Reviewed by: Joe , Audio Enthusiast from California.

Price Paid: $1495 at Decware

Product Model Year:
2003

Summary:

Hi folks- I had a rare opportunity last night to compare the SE34I against a Consonance M99+ integrated amp. A friend of mine learned that I just purchased The SE34I and wanted to know how it will stack against his M99.

His amp uses KT66power tubes with ECC83 as the drivers. It also is a push pull rather than SET. (This is just as much as I know) I invited him over last night to do a A-B comparison. He had his amp for about 1 month now, using it daily, and mine
was just 6 days old. The source used was a Pioneer Elite CDplayer, and speakers are Dunlavy SC3. The interconnects are Kimber PBJ and speaker cables are Kimber 8TC. music by Diana Krall (look of love CD) and Telarc Eric Kunzel's (magic world of Disney).

First off, this is not a exhaustive comparative test but just a simple "how does it sound versus the other" test. I have not heard different Tube amps before so this is a first for me and him. The music between the 2 units are different. That was obvious. Which was better? Depends on your taste!. The following comments are just my personal taste.

The Bass of the M99 was stronger, more solid against your chest. The Se34 bass was smooth and calming. The Mids (vocals, instruments, background singers) are more "in your face" with the M99, with energy and authority. The SE34I on the other hand, seems to have a layering effect, Sort of you can position each singer in space and the instruments you can localize it on the sound stage. The orchestra seems more laid back.

What's weird is Diana's voice sounded different from both amps. On the M99 it sounded full bodied, while the Se34 sounded more "3D" like her voices coming from her throat, chesty feeling. (pardon me, but this seems my best explanation). The piano on track 3 (or 4) also sounded different. The M99+ sounded very similar to my SS (from what I recollect) but on the SE34 it sounded like you can hear the hammer hitting the chords (seems like it). you could hear the decay of notes.

Lastly, the highs. The SE34I has a more extended high frequency response. The amount of detail the amp puts out is impressive. It makes the listener engage the music more and "attracts" one into getting involved with the rhythm. The M99+ reproduces music very musically. every instruments comes out clearly and it sounds liquid. But one thing we both noticed, it gets tiring to listen to on loud or complex passages on the M99 versus the more "I want to listen again" feeling we get with the SE34.

Well that's it, from a newbie's perspective. I may not be eloquent in using words like airy, space etc, but I try to use simple words I felt when I was listening. And my friend also felt the same way, but he has a liking towards the "more forward, clear" type of music. I guess, in the end we both have amps that suited our listening taste.

 

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