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25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier (Read 205010 times)
Lonely Raven
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #200 - 01/16/18 at 06:42:39
 

So here's a thought - ZTPRE with regulator tubes?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #201 - 01/16/18 at 11:53:16
 
Hmmm. . . not sure where they would fit in the chassis design. . . and not sure they are needed. (I think the ZTPRE sounds phenomenal as is and doesn't need that line of regulation, but I am using a P10 with it as well). (I love my ZTPRE, it has really taken my system up another level).
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #202 - 01/17/18 at 03:36:41
 
Time for an update on the Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier...  I was fortunate enough to have my good friend Randy of Caintuck Audio over yesterday, who's ears I completely trust, for some conformation.

The sound of this amplifier seems too good to be true and since I found out I'm not dead and it's still happening I better be sure I haven't just simply lost it.

The good news is that I haven't lost it. We sat down to listen to it around 5:00 P.M. and before we even realized what happened it was 2:00 A.M. and then I decided to do the unthinkable, I put on some analogue tape.

Couple things happened... we both found out at the same time, despite my doing it for years, what tape actually sounds like.  It ruined us both.  

Also after spinning a few tapes my cat tried his hand at operating the tape machine which didn't go well for the tape. And interestingly I could have cared less that an expensive tape was nearly destroyed because the high you get from this kind of sound is so strong that it takes a lot more than that to kill your buzz.

This morning after a nice breakfast, we sat down to listen for a bit and next thing you know it's around 3:00 P.M. So clearly I think this illustrates that time travel is possible.

I'll also make the following observation: At 10:00 A.M. when we sat down to listen the sound quality was virtually indistinguishable from the sound we got during the middle of the night.  And I've been noticing this happen for the last week now.

On a personal level, this is the biggest breakthrough I've had since I built my first tube amp and discovered the middle of the night bloom of which I've written some articles on. I say that because I've always dreamed of and tried to figure out a way to get THAT middle of the night sound during the daytime. In the 1990's, I listened only at night, and because of those middle of the night experiences I have never until today been able to do any serious listening during the day... This is going to be a serious game changer for me. Not only does this somehow recreate the middle of the night bloom, but it does it with easily more than twice the un-hyped up detail that I've ever heard.

Despite my earlier efforts and I think Randy will agree, there are not words to accurately describe what we heard, nor will there ever be. It's something you have to hear for yourself to believe it. Randy and I go all the way back to the first Zen Triodes and have been listening to them for all these years and this thing simply went were no amp has gone before.

I believe the amp had its way with Randy, just as it did with me last week when I posted about it... so now I feel like it's a real thing and not some weird spell I cast on myself that makes me hear things that aren't really there.

Steve




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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #203 - 01/17/18 at 06:44:26
 
Great update Steve!  And I have been around Randy long enough, and it only takes a New York Minute, to realize his ears are to be trusted.  

Keep the updates flowing....   I am sure there are many who are chomping at the bit over this amp.  

The only question is, who is getting serial #3?   Wink
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will
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #204 - 01/17/18 at 07:35:46
 
Exiting! I think I can imagine what you are hearing!

Since I started playing with bypasses on the power supplies of my Torii and CSP3, after eliminating caps I had that were not ideal for all types of music and tones, and finding ones that worked nicely together, I came to a combination that has remained pretty solid in the Torii. Though I still play around a little, I keep coming back to a similar place...six or seven pairs of bypasses (1 or 2, depending on the arrangement, bypassing bypasses), the combination of different synergistic cap values and types adding complexity that is really beautiful.

With connectors and the volume pot upgraded also, what you describe sounds similar to what I am hearing....lucid, fast, easier flow, deep, fine detail complexity in deeper space bringing out definition, textures, enhanced ambient and harmonic complexity, bass solidity, natural timbre, improved soundstage saturation and separation....

When I imagine VRs for each tube's power, UFOs, a super simple circuit, and quality bypasses on a more discrete power supply...it must be magnificent!
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jorgen
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #205 - 01/17/18 at 14:36:47
 
Great read in this thread. Got an extra smile on my face when i read about a possibility for an update on the mono amps- even if i dont exactly find them to come short in any way. Mine are fitted with upgraded caps already.  Looking forward to read the test With these updates, and curious to when it can be done and to what cost
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #206 - 01/17/18 at 15:52:03
 
Were the euphoric listening sessions using the "new" 8" speaker horns or a combination of several speakers?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #207 - 01/18/18 at 02:59:04
 


Greetings all,

After my return trip to Caintuck from East Peoria (fighting the winter weather) I had to catch up on some errands this afternoon ..... but wanted to share a few thoughts about the new amplifier.

First, all of our listening that was done Monday evening was done using the new DNA horn with the 8" driver.  Without any doubt, this is one fine sounding speaker.  In times past, my favorite Decware speaker was the ZOB which shouldn't be much of a surprise since I spend most of my time listening to open baffles and have become very sensitive to "box colorations" in most conventional speakers.

Of course, it's possible that whatever the amplifier was doing made the DNA horns sound spectacular ..... but I don't think so.
Whatever the case, the Anniversary amp / 8" DNA combo produced music that made me lose all track of time.

The following thoughts concerning the new amplifier were validated by a second listening session on Tuesday using a pair of my Betsy & Buck baffles which I am VERY familiar with.

I currently have in my home stable of amplifiers an SE84UFO, a pentode Spud and a custom built 300B.  All of these amps are excellent sounding in their own way. Many of the readers of this forum are familiar with the SE84UFO, the Spud has only a single gain stage and when used with speakers efficient enough to let it strut its stuff is a revelation and the 300B sounds nothing at all like many "typical" syrupy sounding 300B amps ..... it's more like a 45 or 2A3 on steroids with all of the beauty of a directly heated SET without the negatives.

Having these amplifiers as my references made me curious as to just how good the Anniversary amp could be.
I was not prepared for what I heard ..... period.

Anyone who has attended a Decware Zen Fest and has heard Steve's reel to reel front end is aware of the amazing realism that it produces.
After hearing it the past two years, I have done my best to forget about it and convince myself that I'm too old to get involved in a new music format ..... but if you ever hear it, you will be ruined for life.
Take my word for it.

Thankfully, in addition to being ruined once again by the reel to reel front end, we also played some familiar CDs that I brought with me and streamed tunes from Steve's computer ..... so I was able to hear the amplifier on a level playing field.

To the point ..... when this amplifier goes in the Decware online store, I will be buying one.

What does it sound like ? The answer is simply "music".
Everything is just right. Steve told me that it's a combination of things including the power supply, capacitors, voltage regulation, etc. that combine to make it sound as good as it does.

The attack of notes, the decay, the space and air between instruments and vocals, the tonality are all excellent ..... but what amazed me the most was the depth and focus of the sound stage. I'm accustomed to a deep sound stage, but the amplifier created an image deeper than any I have heard in Steve's room in the past (with both pairs of speakers) and the focus and density of the image at the back of the sound stage was so real that I felt like I was able to reach in and put my hands on the instruments and voices.

To make sure that the listening session was not "chemically enhanced", I limited myself to one beer over the several hour "concert".

I'm sure that most of the readers of this forum are familiar with and probably bored to tears with all of the "audio jargon superlatives", but this amplifier really is that good.

On Tuesday morning, I had every intention of hearing the new amp with the Betsy baffles I brought with me and spend about an hour with that combo.  I finally forced myself out of the listening seat and headed home at 3:00 PM .....

I went back and re-read everything that Steve shared concerning his listening sessions with this amplifier and could not find a single thing I could disagree with.

Thanks for indulging my long winded rant ..... but anyone who is considering the purchase of their "last amplifier" and has a pair of speakers efficient enough to let this amp sing should give it a serious look .... and a listen.

Happy listening,
Randy

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Steve Deckert
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #208 - 01/18/18 at 03:48:23
 
Tonight I am listening to the SE84UFO3 with the anniversary update. Since it is just starting the burn-in it of course has me thinking about burn-in and I realized something important. Capacitors have memory that occurs in the specifics of how the dielectric and the foil seat together. Temperature cycles and signal passing through the cap creates a physical change in the cap that you can hear.  

It's been my experience as I've mentioned in the past that if you want your caps to sound good on music, use music to train them during the break-in process. Use music that is well recorded only. Use music that you like. Do not use burn-in discs as that will train your cap in many cases to play test tones and then when you switch to music it has to be re-trained to sound good with music. Can it ever be completely retrained is the question.

It is very apparent even in the first hours of listening to these monos that like the stereo unit, there is simply no grain in the high voltage power supply so even unburned in the amp has over the top liquidity. That means that the coupling caps are never going to see or experience grain ever in their service lifetime so I think this is having a profound effect on the sound of the cap as a result of how it is burning in.

The immediate difference I hear between the two at this awakening state is that the mono's have more power and more headroom. I'll keep you posted as things develop.



To comment on Randy's post, I felt like the speakers on Tuesday were simply extraordinary and still just as hard to believe as ever! In fact I heard more similarities between the two speakers than differences until you look at size price and weight and then there is no competition for Randy's baffles.

Here is how good they actually are - if I had to give a demo of this new amplifier in front of the worlds audio critics with Randy's baffles, especially these new ones, I wouldn't even hesitate. Besides meeting my criteria for a speaker able to clearly demo what the amp is all about, it would just make the amp more impressive since people would have such a hard time rationalizing what they hear from such a simple and smaller speaker they would give the amp more credit.

One thing I learned as a result of the things we did during Randy's visit is that at this level it is an exquisite balance between speakers and amplifier and room to get the kind of sound stage depth we were getting. During one test with crossover points on the Baffles changing it by a few percent made the back of the sound stage somewhat disappear. This is because the midrange got about 1/2dB louder and the phase angle no doubt changed from the change in inductor size. I know that this would have been easy to miss with any other amplifier because no amplifier I've heard has the same focus for ever layer all the way to the very back of the sound stage.  

If sound were light and ears were eyes, even with 20/20 vision depth of field is less focused than what's up front and since audio amplifiers always seemed to achieve a similar result it is easy to assume that it is the same for sound. It's actually not. The focus does't change regardless of how far away the sound is, unless something alters it.  So it's quite alarming to hear such 4K focus so far back in the stage and realize that's how it really actually is.


Steve



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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #209 - 01/18/18 at 13:01:48
 
Steve, I'm certainly not surprised at how well the new anniversary design shines in the SE84UFO3 as these amps always seemed to me to be capable of fantastic sound, though I've never heard them. I'm interested in a pair . . . I'll see what I can do when the new version is made available.

Randy, how awesome that you got to hear what the 25th Anniversary Zen can do with both the new DNA Horns AND the Betsy Open Baffles! With both you AND Steve over the moon with the sound. . . we who have learned to trust both pairs of ears know that there's real magic in the new design!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #210 - 01/19/18 at 00:29:03
 
Last year I purchased 2 ufo2's steve wired them for mono to cope with my 16-19 ohm druids, and I was debating if I should get the 25th anniversary amps,  I thought nah...  then I looked at what I spend on cartridges.   Then thought I am in!

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #211 - 01/20/18 at 01:35:14
 
For those of you more capable; ELI5 what is done with the ufo3 mono amps when upgraded.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #212 - 01/20/18 at 03:58:33
 

I'm still listening to the monos and the thoughts that come to mind tonight is that I am reminded why I like the Beeswax caps as the burn in is so much less traumatic and quite a bit faster.  Already the amps are sounding so good that I know I'll be on the fence as to which one is actually better.  The slightly higher voltage of the monos and power that comes with it brings an endearing sense of honesty to the playback, but other than that it's hard to tell what the differences are without a lot of tube rolling. It's very captivating so far.

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #213 - 01/20/18 at 18:12:13
 
Gosh Steve, you have me hoping that 2.7 watts would work for me for both audio and video needs. Or if I could get a transparent switcher that would allow me to switch between two amps and one single set of speakers!

Three things about the 25th Anniversary design and implementation:

1) SILVER. The 25th anniversary of a wedding is a "silver anniversary." It might be cool to visually add "silver" to the cosmetic palette of the amp(s) . . . top plate in a silver paint, "Decware" in silver on a face plate, something visual like that. Might even add a degree of "spousal approval."

2) BRIDGED AMPS: It seems that with the new UFO transformers sonic degradation from bridging a Zen amp properly is diminished or not existent. There are many who would find that a pair of bridged 25th Anniversary amps would be great to power speakers like the HR-1 and ERRx etc. We love these speakers, and we'd love to have the "magic" of these new amps. Would you consider a "pair of bridged amps in one chassis" as a future model? Seems it would cut the cost of a pair of bridged amps and save on power cables, etc.  seikosha was wondering why one was not offered in another thread, and it's an interesting question.

3} The TABOO: would the Taboo as a power amp be compatible with/considered for the 25th anniversary redesign in the future? That would be about 4 to 5 watts I think that could meet the needs of someone considering a pair of bridged Zen amps in one or two chassises. . . .

Thanks!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #214 - 01/20/18 at 23:21:04
 
Good questions and suggestions Lon and seikosha.  I do think he mentioned something about an upgraded green colored chassis a couple pages back ... trying to imagine what that would look like?  Perhaps the green color of some old school Altec Lansing drivers.  I also like your idea of a silver Decware 25th Anniversary badge/moniker like the Decware/Icon with 3D plate.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #215 - 01/24/18 at 04:33:28
 
I can tell the majority of the break-in is completed and while there are some differences between these monos and the stereo model, they have basically arrived at the same address. I could easily forget which ones I was listening to and at this point it wouldn't be difficult to accidentally fool myself as I switch back and forth.

My observation or takeaway tonight is that the success I'm having with these anniversary amps is largely effected by tube rolling. The input tube and the rectifier tube are the major players with these anniversary amps just as it is on any Zen Triode amp. Since the resolution of these amps is so extreme, differences in tubes are magnified. Where you would normally hear a very noticeable difference between two different input tubes, it is now like hearing completely different amplifiers.

I'm also going to predict that the lower voltage stereo model is going to have a more dreamy sound while the higher voltage monos will have more headroom. To try to figure out which is actually better is going to be a waste of time because we're into the subtleties of voicing.

My strong advise is to stick with the regular Zens on speakers less than 94dB 1w/1m (unless you listen near field) because if you make this about power it's possible to miss the boat. The efficiency, which is a result of less moving mass in the speaker, is a requirement to track the speed of the amplifiers and without it some of the magic and the value of the amplifier would be diminished. Which is to say the difference between the SE84UFO2 and these would be smaller.

In fact it would be my preference that the speakers be placed well away from the wall because again the difference between the two amplifiers would be lessened. Will it sound better than a SE84UFO2 in any situation... yes. However it designed for serious aka hardcore audiophile use because that is where the design can shine and reveal it's magic.

Do you need a perfect room, no. You just have to have a decent room and put some effort into speaker placement and type. Each year I have done things to improve the acoustics of my room and while the improvements have been very noticeable I felt like I could take it further and probably should. These amps have achieved the sound stage I was looking for and it either means the room was better than I thought, or the amps are magic. Either way I just saved a bunch of time and money on trying to make the room better.


Steve


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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #216 - 01/24/18 at 06:41:38
 
Interesting results. Sound like amazing amplifiers, both versions, and we're excited.  I'm a bit confused. . . stick to the Zen if with speakers 94 or below, and the Monos above 94?

I'm really enjoying the Taboo Mk IV with the ZROCK2 and ZTPRE and even have headroom with the HR-1s. The only real "wish list" for this set up would be a Treble Cut Circuit as well. Perhaps I should just stay with this set up if I want to continue to use the HR-1s, especially as I have to have the speakers closer to the front wall than I'd like. Any chance the Taboo Mk IV could (in time) take advantage of this "Anniversary" re-design? Perhaps only possible with a "power amp only" version?

Lots to think about, and exciting times in Decwarelandia.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #217 - 01/24/18 at 07:17:35
 
Confused a little as well ... go with a pair of bridged Zen Anniversary stereo amps if under 94dB or Zen Anniversary mono amps if above 94dB?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #218 - 01/24/18 at 08:14:37
 
Quote:
My strong advise is to stick with the regular Zens on speakers less than 94dB 1w/1m (unless you listen near field) because if you make this about power it's possible to miss the boat.


If I am not mistaken, I believe what Steve is saying is, if you don't have speakers with at least an efficiency of 94dB, you should not go with the 25th Anniversary amplifiers (monos included) and instead utilize the standard 2-watt Zen amps - or other Decware amps in the current line up.  

The magic of these 25th Anniversary amps will not be realized with less efficient speakers (less than 94dB).
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #219 - 01/24/18 at 11:15:37
 
That's a good interpretation Jeff, thanks. My HR-1s don't quite make it . . . not quite 94db efficient. I may be SOL as far as these new amps go. . . . I need the omnidirectional aspect of the HR-1 in my room setup, and buying an amp AND speakers would be prohibitive!

Lots to think about, but still, Monos as good as yet different as the Zen in these new versions, great news. Options are good, two different routes to sonic splendor.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #220 - 01/24/18 at 13:40:53
 
I would think 2 bridged stereo amps would have enough power, in terms of magic and transparency, that's a steve question.
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Lon
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #221 - 01/24/18 at 13:47:54
 
Yes, that's an option I have considered. And a considerable expense. .  . . Personally I believe that with the UFO transformers and the available capacitors that the "magic" would be there, but yes, that's best to be heard from from Steve!

I'm obsessing over this a bit but this is an exciting move forward for Decware, and the excitement so far from Steve is encouraging, and there's a lot of interest from Decware owners and potential Decware owners. (I've gotten a few messages from Facebook readers expressing interest and wanting to continue to see developments.)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #222 - 01/25/18 at 00:12:22
 
@ J of A ... I agree with Lon ... your interpretation seems to be about the best of the bunch.  I'm sure it's going to be a great amp regardless, but it seems as if the Zen Ann's improvements are going to be much more noticeable with high efficiency speakers above 94dB and greater.

Lon, sorry to hear that these might not work out for you as you are one of the most vocal supporters of them ... hopefully Steve will chime in about going bridged (though that's going to be expensive).

Although from Steve's enthusiasm the Zen Ann's are blowing away the 6c33c mono's at this point ... my initial disappointment with hearing that another 2 watt iteration was coming forward was its limited ability of play back with speakers that are less than what I would consider high efficient seems to be coming into reality again and I'm not sure if these are for me either.  

I know that even my single driver 95.5dB Omega's are super easy to drive with the Taboo MK II, but I still sometimes wish for a little more headroom when watching movies (not with music as I am completely covered there, but during quiet dialog passages I always find myself reaching for the remote to turn up the volume in some cases to the absolute max).  Perhaps one day he'll get around to making another SET with more power and headroom.

Well Lon, you could always go Omega (jk Grin ... I know you love your HR-1s!)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #223 - 01/25/18 at 00:24:03
 

Quote:
If I am not mistaken, I believe what Steve is saying is, if you don't have speakers with at least an efficiency of 94dB, you should not go with the 25th Anniversary amplifiers (monos included) and instead utilize the standard 2-watt Zen amps - or other Decware amps in the current line up.  

The magic of these 25th Anniversary amps will not be realized with less efficient speakers (less than 94dB).


Correct.  Now, it's not a rule by any means, just a natural desire from the creator of the amplifier for people to hear it, and a knowledge that lower efficiency speakers will somewhat diminish it's potential.  I knew when I wrote it that it would cost sales, but it's the truth.

That said, anyone wanting to experience these amps who doesn't have appropriate speakers can contact Randy of Caintuck Audio for an open baffle speaker.  The ones on our site for $450. a pair will do it., but he has new ones with two drivers that are so good, I would have to listen to them again to determine which is better, the new DNA horns or Randy's new baffles.  Anyone not having heard these speakers will just have to trust me on this one.

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Reply #224 - 01/25/18 at 00:50:55
 

Another Update of the SE84UFO3's with the mod...  funny how this hobby works - today I listened to the monos again and gave them my blessing comparing them to the un-modded mono's even my cat could hear they were better.  So I decided to put the poor guy who ordered them out of his misery and get the amps in the shipping room today.  

I turned them off and hooked up the stereo unit which has been unplugged for a few days and turned it on to let it warm up. Curious how it would compare now that the monos are burned in and I'm happy with the results, I turned up the volume and prepared to un-pause the source which had been playing on the monos when I turned them off. Same song, right in the middle.

Now if you read yesterdays post, you know I was pretty convinced these mono amps sounded almost the same as the stereo amp. Then I hit the play button and in under 3 seconds the stereo amp had basically laid the monos to rest. I suppose the look on my face would have been priceless.

So, all day I spent making the mono amps as close to the stereo as possible. This involved installing the additional VR tube and then setting up an independent filter supply for it. I put an OC3 on the inside of the amp since it's likely to last for many years. Eight hours later the monos are almost a carbon copy except for two resistor values that were raised slightly to deal with the higher voltage. The fear of failure made me smarter as it usually does, and I was able to overcome how to get the second VR tube to work.

So having just put them back on line and un-pausing the source, it took again about 3 seconds to recognize the sound. It's now JUICY like the stereo model and can be billed as a mono version of the same amp with the same sound.

This was important because there are likely to be SE84UFO3 owners who after following this development thread will want to hear this anniversary amp and if their amps can be upgraded to the same sound and performance they will be thrilled. You can imagine however if a SE84UFO3 owner gets the mod, loves it, decides some day to get the stereo anniversary model and compares the two and they don't sound the same...

So one more evening with the monos, I'll let you know what happens.

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #225 - 01/25/18 at 00:55:26
 
In the first section of Elenor Rigby by Duofel, I just got goosebumps from my ankles all the way to the back of my neck.  I think that's a new record on the goose bump meter and I haven't even started yet.  Time to eat something and prepare my brain for what's about to happen!

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #226 - 01/25/18 at 01:43:59
 
beowulf wrote on 01/25/18 at 00:12:22:
Well Lon, you could always go Omega (jk Grin ... I know you love your HR-1s!)

Well, I know those are great speakers. But. . . I won't be able to afford speakers and amp. And. . . I have a unique situation. I'm using half of a big room in our house (that started out as a cabin. . . one big room that is living room, dining room, den. . . One half of it (with an irregular, sloping ceiling) is the living room and my system is in this half. The HR-1s have a magic that allows one speaker to be near a corner and the other to be without a side wall. I put two chairs along that side and I get left and right with nearly identical frequency balances and a strong center image. . . it's all almost as if this was a complete room, not half a room. I've had other speakers in this room. . . and boy that does NOT happen. So not only do I love the HR-1s, and somehow afforded them and paid for them, but I'm loathe to change speakers as I can't change where the system is set up, this is the only possibility even IF I had free reign to set up the system anywhere.

I think I can live with the Monoblocks, I'll put that to the test soon. As I have a lot of gain from the P10, the DS DASC and the ZBIT And ZTPRE the HR-1s are surprisingly nimble with lower powered amps in this room, and I have a Zen C that was modified by Eddie Vaughn to be a power amp that I can hook up and run through its paces with both audio and video aspects of the system. If the C cuts the mustard the Monos will, and I'm pretty sure with my system I won't be wasting money on the sound quality. And if I someday get higher efficiency speakers that work in this room, or another room, I'll have the amp to use. And there's still possibilities of birding two, or that there may be another option on the horizon. Hope is still alive!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #227 - 01/25/18 at 01:49:30
 
Rocking good news Steve! The monos would be my top choice if they could cope well enough with my HR-1s. Beautiful amps and I love the idea of mirror image amps side by side.

Question: do you think the Taboo might be a candidate in time for the 25th Anniversary treatment? Might be a great fit for some of our speakers and systems. I could send you a Mk III if you wanted one to play around with. Wink
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Reply #228 - 01/25/18 at 04:15:40
 
TONIGHTS NOTES:

Bass & Drum Intro - Niles Lofgren Band Live: Just sounds and feels completely real.  My thought is that this will short people out because it's too good.  They won't believe it, and they'll think either they've lost it, or some kind of trickery is involved.  They'll talk themselves down from it to keep their sanity.

Tarova - Snark Puppy: Sounds like I am standing there live in so much as it sounds real. But I'm listening to a solid state P.A. system of average to above average quality.  This explains why I've always had some issue with this one.

Midnight Procession - Boris Blank: The master of texture, soundstage and dynamics. The music feels so real and so much more real than normal that I feel like I'm doing something forbidden like looking at porn.

Ein Samen Kauboj - Friedemann: The vividness of some of the instruments, like the wood block. The complexity and texture in that simple wood block strike even though it's only 1 second long is like purchasing a book and when you got home the covers and pages were glued shut.  Tonight it opened and there are 632 pages in that one second strike.

Afro Dite - Friedemann: The slide up the guitar string has enough data in it and hangs time long enough that any good guitar player would know what brand strings they are and how long they've been on the guitar. Most audiophiles are thrilled to hear the finger sounds on the strings, which is like 4 pages of a book several hundred pages long. Even live you don't get this much detail from the strings a lot of the time because the noise floor in the room is higher, your setting farther away, or the same distance but speakers are focused at your head, the real guitar is an omni directional instrument that to sound like this has to be close miked. That means the sound I am hearing is the same level of detail and complexity I would hear if I were playing the guitar myself.

That could be the magic of these amps, perhaps somehow they actually create dream time, like drummers get, where time slows down in so much as the notes get farther apart and you have like 5 seconds or more to think about them and plan your next bar even though to everyone else your playing at 120 bpm! Perhaps that's why you hear the notes hang in the air I would say 300% longer with these amps.

The problem then becomes trying to figure out how so much data was actually captured on the CD/Stream?  It just seems completely impossible to me.  

Trackless Deep - Yello: When you first dreamed about hi-end audio looking at a glowing amplifier in the magazine that costs more than your car, and you fantasied about what it might sound like.  This is what it sounds like.

Waving His Hello - Anna Ternheim:  This song is like standing on the edge of the grand canyon listening to angles.  The choir is usually what cracks up when this song is played back and with these amps you can hear it's not distortion in the recording, just an artifact of the compression that the engineers were likely unable to hear.

Partido Alto - Dominic Miller:  Exciting presence with forward and intimate dynamics, it just sounds completely real.  Crazy real.


Observation - I spend 50% of my time in the sweet spot and 50% just outside the listening zone where I hear the room and not the speakers. When the music sounds too good outside the listening zone that I have to go set in the sweet spot to see what's happening I notice a difference in the sound quality between the spots... obviously, but each has it's merits. What I notice or realize tonight is that when I walk into the sweet spot now the difference is three times larger than expected. This is solid science because I go between these two spots every day, seven days a week and on average 8 hours a day or more.  It's what I do. So I am used to the difference in sound I am going to hear from my outside the listening zone location and my in the sweet spot location. Very used to it. To be completely stunned each time I do it now, is just nuts.

If you analyze what I wrote the last couple days about these monos and compare that to what I'm writing now you can clearly see the state of mind is different. Tonight I am not alone because the music is here and it's now conscious, completely tangible and real. Before this last go around I would say it was so good I couldn't find anything wrong with it, seriously, but it wasn't alive and it wasn't conscious. You can sense consciousness when it is in the same room with you.

Saitensprung - Friedemann: Just such a great execution.  So 3D, expansive and intimate with such exquisite textures. Listening to this when it's over I find myself thinking if this much detail can be found in a 16 bit format which is what's left of a 20 bit master with the least significant bits erased (4 bits) compared to other amps I must have only been perceiving about 10 bits. I realize I am up sampling with the ZDAC2 everything to DSD but no algorithm can write this much correct information between the dots. So since there is no logical explanation we go back to the spiritual explanations where the music manifests through the amplifier and has it's way with the room and speakers because it's not bound by physics.

Witching Hour - Jesse Cook: I can see a stand up bass that like a Disney animation, has arms and legs and it's playing itself with a somewhat indescribable expression on its face. Sounds completely real, but that part is a little surreal. Like every cut I've played you are feeling the music and it feels like you experience the music and it experiences you.

Takla Makan - Yello, Dorothee Oberlinger: OK, it's so real, I moved my head out of the way as if a baseball was coming at me so I wouldn't get hit in the face with one of the notes in the music.

Another observation: Couple days ago I kicked things up a notch in the monos when I put some NOS Amprex 6DJ8's in the amps similar to the 7DJ8 I have in the stereo model.  I took out the 6N5P, which is just beautiful but I was craving more detail if you can imagine...  tonight I have the 6N5P in the amps and have not even heard the 6DJ8's, nor do I have any plan to this evening.  I'm afraid to.  We're out in the neutral zone here and this is no time to be "censored" with the ship.

And make no mistake about it, these are space ships that can travel both through space and through time. There is no drug that can compare to music that sounds this good.

I Tried to Tell You - Smooth Jazz Lounge Nights: Sounds like a very nice dinner club with a front and center table, the building is solid and old, you can feel it in the sound. No drywall or steel studs here. The drum kit has an energy in the high hats that you would only experience if it were real and you were standing 8 feet in front of the kit.

Oppression - Ben Harper: The bass drum feels like it's 5' in diameter about 20 feet back stage left. It's moving a lot of air in a round pattern coming directly at me.  The separation and tonality, every audiophile adjective (EAA) it contains. Simply real sounding.

Yesterdays (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (2007 Digital Remaster): The mesmerizing bow on this bass and the bass itself and Mr. Chambers are just so incredible. This recording would sound good even on mid fi gear, .....  on this however,  holy crap, how many times can I say real in a single post.  

There's no sense on going on because everything sounds and feels real. It shouldn't be happening but it is, and it's doing it on 16 bit digital source files.  

Lets just sum it up by saying the UFO3's can be made into UFO325's and at this point the only thing I've learned is that these monos might be better than the stereo model by the mere fact that they are one amp per channel. That is the impression I am getting using tubes that aren't even as good so it's a pretty good sign.

Just for kicks I gots Lon's CD today in the mail with largest existing Tannenberg pipe Organ (1728~1804). Astounding sound not to mention the human pumping bellows to create the air!

I don't know how these amps are doing it, but like all the music these spaceships just make pit stops in different space times and the experience is completely real. Now that I've started listening to this unprocessed organ music well recorded in a large space I'll have to remain here for the rest of the evening. No coming back from this. In fact I'm going to see what kind of organ music I can find on Tidal to amuse myself after this is done. Boy the sound of this particular organ is taking me back to the organ I grew up with as a boy... uncanny resemblance, the room the organ is in sounds familiar, much like the space I remember.

The music on this CD is so good. It completely took me back to 1969 in my dads church.... what a complete trip to go back after more than 40 years. The experience is vivid. Ever have a dream that was completely real? Becoming conscious that you are dreaming in a dream is called lucid dreaming. What is it called when you are awake and become conscious that you are in a dream?  

This reminds me, because organ music will bring many systems to their knees, that despite the 2.7 watts I wouldn't want to turn the volume up any louder. It is at the actual level it would be in the church, which is plenty loud believe me. How is it doing it...  Well it's at the magic live volume or damn near it where even 1dB quieter would take it just outside of real and 2dB would bring it from real back down to real good and there is a large difference between real good and real. I wouldn't want to loose even 1 dB under any circumstances so the speakers must be a solid 94dB from top to bottom and have some bottom.

BTW, I could be getting 98% of everything I'm hearing now from Randy's Baffles believe it or not... as the low slung driver that close to the floor generates real bass and it's large.  So yea, even this CD could be easily appreciated on these amps with Randy's humble speakers.

I'm going to spend the rest of the evening listening to organ pipes resonate through my castle.... it will likely end as it usually does with the IMPERIAL SO's handling the bottom end...  and we have all the power need somehow!


Steve








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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #229 - 01/25/18 at 05:10:44
 
So now I'm listening to a large organ and a full orchestra which would clip most amps and by some miracle it is not clipping, and it's just impossible. So then I decided to do the unthinkable, put on Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 and it did it with ease!  WHAT!  OK, so now lets just see what these amps would do on a pair of HR-1's...

If there was more than 1dB of difference when I hooked them up I must have missed it.  I'm listening to Tocatta on the HR-1's and it's the same... just as good, just as loud some how...

Boy that was a reminder of how low and powerful the HR-1 bass is!

These damn amps are making a fool out me, writing in circles.  Boy when the Audio Gods decide to teach you a lesson they really have calculated just how far they can bend the stick before it snaps.  Unbelievable.

So I guess you could use a pair of HR-1's with these amps and get better results than I thought.  The bass is so good and so low and tight you wouldn't think it was possible from such a small footprint as the HR-1 and certainly not driven by a 2 watt amplifier!

This is why you don't publish live journals ; )

Steve
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Reply #230 - 01/25/18 at 05:44:56
 
Using the HR-1's I notice that on Takla Makan for example, you can tell we're right on the edge of the amps clipping so to correct for it, we drop the volume by another dB or two which combined with the 1 dB lower efficiency is just enough to make a difference.  Boy what a tease.  A pair of the stereo amps bridged would just sale right through it as if you were listening to the larger DNA horns with possibly a touch more headroom.  A room that was smaller or more live would also do it so a bridged pair may not be needed for some people.

Meanwhile it has me wondering what the HDT would sound like and many of the other speakers so the rest of winter will be more than bearable as I find out!

Steve

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #231 - 01/25/18 at 06:46:59
 
Quote:
Do you need a perfect room, no. You just have to have a decent room and put some effort into speaker placement and type. Each year I have done things to improve the acoustics of my room and while the improvements have been very noticeable I felt like I could take it further and probably should.


In my room, I experience notably improved soundstage when power supply bypasses in the Torii MKIV, and CSP3 are well balanced. I like milder bypass iterations quite a lot....illuminating. But finding the boundary of getting the most from them, when everything is totally awake and balanced, but before things get too big and hyper articulate ....amazing....but in that area especially, it appears there are as many ways to throw the balance as create it!

Either way, the caps used, values, and how they compliment each other have been really big deals for me. When it works, it is something like those unusually great listening sessions when the magic happens with captivating wonder. But once the power refinement is sweet, it is less of a passing thing...it sticks.... disappearing into beauty becoming more normal.

It makes sense, the power supply effecting everything, making transformers, tubes, resistors, caps, wires, connectors.... reflect their truer potential. I have not heard anything close here, dense tonal resolution in spaciousness that does not feel affected. And I love it when it comes with speed, but also with a beautiful ease that increased resolution from emptier space creates. Deep and musical bass with natural feeling definition (for the most part!@#$%^) and refined timbre...beautiful speed, everything complex while also being discretely defined, and integrating musically...captivating drum and cymbal hits.....piano hammers shifting reality....richness that can bring tears.

It sounds to me like less noise; effortless immediacy and greater signal integrity and resolution helping solve congestion on complicated parts; more complete fine detail, bringing out more tonal layers and smoother and more natural edge creation and transitions.... definition that sounds real....harmonic complexity...ambient completeness, layers, and transitions that help define a player in space.....and all made clearer coming out of deeper and more empty space.

As I interpret it, for cleaner and musically tuned power and signal...different caps, like different tubes, offer loads of subtle ways to bring out beauty that in combination can be pretty far from subtle.....  

Back to soundstage....enhanced speed, resolution, and space, enhance soundstage saturation and spacial information, making it bigger, more engulfing and real feeling, finally enhancing how I interact in it. Seems increase in perceived volume comes along with this. Not using a meter, I am pretty sure my volume actually goes higher before distortion.

Quote:
My strong advise is to stick with the regular Zens on speakers less than 94dB 1w/1m (unless you listen near field) because if you make this about power it's possible to miss the boat. The efficiency, which is a result of less moving mass in the speaker, is a requirement to track the speed of the amplifiers and without it some of the magic and the value of the amplifier would be diminished.


Though this Anniversary amp sounds like it breaks even the Decware mold of power as it relates to how it pushes speakers, here, I have not been able to fully enjoy anything with less power than a Blue Torii with my HR-1s, though the 944s did pretty well with a SE34. The Rachel and Taboo I auditioned in more recent years sounded really good, but something really important to me happens with more driver push/extension and headroom. For my tastes, and biggish rooms, I need the drivers to move more for deeper emersion. After Toriis for years, in this setting, I would have had to get more efficient speakers in order to really get what the Rachel and Taboo had to offer.

From your listening with the Anniversary Zen on the HR-1s, even if on an edge, to get that far into them with 2 watts seems to illustrate just how far the mold you have made of excellence from the first watts has come! Congratulations.....Very exciting!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #232 - 01/25/18 at 09:19:28
 
Hey Steve, will the 25th Ann mono blocks also come in the green patina chassis that you mentioned the stereo version will come in?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #233 - 01/25/18 at 11:52:16
 
Wow! I'm glad you listened to the cd of a performance on the organ my great great great great great grandfather built! It's a very good cd and I knew you would enjoy it. And thank you for listening to the HR-1s with the Monos. I suspected the HR-1s would perform well and it appears that they may just do the ticket here for me. But it also appears as if a bridged pair of the 25th anniversary Zens would do better.

This is exciting, YOUR excitement comes through. It's great to be a music lover, and it's a great time to be one.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #234 - 01/25/18 at 15:57:00
 

Lon, is that CD available for sale?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #235 - 01/25/18 at 16:24:41
 
Yes Eric, it's here:

https://ravencd.com/merchantmanager/product_info.php?products_id=133

And it's on amazon and cheaper there from market place sellers.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #236 - 01/25/18 at 17:03:49
 
OK Lon, once you reminded me about the CDs I decided to open the box and check them out today...the Tyner in now...I think it will take a couple listens before I settle into it.  The Blue Mitchell looks like quite the line up.  I'm not used to hearing him in such a large group...that one later.

Just to get the interconnects settled and warmed, I put them in the second system between the ZROCK and Monoblocks...so far so good.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #237 - 01/25/18 at 17:34:48
 
Yeah, there's not that much difference between the Ultalinear and the Stradivarius to me, just a little more of the good body and detail in the Stradivarius, and when you have an all Stradivarius setup the goodnesses are all cumulatively enhanced. I hope you enjoy them, they've given me really good sound. I moved some equipment around and it turned out I was only using those in my second system. . .and I can put those you sent to me in there as I have a balanced source and a ZBIT.

The Tyner is not really one of my favorites of his or Blue Note in general but I have warmed to it over the years. At least now you can hear what the latest Japanese mastering on SHM-CD (or not, some have been reissued not on SHM-CD) sounds like. I think you'll like the Mitchell.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #238 - 01/25/18 at 21:31:46
 
Well, I did a quick test. I took the Taboo Mk IV out of my system and put in its place the Zen C amp I have that I bought four years ago (it's one modded by Eddie Vaughn to be a power amp only, and I'm not sure what other modifications were made!)

I didn't listen long. Did is sound anything like the Taboo? It had a family sound. Did it sound better than the Taboo? No. It sure needed time to warm up and come out of its dormant stage from not being used in a few months. And I didn't give it that time. I wanted to go back to pleasure listening.

But I did play music through it from the PS Audio Duo, listened to some TV broadcast via both DVR and the Blu-ray and ran a bit of an episode of the X-Files from the Blu-ray set I've been going through, Season 6.

I was surprised that everything was loud enough. Music, definitely. The video sound. . . yeah my wife might have wanted to turn it up a bit more, she doesn't hear as well as me and likes compressed sound, but man, it was loud enough. Bodes well fr me and any of the 25th Anniversary models to come.

I let out a short and subdued "Yee Ha" (what can I say, I spent more than three decades in Texas) and put the Taboo back in. Now I can stop obsessing. (Yeah, right).
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #239 - 01/25/18 at 22:22:14
 
Hi Steve Randy and others!
Sorry once again no Fest for Chris. Missed you guys.
Just started following the last page of this thread. Steve are you aware the years those cuts on the Paul Chambers recoding were done? That makes it even more amazing!!!!
I simply love the great recording that was done in the mid 50's to early 60's in the jazz world. Stunning accuracy and ambience. Live stuff at the Village Vanguard and other NYC clubs is so REAL!

In the  "TONIGHTS NOTES" long post listing a bunch of tunes you listened to I wondered what speaker you listened to? More the bigger DNA horn mostly?

Demo'd lots of the cuts you played and all of it is super detailed.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #240 - 01/26/18 at 00:41:04
 


Hi Chris,

Man ..... we really missed you as well.
The Zen Fest is just not quite the same without you being there .....  

On the night that Steve and I enjoyed our extended listening session, we were using the "big DNA horns" exclusively.
While quite a bit of the music was played from Steve's collection and was new to me, I did bring a few CDs that I am very familiar with.

The Anniversary amplifier brought out some things and presented them in a way I had not heard before.  This amplifier is the real deal.

The next morning, I was able to hear the same CDs through my Betsy & Buck speakers, so I had a "double reference" for comparison.

The amp was mind blowing with both pairs of speakers.

Looking forward to having this puppy in production, as well as the upgrades that will be available for existing Decware amplifiers.

Hoping to see you at Decware Fest 2018 .....

Best wishes,
Randy
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #241 - 01/26/18 at 15:10:10
 
Thanks Randy for the kind words. Good to be missed. So you and Steve listened to the BIG DNA exclusively the night and Caintuck speakers the next day. Now what I want to understand from Steve's later post after you left that he did indeed put HR-1 in and maybe even some other speakers. I'm curious as to his long post referencing several cuts he played through with color commentary just what the bulk of the listening was done on. Comparing speakers.

Steve you seemed that evening to switch out speakers at points checking not only compatibility with the monos regarding power ability with each but that the amps characteristics crossed over to other speakers. Just curious if the large horn was the main speaker used.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #242 - 01/29/18 at 03:03:10
 
Hi Chris,

Great to hear for you, and yes you are missed!

During the voicing and subsequent evaluation of an amplifier, it helps to keep variables down to a minimum so I lock into one speaker for the majority of comparisons. I usually pick something pretty fast like the HDT's, but this large DNA horn, which is what I've locked into for the majority of the development, is in the same league and I've been enjoying them since the fest.

For example, as I type this I am back to listening to the stereo model and I can feel the music in the keys of my keyboard while I type this.  Never noticed this before with all the thousands of hours of setting here listening to music... It's no louder than normal, just highly energized.

Such an amazing combination. For my ears it gets everything right from top to bottom, front to back, left to right, floor to ceiling, and does it with a perfect frequency balance in my room.

Because this particular combination makes great recordings sound real, we should describe the control:  ZDAC2's high output transformer coupled RCA jacks feeding the ZTPRE's transformer coupled RCA inputs. The output of the ZTPRE running balanced 22 feet to the ZBIT feeding the SE84UFO25 which is paired with the (let's call them) DNA2's speakers.

I would say the amp and preamp and source are the main gig here, and you could get this magic on any number of different speakers so long as you keep it at 94dB or higher and make sure the speaker has great bass.

Steve


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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #243 - 01/29/18 at 04:20:12
 
 
This weekend I took a couple nights off with no music to just let the sound of both amps replay in my head. Trying to figure out what the differences are, and which one is better IF one is actually better.

The mono's have been packed and probably shipped by now, and I feel a bit of a loss. I believe they were actually better, and on certain levels they should of course be since it is dual mono. If they didn't do things better than the stereo model there would be no reason to have them. That said the question obviously becomes how much better and what if anything can the stereo model do better than monos?

After listening to the stereo amp tonight I realize what the difference actually is. The difference is that the stereo amp is female and the mono amps are male.  Bother and sister I would say, of some genetically advanced race ; )

Being mostly male ourselves we are conditioned to think stronger or bigger is always better. As I listen to the stereo amp tonight, this is what I see it's capabilities are: (see image below)



Anyone who thinks this female has less power than her male counterparts is a fool, in fact this particular one could easily take out an army of men by distracting them in front of oncoming traffic, so on this point I will suggest the stereo model and mono's are equal but different just as male and female.


I swear every time I set in the listening chair in front of this amplifier I feel like I've went to heaven. The sound is unearthly good.

Steve




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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #244 - 01/29/18 at 05:08:16
 
Steve,

The Monos you just shipped were standard or modified?  You lost me in your last post as to what you are missing.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #245 - 01/30/18 at 21:47:58
 

The monos I just shipped were SE84UFO3's with the 25th Anniversary Updates.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #246 - 01/30/18 at 21:59:40
 
Cool. I hope they went to someone who will report about them here.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #247 - 01/30/18 at 22:13:49
 
Can you give a price including the upgrades?  I'd like to see if this is something I can aspire to!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #248 - 02/01/18 at 04:01:09
 
The Anniversary Mods for the SE84UFO3 are $680 per amp.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #249 - 02/01/18 at 04:30:53
 
Will the anniversary mod work with a Mini Torii?
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