D I O... P A P E R
REAL MAGIC BEHIND OUR SIGNATURE AMPLIFIERS
easy to see why our Zen Triode Select is so popular when compared
to our signature monoblocks. It's a stereo amp and cost
$695.00 When you acclimate yourself to the Decware web
site the price of our signature monos seems high. If you
first came across our signature amplifiers in a hi-end
stereo salon the price would probably seem too low. That said,
there are many who own our little Select who have spent many
times it's price improving the remainder of their systems. In
fact the amp has almost a cult following.
eventually stepped up to the signature monos because they wanted a
bit more power. Some who had high efficiency speakers
and were more than happy with the power of their Select, stepped
up to the monos in hopes of reaching a seemingly impossible
higher level of fidelity. After all, for the difference
in price they have to sound better right? These people
experienced the all to rude reality that hi-fi is a delicate
balance of compromise. They discovered that our Select
amp with a single output tube per channel had an edge over
the signature monos when it came to resolving inner detail.
The mono's on the other hand had more weight and control with
was no accident. The most popular speaker efficiency in
use when a customer buys an amplifier from us is 90dB. Consequently,
this is the speaker they start out with when they get their
first Zen Triode amp. A speaker in this range of efficiency
has to be unusually good to resolve the potential for inner
detail that I mentioned. If a customer finds themselves
wishing for more power after a period of time it is certain
their loudspeakers were not an ideal match and could not reach
the potential of the amplifier.
was all taking place in 1997 when the selection of affordable
and good sounding high efficiency speakers was small. The
reality was people were going to use these amps with whatever
speakers they owned. We had to make sure when they hooked
a Zen Triode amp up to their speakers that enough magic came
out to inspire them to choose the amp over the speakers. Of
course not having to choose was the ideal goal hence the quest
for more power. Our goal was to keep the same sound we
had with our original amplifier but just get more of it.
monoblocks had 3 output tubes per channel vs. a single tube
and because we used more expensive coupling caps and resistors
the monoblocks exceeded our goal actually sounding better then
our SE84C. Years later I decided to incorporate these
better parts into our original amp so people who could not afford
the signature amps could still enjoy the same fidelity at a
slightly lower power level. The result of this was our
SE84C-S nick-named the "Select".
high resolution speakers the Select actually could do some things
better then our signature monos. With conventional speakers
it was just the opposite. Today, many years later, the
shortage of affordable high resolution/high efficiency speakers
is over. It's getting easy to hear how good a Select really
is, and the majority of people who buy the Signature amps do
so wondering if the sound can really get any better.
response the changes in our market niche was to re-design the
Signature amps and frankly make damn sure they DO actually sound
better then a Select when compared on speakers that a Select
could drive to adequate levels.
first paper on the redesigned signature amps focused
on the similarities between the them and the popular Select
amp. In short, the signatures could now be run in either
of two configurations. Single tube per channel - exactly
duplicating a select, or Dual tube per channel - similar to
it's original sound when it used three tubes per channel.
the months of testing my new signatures on different speakers
I could hear merit in both the single tube mode as well as the
dual tube mode. I can't say one categorically sounded
better then the other because it really depended on what
speakers were being used with what source and personal taste.
was disappointed to find out after selling several pairs that
people were not even trying the amp in dual tube mode. In
fact I've also found out many people have not tried or use the
bias switch on the top of the original monoblocks or Selects.
Now, if you've ever taken the opportunity to listen to
these amps in both settings, you will prefer one setting over
the other. My question is this - wouldn't it be silly
if you were listening to the wrong setting all this time? Many
customers are. I've also got people calling me asking
me to make the signatures cost a bit less and only put one output
tube in them.
is clear to me that my original paper that focused on single
tube mode for the new amps was more of a disservice then it
was a help. People are missing the boat here because the
new signature amplifiers are actually configurable as 3 completely
different amps with 3 completely different sets of strengths
and weaknesses. Now, I can't help those who don't want to
explore the different sounds. The more amps you have at your
disposal the better the odds are of finding one that is truly
serendipitous with the rest of your system!
are the present configurations possible with the SV83S Signature
Front switch positioned towards the tubes - duplicates a Select
amplifier using the same 9800 ohm output transformer. 1/2
of the dual triode input tube is used to drive a single output
tube per channel. In this configuration only the center
output tube is active. You may even remove the two outside tubes
if you want. Comfortable with impedances between 1 and 4 ohms.
Front switch positioned away from the tubes - changes the amplifier
to use the two outside tubes in parallel driving a 3300 ohm
transformer. The inside tube becomes inactive and could even
be removed. 1/2 of the dual triode input tube biased to have
a lower output impedance to properly drive both output tubes.
Comfortable with impedances between 4 and 8 ohms.
Front switch in the same position (away from the tubes) just
like above but with one of the two outside tubes removed. This
is a completely fresh combination not found in any of our other
amplifiers. In this configuration you have a single output
tube coupled with the 3300 ohm output transformer and biased
twice as hard into class A. The output tube runs
on the edge of death where the sweetest tone hides and will
probably last no more than a year, 6 months with hard use. But
a single tube that costs under $10.00 shouldn't break the bank.
This configuration doubles the RMS power of the output
tube when compared to configuration A as long as the loudspeaker
impedance is no lower than 6 ohms. 8 and even 16 ohm speakers
become very serendipitous with the amp in this mode.
using 8 ohm speakers and comparing mode A with mode C, you'll
find the presentation of A to feature detail and ambience with
almost the same focus as vocals and instruments. With configuration
C you don't loose any detail or ambience, you just gain a wonderful
and welcome weight and presence in the midrange with this incredible
unbelievably good tone. It feels like easily twice the
power but it melts you with seductively real sounding playback.
In all my years of doing this, the tone and timbre of
everything is more "right" then I've ever heard it.
So good that it makes listening to CD far less traumatic
for a vinyl guy like myself.
course there have been many listening sessions when popping
the second tube in changed the presentation to favor more accurately
what it probably sounded like on the recording. Better
control, slightly more forward sounding, letting you push the
amp a bit harder to reach those higher SPL when the mood hits
Decware is a trademark of High Fidelity Engineering
Copyright © 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
2007 2008 by Steve Deckert