SPEAKER FORUMS >> MG944 >> MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?

Message started by italiano79 on 11/16/09 at 19:32:12

Title: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by italiano79 on 11/16/09 at 19:32:12

I've been drooling over Decware's MG944 speakers ever since I saw them online, but am wondering if they would work well with my gear. I currently use a certain 2W single-ended, parafeed integrated amp (6DN7 tubes) I built from a competitor's site (who I'm sure you can figure out). I'm a fan of Decware's stuff, too, and would like to combine my SET with a pair of sensitive, non-horn speakers that will work well with a watt or two. The amp has plenty of juice, with CCS boards in place of the anode resistors, and uses OPT's wired as 8k/8 ohm autoformers. The MG944 page states a nominal impedance of 4 ohms, which by itself wouldn't be a problem (I have 4 ohm taps as well), but that's assuming that the impedance never dips much below 4 ohms. The actual impedance of the amp is somewhere along the lines of 2.8 ohms on the 8 ohm taps and 1.7 ohms on the 4 ohm taps. Based on people's experience with these speakers, would I have enough current to get a balanced sound from these? The MG944 speakers seem ideal for SET amps, esp. since horns and whizzer cones don't seem to be my thing. Plus, I can't believe they are only $995! My listening habits lean towards jazz and some rock, but I probably never use more than a watt or so on 92dB/W/m Klipsch speakers (whose sound I hate).

Thanks for any advice!

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Rivieraranch on 11/16/09 at 22:29:01

Forget about the specs; give them a try.

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/17/09 at 00:13:13

Fine set of speakers :)

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by italiano79 on 11/17/09 at 02:08:45

Thanks for the words of encouragement  :)

For anybody that owns these and runs them off a low-wattage SET, what are your impressions? Everything I've read online seems to be unanimously positive, but there's not as much info on peoples' experiences with these as say, a pair of Klipsch speakers. The specs look good, but as any fellow SET-head knows, it is easy to run out of steam very quickly when you only have two good watts. I can modify the circuit slightly to use 6EM7 tubes and put in a MQ iron upgrade, which would get me up to about 3W RMS, but nothing more. The classic Zen SE84 only puts out 2.3W at 4 ohms as well, so I'd be especially interested in hearing from anybody who has paired these speakers with that amp.

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/17/09 at 23:18:59

I have Zen amps set up for single tube SV83 (1.5 wpc).
Also single EL34 in a first generation Integrated (3.5 wpc)
I'll get them wired together with the MG's and report back.

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by italiano79 on 11/21/09 at 15:42:11

Chris K,

I'll be interested in your observations, should you have time to hook up your low-powered amps to the MG944's. Both of the amps listed are similar to what I use. 94dB is a little on the low side for a 2W amp, but that also depends on the load the speakers present to it (for example, Klipsch speakers seem to have severe impedance dips that cause problems with SET's, despite their high sensitivity. Heresy III's are 99dB/W/m!).

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/22/09 at 03:56:51

I'm partly there.
Broke out the Decware mono blocks and got the Integrated on one set of outputs. now just got to get the speakers (heavy lifting) swapped out. You know its great to have so many sets of speakers but at DecFest there is so much space to sock em away when you move speakers in and out of the listening room but here at home I'll be damned if every spare corner of the house does not have a set of speakers in it. ;D

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/24/09 at 00:26:28

OK! MG's in place and I'll do some listening tonight.

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Miles on 11/24/09 at 04:05:42

Hello Italiano,

I'll add my post (see below) from a year or more ago concerning the MG944's.

I've been an owner of MG944's for a couple of years and enjoy them. During most of this time they were interchanged with full range 8 inch Fostex  based BR speakers and the Hawthorne 15 inch SI coax OB's depending on the type of music played. Initially I drove my speakers with a single Zen SE84C with CSP preamp. The Fostex was pleasing on small scale music, the SI excelled on large scale orchestral and the MG's functioned well as a good all-round speaker.

Recently I added a second Zen bi-amped in series. At that point the MG's  really come to life and now I use them almost exclusively. BTW the MG's get plenty loud with one Zen but the additional power added a certain solidity and control. The  bi-amping came at the expense of increased hum (aprox. 2X) however it's not audible at the listening seat.

If you are going to buy them be sure to inquire about the alternate configuration from the one shown on the Decware site. It's the one I happen to own and it has a flat base rather than the scalloped bottom shown on the site. Only a few more bucks.

I've bought many products from Decware and have been pleased with all of them. You will be dealing with honest and talented professionals.


Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/24/09 at 06:03:00

OK here is the assessment so far.
Here you have the Decware Signature Mono Blocks from many years back. These have a different input tube and a greatly modified power supply. Used them in single, two and three output tube modes pictured

Also the Integrated (original design from years back as well SS diode rectified) with and without the CSP2 preamp in place (pictured) My CSP as seen is housed in a Signature chassis but is I'm told electrically the same as the current production model minus the head phone jack and multi input features.

The Integrated has the CCE cap on the output tube sockets. This amp is now identical on all four channels running in what is "Zen" triode which has been on all the SV83/EL84 Decware amps. Running the outside or inside set of output tubes alone nets you approx. 3.5 watts from each EL34. The Mono Blocks are running JJ EL84s and single tube is about 1.5-1.8 watts and two tubes about 3.5 watts and three tube on up to  about 5.5 watts.

All configs. fed signal by this iPhone 3Gs running Pandora radio streaming off a Belkin G/N wireless router on ATT DSL
Make fun of it as a source if so inclined but it is stupid good taken in the context of available online streaming media.
Sorry for bad pics. in a hurry :P

Room is a mess and that is a good thing for diffusion of reflected sound.

So unfortunately the Mono Blocks at higher volumes sound strained and not as dynamic even with 3 output tube installed. I will testify that Dan K had at DecFest a Zen kit 1 circuit board kit that he built a modified power supply for and it was stunningly powerful on the pair of MG944's at the Fest in Steve's big room. This effortlessness is not however what I experienced here at home with the Mono Blocks and even in three tube mode though the headroom was much improved the Mono Blocks, which were at one time a favorite of mine, just do not cut it anymore. The design of the power supply is not Decware and therefore these particular modified amps do not reflect Decware products in any way other than the circuit is a single ended triode design. That said lets move on to the exciting part.

The Integrated with the MG944's is just super holographic and simply musically a delight. Loads of slammin bass and just a room filling tapestry of detail and image that is head turning. With the CSP in the loop ahead of the amp the lush and fleshed out mid range is even more defined and the bass is just that bit more depth that you'd swear you were listening to way more than 3.5 wpc.

So will 3.5 watts drive the MG's? well this 3.5 watts I have here sure will. I can't say that the Mono Blocks did nothing better though. They had a bit more lower octave and that may well have been the straw that broke the power of these down at a more rapid rate. The Integrated that is now current production with tube rectification and about 6wpc and now comes with the CCE cap on the outputs is likely going to always sound amazing. With the MG944, the Radials and the two other sets of speakers I have here the CCE mod to the Lineup of Zen amps that take advantage of this plate/grid relationship is miraculous.

Ital as for the Bottlehead amp I'd say if you like the MG sound (try em) and the Bottlehead just won't do the job then speakers without a doubt are efficient enough to work with the numbers. Just the past few days though prove that synergy with the components is far more than just power.

I will be taking delivery of a Mini TORII  next month and that should be yet another eye opener. As I said I saw/heard with my own eyes and ears a single Zen kit amp drive a pair of MG944's at Decware and the sound was killer. The kit probably had the 9800 ohm (Red) Decware output transformers. The Integrated has 3300 ohm (Blue) Decware OPTs but there again a different output tube and the relationship between all the parts has its effect.

The MG is a neutral and very balanced speaker which emphasizes nothing particular yet is fast and transparent with plenty of bass. The newer model than my pair has the plinth bases and the bottom octave are more predictable with that base. Bottom line is I just blew myself away with an iPhone and 3.5 watts of EL34 wired in triode and the MG's were in every way contributing to that picture. Only sat down for an hour and posted this message. It was immediately clear to me upon sitting down to listen that what an amp is capable of is not always the raw power factor but many other things like dynamics and detail. This turned into an amp review as well as speaker but it's the whole story. I'll be enjoying this amp and speaker combo thats for sure. :)

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Doorman on 11/24/09 at 20:59:30

Thanks for the post, Chris!
What did I miss- I thought the SE34-I is 6wpc?
Best, Don

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/24/09 at 21:30:28

my Integrated is 1st gen. Decware with 4 output tubes and solid state rectified. The individual tubes can be bridged in series or parallel at the binding posts (4 sets, two each side). I chose to run single output per side for this test for Italiano79 to keep the power at 3.5 watts which is what I recall that this older model spec is. The new SE34I.2 is what Steve did to the Integrated a few years ago borrowing the inside EL-34 positions you see on my amp to get dual mono tube rectifiers. Somehow the newer Integrated power was boosted to 6 watts despite the triode wired EL34s. Not sure what accounts for that. But all I know is that I've had the amp for almost 5 years now and NEVER listened with just one tube on the outputs. Always bridged it in parallel for 7 watts. But last couple days its been kicking but with just a single set of tubes.

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Doorman on 11/24/09 at 23:47:50

You're obviously enjoying a great set-up!
Thanks, :)

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by italiano79 on 11/29/09 at 00:20:49

Thanks to everyone for an amazing amount of information! These speakers seem like a must-try, esp. since it sounds like they will work quite well with 3W or less - and would be especially good with something like a 300B SET, push-pull amp, or triode-strapped pentode amp (like some of the Decware products) putting out 6-8 watts. Since I fully intend on building more amps in the future (what fun is a hobby if you quit?), the lower power limitation is only for now. Any speaker I buy must handle low and high(er) wattage equally well (something I've found to be problematic with single drivers and horns) - so these may fit the bill!

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/30/09 at 02:44:22

They do exactly what you are asking Ital.
They have done justice to all the tube amps they have been paired with. YET they also have been bulletproof with the Onkyo 100 WPC HT receiver, and some vintage solid state stuff I have. Old Japanese dual mono TOTL integrated amps can sound incredibly good. Nothing compares to the sound field with the Decware Integrated I have. At least not right at this moment in time. You don't know how many times I wanted to sell that amp and it just never happened. The thing knew somehow that it would evolve into better and better thing. Thanks "amp" for not leaving me. ;D  The CCE mod works guys and gals!!!

Ital, you won't find a better value all around performer than the MG944. Read my review of it in the review section of the site here. All that was said 4 years ago and still stands. ;)

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/30/09 at 14:04:49

I have to add that if I could swing it right now I'd be thrilled to be demoing a pair of the ERR radials. This speaker is probably better in room than anybody (excepting those who have a pair) has heard to date. The large space in the Decware big room is not the only place this particular speaker should be showcased. In a normal listening space of the average home I'd venture that the ERR would be a dream. Omni speakers need some room boundary at the ceiling to really strut their stuff. $400 more than the MG944 yes but it is something one must hear to appreciate. A little push in that direction for those that have not heard this type of speaker. ;)

Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by dank on 11/30/09 at 20:54:06

Chris K

My thoughts were the same as yours (ERR's over the MG944's) until last Decfest when the MG944's came alive under my modified Zkit1 and the ERR's didn't do much of anything special - nothing bad, but nothing truly special as the MG944's did.  So, in my case anyway, it seems to boil down to how the amp matches to the speakers, and what "magic" might be in that connection.


Title: Re: MG944 and Bottlehead gear - a good match?
Post by Chris K on 11/30/09 at 23:46:32

Yes Dan the MG's played real nice with your amp and the synergy was VERY evident. But I did say that the ERR in an average living space would do some very "magic" things. I think the ERR is a more intimate speaker but that is a blind judgement until I live with them for awhile. I have no business getting more but a Mini TORII is coming and maybe a few other goodies and that will be it for awhile. Got to concentrate on what combinations I have right now including (6) sets of speakers. My wife is so precious to not have me BBQ'ed alive. She knows it is all in the name of progress.

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