P-EV in the driver slots?


I don't think so, isn't that more of a 12AX7 type tube?

Quote:
Can I hot swap between speakers, or do I have to shut down first?


I've always been taught to *never* run a tube amp without a load. Plus you might accidentally short out the cables or have some other accident while swapping. Just power down, swap fast, power up. I don't really think you loose more than 5 minutes of warm up time at worst. It's not like you'd have to warm up a full hour to get it going again if it's already (literally) warm.

Again, I'd give Steve a call on all of these questions. I'm no expert.  I just play one on TV.  ;D
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Reply #46 - 09/10/14 at 04:09:42
 
I think the 6N2P is more of a 6922 type, it's a different gain 6N1P. You may be able to use it in the ZMA, probably wouldn't hurt to try, but Steve would be the man to answer definitively.
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Reply #47 - 09/12/14 at 00:59:57
 
LR..the Gallo's sound promising, but I wonder if you would be better off with the most recent version, the Strada 2.  It's my understanding that the midrange was improved on these, and the tweeter maintains the same excellence that you describe.  Bass has been delegated to subwoofers (more likely mid-bass units vs. true subs).  

The dude over at Mapleshade (Pierre?) is a huge fan of the Strada 2 (I always thought that the tweaks Mapleshade offers are a little 'off the wall', but when you listen to their recordings, the sound fantastic, so they certainly know what they are doing).  Apparently they use these speakers as monitors for their recordings.
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Reply #48 - 09/12/14 at 05:53:48
 
Dave1210 wrote on 09/12/14 at 00:59:57:
LR..the Gallo's sound promising, but I wonder if you would be better off with the most recent version, the Strada 2.  It's my understanding that the midrange was improved on these, and the tweeter maintains the same excellence that you describe.  Bass has been delegated to subwoofers (more likely mid-bass units vs. true subs).  

The dude over at Mapleshade (Pierre?) is a huge fan of the Strada 2 (I always thought that the tweaks Mapleshade offers are a little 'off the wall', but when you listen to their recordings, the sound fantastic, so they certainly know what they are doing).  Apparently they use these speakers as monitors for their recordings.  


So are the Strada 2's an upgraded version of the Gallo sans bass drivers?
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Reply #49 - 09/12/14 at 11:28:03
 
The progression was as follows: Gallo 3.1 (pictured in LR's photo)-->Gallo 3.5 (which included many upgrades, but was in a similar chassis as the 3.1's)-->Strada 2 (which separated the midrange/tweeter from the chassis)

Below is a picture showing the 3.5 (left) with the Strada 2 (right):

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Reply #50 - 09/12/14 at 11:46:20
 
Below is a picture of the sub:



And the whole thing in action:

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Reply #51 - 09/12/14 at 15:21:04
 

I was originally looking at getting the Strada 2 for my home theater setup - I have a 21" subwoofer with 2000 watts behind it, and multiple ways of doing an electronic crossover. But when Stone's Gallos went up for sale I jumped on them. If I decide that I do only want the Galls for HT use, then I might flip the bigger Reference 3.1 and get the Strada 2 and build my own hardwood stands for them.

Right now I'm still enjoying the Reference 3.1 - but it makes me wonder if the newer drivers would have a better midrange that I'm craving.
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Reply #52 - 09/14/14 at 02:13:46
 
Hey JSM71- I got those Pendragons after all.  Thank you for your recommendation.  Much Much better than the martin logans with this set up.  Super loud and I think better sounding all around. Definately a good hard/rock combo with the Mystery Amp.  Playing Avenged Sevenfold and it is very very good.  I finally can appreciate all of the decware and my vpi.  It seemed before that they played but something was just not right.   I am very happy now.
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Reply #53 - 09/16/14 at 08:54:36
 
@ Dave ~ Thanks for the clarification!  

Anybody heard the different models and what were your impressions?  I believe one of the newer  model (separate sub, but forgot the specific model) went over very well in a 6moons review and seemed like a great bang for the buck speaker.
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