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Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25 (Read 1950 times)
Lon
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Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
04/13/18 at 20:53:20
 
I posted this on the Decware Facebook page today:

Monday I received the SE84UFO3 Monoblocks with the 25th Anniversary modifications that I ordered in February. Beautiful amplifiers! I love their elegant simplicity. Mine have the walnut bases and ebony knobs. I also ordered these with the "treble cut circuit" that Steve can build into the amplifiers which decreases the treble output by shunting it to ground.

I've been a busy listener and have over forty hours of listening time with these amplifiers. I wish I had even more time to listen, these amps just draw one in and grab hold of your attention.

First I have to say I had one worry ordering these: I was afraid that the amplifiers might strain trying to drive my Decware HR-1 speakers to loud levels. I needn't have worried. Even in my fairly large living/dining room I have plenty of power for my music and TV and movie watching needs. 2.7 watts NEVER sounded this powerful before! I have a lot of gain going into the amps as I'm using a ZTPRE/ZBIT/ZROCK2 configuration in front of them, and this creates what Steve Deckert terms "density." This density makes the sound seem more powerful. Well so does all the extensive power supply modification that give these amplifiers their impressive "speed." This speed also makes the sound seem more powerful. The sound is satisfying and full whether the music is loud or soft.

Which brings me to one of two points where these amplifiers seem to stand head and shoulders above their "peers" and stable mates. Dynamics! Musically from a "whisper" to a "roar" there's a wide gap, and you can sense the changes in volume and attack of instruments, the ebb and flow seems natural. The second point that these amplifiers make without trying: these amplifiers dish out detail. And not in a "highlighted" way--the details are there in a tapestry of sound, woven in the sound stage and the imaging and creating a sense of atmosphere and delivering a presentation with body and depth.

It's hard to describe some characteristics of these amplifiers other than to say that they evoke an excitement that brings me back to the beginnings of my audiophile journey and they offer an involved listening experience and a desire to continue listening and when that's not possible a hope to listen again soon. And that's what a music lover needs!
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio: Soloist SE, DMP+DSD, P10, PowerBases, XStream Statemt spk cb, AC-12 power cds; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3; Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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lazb
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #1 - 04/13/18 at 20:59:30
 
Lon, a great job of describing what these amps do but still not even close to the same thing as sitting in front of them with your own ears!
Cheesy
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Lon
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #2 - 04/13/18 at 21:11:41
 
No argument from me Joe!
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio: Soloist SE, DMP+DSD, P10, PowerBases, XStream Statemt spk cb, AC-12 power cds; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3; Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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glineus
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #3 - 04/14/18 at 00:44:24
 
Leon how does this amplifier compare to the Torii MK 111? I am the owner of an Torii MK1V and am considering acquiring the Monos do drive my Zu Definitions.

Regards
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Lon
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #4 - 04/14/18 at 01:04:47
 
Well, these are two very different designs. But in many ways these amplifiers sound very similar. The Monoblocks are not as powerful, that's for sure. But you shouldn't need the difference in power with the speakers you have.

The two sound pretty similar in signature if like me you are feeding the amps a lot of gain via a preamp and/or ZROCK2. The signature (beefy, fleshed out sound) is less similar if you are running the amp directly from a lower voltage source.

The Monoblocks I think may well give you more detail, more soundstage, more precise imaging than the Torii if you have the speakers well into the room and have some room treatment. I don't have that sort of room or listening set up; I have the speakers about 30" from the front wall and this reinforces the lower frequencies and brings the sound closer to that of the Mk III than if they were further out into the room and the room were "treated."

I think what sets the two amplifiers apart when they are both used in a configuration that suits them is: the Monoblocks have speed speed speed and this translates into a vivid and dynamic presentation; the Torii has FORCE, almost a blanket of lower frequency strength that surges, it is not as fast and has a heavier feel to it, larger, airier images plus a headroom that makes the presentation exude a certain "ease."
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio: Soloist SE, DMP+DSD, P10, PowerBases, XStream Statemt spk cb, AC-12 power cds; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3; Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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hdrider
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #5 - 04/14/18 at 16:28:53
 
Lon- Please keep listening, please keep writing as this adventure continues. I really love it when Steve breaks down another wall in the designs of his products. I really love it when forum members get their new gear and write their experiences and impressions of the gear in their rooms/systems. It makes this hobby so tangible and fun. Happy listening, Chris.
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CSP3, Rachael, ZP3, ZMC 1, Oppo BDP-93, Sota Star TT w/ FR-64, Dynavector D17 mkIII Moving coil, Omega 7XRS Mk 2 walnut, DeepOmega 8 sub, Morrow Audio PH3 and MA3 IC's, Gamma Electrostatic phones.
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Lon
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #6 - 04/14/18 at 16:31:44
 
Will do Chris. It's the weekend and I don't generally get to listen (except on headphones) as my wife still works and I let her run the weekends, and listening is not a priority of hers. The last three years here I've gotten used to that. . .but it's hard when there's new amps to listen to and even harder when they are these addictive Monoblocks. I'll do more listening starting Monday. . . .
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio: Soloist SE, DMP+DSD, P10, PowerBases, XStream Statemt spk cb, AC-12 power cds; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3; Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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SonicSeeker
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #7 - 04/14/18 at 16:44:03
 
I understand the weekend wife thing exactly LON.
I am enjoying reading your impressions thus far.
I would be interested to know your thoughts with everything removed, Pre-amp, Zrock etc.
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Lon
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #8 - 04/14/18 at 16:50:16
 
Hmmm. . . I'm not likely to do that my friend. Would be a complete moving around of things in my system that would be time-consuming and I KNOW I would prefer, in fact NEED, the effect that my ZTPRE, ZBIT and ZROCK2 provide. Without those I know I would neither get the volume I need nor the "fleshed out" sound I would need with the HR-1 speakers. The Z components were essential in my being able to use and enjoy the Taboo as a speaker amp and as these mono blocks are less powerful. . . it would be even more "whimpy" sounding.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio: Soloist SE, DMP+DSD, P10, PowerBases, XStream Statemt spk cb, AC-12 power cds; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3; Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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TheTakeOut
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #9 - 06/09/18 at 05:13:53
 
Lon,  are you able to post pictures of the monoblocks?
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Lon
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #10 - 06/09/18 at 11:08:35
 
Sorry, I don't have a camera, don't do photos. Every now and then I can borrow a camera but only do that if I have something to sell that I need to photograph.

My Monoblocks look just like the non-25th Anniversary version with the exception that mine have a small knob in the front corner of each for the treble cut circuit, and above that a toggle switch to bypass that circuit. I have the walnut bases (not too well matched, but that's okay).
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio: Soloist SE, DMP+DSD, P10, PowerBases, XStream Statemt spk cb, AC-12 power cds; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3; Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Jay
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #11 - 07/16/18 at 12:52:59
 
Lon et al--

I'm a brand new Decware owner, having just bought a used Taboo III.  I'm mostly a tube amp and speaker guy but have some high-end cans so I have been acquiring some high-end headphone amps over the years to sprinkle different systems throughout my livings spaces.  The used Taboo price was too good to pass up.

I've been a high-efficiency speaker guy for about 10 years with Altec Valencias, Altec Model 14s, and 4 sets of Zu speakers all still in different systems across two homes.  I got into SETs a number of years ago but never found my way to Decware.

To cut my story short and get to the question, I put the Taboo III on my main rig with the Zu Druid 6s (their newest speaker), and within a few hours of settling in and warm up, I'm astonished at what that little amp can accomplish.  I'm comparing it to some fairly high-end 300B and 845 monoblocks from Audion and Thoress, and an 845 integrated from Melody, and the additional clarity, soundstaging, and layering are honestly a real revelation to me.

I'm of course then asking myself--how much better could this get.  Can you compare the changes you're hearing between the 25th monos and your Taboo?
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Lon
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #12 - 07/16/18 at 13:20:28
 
Hi Jay and welcome.

First let me say it's been a ing time since I have listened to the Taboo MK III as a speaker amplifier, but I have a lot of experience with the Taboo Mk IV.

The difference between these models is mostly the UFO transformers. These transformers are an upgrade in themselves--they give an open, dynamic increase top to bottom of the frequencies. They bring a bit more "reality" to the system sound is the best way I can explain it.

In comparison to the Taboo Mk IV the Monoblocks at first appeared more powerful. They had the presence and power perception of the Torii Mk III that I used for years, in part I think because of the two regulation tubes and their placement in the circuit, very similar to the Torii. In reality though the amps distort when I ask too much from them (I don't use, have never used "high efficiency speakers"--I'm using HR-1 speakers that I love and that work so well in my odd room placement.) So there's a perceived power that is unlike the way the other smaller power amps have sounded. And all the benefits of the UFO transformers are there in the sound, with added detail from the power supply upgrades. The detail is presented in a manner I have not experienced before. In the past "more detail" often meant a highlighted detail that stood out, and often wasn't an improvement with less than stellar sounding recordings (which are the majority of my listening). In this case with the Monoblocks details are perceived as a natural part of the entire sound, not calling attention to themselves really, but fleshing out the entire sound. This is a process that is still continuing as the amps (and also the CSP3-25 that I added a month later is seasoning in and adding another layer of this detail to the tapestry) season in and as I fine tune the system to accommodate the rich sound from these amps. I still feel the system has more to give, hasn't revealed all its secrets yet.

So from the Taboo III . . . oh yes, there IS more. First there is the "revelation" (a good word as there is more to reveal) of the UFO transformers. And then there is the "epiphany" of the 25th anniversary power supply modifications. . . they make appear in your brain a new level of connection to the music, it's almost a spiritual reaction, which may be  a corny sounding thing but it's one way I react to and relate to experiencing the sound.

In my case the Monoblocks have JUST enough power for my system and its needs with my speakers--the Taboo Mk IV had a bit of headroom in comparison. But with high efficiency speakers this is not likely to be the case. And likely the single chassis SE84UFO-25 would give you the same sonic delight and have sufficient power.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio: Soloist SE, DMP+DSD, P10, PowerBases, XStream Statemt spk cb, AC-12 power cds; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3; Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Jay
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #13 - 07/16/18 at 20:07:50
 
Lon, first, thanks so much for your quick reply.

I'm not sure of your background, and I've only read just a few of your posts so far, but you have an absolutely outstanding way of describing what you are hearing and feeling, and it translates perfectly, to me certainly.  Your experience and descriptions are very valuable and helpful, so thank you again.

You are describing a very rare system synergy that I have personally not often heard (1-2 times only), and way more often than not, have NOT heard in many very expensive and "well thought of" systems around the US.  Until you have heard it (and felt it), it's hard to know what is missing from some otherwise outstanding sounding systems.  I hope that doesn't read as dramatic or arrogant, as I truly hope everyone has the chance to experience (and eventually own) a system that makes you have that deeply emotional response, and "spiritual" is actually a great description.  The Taboo III has just gotten me as close as I've been able to come in my own system, hence my curiosity for how to get even more "there."  Unfortunately i now own some pretty expensive SET amps that haven't gotten me quite over the line.  For this tiny little "headphone" amp to get me as close as it has with my speakers has caused me to rethink a lot of about where I was looking.

My electrical engineering understanding is quite poor, and while I read a lot about the configurations of amp topologies and their system pairings, I am still learning the Decware span of designs.  My speakers are 16 ohm, very high 90s in efficiency, and without crossovers, so I do think the lower wpc are working out very well for me, at least in regard to the Taboo III.  Like you, I'm benefitting from a great pre-amp with some gain (an Atma-Sphere MP-1 in my case) that has, in all instances, "added" the same improvements you describe to every stereo or mono amp I've placed it in front of, and the Taboo is no exception.  I've tried, in every instance where I had volume controls on the amps, to run directly to the source, and in all cases have preferred having the MP-1 in the mix...another reason why your experience was meaningful to me when I read it.  I think some folks miss out on what a truly great pre-amp can "add" when the synergy is there--I know that popular responses are often that it shouldn't "add" anything, and where multiple volume controls are in play, should actually be a detriment  to top sound.  And all expensive pre-amps from all great brands don't equal great pre-amps, by the way...but topics for other threads.

Thanks again Lon.  Time to read up more on the Decware models and see where I should climb next in the lines.
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Lon
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Re: Listening Impressions of the SE84UFO3-25
Reply #14 - 07/16/18 at 20:23:27
 
Jay, thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you understood my stance having similar experiences.

My background of relevance I guess is that I have been an owner of Decware products since I bought the 27th Zen amp Steve sold in '97 or so and I have kept up with both the expansion of the line and the growth of the designs and included a good number of them into my system.

And I LOVE music. I play a bit, and I have been collecting music since my teens. I have so many recordings I have to maintain a climate-controlled storage unit now. Sigh. I'm into audio as a vehicle to the music. . . though I have in the process fallen in love with the mechanics and use of the gear.

Other than that I have had a decent education (the best of which may have been outside the US!) and come from the home of a father who is an often published historian and a national award winning speaker as well as a "man of God" so language and "clear meaning" have been things that I always have taken seriously and worked with.

I waffled back and forth with preamps and am now so solidly in the preamp camp that I have TWO of them in my signal path! You're absolutely right, great preamps are a special thing and price is not always a guarantee of "greatness." I can really understand how the Taboo Mk III had influenced your listening--my own Taboo Mk III brought me back into headphone listening after a few decades away and my Taboo Mk IV ousted a Decware amp five times as powerful as my main amp not long ago. Keep reading and I'm sure if you have any questions many of us here will do our best to help.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th;PS Audio: Soloist SE, DMP+DSD, P10, PowerBases, XStream Statemt spk cb, AC-12 power cds; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3; Oppo UDP-205;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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