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EQUIPMENT FORUMS >> ZMA >> The MYSTERY AMP !
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Message started by Steve Deckert on 04/05/13 at 03:55:19

Title: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 04/05/13 at 03:55:19

I'm working on something new. This is a picture of it. A creative moment captured just before things get serious... kind of like the long ride to the top of a roller coaster. Not entirely sure what will happen during the heat of it, but it's sure to be memorable and who knows, I might learn something! (BTW, I have discovered the reason you never quit learning is because you start forgetting things you already knew.)




What makes this the mystery amp?  Lack of information. Thought you might enjoy speculating on what it might be. The only hint is that it is not replacing anything in the current amplifier line. I know, it's an obvious hint, but that's all I'm giving up.

-Steve  ;)

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by beowulf on 04/05/13 at 04:01:20

Hi Steve, can you at least tell us if it is an "Integrated" or not? :-?

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Fireblade on 04/05/13 at 05:07:16

Well, I don't know anything about the technology behind Decware's great amps, but this one seems to me some kind of dual mono design, around only 4 tubes per mono side, with two volume pots and a treble control.

It seems also to show toroidal transformers and what may be a push-pull arrangement, with only two output tubes (in PP) and two drivers, per mono side.

It also seems to show (maybe), two gauges per mono side, one for each of the PP output tubes on each mono side.

Or not!

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by deucekazoo on 04/05/13 at 05:26:38

Lets see, four gauges, two caps that look like the ones from the Torii Monos, two stereo volume pots, one master in the center.
My guess would be a 4 channel home theater amp.

John

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Pale Rider on 04/05/13 at 05:39:53


Quote:
My guess would be a 4 channel home theater amp.

Now, that would be cool.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by ncblue on 04/05/13 at 07:40:08

Please be a full function preamp with built in phono!

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by will on 04/05/13 at 13:56:07

What a brutal tease! It looks like two channels with four tubes per side, two power and two input? And a volume with maybe a bass and treble pot on either side of it? And four gauges? I am thinking a high wattage integrated.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Mark on 04/05/13 at 17:22:04

I would go for the world's first high performance telephone answering machine...

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by marky on 04/05/13 at 18:54:00

There could be a couple of tube sockets lying behind the gauges...phono signal ? Two gains and a master volume dial ? Big smoothing caps...No transformer. Now if you were to build a 2 unit amp with outboard power supply.......

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Steve Deckert on 04/06/13 at 05:00:20



A view from above with the glow of my Edison lamp capturing the focus of the camera lens... basically a slow drip of karma off the bulb onto the amplifier is one of the ingredients of this fine recipe.

Steve

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by will on 04/06/13 at 20:54:16

Looks like you are close to listening tests! May there be many more drops of creative karma to clarify musical reality!

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by stone_of_tone on 04/09/13 at 05:10:59

Anymore clues?  

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Steve Deckert on 04/09/13 at 17:08:08

Well, I'm not where near close to a listening test yet, as I'm doing this in my spare moments of which there are few...  so plan on it taking awhile...

Here is another clue.



-Steve

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by will on 04/09/13 at 17:32:35

With only two caps on the inside power area, I guessed those new round things behind the gauges might be power supply. This pic makes more sense since Steve is into "overdoing" the power supply so that there is well enough....bigass power supplies? I am still hanging with the high power integrated.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Rivieraranch on 04/09/13 at 22:08:33

What about a KT88 integrated?

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by busterfree on 04/09/13 at 22:37:34

a new dual mono preamp?

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by busterfree on 04/09/13 at 22:43:25

a small 15 watt amp (medium torii), something to fit between the mini and zen torii?

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Donnie on 04/09/13 at 23:15:57

Zen Torii MK IV !

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Fireblade on 04/10/13 at 00:07:23

Probably a new Zen Torii, with huge caps instead of the traditional input/output tube voltage regulation stages, incorporating what was learned from the recent Zen Torii Mono design process.

I still think this is a dual mono configuration, sort of a lesser powered dual Torii Monos, in a single chassis.


Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by ski bum on 04/10/13 at 00:13:19

You could be right, Donnie.  I seem to recall that Steve mentioned moving away from the tube regulation due to uncertain availability of the tubes.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Donnie on 04/10/13 at 00:31:26

$3275, 32 WPC.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Lon on 04/10/13 at 02:08:55

I don't know what it is, but I'm glad it's not replacing any current models.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Doorman on 04/10/13 at 16:54:14

It's good advertising!
Keep 'em pumped!
(with it's pedigree, it's bound to be interesting!)
Don

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by T Jacobsen on 04/10/13 at 23:30:34

Hi Steve,
Is it an OTL amp of some kind?  

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Damien on 04/11/13 at 00:29:44

Well I don't have the knowledge to say what it might be but I do know one thing for certain…
I want one. ;)

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Donnie on 04/11/13 at 00:42:19

More predictions: Wired with wire that has been treated with the tears of a clown: The bases will be made from wood taken from the Vatican's rec room: The knobs will be made from a TiCabon composit made by NASA: 8 speed switches!?: The tubes all will be heat treated, tempered, Cryoed,and then re-heat treated and tempered again: It will be only offered with a red top plate!
I may have gleaned a bit more from the photo's than the rest of you.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by jameskk on 04/11/13 at 00:54:10

Super tori 60 wpc

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Longbowbbs on 04/11/13 at 03:52:10

I would love to see a Decware competitor for the Cary SLI-80.....

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Lord Soth on 04/11/13 at 04:59:18

Like Damien,

I want one too.

Actually I want ONE PAIR. ;)

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by TubeNut on 04/11/13 at 21:05:21

Well...Those two HUMONGOUS round things in the middle area with the two connectors each are caps...(motor run type?)maybe oil filled? Whatever it is, it sure looks nice! WOW :o

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Donnie on 04/12/13 at 00:13:28

Tube cell phone.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by beowulf on 04/12/13 at 00:33:49


Quote:
Donnie,
More predictions: Wired with wire that has been treated with the tears of a clown: The bases will be made from wood taken from the Vatican's rec room: The knobs will be made from a TiCabon composit made by NASA: 8 speed switches!?: The tubes all will be heat treated, tempered, Cryoed,and then re-heat treated and tempered again: It will be only offered with a red top plate!
I may have gleaned a bit more from the photo's than the rest of you.


I'm with Donnie on this one, I mean it's so obvious from the pictures isn't it?  I just hope Steve is feeding the clowns locked up in his storage room! ;D

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Donnie on 04/14/13 at 00:32:23

The process begins....


Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by marky on 04/15/13 at 22:58:22

50-1......300B

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Steve Deckert on 04/16/13 at 00:04:19



Got a few more moments with the mystery amp today...  this is an interesting point in the build of this (or any) amplifier.  For those of you who aren't amp builders, you might not realize that everything you see completed in the photo is just the power supply, chassis and hardware.  The actual amplifier circuit or parts are not yet there.  In fact I could use this to build several different kinds of amplifiers, or at least, several different variations of this one.

The process is the same on every amplifier...

1) Install the hardware onto the chassis
2) Establish your ground path.  In this case - a single straight 10AWG piece of copper about 10 inches long located in the exact center of the amplifier and terminated to the earth ground lug on the IEC connector also located in the exact center of the amplifier.  This sets the stage for a mirror image layout where all wires are equal length from side to side throughout the entire amp.
3) Wire up the transformers to get all those long leads out of the way
4) Install the main power supply caps

Then stand back and begin to plan your next move as I am now.


Some insight into this power supply which as you know came from the development of the Zen TORII Mono's.  It is unique and Zen like in it's simplicity - part of the appeal to me, but it's the performance that really matters.  My wanting to continue exploring it is the motivation for this amplifier.

What makes this different are all the things that are missing.  Typically you have a tube rectifier converting the AC into ragged DC which is smoothed with a capacitor.  That makes it somewhat less ragged, but it takes more.  Either a choke or a large high wattage resistor is needed followed by another capacitor is what it takes to complete the smoothing process enough to work with.  Of course these steps are repeated further down stream to continue reducing the AC ripple to a point where it's nearly gone - the same as battery power.  So the high wattage resistor and additional capacitor are repeated a minimum of once for each additional stage in the amplifier, usually twice.

The result of adding the chokes or high wattage resistors is limited current and reduced voltage.  Any amplifier designer will tell you that where good power supplies are concerned you always want as much current as you can get.  And if you're new to tube electronics, the picture above will have more to do with the sound of the amp than the actual parts used to create the amplifier circuit itself.  The quality of DC power being delivered by the supply determines the quality of the amplifier and the resulting fidelity.  So you can imagine how a preamp stage being 3 to 4 resistors and or chokes away from the power source will greatly rob current flow.  This hampers dynamics.  There is also a delay in time for the current to pass through these filters which can have profound effects on the transparency of your amplifier.

By replacing the current limiting tube rectifier with high current fast recovery diodes we eliminate the current limiting, the voltage sag, and of course a massive amount of heat.  Normally tube rectifiers sound better but that is in the context of using 10 to 100 microfarad capacitors.  When you use a 2000 microfarad capacitor that's the size of a milk bottle the game changes and the tube rectifier becomes the clear looser in this contest.

Using such a large cap stores so much energy that it becomes a black hole for all AC ripple and noise on the line.  It eliminates the need for a choke or a large high wattage resistor with additional capacitors.  That give us zero current limiting and zero voltage loss and zero heat.  It's a win, win, win.

Of course to feed the preamp stage (smaller tubes) we need to drop the voltage and the common way to do that is a high wattage resistor followed by a small capacitor.  That is how the Torii Mono's were done.  In this amp, I am replacing this resistor with a vacuum diode aka voltage regulation tube (OA3) which will give me the same voltage drop as the resistor but with 20 times the ripple reduction and 100% decoupling so that harmonics from dirty power grids in your city do not contaminate the pure DC power feeding your critical preamp stage.  This also means that again 100% of the heat has been eliminated.

This will be the first power supply I've ever done that has zero resistors and zero chokes.  It's so Zen it's scary.




Steve  ;)

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Steve Deckert on 04/16/13 at 00:13:09

300B odds are higher than that I'm afraid.  Actually you don't know now many times I've been tempted but the temptation was purely sales.  The truth is, my original testing back in the 1990's during the development of the Zen Triode amplifier showed me I can get better sound with more neutrality from other tubes that just happen to cost a fraction of the price.  And unlike 2A3 and 300B amps you won't have to wonder how much better your amp would sound if you could afford the really good tubes at $1000 a pair.  

I am asked repeatably to build a 2A3 or 300B amplifier, but unless I find a way to make one justify the cost of the tubes AND sound better, I'm just not interested.  Plus you can buy a lot of nice used 300B amps now days that have been discarded by Decware customers. ;)

-Steve

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Donnie on 04/16/13 at 01:51:36

What, no clown tears? Are you crazy?
So I've been rounding up clowns for the last few days for nothing?
I've spent over $59.24 in cotton candy alone. That is what I get for speculating in the clown tears market. Nothing but heartbreak and squeeky noses to show for it.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Steve Deckert on 04/16/13 at 03:13:48

Are you sure it's not clown ears instead of tears?

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Pale Rider on 04/16/13 at 13:22:20

Steve explained:

Quote:
Using such a large cap stores so much energy that it becomes a black hole for all AC ripple and noise on the line.  It eliminates the need for a choke or a large high wattage resistor with additional capacitors.  That give us zero current limiting and zero voltage loss and zero heat.  It's a win, win, win.

I thought thsi was a very interesting discussion, especially since I just received in my email one of Paul McGowan's posts about power supplies, in which, during the course of noting how a switching power supply could be designed to achieve some of the same objectives, he noted this:

Quote:
In the past the best sounding option was to go with a linear supply – making sure it was over built for the task.  The problem with these supplies is that they are neither clean nor pretty – and the best results with any form of amplifier come when you have a pretty, clean and DC-like output on your power supply.  Even your classic A or A/B amps benefit greatly from a better supply – and a few traditional amp manufacturers even go so far as to regulate their amp’s power supply.  But the vast majority of amps do not regulate nor do they do anything about the ripple, jaggies and noise associated with this supply type.

These are two radically different approaches to achieving similar results. McGowan is right: the vast majority of amp designers do little or nothing about this problem. We happen to be fortunate that Steve is part of the small minority, and is extremely focused about creating clean power for his amps; and yes, his approach is very Zen. I especially love that elegance.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by 4krow on 04/24/13 at 04:02:15

No No I think it's a welder, not an amp.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Steve Deckert on 04/24/13 at 05:10:35




Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by Lord Soth on 04/24/13 at 09:29:06


This looks like a cross between a Zen Torii Mk3 and the Zen Mono-blocks.

It looks like a really serious (in terms of power o/p)  amp with the transformer/s setup so my guess is that this is like a MINI version of the Zen mono blocks but with VR.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by deucekazoo on 04/24/13 at 13:51:44

I think it actually looks like a cross between the Taboo and the Torii monos. It looks like the holes on the back, left and right, look like headphone holes for the XLR plugs and a normal phono jacks.

Title: Re: The Mystery Amp
Post by ncblue on 04/24/13 at 15:35:47

Or balanced output connections

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 05/01/13 at 15:17:08

....might be Balanced (XLR) INputs (Line Level RCA IN too of course)... .

I know I want one.  

SuperZen CKC, SE84CS (Stock), Mystery Amplifier & the new Taboo Amp/Headphone Amplifier.....will be the only Amps I need to Own for Reference Two Channel MUSIC.

I bet the new Mystery Amplifier, equals or EXCEEDS the new Audio Research REF75 ($9000.00) at half the price and roughly, half the watts.    -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by TubeNube on 05/02/13 at 23:13:06

Hey Steve,

I have no idea what this amp is, but it looks so cool, how about naming it "Zenfinity"?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by T Jacobsen on 05/03/13 at 22:34:40

How many watts per channel are you shooting for?  What price range are you going for?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/04/13 at 02:02:24

Watts could be more than a TORII Mk III and less than the TORII Mono's.  Price somewhere between the two.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/04/13 at 02:08:37

At the rate I'm going, Zenfinity is the time it's going to take to finish it!  I'm after a very specific signature and character with this amp.. and of course at my age achieving this goal with the least number of rebuilds possible turns out to be the real goal!

 

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by T Jacobsen on 05/04/13 at 22:56:26

Steve,
What ever happened to your OTL amp you were planning on bringing to market?  Did that die a quick death for some reason?  Bob Zeigler told me it was the best sounding amp he's ever heard...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Longbowbbs on 05/05/13 at 00:03:56

Is this it?


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/05/13 at 00:11:15

It's still here...  seven power supplies feeding upto 500 milliamps per tube makes the power consumption and heat equal to ten Torii Mk III's.  It's enough BTU to heat a good size room in the dead of winter.  It's dangerous, tubes are no longer made, impractical - as most really great stuff is... it would just cost too much to make it safe enough to market... in MY market that is.   If you don't mind spending what other manufacturers are charging for the same 6C33C output tube based OTL amplifiers I could perhaps try to custom build a few.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by AiDee on 05/05/13 at 07:43:52

That's a shame. It's a beast!!!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by T Jacobsen on 05/05/13 at 19:09:52

OMFG!!! Wow, what a beaut!  Thanks for posting that centerfold of a shot!  Bob wasn't kidding!  So you get about 60 watts per channel out of that?  Bet that is one of your best sounding amps ever!  How would you characterize the sonic differences between your OTL and your new Tori Monos?  The new Monos put out 60 watts per channel, too so in that regard they are both similar.  
 

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by T Jacobsen on 05/05/13 at 19:11:51

That skull knob is just too cool!  Never saw one like that before...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by T Jacobsen on 05/05/13 at 19:23:38

Steve,
What's that bubble of glass around the right rear output tube for?  Does it serve any purpose?  Interesting...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/10/13 at 05:39:15

That's just a plasma globe setting behind it...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/10/13 at 05:41:02

OK, It's now alive!  




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Rivieraranch on 05/10/13 at 11:20:26

Isn't that a line from "Young Frankenstein?"

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Longbowbbs on 05/10/13 at 13:18:31

Frau Bleucher's new amp!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/10/13 at 17:09:07

Well, my thoughts behind creating this thread were to give you a real time glimpse into the design process of a new amplifier.  At this stage, I have the design and how it should sound in my head and am trying to make it happen on the bench.

So step one, yes it's alive!  Sadly it sounds like crap... so let the hunt begin!  How many things did I wire wrong?



another mystery...


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/14/13 at 02:43:22

Well, quite a few.  Of course, having nothing to look at, and no schematic / that alone increases the odds of mistakes.  However in my own defense, doing a mirror image amp, upside-down and backwards can be a real mind game when tube sockets can not be mirrored.  Turns out I had one channel output transformers out of phase and a few other minor blunders which more than explained the sounds like shit experience...

Today I got to the bottom of all that and the next step is going to be defining the bias windows to make them work perfectly and be more or less fool proof like on the monos....  Sadly, none of the work done on the monos will apply, since all the values change and have to be discovered through trial and error with a wide range of different brand output tubes.

Anyway, a few more afternoons messing with that, I'll be able to have a first real listen... then the voicing can begin.




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Landmantx on 05/14/13 at 23:11:29

I love it when you take us behind the curtain and let us see what all goes into the creation of a world-class tube amp. This thing is going to be awesome!  I better start saving my money....

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Longbowbbs on 05/15/13 at 01:59:30

You mean saving your money....Again!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/17/13 at 04:34:33



After two unexpected / additional sessions with it, I was able to capture the actual moment in time of it's first true playback where I actually listened to it to see where we are... what is the starting point going to be...  thought you would enjoy the pic... in fact, here... I'll let you have the full resolution version here: https://www.decware.com/newsite/images/DSC_0052l.JPG

I believe this picture is worth a thousand words... so I'll keep it short.   What am I hearing... amazing balls, incredibly smooth, perhaps too smooth, incredible potential... the voicing will no doubt be quite a ride - I'm sure.  Can't start the voicing with something that sounds this good out the gate until it has actually broken in....  these giant caps can take some real time.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by ncblue on 05/17/13 at 04:53:47

Darn it, me want! Looks beautiful.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/17/13 at 05:07:01

3 hours into it, the detail is increasing... it's SO the opposite of solid state... interesting.  When any other amp is having a bad hair day... meaning lots of hash in the power grid causing excessive grain and dryness...  I can already see that with this amplifier that is never going to happen...  It's smooth beyond the ability to screw it up.  Put you power plants in the ground and the decomposing steel will enrich the iron content of the soil which will in turn improve the conductivity of your ground rod that your neutral is tied to... this in turn will create blacker backgrounds and better definition than when you had it in your system.   Just a tip.  I have to say what I'm hearing right now is like battery power.  The speed of the entire amplifier is really going to be effected by the main caps...  I'm going to wait to see where it lands wondering if I'll be bypassing the electrolytic with film caps.  I also have a few other experiments going on, or planned lets say, but tonight marks the starting point, and it doesn't suck.

Fun fun fun....  wait to you hear what it took to get to this point...  I'll save that for my next post.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/17/13 at 05:28:11

Crap, I may as well write it down now, otherwise I might forget it... boy getting old sucks.

Well, when I finished the amplifier and there was nothing left to do but test it, I used a variac to slowly raise the supply voltage and remember getting to the half way point on the dial and only getting a B+ of 63 volts vs. the anticipated 210 volts... so I shut it down before I let any of the smoke out.  The smoke is btw, the most tedious process in the manufacturing of parts...  Getting the smoke in the part is expensive which is why letting smoke out of the part is usually fatal.

I don't even remember what it was, but I found the half short and fixed it.  

Try two, turned into a bias issue...  first of all I spent a day getting the bias voltages to work right... this involved a separate  bias supply for each tube operating though a ganged level control feeding a ganged balance control.   The tedium of this is getting the windows of adjust defined....  For example, if you don't want the tube to bias up beyond 80 mills as the absolute max, you have to find the voltage (26.9 volts) that gets it there.  Then you have to define the window for the balance control.  Ideally at least 10 mills minimum, more is better but dangerous in the hands of the ignorant.  So you add the initial window and the balance window together to determine the max and minimum values...  Sadly it's so touchy that even a half a volt can through everything off.  Then when you get it perfect for one band tube, it's less than perfect for another...  It took me over two weeks to get it right on the Zen Torii Mono's...  over 50 hours of testing.

So, after getting it roughed in I was able to play the amp and found I had the right channel out of phase.  In fixing that I wired the ultra linear tap to the wrong pin and connected it directly the negative bias supply.   Upon slowly raising the voltage on the vairac to the half way point, and my face right down in it to see the meters in the mirror under the amp... fireworks as a resistor exploded into shrapnel...  

After fixing that, I ran into an issue with the bias meters on the right channel not acting right... the same channel I almost blew up...  

So I fixed that, but the wired behavior continued on the right channel bias meters...

I then figured The near melt down had compromised the pots used to adjust the bias voltage and balance.  So I replaced them both.    

I then fought with the imbalance on the right channel which was still there despite being identical to the left channel that worked absolutely perfect...  

So for two more days I refined the bias windows and got them closer to a production spec, which is pretty narrow making it hard to damage the amp.  I then found that with less adjustment in balance the imbalance problem between the current draw of the two outputs tubes on the right channel got so bad I couldn't even fire up the amp without burning out one of the tubes and meter, and having the other not even conduct current....

At this stage I realize it's just the same recipe as always.... more pain and suffering = more fidelity and satisfaction.

Tonight I wasted at least two hours calibrating the finicky side just to see if I could make it work again...  getting so ridiculous... tedious... father murphius...

Determined to hear it, I clipped the carefully installed resistors on the the balance controls so that my window increased 10 fold on the right channel, just so I could listen to it tonight.

So  the answer to all this friken problems is clearly seen in tonight's photograph.  Can anyone tell me why one of the meters is overly sensitive and prone to not balance properly?


I'll continue tomorrow...


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/17/13 at 05:43:05

4 hours into it and the power transformers are barely warm.... Impressive.  Starting to really open up too.  Rock and Roll lovers.... this may be your amp.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 05/17/13 at 06:24:16

You have my attention!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Longbowbbs on 05/17/13 at 12:48:30

Will this new family member end up between the Torii and the Mono's?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Landmantx on 05/17/13 at 18:09:53

I am starting to wonder if Steve ever sleeps???

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by T Jacobsen on 05/18/13 at 13:54:14

Hi Steve,

How much power did you measure with this amp so far?  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by T Jacobsen on 05/18/13 at 13:55:28

Are those KT88's you are using as the output tubes?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/20/13 at 04:00:11

Time for another update...

I have never had so much trouble getting bias meters to work properly!  I've had one meter give me fits since the beginning.  In fact the very first thing I did when I first fired this amp with output tubes installed, is peg one of the meters so hard I had to replace it.  

Please take a look here at how much fun it is to replace a meter in this amp!



Each meter has two green oval stickers on it (to help you locate them)  

Wouldn't have been a problem except I had the idea to make the meters even cooler than they are.  To that effect I spent a night drilling holes in the casing after taking the meters completely apart and installing just the exact right LEDs.  That's all find and dandy until you blow a meter...  

Since all ideas actually come from our higher consciousness, and or other entities in that same dimension, it's not hard to figure out that this particular idea was not from the group of dead audio gurus from ancient times that sit around their mirror pool and watch me work...no this idea was from father murphy.  Notice I won't capitalize his name out of disrespect.   In any case, the idea is.

Time out.... before I continue, can anyone guess why I spent literally 10 hours or more trying to get the action of one of the meters balanced with the rest... not to mention the value it read.   The answer is in the last photograph I posted.  If you look at the original size high res version of the photo, it is unmistakable...




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 05/20/13 at 04:19:48

I guess my question would be; why meters, anyway? They don't do much for me at all, I'm not gong to stand over the amp and stare at them. :)

I'm sure it's going to be a great amp, but I'm just not sure Decware amps need meters. They sound so amazing you just sink into the music.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/20/13 at 04:31:43

OK... Where were we... ohh yea, the meters...  First of all setting up the bias windows is a real bitch, but then that 's because I have a particular way I want the biasing of the tubes to take place and it simply takes a lot of work to get it to happen.

Most fixed bias amplifiers have a bias pot for each tube, or at least each pair.  Well if it has one pot for a pair of tubes, it's completely useless... don't buy it.  The commonly seen approach is a separate adjustment pot for each output tube.  You would think this is an ideal solution, making it easy to adjust the bias for each tube perfectly.  Sadly it's almost always done from the same bias supply, so when you adjust the bias for one tube, the bias on the other tube chances slightly from where it was.  So, you adjust that tube, and now the one you previously set exactly where you wanted it, moves.   So, you adjust that one again, and the one you just finished has now moved again.  Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, this can go back and forth about 6 times, before getting a perfect match between the tubes.

A perfect match between the tubes is the goal.  How many mills each tube is adjusted to is also a factor, but that's the kind of thing that once you decide the value and set it, you shouldn't have to ever worry about it again unless you install different tubes.  Sadly with a bias pot for each tube this is not possible.  Even with independent bias supplies and pots for each tube, you still find yourself grouping together the bias in milliamps with the balance between each tube.   It's just ridiculous.

So what I do, is have an independent bias supply for each tube and a ganged pot to control the bias in mills for the pair.  If you want 70 mills, you turn the knob and both tubes change at the same time.  THEN we add a second ganged pot mirror wired between the top and bottom sections to create a balance control.  This balances the mills between the two tubes.   Remember as tubes and the amp warm up, bias changes.  This is why the tedious ritual I described earlier using a separate bias pot for each tube has to be repeated after an hour or so of listening, because when the output tubes are perfectly matched, something audibly exotic happens to the music.  You can be certain that if an amplifier doesn't have meters, this audibly exotic set of balances will never occur.  That's again, because the bias of the tubes change with warm up.  You need a way to adjust quickly look at the amp and see if the two tubes are drawing the exact same number of mills.  If they are not, you need a simply frikin knob to turn to make them that way... all while listening to music, uninterrupted.

This is why you buy Decware.   (whoops that one slipped, sorry)

Obviously you don't want to change the mills that the pair of tubes is set at, you just want them to match.  Perfectly matched tubes are never perfectly matched except at a particular current and temperature which only happens for a short moment during the warmup cycle of the amplifier. Basically if the place you purchased your tubes matched them at the same exact current your amplifier draws, and waiting 30 minutes before testing them, your amp will have matched tubes at the 30 minute mark.  An hour later, they will be off again.  And since most places that test tubes, do them almost cold (5 minute warm up) your amp only has matched tubes for about two minutes just after the five minute mark.

So you see, the only way to achieve zen is to be able to visually see the current draw as tubes warm up, and have a simple way to adjust the balance.   You might do it two or three times in the first 2 hours.  After that you can leave it alone and it will always arrive at the same place after the same amount of time.  However, neurotic audiophiles will always opt to match the tubes at the 10 minute mark when they start listening, at the 40 minute mark when the amp is starting to get warm, and at the 2 hour mark when the amp is totally at peace.

So now you know why father murphy had the idea to put lights in the meters, because meters are important to me in these types of amplifiers.

Anyway, anyone figured out how father murphy messes with Stevieboy?




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/20/13 at 04:48:19

Well, here's the answer...

Any time you explore a new sector in the space of amplifier building that has anything to do with bias voltages, you run the risk of accidents and casualties... hence the first meter and tons of my time.

After pulling the meter I pegged and ruined, I thought to myself, why not save a buck and use this meter sitting here above my bench... it seems to work fine.. and this is the prototype which no one but myself will ever own... so if the meter does fail, it won't be a long embarrassing phone call...

With that I installed it into the old meters casing which I had extensively modified and wired with the LED.

THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND
THE SIMPLE THINGS ARE THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND

I was so FOCUSED on the action and reading of the meter's dial that I didn't even notice the face after two weeks of staring right at it while it tormented me!

It wasn't until ALMOST getting it to work 70 percent right, that I realized all the bizarre values and extra parts it took to achieve operation were an obvious sign something is seriously wrong.

Then after countless hours (over a week) I finally noticed the face of the damn meter was different... took it apart and found it was actually wired as a millivolt meter (resistor in series with meter vs. meter across resistor).  



So, this was the second time the meter had to be removed and replaced.  BTW, installing the right meter solved all the problems.  Bias windows came out better than perfect.  A monkey can use it.  And it works across the entire range of tubes that might be used in this amp.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/20/13 at 05:05:32

I thought I would share one simple thing that happens during the design and development process, the meter deal... but that's really only one.  I gave serious consideration of making this a real time accurate design log with every detail logged.  It would be great.  But it's too much information.  I'm just not comfortable with giving that much away.  So I'm going to be leaving most if not all of the voicing details out of this thread.  It probably won't seem that way, but yea... it will be.  The underlying point to all of this is that from pain comes gain.  There are no short cuts.  If it goes well, burry it in the back yard because it's a fluke.  You have to feel some real pain, real stress, and real anxiety to release an amplifier that's as good as everything else you've done because each of those things were the same deal.

This is where I part ways with so many "math guys" as I like to call them.  Impressive as they like to pretend they are, all of them voice an amplifier with a scope.  That's like trying to tune a piano with a toilet plunger...  




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/20/13 at 05:27:59

Well, interestingly this week I answered a nagging question that's been in the back of my mind for about the last year or two...  and that is:  Can I still hear as well as before?  Do I still have it?  IT being the ability to decide when I hear it, if it's A) RIGHT or B) Not RIGHT.  There is only A and B.  

Tonight after a serious of events that have been going on all week, I found out I most certainly still got it.  I can hear.  I thought it wasn't right... heard it get right, recognized it, and am now happy with it.

While rich with potential, there were things about the sound that weren't 100%.  I'm looking for things in this amp that I haven't yet experienced in any of our other amps so far.  That means it has to do at least something better than everything we've done so far.  The two targets being the twelve thousand dollar TORII monoblocks, and the amp that inspired them, the Zen TORII Mk III.  

I want to experience some new levels in a kind and competent personality which leans to the big side of scale and power.  It has to be ear candy.  Up until tonight, it's been saccharin (artificial sugar) vs. natural real sugar found in Decware fruit.  What a tease...  certainly did pull off a few tricks that I haven't heard, but they were rather anal to be honest...

Between the two (Torii MK III and the Mystery Amp) I wouldn't have to think about it very long to choose the Torii MK III.

So the past couple days I've been deep into the voicing.  Voicing is simply math.  How many different values and brands of parts can you put in the amp and keep it working properly.  Document every combination.  Three days trying plate resistors, brands and values.  A month later after a 4 day cathode resistor examination, the plate resistor combinations must be revisited.  If any changes are made, the cathode resistor choice must be revisited... every part in the amplifier and repeated for at least three different voltages.  This is how you know what sounds best, because you've tried it all.   The original Zen Triode SE84 2 watt SET amp that started Decware has over 6000 hours of voicing.  Now after 20 years I can accomplish the same results in 60 to 300 hours depending on what mood the audio gods are in during the particular time I choose to do it.

As you can see, developing an amplifier with your own name on it is an emotional experience.  It's like giving birth to another kid... not that I'd know what that's like thank GOD, but indeed the damn amps are like children with a complete set of memories of the 9 months before they were put on the web page for sale ;)






Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 05/20/13 at 06:08:49

Ouch! Wrong meter???

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/20/13 at 06:09:15

The reason I'm still writing tonight is because this is the second main pivotal moment in the amps development where I finally hear it sound the way I want it to.  Until tonight, I was really wondering.  It was good... but it just wasn't doing it for me.   Finding the need to tube roll to try to find the sound I wanted was red flag number one.  BTW, I found my stash of private stock tubes is getting dangerously low.  It was a blessing though.  I was assuming my dissatisfaction lied in the input/phase inverter stage so I wanted to hear it with a variety of different compatible tubes.  Because I could only find two compatible substitutes I heard what I needed to hear but it wasn't what  I wanted to hear.  Moving to the output while waiting for more input tubes to arrive and bingo, the amp I was hoping for enters the room.  It only took about 15 seconds to know THAT sound.

So that is how the evening started, and then after 3 hours after doing something amazing, I found a problem and fixed it.  One of the output tubes vibrated out of the socket enough to turn off the heater and consequently the tube itself.  So one channel only had a single tube (push no pull) and even with this extreme handicap, it not only kept playing, but still sounded good!  I didn't notice anything happen other than the music changed.  This is a real world test that exceeded anything I've made so far...  Should the same thing have happened in the TORII MKIII I would have noticed instantly because the power of the amp would have dissipated to just a few watts resulting in massive distortion.  Yes, I had it up loud...  This experience is a real confidence booster.



So here is my desk.  This is where I'm sitting now.  Obviously I spend a great deal of time here.  To my right is the ceiling of the listening room, where music is on 24/7/365.  Tonight it's on the corner horns.



This is a view as you turn your head right from the desk...



And if you stand up and look down you have this... the listening room...  Corner horns playing.   I can hear them rather well from this vanish point, and enjoy the sound here quit a bit.  It is more revealing of frequency balance than when you down in the listening chair... down there you're too distracted by the imaging to notice anything but obvious frequency balance anomalies.  Up here though, it's like a magnifying glass on frequency balance, timber, decay, speed, and basically everything but the one on one imaging obtainable from the listening chair.

I like to use the Corner Horns for all the rough in on any amp.  They are a great reference speaker which after 25 years can still surprise me like they did tonight!

A song came on that I saved for it's low bass intro that is quite impressive... especially on the corner horns...  I've heard it perhaps 25 times on most of the amps we make driving the corner horns.

While doing all this posting tonight I heard this song come on and well, who would believe me if I told you a pair of 6 inch drivers cracked the concrete and made the entire building shudder?  That's what happened... it was like a butterfly delicately dropped an atom bomb into the space.  It's the new record for what I thought the corner horns were capable of... and if you knew about some of my secret amps you would realize what a HUGE accomplishment that is!

It was so serious, that the amp setting on a bench mounted to the opposite side of the wall from the corner horns, had one of it's tubs vibrate completely out of electrical contact with the socket.

I was sitting here and almost crapped my pants... it was effortless (the bass, not the crap)

That actually started the night, and so far I've just been snuggling into the midrange in one of the most juicy amplifiers I've ever heard...   Think Mini Torii with 10 times the power and 80 times the weight...  it's just in sane...  I really can't believe this design can sound this good...  it certainly didn't with my first choice of tubes and misc settings....

So, if I stopped tonight, it would be a success, I'm certain of it.  I'm just getting started.

-Steve










Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 05/20/13 at 06:17:12

Whoops. When I clicked the email for this thread it to me to post 74...did not see the rest and reponded with what turned out to post 80!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 05/20/13 at 06:44:57

It's just after midnight and appropriately so the sound in the room is simply incredible.  I never get used to it, but with a new life form in the room breathing it's own pattern of perspectives this night is a bit better than normal.

I told Will the other day on the phone that my goal with this amp was to see how far I could take the TORII MKIII platform.  An idea that came from the Zen TORII Mono's.  The sound of those amps is very different than the TORII MK III but equally enjoyable. It's the difference that makes it exciting though.  I had two Monte Carlos.  A 71 and 72.  



This is the 71 big block.

The 72 has a detuned small block from wickedville... the 71 had a 402 big block.  The small block is impressive and has won many times... the big block however is a different feeling...  for example; rather than riding a 18 foot rocket sled with the most insane throttle response ever, we move into riding the Giza Pyramid with so much torque that it pushed 7 million tons of sand out the way as if it weren't even there...  That's the Mystery Amp.  It's sooo juicy!  And that's the beauty of the illusion because don't think it's not fast.... it's every bit as fast as the MK III, perhaps more so, but just so damn big and juicy that I finding myself able to listen to audiophile music and a fair amount of classic rock with brilliant results...  typically not possible without a bi-amp system or sub.

I don't know what the power is yet, not even sure if I'll stay with these tubes, but it is easily over twice the power, twice the current, and twice the damping of the mkIII.  

I'll know when I have success because the following will happen:  I'll walk into my listening room in the evening to do some listening.  The TORII MKIII will be sitting there along side the mystery amp.  I want it to be two completely different experiences... perhaps like two different women and difficult to choose between them them...  There can be no way to predict which amp I will choose on a given night... which is exactly what happened with the Zen TORII Mono's vs. the TORII MKIII.   However at 12 grand, not as many people get to experience their sound when compared to the MK III's very doable 3 grand price.   I wanted a more cost effective way to get the sound and performance of those monos into a ZEN TORII MK III sized package and for about half the price.     I can see now I am going to easily hit that goal.

The bass that is coming out of this amplifier... OMG!!~!!!!  And the meters don't even move.... even the Zen TORII Mono's can't do that without some serious meter action!!!  

So apparently using over twice the microfarads in the power supply does make a difference!!!  Not to mention the red caps... but we'll get to that on another night.

Nearing 1:00 A.M. the sound is getting so sickly good that I can no longer stay here at the desk... Got to go.




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 05/20/13 at 06:47:07

I finished your nights writing....thanks for keeping us in the loop. Congratulations! Tube synergy settling into the rest of the long setup so far...what new doors will this open??? Can't wait to hear!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dom on 05/20/13 at 17:17:49

Hi Steve......I worked the graveyard last night and read your message at like 3 am.   What an interesting read!!  While I don't know amp building, I do know cars, and the analogy was perfect....firing on all cylinders so to speak.  

It's sorta like when I had my old '79 Pontiac.  Built like a Sherman tank.  It had a big block with lots of displacement.  The car was fast, not so much off the line...but once it gets going...look out!!

Now I fast forward to my current sports car, a modified 95 Lotus Esprit S4s.  It's 4Cyl. Turbo with high compression and excellent throttle response.  The key is in its lightweight by design, has low drag, and slices through the tarmac. I didn't get a chance to really see its potential until I put it on the Talladega Superspeedway.  The best part is when you lift off the throttle...its shoots fireballs !!  Talk about awesome!!

While both cars are really fast, they are completely different (just like your Monte Carlos).  Which car would I pick to drive...depends on the day, but more than likely the Lotus....it's a purist racecar, and by design it's like a piece of artwork....sorta like all Decware components!!  

This amp sounds amazing...so untame the potential beast that lies within!!  Keep us posted....I am enjoying the read.

Dom

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by JD on 05/21/13 at 23:45:26

Beautiful ride Steve.

Jd

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 05/25/13 at 02:42:30

Hi Steve, anything new with the Mystery Amp?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by AiDee on 05/25/13 at 03:22:45

Careful! Jason of Schiit just threatened to add $50 to the price every time someone asks about their forthcoming amp ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 05/25/13 at 05:25:43


Quote:
AiDee,
Careful! Jason of Schiit just threatened to add $50 to the price every time someone asks about their forthcoming amp


Uh Oh ... better keep my mouth shut ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 05/31/13 at 17:59:12

I hope to read more soon too.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 06/23/13 at 04:25:52

In the past 30 days I've been working with the amp across a range of speakers and with many different output tubes.   (Maybe I just work too much, but I could swear I wrote this once before, yet I can't seem to find it!) So at the risk of repeating myself...


I've been playing with different output tubes, bias levels, and output transformer ratios.  I've been wrestling with trying to decide what output transformer design I should use, ie. primary impedances and ultra-linear or not.  I feel like I'm making good progress on this front, which was my biggest concern.

I've also learned more about having twice the capacitance of the TORII MONO's combined with lower voltages.  This part of the power supply is like the camshaft in a stroked out high cubic inch motor. Getting the lift and duration and overlap right takes a lot of trial and error unless you're into computer simulations, which I am really not.  The speaker would be the rear end gear against the weight of the car. In a nutshell, we're talking about the speed of the power supply at given frequencies and combinations of frequencies.  The caps were so huge that below 120 Hz when used on the wrong output tap (which will happen in real life) and on worse case speakers, the bass lacked attack and control, although it was incredibly powerful and deeper than I've ever heard it.  I found bypassing it with equal quality electrolytic by F&T fixed the low bass problem but getting the values right is like designing a crossover.  It took two paralleled caps to fix both the low bass and mid bass. I'm now happy with it.

So far my favorite tubes have been the KT66 followed by the KT120's as a close second that I anticipate will actually be determined by the speakers and subjective tastes, so next time I write, I may like the 120's better than the 66's.  That's how this hobby goes!  Point being you can easily use either, or KT88, 6550, EL34, 6CA7.

I also have given up on the negative feedback.  The amp doesn't need it, so it's been wearing a white wedding dress for the past two weeks and never sounded better.

I took an opportunity last night to listen to it on non-decware speakers which the amplifier is largely targeted to... i.e. $7500.00 and up loudspeakers that are the typical 86 / 87dB sensitivity.  To that effect Dave Janszen came over with his latest electrostatic hybrids and we compared the TORII MONO's to the Mystery Amp until 1:30 A.M. and both liked the Mystery Amp a bit more.  It was sweeter, a bit more organic and smoother.  We started with the TORII MKIII but it didn't match well and had some detectible distortion in the low frequencies when turned up.  The Monos made the speakers sing so we used them for most of the evening.  The Mystery amp was tried in the final hours to see what would happen and we could detect no difference in power despite it being probably close to half that of the monos.

The Janszen speakers with the Mystery Amp turned out to be a digit killing combination.  In other words, all 6 digit audio systems should be nervous at risk of being embarrassed.



If you're unfamiliar with JansZen speakers, these are around $7500 and have my full endorsement.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 06/23/13 at 05:54:43

Very exciting that you are satisfied with the Mystery Amp at this point, and that it performs so well with less efficient speakers! I look forward to more impressions as you play the amp more. Or could it by chance be complete?!?!?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 06/25/13 at 00:52:04

I'm still not sure at this point.  I want to spend several evenings with it on each Decware speaker without having the urge to tweak something.  If it really IS done, that will put us around September.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 06/25/13 at 01:10:35

Great news! Looking forward to more impressions.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 07/07/13 at 04:03:47

I am going to start experimenting with the output transformer ratios, wire gauge, core size and see what happens.  Right now, the amp is nearly perfect on all my speakers when on the 4 ohm tap, regardless of the speakers actual impedance.  I want to get it to sound like it does now or better on a higher tap with the same speakers.  That would at minimum give me more voicing possibilities with a given speaker and ensure tight bass without feedback at all times.

That's the update.  Still centering the sound and performance around the KT66.

Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 07/12/13 at 02:32:52

Transformers have the biggest effect on a tube amplifier's sound in my world, so it came as no surprise that this latest intrusion into the amplifiers voicing would be big. (No that's not true... it came as a big surprise!)  And now having just witnesses how different transformers effect the sound again, I still can't help but be amazed at just how much things can change!

After several evenings discussing the output winding topologies we recently tested some classic secondary arrangements with the typical taps against some dual secondary arrangements where windings of different lengths are combined on the same bobbin.  The differences ranged from something that sounded typically real good, to something that sounded magical.  Some interesting stuff since the only main difference is in the pattern of core saturation.  I expected to have to strain to hear the difference, but instead I had to check and see if we were still listening to the same amplifier.

With this rather pleasant discovery I now know this amp is going to be hugely successful.  Optimized for (but not limited to) KT66 output tubes, I'm currently witnessing it sound better than both the Zen Mono's and the TORII MK III.  That doesn't mean it is, because it's still to new and there is some infatuation that will need to wear off before I can actually hear it objectively.

I'll keep you posted as I put the fine polish on it and continue to wrap my head around it.  Right now my comment about the sound would be this:  Generally liquidity and honesty are rarely found in the same amplifier, but this seems to be a reference for both.  Almost too good to be true.  


Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 07/12/13 at 02:44:30

You know, I've built a lot of good amplifiers, but this might be the first time I've ever heard the music become this conscious on great recordings!   Help! It's alive!  



Steve  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 07/12/13 at 04:21:19

Sounds amazing Steve! Thanks for the ongoing story and impressions! If it sounds better than MY Torii is sounding these days, it is truly magical ;)

I hope I can hear it one day!!!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by deucekazoo on 07/12/13 at 13:32:30

So Steve, do you think it will be ready for Zenfest to listen to?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 07/12/13 at 23:20:40

Steve, I hope you see this question and can clarify a point you made when listening to the Janszen speakers.  We talked just yesterday about my plans to use the Torii MK3 with David's excellent speakers.  When you said above in this thread that the Torii MK3 didn't match well I need to know if you meant in general or when compared to the mystery amp and the mono blocks?

When I got on the list for the Torii MK3 the only other high wattage option was the mono blocks which are not in my spending wheel house.  From listening to the Torii with my speakers I know it won't drive the Janszens to the upper listening levels but I'm not sure I need that.  If you meant that the amp didn't match well because of sonic issues then I am not sure what to do.  It sure sounded like heaven to me.  I may still need to learn more about the mystery amp.  Is it really the amp I should be considering?  I'm probably targeting into September on the waiting list as it is with the Torii MK3.

Please give me an honest assessment if I need to rethink using the Torii MK3 with the Janszen speakers.  This will be my last amp and I'd rather not make a mistake.  The Janszen speakers aren't going anywhere.  They are keepers.  Others with average efficiency speakers may also be interested in your take.

Scott Marsh

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 07/15/13 at 20:24:29

"When you use a 2000 microfarad capacitor that's the size of a milk bottle the game changes and the tube rectifier becomes the clear looser in this contest".

NO Negative Feedback (Class A.....because AB sucks)

Your custom Tranny (coveted for good reason)

Glorious with the JansZen 87db 1 watt/1 meter.......

I will overnight a certified Bank check for the first one ready to order....let me know.

Thanks Steve for another masterpiece coming down the pike to put the $6800 to $8800 dollar range of Amps on there EAR!  ....and many at twice that........ .      -Stone of Tone


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 07/17/13 at 16:05:18

Okay, I know I should not ask...but my curiosity is getting the best of me.

KT66 run in Triode as well as ultra linear Pentode (switch on the fly)?
I have no problem with turning the Amp off to switch between the two-if need be.

XLR (balanced inputs) as well as RCA line level (we got that peek-aboo?)

What is the input driver (preamp) tube? ....it does not look like a 6H30...but, more of a conventional one.... .

Listening to my SE84CS right now sitting in the next room typing this....Larry Carlton Playing sweetly.

So, why the Mystery Amp?  I want low end + a little more headroom without adding a Sub. However, maintaining the Transparency & Timbre Texture of the SE84CS & CKC...or coming damn close.

Candidates Are:

Mystery Amp, Audio Research Reference 75 & BAT VK-55 SE
I will run the AR or BAT direct via NAD M51 Dac, with its Balanced outputs to inputs of the Amp(s) or RCA to XLR adaptors run directly from my Audio Alchemy 3.0 Dac via remote as well.

Hope everyone is having a great summer.  Cheers, Stone of Tone

PS-the SE84CS & CKC will always remain in use...because they will always do what no other Amps can do.........I just want another flavor as layed out in Steve's Car analogy. Steve's Monte Carlo is sweet-the paint and clear coat on it, are 2nd to none (plus under the hood).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 07/17/13 at 18:24:08


Quote:
Steve, I hope you see this question and can clarify a point you made when listening to the Janszen speakers.  We talked just yesterday about my plans to use the Torii MK3 with David's excellent speakers.  When you said above in this thread that the Torii MK3 didn't match well I need to know if you meant in general or when compared to the mystery amp and the mono blocks?

When I got on the list for the Torii MK3 the only other high wattage option was the mono blocks which are not in my spending wheel house.  From listening to the Torii with my speakers I know it won't drive the Janszens to the upper listening levels but I'm not sure I need that.  If you meant that the amp didn't match well because of sonic issues then I am not sure what to do.  It sure sounded like heaven to me.  I may still need to learn more about the mystery amp.  Is it really the amp I should be considering?  I'm probably targeting into September on the waiting list as it is with the Torii MK3.

Please give me an honest assessment if I need to rethink using the Torii MK3 with the Janszen speakers.  This will be my last amp and I'd rather not make a mistake.  The Janszen speakers aren't going anywhere.  They are keepers.  Others with average efficiency speakers may also be interested in your take.

Scott Marsh


Hi Scott,

The sound of the Torii MKIII on the Janszen speakers is wonderful.  The catch is that you are limited to a modest volume during playback.  When Dave was here testing the combo, he said he heard distortion in the lower frequencies.  Rather than try different taps or adjust the bass dampening control on the MK III, we just put in a bigger amp because it was clear he wanted the ability to play the speakers loud on demand.

The Mystery Amp had no issues.  It will be available by October, so my advise would be to either get it, or try the TORII MKIII and see for yourself if it is enough power for you.  I know of one other customer who has these speakers and amp combo who loves it and has never complained of lack of power, so really only you can tell this for yourself.

Should the MKIII not be enough power, I would let you keep it until your Mystery Amp is ready to ship.

Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 07/17/13 at 18:37:14


Quote:
Okay, I know I should not ask...but my curiosity is getting the best of me.

KT66 run in Triode as well as ultra linear Pentode (switch on the fly)?
I have no problem with turning the Amp off to switch between the two-if need be.


The fundamental characteristics of an amplifier's sound are different enough between Pentode and Triode that a great sounding amplifier would have to be voiced differently for each.  I would rather pick the best sounding one, voice the amp to maximize that, so that's what I'm doing.


Quote:
XLR (balanced inputs) as well as RCA line level (we got that peek-aboo?)


Yes, RCA line level standard, fully transformer balanced XLR will be an option.


Quote:
What is the input driver (preamp) tube? ....it does not look like a 6H30...but, more of a conventional one.... .


6922, 6N1P, 6N23P

Listening to my SE84CS right now sitting in the next room typing this....Larry Carlton Playing sweetly.

So, why the Mystery Amp?  I want low end + a little more headroom without adding a Sub. However, maintaining the Transparency & Timbre Texture of the SE84CS & CKC...or coming damn close.

Candidates Are:

Mystery Amp, Audio Research Reference 75 & BAT VK-55 SE
I will run the AR or BAT direct via NAD M51 Dac, with its Balanced outputs to inputs of the Amp(s) or RCA to XLR adaptors run directly from my Audio Alchemy 3.0 Dac via remote as well.

Hope everyone is having a great summer.  Cheers, Stone of Tone

PS-the SE84CS & CKC will always remain in use...because they will always do what no other Amps can do.........I just want another flavor as layed out in Steve's Car analogy. Steve's Monte Carlo is sweet-the paint and clear coat on it, are 2nd to none (plus under the hood).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 07/17/13 at 18:44:08

So, just an update that things are going very well.  I have now had the opportunity to spend many evenings with it on a variety of speakers and sources and haven't heard a single thing I didn't like, so it is most likely finished now.  Unless I change my mind, which is doubtful, I will have it ready to sell by October and we will debut it at this years Decfest.

I'll continue updates between now and then.  At this point my mind is shifting to taking notes while I listen, doing direct A/B/C comparisons between the three TORII's and figuring out the copy for the web page and what I'm going to want to say.

Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 07/17/13 at 23:36:40

Thanks Steve for those answers and I look forward to your A/B/C comparisons and the October release with Copy.    

I hope you offer an introductory gig on it (via email release)....and I will pull the trigger on that.  

Have a great rest of your summer and get out in the Boat!  -Larry

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 07/23/13 at 20:54:53

Okay, unless I missed it.....?

Is this a Integrated Amp with Stepped Potentiometer? The front controls are just for Bias adjustment with the meters for each KT66 tube.  So, on the mech drawing on page 3 or 4, I think it was....where is the volume control?

-Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 08/08/13 at 17:10:13

Hey Steve... how about some more updates on the Mystery Amp..!!!??

give us some teasers... what will it be named officially?  what will it look like in production - more pics, more pics.. what is the official power rating... etc. etc.  Compare and contrast its sound to the Torii and other Decware amps.  I'm just getting settled into my relationship with my Torii (about 6 months) and now you have to come along and introduce me to her big sister!  Will this cause me to be unfaithful to my first love!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 08/14/13 at 15:45:55

OK... I give - no more info from Steve.

Does anybody know if the new amp will have the treble shunt and bass "Q" controls like the Torii MKIII has?  Those tweak features on the Torii are the cat's meow for dialing in a single, full-range, high-efficiency driver, xoverless type of speaker...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 08/14/13 at 15:55:46

I agree. . . those are killer controls that I love having on the Torii Mk III I have.

But. . .if you have a high efficiency driver. . . one probably wouldn't need the mystery amp, one of the super little guys should do it ALL and then some. . . .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 08/14/13 at 16:36:15

well... that remains to be seen, agh - "heard" I mean.  regardless of power rating... if the mystery amp "sounds" better to my ears, then I'll think I need to replace my Torii.... that's just the way audio nervosa goes.. you know!!   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 08/14/13 at 17:16:27

Steve is keeping us in suspense.

This Amp is for less efficient Speakers as Lon eluded too. I hope it has the Stepped Attenuator like the Mono's. I like to augment the sweet spot driving the Amp directly from my DAC attenuation. Of course, it will drive efficient design Speakers too.

......loudspeakers that are the typical 86 / 87dB sensitivity.  To that effect the Janszen 's as listened to and posted by Steve.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 08/22/13 at 22:31:05

While it will drive the less efficient speakers rather well, as demonstrated on the Janszen's, I have been doing the majority of my listening with higher efficiency speakers.  Reason being, the additional detail and dynamics of the higher efficiency speakers are more telling of what an amp really sounds like.  It would be easy to make the amp a bit glassy on the top end without even knowing it if all I used for voicing were Magnepans... or other slow, power hungry speakers.

The reason I haven't updated the thread is because I am listening to the amp daily to see if I change it.  I'm a fidgety person so if the amp is left untouched as the result of not hearing anything I think could be noticeably better, then I know we have a winner. So far I haven't touched it, and doubt I will.

I have not made direct A/B/C comparison with the other amps yet, because that would likely skew my perceptions of the new amp.  I need to first hear it as though I was a customer who had never heard the other two.  Then the test will be, hearing the other two side by side and seeing if I still like it as much.

Steve ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 08/27/13 at 17:13:34

Steve, I'm seriously considering this amp if you feel it will have that attention to detail that I love about my Zen Amp, but with a little more push. I'm not sure I could afford the new Torii IV - but if this fits right in-between (price wise) and gets me closer to that holographic sound with more oomph than my one off Zen amp...I'll get in line!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 08/27/13 at 17:31:16

Torii Mk III  (25 watts)  about $3K
Mystery Amp (35 watts) about $5K
Torii Mono's (60 watts) about $12K

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mark58 on 08/27/13 at 17:37:20

Lonely Raven,  I've been following this tread and I think the Mystery Amp will be considerably more expensive than the Torii IV....more in the $5500 ballpark.  The power would probably be around 50 watts per channel....if I'm reading between the lines correctly.  Of course it's all just speculation on my part, until we get more details from "The Man".

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mark58 on 08/27/13 at 17:38:46

Unbelievable...Steve responded with details while I was typing by last post....thanks Steve!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 08/28/13 at 16:07:29


Ahh, I must have misread. I thought I read somewhere that this was placed between the Zen and Torii. I didn't realize it would be between the Torii and Monos.

Ok, looks like I need to digu p $3k for a Torii III/IV

~Eric~

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 08/28/13 at 18:38:41

I've been using a Torii MK.III for about 6 months now.  I'm really curious to hear the "mystery amp".  The Torii paired with high-efficiency, crossoverless, full range driver type speakers is the best sound I've ever heard, at any price - bar none.  Competing with anything I've ever heard at RMAF or anywhere else.  I'm not sure how much better it can get.  Get a speaker that is compatible with the Torii's 25 watts and just sit back and be amazed and enjoy the music.  I am attending Zenfest in about a month.  To say I'm anxious to hear the Mystery Amp and the Torii IV would be an understatement.  
I heard the mono's last year at Zenfest.. yes they are good - if you need the power.  But to my ears, the sonic differences were subtle - you'd need volume matched A/B comparisons to hear it and/or have listened to both for many, many hours to distinguish the two.  Considering the cost differential, I'd go with the Torii and roll a few tubes to tweak the sound to my liking - and spend the extra $$$ on speakers and music... I'm just saying.
I'll be listening closely to the Torii MKIV .vs. MK.III .vs. the Mystery Amp at the fest this year to see what I hear before I get in the queue for an upgrade.  Will I hear a difference?  Probably - will that "difference" be perceived as "better"?  Will it be worth the extra $$$?  Only our ears can tell us!!!   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 08/30/13 at 17:18:14

Thanks Steve, for these updates. I hope your back is healing up.

I plan on purchasing the Mystery Amp. I have returned my Primaluna Dialogue Five and PS Audio PWT/PWDII. I have freed up the funds to proceed with this Amp.

I own the SE84CS stock & SuperZen CKC.....never to be sold. I regret letting my Torii MKIII go. Point being, you don't make Amps that sound "just good enough". You sir, pain staking create instruments for the music to get out.

I look forward to its release. Cheers to all, and all have a safe and fun Labor Day Weekend.    -Stone of Tone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 08/31/13 at 00:39:52

Too bad you didn't love the PS Audio Duo, sorry if I steered you wrong, I just adore mine.

Why the Mystery Amp Tone?  Why not a used Torii Mk III (I bet you'll see some on the market!) or a Mk IV?  I mean, you don't need the power of the Mystery Amp. I can't see myself needing the power of one until I buy a big ass house somewhere if I ever do in the future. And if that happened it would probably be the Mystery Amp Mk XXVI!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 08/31/13 at 04:42:08


Quote:
Lon said,
Too bad you didn't love the PS Audio Duo ...


I bet he just adores the Audio Alchemy stuff ... he's said it on many occasions ... he's runined for anything but Decware and Audio Alchemy ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 08/31/13 at 14:56:59

Lon, you did not stir me wrong. I have always appreciated your input. I am also very pleased with Music Direct not having a restocking fee. I also returned the Primaluna Amp as noted. I took a hit on that one...but I needed to reconfirm to myself how Decware is just plain superior.

I do need the Power. I sold my Torii MKIII because I wanted more Power in my Living Room Rig.....where the Mystery Amp will be.
Steve wrote:
"That actually started the night, and so far I've just been snuggling into the midrange in one of the most juicy amplifiers I've ever heard...   Think Mini Torii with 10 times the power and 80 times the weight...  it's just insane...  I really can't believe this design can sound this good...  it certainly didn't with my first choice of tubes and misc settings....

So, if I stopped tonight, it would be a success, I'm certain of it.  I'm just getting started".
I have heard the Mini-Torii in 2008 with Tube regulation....now add 10 time the Power and 80 times the weight.

The development of the Torii Mono's & the Mystery Amp, I believe has led to the significant development now found in the Torii MKIV***. Steve will need to confirm my speculation on this. That development being the no negative feedback circuit for more Transparency.....bring these push pull Amps with no Negative Feedback closer to the Transparency of the SE84CS which is benchmark for me...and will reign in my Listening Room until it is dethroned. The huge Caps on the Mystery Amp will take for ever to burn in....then I bring it in the Listening Room someday. But, it is for the Power to run my Polk SRS SDA 1.2 Speakers.

*** Steve wrote:
•In place of the adjustable bass dampening control I have created a re-constructive feedback circuit that improves clarity, detail, and definition at all frequencies.  It is on a switch so that you can use it or not use it.  (everyone will likely use it)   This mod replaces the bypass caps that were on the cathode of the input stage.  Those caps eliminated the naturally occurring local negative feedback in that tube.  Instead of a bypass cap, I use the output transformer in series with a couple networks that float the output stage above ground slightly.  The result is less phase angle distortion resulting in better transparency.  This was an accident, that turned into another discovery.  It's one of the cooler things that's happened in the past couple years and it will be fun to here peoples impressions of it as they get their MK III's updated.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 08/31/13 at 15:03:35

Okay cool. I'm not at all tempted by the Mystery Amp or the Mk IV. I don't need more power, and I think the Mk III is more "flexible" than the Mk IV will be, and a well seasoned Mk III is just butter for me, just what I want. More transparency does not mean more musicality for me, I have more bad recordings than good to listen to and with the flexibility of the Mk IIIs I have I can make things listenable, and I listen.

I have a Vaughn-modified C amp in my Dad's system and while my original Mk III was back in Peoria for upgrading I had it in my main system. I really do see the super transparency and magic in those amps, but I can honestly say I missed my Mk III insanely and really prefer its mellow drive and ability to be made more forgiving. That I need most. It has gobs of weight too with the HR-1s or ERRs. I can't ask for more and won't.

But I'm excited for you! Keep us posted! (I know you will).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/04/13 at 22:44:37

I hear you Lon. I am very interested in the HR 1 as well. I am going to Decfest! I will hear them till the wee hours of the morning before retreating to my Hotel Room.

I have these Polk SRS SDA 1.2 Speakers I have become so enamored with (outside the Listening Room) in my Living Room. They can be run with as little as 21 watts per channel in Triode and 42 in push pull as I witnessed from the Primaluna Dialogue Five I had briefly. Briefly, is correct....Upscale Audio only had a 14 day trial period on the Prima and a 10% restocking fee. I spent a lot of time with them....and the short trial period was just as lame as the Primaluna Amp was! But, I digress..... .

I know the Mystery Amp can Power them (Polk SRS SDA 1.2) first hand and by the late Julian Hirsch measurements of these fun Powerhouse Speakers.
I am also interested in running the new KT120 Tubes in it. I want this different animal in the Living Room vs. what I have in my Listening room.

http://www.polksda.com/srsreview.shtml      -Stone

PS-Beowulf, YES.....I am fortunate to have Audio Alchemy since 1995 and it takes a back seat to nothing when decoding the Redbook Stnd. Peter Madnick was paid to go away I think (he never has really gone away/just stopped making 2k Dac combo's that kick the sh_ _ out of other under 10k DACS)....he should design for McGowan IMHO. The PMD 100 & 200 Chips from Pacific Microsonics/Prof Johnson of Referecne Recordings....dual 20 bit Ladder DACS (one per channel)...analog output stage....Peter's design.....and the Volume Attenuator with adjustable voltage output....I rest my case.  Party on Wayne-Party on Garth.

If I hit the Powerball....I will call Peter Madnick on the phone and have his Constellation System(s) installed!  hehe

http://constellationaudio.com/ca/index.php

http://www.theaudiobeat.com/ces2011/ces2011_ss_peter_madnick.htm

.... including Peter Madnick, Audio Alchemy's co-founder. Audio Alchemy's little back boxes, long discontinued (the brand sadly disappeared after it was acquired from the original partners) (uhmmm), are still highly coveted by studios and audiophiles around the world.

Telarc used the Pro 32 & 3.0 DAC in Studio...to name one.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 09/05/13 at 05:05:31

Stone, from the way you talk about those Polks I gotta hear them sometime!  Just checking, but is this the setup you have with the Audio Alchemy stuff?  If so, not a bad price ...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 09/06/13 at 06:03:37



Another Update:  In the final hours with only 29 days to the opening curtain (DECFEST 2013) I'm pleased to report things are going well despite a few attempts to upset the applecart by the powers that be.

One attempt was the accidental improvement I made in the TORII MK IV.  Obviously if the audio Gods were going to pick a time to enlighten, it would be an attempt to humble, so they made the MK IV almost twice as good just to test my resolve on the Mystery amp.  I still like it.  No, Love it.  The two will no doubt be compared over and over again but it will always be apples and oranges making the comparisons futile.

Another attempt was disguised as Father Murphy when the amp developed a hum that it never had before... and with only a month left till curtain time... go figure.  Turns out it was the audio Gods helping me do some final tweaking by using Father Murphy to steer me to the idea.  I had a ground at the input jacks which are supposed to be isolated. It developed with expansion and cooling of the chassis over time compromising the insulator. I couldn't figure out what happened for days. Last night I told my friend Dave that the amp could be fixed without adding any parts at his insistence that it would need another pie filter and more segregated supplies... even though I had no idea what the solution was I knew it wasn't what everything was pointing to.  Today I worked all day on tracing the eddy currents in the chassis chasing what I call inter-dimensional ground loops trying to make the hum stop.  I discovered that with this insulator compromised a ground loop had developed through the input cables and volume pot, but not until AFTER discovering a better way to ground it which corrected the problem in the first place... so now when UPS vibrates the thing to death in the back of their trucks and an input jack grounds itself at the chassis, the amplifier will still remain hum free and work perfectly.

This is how you know you're being guided by a higher power, because it is assumed these spirits transcend time and can therefor see into the future.  Saw one of these amps start humming and disappoint the hell out of a special customer which caused an unpleasant chain of events.  Decided to tell me about it.

Anyway, the fact that Father Murphy and the Audio Gods are active in these final weeks is good news, and gives me great confidence in what I'm hearing.

Speaking of that, I have been listening to my newest speakers with it and the sound quality and refinement is amazing.  They actually made my corner horns sound like sand paper in the top end... first time ever.  

So I will keep you posted as things continue, meanwhile I'm still listening to it, and tomorrow without the hum and stress of not knowing how to make it go away.


-Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 09/06/13 at 15:46:26


Newest Speakers? Which ones?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Rivieraranch on 09/06/13 at 16:26:53

The DM945's with the bass trap.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/07/13 at 13:20:09

Nope, Beowulf....the thread post you put up is for the cheapy Alchemy stuff.

Steve, very cool how this shook down on solving the hum and a better way to ground it.....for the Mystery Amp!

I look forward to hearing it with the DM945's.  I can't wait till the Fest...I sold Medtronic stock...and I'm jonesin' for some Decware Products.   -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Rivieraranch on 09/07/13 at 15:20:30

I might have to reduce or liquidate some positions myself, if this continues.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 09/09/13 at 17:05:03

10-Roger all that.  Just when I thought I was about to get the system settled for a bit... then along comes all this stuff.  There is no cure for audiophile nervosa.  And there is only one semi-effective treatment: constant infusion of new & improved !!!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/09/13 at 17:15:35

Not to much audiophile nervousa for me. If the piece does not cut it after appropriate set up and burn in...it gets returned or sold...like some of my recent endeavors. I just know what I like when I hear it....then buy/enjoy and keep it.    3 weeks & 4 days until the FEST!

I have had my AA Front End for 18.5 years and counting.
I have had my SE84CS for 12 yrs & 3 months.
I have had my SuperZen CKC for 10 months....never to be sold.
I have had my Kimber Select 1030 IC & 3033 Speaker cable for 13.5 yrs.
I have had my Parker Crusader's for 8 years.
I have had my Polk LS90 for 20 yrs & 6 months.
My Vintage Polk SDA 1's for 2 years next month.
(*these musical SDA 1's stay in the Listening RM with LS90 switch outs...my behemoth SRS SDA 1.2 Speakers are out in the Living Room*)

I am in my 3rd house with my best Acoustically Treated Room yet!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 09/09/13 at 18:34:03

Stone, I'd love to know more about your acoustically treated room! Do you happen to have a thread here? Photos?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/09/13 at 20:07:24

LR, I have never posted pic's before. I will though, eventually.

I have four Systems with my latest creation being my Klipsch Reference RF-7 II's out in my Garage. I'm not a big Klipsch fan by any means. But, these are fun out there. My neighbor friends don't understand Tone/Texture or want to have Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins or Ben Webster in the room. Or, bare notice to and the enjoyment of whom a particular saxophonist is and the different TONE, each of these Saxophonists has. So, the Listening Room is beyond their scope. However, the Garage with the RF-7 II's and my Living Room Rig with my Polk SRS SDA 1.2 Speakers.....they can wrap their brains around.

Anyway, my Acoustically treated room is done frugally (I'm not cheap-just Frugal).
I used Natural-Aire air cleaning filters for diffusion, without any cardboard grid enclosure around them/just raw of course (18 of them 20 x 30"...they are green/I like green). I also have Michael Greene Room Tunes Triangles in the upper four corners of the room for high frequencies.  It is quite tasteful looking (really). I used clear push pins (6 per panel).  -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 09/09/13 at 21:27:41

Stone -

had a pair of sda srs 2.3TL's many moons ago.  Interesting speaker - they were a ton of fun.  Crossover's in them are beyond complex for the full blown SDA part.  Good luck figuring out what it does when the caps go bad and drift out of spec. over the years.  I have heard you can still get replacement 6.5" drivers from Polk for them - not sure about the tweeters.  I wouldn't mind having a pair of them to play with again someday - as long as I can get parts.  I have two other speaker projects in the works right now though.  And just completed my first DIY crossoverless, high efficiency, full range project - a true revelation in detail resolution and realism - bettering anything I have ever owned and about as good as anything I've ever heard - at any price.

I'm preparing to go down the Decware diffusor path shortly, though my current room is dead as a door nail.  A little too dead actually.  However, with an impending remodel though, I'm afraid I'm going to have a much more "live" room to deal with.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/09/13 at 22:05:40

I am no solder slinger....so I envy you maddog.

However, I have a good guy just down the road at:
http://www.midwestspeaker.com/

He refurbed my SDA 1 (just the Spiders needed some work)...I use in Stereo only in my Listening Room. No SDA needed at 76 - 82db SPL on these with my SE84CS. Xover...everything else is fine on them.

My big guys SRS SDA 1.2 Polks are still in spec/and I do run them in SDA all the time (Living Room System). Great thing is you can update/upgrade these to 1.2TL's with parts from Polk shipped to my guy at Midwest Speaker. So, if they start to go wonky on me...I'll have the work done and they will come back to me even better.

The Polk Forum tends to have Zealots and Facists on it...but I don't let it detract from these great Speakers. The Polk Forum is where I learned that SDA's can be upgraded, yes TL Tweeter's and the ISOPhase Xover- better than ever compared to the original parts-to live forever. 

I prefer the two pair of conventional Speakers I have found, out of 13 I have had and still own 10 pair.....my LS90 & SDA 1 gives up the most musical texture in my treated Listening Room with my SE84CS (Zen Select)...between 76-82db SPL.  Not a fan of single driver efficiency just for the sake of playing louder and they get away from the Natural Timbre of the Instruments for me. I have my SRS SDA 1.2 for playing louder-which with SDA are pretty damn good....just no where near the SE84CS in my Listening Room....where I do have weight and dynamics....but also have that ultimate Timbre/Tone I like over single driver Xoverless.  

However, I look forward to hearing the HR 1's and Listen to everything Steve has to offer at the Fest...it has been awhile (5 years).  ....and of course the Mystery Amp that can drive anything....up my ally for the big guys in my Living Room! Or, it might end up in my Listening Room too. But..........the SE84CS is a pretty tough NUT to Crack.
  -Stone

PS-my SuperZen CKC continues to Burn in.....in my bedroom system with my Zen Styx. It will make its way back into the Listening Room for a full evaluation again with my AA Front End, Kimber Select 1030 IC & Kimber Select 3033 Speaker Cable.  She is getting there..... .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 09/10/13 at 18:59:24

Loved the sda's for their "party" ability.  Do you have the "bass brace" also?

I have owned over 30 pairs of speakers across my audiofool years - and counting.  I have 4 completely different types on hand right now - soon to have a fifth.  I have never heard any speaker, at any price(including several ribbon and electrostat models), that contains a pile of passive crossover parts that can compete with the speed, detail resolution, micro dynamics, transient snap and most realistic and natural "tone" of the high-efficiency, full range single driver DIY speaker project I just completed a few months ago - this "opinion" only applies when they are driven by my Torii MK.3.  Stringed acoustic instruments, piano and the human voice are simply "in the room" spooky real, emotion invoking, hair on the back of the neck raising, good.  I got started on this "quest" after several years of trips to the RMAF, where every speaker I heard of this type, just kept drawing me back to their room - they sounded so real, so detailed without being forward or fatiguing.  This was back when I was a pure solid-state guy.  I had to convert to "tubes" to embark on this recent leg of my audio journey.  Still a tube noob... but I'm getting there.

I've hauled my Torii around to several other local audiophile friends houses to hook it to their speakers - all types that have crossovers.  At this point in time, so far, I can only conclude that the real magic is coming from the "lack of a crossover".  While the Torii exhibits its characteristic sonic personality to some degree on every speaker I've hooked it to so far, the real magic has only occurred "so far" on speakers with no resistors, capacitors, inductors futzing around with the signal.
I would speculate, that perhaps it is possible to get to this level of rez and realism in speakers with passive xovers using ubber expensive, super sonic, space modulated caps, coils and resistors... but why bother going to the hassle and expense?
while the 12" full rangers I am using get more than loud enough in what is basically a 2400 sq.ft. room with a 9ft ceiling.  If I want even more weight and volume... I can double or triple up on drivers.  There are some DIY'ers out there, that have done just that.  And I am kind of doing that on the soon to be 5th pair of speakers I mentioned above, which are Hawthorne Audio Trio's - being customized to my desire by Hawthorne.

I think one of the greatest things about our hobby, is that the level of satisfaction any of us can attain with our audio systems can be achieved via so many different methods, combinations and paths.  This keeps us all "on the hunt" for that next great thing that will get our MoJo's workin'.  
I'd love to hear your setup with the sda's.  Last Polks I owned were 10B's.. a very musical speaker.  had them in our first HT as main front L/R's.  This was after I had the 2.3's in the man-cave system.  A friend of mine still has this pair of 10B's.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/11/13 at 15:14:47

I know their is one thing we can all certainly agree on; the common denominator for our Listening preferences and pleasure is a DECWARE Amplifier.

I agree Maddog...that the level of our satisfaction can be attained through so many different methods and paths.

You mentioned "Mojo".....I still visit my LISTENER Magazine's and visit Harvey Gizmo's site......to fire up my Mojo. I miss that dude and I think he would have loved Steve's Amps.

If he didn't?! I would argue with him at a show about it with his Celt and Tube Head Dress on! "Pentodes run in Triode are the best Harvey....proof is in the Listening...so take your 300B Tube and........." .
...(and Tubes run in Push-Pull with no negative feedback are awesome too...if the rest of the Topology is up to the task...as it is in Steve's Amps...Primaluna need not apply).

http://www.meta-gizmo.net/Tri/intro-tri.html
I took my "Stone of Tone" moniker from Harvey (title of one of his papers/writings...to be found in his archives at the site).
http://www.meta-gizmo.net/Tri/index-1.html

As enticed as I am about the new Torii IV.....I want what is closest to the Mono's for my Living Room 2 channel CD & Vinyl Listening pleasure. That being the Mystery Amplifier with common ground for my SRS SDA 1.2 Polk Speakers. If I don't like it with these Speakers? I have at least 3 other candidates in the house....or I'll just have to get the HR 1 to mate with them. Even though the HR 1 does not need the Mystery Amp grip/power....but will be interesting to hear at the FEST with the MysA. The JanZen's Steve had in-house intrigue me too.

Steve's email-sent this morning:
"This year I am particularly looking forward to revealing the Mystery Amp, as I believe under the context of being designed for the absolute most serious audiophiles, it is my best sounding amplifier to date".

He put a full/small teaser picture too.

It might take a year to two years to fully break it in....but I believe it will be worth it. My CKC continues to improve at 10.5 months......I am digin' the Jupiter Caps. The Mystery Amp, SE84CS & CKC should complete my Stable.  

Then on to the HR 1's........before the Snow melts!
(Yea, I did not forget about the 12 weeks to have them made....the Amp too).

PS-if you do read "The Stone of Tone" Paper by Harvey....realize, I appreciate its content in the context of the metaphor. I do not do the Chronic for Listening :-). However, I do enjoy a good cup of coffee with my morning Listening or sometimes, a couple of Summit Extra Pale Ales with evening Listening.    



"TUBES SOUND BETTER THAN SOLID STATE. Something didn't seem right about this at first because tubes were the old fashioned gear that we just chucked in favor of PERFECT solid state.

Who can we trust? Yet, every rock and roll guitarist used a tube amp. It only took one taste…under the influence to hear the big gaping gap between tubes and transistors. After we heard this big sound gap, and we weren't stoned, we could still hear the big sound gap, and we were confused….but our ears were telling us a profound truth".
http://www.meta-gizmo.net/Tri/adv/STONEO_TONE.html

From Harvey...and I quote:
"I am not suggesting marijuana smoking is the strategy to determine what audio electronics are best for you, because it is a waste of money, and could get you arrested. There is a better path to take you the high place you aspire to…just listen to music with tube electronics because it will affect your mind exactly the same way…because only tube circuits can create natural tone. Only tube electronics can alter your mind in the right way.

Now let me give you the world's quickest pedagogic insight about why tonal quality is so critical, and it is purely pragmatic and empirical: Tone is the most important musical attribute because tone it is the elixir, the stimulant of musical ecstasy. It is well documented that the right combination of even and odd order harmonics, which determine tonal quality, stimulates our brain to secrete endorphins, dopamine, and other exotic brain juices, which induces a very pleasureful "high" out of body experiences. Harmonics are an exogenous neural excitant: harmonics are an external stimulant that excites the nerve endings of our brain..like sex, the smell of barbecued steak, or the vibrations of a V-8 motor…and makes the brain juices of ecstasy flow".

IMHO...I rest my case..... .  Stone of Tone

PS-Maddog...I do not have the Bass Brace....also was used so Toddlers and Pets would not parish if they knocked these behemoths over on themselves...yikes! My kids are older now and live with their mother. Talking of further augmenting bass....I do have a HSU MBM 12" just behind the couch.  I do enjoy this piece out in the Living Room. Not necessary in the Listening Room.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 09/11/13 at 18:26:16

Update:

The amp is now 100% complete and ready for battle.



It's a meaty bugger...  takes one man to lift it, but takes two men to set it down carefully... it's just insanely heavy.  

After hearing what this amp does with 24 bit 384kHz PCM files as well as SACD 2.8mhZ and 5.6Mhz files I am spoiled for life. My entire CD collection is now officially garbage and will never pollute these ears again. Thank God I lived long enough to see digital playback finally sound good enough to compete with vinyl... it gives me great hope for the future of audio.

Steve




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 09/11/13 at 18:39:39

Amazing! Congratulations Steve (and all of us who get to hear it)!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/11/13 at 22:33:34

Look at that beautiful beast!

Steve, how heavy is it?

Awesome....can't wait.....ROAD TRIP!   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 09/12/13 at 03:01:48

Congrats Steve!

Thanks for taking all of us along for the ride.

BTW, can't wait for the MKII version of the Mystery amp to be released. ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/12/13 at 03:37:16

Steve, I just read your output tube biasing info again & the OA3 keeping things clean (power) for the preamp stage. Very nice..... .

Soth, I just send it back for MKII updates....quick turnaround by Steve. No problem....forgetta about it.
If you can afford to buy the car....you need to be able to have new after market rims an Pirelli's put on it right?

:-)  -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 09/12/13 at 14:30:16

Think about it? This Amp is within reach....and can run Speakers I am most interested in. You might say: "You have not heard it yet"....well, I know I loathe solid state enough...I just tolerate it for my other Systems.
So, I am not worried about the Mystery Amp not being "Involving"....it will be......with the POWER to run these candidates with the M51 running Balanced IC to the Mystery Amp -or-unbalanced via my Audio Alchemy front End.

http://nadelectronics.com/products/masters-series/M51-Direct-Digital-DAC
http://vonschweikertaudio.com/vr-33/
http://www.vienna-acoustics.com/products/beethoven_baby/beethoven_baby.php
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Magnepan+1.7+for+Sale&id=9C9E6797891B74800037969673AC47427BC83F92&FORM=IQFRBA#view=detail&id=961783BE6184122E1FFA7286A0D88DFD4061E588&selectedIndex=46
HR 1.....in the running too

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 09/12/13 at 16:17:41


I'm looking forward to hearing it Steve!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 09/12/13 at 19:06:10

Sooner or later someone is going to ask which amp sounds better, the new TORII MK IV or the Mystery Amp so I'm going to do my best to answer this question...

The MK IV has gotten 20 to 30% better than the Mk III, which put it in danger of being better than the Mystery Amp. Of course this is a good thing... unless you're the Mystery Amp. So to find out where everything stands the two amps were compared side by side the other night, first on 16bit 44kHz digital files and then later on high resolution files. Both were driven directly from a DAC with no preamp to keep things simple for the comparison.

Speakers used were 94dB 1 watt so that power did not enter into the comparison. Although the Mystery amp has more power than the Torii, the difference is only a few dB. It's enough to drive some of the harder to drive speakers that the Torii had trouble with, but I'm not going to use a low efficiency hard to drive speaker for the comparison. If you have speakers below the 90dB range, and have the budget for it, get the Mystery Amp.  

So with a level playing field and on speakers that can reveal the finest nuances the comparison turned up the following findings:

Sound stage and imaging is equal between the two amps.

The MK IV, like it's predecessors, has a very complex signature on multiple levels.  As a result it is endlessly seductive and fascinating to listen to.  On the standard digital format (16/44) that most people still use, I found it made the recordings more enjoyable to listen to, while the Mystery Amp on the same files was less inspiring.

The Mystery Amp's signature - well, it doesn't have one. It's as honest as any high dollar solid state amplifier, but without the "92dB of Global Negative Feedback often seen in solid state designs", it's transparency is incomparable. This is where the term "LIQUID HONESTY" comes from. Liquidity and absolute honesty are two things in amp amplifier that rarely come together.  

When comparing the two amplifiers on hi-resolution files and vinyl, the Mystery Amp has the ability to take things to a level slightly beyond the abilities of the MK IV, and if it didn't, the Mystery Amp would be considered a failure.

On vinyl, I found using my 450.00 Grado cartridge, both amps were keepers. I could happily live with either one. Using my Fidelity Research cartridge with the van den Hul tip, which has considerably more resolution, I found the Mystery Amp to once again come out on top.

SO, if someone asks me which amp they should get, I'm going to first ask what kind of speakers they have to determine if both amps are even candidates. If both amps ARE candidates, then I'm gong to ask what kind of source is being used... and what formats are being played.  If they tell me they have an NAD CD player, we aren't going to talk about the Mystery Amp. If they tell me they have bit perfect output to a high resolution DAC and only listen to 24 bit files, we probably aren't going to talk about the MK IV unless there is a budget involved.

Hope this helps!

Steve




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 09/12/13 at 22:48:26

Thanks for the overview Steve. This is helpful. I envy you folks that will be able to AB the two new amps at Decfest!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Alainjoel on 09/15/13 at 05:17:28

Stereo with separate subwoofer amp
Re:the mystery amp.

Title: The MYSTERY AMP  - PRE ORDERS
Post by Steve Deckert on 09/24/13 at 03:37:49



I've been asked by quite a few people if they can place a pre-order for the Mystery Amp in an effort to be the firsts ones in line for it... or put another way, get one as soon as humanly possible.

The base price on the amp is $4695 and here is a non-published pre-order link:

http://secure.ultracart.com/cgi-bin/UCEditor?merchantId=DIY&ADD=MYSTERY-AMP

Keep in mind this will position you in the list against other Mystery Amp Orders only.  The 8 to 12 weeks production time will start once we have the amp published on the web site in the next month or two.






Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by RoyMercer on 09/24/13 at 06:08:44

That amp is stunning! absolutely beautiful. Just knowing who made it... you know it sounds as good as it looks. I have to quit looking at it before I do something that will wind me up in divorce court!
 

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 09/24/13 at 06:36:53

I tried out the link, a fully upgraded Mystery Amp would cost about US$6 grand, that's about 2x the cost of the Torii MK4 with all options included.

Dear Steve,

Could you please elaborate on the NOS Red Mallory power caps option?

That's really new to me.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/07/13 at 22:20:13


Well, while waiting for DM945/Passive Sub & Mystery Amp to make it onto the Website.....I went and pre-ordered the Mystery AMP!

I'm assuming you guys listened to it at the Fest with a Stepped Attenuator and the Black KEMET Power Supply Caps?! Also, short run RCA connection....XLR only needed for long runs of cable....if you're not using a Reference Single Ended RCA cable (ie - Kimber Select 1030 RCA). -S  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 10/07/13 at 22:33:19

the Mystery amp "seemed" to have the Std. Decware input attenuator... smooth rotation.  At least I didn't feel any "steps" in it, like the stepped attenuator in my Torii III has.  The MA on display also did not have the XLR input option.  The std. Decware silver ribbon, single-ended RCA IC's were in use.  And the big power supply caps on the M Amp were "black"... I don't know brand/model.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/07/13 at 22:40:04

I remember seeing a big pile of those old Mallory PS caps up high on a shelf there. They caught my attention. I don't recall the amp we listened to having them though.

It also had the smooth volume I thought, not the stepped. I didn't fiddle with volume much on the Mystery, it was easy to get going.

The setup, as I recall, was Apple Laptop, to TEAC DAC (sorry, I don't know the model), Decware Silver reference (1 Meter I believe), Mystery Amp powered by Decware DHC-1 power cord, plugged into a little Trip Lite power isolation transformer. 10' Zen Styx into whatever speakers were on hand. The Mystery amp sounded excellent with every speaker plugged in.


Oh, and thanks for reminding me about this Pre-Oder link...I just put my order in!!!!!!!!!11!1!!   :D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 10/07/13 at 22:51:31

DAC was this one I believe
--> http://audio.teac.com/product/ud-501/

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/07/13 at 23:13:13

I guess I was typing too slow (or doing too many things at once) and didn't see your post before mine. Yes, that's the DAC in question.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 10/07/13 at 23:13:55

I would like to know more about the Red Mallory NOS caps as well ...

I was playing around with the cart as well and this is what I chose:

  • Dark Walnut Base.
  • Stepped Attenuator.
  • Cream Chicken Heads.
  • 4-8 Ohms Output Transformers.
  • Single-Ended RCA Inputs.
  • Red Mallory NOS Caps.


Total = $5345 - 10% Coupon = $4810.50 (there was a 10% Coupon for you lucky guys who attended Decfest right?)

Well, this old sailor can dream can't he? ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 10/07/13 at 23:15:35


Quote:
Lonely Raven said,
Yes, that's the DAC in question.


That can do DSD I believe ... Never heard it, but it is reasonably priced DSD DAC.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/10/13 at 19:29:21

Is mine done yet.   :P

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/10/13 at 19:53:45

Beowulf....I got:

Walnut Base.
•Stepped Attenuator.
•Walnut Knobs
•4-8 Ohms Output Transformers.
•Single-Ended RCA Inputs.
•Black Kemet Caps...is what he had burned in at the Fest?

I would like to know more about the NOS Mallory too.
I should just get them like you did....will see if Steve chimes in. I have seen both in the pictures of the Amp. They were the Kemets at the Fest per Maddog I think mentioned.

Lone Raven...you mean is mine done yet?!   ::)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 10/11/13 at 01:37:56


Quote:
Stone said,
I should just get them like you did...


LOL, the difference is that I was only playing with the shopping cart ... you actually bought one!  Lucky dog! ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/11/13 at 05:02:56

beowulf, living the life of Walter Mitty?  

It's all good!

I hope you know their is a difference?  Decware & this Forum exists because their is a difference.

As the late great Harvey Gizmo ALWAYS SAID: Gifted Listeners Unite!

Oh, please tell me you're not a TROLL....are you nit pic reincarnated!!!????  ....oh, he was fun! ;D

The 12 years of this Forum.....we can smell um'.

-Stone of Tone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 10/11/13 at 06:49:23


Quote:
Stone said.
beowulf, living the life of Walter Mitty?  

It's all good!

I hope you know their is a difference?  Decware & this Forum exists because their is a difference


I'll have to stick to my little Decware Taboo MkII for now (and live vicariously through you and your revolving door of electronic goodies :D) ... because, I'd have to pull a bank heist to afford the Mystery Amp any time soon. :'(

I do find myself adding stuff in the shopping cart all the time though .. hmmm maybe my realities are getting skewed ... Walter Mitty huh? hmmm :-? ... ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/11/13 at 15:02:44

I am just messin' with you Beowulf. Your Taboo is everything the bigger Amp is. I just want more power. However, a single output tube per channel via your Taboo or my CS or CKC...will always have a level of fidelity....that quite frankly, does beat push pull.

....if you want more power though....and because I had a Torii III for 4 months...the tinnie weeny weeny bit you give up IMHO....is worth it....to get the POWER (Steve's gifted IMHO).

I need to get into hi-rez too....which you are already enjoying. Thanks for the offer on the other thread to send me some hi-rez. I will get there.

Let me also tell you....I had some good fortune in selling some things...so I could come up with the sheckles to swing the purchase of the Mystery Amp....I don't take it for granted.    

Cheers, Stone of Tone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/14/13 at 23:03:36


I didn't want to pester Steve with a call or a knock on the door saying "is it done yet", so I sent an E-mail asking if he could chime in here in the forums about the Red Mallory Caps on the Mystery amp, and why it's a $500 upgrade.

Hopefully we hear from him soon...because, you know, I've probably got another 10 weeks to decide if I want them or not. LOL


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 04:54:23

Yes, ....and I have another 9 weeks & 6 days to decide if I want them (when they pull the parts).  LOL

Nice LR, hopefully Steve will chime in about them (RED Mallory Caps NOS). The Red looks cool too. The stealthy black Caps as well.

Being NOS and he has a couple MA's burning in with each set of Caps(?) Unless for the Fest he switched out the Mallory's we saw and burned in the black Kemets...with one MA up and running/broke in.

I picked the Walnut Base with Walnut knobs. I had a Torii MkIII and liked it with that base.
I also chose the Stepped Attenuator, 4-8ohm, RCA Inputs and the black caps.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/15/13 at 05:07:54

Ditto -

Walnut, Walnut, RCA,4-8 Ohm, Black Caps. I didn't go with the stepped. Unless there is a good reason for it that I'm not aware of?

I wouldn't mind a figured cherry base - but I didn't feel like it was worth $100 upcharge for plane cherry. I could make my own base pretty easily. In fact, I have a decent stash of various woods in good thicknesses. Once I know the base dimensions I might churn out something in a nice exotic figured hardwood.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 05:17:44

The stepped attenuator is really not necessary....I just like the action of them.

Nice, you have the talent for woodwork DIY.

I ordered/have an Oak Base for my SE84CS a few years after I had it and now want one for my CKC.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 06:16:26

I might end up prefering the Tung-Sol KT66. However, Steve has the topology set up to handle the KT120.  So, I have to do it with four 6N1P's for pre. I also have a nice stock of NOS Sovtek 6922's.    -S

Tung-Sol KT120 Power Vacuum Tube

This is the most powerful audio power tube in production today. With a plate dissipation rating of 60W (compare that with the 35W of the 6550, the 42W of the KT88, and the 50W of the KT90), a pair of these KT120 tubes in push-pull configuration can deliver 150 watts or more of audio power. And when used in a vintage circuit designed for 6550 or KT88, the KT120 will deliver unbelievable amounts of clean headroom, low end rumble and dynamic punch all without overloading. The glass of this tube is a full 1/2" taller with the internal plate structure 3/8" longer than its nearest KT88 cousin. The internal control grid cooling fins are twice as large as the KT88 adding to the amazing performance of this tube. This particular tube draws between 100mA (.1A) and 300mA (.3A) more filament current than a standard KT88, so check with your amp manufacturer to insure you have the additional filament headroom to power these tubes. This new KT120 is the steamroller of audio tubes, prepare to be flattened.





Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/15/13 at 13:02:34


I don't think I'm going to be able to afford any tube rolling on these. A quad of NOS KT66 is like $900. KT120 sound neat, but I didn't feel the Mystery was lacking in power with the Decware speakers since I kept turning it down during our demos. Unless the KT120 have some harmonic or textural difference that's really interesting, I probably don't need them.  

I'll probably just get some of those Herbie's Tube Dampers for all the tubes and call it a day.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 14:52:19

I do not do ridiculous NOS... .

Steve voiced the Amp to be great as you have heard with Tong-Sol KT 66's that can be had for $140. a quad & Tong-Sol KT120's at $190. per quad.  The 6N1P's for 10 bucks each and the OA3 lasts for just about forever.  End of BS NOS for me.  ::)   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/15/13 at 15:32:18


Some OA3 and 6N1P rolling could be done relatively inexpensively. River Ranch mentioned an inexpensive alternative to the 6N1P in the Super Zen thread. I saw sleeves of 5 (forgot the tube model) for $40. I saw 60's vintage OA3 for $40.

I've played with the Tung-Sol KT-66 in guitar amps and I know they are good. I probably won't look further there, unless some NOS something falls into my lap. None of my guitar amps use KT-66, so it's not one I happen to have handy like KT-77 or EL34.

I spoke with Steve during Decfest about building a cherry base for my "vintage" Zen Amp - it runs really, really hot as it is...so I'm concerned about adding a heavy wood insulator to the metal casing. He said it shouldn't matter...but I noticed running tubes other than 6N1P, it runs noticeably cooler. It's still on my winter To-Do woodworking projects.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/15/13 at 15:35:25

I have a C amp with a beautiful beautiful maple stand. The amp runs hotter than anything else I've ever known (it's modded by Eddie Vaughn if that makes a difference) and I thought I'd see how it did without the case.

To be honest, it sounds about 10 percent better without the case. And it should be ventilating better.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 15:36:33

Yes LR! Herbie's Halo's are excellent.

I use a pair of Herbie's on my coveted Svetlana SV83 Tubes on my SE84CS.
I also, have a 5 pound brass weight on the Transformer. System is configured on floor (finished basement) as is my Pro-ject Debut Carbon Turntable out in the Living Room He-Man rig (slightly elevated on top of two old Denon CD Changers).
...Back to the Listening Room, my Digital resides on Townsend Seismic Sink Pneumatic. Isolation is Key.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 15:42:33

I love the case my SE84CS is in...with a character knot from Zigy right in the front.....I can't take it out of it.  

The 6N1P does run hotter....I have it in my CKC...so no case on that Amp...for the better.  I sometimes run a 6N1P, EL84 with GZ34 Rectifier...you want to talk about hot in my SE84CS!  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/15/13 at 15:49:20

I'd be curious if you thought the amp sounds better without the case. My case is beautiful too, really, but It's very clear differnce to me, the sound is more open and dynamic and even my Mom noticed it. "What did you do?" she said shortly after I removed it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 16:00:20

I will try it Lon and hear what happens.

Oh, I should add, because I have over 900 CD's...I take their playback seriously.  
Vinyl?........I love it....but I can enjoy my old records (approx 400 and counting) out in the Living Room Rig.....via my Polk SDA SRS 1.2 Speakers.....= a lot of fun.

Real Jazz & Contemporary Jazz in the Listening Room & Classic Rock in the Living Room on Vinyl. Of course I use an affordable Record Washer/Spin Clean MKII - Deluxe.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/15/13 at 16:03:41

I've about 20 times that many cds, and take its playback very seriously as well! I'm so very happy with my PS Audio Duo (s) -- they do Redbook better than anything I've heard and no need for me to try something else.

I can enjoy vinyl in both of my systems, but the ZP3 in the main system makes me want to listen to it more there. At times the vinyl playback exceeds the digital, man there's just something about records.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 16:09:38

Oh, I am aware of your awesome collection Lon. We have been conversing on this forum with each other for 12+ years. Imagine if they kept the original post count when Steve switched over the Forum to new?.........you would be in the stratosphere!  

I agree, I might upgrade my Vinyl. However, it does make me turn my head sometimes with my current Rig....James Taylor's....Daddy Loves his Work...straight through...both sides.....this morning....wonderful.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/15/13 at 16:16:14

Yes, it's been that long. I deleted my whole profile one time (not sure if it was on purpose or by accident) and I would have thousands more even if I hadn't.

I post too much. Wish I could stop. :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/15/13 at 18:40:32

Nope, never stop Lon. I appreciate your insights.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/15/13 at 19:39:27


Quote:
Yes LR! Herbie's Halo's are excellent.

I use a pair of Herbie's on my coveted Svetlana SV83 Tubes on my SE84CS.
I also, have a 5 pound brass weight on the Transformer. System is configured on floor (finished basement) as is my Pro-ject Debut Carbon Turntable out in the Living Room He-Man rig (slightly elevated on top of two old Denon CD Changers).
...Back to the Listening Room, my Digital resides on Townsend Seismic Sink Pneumatic. Isolation is Key.    -S



I do indeed need to work on isolation. I just hear so much BS about what works. I'd really like to setup some sort of micro seismometer on my amp and/or Oppo Disc player and *document* what's really happening. But I see all this stuff I'm skeptical of, like putting crystals and  maple wood blocks and brass weights (vs lead or something else) and supposedly these things *enhance* only the positive aspects of the music... color me super skeptical. So for starters, I just want to do real isolation with good stands/bases etc. I'm just having trouble finding something DIY or reasonably priced.

Stone, what Halo's do you recommend I try? The expensive Titanium ones don't seem like they'd work well. The guitar ones are priced well, but it has me curious if the other models would make a difference. I may have to get a set of the titanium ones, try them out, then send them back if I don't feel they make a noticeable or positive difference.

Tube damping makes sense, but again, too much snake oil out there muddying the waters.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 10/15/13 at 21:28:58


Quote:
Stone said,
Nope, never stop Lon. I appreciate your insights.


+1 - it wouldn't be the same here without your insights!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/15/13 at 22:24:26

Thanks Gents. Probably couldn't stop if I tried. :)

Listening to the new Garcia release, Live Volume 3, "Legion of Mary 1974," great stuff.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/18/13 at 02:12:51


So...who else it checking the web page and forums a couple times a day hoping Steve has chimed in on the Mallories and/or updated the Amps pages?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 10/18/13 at 03:23:36

The red caps are N.O.S. caps made in the USA.  They give the amp more bass weight and a slightly better "hit".   These are obsolete caps.  The closest thing available is this:



http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Cornell-Dubilier/CGH272T500X4C/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMtZ1n0r9vR22SFFOYVL%252bRDNESfcSicyZ3M%3d

The red ones I have weigh over a pound more despite being the same physical size...

Anyway I plan to make my stash of red caps an option until my supply is gone.  I think I have enough for 25 amps.  The first five Mystery Amps built will come with these caps as my gift for being the first five people to own one.



Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/18/13 at 03:28:48



Quote:
The first five Mystery Amps built will come with these caps as my gift for being the first five people to own one.


Oh please let me have been smart enough/soon enough to be in that first five!!   :D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mkoepsel on 10/18/13 at 03:42:07

I'm new here and just read the whole thread. Gotta say very impressive.

Mark


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/18/13 at 14:49:00


Welcome Mark!


Quote:
After hearing what this amp does with 24 bit 384kHz PCM files as well as SACD 2.8mhZ and 5.6Mhz files I am spoiled for life. My entire CD collection is now officially garbage and will never pollute these ears again. Thank God I lived long enough to see digital playback finally sound good enough to compete with vinyl... it gives me great hope for the future of audio.


I keep coming back to this quote from Steve - the technology is here, my concern is that I'm seeing many recordings put out that are upsampled crap, or compressed to death. I really hope they start going back to those original master recordings and pulling every bit of detail out of them at no compromise sample rates. I don't mind if I'm listening to Hendrix and I hear the limitations of a 1960's 4 track tape...I want to hear it as Hendrix heard it! (and I'm not about to jump into Vinyl at this stage).

Part of the reason I put in my order for the Mystery amp, besides the fact that I truly felt it was superior to the MK IV - even on CD, is that I plan on having this amp for a long, long time - well into the era of high bitrate, high samplerate HD music. I've had my Zen amp for 15 years, and I play the snot out of it. Just about every day I fire it up, something special happens with the music - I'm looking forward to that with the Mystery amp for a another 15-20 years.  ;)

Steve, technical question on the caps. Coming from the guitar amp world, I've had to replace many, many electrolytic caps over the years in my amps. What's the expected lifespan of these big Mallory cans you're putting into the amps? I know with guitar amps they recommend replacing the caps every 10 years because they dry out and start allowing noise to come through. So I'm concerned about not having replacement caps of this quality in the future.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/18/13 at 15:12:01

Welcome as well Mark.

LR, I have been checking for Steve's reply too! I hope I made the cut as well for the Red Mallory's.

Sarah called me yesterday and left a message about the DM945 with the new passive bass stands.  I then went and Listened to them and all the other Speakers last night via the Thread from the Fest Steve sent out.  Thanks for those great comprehensive Threads Steve-wow. Now, I want the NEW ERR instead. First things first. I look forward to my Mystery Amp and what it can do with my Stable of Speakers. Then, the new ERR's need to come in. I might augment them with my HSU MBM 12. I purposely, underutilize this device in my Living Room....where it is sublime. I think the ERR Omni's would thrive out here in the Living Room with it via MA or CKC!

LR, I am with you.....the MA stays for life...and I will work my alchemy to squeeze every last drop out of it for years to come.  My SE84CS & CKC will never leave me either.  Hi-rez, redbook CD.....and Vinyl improvements I will make....will be worth the efforts with these three fine maker's of music I will own.  -S

PS LR, ditto on your Zen Amp. I have owned my SE84CS new, for 12.5 years.  I listen to it, nearly every day. It is so Special...I will not change a thing in it!  I needed/wanted the CKC on its own...for its magic. No one touches my CSelect from 2001.  
Good question from your tech background about the Caps.

PS-I loved hearing the DM945 with the new passive bass stands. But, I think I am falling for the Radial Sound. Plus, I have all front firing in my Stable...time for way less room dependence...with the Omni's.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 10/18/13 at 15:17:06

Oh boy.  I just pulled the trigger as well.  has that been 5 amps yet?

I just heard and felt this big sucking sound from behind me.  oh, that was my wallet.  But I'm smiling.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/18/13 at 15:20:21

hehe SteveC, this will be 3 for me. ....might turn into 4 next fall with the Mk IV.   I blame Lon for all this  ;D.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/18/13 at 15:35:12

LR, about your skepticism for tweaks.  You should have these concerns.

You are creating a dedicated room for one of your Systems with Acoustic Room Treatments....so that is the place to start.

Me? Powercord, Herbie's Halo's for size of tube, digital isolation, system configured on carpet-on Wood shelves-flat to floor/concrete floor. TripLite equivalent for power isolation, weight on Power Transformer (read: Isolation)....and of course Room Treatment....all make a difference to hear the SE84CS's full potential.
I also use a product from XLO....called TPC...it is a cleaner for all connections...it comes in a sealed package in the form of a wipe...that makes The Perfect Connection.  Also, check your driver's/tighten the screws...they loosen up over the years.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/18/13 at 16:54:57


Quote:
I just heard and felt this big sucking sound from behind me.  oh, that was my wallet.  But I'm smiling.


Yeah, and mine is making the sound of a straw at the bottom of an empty milkshake.  ;D


Ok, I really need to seriously look at isolation and such. I'd like to see what I can DIY between now and Mystery Amp arrival.

I listened to almost all the video's Steve posted, and I too kept coming back to the ERR - so it's looking like I might want a set of those as well...maybe my birthday 2014 - the Mystery amp is tapping me out for a long while.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/23/13 at 03:45:06

ERRx, I want a pair (love the Thread(s) Steve sent out).....need to bring the MA in first.

The wait is going to be hard to bare, for this Amplifier LR!

I posted these words below in the Anedio D2 Thread as well. I have driven my Polk SRS SDA 1.2 Speakers quite well with a PrimaLuna Dialogue Five.....so, no worries with Steve's Topology & 10 times more Musicality coming in with the Mystery Amplifier...to drive them.  

The Anedio D2 continues to impress me. I moved the D2 to the Living Room System. Dynamic, with superb Tonal balance.

I am Listening to it right now with:
Sony DVP-NS57P as Transport (over priced TPorts can stick it-I've tried just about all of them that matter-this little sh_t delivers)
Illuminati D-60 RCA for Digital IC (Redbook)
Anedio D2 DAC
Kimber Hero IC RCA
.....driving my XPA-2 Emotiva Amplifier/Kimber PK10 Palladian Power Kord & Kimber 8TC Speaker Cable.....direct with the D2 preamp....to my Polk SRS SDA 1.2 Speakers.

Very musical for Solid State (where I can actually enjoy it).

I need to order a separate Amp Stand for my pending Mystery Amplifier & 1 meter Kimber 1026 (meaning: pull the XPA-2 out and the Hero out)...replaced by the Mystery Amp with 1026 IC.....with the 8TC to the SDA 1.2's.  I have a feeling it is going to be a winning combination with KT66 Or KT120's!   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/23/13 at 13:12:42

I made the cut!

My Invoice was updated to include the Red Mallory NOS Caps N/C!

Thank you Steve.....and all at Decware.    -Stone of Tone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/23/13 at 13:45:31

I'm happy for ya!

As TP says, the waiting is the hardest part.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/23/13 at 14:18:00


Quote:
I made the cut!

My Invoice was updated to include the Red Mallory NOS Caps N/C!


Oh wow! I didn't catch that, my Invoice says the same!!

High Five  brother Stone!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 10/23/13 at 19:38:19

I believe I'm #4  (4th MA on the waiting list at least).. and the invoice says Red caps. :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/23/13 at 20:07:24

Is there a visible waiting list somewhere?


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/23/13 at 20:28:53

Go to this page: https://www.decware.com/newsite/contacts.html

Select the link Amplifier Real Time Build Sheet  It will launch a pdf.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/23/13 at 20:54:34

Thanks Lon!

Color me not surprised that you know exactly where to find this!  ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/23/13 at 20:59:26

At least i don't have anything on there to wait for. :)

My waiting now is for items to be seasoned enough in my second system to move into my main system (Torii Mk III and a CSP2+ with beeswax caps).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/23/13 at 21:06:47


I'm practically bouncing in my seat right now. Really looking forward to seeing and hearing my Mystery amp!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/23/13 at 21:19:46

I know. It's exciting.

I'm very excited by my system these days. I get to spend so little time with it that I don't take it for granted. The audio from the DVR and the Blu-ray just blows me away, as does my vinyl and cd listening. Every second seems stolen from the boring morass of spending most of my time at my parents' (though that boredom is peppered with some really stressy times). My trusty Mk III upgraded to beeswax caps sounds so so good that I don't want to try the new one out yet. . . just don't want to unplug this amazing machine, want it available for the next stolen moments!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 10/23/13 at 21:32:06

Lon said:
Quote:
so good that I don't want to try the new one out yet


I caught that "yet"  

;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/23/13 at 21:42:36

Oh I intend to try the newest (received late July) Mk III in the main system eventually. Maybe in another few weeks or a month. I want to play with the bass controls in that machine; my original Torii couldn't be upgraded to bass controls per Steve.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/23/13 at 22:17:07

Thanks for the build sheet reminder Lon!  

Sweet!    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 10/24/13 at 00:58:08

Lon,

Sorry, I misinterpreted "the new one" as the MkIV. Whoops...

:)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/24/13 at 01:36:09

Thought that was the case. No, I'm not tempted by the IV. I think my original III has the right balance of tone and the right features for me. The new III has a bit of a cleaner, clearer sound, and I sense Steve keeps moving in this direction sound wise, and it moves away from what works best for me. I'm so happy with my original III with the beeswax caps, it has a great balance of detail and swing and depth, it's really saddening to me that bass controls can't be added and I bought the new one and yet still feel so loyal to the original one! In time the new one may ensnare me, want to get more hours on it before I try.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/28/13 at 15:48:18

Well, it looks like it's time to say goodbye to an old friend. '74 Porsche 914 - the 3rd "budget" Porsche I've owned. I put her up for sale on Saturday, and had 3 serious offers by Sunday afternoon. I just need to fix a title issue when the DMV is open (and I'm back in town), and I'll have the last bit of mulah I need for my Mystery amp!

Honestly, it's probably for the better...I just don't have the skill to fix her up and get her back on the road myself, and I don't have the funds to pay someone else to do it. It's been sitting in storage at a friends for many, many years. It's best she help fun my audio project, and open up the space at my friends house...so the Mystery amp has been good motivation to move stuff of some value I've been sitting on way too long...

Now the long wait for my amp to be built...




Is it done yet?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 10/28/13 at 16:09:39

LR.. I suffer from the same disease - one or two too many hobbies/interest - that take more time & money than I have to spread around.  However, I, like you have found that this "condition" forces me to clean house and balance out things from time-to-time.  And that can only be a good thing!  If I had more time and more $$ than I do now, I would probably be up to my eye balls in unfinished "projects" and our house and property would look like "Sanford & Son's" place!... LOL

[smiley=57.gif]

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/28/13 at 16:16:09

Brianne already complains to her parents that I collect/hoard too many projects for my hobbies. Between the guitars and amps, guns and reloading, archery, home theater, computers and networking, two-channel audio, camping/hiking, motorcycling, woodworking, photogrpahy...I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting...yeah, she rolls her eyes and complains when I bring home a new project. LOL

So yeah, moving some stuff out is a good thing. I have piles of computers I need to get out, and I need to get the garage woodworking shop back in order so I can actually focus on house projects. I have a feeling the Mystery amp might derail me from getting anything done late at night though.   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/28/13 at 17:03:41

Nice! It has two too many wheels though so I can see why you're selling it.

Hope the wait isn't too unbearable!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/29/13 at 17:18:34

I purchased two pair of OA3's.

It is nice to hold/see the old boxes with RADIOTRON, RCA Logo's, RADIO CORPORATION of AMERICA, Harrison, N.J. ...Made in U.S.A.
ELECTRON TUBE   -S


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mkoepsel on 10/29/13 at 18:03:04

Nice 914 your selling. Wish I had it. I've had over 100 auto projects. Mostly chevy with some mopar and vw's thrown in.

Selling off from one hobby to support another. I can understand.

Mark

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/29/13 at 18:45:59


Quote:
I purchased two pair of OA3's.

It is nice to hold/see the old boxes with RADIOTRON, RCA Logo's, RADIO CORPORATION of AMERICA, Harrison, N.J. ...Made in U.S.A.
ELECTRON TUBE   -S


Yeah, I'm holding off on any tube purchases for the Mystery amp till I talk to Steve more. He and I seem to like/hear the same thing, so I'll see what he says would be premium tubes to track down.


Quote:
Nice 914 your selling. Wish I had it. I've had over 100 auto projects. Mostly chevy with some mopar and vw's thrown in.

Selling off from one hobby to support another. I can understand.


I really wish I knew more about auto mechanics. I'm mechanically inclined, just never had the opportunity to really work on cars, or someone to teach me how unfortunately.

Brianne (my fiance) keeps giving me grief about not having an emergency fund...I tell her I sorta do...except I can play with my emergency fund(s) until I need to liquidate them for something else.   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 10/29/13 at 23:52:26

where are u guys gettin' these NOS, made in the US of A , RCA 0A3's and 0C2's?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 10/30/13 at 00:32:25

For my Torii MK4, I got such NOS RCA tubes from Vacuumtubes.net

Their tubes are really NOS and tested.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Jason on 10/30/13 at 01:50:49

I found cheap NOS OA3 and OC2 show up on flea bay quite often, sometimes in big lots too.  Keep looking, there are a few deals on there still.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/31/13 at 05:25:45

maddog, I got these RCA OA3 from Tube Depot/Memphis. Actually, I was not expecting them. They list what they have as "assorted lot". So, I was pleasantly surprised to get these. I am a good customer of 12 years with them.  I like them even more now and have always had great service and great Tubes from Tube Depot.  

I will purchase my backup Quad of Tong Sol KT66 & Quad of 6N1P's from Tube Depot, when my Mystery Amp Ships (so if any failure occurs with the Tubes shipped...I have backup). I will also order a Quad of Tong Sol KT120's too. After a week of burn in on the Tubes shipped & the MAmp.....I will Tube Test these KT66's, KT120's, 6N1P's & RCA OA3's in the MAmp....then shelve them. Unless the KT120's talk to me and say: "keep me in".   8-)   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/31/13 at 12:47:24


That sounds like a good plan. I'm holding off on extra tubes and tube rolling for a bit, till I see what Steve says about the Mystery amp.

Well, I have two more guys looking at the old Porsche, so I might have my Mystery Amp funding by the weekend!


Is it done yet?  ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/31/13 at 15:07:21

Genelex for KT66 are on the docket too. Let us know Steve's Input.

Good news, hope you sell it this weekend. I should sell my Truck...but I would miss it! Especially, 4 wheel drive hi on the fly for the Winter Months. 2006 mint Ford F150 White/Crew Cab V8 Triton, PVD all weather American Racing Rims, Fiberglass Lid, Chrome in between door windows, Chrome Step ups......Grill change. 14.2 miles around town...but damn do I look good doing it!  Plus, who is going to pull the Dodge & Chevy's out of the ditch...or off the beach when they get stuck pulling their Boat Docks in? Yeah, you got it...me.

I digress. Anyway, I have had quite a few things in the last 24 months...and returned.  ...this has fortified the credit on CCard to get the Mystery Amp and another pair of Speakers.

Demoed rigorously in the last 24 months/Returned:

Torii MkIII (I should have kept...I would already have it back with the IV upgrade done!....I sold it after 4.5 months)

PrimaLuna Dialogue Five (can't compete with Decware on ANY Level-good luck with that Kevin Deal)

PWT/PWDII PS Audio (overrated-you don't need to kill a Fly with a Sledge Hammer)

Zu Audio Unions (came to me with 500 hrs on them....very shouty and not refined with tone/timbre. Just a garage rock speaker to me).

Klipsch RF something (returned...but I kept the 2nd pair I had in, of RF 7 II's for my Garage Rock System).

NAD M51 DAC (after many hours...was not tactile or musical....always had a veil....the Anedio D2 destroyed it...as it did the PWT/PWDII=more expensive does not mean better....those that Build a Sledge hammer to kill the FLY are exposed).

Sim Audio MOON W5.3 SE Amplifier w/PS Audio AC-10 (good solid Amplifier...but I can't sit and actively Listen to 2 channel Music through Solid State anymore.....Decware has ruined me)!  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 10/31/13 at 15:22:41

I disagree with you about the PWD and PWT, I think we like different things and I would probably prefer these to the ones you prefer, that's the way of the world and I welcome it!

Hope your Mystery Amp and next speakers fill the bill! I want you to be as happy as I am! :D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 10/31/13 at 16:29:42


I really enjoy listening to you guys talk about what you do and don't like about audio, and how we have different wants/needs and there is no one perfect answer.

For example, when I first met Steve, his setup was very clinical (anal as he likes to call it), and Fast Forwarding to today I see his gear has gotten even more musical, without losing detail. Listening to you guys makes me  more aware of what I'm listening too, as I feel I was getting a bit too much on the clinical side; I had a couple friends over and they were like, "this sounds awesome, but yuck".  [smiley=10.gif]

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 10/31/13 at 18:24:08

I a/b'd my Torii MK.III to the IV, to the MA and the mono's at the fest... for my tastes and at least one particular pair of speakers I have, the Torii mk.III is the cat's meow... keeper for life I think.  
I can make my III sound much like the IV by changing the input tubes, but I just really like the fluid resolution of the III and the treble shunt and bass dampening control of the III - flexibility is priceless and the controls on the mk.IV don't do much that my ears can detect - very, very subtle at best.  I don't think I will ever part with my Torii MK.III... however... the Mystery Amp is another story.  To my ears, and this goes for all Decware amps when mated to the appropriate speakers(they are all great), the Mystery Amp is not so much "better" as it is different to my ears.  It paints the soundstage and images differently than my Torii.  I might have to acquire a Mystery Amp in 2014... as an "addition to", not a replacement of my Torii mk.III.  
After talking to Steve, I did get the Jupiter upgrade to my III though - just got it back this week.  Not much time on it yet at all.  Though I do perceive it has changed.  However, I'm not yet able to fully "quantify" & "qualify" what I'm hearing.  But it has changed enough, that when I set the bass & treble controls "by ear".... I have them in different positions than I had them in before the Jupiters.  First impressions say that things have improved at both ends of the frequency extremes..

Stone... I'm afraid I have fallen prey to the same fate as you - Decware has ruined me from ever listening to sand-amps in my man-cave 2-ch system for life.  Even the best ss amps I've heard, sound gray, thin, bleached, "dry" to me now as compared to Decware.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 10/31/13 at 21:29:54

You are absolutely right Lon. I hope I did not come off as a dink with my assessment of my last 24 months.

LR, you are so right. I feel it is not cliché at all to say.....Decware Amps are our common denominator and we all learn from each other for sure. Me, probably more so from you guys.

maddog, ruined is right!  

Well, time to go buy some Candy at Target!  I have at least 80 kids coming to the door soon (6 till 9:30 pm)!    -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/02/13 at 02:04:31


Ad the Porsche sold tonight!

So I now have all the funding for my mystery amp!

Is it done yet??  ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/02/13 at 15:53:19

Awesome LR...SOLD!

I know....is it done yet?

I keep looking at the build sheet...as if it is going to go faster or something?!  All those IV's ahead of us!  The pain....the pain!  :'( ;D
-S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/04/13 at 17:48:44

I look forward to finding out how much the MA weighs? I can wait until the official web page posting.

I brought my Emotiva XPA-2 at 83.5 pounds boxed & 72.6 out of box...inside and downstairs all by my lonesome. ....pays to stay in shape.....but damn heavy.

I look forward to carrying the MA into the Listening Room.....it will sound so not like Solid State....even while it waxes & wanes through burn-in.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/04/13 at 18:39:01


Quote:
I look forward to finding out how much the MA weighs? I can wait until the official web page posting.



I was thinking the same thing...but I was wondering because I want to get some Tenderfeet or Iso-Cups or the like for it.

But now you have me wondering if my glass and steel rack is going to be sturdy enough to hold it up. I've already had the big dog knock into one of the glass shelves, shearing the mount and dumping my Onkyo Home Theater receiver out the front of the rack as the shelf tilted. I have several HDMI ports that no longer work since that incident.  >:(   I'd hate to have that happen with the Mystery amp...I may just use this as an excuse to replace the racks with something DIY.

For some reason 60# is coming to mind...either Steve said that in the build thread, or someone through out that rough number as an example.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/05/13 at 16:32:08

My MA will be firmly planted on the floor on 1/2 inch wood....in the Listening Room or in the Living Room (both rooms in basement/finished-no vibration from poured concrete underneath carpet).

Do you realize how awesome this Amplifier is? Read post #76 again about biasing. I so look forward to dialing the MA in and driving it to its threshold when desired and always at optimum.

After initial bias setup.....
Steve wrote:
......"because the bias of the tubes change with warm up.  You need a way to adjust quickly look at the amp and see if the two tubes are drawing the exact same number of mills.  If they are not, you need a simply frikin knob to turn to make them that way... all while listening to music, uninterrupted".

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/05/13 at 17:21:02

I'm getting to where I don't want to fiddle with my gear as much as I used to. I also like the fact that after the amp and tubes are seasoned and warmed up, I *don't* have to muck with the bias once it's dialed in.

I've stopped reading this thread over and over...it's driving me slightly mad. http://youtu.be/vkT5dVJsnYk

I'm researching other improvements I can do to my setup to prep for the Mystery amps arrival. I'm seriously looking at one of those Power Plant that the guys are always talking about...

In the mean time, I'm mentally sending good vibes to the audio gods in hope they whisper in Steve's ear that it's time to assemble the first five Mystery amps....I have a birthday coming up after all (Nov 12th) and this is the biggest and *best* birthday present I've ever gotten myself.   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/05/13 at 19:46:13

Yes LR, I like the fact as well...once dialed in...you don't have to mess with the Quad that is in there until you replace that Quad.

I am with Steve on the Power regen stuff. Take what he is using the OA3 for in the Mystery Amp....for power cleaning/preamp....and he mentioned you can bury your Power regen's in the ground....to enrich the iron in the earth. I agree with him. I just use a Adcom 515 AC Enhancer to clean up the hash...like a TripLite does.

Now, what I have found to lower noise floor and get out of the way of the music....is my Kimber Select 1030 RCA IC & Kimber Select 3033 Speaker Cable. To revealing to use with high-efficiency Speakers.....but the Kimber Select is excellent with 86 to 92db types/1watt/1 meter (and with a great DAC front end & Amp of course).   -S

PS-that Queen Link is awesome.  I just recorded via DVR off of Serius Sat Radio (Dish Network)...."Tie Your Mother Down"....with my HSU MBM12 & Polk SRS SDA 1.2's in the Living Room....cranked Up FUN!  

I also recorded that LORDE song....from Serius....considering it is not resolution from Redbook/per good DAC....the low end from the Synth...is sweet..... . Kids..... 8-)

It would be nice to see our MA's by mid December....were #1 & #2 on the List!   Cheers, Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/05/13 at 20:10:35

Well, believe Steve if you want, but I've used my Decware amps with and without a power regenerator and whether they have his OA3 circuit or not, they're BETTER with a regenerator and not as good without one. I'll not be without one if I can help it.

And I'm not sure I've ever heard Steve say that about power regenerators.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/05/13 at 20:39:18

Reply #66 in this thread. Each to his own...nothing to get worked up about. -S 8-)

Reply #34...about the OA3...in conjunction with reply #66.

"Of course to feed the preamp stage (smaller tubes) we need to drop the voltage and the common way to do that is a high wattage resistor followed by a small capacitor.  That is how the Torii Mono's were done.  In this amp, I am replacing this resistor with a vacuum diode aka voltage regulation tube (OA3) which will give me the same voltage drop as the resistor but with 20 times the ripple reduction and 100% decoupling so that harmonics from dirty power grids in your city do not contaminate the pure DC power feeding your critical preamp stage.  This also means that again 100% of the heat has been eliminated.

This will be the first power supply I've ever done that has zero resistors and zero chokes.  It's so Zen it's scary".


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/05/13 at 20:51:30

I'm not worked up. It's just my own personal experience makes this sound like sales hype.

Sorry, I'm just very skeptical, and just wanted to point out that my personal experience with all other amps goes counter to that. Maybe this one is some miraculous new thing. Steve puffs so much that I am skeptical a lot these days. I love him and his work, I just could use leaner prose and milder posturing The way he writes about that amp actually steers me away from it.

Hope you get it soon and it's all you want it to be. But I bet if you put a P10 in front of it you would hear an improvement. But then again, do you need the improvement? That's the apt question I think these days.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/05/13 at 21:38:20


I think there is more than just cleaning out the hash and bad harmonics to the Power Plant - having that perfectly regulated power makes everything work better, including the source (or maybe especially my digital source and all it's clocks). My power is regularly 125v to 127v. I've got a Monster Signature HTS-5100 that's signed by Mr Lee (adds more db! LOL). I've also got a lab grade Trip Lite line conditioner I picked up from an AT&T fiber optics lab (not an Isolation Transformer like Steve suggests). So I've got plenty of filter options...but I can see where the perfect sine-wave and sag-free regulation surpass simply isolating the Mystery amp and my Oppo.

Hell, at Decfest Steve had the Mystery and MKIV hooked up to the Trip Lite IS1000  for whatever that's worth.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 11/05/13 at 21:53:31


Quote:
Steve said,
... you can bury your Power regen's in the ground....to enrich the iron in the earth.


Sorry for the dumb question, but surely he's not talking about burrying a PS Audio Power Plant in the dirt in your backyard ;D

Can somebody explain what exactly he means by that statement?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by marky on 11/06/13 at 00:47:15

Well, I only have one 0a3 amp, the ZP3. I suppose I could plug into the mains for an a-b comparison. Thats the thing, you may have the ZP3, Torii mk 3/4, but the CSP doesn`t have the 0a3 to filter mains. So a power plant is always going to be on your wish list if you dont have one.
PS regen, ok, but lets not get too carried away. If by divine intervention you swopped one out  and used my unit you wouldn`t hear anything but clean music. And there isn`t much difference in price, and the company that made mine make power plants much more expensive.
Thats the first time Ive seen that quote from Steve. I can have a slight chuckle. Gotta be a tongue in cheek little poke to pull the legs of the PS users.
Now.....plug the ZP3 into the mains......maybe another day.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/06/13 at 01:49:14

I think it is tongue n' cheek.

Maybe I should try one?   -Stone

(Seriously, I am not being tongue in cheek).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 11/06/13 at 01:54:28


Quote:
marky said,
Gotta be a tongue in cheek little poke to pull the legs of the PS users.


OK, I'm officially a dork (like everybody didn't know that already ;D) haha ... I didn't actually think he meant to stick a PS Audio P10 in the ground and bury it, but was thinking more along the lines of using some type of device for earth grounding. :P


Quote:
marky said,
... the company that made mine make power plants much more expensive.


What brand are you using by the way?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by marky on 11/06/13 at 12:46:01

It`s an Iso-teK power sub. Now discontinued but they pop up on bay at good prices. New they were around £1k. They do cater for the US and having a quick look found one of their giant models retailing at $13k. I imagine they have most models on sale in the US.
The power sub is large, very heavy and as far as I know excellent, and with 6 outlets I can get my 4 Decware amps + tt and cassette all sorted. The PS does intrigue, and the debate/info has gone up a notch on the `regeneration` thread. So maybe we can give Steve some credit for that quote which is bringing more light to the regen topic.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Isotek-Substation-Audiophile-Flag-Ship-High-End-Mains-Condtioner-/350902694433?pt=UK_Sound_Vision_Other&hash=item51b36e3221

http://www.kosmic.us/isotek-power-filters.html

Congrats to the MA owners.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/06/13 at 13:26:25

No, I won't be trying one. Steve uses a Trip Lite. I use an Adcom 515 etc.... .

Read all of reply #34 & #66.....hope it offers clarity. It does for me.

"Steve Puffs so much"
"The way he writes about that Amp steers you away from it"
REALLY LON?!

-Stone.....I rest my case your Honor.  ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/06/13 at 13:34:36

That was a completely honest answer Stone. I'm sorry, I'm not into his ramped up writing.

It makes it seem like hype even if it isn't, and I'm not much of a fan of hype.

So REALLY Stone. I've even been downplaying how much I dislike it, and it HAS made me less interested in the amp than I would otherwise.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/06/13 at 15:02:58

I'm sure my jumping up and down about the Mystery amp doesn't help Lon's position.  ;D

At least I'm not silly enough to go in a head-to-head debate with Lon about Decware gear (even though I think he's completely wrong - LOL). I appreciate that we all like different things, and I trust what I heard with my own ears. I'm a po'boy selling off other hobbies to scramble to afford the Mystery Amp, it's that good to me - and I'm a skeptic at heart; *everything* has to prove it's worth to me before I sign off on it. But Lon has a specific sonic aesthetic in mind, and I think he's got it, and I'm reaching for a bit more clinical sound, with super detail and a touch of harmonics - and that's what I heard with the Mystery amp...so I may have found my "sonic aesthetic" as well (I like that term!)

So the Power Plant will have to prove itself to me against the few other toys I have to put it up against. Hell, I'm so dedicated to making this work, I've seriously considered running the same MILspec wire that Steve uses for the Zen Styx as the power wire for the dedicated 20 amp circuit!

On a similar note, I just stumbled into an IS1000HS (Hospital Grade) Trip Lite Isolation Transformer for under $200! So I snapped it up to give it a spin. If I don't like it, it should be easy to flip - but if I like it, it will give me that couple percent improvement in my current system and future system till I can swing a Power Plant.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/06/13 at 15:10:18

As for Steve's hype...I  love hearing it - it cracks me up! I trust the man, and I've told him that many times before, but I being the skeptic I am I take everything he says with a grain of salt - and the gear still has to prove itself to me. The problem is, he's more often right on the money than not. It doesn't help that he said at the last meet that he and I "hear things a lot a like".

So while he suggests the Mystery amp puts the need for a Power Plant out to pasture ( for better grounding! LOL) - I'd have to hear that to believe it. It would be awesome if all I needed was the Isolation transformer for surge protection...would certainly save me a lot of money, but I have my doubts.

I hate to admit, his comment did make me wonder if improving my grounding scheme at the house would improve my sound any. Hey, if I'm nutty enough to wire an outlet with 10 AWG Zen Styx, why not improve the grounding scheme?  ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/06/13 at 15:36:09

Hey, I'm glad you're excited about the amp and if his writing helped that's fine and dandy.

Have to say though I've gotten messages and feedback from people who have looked into Decware because of my use and talk of it who are turned off by the web pages and the way Steve presents his products. They buy Marantz or Jolida or Manley instead. Wasting their money in my opinion, but presentation and first impressions are important.

And we are looking for different types of sound reproduction and it appears to me that the Mystery Amp is more the detailed sound type that isn't as helpful to the recordings that I listen to as the more flexible Torii Mk III. I don't like a very detailed, forward sound, I have the kind of sound I like. And I don't need the power and if I ever am able to afford a space where I would need it, I'll have enough money then to buy the Mystery Amp Mk XXV. :)

The truth of the matter is that I'm set with my systems now and I'll play around with cabling and isolation etc. for fine-tuning but I don't need to read what comes off to me as hype about new amps.  I really don't even need to appear here and post every day over and over. Part of me wants to stop, and I may taper off.

The waiting for these Mystery Amps is going to be hard! I hope they come in a month or so and I'm looking forward to reading the impressions I know you two won't be able to keep to yourselves when they arrive.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/06/13 at 18:03:57


Quote:
Have to say though I've gotten messages and feedback from people who have looked into Decware because of my use and talk of it who are turned off by the web pages and the way Steve presents his products. They buy Marantz or Jolida or Manley instead. Wasting their money in my opinion, but presentation and first impressions are important.


Now that you point it out, I see your point. Steve is Steve. But notice he doesn't advertise or go to many shows, and very rarely sends anything out for reviews. So it's not like opening up a Magazine and seeing him say "go bury your Power Plants, they are worthless now" LOL


Quote:
And we are looking for different types of sound reproduction and it appears to me that the Mystery Amp is more the detailed sound type that isn't as helpful to the recordings that I listen to as the more flexible Torii Mk III. I don't like a very detailed, forward sound, I have the kind of sound I like. And I don't need the power and if I ever am able to afford a space where I would need it, I'll have enough money then to buy the Mystery Amp Mk XXV. Smiley


You know I'm just yanking your chain when I say your wrong, right? I just love when your posts sound so huffy.  ;D  Truth is I"m rather jealous of your two setups!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 11/06/13 at 18:22:04

I think that Steve's personal excitement with what he does, feels, and hears as he develops an amp, is what makes him the great designer that he is. It is the excitement of exploration leading to discovery...leading to new exploration and then further discovery. In an ongoing cycle, this creative process leads us to places we could not have gotten to otherwise. And when it works, it is really exciting...not like Steve created the amp, but like the amp was created in this process that was driven by his personal need for beauty.

Without a personal quest for beauty, and creative exploration, his amps would likely be notably less captivating...

I think exceptional stuff is pretty much always a result of natural creative process. We start at a place of knowledge and perception and create a conceptual image of where we are trying to go (in this case, the amp). Then we start trying to bring it to reality.

As indicated in this thread, the developing amp itself, and how Steve perceived it, became his inspiration and teachers. At each new step along the way, new starting places stimulated new explorations. Maybe the desired quality at the time led to different resistors, or caps, or wires, or whatever...

Then, with diligence and determination, questing all along for indescribable listening qualities....there is this new thing that is different and better than ever imagined. It could not be accurately imagined until all the little experiments, one step leading to another, finally ends with satisfaction. It is done, and in this case, an inspiring thing to the creator.

I think this is natural creativity in action. It makes the process more important than the maker, and can lead to unexpected places that are greater than the sum of the parts.

My guess is that this amp could only have come from this sort of personally exciting process, and this is most of what we are hearing in Steve's descriptions during his own discovery of the Mystery Amp.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/06/13 at 18:26:20

I don't necessarily agree with all this, I agree about the creativity and the results but I think the language doesn't have to be the way that it is, I find it off-putting and I'm not alone. Many have told me it seems unprofessional, which is not really true in my opinion, but how it comes off to some potential customers. The excitement is great but it can be expressed without seeming like hype.

I love his work and his character and nature but it's not fun reading for me. Glad I am in the minority.

LR, yes I knew.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/06/13 at 18:38:09

Will, well said!

I think one thing that makes Steve and Zygi's stuff so good, is the "What If I....". I mean, look at the Mystery amp..."What if I took these big 1 liter sized 2000mfd caps, and build the amp around that...and add in my new love for KT66 and...woah! Look at this cool stuff that happened!"

Unprofessional? I think it's exactly the right amount of professional that it needs to be.   ;)




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 11/06/13 at 18:39:20

Lon,

Yes, I hear the nay-sayers...and a lot of them have that macho "audiophile" disease that allows them to go on and on about this "snake oil" or that "hype" without ever having heard whatever it is.

I like Steve's excitement about what he does, and I like us Decware lovers excitement about what he does...So to me, if this sounds clannish or bullshit to some of those looking in on this forum, or on Steve's write-ups, I say so be it. They are the ones missing out by not giving the stuff a listen...May not be exactly to taste, but we all know it can be very, very, very good...a lot like Steve describes it actually.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/06/13 at 18:44:50

Okay, whatever, I know my opinion is not popular. I'm certainly not  changing mine due to your posts, you're not changing yours. I'm dropping it, and going to listen to music instead.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 11/06/13 at 18:48:06

Thanks LR. Yes, I think these guys are really good at what they do, and their personal need for excellence stimulates creative process. This results in something special, and if all "professional" folks were basically good people, allowed to creatively explore for improved whatever, this world would be a very different place indeed.

If only...... ;)


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 11/06/13 at 18:53:07

Oh Lon. I don't mean to discount your opinions. They are always welcome to me. You make real points...I just like the other side of it in this case.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/06/13 at 19:02:53

I'm dropping it. I don't agree with your assessment, nor you with mine. It's fine, the respect is mutual.

I have very limited time to myself right now, dealing with a lot of stress things and I'm going to just chill. Bye for now.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by marky on 11/06/13 at 19:20:05

Thats well said Will. We sit and wait while, to me, somebody thousands of miles away does wonders with what he has between his ears, and then presents it to you at a non rip-off price and lifetime guarantee. Not off the peg but tailor made...or so it appears...such is the quality. This thread, as you describe, gave everyone an insight as to the time it takes. I did at one time think `no, he`s going over the top here, he`s just saying that`
Thats bad on me, because I too am a sceptical animal, especially in this day and age of pushy ads, or as you say `snake oil`.
The problem is, if you read any of his descriptions for the products he`ll always throw in a claim that arouses, confronts the sceptisism.
Well, I`m sure we`re all glad we believed it, or at least thought of them like the claims of a boxers title claim. They`re bold and don`t back down.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 11/07/13 at 02:16:22

Hey Marky. I hear you. This is really interesting to me. A big part of it seems to come down to reality and our ability to feel it. There is a lot of BS out there, but when we question the truth because of fear of BS, that can get highly non-productive. I guess we just have to discern for ourselves and hope we get it right.

And all the folks who read this forum and Steve's descriptions, and determine we must be cultish or delusional because it is mostly complimentary...that  is pretty weird if you think about it. In this mode, the assumption is that no one in this world is capable of integrity and relative impeccability. I say, why not...this is a part of this whacked out world I am glad to find!

So I can understand Steve's excitement about ending up with an amp that got somewhere that moves him. And as we all know, with this stuff, the criteria for success are very high. For me, in my room, it is a amazing sense of players and instruments in this room. That takes gear and room synergy that can express with amazing finesse and with many indescribable qualities. Art really.

I am really glad Steve loves his stuff so fully. I do too! And for me, this zig, or that zag, that seems a little off to me from my experience, I don't really care...I get a lot from how Steve describes the gear. It gives me a nice palpable sense of what I can expect if my other gear and room are up to it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 11/07/13 at 04:34:48

Maybe this has no relevance, but I attended a conference today where the central theme is innovation.  One of the primary speakers talked about the number of hours it takes for many of today's (and historically) well respected innovators to achieve true works of art.  It's a minimum of 10,000 hours or roughly 10 years.  Its documented across multiple fields.  Much of the innovation we see today is the result of years of experimentation rather than a point in time ah-ha moment of innovation.

I don't know when Steve released his first pushpull but I this we are seeing some of the best work on the tube amp or simply stereo amplification today with the latest Decware amps.  He's put in the time.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 11/07/13 at 04:44:53

I was new to tubes not very long ago and wondering about tube amps and these 'set' amps in particular. found the zkit. found decware. found the articles, etc.  They all raved that a 2watt high efficiency system was the cats meow.  a measly 2watts.  Well, those guys were a bunch of crack smoking over exaggerators if I had every seen one.  2 watts can't possibly do what they claim.   bullshit.  (Then I tried one and was floored, and converted, mostly.).

I took the bait on the Torii3.  While I was in the waiting line, I was worried about buyers remorse.  I mean going from hundreds to thousands was a big $ jump.  Would this be the last amp I'd ever want?  Would it really sound as good as the simple zen even though is was a push pull?  I mean he writes outrageous things like it keeps the even order harmonics, so it sounds like a set even though it isn't. What flavor of bull crap was that?  Again, skeptic alarm was going off.  But I was adventurou$.  (then the tori arrived and it was everything I... we all love about ours.  and it behaved quite like how Steve described.  over and over I'd find my own discovery and descriptions to be similar to what he wrote.  I'd realize "ahh, that's what he really means when he says that".)

About power generation and the iron in the ground joke...  I have been and am still curious about where this fits in my "hierarchy of sonic importance".  where does it go... near the amp/speakers/source? or with the wires.  I realize from the posts pointed out earlier, that the mystery amp has basically the same power demands as the tori, but that it has a 9000 horse power engine dropped in for fun.  having gobs of high current available is like having unlimited torque.  When the throttle moves, so do the wheels (yeah, imagine bullet proof axles, shafts, gears, etc).  no lag, clinically accurate throttle response.  That's what seems to be novel in this amp.  From a clean power perspective, think of it as nearly a battery powered amp.  I mean, having those Olympic swimming pool sized reservoirs... well, they're practically batteries.  Any noise/ripple on the hose filling the swimming pools is lost in the reservoir.  or think of another analogy.  imagine your air compressor with a storage tank the size of a building.  once at pressure, no amount of noise from the pump is going to affect pressure at the tool.  And no tool, regardless of how much air it wastes (within reason) is going to put a dent in your pressure/supply.  

Anyway, here's my normal disclaimer about how I don't know what I'm really talking about and just guessing based on what I know.

But twice, the skeptic in me has been proven wrong by a real quality amp.  And it took me a while to understand how the MA differed from the Torii.  Now I understand better I think (about the power supply and what it means to have those huge ass caps)  and I heard it at the fest.  Ohh well, I'll know better after my MA arrives.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 11/07/13 at 05:25:43


Quote:
SteveC said,
I mean he writes outrageous things like it keeps the even order harmonics, so it sounds like a set even though it isn't.


This brings up a good point and I don't know if it has been said and/or addressed, but do any of you guys know if the Mystery Amp performs like a Torii III (or IV for that matter) in the even order harmonic side of things?

Also after reading what Steve D said about burrying the regenerators ~ it seems to me (IMO) that this particular amp would benefit more with passive filtering (à la Shunyata) rather than regenerator type tech (à la PS Audio). (Just thinking about that out loud as I have no idea what I'm talking about ;D and they are both out of my price range at this time anyways.)  But if I were to choose one type of tech over the other (without a/b listening) I would probably go with the passive style filtering at first.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/07/13 at 05:27:27


SteveC, one thing I said that got the smile and the Ah Ha! look from Steve D is when I mentioned more harmonics on the Mystery amp.

Honestly, I have no idea how to put it into words, so I'll just say it like I said it to Steve "I don't know what it is...it's not *more* detail, but there is *more* to the detail that's there...it's harmonics!"

I've not seen anyone who's heard the amp mention that...I think honestly the only reason I even recognized what I was hearing is because I play guitar on vintage and boutique tube amps...and the one thing that really floats my boat is when those rippling harmonics bring the sound to life. A little 8 watt guitar amp filling a room and single notes sounding as full as chords.

Real instruments have those harmonics...it's usually what separates an instrument from a "fine instrument" (or as I say "that's a damn fine instrument").

I don't know, maybe it's old hack for you Torii folks, I've been away from the flock for 12+ years...maybe I'm only now discovering what you all have been enjoying all this time!  :P

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/07/13 at 06:28:51

Since my reply #235....what a great openness/discussion.

SteveC, same thing here, what can 2 watts per channel do. Boy, can it do.  I'd find my own discovery and descriptions to be similar to what (he) Steve wrote too. ...not hyperbole IMHO, when the sum of the painful details and hours Steve puts in on development, to come to the Sonic Art he is looking for. I heard it in my SE84CS, CKC & MkIII. I look forward to it in my MA.

I have found nothing, and I mean nothing, that gets me as close to the Music as a Decware Amplifier.

I like what you described LR about the MA... . "I don't know what it is...it's not *more* detail, but there is *more* to the detail that's there...it's harmonics!"
I feel this is what has captivated me about the SE84CS....so, if their is more of a sonic harmonics representation to be had with the Mystery Amp...I can't wait. Inflection, Tone........decay and with clarity...when I had my first experience with the SE84CS in May of 2001 in my Listening Room with my Gear....it is still just as great today.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 11/07/13 at 06:48:02

I have heard, face to face, Steve speak highly of some "regenerators" - but not all of them.  I believe he is much more skeptical of the multitudes of passive snake-oil, fairy dust and voodoo science "conditioners" that are so prolific in the market.
The good regenerators are expensive, so you get to a place where you should consider if the $$ would be better spent elsewhere in your system.
That said, I have been using PS power plants for a little over 5 years now.  First a Premier and now a P5.  And I have yet to hear any component that did Not sound better when plugged into them - including my Torii III.

I describe the various Decware amps as "different" none necessarily better than the other.  I have now heard them all at the same time, one right after the other at the fest the last two years.  Paired with the right speaks and taking individual preferences and room acoustic into account, pick your favorite sonic flavor of tubes and they will all make the most beautiful music in your room that you have ever experienced.
I for one do not see me ever giving up my Torii III.  But I may pick up a MA later in 2014, after the dust settles - it's never a good idea to be "on point" if you get my meaning.....

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 11/07/13 at 06:56:22

LR, I don't have the vocab to describe what I heard also.  I know it was different, and I didn't appreciate it at first as I mentioned before about high res stuff.

It will require more comparisons with my stock torii3 and the MA when it's home.

Disclaimer again: I might be full of it, but I have a working theory.

My impressions of the amp where "ggggrrip" "power" "control" "accuracy". (I think due to the power supply).  That amp has extremely fine control over the signal with loads of power.  To me, this accuracy would lend itself to better rendering of harmonics/overtones/timbre... and that means a violin sounds more 'real'.. clear.. crisp.. (anal? clinical?).   I think the power gives the detail that extra sharpness.  it's not speed like the Zen, it's sharpness.  sigh.  I don't like this vocabulary problem.

I also called it a level of realism... (maybe that's the same as harmonics.. more real 'voice' of instruments. though we were primarily using daft punk at that point. no 'fine' analog instruments there. :)  )

anyway... I don't know.  I do know this though:  I look forward to more torii3 vs MA comparisons.  this amp won't replace my stock torii3.  They're different enough.  I know I was going to regret not grabbing the MA when the window of opportunity was open to me for the price.  and I know (trust, believe, know) this amp is going to be as good as every other piece of Decware I have.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/07/13 at 13:09:42

I'm really looking forward to your MK III vs Mystery Amp thoughts!

We'll all have plenty of time to develop the vocabulary while having those out-of-body experiences in front of the MA! There are still things I heard that I've not figured out how to describe yet that could be related to harmonics, or the immediate and abundant power you mentioned.

Speaking of which, I went in blind with the MA - I was there (at Decfest) to sell myself on the MK IV, hang out with Steve and meet new people - and I don't think I really read more than a paragraph about the MA as I considered it out of my range and unnecessary (to me) like the Torii Monos. So I didn't have any pre-conceived notions or Steve's words rattling around in my head while I listened.

I'll tell you one thing, the Mystery Amp was the closest to that one-off OTL amp with the MIG 29 tubes I've heard so far.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/07/13 at 16:48:25

Yes Steve's OTL! I wish I could have gone to this years fest. You suck LR.....you got to hear the OTL.

Really? The OTL was one off the MA... .  Very nice/thanks for the input = more excited to get the Mystery Amp.

Timeline:
Anyway, after much contemplation, I am getting a pair of Acoustic Zen Adagio Speakers. I should have them broke in by the end of December with well over 200 hours on them.

Mystery Amp by mid December or for Christmas? It would be great to launch it on its 200 hour break in Journey/over the Holidays.
I do realize I might not receive it until January however.

August, I will order the Torii MkIV....and have it by this week next year for its break in Journey.

Party on Wayne...party on Garth.    -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/07/13 at 17:13:56

Just to clarify, I mean the OTL amp is one of a kind (one-off).

The OTL I really feel is a few levels above the Mystery amp, but the Mystery Amp has some of that musical *flow* that the OTL has (one of the things I don't have the vocabulary to describe yet), and is the closest sound I've heard to the OTL. But still, not up to that level.

Also, I didn't hear the OTL at the fest, I got to hear it at a one-on-one with Steve when I went to pick up my modded SE84-A and some speakers. But since Steve likes to play R&D with people; so when the OTL amp was on, he threw a barrage of low/medium and I think some High rez files at me that almost made my head explode with the confusing information my ears were picking up. Between the amazing abilities of the OTL, and the low rez files that to me make things sound *itchy*...well, I was mostly at a loss for words and maybe more than a little distressed. Meanwhile, Steve is grinning and watching my body language = R&D.

On the Notes for my Mystery Amp order, I put in there not to ship it, that I'll swing by and pick it up - part of this is to save me the nearly $100 shippping (I work 20 minutes from Steve two days a week so I'm out there anyways) - but part of this is because I would like to ask...nay, plead with him to let me have some time putting the Mystery Amp up against the OTL, but this time with me at the helm. I have some R&D/Learning of my own to do, and I think peeking into the abyss that is the OTL amp might help me wrap my head around some things...and also give me a "sonic reference" to carry around with me for a while the same way I've carried the sound of the Zen amp in Steve's original listening room around with me since '98.

Sorry, I'm rambling again...good coffee and fond memories of audio-euphoria get me thinking out-loud.   ::)  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 11/07/13 at 19:39:34


yep... Steve told me the OTL was a one-of-a-kind experiment and would be too difficult and expensive to mass produce.
I've only heard a few OTL's in my life, but every one of them had "the magic" like no other - but you really gotta have the right speaker for an OTL.
Knowing that Steve is not likely to "settle" with the thought that he got devine sound from the OTL, but cost prohibitive to build.. I'm guessing we will see him pursue this further in the future to a point where it can be feasible for the masses.  I suppose you could always try to buy his prototype.. but I doubt he'd sell.

late Sat. night at the fest when only zygi and I were left... I did some serious listening amongst the amps... to my ears the Torii IV and MA sounded more alike than my Torii III(which I had with me) than the Torii III and IV do.  I actually preferred the MA's sonic personality over the mono's also - surprisingly or not.  And I was not the only person at the fest to express that opine either...
Not being one to be "on point"... after the initial dust settles around the MA and the build process and circuitry likely goes thru some refinement as production ramps up... I will give one a go.  As I've expressed many times... to my ears, all the Decware amps are good - just different.  I find the MA to paint the soundstage differently than my Torii III and to be slightly more clinical sounding(in a good way)... enough different to be desirable though possibly.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/07/13 at 20:44:27

Eric, I discerned you were close to Decware with your past posts. Yes, well aware the OTL is a one-off. It was discussed in this thread I believe.

I had to cancel Decfest this year. I could have had 10% off too. However, Steve's Amps are worth every penny. I did have the privilege of being there in 2005 and 2008. DeVon told me in 08', I can come down anytime. Of course, I would call and arrange to do that. I might call and look for a clear weather week after the new year....and do just that.

Peace Gents....listening to some Pop Jazz right now....Instrumentals>Forever, For Always, For Luther.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/07/13 at 20:45:00


Yeah, the MA is one case where I'm willing to be first. And if Steve comes up with some tweaks or ideas to improve the MA, I'm only 20 minutes away, two days a week.    ;)

Besides, I'm badly in need of an upgrade from my Zen amp. Listening to the MK IV and MA made that abundantly clear. There are days where the Zen just absolutely floors me with what that little 2 watts can do...and there are days where I feel like the little guy just doesn't have the steam to handle very busy material (which keeps me from listening to heavy metal and classical on it regularly)

As was pointed out at the 'fest, I practically time traveled through the Decware lineup; going from being one of the first 100 Zen amps to the Mystery Amp!  ;D And oddly enough, when I bought the Zen amp and was waiting for it...I kept reminding Steve my birthday was in November, and it would be awesome if I had the amp for my birthday. LOL


Is it done yet?  ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/07/13 at 20:47:20


Stone, if you plan on being down there on a Monday or Tuesday, drop me a PM and we can meet up! Hell, I'd even make a special trip down there to hang out if it's a weekend!




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/07/13 at 20:57:21

Heck yeah LR. I will let you know for sure.

I have heard OTL....with Atma sphere Amps....at Audio Perfection here in Mpls/St. Paul area. Magnepan, Bel Canto, Atma sphere, Audio Research....Wadia was close across the boarder.....are all here in my metro area. However, I bet Steve's one-off OTL shines a little brighter.... .  

I hear you, about needing the MA. The SE84CS & CKC can only do so much. .....that so much at appropriate volume and how I run them, is incredible though.

I to don't mind being 1st in line with you for the MA. I would have shipping involved....unless I arranged and came down with it....to have uprgrade(s) done...without hesitation...if it unfolds/Steve found reason to do so.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/11/13 at 17:24:26

Decided against the Adagio Speakers (for now=reply #269).

However, I did buy a pair of Kimber Select 3035 (finally) to go with my 1030 Interconnect. I will move the 3033 Speaker Cable to the bedroom System. (...with Decware Amps & 86 to 92db Speakers...I have found nothing that is more musical).

Tube Depot/Memphis, is having a 10% off on everything Veteran's Day Sale right now (I'm sure a lot of you get their emails like I). However, I would compare to BOI AudioWorks....they have great regular prices on KT66's etc... .  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/12/13 at 13:36:02


It's my Birthday!

Is it done yet?

Today would be a *great* day to start it!   ;)


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/12/13 at 14:08:54

Chill Nikola T. .....chill. It is coming!    

Happy Birthday!

I want my MA too.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/12/13 at 17:14:55


I don't know if this is another thing that I missed, or it just hasn't been mentioned yet...

Does the Mystery Amp come with the Pelican Shipping case, or is that an option?


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 11/12/13 at 22:20:10

it's an option for the other decware amps to my knowledge... since the MA is not on the website, you can't see if its listed as an option or not like it is on the Torii cart.  Pelican cases don't show up on the Mono's cart page either, but for $11k large, perhaps you get the Pelicans std. w/mono's.

a call to Decware in order to settle this one I reckon.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 11/13/13 at 04:41:28

If it is available as an option, I'd advise to go for it.

The Pelican case for my Torii MK4 came free with my order but it is worth the extra US$299 option if need be.

It is built like a tank, has roller wheels and comes with a retractable handle.
This is not mentioned on the website (I think) but there are two open steel latches which allow you to apply 2 TSA locks if need be.
The internal shock absorber lining can be removed so this can double up as a Samsonite - like suitcase for travel.
IMHO, even an uber expensive  Samsonite suitcase is not as sturdy as the Pelican case.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/13/13 at 18:30:44

International Orders are a must for this Case.

Using for a carry on luggage piece has its appeal.

If Steve offers it/domestic....I might get it.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/13/13 at 18:36:41


Yeah, I'm quite familiar with the Pelican Cases. We use them to safely transport/ship rifles and guitars across the country. Even though I'm going to drive down and pick up my Mystery Amp, I'm hoping it comes with the case for travel/transport as it's intended. Great friggen cases!

I just hoped at this price point, it was standard.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 11/13/13 at 22:37:29

The Pelican Case is included in the price of the MA and the TORII MONO's.  Particularly with the MA, the amp is just too heavy to be safely transported any other way.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 11/13/13 at 22:56:47


Quote:
That was a completely honest answer Stone. I'm sorry, I'm not into his ramped up writing.

It makes it seem like hype even if it isn't, and I'm not much of a fan of hype.

So REALLY Stone. I've even been downplaying how much I dislike it, and it HAS made me less interested in the amp than I would otherwise.


I would like to address one of the sub themes in this thread, which is about how I write.  I respect Lon for having the balls to be honest.  I actually feel the same way to some extent, in that I know my writing is going to sound like just a lot more BS of which the industry is certainly plenty full of already.  That knowledge makes me uncomfortable for the same reasons that Lon pointed out.

Problem is when your gear sounds this good, it's hard to be honest about it's sound without sounding like you're full of shit.  I get that.  In fact, I would love nothing more than to take the position, well, we've been around for 17 years now, most everyone probably knows about Decware, the reviews are everywhere, all I should have to do is present the product, price it, support it and leave everyone else to decide what it sounds like and write about it.  

The reason I don't is because I want to sell amps and the more information you can offer about them, the easier it is to sell them.  Despite appearances everything I say is true and I have the room and everything we make to prove it to anyone who cares enough to put me to that test.  I plead guilty to writing with extra enthusiasm, but it's actually genuine which is why it's there.  

Really, I don't know how to write any other way - to retain the enthusiasm without Puffing.  I'd have to hire a professional writer to pull that off.  I've been told to hire someone to do the web site too, but being the control geek I am, I choose to continue doing it myself.  So, it's the raw real deal here, misspelled words and all - for better or worse, I'm probably not going to change.

With specific regard to the Power Regeneration Lon is correct that in most cases the Torii will sound better with one, despite using voltage regulation tubes to filter the power. If the Torii didn't use VR tubes, the sentence would read "sound a lot better with one".  With respect to the Mystery amp, and it's comparatively huge DC resevour, I have found the difference to be even less to the point of being hard to hear in some cases.  My guess is spending 5 grand on a power regenerator with a Mystery Amp may not be the place where 5 grand can make the biggest difference in the system.  I could be wrong, time will tell, but taking the same 5 grand and buying a better source may be far more obvious.

With that, I don't think this post needs any further comments because doing so derails this thread about the Mystery Amp.

I'll be starting to build the first ones soon and working on the web page so I'll post any news or updates here first.

I just wanted to point out that Lon has a valid argument about the way I write.

Thanks!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 11/13/13 at 23:51:36

As I discussed w/you at Zenfest  Steve… “it must suck to be you – all your amps sound great – just different to me.  Paired with the right speakers, sources, your acoustics and preferences taken into account, a guy could live contentedly with any of them for a very long time.  How do you go about differentiating them?”

I’ve owned two Decware amps in the last year, they are the First tube amps I have ever owned in 30+ years of chasing the audio holy grail!  I’ve only had my Torii mk.III driving the speakers I always intended it for, less than 6 months.  I have the best sound in my room – by far – that I’ve ever had.  And though acoustic memory is poor at best, I feel like the sound I have now competes with the best I’ve ever heard, anywhere, at any price.. and I’ve owned/heard a lot.
I listened to all the amps at Zenfest… but I’m just enjoying my “Jupitered” mk.III Torii’s synergy with my DIY speakers too much right now to give it up.  In reality I’m pretty sure I have not unlocked all its potential yet.  And I'm also certain there is more "Decware" in my future.. I just don't know exactly what yet!!

The other thing that I think we all need to keep in mind… make no mistake.. “hearing” is an individual “perception”.  It is influenced by a multitude of factors that are “variable” for each and every one of us.  But the gist is: If you think you hear something – then you do – period – end of argument.  And on the contrary, if you do not think you hear it – then you don’t.  It Does Not Matter What Anybody Else “thinks” you should or should not hear.

That being said, keep right on puffing Steve… and keep that mad-scientist mind of yours pushing the envelope of what can be done in “music reproduction” in our homes….  I can’t wait to hear what you come up with next.  I know that if you’re excited about it – I probably need to hear it for myself !!!  And when I do, I’ll decide if it’s right for me – and if I hear it the same way you hear it.  We all do not have to agree on how something sounds or what is “best”.  There’s no such thing!  There is only the best for each of us, which will not be the same for all of us.  It's unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on the same thing - this is not even possible.  But that Doesn’t Matter… we don’t need to.

Now, let’s all go put on some great music, pop-a-top, kick our feet up in our listening chair  - and drift away…  and if you're lucky, the illusion will be delivered via Decware gear!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/14/13 at 00:46:09

Steve, thanks for understanding what I wrote.

I too hate that I write about Decware with such enthusiasm that it seems like hype. People ask me what I think about Decware and I gush. Some of them think I'm a shill and I'm just blowing hot air and step away. I feel sad because they then buy an inferior amp and never know what they are missing. And if I had found another way to describe the amps perhaps they would have been drawn in not pushed away.

You're right, it's hard not to write that way. And I guess you can't not do so, I find it hard to not do so. I AM very enthusiastic about the products and can't hide it. I do feel that it repels some readers and seekers (and have emails and PMs to bolster that belief). And even as I know there's so much truth in there I find myself stepping back from it, even when I write it. I don't have the answer in how to not alienate these readers, and perhaps as Will states they aren't that important. I don't know.

And it is hard to describe these things. I mean this week I put my NEW Torii Mk III in the main system in place of the tried and true seasoned one. I LOVE what the bass control on this new one does, my old one does not/cannot have this control and in my former room this would have been a real game-changer, and in this room it's a great tool to bring the best out of the source material. But overall. . . the amp really lacks an important ease of sound and depth of sound that the seasoned one just EXUDES. The new one has 2000 hours on it or so, I've been running it almost non-stop in my second system. It's not raw, it should be broken in, but I wish I had the best of both of them: that magic that the first one has, the flexible control that the new one has. What exactly IS that something? I am not sure how to articulate it exactly, but I hear it and feel it immediately.

Thanks also for explaining further the power regenerator comment. I hadn't quite gotten that the Mystery Amp was different in that respect in your assessment and you were specifically writing about that in your comment. And the problem was not your writing at all, it was my comprehension.

To bring my post back to the Mystery Amp, a question Steve: will it take extra time for these huge capacitors to "seat" and season?

Thanks for your reply.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/14/13 at 01:26:06

"I'll be starting to build the first ones soon and working on the web page so I'll post any news or updates here first".

Steve, thanks for sharing your input an insight for this Amplifier. I look forward to the MA web page. Thanks also, for the peace of mind shipping with the Pelican Case/plus future use/moving.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/14/13 at 04:40:30

.


Quote:
I'll be starting to build the first ones soon and working on the web page so I'll post any news or updates here first




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/14/13 at 15:19:15

LR-Hey! That is me (minus the side burns).  ;D

....my Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cables, are out for delivery 11/19 Tuesday. I will get them burned in with my 1030 IC before the MA arrives (Listening Room System). I still like my Audio Alchemy front end the best in 20 bit dither with premium i2s input=still competes with any redbook front end under 8k (Listening Room).

However, I will eventually break the seal on hi-rez with my Anedio D2 (in the Listening Room). Currently though, I am enjoying the redbook coming out of the D2 with my bedroom System...with CKC, Kimber Hero IC & Zen Styx....Pioneer as Transport with Illuminati D-60 coax digital cable. The Listening Room System kicks the bedroom Systems Ass...but it should and does (my upgrade from 3033 Speaker Cable to my 3035 should dial the ass woopen' in even more...Over the bedroom System). ....you must have the 1030 IC to go with it....but well worth it (and 86 to 92 db Speakers).

Bring on the Majesty & the Torque of the MA Lonely Raven!  I needs what I needs!    8-) -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/14/13 at 16:00:30


Those are some seriously bad-ass looking speaker cables!


My system is going to be very much more conservative due to my budget limitations.

Oppo BDP-105 (which I'm really enjoying, but still trying to figure out).
Zen Silver Reference (1M)
Mystery Amp
(my version) 10AWG Zen Styx - bare wire ends
Bob's tweaked MG944

My two big projects in preparation of the MA are:

Filtering/Isolation
I have a Trip Lite Hospital Grade conditioner and Isolator, plus my Monster Signature HT5100 filter. I'm considering a PS Audio P3 if I can find a use one cheap. Then have all the devices battle it out once the MA arrives and keep only what works *best* with this setup.

QRD Diffusers.

I'm going to build some 1' deep QRD diffusers. Probably 3' tall each, and they'd be stackable (obviously with a 1' depth!). I had a design cooked up but I forgot what my settings were, so this I whipped up really quickly as an example.



I figure 4-6 on each side, and 6-8 on the back wall to replace my shallow 3" deep diffusers. On the front wall, I'm thinking about something even larger. 1' deep, but a QRD 29. Hell, I just might do QRD 29 all around the room. I keep tweaking and optimizing - but every time I do, it makes the build more complicated. I've been daydreaming about how to build a jig to help assemble these faster and more accurately so I can mass produce them for myself since it's looking like I want 22-24 of these!



It's going to be a lot of work, and huge expense - but I think it's the only way to get the holographic imaging I'm looking for!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/14/13 at 16:18:00

Very cool. I am a firm believer in Room treatment. I have had a treated room since 1996. Mine of more humble design. I read Robert Harley's first book....and was skeptical of Room treatment (in 1996). However, following the basic principles (and Steve's writing on it as well/2001)....I have tamed the rooms....my 3rd House now. What you're doing is absolutely Wow.  You will be set.

If you can't find one cheap (PS Audio P3).....buy from the CableCo at an 11.5% discount....returnable for one of equal or greater value at this discount. Plus, plenty others to choose from!  

Check it out:

http://www.thecableco.com/Catalog/Power-Line-Products
then go to what you will actually pay....... . I have loved their cable demo program!
....and of course with this many power regen's to try....I should be able to find one for my SE84CS & CKC.    

I will continue to use my Adcom AC-Enhancer 515 with Hubbell XLO Pro Power Cord to the Mystery Amp.

....my timeline: Kimber Select 3035, Mystery Amplifier, Kef R900 Speakers auditioned in Listening Room....and Legacy Signature SE's.....and Acoustic Zen Adagio's....late Winter.   -Stone

.....but I am curious to try this....
http://www.thecableco.com/Product/Tesla-Powercell-6-SE
http://www.thecableco.com/Product/Save--300-on-the-Synergistic-Research-Powercell-4SE-and-6SE
Try the Powercell 4 or Powercell 6 with (and without for reference) the Element Tungsten AC cable through our Cable Library to hear what a top flight line filtration system can do for your sound!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/19/13 at 17:12:21

Looks like Decware has 7 more Torii Mk IV in line ahead of the first two Mystery Amps!

Getting closer guys!

I think I saw 8 Mystery Amps ordered so far on the build sheet!


Hearing a Rachel in my living room recently, and having over-driven it a bit at normal listening levels, I'm looking forward to seeing what those giant caps and solid state rectification does to keep up with busy/dynamic recordings.

I actually made my Zen amp wobble playing some pipe organ recordings at 24/192 - I actually apologized to the amp afterwards...especially since I laughed at it pretty much wetting the bed.  ;D

Anywho, looking forward to this big jump up from the Zen amp - I'm asking for gift cards for high-def recording pages for Xmas.  8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 11/19/13 at 21:24:13

I hadn't really taken notice of the MA's "solid state rectification"... and had never really bothered to notice just exactly what all the tubes in the MA are actually doing.  OK... so we have two output tubes per, and two input tubes.  What are the two taller ones in the middle doing - regulation for inputs or outputs?  What are the other two smaller tubes by the input tubes doing?  I guess I should take a close look at the pictures I took at zenfest and I could probably answer these questions for myself.  I did not find an explanation in this thread of this either.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/19/13 at 21:43:34

Unless I misunderstood -

Solid State Rectification to keep the caps happy.

OA3 Grid Regulation.

6922 input tube for each output tube

KT66 Output tubes

And then some sort of dual-balanced bias adjustment setup with meters.



It's not as much of a forest of tubes like the Mk IV - which is good for me since I don't always have patients for tube rolling. I'd prefer to pay a slight premium to have the amp builder roll tubes for me. My custom built guitar amps are done this way. When I've tube rolled, I tend to come back to what the builder chose.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/19/13 at 21:49:24


Also, from my rudimentary knowledge of tube amp building -

I recall reading somewhere that high Mfd caps don't work well with tube rectification - I don't recall the reason why, but it's the first thing I thought of when Steve mentioned 2000Mfd caps - so solid state rectification might be a requirement for such large caps. This is why most tube amps have 40mfd or less caps in the first stage, then a chain of caps/resistors down the line.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/20/13 at 17:14:21

Nice pic LRaven!

Of course we have the NOS Mallory Caps coming with it....and I have the stepped attenuator as well...walnut base with walnut knob.

Madddog, did you scap up some RCA OA3's from Tube Depot?

...my Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable came in last night. Even right out of the box....brand new shipped directly from Kimber in Ogden....they are all that & a bag of chips.

I use conventional loudspeakers with my Decware Amps. As do quite a few here (86db to 92db) on the Forum. Their is something to this capacitance resistance impedance "thing"... .  I moved my Kimber Select 3033 speaker cables to my bedroom rig with my Kimber Hero IC and Decware CKC with Anedio DAC....and I have more headroom! The only variable changed was the 3033 in the chain.

.....same with the Kimber Select 3035 speaker cable in the Listening Room...more headroom/volume available....with the attributes the 3035/can get out of the way of the Music even more. .....quite the handshake between Decware Amplifier & Speakers!  

......bring on the MA for the Torque and it's own flavor and ability to drive a few more Speakers in the works (plus my SRS SDA 1.2's)...I want it to drive. However, I will be burning it in-in the Listening Room where it won't leave for quite awhile.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/22/13 at 15:18:37


Are these the appropriate RCA OA3 you're talking about?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/JAN-CRC-0A3-OA3-Regulator-Tube-RCA-silver-Mixed-1958-Dates-Multiple-Qty-752A-/291016824277?pt=Vintage_Electronics_R2&hash=item43c1f455d5

I didn't think they really wore out quickly - is it something I should have an extra pair on hand?

I don't need rectifier tubes, and I'm assuming Steve picked the Tung-Sol output tubes because they are available and sound good...so I probably don't need to stock up on them - but maybe have a spare set sometime in the future in case of tube failure.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/22/13 at 15:54:37

Those are correct, and they should last a long time. I've moved to OB3 myself, in my new place the 'push' from the OA3 is just a bit too much, but that is also in another amp altogether.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 11/22/13 at 17:29:20


Quote:
Madddog, did you scap up some RCA OA3's from Tube Depot?


Stone... what exactly are you referring to here?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/22/13 at 19:16:54


Funny how I have my own moments of Zen. I was just randomly googling some audio gear, and stumbled into this photo, the style looked familiar as well as the giant caps, and it lead me to this excerpt form the Torii Mono thread. I've never read through this thread, but seeing as how the Mystery Amp appears to be based on lessons from the big Mono's, I guess I should give it a read (also states basically what I thought about the input caps on the previous page - I was right!)




Quote:
With tube rectification, you create a power supply filter with two or more capacitors separated by either a heavy duty resistor or a choke.  The value of the capacitors are between 10 and 50uf typically.  We presently use 47uf caps, which are the small ones in front of the large ones shown in the above picture.  The giant high voltage caps shown behind them are around 55 times larger and cost a small fortune.

Since the purpose of the power supply caps is to reduce the AC ripple effect and noise from the rectifier, having a simply giant capacitor fed by two super fast recovery 3 AMP diodes gives such superior filtering that you don't need, the resistor or choke, nor do you even need the second capacitor!  That means the output transformers are now directly connected to the raw current of the power transformer.  No more resistors to soften the dynamics, or chokes to eliminate hum are needed.
The noise and hash in the power grid that the VR tubes are filtering out, can not escape the black hole effect of such large caps.  Thus the power is ultra clean.

There really isn't anything more zen if you consider the simplicity of it.

The complexity was in evaluating and choosing the right caps.  Just because it's big don't mean it's all that good.  I wanted the best, so many long nights of reading through product datasheets, I found these and compared them to identical size German made Siemens and US made Mallary caps by installing them into the amplifier and listening to it.  I found these to be the best.  They are sure to last a long time because they are configured for 1000 volts and only see 510 volts.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/22/13 at 19:21:18

Thanks. That helped me understand something.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 11/25/13 at 01:43:42

The rough draft of the web page is unofficially online.  I will proof and tweak it next week.

https://www.decware.com/newsite/MYSTERY.html




We're getting there!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/25/13 at 02:13:00



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/25/13 at 02:20:07


Steve,

Are you starting the builds on the Mystery Amps soon?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/25/13 at 05:15:43

Maddog??  Reply #219.

Steve, thanks for the unofficial thread....I am going to read it now.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 11/25/13 at 06:30:22

Well then.. I'm new on the wait list for a Torii MKiV but I am pondering changing my order to the mystery... I currently have low sensitivity speakers, ellis 1801 at 85db  8ohms. I definitely will be changing my speakers in the next year or two after I have my amp and perhaps a new listening room.. I know, doing things in the wrong order.. very interested in the janszens but my current room will not hold them.

I have VPI turntable and MDAC USB via Mac MIni as my sources. Current amp is a Pass labs INT30.5 but i need more magic. life, body.

Anybody want to weigh in who has listened to these two from the decfest?

I am still thinking perhaps at MKIII burned in would be a good first amp and then wait a few years to upgrade... but then I will still be thinking about what could have been... wish I could listen to some of these models.

Anybody in San Diego have a Decware I can listen to? cheers,

Aaron
Carlsbad, ca

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 11/25/13 at 09:18:38

Dear Steve,

Thanks for the wonderfully written detailed write up of the new ZMA.

I always enjoy reading about all your other amps e.g. The Mini Torii, super zen etc.

Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention in the past but what was surprising to me was to find out that a Pushpull configuration would be used. I had always assumed that it would be a Single ended design.

Regards,
LS

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 11/25/13 at 17:04:11

You bring up an interesting point.   The Zen Triode amp was an SET with a single gain stage and a single output tube, one cap and two resistors in the signal path.  To get more power requires either a bigger output tube or several output tubes in parallel.  Parallel ruins transparency.  Bigger tubes need more voltage swing to drive them, so basically another stage.  That means one more cap and two more resistors.  Again, transparency suffers.  

The only way I could get more power without loosing transparency was the TORII push pull circuit. It consists of one gain stage (direct coupled to itself to also become the phase inverter), One coupling cap and two resistors.  The two output tubes are in series with each other, not parallel, so you hear only one tube at any one point.  It is essentially the same transparency as the original Zen SET amp.  The trick is of course, the phase inverter must be able to perfectly marry the two halves without a notch.   Personally, I found that easier than trying to bend the rules of physics by somehow getting paralleled tubes to sound as transparent as a single tube does.

Hope that helps

-Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 11/26/13 at 18:47:18


I read in the Mystery Amp webpage preview... that the Decware supplied tubes are Tung-Sol KT66's and OA3's...  but I don't see 0A3's listed as a tube at www.tungsol.com that they currently make... are these NOS tung-sol 0A3's?  Or is the tung-sol site not up to date?  
Where might a person find these?  
Anyone care to elaborate?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 11/26/13 at 19:43:51

I don't believe anyone is making new OA3 tubes. The page could mean that he found a supply of NOS Tungsol OA3 tubes (personally I've never seen this type by Tungsol) or just that there are OA3s in use in the amp and Steve didn't mean to infer they are Tungsol brand.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/26/13 at 19:53:32

I don't think Steve meant to infer the tubes were Tung-Sol.

I'm pretty sure nobody is currently making the OA3, but they are long lasting tubes. Just in case, I'm going to stock up on a couple extra pairs.

Edit to Add: looking at the photos, it looks like this is what Steve has in the Mystery Amp photographed

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RCA-OA3-JAN-CRC-0A3-1768-Vacuum-Tube-/321239775100?pt=Vintage_Electronics_R2&hash=item4acb61f77c

Since stock is limited to what's "out there", he probably doesn't want to specify what tube the MA will come with as it will probably change with what's available. Doesn't the MK IV use these as well?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mark58 on 11/26/13 at 21:40:18

LR, the mystery amp does appear to have OA3's similar in appearance to the RCA OA3s we bought.  They are not the same ones as I got in the Torii MK IV...those were not coke bottle types but rather short and straight sided.  Mark.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/26/13 at 21:50:10


I forgot to add:





;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 11/30/13 at 16:42:13

We're getting their LR!  Parts pulled on a 10/6/order IV with a couple more IV's after that and then us.  Steve, eluded to...in his White C+ sale, that we were looking at January for delivery....and that is just fine for that sweet Amp to come in then.

I noticed the MA is on the Tube Amp page now too.  ....with the Manual yet to follow....I look forward to that....and the biasing play by play.     .....gotta go....my daughter is dragging me out to shop for a snow board for her.........  .
-S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 11/30/13 at 19:58:53


Yeah, I've been stalking the waiting list. Brianne said that a kitten gets microwaved every time I check the status on the list (which is like every other day at least). So when I check it before I go to bed I yell out to her "Bri, grab another kitten!".

I'm hoping the amps are done just before Xmas. I'm on vacation and can do a proper break in!

I also asked for HDTracks gift certificate for Xmas. :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/01/13 at 15:55:07


Yey! I noticed the ZMA made it to the main page last night! That's a good sign!

I haven't noticed much difference between the early draft of the ZMA page and the now posted page. I saw the high rez (clickable) overhead photo of the ZMA, but that's all that really jumped out at me.

I wish the other photos were clickable to a high rez version. I wouldn't mind a new wallpaper for my Home Theater PC/Server

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/01/13 at 16:40:08

YES, a 23rd, 24th -or- 26th...27th arrival would be pretty nice.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 12/01/13 at 17:46:51

I've added an enlargement to the main Mystery Amp photo at the top of the page.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/01/13 at 18:10:44


Thanks Boss!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/01/13 at 18:23:32

Cool, thanks Steve.

Quite frankly, I don't expect the 23-27th delivery. I respect the build process (and you) and how busy you are....when it is ready to ship then it is ready to ship in January.

Right now, I am enjoying my KS3035 break in with my KS1030 IC....the Organic realism with both the SE84CS & SuperZen CKC is not hyperbole.  .....to have the MA in next....an season it over the coming new year....does not get any better... .      -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/02/13 at 20:55:39

Hi Steve, 3 questions:

I noticed you did not list the KT120 Tube. Do you not recommend using them? I realize at 38 watts/per channel...the KT120 might not be utilized as well as the KT66's. Plus, you voiced an like the KT66's...which works for me...if this is what you recommend staying with.

You did not list the Stepped Attenuator as Optional...did you make this a standard feature or was it overlooked in the Copy... . Non issue if you forgot to list it as an option....you generously gave the Red Malory NOS Caps & the Pelican Case....thanks again for that. I just wanted to point it out.

Does the MA have a common ground?  Dual mono sharing the same chassis usually does....and the center ground I see in the photo...sure seems to be common ground... . I need this for my Living Room Speakers...Polk SRS SDA 1.2's....to use the SDA function. However, if it does not have common ground...it is a non issue....Stereo is just fine. My Living Room SDA's are the only Speakers I like/run in SDA.

Thanks in Advance,   -S
I wanted to add....with the current of the MA, the topology with no chokes....and subjectively sounding as powerful as your Mono's....maybe we don't care or need the KT120's or KT150's.

I so look forward to this Amp....the PrimaLuna Dialogue Five drove my SRS SDA 1.2's at 42 watts/per channel Ultra Linear & 21 per in Triode-no problem. However, the PrimaLuna is no Decware Amp...or even close to the Torii III, I had briefly....so back the Prima went.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/02/13 at 21:17:57


On a similar thread - what about the new KT150 tubes?

I'm curious about the stepped attenuation - does it improve the sound at all vs a typical pot? I'm wondering if I should spring the extra $150 for that, or any other features that might help it be all it can be.

 

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/02/13 at 21:30:12

Re: stepped attenuators: I think they are worth it. There's a bit of clarity I think they bring to the equation that is welcome. And the channel balance is more precise than with the pot. . . or can be, some pots are better than others.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/02/13 at 21:52:42


Thanks Lon, that's the theory I was going by as well. In the past, I've not seen Steve overly excited about the stepped attenuators only saying they might be slightly better. I was curious if the difference might be bigger with *this* amp.

$150 would get me some Iso-Cups or tube dampers or what-not.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/02/13 at 22:16:46

Even Balance of the two channels is most important to me...and the slightly better from the Boss....does it for me too.   8-)  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lin on 12/02/13 at 22:34:42

The room will cause more imbalance than any quality (volume) pot.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/02/13 at 23:28:44

I have heard pots that were a bit more unstable then room Imbalances, especially at low volumes. (I used to live at low volumes, by necessity).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/02/13 at 23:31:01


Lonely Raven wrote on 12/02/13 at 21:52:42:
Thanks Lon, that's the theory I was going by as well. In the past, I've not seen Steve overly excited about the stepped attenuators only saying they might be slightly better. I was curious if the difference might be bigger with *this* amp.

$150 would get me some Iso-Cups or tube dampers or what-not.


Cool. I love my stepped attenuators, I now wouldn't order one of the amps without them.  Just that little nudge further into the sonic wonderland.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 12/02/13 at 23:33:54

Lin

I have noticed it with my CSP3+ the room is an awful lot of the imbalance equation. Weird with other SS amps I've owned never had to balance like I do with the CSP3+. Also very noticeable with different recordings. Must be the additional detail that I have never had before. Love to pickup a Mystery amp. Need to get some badly needed home improvements done first.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/03/13 at 15:30:04

As Lon mentioned, for balance of the 2 channels at low volume, especially.

Plus, an Amp of this caliber IMHO, would be like buying a Porsche and putting bald tires on it. ....get the Stepped Attenuator. I have never been one to be penny wise and dollar foolish...and I don't plan to be. -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 12/04/13 at 00:32:29

For those with the stepped attenuator ~ Do you ever find yourself not having the volume dialed in just prefectly?  (i.e. too loud or not loud enough in some instances.) I could see not being satisfied every once in a while if one step makes it too quiet and the next step louder than you want.  

Also, what do you think about having a non-stepped volume on your amp and then a stepped on the Preamp?  (As an example a CSP3+ with a stepped and a Rachel with a non-stepped.)

I'm not suggesting this as an alternative to save money, but a way to get the sound dialed in perfectly.  It seems to me that once you get your amplifier setup you would only use the amp volume once in a while and the preamp would be used as a master volume - it seems like you could get the volume perfect this way.  Of couese this only applies to those with a Preamp.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/04/13 at 00:45:26

I'd say. . .no. I never not find the perfect volume. I have a regular pot on my older Torii, and a stepped attenuator on my new one. The two amps sound different enough in between seasoning (favoring the older amp) and design (Steve says the new ones sound better than my old one which was among the first made, and I also think the stepped attenuator offers a bit more clarity). But I've always been able to find the perfect volume.

I'd say if you are going to leave the amp volume fixed. . . then probably no real reason to have a stepped attenuator not he amp. But. . .I often play these days with the volume controls on my two preamps--both with stepped attenuators--and the new Torii volume control --stepped attenuator. Never fail to get the volume "right." Interestingly I've been listening to the new very futzed with mastering wise cd reissues of Jefferson Airplane albums from Culture Factory. These are mastered very loud and there's one volume range where they sound fantastic and three dimensional psychedelic rocking, and beyond that they sound fat bloated and murky. I can find that zone very specifically between the two stepped attenuators. In that zone they sound amazing!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 12/04/13 at 00:54:45

It happens to me on my Torii3 and HDT's (96db efficient).  I sometimes do find I'm missing the Goldilocks level (wishing for a notch between two).

This would happen less for less efficient speakers as more of the range of the knob would be used.

Also, I find it only happens on music/cd's that are recorded too loud anyway.  EDIT: on loud cd's, to reach "full loudness" , I use only 5 or 6 notches out of the 20 or 21 on the knob.

On better CD's that use more of their dynamic range and aren't peaking out all the time, I don't have this problem.  Again, more of the volumes range is used.

When it does happen, I realize it, oscillate between the two for a second, then I pick one and forget about it.  not a big deal.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 12/04/13 at 01:01:26

The ZMA page says it has input level control, so this could be used to attenuate and stretch out the usable volume overall 20/21 steps of the attenuator.  (right?)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/04/13 at 01:29:58

Right

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 12/04/13 at 04:08:01

Wanted to share my experience with the stepped attenuator/s on my Torii MK4, CSP2+ and CSP3.

Yes, I can always hit the "goldilocks" zone. I do not require any 1/2 turns in-between.

For my digital FLAC files, I did not choose the "normalization" option in order to preserve the dynamic range.
Using my Torii MK4 as a specific example, I normally set my amp to 9 / 20 turns and this setting can handle almost 95% of all my music files.
The small minority of the music I listen to the was either originally recorded too loud or too soft so I can still hit the sweet spot with either 8/20 or 10/20 turns respectively.

My experience with the Torii MK4 is that it has very good dynamic range; at 9/20 turns, I can hear the faintest breathing and whispers (not too soft) from either the singer or from the audience in a "live" recording to vocals when they hit the crescendo of the song (still not too loud) .
so I don't have to move my lazy butt most of the time. ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/04/13 at 04:39:15


Well, my Oppo, which is currently my source, has a variable out - so my current setup (Oppo to Zen) I've got the Zen dialed in as high as I dare (on the edge of objectionable distortion) then use the Oppo remote from there.

So I'm probably going to do the same with the Mystery. Dial the amp up to about 80% or wherever it's top end is, then just control it all from the Oppo.

Also seriously considering the PS Audio DAC in 2014.   ;)

So I think you guys talked me into the stepped attenuation just for getting that last 1% of the amps love.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 12/04/13 at 05:28:36

Interesting guys, thanks for the insights - the stepped vs non-stepped is something I've always wondered about.  

So considering the ZMA only has one set of inputs has anybody thought how they might set it up for multiple components?  I don't know why there isn't an option for 2 sets of RCA inputs, but only an option for balanced inputs @ $600 :o

For those with more than one component in their systems it looks like the ZMA is a canidate for either the CSP3 or ZSB Switchbox.  But I'm wondering how that will effect the sound as it seems that Steve has it dialed in just perfect "as is" and wondering how much room is left for a preamp when it sounds this good as a direct input?

I think the only component missing from Decware's line up is a dedicated Preamp - I know the CSP3 is a preamp, but I would like to see one with at least 4 inputs, knobs/dials on the front, mm phono stage and even a remote option ~ it would be cool if the faceplate was black typewriter finish and it could be fit into a walnut box like the old Macs and Marantz. 8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/04/13 at 05:47:21


Quote:
For those with more than one component in their systems it looks like the ZMA is a canidate for either the CSP3 or ZSB Switchbox.  But I'm wondering how that will effect the sound as it seems that Steve has it dialed in just perfect "as is" and wondering how much room is left for a preamp when it sounds this good as a direct input?


I was wondering about this as well. Between the Riding the Gain thing of Pre/Power setup, and the Keep it Super Simple thing of straight to amp - I'm unsure which would sound better with this setup. Seeing how it's designed, I'm thinking no preamp is probably better, but as always, that's probably system dependent.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by armstdav on 12/04/13 at 06:17:58

Indeed, Beowulf, I just purchased a Modwright LS100 to go with my SE34.2+. Why? Because I need 4 inputs, 2 outputs, and remote control. The fact that I prefer preamps with 6SN7s is a lesser factor. I'd happily live with a different tube if my logistical criteria are met.

So I too would love to see a Decware preamp with a bit more flexibility.

David

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by marky on 12/04/13 at 10:20:47

My ZP3  nd CSP2+ will be going in for their their makeover
in the new year. Jupiters, maple casings to match Rachaels,
and a stepped vol attenuator on the CSP. Of course it all
sounds great as is and I needn`t over pamper, but they ask
so nicely. Goldilooks, and a goldilocks game ahead.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/04/13 at 10:40:09

I think that the MA would sound awesome with a great preamp in front of it. I know the KISS philosophy is great on paper, but I've found each of the Decware amps I've owned to sound better with a Decware preamp in front of it. Would be very surprised if the MA, at its price point and with the type of system it is likely to be purchased for, wouldn't as well.

The one input situation is unfortunate. Two would be better, or as you say Decware should offer a more flexible preamp. However I must say I just don't see a preamp as you describe in the Decware line. Just seems that it's the type of circuit that Steve doesn't design, and departing from the minimalist, hardly any wire, philosophy. Which makes the lack of two inputs also problematic--because I would solve the input issue by having two Decware preamps as I have done in my current system, one for each input if there were two.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 12/04/13 at 13:52:00

Echoing Armstdv, I use a Cary SLP 98P - 5 inputs, 2 outputs, mm phono stage, handy remote, also using 6SN7GT tubes.  I am using it with my Torii IV.  Although the amp has the two inputs and that is all I have, I need the phono preamp and I can't give up the remote.  It only handles mute and volume but that is all I need.  I listen late at night and adjusting volume even in the middle of a piece is useful.

I also think having an active preamp helps with dynamics.  This preamp has been the one constant across two very different amps in my system.  I love it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/04/13 at 16:12:48

Very tempting gentlemen...very. However, I can only tolerate a pre with my he-man rig out in the Living room.

I do enjoy the luxury of adjustable voltage output from my preA Audio Alchemy DAC with Remote. No additional IC needed with stand alone pre etc... . But if you need multiple inputs-I get it.

It was not lost on me either that Steve used a DAC direct to Amp(s) at ZenFest. Albeit, hi-rez....but I also have the luxury of 18, 20, 22 & 24 bit dither out of my DTI-Pro to i2s...then to DAC.  Yeah, it fools you as if it is hi-rez!  Now, running Kimber Select 1030 IC with Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable in Listening Room (SE84CS) & Kimber Hero IC with Kimber Select 3033 Speaker Cable in Bedroom (SuperZen CKC) does not hurt either. Lower noise floor and musicality through the roof.

I digress, but I am so damn excited to get the MA next month....plus I am on budget to get my Acoustic Zen Adagio Speakers (Mar/2014)...very Tube friendly!
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/acousticzen/adagio.html
Chip ran them with 28 watt/ch Mesa Tigris. Plus, I know locally you can drive them with a CS & CKC.  I will drive them with the Mystery Amp of course (too).

Torii IV....on budget for (Aug/2014-order).   -S





Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/04/13 at 16:54:16


Looks like the amp wait list has been cleaned up, and the first two ZMA are now on the first page. Made me grin.  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/04/13 at 17:03:53

Vive la ZMA!

(I need to remember the "Z"...it is on the web page now Stone...get with it).  ::)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/04/13 at 17:23:05


Embrace the Change!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/04/13 at 17:33:02

Haaa!  ...that is funny!

I have now embraced....I do use "The Force" as well.


http://www.stereophile.com/content/mesa-tigris-integrated-amplifier-specifications

http://www.stereophile.com/tubepoweramps/901mesa/
I mentioned the Tigris in my post above. I wish I could find both of these AMPS on Audiogon...I would buy for comparison & FUN.
The Mesa Baron would be a boat load of fun...if it did not need a lot of work...I would have to pay to get done... .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/04/13 at 17:43:54

LR, no bottle of ZMA for me. (heHe)

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/august/cooling-glove-research-082912.html

...I will get "The Glove".....I turn 50 in February....I still run 21 miles per week in the Winter & 35 per week in the summer. Music high & runner's high...can't be bought.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/04/13 at 19:16:11


I saw a video on that glove many years ago when they were developing it. Seems like an awesome idea, and so simple when you think about it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/04/13 at 20:42:51

Yes, it has been around for a few years. The last couple of years you can get one for a grand. They say it really works. Recover that core Temp down and resume training.  I don't race anymore...so I don't need it (read: old). I would like to try it though.

I will live vicariously through my son, whom is waiting word back from Stanford for acceptance. However, he probably will go to Rice in Houston. He takes after his mother.....smart.   -S :D

I live The Secret Life of Walter Mitty!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 12/05/13 at 17:32:54

I've been discussing the single input issue with Steve.  I have the ZMA and the ZP3 on order.  After noticing the single inputs on the ZMA I started to look for a switch box (ZSB).  However, I read one of Steve's papers on preamps (How To Select The Right Preamp) and realized that the ZP3 might not provide optimal input voltage to the amp.  Consequently, I started looking at the CSP3.  Steve has suggested that I will get better sound with the CSP3 over the ZSB offering control over the weight, dynamics and volume of the music.

Steve has not specifically said that the ZMA would be improved by the CSP3 but that is my impression.  Moreover, since my phono is my primary source, I want to make sure that I don't inadvertently handicap the sound by not optimising my phono input to the amp.

Bottom line for me is that I've added the CSP3 to my order!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/06/13 at 21:54:27

Well, after a lot of back & forth research....I have decided to get a pair of Steve's ERRx's. I will continue to use and love the Speakers I have been listening to...with my SE84CS & CKC (MA...will be a nice addition).
However, the radial design has always intrigued me...so it's happening.
-S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/06/13 at 23:13:47


I just spoke with Steve about the volume pot - I was all set to upgrade mine to stepped - he said he prefers the infinitely variable. He said that most pots sound worse down low, but his amps are setup to use the volume higher up. So the sound difference between the two at listening levels could only really be heard if you dig into it. He prefers the infinite adjust ability since the sound difference is negligible.  

I also asked about KT120 and KT150 tubes, he said the KT120 is "warmer, and more romantic", but the KT150 is a no go.

So the gist of it is, the amp is good to go as it, just get it and enjoy it. And that's what I'm going to do.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 12/07/13 at 04:23:03


Quote:
LR said,
I just spoke with Steve about the volume pot - I was all set to upgrade mine to stepped - he said he prefers the infinitely variable. He said that most pots sound worse down low, but his amps are setup to use the volume higher up. So the sound difference between the two at listening levels could only really be heard if you dig into it. He prefers the infinite adjust ability since the sound difference is negligible.  

I also asked about KT120 and KT150 tubes, he said the KT120 is "warmer, and more romantic", but the KT150 is a no go.

So the gist of it is, the amp is good to go as it, just get it and enjoy it. And that's what I'm going to do.


Thanks for that ... I know a lot of people like the stepped, but I don't think I can agree with getting the volume "just perfect" without having an infinite knob ... It just seems that there will be times where one knotch is too low and one too high and that the benefits would be negligible overall.  Still those striving for that last 1-5% have their points too.

Did you by chance ask him about additional inputs and preamps?  I'm really interested to know why there is only one set of inputs rather than at least two.  I just need 2 for myself (really three would be optimum though).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/07/13 at 04:43:45


I did not ask him about inputs and preamps since I'm (currently) fine the way it is, and I didn't know exactly what I should ask. In fact (thinking back to the pot), if I was really worried about that last 1%, I could probably have him bypass the vol pot all together since I'm using the variable volume on my Oppo. So my needs are a bit different than others.

I'm always curious to see what he says though if you ask.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 12/07/13 at 05:18:02

For myself, I have the following sources and I seriously doubt that I would ever need more unless a really new and powerful media came out.

1. Phono Stage
2. DAC (connected to my PC)
3. Universal Disc Player

Unless somebody has a reel to reel or tuner, I would not think that many others would need much more than 3-4 inputs max.  I have to agree with Lon in the aspect that I doubt Steve would make a preamp such as this - as it just doesn't seem like his type of product.  But wow, I think it's a huge hole in their lineup that leads customers to look elsewhere who aren't satisfied with the CSP3 limitations.

The way I see it, the CSP3 is too much of a middle of the road product to please most ~ it doesn't have the flexibility of a full blown preamp (with only 2 inputs) and he already has one of the best headphone amps out there with the Taboo.  Why not ditch the CSP3 altogether and get a freaking awesome Preamp which we all know he is capabe of doing!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/07/13 at 11:06:23

I think if you hear the CSP2+ or CSP3 you'd change your tune! It's likely to sound better than the full featured preamp Decware might make, which I think is why Decware doesn't make one currently. Amazing preamp for the price. Imo the answer is: buy more than one CSP3 if your Decware amp has two inputs. Or as many here seem to prefer the amps with no gain stage ahead of it, the switch box.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/07/13 at 15:38:04


What if Steve could find a 3-4 point switch that didn't degrade the sound appreciably, and simply had a CSP3+ with 3-4 inputs based off that switch?

I don't know if the layout of the CSP3 would allow that, but if he can do two with a quality two way switch, why not 4 with an equal quality "audiophile" switch.

Would that sound like what you guys needed? Or am I missing something?

Maybe if we all whisper to the audio gods they'll whisper it into his ear late one night.   ;D


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/07/13 at 15:44:13


A quick Google search, and this was the first thing that came up.


http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/switch_audibility_e.html


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/08/13 at 17:48:55

"So the gist of it is, the amp is good to go as it is, just get it and enjoy it. And that's what I'm going to do..."  ...you said.

I agree LR.  I will get KT120's too...which is a gamble, because I could end up just preferring the KT66's. However, the curiosity of using them will win out. At first though, ...I'll only use the Tube compliment Steve sends.  

I do look forward to the Manual coming to the Web Page too.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 12/10/13 at 01:54:27

Steve, Can you comment on the overall benefit of the XLR input on the mystery amp apart from the obvious extra input, and reduced chance for hum? What voltage will it support?

Are there additional sonic benefits based on your design or your listening sessions? trying to determine if its worth the 600. I need additional input and have XLR on my dac so its tempting.

Thanks, Aaron

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 12/11/13 at 00:37:14

Regarding the XLR inputs, Steve told me that they do not result in a second set of inputs on the ZMA.  It's still XLR or RCA even if you have both on the amp.  He recommended that I stick with just the RCAs.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/11/13 at 02:42:12


I remember Steve said something about the XLR simply "adding more parts to the path" and recommended I stick with the RCA inputs as well.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 12/11/13 at 05:47:58

Thanks for the feedback.

Looking at the Mystery page its a bit vague. one statement says "You may optionally have your amplifier configured with an additional pair of fully transformer balanced XLR inputs from within the shopping cart."

and another has a reference to the mono II which themselves have dual input RCA and XLR.

If you look at the mystery photos you can clearly see both RCA and XLR inputs but i don't see a switch to select the input.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 12/11/13 at 16:42:20

stellablues,

The shopping cart also lists the 600 upgrade option as "Single-Ended RCA inputs & Balanced XLR $600"

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 12/11/13 at 16:47:22

This is from Steve's email to me:  

"The amplifier is only capable of one pair of inputs used at a time.  When we put XLR inputs on it, the RCA are still active but can not be used at the same time as the XLR or even have cables hooked up to it."

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 12/11/13 at 17:09:04

Thanks Archie. I get it now.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/11/13 at 18:58:03

XLR for long IC runs only.
RCA Coax for .5 meter to 2 meters.
If XLR was better for my KS1030 IC RCA....it would be XLR.

Steve, stated in this thread and/or on the Web Page for the Amp you can use only one input at a time.

LR, Sweet....I only see Chris W./T IV ....ahead of our parts being pulled!
SWEET!    

(Hearin' those Anthony Gallo Acoustics 3.1's tonight(!)...with cash in hand.   0 degree's with a wind chill of 22 below zero tonight....yeah, I love Winter = NOT).

Enjoying.....the Stone of Tone  8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/11/13 at 19:38:20

Yeah, I'm trying not to bounce in my seat at the thought of the ZMA's being started! While I hope Steve and crew have a great holiday, I hope they don't...I don't know, take the whole rest of the month off after this week. LOL

I'm still hoping on two weeks for my ZMA.


I'm really, really curious to hear what you think about those Gallo's. It looks like they've come up in price from $2999 to $3999. I'm honestly not sure my MG944 (with my 21" subwoofer) are going to get me where I want to be with that 3D holographic sound...I won't give up on them till I get the ZMA, and build my fleet of diffusers...but I'm keeping my eyes open for other options just in case.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/11/13 at 20:43:15

http://images.craigslist.org/00505_edDPjnKjdZd_600x450.jpg

Yeah, a couple weeks would be nice.... . I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer but, with bench testing....I figure mid-January?

Here is pic of my Listening tonight!    -S

PS-now, this gentlemen does not have my Acoustic Room Treatment (he has none/obviously), this room is to big, or my Front End, Cabling or a ZMA on the way! So, I will have to discern their sound the best I can.  I will let you know.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/11/13 at 20:54:34


LOL, I was about to say that I find rooms without sound treatment appalling, but you beat me to it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/12/13 at 03:40:48

Not surprising, Steve is consistent with his advice.  "RCA will sound better then XLR b/c of less parts in the signal path".  I was hesitant to add XLR based on his advice, but chose to for future flexibility.  I don't know where or what my audio room will look like in 5 years, nor do I know what my pre-amp situation will be.  Initial listening will be done via RCA.  I will provide my listening impressions once I have the amp broken in and look forward to reading what everyone else has to say.  The first batch of ZMAs is about to be built.  Cheers.        

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/12/13 at 05:00:33

http://images.craigslist.org/00505_edDPjnKjdZd_600x450.jpg
Anthony Gallo Acoustics 3.1

I bought them LR! They are in mint condition. New, they sold for $3000.00. I got them for $1500.00. Plus, I got the 4" Mapleshade platforms and Mapleshade Brass Feet for $500.00-see Link ($900.00 new from Mapleshade). So, a nice tidy $1900.00 in savings. All mint, and playing like the day they were new.

Currently, I have them mounted with their original Plinth and Feet from the factory. Josh/he, had switched out the Mapleshade Platforms to test as equipment bases. I will put the Mapleshades back on soon.

Impressions at Josh's House were nice. He had a Vincent Integrated (Tube pre/Solid State Hybrid), with Vincent CD Player. Even though it had that Solid State edge & the Room was not treated.....the 3.1's are musical. The Vincent is not to shabby. But, certainly not my Rig.

So, I get them home...frigin'  -3 degree's out....but worth the 42 miles each way!
Dont' cha know...the SE84CS can drive them. Now, within reason...I don't have the Mapleshade Plinths on yet or positioned the absolute best yet...but the imaging and soundstage and what I heard of the dynamics at Josh's....I am glad I bought them. The ZMA will deliver the goods into these guys.

Playing the 3.1's right now within reason for the SE84CS....reconfirms for me how my other two pair....that are a little more efficient....can play louder and more dynamic-with tone/truth of timbre & air only Decware can provide. Plus my Kimber Select with Decware and the Speakers-now including the 3.1's=matters.  So, I look forward to driving them with the ZMA too. However, the Gallo 3.1's, I am pretty sure, I can make them completely disappear as advertised with the juice they need from the ZMA.  

I am very pleased! Plus, to get the Mapleshade Plinths and Brass Feet!
Stone is Toned!  
PS-they came with the hardware to mount the Mapleshade Plinths, original boxes with encapsulated foam and the over top grills-mint.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/12/13 at 14:14:24


WOW! I'm super Jealous! That's a great price on great kit! I'm really hoping my MG944 bloom with the ZMA - they sound great with the SE84-A, but I'm not getting them to disappear yet!

Parts pulled on the first ZMA!! Makes me wish I hadn't hemmed and hawed and just put my order in with Steve at Decfest....but being the second ZMA owner is OK as well.   ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/12/13 at 15:21:18

LR…I currently have a SuperZen driving MG944’s and will soon be driving them with the ZMA.  

Multiple discussions with Steve suggest the 944’s are definitely going to bloom with the ZMA.  Steve mentioned multiple times (and maybe he can chime in here) that the 944’s sound like electrostats when driven by the Mono’s/ZMA.  He didn’t realize what the speakers were capable of until he drove them with his higher power amps.  I am certainly looking forward to assessing the combo and hope you are too.    

Not sure how much listening was done with the ZMA/944 combo at Decfest, but it would be nice to get some impressions from folks.  

I plan to post my impressions in the coming weeks/months and look forward to what you have to say.  

Cheers.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/12/13 at 15:38:29


Quote:
LR…I currently have a SuperZen driving MG944’s and will soon be driving them with the ZMA.  

Multiple discussions with Steve suggest the 944’s are definitely going to bloom with the ZMA.  Steve mentioned multiple times (and maybe he can chime in here) that the 944’s sound like electrostats when driven by the Mono’s/ZMA.  He didn’t realize what the speakers were capable of until he drove them with his higher power amps.  I am certainly looking forward to assessing the combo and hope you are too.    

Not sure how much listening was done with the ZMA/944 combo at Decfest, but it would be nice to get some impressions from folks.  

I plan to post my impressions in the coming weeks/months and look forward to what you have to say.  

Cheers.



I did give Steve's well broken in MG944 a listen on the ZMA at Decfest - it was only short bursts since so many other people wanted to step in and do their own thing...in fact, someone did without asking me first...but that's a story for another day.

I can't quite describe what I heard, except it was very liquid...and it had harmonic content that the MK IV didn't have. I know Steve mentioned the ZMA is *the* amp for high-def files, but I was listening to my own CD rips, and I definitely heard difference on his MG944. It wasn't night and day, but it was a step up for sure.

Now, all that said, my MG944 are not like anyone else's. Mine have trapezium sides....and a crossover. Mine were a modified version Bob built for himself that I happened to get because they were there and I had cash in hand. My issues - I'm hearing some distortion at a very specific frequency, and I can't decide if it's the speakers, or my Zen amp...and my speakers aren't disappearing - which could totally be a room issue; I know that better than most. Personally, I feel the crossover, no matter how good, is adding distortion at this specific frequency. Bob assured me it's not the drivers, that they are pretty bulletproof in this setup, and I am running only 2 watts after all.

So, why don't I open up the speakers and tweak or bypass the crossover and see? Yeah, well, Bob installed the crossover, *before* assembling the speakers. So I can not access the crossover at all. I can kinda see one cap if I take the jack plate off and that's it. LOL So yeah, I could bypass the crossover still, but I don't want to go through the hassle (and expense - I'd need new caps and breakin time!) - and I'm giving the speakers the benefit of the doubt. The distortion could still be me driving the Zen amp a little too hard, and I want to give the speakers a couple thousand hours of break in.

Edit to add: I got my Zen amp modified and back the same day I got the MG944 speakers, and my Zen Amp is a one off as well, so the distortion could be a small side effect of the modification I guess. I think Steve would have caught it, but I don't know how much listen time he gave to it. It's a very, very small amount of distortion, at a certain frequency...but others have heard it as well when critical listening.

So, the short version is, I'm waiting on the ZMA to show up. If I still have the distortion, I'll either work something out with Bob or Steve to get different speakers, or I'll try bypassing the crossover by wiring directly to the drivers, and adding a capacitor to each tweeter.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/12/13 at 16:04:29

Yes LR.  Parts are pulled! Nice to have a cup of coffee in hand and see that email.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/12/13 at 19:29:25

Stone…congrats on the speakers and parts being pulled.  95% of the waiting seemed to go by quickly for me (In fact, I almost missed the window to change my order from a Torii to the Mystery), but I am positive the last 5% will seem like forever.  

LR…thanks for the update and description of your gear.  I am a new contributor to the forum, so hopefully most of the information wasn’t common knowledge.  Sounds like you have a couple cool custom pieces.  

Nice to know you were at Decfest to hear the ZMA in person.  

Out of curiosity, what was your favorite speaker pairing with the ZMA?  

In your post above, when you said “definitely heard the difference on his MG944”, do you mean the difference in hi res vs. CD rips?  

I’m still not sure what to make of Steve’s comment regarding *the* amp for high def files yet.  I think I need to make my own assessment.  Not sure if this factors in or not, but I may be one of the few people that purchased a Decware product and returned it--the Zen CD player.  I felt it added a slight distortion and compression to the music that didn’t sound right to me.  We did some troubleshooting before I returned it and it turns out there wasn’t anything wrong with the player.  

So, if the comparison of hi res vs. standard res digital is a digital download played on a computer vs. Redbook CD on the Zen CD player, I am not convinced.  My preference, and maybe this is what was done, would be a comparison of files Steve recorded himself at a high bit depth and sampling rate (e.g. 24/192) versus the same file downsampled to 16/44.  Both files would be played back through the same software on the computer and without any up-sampling.  

Does this sound right to you guys?  Do you have additional insight into HD vs. SD?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/12/13 at 19:51:59


Quote:
Out of curiosity, what was your favorite speaker pairing with the ZMA?  


Honestly, there was a lot people bustling about and wanting to do their own thing, so I didn't have time to play as much as I wanted to. Plus, I had just purchased the MG944, so I didn't want to covet another speaker just yet. All the Radial speakers sounded pretty amazing.


Quote:
In your post above, when you said “definitely heard the difference on his MG944”, do you mean the difference in hi res vs. CD rips?  

I’m still not sure what to make of Steve’s comment regarding *the* amp for high def files yet.


I meant the difference between MK IV and ZMA - lots of people were saying the two amps were very, very close (the Mk IV is that good), but didn't feel the ZMA was worth the difference *unless you were listening to high def audio files*.  I guess Steve said somewhere along the line that the ZMA really bring high def files to life.

After playing my short selection of demo tunes, I had several people that listened in with me ask if they were high def files...(since it was rumored ZMA was *the* amp for high def). I said, "no, these are just CDs I ripped really quickly before heading down here". I think we were all a bit surprised by how good Redbook level audio sounded on such a detailed amp. I had totally forgotten what Steve said about the high def files, and it made me think "if it sounds this good with Redbook, WOW, what will high def do!" That fact, and the fantastic harmonic content were what sold me on the amp. Even if it was only 10% better than the Mk IV, it is *the* amp for me.

I don't know if I explained that well enough - my poor memory makes it difficult to relay stuff if you weren't there.   ;D


During our demos, and I'm assuming during Steve's voicing of the amps, and his own listening pleasure, Steve streams digital music via a Teac DAC. He has access to tons of music, both SD and HD, and I believe that DAC can even upsample and downsample and all that on the fly.

Either way, my point is that I felt the ZMA was a noticeable step up from the Mk IV, more than others did apparently, and this was on SD audio files. Since ordering my ZMA, I've started ripping  my whole CD collection to FLAC, and downloading HD files from HDTracks and other sources. With my Oppo universal player and the ZMA, I think I'm pushing into the leading edge of digital playback. I think I'd have to go with a high dollar (PS Audio) DAC to really go further at this point.

I can't speak to the Zen CD player - IMHO (and this is only my opinion), it's kind of outdated with all these very fine DACs available at all sorts of price ranges. That tube output stage can only do so much to enhance a "decent" player.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/12/13 at 20:10:14


Dave1210 wrote on 12/12/13 at 19:29:25:
 Not sure if this factors in or not, but I may be one of the few people that purchased a Decware product and returned it--the Zen CD player.  I felt it added a slight distortion and compression to the music that didn’t sound right to me.  We did some troubleshooting before I returned it and it turns out there wasn’t anything wrong with the player.


I never returned my Zen CD player, but I ultimately didn't keep it and it sent me on a search for a great front end that really ended with the PS Audion Duo.  I returned the Zen CD for all the options when I was sure it was broken in and still didn't like the sound. . . After tht I kept it far too long, hopng I'd learn to like it and I just never warmed to it. Just wasn't right for me, especially tonally. I sold it very cheap. . . .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/13/13 at 02:27:53

LR…very much appreciate your perspective from Decfest.  You definitely explained it well.  Sounds like you are having fun prepping for arrival of the ZMA.  

I have heard good things about the TEAC DAC, but haven't had an opportunity to audition it.  Enough good things have already been said about Oppo.  Can those guys win anymore awards?  

LR & Lon…My digital front end is the PS Audio PW Trans/DAC.  I am currently running direct to the SuperZen and will do all of my initial listening direct to ZMA.  I hope the PS Audio/ZMA/944 combo turns out to be a good one.  I will definitely report back.

I have a few HD files and at the moment I am burning them to DVD and playing them back on the Transport.  Not ideal from a work process, but I don't own the PS Audio bridge, and I hear differences between different software players, so for reference listening I am playing discs.

I would appreciate your opinion on any great sounding HD tracks you pick up (or any HD tracks that sounded particularly good at Decfest).  I am a bit skeptical of the current HD market, but that's a different topic.    

Cheers!  


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/13/13 at 02:36:52

Dave, I can't imagine that the ZMA and 944 won't be a great fit with the 944s.

One day you should try a CSP2+ or CSP3 in between. I mean I really like the PS Audio into the amp, but the preamp really seals the deal for me, makes me not hunger for any other front end (other than my SACD player). My preferenxce for hi-res is the SACD format, I've run some hi-res files via DVD-R into the PWD Mk II and they sound great, but SACD is so convenient and is a disc format, sue me I like discs, I don't like files, I don't like mixing music and computers. I know you'll dig the hi-res files on DVD-R into the ZMA, it's going to be awesome, just as SACDs are da bomb for me, and Redbook to be honest (98 percent of my digital collection) sounds amazing to me and I'm sure does and will for you.

I think you have a lot of great musical fun ahead of you!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/13/13 at 03:09:04


Quote:
LR & Lon…My digital front end is the PS Audio PW Trans/DAC.  I am currently running direct to the SuperZen and will do all of my initial listening direct to ZMA.  I hope the PS Audio/ZMA/944 combo turns out to be a good one.  I will definitely report back.


Oh wow, that's my dream setup!

I was very, very close to doing 12 months same as cash at Music Direct for that Tras/DAC


Quote:
but SACD is so convenient and is a disc format, sue me I like discs, I don't like files,


Lon, until very recently, I was the same way. Getting all my files on this hard drive really made the difference for me. It also helps that the digital files sound so much better than the discs *in this player*.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/13/13 at 03:15:13

Lon…Sounds like I should arrange for some pre-amp demos in the future.  I appreciate your level of enthusiasm.  This may just be the push I need to investigate further.  Thanks for the advice.

I suppose I like discs too.  I certainly have a lot of them (98% of my music collection is Rebook CD too) and while I have incorporated the computer into the mix on occasion, it appears there are more factors influencing sound than I expected.  Maybe I shouldn't be surprised.  As an example, if cd players sound different, I should have expected software players to sound different.

I am looking forward to the road ahead.  I am not in a bad place with my current system, but I know there is room for improvement.  For example, there are some discs I just can't play loud enough with the SuperZen (these are the discs I am looking forward to playing loud b/c they aren't overly compressed).  

Also, I need to improve soundstage depth at some point.  I have heard better than my current system and room treatments really aren't an option for me (I have tried a few and took a lot of heat, so not sure I want to go there).  The ZMA should take care of the former.  The latter is likely the next step.  

Sounds like the radials were well received at Decfest.  What are your thoughts?  If you already covered this elsewhere…just point me in the direction.

Cheers,
Dave

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/13/13 at 04:07:33

LR…sorry I missed your post.  I must have been typing.  

Based on my experience, I think you are onto something with ripped files sounding better than discs played on a typical CD player.

In my experience, a MacBook running on battery (computer power supplies are less than ideal) w/Audirvana software connected to the PS Audio DAC via USB sounds similar to using the PW Transport into the PW  DAC.   Most CD players cannot compete with either of these scenarios.

Thinking about the product design of the PS Audio Transport, it was designed to play audio like a computer (e.g. plays from memory), but without the issues of a typical computer (e.g. bad power supply).  

Can a computer be a great sounding source?  Yes.  In fact, I think with the right setup it will be better than most CD players.  

Not sure if any of that made sense.
 

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/13/13 at 10:50:09

Well LR, I've heard a MAC Mini set up for audio through my system, a friend who is a digital engineer and was at that time stayting with me set it up, he knows what he's doing and he loves computer audio.

Did nothing for me. Didn't sound better than the PWT/PWD Mk II, and I just don't like the process. And I could spend the rest of my life trying to rip and file all my discs. I have zero interest in doing that. I get why so many dig the whole hting, and if I were dong mobile music of any kind (I don't, partly being a motorcycle only rider for a few decades and also having been unable to do so at work for a long time, never developed the habit) maybe that would lead me to it. But I'm very happy with all my discs and players and am not at all drawn to computer audio. In fact the opposite, it seems strongly the wrong direction for me.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/13/13 at 10:56:10


Dave1210 wrote on 12/13/13 at 03:15:13:
Sounds like the radials were well received at Decfest.  What are your thoughts?  If you already covered this elsewhere…just point me in the direction.

Cheers,
Dave


Dave, I've never been to and don't plan on being to a Decfest so can't answer as to how they've been received there. My speakers have been Decware/Zeigler Radials in one form or another for over a dozen years, and I really can't imagine not owning a pair. With the right room placement (alas I can't quite achieve this in my current situation) there IS a LOT of depth to the music. I think what I like moste about them are a) they are not as forward as most other speaker designs, I prefer a natural, laid back presentation to a forward one and b) tonally thwy seem to be richer and sweeter, leading to a more forgiving than analytical sound, my preferrence and what works best for my thousands of discs, moste of which are far from great recordings.

I understand why many DISLIKE them as well, so I know they are not for everyone, probably best to try listening before buying. . . . But I'm set probably for life now, and just don't see myself with another speaker design. Steve and Bob hooked me.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by JD on 12/13/13 at 12:45:46

Lon,

Best description yet of the radials.  I find that you can make subtle changes in the sound with various tubes but the signature that you described stays true (I only have the ERR's). For example in the input position I find my nos mullard cv2493's add warmth and have a slightly loose top end where my telefunken e88cc's (fav so far) have a real airy 3d quality that envelops you with a tighter top end...the speakers truly disappear.

JD

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/13/13 at 13:15:36


Quote:
Based on my experience, I think you are onto something with ripped files sounding better than discs played on a typical CD player.


I may have mentioned this somewhere else in the forum, but just in case - long story short, I was ripping my CD collection to FLAC, and decided to test them on a USB flash drive on my new Oppo Universal player, just to make sure I did them correctly (first time doing this). I popped the USB Flash Drive in and went into the kitchen to make some dinner...even in another room I could hear the difference; the sound was sharper (in a good way) and more accurate, and the music seemed to come down into the kitchen and say "hey, come listen". So I stopped making dinner and ran back into the liviingroom/theater/listening room and did an A/B and sure enough, the ripped files sounded better! It wasn't until a month or two later when Steve from Herbie's Audio Lab said "put your hand on the player when the CD's spinning". So I did, and the damn thing was practically hopping up and down with the rotation of the unbalanced CD! Some were better than others, but all of them at least sent a tremor through the player! That physical vibration is sure to cause electronic jitter as the player tries to piece all that music back together. With the ripped files, most of that has been sorted out and verified during the ripping process, and the DAC can put it's horsepower to playback rather than piecing together the music through the jitter.



Quote:
Did nothing for me. Didn't sound better than the PWT/PWD Mk II, and I just don't like the process.


From everything I'm reading about that Paul writes, it doesn't even seem a fair comparison. He knows all about what I've written above, and had dealt with it in that PWT PWD setup. I really think it's the ideal setup, assuming it can do all the same DAC work my Oppo does with the Bridge installed that is.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/13/13 at 14:12:04

JD, the ERRs are just special. I've finally fallen under the spell of the HR-1s and have learned how to get them to be most ERR-like, and they're an even more "jack of all trades" implement for musical playback, but for some material, the ERR just can't be beaten (and for video material as well). I can only imagine how the new ERR sound!

Glad my description seemed on the mark. The HR-1s share the trademarks of the ERRs but I've never yet made them quite disappear into a sonic landscape the way the ERRs do. Very close, and I may have something room related (in two rooms) or system related holding that back from happening. And with the sound they get, close IS a cigar. I'm very happy.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/13/13 at 15:52:37

LR/Lon…I think the overall message is…do what works for you.    

LR…You said it better than me.  I think taking certain things out of the equation during playback (e.g. possibility for errors while reading a spinning disc) are strong reasons to believe that a computer can be an excellent source.  

I think I have a sense for Lon’s comments on process (re: computer audio).  There are a lot of variables to consider and seemingly benign things like the graphic interface, or the programs used to import, organize and search music all impact how you interact with the source.  If any part of the process starts to feel like work, it will likely make the entire experience less fun and may ultimately get in the way of just enjoying the music.  

Placing a disc into the PW Transport and hitting play is about as simple as it gets and I think there is beauty in the simplicity of the process.  There is nothing that gets in the way of the music.  

That said, I am working on a computer source.  My current process of downloading and burning .wav files to disc feels like work and is an extra step I want to avoid.  I don’t plan on ripping my entire CD collection, but would like to use the computer as a source for any files I download.        

Sounds like you are having fun getting your digital playback system up and running, and that’s a good thing.  Keep us updated on what is working and what the pinch points may be.  

It won’t be too long before we are discussing how the ZMA sounds on each of our systems.  I am really looking forward to that.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/13/13 at 17:07:28


Lon has a lifetime worth of media, so I can totally see how he wouldn't want to rip it to digital...it would be a lifetime of ripping and archiving...and it would be like a part time job. I only have like 1000 CDs or so (I used to have over 3000 but many were lost or stolen - crappy room mates) and even just those 1000 CDs took me two months of ripping a dozen every week night and dozens on the weekend.

That said, now that Oppo just released a "Media Control" software for Android devices, I'm able to control my Universal player with my phone or tablet, including browsing the network to reach a NAS, computer, or my portable hard drive (that is now my music base) directly connected - I'm pretty  much in heaven right now.

Last night I put sound absorbers in front of all my equipment (blocking all the lights and fans and whatever) and tried out this new Media Control software, it was absolutely fantastic! Any song that I could think of that is in my collection was easily dialed up during the last 10 seconds of whatever song was playing, and I seamlessly jumped from song to song, album to album, personal collection to downloaded collection. *This* is what I was envisioning for digital music playback - it brought me closer to that "nothing but the controller, chair, and dark room" that I've been wanting for a long time now.

I'm even more eager for the ZMA now (if that's even possible)!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/13/13 at 18:02:27

Wow, we have such different ideas of heaven! :) I hate phones and I love the total inconvenience of searching for what I want to hear among my shelves.

Glad you got to your heaven though!

Both you and Dave are right. I just don't have fun with computer audio, it seems like work to me and the results have not been worth it. And I have so much meida to make digital that it's overwhelming to even think of starting.

If I needed music on the go, if I wanted the convenience, and a handful of other reasons, sure, it would be worth it. But it just doesn't appeal to me or fill any needs.

I have great players (I'm in awe of my Denon SACD player, and the PS Audio Duo is amazing) and I love my Torii (bonded with it, don't need a ZMA) and I'm SET.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/13/13 at 19:22:29


Yeah, making it work doesn't make it fun at all. And I don't have that ritual that you LP Record guys go through (I do appreciate rituals, my coffee making is somewhere between Tai Chi, Meditation, and Chemistry). The portable thing means nothing to me (currently) - I hate listening in my car (which needs a new and expensive exhaust anyways), and I only listen to audio books on the road.

Ultimately I hope to have a setup that I presume is something like Mark's Listening Cave - my little Audio Temple - cut out all distractions and go for that "out of body experience" as Steve would call it.

I really do enjoy these online discussions with you, Lon; it helps keep me grounded, and I enjoy seeing things from your point of view.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/13/13 at 20:04:42

I enjoy the discussions too.

I had my own listening and video world just the way i like it for about five years . . . and I had the money to evolve it into a Torii-HR-1 system which is the cat's meow. . . and then once again I had to sacrifice what I want and maybe need for some other persons, this time my parents, and I'm back in a less than ideal room and with less than ideal time to listen and view. . . .

But what I like about it is that I appreciate the hours I do get to spend with the system more. And also that the hours I have at my disposal are now weekday afternoon hours and there are no neighbors home and I get to explore my great collection of guitars and basses with far less limiting self-consciousness to plague me and that has really helped. I sure have the blues, and I have been able to expunge them a bit by playing them. My latest guitars and basses and amp have been of the coolest quality and just inspiring. So that is a new factor that is uplifting (though most of the experience back here in Ohio has been rather depressing and being away from my gal and my friends. . . really hard).

What's constant is the appreciation of the great quality and nature of the system, a large part of which Decware is responsible for. That's what we all have in common here, which makes this a great hang!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/14/13 at 14:52:57


I was hoping to see the first Zen Mystery Amp had shipped yesterday. Looks like lots of parts pulled on different things (probably a little burst to get ahead before the holidays) but none shipping yet.

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on your own ZMA, Stone!

Brianne is looking forward to me getting mine, so I'd finally shut up about it! LOL Little does she know....


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/14/13 at 15:29:32

It's been my observation that Decware ships out on TUESDAYs. And only on Tuesdays. I could be wrong, but that seems the case this last year.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/14/13 at 15:32:43


Ahh, good call, I never noticed that since I've not had anything shipped to me in 15+ years. LOL

Well, hopefully Stone's ZMA goes out on Tuesday then. With luck, mine will be ready soon as well and I can pop on down to pick it up.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/14/13 at 15:42:54

Well, best of luck. If I remember correctly, there was quite a bit of time between "Parts pulled" and "Shipped" on my last few builds. Just saying. I still think. . . January. Hope I"m wrong.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/14/13 at 16:20:15

I think you're right Lon. Parts pulled, then testing...it will be January. As much as I want it now... .

This is one of Steve's new baby's (as he has mentioned). I want him to be meticulous before he puts it the Pelican Case to ship. He will be.

The timing will be perfect because I have 5 weeks and counting on my KS3035 Speaker Cable/outstanding & musical and with my Anthony Gallo 3.1's, that are just outstanding (very well burned in too)... . Then, comes the burn in of the ZMA....in the chain.  I love the journey....and the wonderful Music.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/14/13 at 16:43:14

I must add: I am sitting here on this snowy/beautiful morning with a cup of coffee in hand, listening to my Gallo's with my SE84CS...(at 68 - 72 DB SPL)....longing for the ZMA........but I can wait.

Right now, I am a very proud Father. My son called me from Houston last night, where he was visiting Rice University.  He had just received word from Stanford University....he was accepted! I will not make mention of it again. But, I am so proud of him and he worked so hard to achieve this goal.  I look forward to getting him settled in Palo Alto next August....for his pursuit of happiness and being part of solutions. -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/14/13 at 16:56:25

Congrats Stone. Oddly enough I was thinking of Rice as my wife and I passed it every day when we were in Houston month after month for her treatment. A good school. Stanford is great too. You are rightfully proud.

And with your truly seasoned Zen amp you can comfortably wait for the ZMA.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/16/13 at 15:29:05

U bet Lon, thanks.

LR, I know, Carly Simon singing "Anticipation" is playing in my head!

However, Steve's Bias Meter's alone....with their uniqueness, to provide what others don't...I assume takes time to build in, adjust & test. This Amp will be quite the purveyor of musicality!  

As you know, you have heard it with Redbook you had=and liked!

Harmonics...the Stone of Tone...with Gluteus Maximus = ZMA.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/16/13 at 16:16:36

Lon waited much longer for his HR-1, but he's already got great gear to keep him company during his wait...I'm practically in the stone age.  ;)
I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a pain that my Zen Amp decided it was time to bloom in the past two weeks. It really sounds amazing - which is good, because I was getting the itch to mod the snot out of it while I wait for the ZMA, now I'm just going to chill, and enjoy my time with what I have with my Zen brothers.




Funny side story - Brianne and I went to see Manheim Steamroller on Saturday - predictably they sounded heavily processed and pretty much exactly like the albums. During the intermission, Brianne leans over to me and says "you've turned me into an audio-snob! This sounds so much better at home!"  ;D

I smiled back and said, just wait till the Mystery Amp shows up! And I'm not sure if that enhanced or crushed the mood - she's tired of me bringing it up by now I'm sure.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/16/13 at 19:14:49

Manheim Steamroller, the worst recorded and compressed crap...as you attested to LR.

However, for me, I just put my Audiophile Hat away when I go to concerts and enjoy the show for what it is. As I am sure you did.

Furthermore, it is fun to have friends over, where they can wrap their brains around my he-man rig in my downstairs Living Room or my Fun Garage System. But, even though they hear the increased musicality of my Decware System(s)...it is not for them...which is fine...because it is not their hobby and passion.

If they question the price of my passion?  I just mention the $9,500 Snowmobile one just purchased.....and the couple of 4 wheeler's the other hardly rides. But, they sure look pretty on the Trailer!  I do and will continue to get a lot more enjoyable use out of my 3 Decware Amps & Gear than their stuff IMHO. Oh, I go up north and rent Sleds...then come home and enjoy my Decware Gear....much more fun!   -Stone



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/16/13 at 19:23:56


Yeah, I enjoy watching musicians play - so I just sat back and enjoyed the show for what it is. It did make me want more bass though...their four 18" subwoofer cabinets sounded really good where we were, and made me want another 21" woofer in my home setup.


Part of why I had no problems selling my $2200 acoustic guitar and vintage (non-running) Porsche to afford the Mystery Amp, is because I know I'd use it almost every day...compared to the acoustic I haven't taken out of the case in a year, and the Porsche that's been in storage at a friends house for 8! So yeah, the Decware gear gets MUCH more use than the other hobbies.

It was also pointed out to me that I've had my Zen amp for 15 years - prorate that $500 purchase, plus $288 "tune up" I just had done, and it's more than been worth it. That's like less than $5 a month! LOL So I figure the ZMA is going to be with me another 15-20 years, and that makes it really worth the cost considering how much I'll be using it!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jcharles on 12/17/13 at 06:31:42

Hi all,

I have been looking at a Pass Labs INT-30 but the MA with its big capacitors and reduced tube count has my attention. What are the initial preamps with a remote recommendations?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/17/13 at 14:55:41

Welcome to the forums, jcharles!

Well the nice thing about the Decware gear is you don't *need* a preamp - and they could enhance or decrease the quality of the sound.

I for example, use my Oppo BDP-105 directly to my Decware amps. But if I needed more inputs, I would look into something very transparent like the Decware preamps, assuming they have enough inputs for your needs.  

I really haven't tried much else since I like my setup very simple, and as short of a chain as possible. Others who seem to live for the gear-merry-go-round may have more insight for you.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/17/13 at 15:18:46

Not many of us here seem to have preamps with remotes. I've not ever had one, no experience to relate.

Preamps with Decware amps are a great combination. . .if they are excellent preamps. The Decware preamps ARE excellent preamps. If you need a lot of inputs, the Ultra would be great. But no Decware amp comes with a remote.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/17/13 at 16:33:46

If I buy one, this will be the one.
http://www.herronaudio.com/vtsp3specs.html

I use a couple of DACS with volume control directly into my Amps.

I have come close to having a INT-30A delivered to the house. However, my Decware Amps Truth of Timbre, including the Torii III I had...can't be beat, IMHO.

I am awaiting delivery of a ZMA next month.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 12/17/13 at 18:16:57

for you zen brethren that desire a "full function" preamp.. or at least one with remote control of volume, that is transparent or "brings" goodness to the table... I had, and I stress "had" been on an absolute preamp quest for about three years.  After at least a dozen moving thru the listening room, my search ended with the Aesthetix Calypso.  It has remote volume, switching, balance, a display that can be turned off, and most of all is as "clean and transparent" a preamp as I've been able to find - depending on the tubes you put in it.  And you can tailor its sound to match your taste also - neutral or tubey euphonic by rolling different tubes.
I also found the Wyred4Sound STP-SE to be very transparent also… dead quiet, great functionality, display a bit small, but very, very clean sound, no electronic haze or veil.  If you don’t want the ability to tailor sound with tube rolling, and want remote functionality and “neutrality” I can recommend the Wyred.  I would get a CSP-3 if Steve would just put a remote controllable volume pot on it…  might get one anyway.  But music listening is a “relaxation” exercise for me usually, and jumping up and down out of my listening chair to tweak the volume every 3-4 minutes pretty much defeats that purpose.

LR, I need to talk to you about your Oppo as being the center of a “music server” based system… that is my current quest, now that my preamp journey ended, and amp for now(Jupitered Torii III).  I am shiny disc based only at the moment and want to move this aspect toward the goal of “relaxation” also… I want to be able to select music from my iPad wirelessly… without getting out of my chair.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/17/13 at 19:18:15

I'm sure there are other options, but the two I know of now are the Oppo BDP-105 and the PS Audio PWD MK II. The Oppo Media Control App is very basic, and I wish it had better shuffle options, but the software is rock solid on the iOS. I can't say as much for the Android version they just released on the 10th.

With the Oppo, I literally have my whole audio collection on a 2TB Western Digital Hard Drive. I've got a folder for my own ripped audio, a folder for DSD downloaded, FLAC downloaded, and FLAC Files "from friends". The Oppo can also play off Media Servers and NAS drives on the network, and even Shared Folders on Windows machines (I'm unsure about Mac since I don't care for Apple products).

The Oppo Media Control App has a virtual remote control that looks just like the physical one, it's got a simplified playback control screen that shows the album, Track Forward/Back/Pause/Play, and volume slider, and has another screen that allows you to search through your digital media - it has it all in alphabetical like a digital phone directory.

It's an amazing feat for $1200 - I'm sure there are better DAC out there, but a Universal Disc Player/DAC with Async USB to connect to your PC, network port, and full 7.1 surround? Unheard of!

If you just need a DAC, I'm sure there are more bang for your buck options out there, but I needed a good Disc player and DAC, so this worked out for me. All the network and USB stuff is just icing on the cake.

My setup is simply -

Oppo DAC with Western Digital 2TB Drive
Decware Silver Reference IC
Zen Amp (soon to be ZMA)
My DIY version Zen Styx
Decware MG944

DONE.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 12/17/13 at 23:59:34


Quote:
stone said,
If I buy one, this will be the one.
http://www.herronaudio.com/vtsp3specs.html


Nice, but pretty pricey!


Quote:
maddog said,
for you zen brethren that desire a "full function" preamp.. or at least one with remote control of volume, that is transparent or "brings" goodness to the table... I had, and I stress "had" been on an absolute preamp quest for about three years.  After at least a dozen moving thru the listening room, my search ended with the Aesthetix Calypso.


Really nice, but even more pricey!


Quote:
LR said,
It's an amazing feat for $1200 - I'm sure there are better DAC out there, but a Universal Disc Player/DAC with Async USB to connect to your PC, network port, and full 7.1 surround? Unheard of!


I could look this up, but I'm feeling lazy ;D ... how many analog sources (if any) can the Oppo BDP-105 support?

All I need is a Preamp with a remote that could support 3 sources (1) Phono Stage, (2) DAC, and (3) Oppo BDP-95 (but soon to be 105).  I don't want/need or want to pay for headphone options because I already have the Taboo (so I doubt that any preamp is going to beat that).  

It's one of the reasons I don't like the CSP3 (aside from not having a remote) it can only support 2 sources and has too many headphone options.  I know I keep saying this, but maybe Steve will hear me one time ... why can't he build a cheaper CSP model without all the headphone options and just use that space to add 2 more sources for a total of 4 sources?  I would even forgo the remote if I could just get it like that.

Has anybody ever went down the Passive Preamp route?  Looking at Tortuga Audio, but I see the lack of gain as a downside in some instances with the Taboo, there are some times (only when watching movies and especially during quiet dialog scenes for some reason) that I want a little more oomph out of it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/18/13 at 00:27:26

I have a CSP2 Steve built me without headphone output, but I don't think this allows him space for additional inputs the way that the circuit is. I could be wrong, a call to Steve is the best way to find out.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 12/18/13 at 00:52:56

Thanks Lon, yes I remember Steve mentioning in another thread that it would take a new chasis and/or circuit design (something to that effect).  Still it would be a cool alternative and a (possibly?) cheaper product to just leave out the headphone options althogether if they are not needed.  I can't imagine 2 more analog inputs would be as costly as dual headphone inputs, but then again I know nothing about building amplifiers.

For all Decware's awesomeness ~ IMO Steve has some redundancy in his products that could use some reworking.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/18/13 at 01:02:10

When you are a small company sometimes adding a lot of options is not a good or rewarding idea or practice. Steve very carefully works out what he can produce and how he can produce it with sound quality being paramount. I think if he could, and it would not hurt hte sound, he would. If he's not doing so. . . well there's probably the answer.

There's always the Ultra! :) That's an expense. So is two CSP3s. . . but that is still cheaper than some of the other options out there and who knows if they sound like or have synergy with Deware products.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 12/18/13 at 01:06:21

True, very true ... I may be wrong, but didn't he make a more traditional preamp similar to that a long time ago (pre CSP)?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/18/13 at 01:47:46

He used to make a "buffer amp" so to speak, a single input no-gain preamp (without the "half-lit up" aspects of the ZBox). And he made the ZPre, which was a purist preamp with outboard power supply.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jcharles on 12/18/13 at 04:34:07

Lon, Raven and other Oppo BDP-105 direct to amp users,

I am aware of the argument that reducing the volume in a 32 bit chip domain will not adversely impact the sound of a 24 bit signal. However, over on the Modright forum they seem to believe that using the digital volume control has deleterious effects on the music (shallower soundstage, reduced weight, etc.) But trusting soul that I am, I am wary of the self interest involved when the sponsor of the forum sells expensive pre-amps; I'd gladly skip the expense of the preamp and  enjoy the simplicity of a direct connect. I gave up the hassle of analog years ago.

I tend to update systems (except digital front ends) about once every 20 years. Thanks for the continuing input.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/18/13 at 10:54:53

Well, I have to say that I haven't noticed any real audible artifacts in using the volume control of my PS Audio DAC Mk II above 65%, and it's quite easy with the efficiency of my spaekers and gain of my amp to do so.

But. . .on the flip side. . . I find every aspect of the sound to be at least a bit better with the use of the CSP2+ between the DAC Mk II and the Torii Mk III. I wish it weren't so  . . .but it certainly IS so for me. So I use the CSP2+ and enjoy the sound immensely.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by JD on 12/18/13 at 17:16:51

I agree Lon the csp2+ is a magical machine.  My Oppo 95 sounds much better when run through it instead of direct to my torii III unless I am watching a movie, then I cannot notice the difference.  IMO there is a large sonic improvement when streaming youtube or Pandora through the csp2+. You can really dial in the sound.

JD

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/19/13 at 19:48:02

Just got the notice, PARTS PULLED!

~Eric~


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/19/13 at 20:03:19

CONGRATS ERIC!

I know you might have to drink yourself to sleep for a few weeks. . .so try not to drive late in the day. :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/19/13 at 20:17:48


(wondering how much of a bribe it takes to get Steve to give me the #1 amp)  [smiley=10.gif]

Seriously though, Parts have been Pulled on Stone's amp for two weeks, and I saw a couple Mark IVs get started and finished around our two ZMAs, so I think they are building them together. They are the first ones, so Steve might not have the build process smoothed out yet. I know when I build guitar amps, the first one takes all day, and by the fifth amp I'm practically sleep walking through them in a few hours.

Uber-excited right now! Making it a little difficult to concentrate on work. LOL

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 12/19/13 at 21:25:22

beowolf...

the Aesthetix Calypso can be "attained" pre-owned fairly reasonably.  If you would like more info and history on how I arrived at the Calypso destination, PM me.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/20/13 at 15:16:51

LR, no bribes now!

I am Uber excited too!

I am going nuts as well....because my Gallo 3.1's are begging for the ZMA.

They can play well with my SE84CS because, their is no crossover between the midrange and the tweeter. This is the revolutionary genius of the Gallo Reference 3.1 loudspeaker. The result is that all frequencies from one octave below middle-C to 35kHz are uncommonly pure, integrated, and relaxed. .....to say the least about these Speaker's!

....but they need the ZMA to drive them Home!
....I found a cool tweak for them too....a 15 ohm (5 watt or greater) wire wound resistor on the lower posts.
http://www.10audio.com/gallo_ref3-1.htm

I have my Croyed 6N23P-EV's coming too!  We need to stay focused....stay focused.  :o    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/20/13 at 15:34:14



I'm so tempted to just throw my order in the cryo'd tubes as well, but I'll wait and see what the masses say. Besides, I want to break the amp in with the tubes provided and get a feel for it before I start making changes...gotta know what I'm working with!

I played Kind of Blue full blast on the Zen Amp last night...it sounded OK, but so needed that little extra push to make it come alive in the room. Then, same settings, played Lorde Royals and I sent the amp into some sort of wobble. It kinda made me laugh, and sad at the same time. The old Zen Amp will make a nice desktop amp for my PC once I get my guitar room/office put back together...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 12/20/13 at 16:42:16

LR...
sane strategy "break-in w/tubes provided"... hear it as the designer intended first and develop your point of reference.  but it is so painful and testing of one's patience to resist "tweaking" when you have a box full of tubes already in your inventory, acquired at the recommendation of the masses who have declared which tubes are "the tubes" to use.  I recently was going thru the same pain X 2... I had a new tube preamp also to get used to.. and my Torii III had not been back long from Steve installing the Jupiters on top of that.  For sure, if a person gets to changing too many things at once, we absolutely will loose track of what was responsible for the differences being experienced.... only change one thing at a time... has been my rule for years.  But I have trouble following my own rules from time-to-time.....

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/20/13 at 17:35:20

As you know LR, I want the Cryoed 6N23P-EV's for immediate back up if one or two of the sent 6N's is DOA. I have a boat load of NOS Sovtek 6922's....could have ordered 6N1P's for a whole lot cheaper.... .

However, I have read every word Steve has wrote in this thread..and read between the lines too. He plainly stated his affinity for the 6N23P-EV...so to put 6922's in or 6N1P's won't cut it for me. Furthermore, the 6N23P-EV prices are give or take at the Cryoed price anyway....so why not have them as a fun comparison against the control non-cryoed sent right?!

Fun stuff..... .  Plus, I agree, I would rather burn the Amp in for 200 hours before putting the Cryoed 23P's in or the KT120's I will have....but I need to make sure they are not DOA within a week or two of having them....for peace of mind to shelve them and come back to them much later.....after burn in with Steve's hand selected Tubes.  -S

I hear you...I only play Lorde out on the Living Room Rig. I have her performance from Jool's  Holland, two songs...and another from Serius Sat DVR'd. But now, with ZMA....I will be able to play that too (from CD)...in the Listening Room. I have three copies of Miles Kind of Blue...I get good results with two pair of Speak's in the Listening Room....but need the ZMA for the Gallo 3.1's

Jool's sat in with John Mayer last week....and man can he play Piano... .

Maybe, 8 months from now though, I prefer the KT120 with NOS Sovtek 6922's.  However, I must go with and have fun with the favored 6N23P-EV's from Steve and the Cryoed 6N23P-EV's too.
God knows, just down the road from me Audio Research still favor's the wonderful NOS 6922..... .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/21/13 at 02:14:31

Have you guys heard the new HD remaster of Kind of Blue?  IMHO, it is noticeably better sounding than the Rebook CD (e.g. less compression/brick wall limiting).  I can't compare to the vinyl, because my collection hasn't seen the the light of day in some time, but the latest HD track is the best of the digital files I own.  I just wish I didn't have to buy the same album multiple times...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/21/13 at 03:27:03

That's exactly the one I'm listening to, and it's excellence is exactly why I wish I could turn it up more. There is something in there the 2 watts just isn't getting me - I guess it's the weight I'm missing.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/21/13 at 04:05:29

LR…couldn't agree more…great sounding track, but the 2 watt amp just can't get loud enough.  That said, it is awesome at low volume, which is why I think we appreciate Decware.  We want the SuperZen on steroids!  Can't wait for the Mystery Amp.  I am 3rd in line and parts still haven't been pulled…

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/21/13 at 04:49:23


Awesome Dave! Welcome to the first 5!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by DBC on 12/21/13 at 15:06:21


Quote:
Lonely Raven wrote: That's exactly the one I'm listening to, and it's excellence is exactly why I wish I could turn it up more. There is something in there the 2 watts just isn't getting me - I guess it's the weight I'm missing.


The CKC with HSU Mid Bass Module will provide all the weight you could want from the CKC. Place your Mains where they do Mids & Highs best (Don't worry about the Bass). Connect the MBM to the CKC via speaker level connections and dial in any amount of wonderful Mid-Bass you desire to suite your room and taste.

The sound stage will be much bigger and much more powerful without Maxing out the volume on the CKC.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Charnwood on 12/21/13 at 17:27:34

Hi. I have a Mystery Amp on order too along with a pair of ERRx's. Being in the UK this is something of a gamble so I hope I've done the right thing. My Taboo Mk3 gives me confidence that I have.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/21/13 at 17:56:37

Welcome Charnwood!

Yeah, you did good! I'm really blown away by the Mystery Amp!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/21/13 at 18:04:32

DBC, I love my HSU MBM12 in my Living Room Rig!  I don't have it in the Listening Room...because I find the Room to small. I could not imagine not having it with my Polk SRS SDA 1.2's.

Going with Cryoed' KT120's now too! I have 6N23P-EV cryoed coming.  
(Listening Room: Kimber Select Reference, ZMA & Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference 3.1's.....Room Treatments).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/21/13 at 19:05:33


I'm hoping to get back to reworking the garage today so I can start on my diffuser projects. I'm not sure I have enough wood for a prototype, so I might just make a couple smaller diffusers to start with...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/21/13 at 19:26:56

LR, you're Workin' the Garage sweet!  I have a pair of Klipsch Reference RF-7 II's out in mine!  But, don't want to turn the heat on out there today!

I am with the Living Room RIG, with Stella Artois in hand-CRANKIN' LED ZEPPELIN....Live at the 02 Arena London.

Cheers, Atlantic Records in its heyday...and
Ahmet Ertegün!!!!!!!!!!!!    -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/21/13 at 19:52:45


My garage setup is one of those old Denon CD players with discrete power supplies in a copper chassis that has trouble opening and closing the tray - going into some 100 watt transistor "reference" amp from my Dad's old home studio, into some budget studio monitors that I rebuilt with better tweeters in a crossoverless design, with a waterlogged Klipsch 10" subwoofer. This is my "second system"  ::)

After the Decware amp into Decware speakers with the Maelstrom X 21" sub powered with 2k watts, it's a serious step down. LOL


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/21/13 at 20:09:35

Yup, my garage/patio system (and Living Room System)...makes me appreciate my Decware System's all that much more!  Have a great weekend!  -S

Listening/watching Eric Clapton Crossroads 2010.   Santa is bringing Crossroads 2013 in my Stocking.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 12/21/13 at 20:17:08

LR

      Sounds like a great garage system I guess you really don't have to worry about hurting it with all of the saw dust you'll be running through it soon from the sounds of it. Hope to see what you've come up with when you get one done. For now I just have to be a Mystery amp want ta be at least until I get my house and garage re-roofed this spring. Some times timing in life seems off! I guess I should be glad that the roof didn't end up a surprise after the Mystery amp although I would be able to listen to rain drops keep falling on my head in 3d and plenty of spaciousness. Ha Ha!

Bet your excited! Enjoy that thing I'll be looking forward to hearing about it once you have had time to give a serious listen to it in your setup.



8-)


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 12/25/13 at 22:49:04



Time for another update ;)

Many might think that the Mystery Amp thread from a design perspective ended when the web page went online a couple weeks ago:  https://www.decware.com/newsite/MYSTERY.html

But that's actually not true...  With orders placed but no amplifiers built yet there was plenty of time to second guess yourself.  It's the most difficult test you'll ever have to pass as it continually challenges your subjective likes and dislikes.  Fortunately I do OK in that department because I explicitly trust my ears.  And I'm happy to report there is nothing I would want to change about the way the amp sounds.

Sound, is however only part of the game.  Usability, reliability, ease to build... etc.  Even though I have the first Mystery Amp as the build sample and it has one of my best layouts ever... it can still be improved.  You want everything to be easy to copy since we'll be building a lot of them.  So in that light I began to see a new layout.  The more I stared at the original layout, the more new layout appeared.

Keep in mind, the differences are subtle but just enough to tip the scale towards perfection - the obvious goal.  It looks slightly cleaner because it is, and will therefor be slightly easier to build.



Amps are built in three stages.  The first is assembling the chassis and all the parts that go on it.  The second (shown above) is called the base layout.  It consists of all the main power and ground paths and basically makes up a completed and working power supply.  The third is adding components on the tube sockets to create the audio circuit.

While I was at it I also spent a great deal of time wrestling with what to do about the bias circuit.   I spent so much time (days) getting the original to work the way I wanted it to, and now I'm second guessing it.  Compared to the vast majority of bias circuits I really felt it was a masterpiece of form and function.  It however shared a potentially fatal flaw just like most bias circuits that place the potentiometer in series with the bias voltage.  If the tube draws excessive amounts of grid current it's possible the rating of the potentiometer can be exceeded and cause it to open (fail).  That would remove the negative bias voltage from the grid and let your tube self destruct in a matter of minutes.  While the chances of this happening are only 1 in 1000, I plan to make 1000 of these amps.

So with this in mind, I had to redesign the bias supply from scratch so that the potentiometers were only used to pull voltage to ground for both the supply and the balance.  Sounds simple but it actually wasn't. Nevertheless, now it will be impossible for the condition of the pot or failure of a pot to kill the negative bias voltage.  Instead, it will just let the negative voltage go to max which is enough to completely shut off both tubes at the same time... and that's a big improvement over letting the voltage go to zero since doing so causing the tubes to draw the full current of the power transformer until they melt or the transformer melts or the fuse blows, whichever comes first.  

Anyway, a glimpse into the design process continues...

The amp pictured above is on my bench and nearing completion to become the new sample that everyone will use to build from.  We're going to start building the first production units directly after the holidays.

I can hardly wait to see how well this amp is received.  I'm committed to it.  Even if everyone hated it, we'd do whatever it took to make it great.  I don' think anyone's going to hate it though. ;)

Enjoy the holidays... time to do some listening. 






Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 12/26/13 at 19:32:31

Steve…thanks for the update.  Sounds like this explains the delay in production for the first Mystery amps.  I can’t speak for everyone else, but I am ok waiting for the perfect Mystery amp.    Sounds like you are putting the finishing touches on this beauty.  For those of us in the last 5% of waiting, I suppose this is the excitement that goes along with being early adopters for the new amp.  

Do you expect any of the changes to impact the sound profile of the amplifier?  Happy listening and looking forward to your impressions.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 12/26/13 at 20:14:47

Niiiiiice.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 12/27/13 at 02:27:16


     Looks nice and neat. I would imagine keeping it clean will also aid in any trouble shooting that may need to be done 30 years from now. Looks like a nice simple layout. I know it is my un-educated electronic eye speaking here. I knew there was a reason I should of went into electronics instead of electricity classes years ago. I am envious for all that will be receiving one shortly.
     Steve great explanation about your design philosophy it really is why I plan on owning a Mystery amp in the future. Of course the sweet sound to! Looking forward to hearing every ones impressions of this wonderful amp.  

Sweet stuff here


8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/27/13 at 18:00:32

Steve, thanks for your input/update. I too, can't speak for anyone else...but, when you think it is ready to ship...then it is ready to ship. I know you're making it as fool proof as it can be for a Music Lover Laymen like me.

I so look forward to it being soooo NOT Solid State (not a circuit board in sight)....right out of the gate.....with the headroom I now crave. The seasoning over time, I know will make me turn my head with a smile.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/27/13 at 18:26:09


Steve, any chance that with this slight change of layout, you might be able to fit in an extra set of RCA inputs on a quality switch? Looks like we have people asking about multiple inputs without a preamp!

Or would all this require a new plate cut?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/27/13 at 19:15:22

Okay, I have my Anthony Gallo 3.1 Speakers locked in and my Kimber Select 3035 has some serious hours on it.....providing smooth organic music with my SE84CS (low moderate/SPL). I need the ZMA.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/30/13 at 23:24:30

I just got my sweet order of 6N23P-EV's from Ron at Cryoset. I love my SE84CS & CKC. However, I am wanting the other bowl of cherries/sonic perspective with my ZMA!   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/31/13 at 00:04:56

Stone, have you tried the 23P in the Zen Amp yet?

I test all my input tubes on the Zen amp - it helps me really listen to and weed out the bad ones.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 12/31/13 at 16:13:02

I have not tested them yet. I will soon....this weekend. I am looking  forward to our ZMA's LR bumping up from parts pulled status...next week!   -S

PS-I read the SET Bashing thread....and I certainly appreciate everyone's path to Audio bliss and I learn a lot.

Look at our paths and our upcoming next chapter with the ZMA. I think it is great that you have Steve's Speaks & Wires...and I have conventional Speaks & my Kimber Select Wires....to offer our perspectives. After all, Steve designed the Zen Mystery Amplifier & Zen Mono Blocks to play very well with both Speaker Markets/Preferences.

PS-I need to add the Torii III & IV. ...just read the Creamy Martin Logan Thread.
https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1386981742


....and their is a gentlemen running the Torii III or IV with JenZen's too.... .  He is driving the JenZen's with no problem via III (or IV)...found in: Reply #103 from Steve in this MA Thread.
(Well, I should say he was deciding on the III or should he get the MA...and Steve let him know the scene).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 12/31/13 at 19:11:04


Too bad you're so far away, I'd love to A/B those Kimber with my Styx.

Maybe I'll make a "spare pair" and send them your way to try out and get your thoughts on.

I've always been a big fan of Kimber, I just couldn't afford the sets of cable that I thought really sounded right.




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/02/14 at 02:55:23

My ZMA is on the Build!    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/02/14 at 04:32:40


Awesome, Stone!

Hopefully mine isn't too far behind and we'll be able to compare notes.

I'm in Peoria next week for work, but the following week (probably when my amp will be done) I'm off for a couple days. Hopefully the timing will be right for me to swing by and pick it up from Steve rather than pay the extra for shipping, or wait an extra week till I'm in town for work again.

Or maybe just slip Steve a bottle of Scotch and suddenly I'm #1 on the list.   ;)  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/02/14 at 06:02:30

Don't be messin' with my number one spot LR!  Haaaa!

You know, I did some research tonight on (and on many other occasions the last 2 decades +):
Audio Research...
VSi75
VSi60
VS115
REF75

Rogue Audio...
Zeus Power Amp
Stereo 100 Amp with KT120

Primaluna Dialogue Premium Integrated Amp
(this one looks like a Tinker Toy Set under the hood)

.....and I am just not impressed with the Topology, of this list of Amplifiers....doubling the Power with most of these Amps, over the ZMA, with their Topology and Negative Feedback for incremental 3db in SPL....just leads to: get a Solid State Amp....that is what they most resemble in design and sound (yes, I owned the Primaluna & have listened to the VSi60)!

It is clear to me how much more musical the Decware ZMA will be via Steve's design Topology.  

Establishment garb....makes me chuckle.  I can afford any one of these Amps in this list. I buy Decware.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/02/14 at 13:36:07


Quote:
Establishment garb....makes me chuckle.  I can afford any one of these Amps in this list. I buy Decware.   -S


That's a good sign you (we) are on the right track!


I'm getting itchy for me amp at this point...I was ignoring the build list since Steve's last post, but now I'm getting exited again...I'm thinking I might have to rearrange the Home Theater/Listen Room front end and get better prepped for the ZMA's arrival.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 01/02/14 at 16:46:32


Quote:
.....and I am just not impressed with the Topology, of this list of Amplifiers....doubling the Power with most of these Amps, over the ZMA, with their Topology and Negative Feedback for incremental 3db in SPL....just leads to: get a Solid State Amp....that is what they most resemble in design and sound (yes, I owned the Primaluna & have listened to the VSi60)!


This is also my take when I have looked at the usual alternatives.  I look at their specs and see how they have accomplished the product.  I just don't see any compelling evidence that their design warrants the compromise in sound.  I'll take quality over power every day even though I have also jumped in line for a ZMA.  I feel I will someday be happy I opted for the slightly extra oomph that the ZMA has over the Torii.  The timing was right to make the move now rather than sometime in the future when the price delta will likely be wider.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/02/14 at 16:59:07


Seriously, the ZMA could have been 16 watts and I would have still bought it. I really don't *need* 40 watts, I just need the grunt and harmonics this amp has...the extra headroom is just icing.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/03/14 at 14:11:18


Just checked the build list out of curiosity this morning, and I see all the ZMA after our first two are listed as Winding Transformers.

I'm Guessing either Steve made a change to the design, or simply ran out.

I wonder what kind of delay this will cause, if any. The parts might be ready to go by the time the first two are done...


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/03/14 at 18:35:46

jsm71, succinctly well put.

LR, I wish I was at Decware the rest of this month. How exciting it must be for Steve and the Team to now be building the ZMA in the new year! It is looking good...and it won't be long.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/03/14 at 19:56:32

I guess we're getting soft up here in MN. The Gov' closed schools state wide for Monday. Anyway, great weekend for Playoff Football & Music!
The Green Bay game ought to be a Treat of cold Weather.   -S

....all I want is 70 to 75 degree's in Vegas, the last week of February?
Is that asking to much?!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/03/14 at 20:06:20


I don't mind the cold so much. I do however miss riding the motorcycle. haven't had much saddle time this year due to work.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/06/14 at 03:10:13

I am just being teased by my SE84CS with my Gallo 3.1's. I need the headroom of the ZMA....for the highs I know await. I got a taste of it with the Vincent Hybrid Amp.  However, it leaves class A and goes into Solid State edge pretty quick.... .

I love these Anthony Gallo's!

The Nucleus Reference3 is uniquely equipped to demonstrate the advantages of the leading high resolution formats, DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD. Very few high-end speakers, including the majority
of $10K+ models can approach, much less equal, the Nucleus Reference3’s extended high frequency response, and few offer near omni directional (300 degree) dispersion. For the ultimate in neutrality and transparency, the Nucleus Reference3 operates without a crossover across most of its bandwidth -- from
125 Hz to 50 kHz!
http://www.roundsound.com/nucleus-reference-3-1

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/06/14 at 03:48:27

Further thoughts:
You really can't find another comparable amp in the marketplace with the power setup Steve is using in the ZMA (as you mentioned jsm71).

The Torii's are push pull and I owned a Torii III for 3+ months. I wish I did not sell it...I would have automatically upgraded to the IV. At the time, I was an still am, enamored with the Set Sound of the SE84CS & CKC. You can't beat a single output tube per channel with Steve's Topology for immediacy with Pentodes run in Triode.

However, for the "more kohuna's" and extended high's headroom which I personally miss from the III (read: a little more SPL), I am confident the ZMA will be what I am looking for. Brutal honesty with muscle like a good Solid State Amp WITHOUT the Solid State edge.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/07/14 at 17:32:43

Okay, I will quit wetting my pants over my Anthony Gallo Acoustic Reference 3.1 Speaker's after this post. However, if you can find a pair used like I did for $1500.....they are a steal. They love Tubes...you do need a strapped pair of the Integrated/Rachel, Torii IV or ZMA though.

(Why I got them:  I have a ZMA & IV coming).   -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 01/07/14 at 17:50:11

I second the endorsement of AG Ref 3.1's.  Or actually any of AG's speaks with their CDT tweeter.  Even their little full range "orbs" have a very special sound even without the CDT tweeter.  I have a friend with a pair of the 3.1's.  He used to use big BAT tube mono's to drive them and then had a big PASS stereo amp.  He now uses a ClassDaudio amp to drive them.  I have never taken my Torii to his place to try on his 3.1's... perhaps I should.  I have been a fanboy for ribbon, electrostatic and basically most boxless speakers for years.  The AG 3.1's with the CDT will get you part of the way there.  I had assumed that the Torii's 25 watts would not be enough drive/volume for them at a rated 88db efficiency - but you never know till you try.  I didn't expect the Torii to drive my Martin Logan's either - but it does far better than I ever would have speculated.....

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/07/14 at 18:13:58

maddog07, you and I are in the same camp. CDTII Tweeter on the Gallo's is special. The single driver & high Eff. camp folks need to hear what we're running with Decware. If it was not great...we would not be doing it. I think some can't fathom I'm getting great music out the 3 pair I have found to work well with the SE84CS & CKC.

I would love to hear your Martin Logans with your Torii. I have no worries about either my ZMA coming here soon or Torii IV (coming in 8 to 12 weeks) running the Gallo 3.1's. I am running the Gallo's with my SE84CS, listening to Regina Carter-Motor City Moments, right now....just absolute magic at 78db SPL. Of course, I can't play them louder with this Amp....for obvious reasons.

I look forward to hooking my ZMA up to my he-man rig/Living Room System, Polk SDA SRS 1.2 Speakers as well.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 01/07/14 at 18:51:04

sorry stone... I'm one of those in the "single high efficiency driver, no xover" camp also for pairing with my Torii.  Though the Torii will drive the ML's... the magic of the Torii/Audio Nirvana full-rangers is undeniable and not achievable with the Torii/ML pairing.  I have 6 pairs of speakers in my inventory at the moment(insanity), each of them radically different in design and intended purpose/use.  I don't doubt for a minute that the AG 3.1's and Torii make beautiful music.  The CDT operates with no passive xover components, as do the mid drivers.  And of course the woofers are powered or their 2nd voice coil can be externally powered to extend their low end and also tweak the bass response.  So the no passive xover philosophy to muck up the signal is alive and well in the AG 3.1's.  I think the no xover aspect has as much to do with the magic of full-rangers as their typical high-efficiency does... put the two together and something very special occurs.
But I really can't explain why it has not donned on me to pack up my Torii and try it on my friends 3.1's... other than it might lead to a 7th pair of speakers and/or other equipment juggling... ergh.. now look what you've started!   :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/07/14 at 19:25:40

I know, I'm a trouble maker. You have to do it-bring your Torii over to your friends with the 3.1's! Yeah, I have a 11 pair of Speakers.  I even have a pair of Klipsch RF7 II's in my garage! For the garage (heated)...they are a lot of fun!  

Yes, "The CDT operates with no passive xover components, as do the mid drivers.  And of course the woofers are powered or their 2nd voice coil can be externally powered to extend their low end and also tweak the bass response".

.....this is what appealed to me and they are mint, with boxes and grills.

I did not think my SE84CS would make music with them,...but at 68db SPL to 78 max....because of the design...they do sweetly.  IF you know what you're doing....I don't fry voice coils etc... . What your friend is running the 3.1's with, including the BAT, would not be musical enough for me. I would own a BAT....but Decware is much much better.

Not until some serious burn-in is done, tube rolled with KT120's and my Cryoed 23P's...will the ZMA be taken out to the SDA SRS 1.2's for the fun of it.  I had a Primaluna ultra linear running the 1.2's at 42 per chanel with a mickey mouse power topology it had....it ran them fine...but this Amp had to be returned....for Decware superiority to come in.  I hope soon!  I want my ZMA...it's nice to be in the #1 slot & on the Bench!   Cheers, Stone

PS-I would find the Audio Nirvana full-rangers to bright....where it would sound like solid state for me.  Not enough Texture....just PA sounding for me.  Each to his own. Plus, the lower noise floor and timbre/texture of my Kimber Select 1030 IC & KS3035 Speaker cable is in a whole other league of providing musicality....the Nirvana's could not handle the resolution of these cables. Different paths at different levels for us all. The common denominator are these great Decware Amplifiers.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 01/07/14 at 20:26:11


if there is anything the Audio Nirvana's are not - it is "bright" - they are the antithesis of bright "when" they are driven by a Decware Torii.  I would agree with you mostly about them being a bit lean, when driven by “most” voltage source sand amps that I have tried – for sure as compared to the Torii.  I have not had the opportunity to try very many different tube amps with them yet.  Any current source amp will perform better "to our ears" with the impedance curve of most any high-efficiency full-range driver AN, Lowther or otherwise.
If you have not owned or heard a pair of AN’s in a recommended box/tuning configuration, driven by a Torii... you have no idea what you're speculating about or missing.  They have defied everything I thought I had come to accept as "knowns" in over 30 years of chasing the audio holy grail - again this impression only stands when they are driven by the Torii.  In which case, they present a tonally dense, fluid resolution and realism I have not heard bettered anywhere at any price.  I of course have not heard "everything".  I don't know anybody who has.  But I travel a bit and hit every audio salon along the way I can as well as attending RMAF, CES, Zenfest and a few other "fest" around the country.  I have almost certainly heard more gear than the average audiophile.  That doesn't make me an expert, nor does it make my opinion decisive.  Hearing is an individual perception, and therefore everybody hears differently.  Nobody is right or wrong.  So far, everyone here local who has heard this combo has been dumb founded as well.  Don’t dismiss out of hand based on preconceived notions – that would be huge sonic loss on your part.  The one absolute thing I have learned in many years in this hobby, is not to dismiss components I have not heard with my own ears, despite what I think I know about how they are likely to sound or how questionable their designs might be as compared to my references.  If I had ignored this learning, I would never have found Decware as well as other very satisfying components.
You might also be very surprised to find out who “in the biz” has been evaluating new speaker model concepts utilizing AN drivers ...and endorses them whole heartedly….. an open mind leads to enlightenment.... .

maddog signing off on this topic for now.....


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/07/14 at 20:37:52


Was looking up the AG Reference Series, and realized they have a sub-satallite option that is basically the same thing as the big boys, but without the built in subs...which I'm fine with!

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/gallo14/1.html

Notice the amp pictured on the reviewers PC?



If I don't stumble into a great deal like Stone did, I might just pick up these Strada. If they don't supplant my MG944, I bet they sure would sound good at my main HT speakers...especially since they have a matching Center Channel!  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/07/14 at 20:57:34

md, I have owned Zu Unions & Parker Audio Crusader's=sold. Just not my cup of tea. I have NEVER met a Whizzer Cone I liked. I did hear a pair of Hemp something or Nirvana's or Omega's at Decfest 2008....put in a box/not for me.

Yes, an open mind leads to enlightenment. Steve had the designer and Speaker's of Jan Zen (it spell corrects/so I spaced) in his Listening Room. Steve's Mono's, the ZMA are for the non-Whizzer's of the World.
Beating your drum that single driver is the only way is closed minded.

Furthermore, C5smithjack, over in the Creamy Decware with Martin Logan thread...is not going to stop enjoying his ML's...because you told him Single Driver is the absolute.
https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1386981742

LR, 3.1's are not just subs attached. They are well integrated/seemless to be precise.  NO...mid bass hump here.

However, the Strada's have to be pretty damn good.
I have seen these on his desk from past reviews....and he has had the Torii up on the Screen for some time too...pretty cool.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/08/14 at 03:20:43

I'll just leave this right here:



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 01/08/14 at 03:42:14

I was sitting, listening to Darkside "Psychic" (awesome album btw) and decided to take a brief break.  On the way back I checked the 'real time build list', even though I knew my status was still hanging tight at "winding transformers", and lo and behold the #2 amp in the list is listed as 'Shipping Dept'.  Amazing! Please report back on listening impressions as soon as you wipe that PermaGrin off your face.  On second thought, don't wait, or we may never hear from you...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/08/14 at 06:23:17

Did you pick it up LR? She sure looks pretty awesome!

That reminds me...I better transfer/pay-fortify my Visa.

Mine, is having Gold Inlay put on the Top of those gorgeous NOS Mallory Caps and around my Stepped Attenuator. The Inlay must be the reason yours is done first. I sent a great local Goldsmith on per diem down there. He never did call or email me today? Huh?  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/08/14 at 11:03:56

Congrats!

Needs a good power cord! :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by DPC on 01/08/14 at 11:16:32

SWEET!

It must be nice to be the first to be in possession of the jewel of the fleet.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/08/14 at 11:34:02

Okay, I canceled the Gold Inlay in order to speed shipment up (hehe).

I checked; we still have no manual. I suppose Steve can shove a note in the box where to set the millivolts setting for both the KT66 and KT120.
Plus, the balance control for each channel pair for drift.

IT's all good!  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/08/14 at 13:25:50

I guess I should explain -  ;D

So, the story behind what happened is, IMHO, as important as what happened as Steve and I had another one of our Zen moments that coincided.

So, Monday, I warm up my car and toss in my gear and started on my 150 mile trek down to Peoria for work. About 60 miles down my boss sends me an E-mail saying I can work from home if I want, the weather and the roads were a bit rough...I'm like, so where were you 1.25 hours ago boss! Made it to Peoria and started my work day.






Tuesday, the GM of the hotel I worked at said maybe I should head out early so I'm not skating down the highway in the dark - it was about 2:30pm and I had some paperwork to finish up, I didn't leave till about 3:33pm and for some reason I was suddenly just anxious to just hit the road. I had just hit the highway and was crossing the bridge towards East Peoria when my phone rings in it's dashboard cradle, I hit speaker and I hear "Eric, it's Steve Deckert, can you call the shop line" he said something about my amp being half-done (which didn't sound good and worried me) I'm like "hey Steve, I'm just leaving Peoria, how about I swing by?" He said this was good - I look up, and the exit I need to go to his house is literally right in front of me. I dive down the exit I'm at his place 15 minutes later.



So I walk in, the shop is busy - Rich, Dave, and Steve are all working madly on amps - music is playing in every room - it's kinda crazy, but the one Steve is working on a ZMA that looks pretty well along, it looks like he's installing the big red caps. He hardly looks up, says hi, he thought I might be about ready for my amp - it's clear he's thinking, working, and talking at the same time so I didn't catch some of it - but then he's like "I thought you might like this one" - he flips the base over and I see:








Apparently this is the one in the Build Thread - the one we listened to during Decfest, he just finished the bias mod to protect the tubes if one  blows, and he installed the big red caps which I believe he said were 30 years old and were intended for use in a nuclear power station(!). I asked my question about longevity and Dave said that being basically milspec and good old school caps, they should be good for 30 years if not my lifetime and I shouldn't worry about them.  Steve dresses up the amp with my choice of knobs, gets me my big plastic case and I'm off! It didn't even cost me a bottle of Scotch! :)




It was just getting dark as I left, but I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement. It was just very serendipitous that I did make it down to Peoria this week, that I happened to be leaving when I was, and Steve got the inkling that he wanted to sell #000 - I guess the audio gods whispered in his ear that I might be in the area, or as Steve said "might be ready for it".





We seem to have a few of these Zen synchronizations, and I for one am thankful.

Thanks Steve - this really made my day!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/08/14 at 13:46:46

Great story! Glad you have that one in hand, and enjoy!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/08/14 at 16:32:38

Serendipitous story, is an understatement!

Wow, I am jealous. Your passion for Decware, friendship with Steve and the kind of miles you drive for work?  I am glad you have #0000 in hand!
Enjoy, ......give us early impressions....and most of all....have fun with the best custom built Stereo Amplifier on the Planet.   Cheers, Stone

Note: I added another "0" to the serial #'s. Steve is being modest. I think he will exceed #999.  Yeah, you got away without showing up with that Single Malt Scotch too....as you eluded too...geez!   ;D

PS-when you're ready, get back to us on the bias adjustments & the balance dial-in after warm-up and into Listening.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/08/14 at 18:44:12

Don't expect first impressions from me right away. After the long drive home (road noise and shot nerves) I was in no state for proper listening. Plus I'm having some power issues at home, and I didn't get home till late last night. So I have some things to sort out in the room before I can give the amp a proper chance. And Steve reminded me I need to burn in the "new" caps.

As for bias - it's super simple. Steve said "you can use any tube you want, just don't bias over 65ma as the power transformers won't handle that long term"

To set the Bias

So, you drop the KT66s in, power on - Steve has the "bias window" set so the amp will come on in the ballpark of the tubes we would be using. (this is a great design/safety feature)  Using this image for reference -

https://www.decware.com/newsite/images/DSC_0014big.jpg

The two tiny white knobs behind the voltage regulator tubes are the bias knobs - one for each channel. Dial them in till they are close to 60ma, which is what Steve said is right for the KT66.

Now, say the tubes are pretty damn close right off the bat; you dial the bias in and it comes to 58 on one tube and 62 on the other. You use the bias balance next to the volume knob to sweep them closer or further - in this case closer so they both line up to 60ma. Do the same for the other side.

If you sweep the balance knob full left or full right and can't get the tubes to match, they are out of range and need replacing (or rematching in extreme cases I would assume).

As the tubes warm up you can tweak as needed to keep them on track. After an hour or so, they should have settled and and you can simply leave that setting till next time. Or, you can tweak, tweak, tweak and dial them in as they warm up...but they will eventually end up in that same spot after an hour.

Tubes can and will drift with age - so the bias when the tubes are new will most likely be different as the tubes age, and are aged.

I can dial in my tubes in about 15 seconds - and after 4 hours, they were within .5ma still.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/08/14 at 20:31:19

Thanks Eric. I will be good to go!

In case anyone is wondering, the 0A3's do not get hot or even warm, if I recall correctly with my Torii III. So, this is a great place Steve put the bias knobs for each channel....out of the way and not to be seen or messed with when done with. Of course, the balance knobs per channel are in the perfect spot...where they should be.

Cheers, thanks...hope you get your power issue taken care of ASAP. -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 01/08/14 at 22:59:24

Oops… never said full-rangers were the only way to reach nirvana Stone… and if implied that – that was not my intention either.  If I thought this, I would not have seven completely different types of speakers around the house currently.  I was merely trying to convey that the particular full-rangers I have, in the enclosure size/type that I have them in, driven by a Decware Torii is a very special combination & synergy and makes beautiful music – some of the best I’ve heard.  And that anybody who gets a chance to hear this combo or would be so inclined to DIY experiment for themselves, I highly recommend it.  But there are surely as many paths to sonic bliss as there are stars in the sky....

And I do plan on taking my Torii to my friend’s house to try on his AG 3’s Stone - thanks for putting that bug in my ear!!!  In fact I just talked to him, and found out his AG 3’s are actually the current 3.5’s he tells me.  I never paid close attention to them before – just listened to them.  And I will also be hooking my Torii up to his Avantgarde Duo’s  he just got back while I’m there to boot.!!!!  My covert objective is to get him to want to try some Decware amps with his Duo's...I'm thinking SE84’s would be a perfect match.  I don’t think it will take much convincing once I get the Torii hooked to them, dialed in and warmed to "thermal stability" as Steve likes to say.

LR, super congrats on #000!  I along with a lot of other folks I suspect, are “anxious” (master of understatement), to read your forthcoming review on your experience with your zma.  I listened to the demo zma at Zen for quite a while late sat. all by meself.  I definitely preferred it over the demo IV that was on display.  But I never did get quite settled within my own frame of reference with what I was hearing – I couldn’t quite verbalize, categorize, compare and contrast  with a high degree of certainty and repeatability about what I was hearing.  For me, this kind of cognitive dissonance, when it comes to anything audio, is a sure sign that I needed to spend more time with it… and probably on my own speaks.  As you and I have recently discovered, we tend to think and hear alike when it comes to things audio – so I’m really eager to hear about your zma experience after you've had time to become familiar with it a bit.  Enjoy dude…!!!!  And please don’t make us wait too long…   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/08/14 at 23:41:33


Quote:
For me, this kind of cognitive dissonance, when it comes to anything audio, is a sure sign that I needed to spend more time with it… and probably on my own speaks.  As you and I have recently discovered, we tend to think and hear alike when it comes to things audio – so I’m really eager to hear about your zma experience after you've had time to become familiar with it a bit.  Enjoy dude…!!!!  And please don’t make us wait too long…


I think you nailed it right there...I had trouble describing it and could only say it didn't have *more* detail, but more harmonics to the detail that was there...or something like that. Just the few short minutes with it made me realize I definitely have some things to sort out in my listening room and need much more time to sort out what's going on.




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/09/14 at 00:16:00

Maddog-
The Audio Nirvana's deserve to be listened too. Just as I have and will have, a couple more Amplifiers to Listen to Music with....I should revisit full range driver's again. Just because my experience with  Zu or Parker's was not so favorable...does not mean the AN's, for a lot of or just a fare amount, of what I listen to.....they might be pretty darn good/incredible. ....like you said...you have your other Speakers too....but the AN's you enjoy as well!

Seriously, I am game. In what cabinet choice do you have your 12" Alnico's?     -Stone

Also, way cool, 3.5 Gallo's & Avantgarde Duo's at your friends house! I have always wanted to hear the AD's.....that will be fun with the Torii...even though the AD's might be better suited for SE84's as you mentioned.....but the Torii on them....should be pretty damn good to make him a potential convert to Decware!  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/09/14 at 20:11:22

OK, so I'm itching to say something, even though I really don't have much to say. So I'll just do my usual flow of consciousness writing that I'm sure makes no sense.

So, Tuesday night, I get home, explain to Brianne what happened and why I'm so late, pop the amp out of it's fancy case and let it warm up.

It sounded rough. Like, I just sat there with this sinking feeling in my stomach rough. A couple things happened here - #1 my Zen amp has recently blossomed and probably sounds as good as it can be. #2 I've tweaked the system, the whole room in fact, around the Zen amp - which I think was making the ZMA sound weird dropped in it's place. #3, I'm sick, I'm bushed, I just drove 150 miles in a car with damaged exhaust, white knuckling it over ice and snow - not a good way to do some critical listening. #4, My Decware Silver Reference ICs were acting like antenna and injecting some major noise in the system (e.g. Something in the room, probably power related, is causing havoc with the sound) - so I had to downgrade to...heavily shielded monster cable...ugh.

Wednesday night, terrible day at work, just got back from a visit to the doctors office, I'm tired, I've hardly eaten, only had to drive 80 miles in my loud car today - I come home to find the ZMA on...I ask Brianne if she's been listening and she says "no, I just warmed it up for you"

Yes, she's a keeper.

The amp had 4-5 hours on it with the new caps the previous night, I could already hear it was sounding better. Put 4-5 more hours of background listening while I did other stuff, and by the end of the night, I found myself turning it down lower and lower as the night went on. The amp reminded me of a big horse going from a trot to a gallop and I needed to reign it in - gone with the thin reedy sound from the night before, now it was starting to have some weight and detail!

Still no where as smooth and rich as it was when we demo'd it during Decfest. The big reds clearly need to be "seated in", but I can start to hear the heft that I expected from an amp of this caliber. That sinking feeling is long gone and replaced with excitement for what's coming!

I don't have a lot of experience with amps at this level, and, keep in mind, I'm leaping (through time) from an early 2 watt Zen to the 40 watt ZMA - I don't have a Torii III to compare to. I'm also not one who spends money like this - so I'm going to be super critical of this $4600 expenditure. This beast needs to prove to me it's worth this (to me) extravagant expenditure. Wattage and volume doesn't impress me - I need to hear that liquid honesty. For now, I'll be burning it with the recommended - 5 hours on, 5 hours off, till the amp starts to level out. I feel has a long way till it's bloom. I will do my best to give my (hopefully) humble, and honest thoughts as the amp comes into it's own.





P.S. About the room: I do still have power and noise issues to sort out that weren't really objectionable with the little Zen amp. The ZMA somehow makes me feel like I need a *bigger* room(!), or at very least I need to completely re-position the speakers and listening position...which in turn means adjusting the sound treatments as well.

I'll have more as the thoughts come to me.  


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/09/14 at 23:19:59

Thanks for the early impressions!

It only gets better.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/10/14 at 00:44:08

Lon, speaking of power cords - tell me if you see a great deal on one of the PS Audio ones. I'm using my fancy DIY A/C cable made from Zen Styx cabling, but it's unshielded - I'd like to compare my work to a decent shielded cable so I can see if I can hear a difference and maybe tweak my design.

I beat Brianne home from work tonight, let the amp warm up for about 20 minutes (had to tweak the bias balance on one side, it was off by about .5ma), then woke the amp up with Heart Barracuda (cranked pretty loud), and moved on to Keith Jarret Koln concert (WOT - Wide Open Throttle). I think I drove that too hard, too soon. While it was neat hearing the creak of a door opening in the background (talk about detail in this recording), I think I was pushing it too hard as the Piano started sounding like an electric piano...which is kinda neat actually...because while it wasn't correct, it also wasn't objectionable - those even order harmonics at work, much like a guitar amp going into warm overdrive.

I'm back down at a normal listening level now, just burning the amp in with Bitches Brew and soon moving on to Hendrix thanks to the What's Spinning thread.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/10/14 at 01:29:43


Lonely Raven wrote on 01/10/14 at 00:44:08:
Lon, speaking of power cords - tell me if you see a great deal on one of the PS Audio ones. I'm using my fancy DIY A/C cable made from Zen Styx cabling, but it's unshielded - I'd like to compare my work to a decent shielded cable so I can see if I can hear a difference and maybe tweak my design.



It's a rather lean time for the Perfectwave AC series bargains. A few months ago there were incredible closeout deals. They were blowing out the excellent AC-10 series and also closing out some lengths of AC-12. Right now the best assuredly legit deal I see is for an AC-5, about 40 percent off, at usedcables.com

Unless you can handle a half meter length (and these aren't very flexible) in which case audioadvisor.com has great deals on AC-10.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/10/14 at 01:38:26

Also, as has been reported here on the board, and as I've read elsewhere, Pangea cables offer a great value. One of the engineers that designed the Ps Audio Perfectwave AC series of cables is responsible for these, and the "Signature Edition" of the 9 cable is triple-shielded and has the PCOCC coppper that I believe is partially responsible for the real success of the PS Audio series.

http://www.audioadvisor.com/Pangea-Audio-AC-9SE-Signature-Power-Cable/productinfo/PGAC9SE/#.Us9OA3kTsfE

It's also available in a cheaper edition with different wire (no PCOCC)
http://www.audioadvisor.com/Pangea-Audio-AC-9-Power-Cable/productinfo/PGAC9/2073/#.Us9OvnkTsfE

I haven't heard them, I don't really know how they compare to those that I use, but she likes them.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/10/14 at 01:51:58

Thanks for that, Lon. About $150 I think is my limit for a power cord. I'm even fine with used.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/10/14 at 01:59:24

Well, you had different ideas about an amp before the ZMA as well. ;)

Most of those I posted about are 150 or under.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/10/14 at 02:01:52


Yeah well, I'm also eye-ballin' a used P10 - just need to see what my funds look like and if I'm getting married in 2015 before I start spending stupid money.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/10/14 at 12:07:11

Thanks for your early impressions LR (reply #490).  You know I'm going nuts to receive mine!

Yes, it is a big investment for me too ($4951). I see it as a long term durable good....of SATISFACTION. Not a vacation for 7 to 10 days for two....that is "poof"....gone.  Certainly, a great comparison...not a rationalization.

However, if Steve took on a few investor's and ramped up production in Leased space in the Office Park down the street (capital equipment expenditure is relatively low)....then sold through Distributor's/Retailer's....the ZMA could not be touched for less than $7495.00 + tax.

So, I am grateful to deal with Decware directly for both my ZMA & Torii IV.       8-)   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by marky on 01/10/14 at 13:58:51

This is like a good book ! Cant wait for chapter four, or is it fourteen,
it`s been quite a journey.

Jimi on the MA. He`s like.....,ok lets get E.Ladyland on
and see how this amps cooking.   8-)
Yes jimi in his own studio making his masterpiece and
fortifying  the `how does he do that ` legend.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 01/10/14 at 14:28:18

+1 on the good book.  

Will Raven's monster red caps season so he can experience "liquid honesty?"  How will he overcome that treacherous L shaped room?

Will Stone proclaim the mystery amp the best Decware amp yet?  And can the ZMA maintain Zen sound while shattering the 88db speaker efficiency barrier?

And what about Brianne?  Will she continue to warm Raven's amp as the pizza boxes and Chinese food cartons begin to pile up beside his listening chair?

Inquiring minds want to know. ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/10/14 at 15:02:15

I have a side stitch right now....Palomino! To good!   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 01/10/14 at 15:36:23

Yes, great theatre.  On the more serious side those of us still on the list (I'm way at the bottom) will be soaking in with great interest the nature of the changes as they manifest.  Because this is generation I for this amp there is not yet well documented experiences to reference other than Steve's impressions.  

I for one jumped on the ZMA as a power play only, having non-high-efficient speakers.  My MK IV has settled in nicely and I'm hoping the ZMA will not be short on that magic.

For those who will join the party soon, please continue to share what you are hearing as things burn in.  We all want to know what to expect.  I will be very focused on other MK III or MK IV owner's thoughts and comparisons.

Scott

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/10/14 at 15:59:59

LOL - Palomino knows us all too well me thinks.

I started typing this out earlier, but got pulled away by this work thing...


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't think I'll have much to report for a while. Only put 2-3 hours on the amp last night...I can't keep staying up till 1am listening, then get up at 6am for work.

I swear the amp is even louder today than yesterday. It's smoothing out, but has a long way to go. I should also mention, you guys getting a "tested" amp from Decware probably won't hear the thin reedy sound I got with the new caps, as they literally had 5 minutes of play time before I grabbed the amp and ran; whereas a tested amp I assume Decware puts several hours on it already. I'm probably at the point now where you guys would get it from Steve, with the caps starting to form and amp getting it's heft and speed.

Unfortunately I was unable to play Electric Ladyland as it turns out all my Hendrix discs purchased in the early days of CD are all shot. I'm probably going to have to replace them. (with high def versions?  :D )

I put on some random ambient electronic, dark industrial, and other kinda silky, mellow, droning electronic music and just let it play while I did other things around the house. I'm already hearing the amp closer to what it was during Decfest. As I was doing other things, it kept pulling me back into the sweetspot "just for a minute".

Probably not much to report from this point. The amp is sounding as loud and full as I was expecting now. It didn't flinch when I hit it with some loud rock (which would normally leave my 2 watt Zen amp feeling a bit anemic), and the harmonic distortion when I overdrove the amp during the Koln concert...well, the more I think about that, the more I realize how good this is going to be at reasonable levels. It's those harmonics that I felt set this amp apart from the MK IV at Decfest - and the fact that the amp still sounded good when I wasn't being very nice to it...WOW.

I just need to keep putting in my 4-5 hours a night of "background listening", and get to adjusting the room and dealing with power and RFI issues and let the amp come into it's own. I have no doubt at this point it will get to where those "just a minute in the sweet spot" will turn into whole albums in the chair, then, I'm hoping with my room addressed better, those "out of body" or "turned to stone" experiences that Steve and I have mentioned before will be the norm. The liquid honesty is coming, just not there for a while yet I think.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/10/14 at 16:12:14


I forgot to mention, I set my speakers to *LARGE* (no crossover) in the Oppo settings, and made sure the sub woofer was off during last nights playtime. This amp clearly has the grunt to get my MG944 popping. The cello in the Musica Nuda albums I started the night off with was startling in how present and dynamic it was. So right now, the weight of the amp is outclassing the smoothness.

Going forward, I think I'll be able to dial the big 2000 watt, 21" subwoofer down to a much lower crossover point and let the MG944 do what they are good at.

I'm going to keep everything setup this way for a while as I'm unsure if the 2 watt Zen has fully broken in my MG944. They probably have more in them that I've not tapped yet that will be revealed with the drive of the bigger amp.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/10/14 at 21:37:13

Another note  for those that use the Herbie's Tube Dampers.

It's going to be a *real* tight fit with limited range on the input tubes, and may need some clever angling with the Voltage Regulator tubes.

I'm going to put my order in with Herbie's soon, and thought I'd better test this out - these are my HAL-O III-9 off my Zen amps SV83 tubes I popped on to see if I could make this work. I've not tried the one UltraSonic SS-9 I have, but will tonight and will report back.






You might have more room with EL34 or KT77, I'll see if I can pull some from one of my guitar amps and see what the spacing looks like there.

I don't have anything that currently fits the OA3 tubes, but it looks really close to the big reds.

EDIT To Add:  Yeah, the UltraSonic SS-9 fit fine. Just need to roll it down the tube a bit. And I do believe we have room for adding tube dampers to the Regulator Tubes.




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/11/14 at 15:41:26

Carried over from the What's Spinning thread  - I didn't want some of this ZMA discussion lost in that more quickly moving thread when it could benefit future users more here.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Eric, the sort of difference you are describing between the mysery amp and the Zen amp are just the sort of differences I hear between the modded C amp here in Dad's system and the Toriis I have at home (and more harmonic density and detail yet due to the PS Audio power base I have). So I know how much of a disctinct difference there is and how enjoyable it is.


Thank you for that! I was starting to get worried that I was hyping up the ZMA too much. As you can tell from my first post about it, right out of the box I wasn't exactly gushing - those "fresh" caps were surely holding it back. But what you're saying makes me feel like instead, I'm on the right track.

But now this really makes me question what I thought was good on the old Zen amp! I really think I may have to plug the old Zen in and give it a listen with new perspective.

Taking a quiet morning as I'm still not 100% recovered from being sick this week. Dogs had me up at 8am after listening till 3am last night...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eric, I firmly believe from my own experience that there are a few things the little SET amps do better than any of the others, just as there are things the others do better than they can.

I think there's a "solidity," not sure how else to say it, to the sound with the SETs, an integrated holistic oneness that I think of as being due to the fact that the signal is not split and then amplified. And if you can work within the power limitations you can really get connected deep inside the music, it draws you IN. The larger amps though. . . they can really realistically bring the music TO YOU with scale and rock 'em sock 'em dynamic reality, and with Steve's designs he more and more gets that SET oneness out of the push-pull as well as the scale and drive. (The more I understand about the Mystery Amp the more I see how it is a step even further forward in that regard).

I would advise this: don't put the little guy in yet. Wait a month or so til the Mystery amp is that farther along to blooming. I wonder how much longer those huge caps take to seat and bloom compared to the smaller ones? Your little Zen is so seasoned I would wait until the Mystery is more of all it can be.

Question: is there ANY treble attenuation available at all on the amp? I just can't live without the treble cut circuit any longer. If I were ever to get this amp it would probably only be if there was a treble cut circuit.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Quote:
(The more I understand about the Mystery Amp the more I see how it is a step even further forward in that regard).


I agree with this, and it's part of why I think I leaned more towards the ZMA than the Torii, not that the Torii is any slouch! I just thought this represented something that was familiar, but with more grunt and texture.


Quote:

I would advise this: don't put the little guy in yet. Wait a month or so til the Mystery amp is that farther along to blooming. I wonder how much longer those huge caps take to seat and bloom compared to the smaller ones? Your little Zen is so seasoned I would wait until the Mystery is more of all it can be.


I will hold off, but I'm already hearing the caps seat well. I knew it was on track when I described the amp like a horse going from a trot to a gallop. I also feel it has a long way to go!


Quote:

Question: is there ANY treble attenuation available at all on the amp? I just can't live without the treble cut circuit any longer. If I were ever to get this amp it would probably only be if there was a treble cut circuit.


Steve and I discussed the controls. I think he and I are of the same mind here - the point of the amp, is very K.I.S.S. - I told him I didn't want to futz with settings, I just wanted to connect an amp to a source, and let it do it's job. If it wasn't good straight up, then it probably wasn't the amp I wanted. I like that I can set/check the idle (bias) and just go listen all night. Check it again the next morning and it's still right there, or needs a 5 second tweak. I'm tired of messing/tweaking gear, I want to spend my time listening.

I wouldn't discount or dismiss the ZMA due to not having the treble tweak, if it's not there, it probably simply doesn't need it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/11/14 at 16:51:05

Eric, every one of Steve's amps has needed a treble control for me. I'm very susceptible to treble grain that is on almost every recording I listen to, and I've had my ears checked every few years and I still have very good high frequency hearing and every one of the amps I've owned has needed a treble control for me and my system and room and listening material. So I would need it in order to order the amp. If I can do so in the future I'll check with Steve to see if it can be added. A few years ago he told me he could add it to any of the amps.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mark58 on 01/11/14 at 17:05:19

Lon,  In regards to treble...I think I have the same syndrome as you...my ears/hearing seems to be very good and very sensitive to treble that is too Hot, Edgy or Bright...not sure of the right terms to use...thus all the posts about how to warm things up with various things.  The HD 800s are the biggest problem in this regard and although I'm not a DIY guy I think I'll have to do the MOD on them described in the link I provided elsewhere previously.

The Torii MK IV has treble controls but I haven't played with them much.  When I did they didn't seem to make any dramatic change.  I think I read somewhere here that the controls...Treble and Bass...made larger changes  on the MK III than the MK IV Amps.

I'm hoping when the HR-1s arrive all will be well in terms of treble and warmth...at least for non-headphone listening.  Mark.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/11/14 at 17:44:36


mark58 wrote on 01/11/14 at 17:05:19:
Lon,  In regards to treble...I think I have the same syndrome as you...my ears/hearing seems to be very good and very sensitive to treble that is too Hot, Edgy or Bright...not sure of the right terms to use...thus all the posts about how to warm things up with various things.  The HD 800s are the biggest problem in this regard and although I'm not a DIY guy I think I'll have to do the MOD on them described in the link I provided elsewhere previously.

The Torii MK IV has treble controls but I haven't played with them much.  When I did they didn't seem to make any dramatic change.  I think I read somewhere here that the controls...Treble and Bass...made larger changes  on the MK III than the MK IV Amps.

I'm hoping when the HR-1s arrive all will be well in terms of treble and warmth...at least for non-headphone listening.  Mark.


I think when the bass comes in on the HR-1s you'll be very happy.Takes about a month to really get the tonal balance what it will be.

Yes on the Mk III one can turn the treble way way down. I have it about a third of the way up most of the time. Vary it with material.

I have treble turned down on my guitar amps and my guitars as well. Just the way I (we?) are.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 01/12/14 at 04:44:18

Hi everyone!

Sorry for being gone so long, but it's been insanely busy around here and highly focused so I've been short on time.

LR - I almost feel bad about what you have experienced with your new amp... indeed, these caps are brutal until fully formed and burned in.  Try this.  Remove the power tubes in the amp AND the OA3's.  This will basically remove all load from the power supply.  Then while you are home, let the amp set ON for 24 hours.  Then turn it off, re-tube it, and turn it back on.  let it warm up slowly for the next few hours and then turn it off for an hour.   Then turn it on and let is slowly warm up for another hour, and I think it will all snap together almost as if it were a magic act.  

Also, you need to hang a heavy comforter on the wall over the screen during serious listening, until such a time that you can install a curtain rod and install heavy movie curtains that can be closed when not watching movies.   It's absolutely essential.  Room acoustics are pressure relative.  The 2 watt amp couldn't develop enough energy to piss off your room.  Now things are different.

I am shipping the ZMA's with rare and expensive selected 6N23P-EV gold grid tubes which are highly resolute, focused and silky smooth.  However during the initial burn in process, it is no doubt that  the standard 6N1P-EV would sound better in it's place.

Keep us posted as things progress, and try to get some rest ;)

Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/12/14 at 06:23:13


Quote:
LR - I almost feel bad about what you have experienced with your new amp... indeed, these caps are brutal until fully formed and burned in.  Try this.  Remove the power tubes in the amp AND the OA3's.  This will basically remove all load from the power supply.  Then while you are home, let the amp set ON for 24 hours.  Then turn it off, re-tube it, and turn it back on.  let it warm up slowly for the next few hours and then turn it off for an hour.   Then turn it on and let is slowly warm up for another hour, and I think it will all snap together almost as if it were a magic act.  


No worries Steve, I figured the caps would need forming. I think I'm already past that part with 20+ hours on the amp. It's got some heft and harmonics, I'm just needing to burn it in to get it into that liquid honesty - right now it's a bit dry, but sounding really good.


Quote:
I am shipping the ZMA's with rare and expensive selected 6N23P-EV gold grid tubes which are highly resolute, focused and silky smooth.  However during the initial burn in process, it is no doubt that  the standard 6N1P-EV would sound better in it's place.


I'm still tempted to get some cryo'd 6N23P-EV, but I don't know if they are gold grid ones...


Quote:
Also, you need to hang a heavy comforter on the wall over the screen during serious listening, until such a time that you can install a curtain rod and install heavy movie curtains that can be closed when not watching movies.   It's absolutely essential.  Room acoustics are pressure relative.  The 2 watt amp couldn't develop enough energy to piss off your room.  Now things are different.


Yeah, I was supposed to have my diffusers built by now - I have plans to have some stackable, 1' deep QRD diffusers in the front and on the sides (damn L-shaped room), but work and a bit of laziness has kept me from making any progress in the woodshop. The bigger amp is for sure "exciting the room". The amp sounds good at this point, but the room...not so much, even with all the absorbers and diffusers I have everywhere. I'm listening "off axis" right now while eating dinner, and I see how *not* being in front of the speakers gives you a great perspective as to how things are sounding.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 01/12/14 at 17:11:52

Another trick is to angle the screen so the reflection hits the diffusers on the ceiling.

6N23P-EV are gold grid, yes as are 6N1P-EV.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/12/14 at 23:51:31

I was thinking about making the screen swing upwards a bit, but I'd have to move the french cleat to the top to make that happen. Not an impossibility, just difficult.

I think an easier solution that I'm considering now is is some more sound absorber panels with hangers at the top of them. When I shut the projector down and go to two channel only mode, I would just hang the absorber panels from the screens wood frame - would take about 90 seconds to hang 3-4 panels covering a good portion of the screen.

That will work till I get the time to work on the diffusers.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/13/14 at 07:10:22

Glad to hear Eric, the ZMA has some heft and harmonics...and headed in the right direction.  I have a small and treated room. I will add more treatment and turn the room damn near in to a anechoic chamber...if I need to.   ;D

Looks like 10 hours a day/every day......for a month, is going to be needed with my ZMA.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/13/14 at 16:24:40


Quote:
I will add more treatment and turn the room damn near in to a anechoic chamber...if I need to.   Grin


I know your (half) joking, but, IMHO,  rooms like that sound creepy and unmusical. Unless your measuring speakers and really *need* a dead room, some reflection really helps the 3D image resolve in your room.

I helped setup a home theater and two channel system in a guys basement back in the day (I used to install home theaters here in Chicagoland a loooong time ago). He had exposed pink insulation all around, and super plush carpeting and padding on the floor. While I was envious of the ultra-low noise floor, and how clear the speakers were, it was really unnerving to be in that room without any reflections. Some people who entered actually felt vertigo due to the ears not having a sense of space to relate to the body.

Again, I know you're kidding, just relaying a tid-bit since it was brought up.

I have a calibrated measurement mic showing up this week - I'm going to give my room a good look over, and see what I can do to correct frequency response and better time the reflections. I know Steve is right about the screen between the speakers, and I've played with absorbers leaning in front of it, but it doesn't seem to help much. So my whole room is getting reevaluated. I can't let Palomino have the best imaging in our area!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/13/14 at 18:52:04

14 weeks ago today....I ordered mine. Oct 7th the day after Decfest. The first one........ .   ::)  So, yeah, I hope to get it this week.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/13/14 at 19:59:07

I hope so my friend...I *almost* feel guilty.

Almost.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 01/13/14 at 23:47:35

Does anyone know the maximum current draw for the ZMA?  I thought I read it somewhere but I can't find it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/13/14 at 23:51:46

I'm looking good LR. I'm in Testing on the Build Sheet. Looks like it should go out in a day or two.  No complaints.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/13/14 at 23:54:38

LonelyRaven,
   
      Just think you'll probably be wanting to ad some larger woofers into the system to deliver the goods that this amp will have to offer. The larger woofers will add some looseness to your set up maybe 10"s but probably no larger than 12"s. I am really happy for you to have received the first Mystery amp. I know we will be hearing a lot about it from you over the next few months. Good luck in working out all of the details and getting it tuned into your room.

     Enjoy, This doesn't happen often enough in life to find something so special to be excited about!



8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/14/14 at 00:12:39


Stone,
They ship on Tuesdays. :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/14/14 at 00:23:19


Lon,
    You messing with Stone!


;)


8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/14/14 at 00:27:18

Maybe just a little bit. ;)

I'd rather mess with this Stone.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/14/14 at 00:30:44

Oh Ya!

I get your point.



    :o


8-)


 

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/14/14 at 00:34:54

Ditto on that Stone.

8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/14/14 at 17:40:56

I was looking at the build sheet to see if my Torii was on it yet (1/07), not yet.

However, I noticed the two "Cryo Treatment" Mystery Amps...pretty cool. ....parts cryo'd or tubes....or both?  Steve send them (parts-tubes) out to do this or done in-house?

Inquiring minds, want to know.  :)    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/14/14 at 18:10:25

I noticed that last night as well - since the previous state was "Winding Transformers", I can only assume part of the custom manufacture of those transformers is Cryo treating them to make them play smoother, and with less distortion.

I don't recall Steve saying anything about this anywhere, but seeing as how these are a "cost no object" design it would make sense.



On a completely different topic - I'm curious about the OA3 tubes - aren't there some that glow blue? Or was that a completely different regulator tube?




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 01/14/14 at 19:11:37

LR - blue glowing tubes....

OB3's -

http://web.archive.org/web/20130218185403/https://www.decware.com/newsite/TORII.htm

way down the page on the old Torii MK.III webpage.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/14/14 at 20:39:59

Thanks for that!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/14/14 at 20:48:46

I'd be very surprised if the transformers are cryo'd.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 01/14/14 at 21:17:35


Quote:
I'd be very surprised if the transformers are cryo'd.


so would I... custom wound and potted - yep, but taken to at least -238 degrees Fahrenheit or colder for an extended period - I doubt it.  Possible I suppose, but not likely.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/15/14 at 03:20:13

I'll ask Steve when I talk to him next, what exactly gets Cryo'd


So, another minor update - well, not really, just something that made me smile.

So I come home, and Brianne has the amp powered up for a couple hours already; yeah, still a keeper.

I put on Patricia Barber - Blue Cafe (no subwoofer, just enjoying the grunt of the ZMA) and I check mail and packages and I'm pleasantly surprised to see my Pangea AC 9 SE that was recommended previously.



Nice, fat, garden hose of a cable...kinda intimidating honestly, especially since I thought the 10AWG cable I made was already overkill - but I get the new cable unboxed and ready to install, I go behind the amp and unplug my power cable while the amp is still playing, casually plug in the 1.5M Pangia garden snake into my Isolation transformer, then into the ZMA.

The music never stopped! The caps hold so much power that the music kept going for the 3-4 seconds it took me to seat the new cable! It maybe dimmed a little, but just kept going! Amazing.

So, part two - I'm a real skeptic of power cords. Sure I can typically hear the difference between shielded and unshielded cable, but I've always felt that as long as a power cable does no damage, they will all sound the same. Patricia Barber is still playing while I eat and check up on E-mail and such...and...I'll...be...damned. All the drums sound sharper - from Bass all the way up to Cymbals. The music kept distracting me from what I was doing (usually a really good sign).

It could just be "a good night" for the amp or for my hearing or mood or whatever. So I'll give it a proper A/B test with a friend who's ears I trust, but my initial impression with the Pangea is this has changed for the better! I'm almost a believer!

P.S. Bri said now that I've drank the Kool-Aid, I need to start buying little magic sound bowls and hang crystals in the room to make things sound better. LOL

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/15/14 at 06:50:33






Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/15/14 at 11:36:52

I'm very glad you went for the cord Eric and so glad that results have been favorable. It will get better, too. I'm confident you'll be converted.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by JD on 01/15/14 at 12:29:06

Lonely Raven,

Glad you are enjoying the mystery amp.  It looks like quite the beast.

JD

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/15/14 at 13:10:04


Thanks Guys!

I'm really glad to have found my way back here after a 12 year hiatus. Things turned out very well; but then, that's how it seems to work in the world of Zen, doesn't it?

Iso-Balls and Tube Dampers due in later this week. Lets see if they bump it up a notch as well.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/15/14 at 14:11:28

Prepare to be impressed. Oddly enough, DO what I didn't do for far too long: play around with placment of the Iso-Cups, even in locations that wouldn't seem to work at first. They really change in sound according to placement!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/15/14 at 14:34:36


Quote:
Prepare to be impressed. Oddly enough, DO what I didn't do for far too long: play around with placment of the Iso-Cups, even in locations that wouldn't seem to work at first. They really change in sound according to placement!


That kinda boggles me - I mean, the science makes sense. The iso-cups are acting like a vibration sink/damper, so if you can get the devices in a location of most resonance, you'd get the most improvement. Got that part. But the fact that our gear is this sensitive and that these problems have been plaguing us since...well, since the gear was first invented, and we're only now really addressing this correctly? That's part of what makes me want to cry SNAKE OIL! But the tube dampers on the little Zen amp had such a surprising *sharpening* of the music; I have to at least try to go all out on the ZMA and see what happens.

And I kinda did go all out: Besides the current gen of Iso-Cup/Ball, I also got Tenderfeet for the Oppo player, and a full set of Tube Dampers for the ZMA, even including the Regulator Tubes (which, IMHO I really don't see how this will improve anything, but I'm fine with being wrong), plus I got two Super Sonic Stabilizers that I'm going to try on both the Oppo, and testing on the Transformers or Caps of the ZMA. Again, another device I'm skeptical of, but that's why Steve H has such a great return policy.

In my mind, even if this stuff gives me a 2% improvement, it was worth the cost, and can be transferred to other devices down the line. I still believe that digital audio will explode in the next year or two, so I don't see me sticking with the Oppo forever, but the ZMA is here for the long stretch...or until Steve D comes up with an OTL Amp for me!   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Donnie on 01/15/14 at 15:08:06

I just noticed something in LR's photos, all of the screwheads are pointing in the same direction! That warms my heart.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/15/14 at 15:56:43

The way I look at is that the transparency and accuracy of the Decware amps and preamps and sources allow one to hear these types of improvements with more clarity and certainty. I was the biggest skeptic several decades ago but really have found some fascinating results with stands and footers etc.

I think you'll be really impressed with the changes that these Herbie's products will bring.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/15/14 at 16:43:54

Nice pic's LR.  I think Lon is right, Decware ships on Tuesday's. So, I am hoping next Thursday or Friday...I get my ZMA. It is only a 2 or 3 day UPS ground trip to 23 miles north of Minneapolis from Peoria.

Anyway, I agree with Lon...you will become a convert. You just need a good front end (you do have)....good Amps (you do have)....which have the Transparency resolution to hear the improvements (DECWARE). Yup, a lot of them don't make sense. I just trust my ears.

I purposely used the stock power cord for 8 months on my CKC. Then, put in my 2nd XLO Pro Power Cord (I have the 1st one purchased on my Select). Just one variable at a time....just putting this cord in....the difference is more than subtle.

Oh, I wanted to acknowledge when you swapped cords and the ZMA kept playing. Steve said it stores CLEAN juice like a battery. I think this backs up that statement.    -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/16/14 at 16:49:54


I got my Herbie's shipment last night (along with stuff from my other hobbies that I need to work on as well).

I didn't get any real listening time in last night, just more background listening. I threw all the Herbie's stuff on the ZMA at once, I figured I'd use it all for a few days, then remove it - as that usually gives me a better picture of what it was actually doing - *then* I'll add items one at a time and see what does what.









Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/16/14 at 17:21:51

Glad you got it. As Steve is in Houston and I was in Austin, I used to get stuff the day after I ordered it more often than not. Really neat!

I think you're going to hear the difference and appreciate it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 01/16/14 at 17:45:20

How did you choose which dampers you wanted on each tube type?

cheers,

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/16/14 at 18:24:19


I asked Steve H for recommendations and went with what he suggested.


To save money, I put the Ultrasonic SS on the regulator tubes...I honestly find it hard to believe that vibrations in the regulation tube would affect anything, but I'll give it a try and see.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/16/14 at 19:14:29

Very nice LR, I will revisit this when I'm ready for some Herbie's. Thanks for posting this... .

Good news, I spoke with Sarah about some business and she checked on my ZMA....and Josh should be able to get it out today or tomorrow!
I like her!

My Torii IV has also made the build sheet...with my ZMA in Shipping.
What's not to like?!  Good people and good service.

-S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/17/14 at 20:06:59



Just got off the phone with Steve - I had some questions of my own, and remembered to ask him about the Cryo status on the Amp Build Sheet.

You guys were right, he doesn't have the transformers cryo'd, it's the caps. He says they are specially made, just for this amp! So it's the Jupiter caps that are out for Cryo.

I still think it would be cool to try cryo vs non-cryo output transformers through. :)


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 01/18/14 at 01:27:02

In case anyone else is wondering, Steve told me that the ZMA draws about 150 watts max.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/18/14 at 04:26:32

Damnit, that was the other question I forgot to ask! LOL  I'm so forgetful and I don't like wasting Steve's time, so I'm on and off the phone with him quickly so he can get on to all the other ZMA in the queue.

Thanks for that info.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 01/18/14 at 17:29:13

Yeah, I know what you mean.  He is an Artist and a Master but also a business man.  So I figure he doesn't really mind so long as the information gets out there one way or another.  What he really needs is a clone!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/20/14 at 16:48:01

My ZMA ships today!

I looked up my Super Zen CKC Tracking number (11-14-12)....which took 2 business days to arrive (11-16). So, I expect it Wednesday by 5 pm.

It would have went out on Friday, but genius here, dropped his available credit below what was needed for the Amp. Sarah kindly called and I got it squared away and paid for on Friday....but missed their UPS guy/gal, at 4 pm when I called and took care of.

Anyway, TMI I know. I am just happy to finally get the ZMA. I will report back on Sunday, for those interested, after 3 or 4 days of initial Listening with 30 hours on it.


System for ZMA:

Room is 9' x 11'
Acoustically treated/Michael Greene Room Tunes & Home Brew 18" x 30" open filter panels = 18 of them.
System Tri-configured on floor (no rack) on flat shelves/on full carpeted room/floor underneath-concrete ...Townsend CD Seismic Sync under digital Audio Alchemy components ...XLO Pro Power Cord to ZMA ...Adcom AC-enhancer 515 ...all four components plugged into it...has sequential on off start & shut down

Sony DVD Player as Transport
Illuminati D-60 Digital Coax
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro32 (Set at 20 bit dither)
i2s Prophecy Cryo Digital (sends music 20 bit dither signal separate from clock signal in which it also sends to DAC)
Audio Alchemy v3.0 DAC (dual ladder DACS-w/remote wand volume/adjustable voltage output/driving directly into ZMA)
Kimber Select 1030 interconnect coax/RCA
ZEN MYSTERY AMPLIFIER
Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable
Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference 3.1 Loud Speakers

-Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/20/14 at 17:01:37

Congrats! Looking forward to your enthusiastic impressions.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/20/14 at 22:28:03

You bet, Lon.

Indeed, I now have two tracking numbers in hand (Tubes & Amp). Fortunately, I am only two days ground shipping away. So, getting her in out of the cold and in to my cozy warm Listening Room Wednesday evening...should be the story.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/20/14 at 22:31:43

You know, wouldn't that make an interesting access cable channel show? Audiophiles receiving amps or speakers or sources or cables they've waited weeks or months for and watching them unpack, install, those agonizing first moments of listening full of excitement tinged with worry. . . will this be what they expected? will it be worth the wait and the expense?

Most of the populace would slap their thighs with laughter at those silly nuts and their ridiculous toys. But a select few would watch and think to themselves. . . "I'm not alone."

:D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/21/14 at 00:29:22



Lon, you pretty much described how I see the show Doomsday Preppers. LOL


Had a meet up with Palomino today at his place. Put the ZMA in it's magic box and rolled it into his lair for what I guess is the second meeting of the Chicago Decware Appreciation Society (CDAPS).  ;D  

I mixed up some whiskey old fashioned cocktails  and he played some of his demo tunes to show off his speakers and the sound treatment he's done to his room. I have to say, his room just kills mine - and his DIY speakers sound *fantastic*!

After playing his Rachel we spent the rest of the day listening to my ZMA #000. Without me prompting him, he confirmed just about everything I think about the amp. It's got balls - it's accurate and has nice harmonics - and it's still a bit dry and needs more burning in. The ZMA really made the soundstage/image snap into focus. Really made me feel like this was money well spent!

Also, played half the day without tube dampers, then popped them on for the second half. Palomino felt there was a clear improvement with the dampers - again, pretty much had the same notes I did after a listen. I lent him the HAL-O III dampers off my old Zen amp to see how they work with his Rachel - I hope to hear back about those later this week. So far everyone that has listened to the dampers has herd the sharpening effect they have...and at this point I think they have solidly proved themselves as *not* snake oil.   ;D

A very enjoyable day for the Chicago Decware Appreciation Society (CDAPS) overall!   8-)

Now to work out why my room doesn't sound half as good as his....

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/21/14 at 01:17:05

Sounds like a nice get together.

In fact, it's playing now on Access Channel 12. :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/21/14 at 06:17:14

We can skip Cable Access Lon. ;D

http://www.theconlincompany.com/
Lets take it big time to my girlfriends sister's company!!  8-)    If we test out/she will run by the Exec's at FOX.... .  We were out in LA last May and this was all pretty cool fun.

The GF surprised me with Plane Tic's to Vegas for my birthday coming up. We will go to Gordon Ramsey's Vegas Pub & Grill. I am a bit of foody.

Anyway, the journey continues.
I have had quite a few audio experiences through my Listening Room this past year: Primaluna Dialogue Five Amp, PWT & PWDII, Zu Audio Union, Klipsch (2 pr), NAD M51 DAC, Moon W5.3 SE Amplifier Solid State. Of course, two years ago....I had the Torii III as well, for 3 months. From my experience with the Primaluna & the Moon W5.3 Amp...I think I will like the virtues of the ZMA. However, instead of just 3 months.....it will need a good year of experiences with burn in, to fully grasp...as will my Torii IV.

I look forward to this years chapter's with the ZMA coming Wednesday & Torii IV coming in April... . For Speakers this year? I am considering Omega's, Audio Nirvana or Steve's new ERRx. I first need to enjoy my Anthony Gallo 3.1's that are begging for the ZMA.    Cheers, Stone of Tone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 01/21/14 at 18:21:44

Yes, great CDAPS meeting yesterday.  A firsthand experience with the ZMA in my room with my speakers and my interconnects.  Pretty cool.

Pretty easy setting up the ZMA.  As Raven has said in the past, the biasing seemed pretty easy.  He did adjust once during the 2.5 hour session once the amp had warmed up.

Straight out of the Pelican box, I was feeling pretty good about the sound out of my Rachael.    But once the ZMA warmed up, it pulled away steadily and quite frankly, never looked back.

Yes, more grunt, but I think that is too simplistic a word to describe the ZMA.  The ZMA has more power through the range of frequencies, but its not just louder.  In fact, I was somewhat surprised that it wasn't that much louder than the Rachael.  Instead, I felt that notes were fuller and had more attack and decay because the additional power pushes out that detail.  But the detail from one instrument did not get in the way of the others.  Instead, I felt it had better focus and imaging.  It seems to have "well applied power" that makes for a fuller, more satisfying listening experience.  I can say I felt I was getting everything with the ZMA.  Nothing not presented or held back.

So in terms of "liquid honesty," the honesty part is already there.  You get the whole satisfying truth and nothing but that truth.  But it has a  that new amp sound right now.  If that turns liquid (which I suspect it will in a few months) then it is truly a refined music producing machine.

Again, my frame of reference is a Rachael, so a MKIII or MKIV listener may note more subtle differences.  I can't make the leap to a ZMA anytime soon, but the audition does leave me trying to figure out a way to get closer to that sound.  Running my Rachaels as monos?  A used MkIII?

P.S. we switched power cords without turning the amp off and it barely noticed.  Those caps are monsters.

P.S.S Raven makes a great old fashioned.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/22/14 at 19:22:00

Yeah, you said it so much better than I did, but that's my feelings exactly.


I had my friend Jason over - he's got an original SE84C-A like mine, but completely stock except for new tubes I bought him as a birthday gift 6-7 years ago. He's been my listening buddy for 15+ years and the guy I go to in order to double-check what I think I'm hearing. (though we are in a very subjective field, the scientific method requires that all results get checked by your peers - LOL)

He was pretty harsh on the ZMA, much more than I was. I was expecting him to be blown away, but he really made the ZMA work for it's space on the rack. He confirmed everything Palomino said above, but kept saying how he hopes the high end smooths out as it burns in. I think he's spoiled by the smoothness of our well burned in Zen amps and probably has a sensitivity to treble like some of you here have mentioned. So what I've been calling "dry high end" he just flat out thought was harsh. He was thoroughly impressed with everything else the ZMA did, but said he wanted to hear it again in a few months after I get a few hundred hours on it. Great recordings sounded great, recordings with rough high-end sounded rough to him.

This album is getting a lot of playtime as an excellent and dynamic demo disc by the way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZoQSThtD6s&list=PLC47C58748772D11B





Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/22/14 at 20:20:58

Interesting.

That's exactly the fear I have of moving to an amp without a treble cut circuit. I heard back from Steve about the treble cut circuit on the ZMA:

I'm not positive I can pull off a treble cut on the Mystery Amp, but if I spent enough time on it, I am 95% sure of success.  It might be better to implement it in a preamp or switchbox, that way you would have one no matter what amps you used.

So that's another expense for that and cables, etc. And I need more inputs on the amp as well.  

I'm listening to the clear and dynamic sound of my Torii Mk III right now and remarking "Don't worry my friend, you're not going anywhere."

PS: Your pal has been using the same tubes for six years?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/22/14 at 20:38:46


Quote:
PS: Your pal has been using the same tubes for six years?


Yeah, and the previous set for probably 8 years before that!

I gave him a fresh input tube to try out recently, but I think he just really likes the sounds he's getting so he doesn't want to change anything. His setup is still running well enough that when I gave him a box of my DIY cables, plus Decware Silver Reference, and a Monster...I don't know, something expensive - his notes upon returning the cables were 95% the same as mine on the same cables. So apparently his system is working well enough!

I guess these military tubes have a long life than we give them credit for!



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/22/14 at 20:41:11


Lon, doesn't the MK IV has the treble cut, so maybe that's the amp for you rather than the Mystery amp.

Unless you want to buy a ZMA and let me break it in for you till the treble blossoms.   I figure it should only take about 5 years or so.   ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/22/14 at 20:52:38

Well, I bet he'd get better extension of the frequencies with new tubes at this point. I never really know when it's time for new tubes unless there's distortion or I compare with new tubes.

I see no reason to move to the Mk IV. From reports it's similar, not radically different, and doesn't have the same bass controls as one of my Mk IIIs. . . not worth the money to upgrade and re-season an amp all over again.

If I were unhappy with the Mk III or needed more power I'd have to consider the ZMA or the Monos as only Decware will do. . . . Neither is the case.  I don't have the money that I should spend anyway, and now I don't need to try to sell a lot of things. If the amp were dramatically more amazing I'd be more tempted, but it sounds to me as if the Mk III fits my needs best, and is a bird in hand.

I'm jumping off the temptation wagon. ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/22/14 at 23:53:07

Well, the Eagle has landed!  -ZMA-

Anyway, I spoke with Steve today and complemented him on the beauty of this Amp!  The pictures on the web site and LR's pic's, don't do it justice. Very nice. Furthermore, all screws, fit and finish...are all there. Everything secure and tight.

I called him about the Taps...usually, you have a 4ohm, 8ohm pos. and one neg. I just wanted to make sure they "paired". The inner pair, when standing over the Amp is the 4ohm....outer pair near the RCA input is 8ohm=this is correct. Not to get hung up on....I'll be trying both. The nature of the winding of the Tranny's Steve spoke of... . So, 2 & 2....not 2pos. & 1neg.

Anyway, just two minor quibbles.  I did not get my Stepped Attenuator!
Anywho, I told Steve, I am not sending it back to have it done. I will call Sarah tomorrow and have her credit me. Granted, Steve admits, he likes it, can make things a little warmer with the resistor used in the 20 increment Step Attenuation...but I am fine with the killer transparency of the carbon pot!

However, as we discussed, I want the Stepped Attenuator on my Torii IV coming in April...for the best comparison I can discern...being two different Amplifiers. The 2nd quibble is a little plastic gramut out of the bunch of three that was missing-located between the Left RCA input and the positive 8 ohm Speaker input. Other than that, as I mentioned above....beautiful, beautiful Amplifier. I will square up with Sarah tomorrow about the Attenuator and have her send one of the gramuts too. The ZMA is to sweet...not to be perfect. The Pelican case was killer too. I will seriously use it as a piece of checked Luggage.

Now the sound! Well, let me start by saying, after I hung up the phone with Steve...he is busy I did not want to keep him...I forgot to ask about the biasing?  No online manual yet, but I remembered LR's (Eric's) post about it being set at 60...and how to bias & balance. I reviewed that and got it all dialed in.

I did call back though before I remembered Eric's post...and Sarah misunderstood me a little. I am glad Steve did not call me back. I did blow the fuse when I first turned it on....plugged in the Spare that came with it...and was good to go. I thought it was one of the 0A3's at first or worse, in the way it flashed...but it was fine. Always, check the fuse first before jumping to conclusions.

Anyway, the sound, with all of 3 hours on it! Dynamic, detailed and so not Solid State. However, with 300 hours to go...till it is really there...but right now, I concur with LR & his buddy Jason's assessment.

Cheers, back to the Listening Room...with a Summit Pale Ale.   -Stone



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/23/14 at 01:12:39

Congrats Stone! Enjoy!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/23/14 at 02:01:17

You bet Lon. This Amp is pure fun. But, it needs a long, long burn in for sure... .

Harmonics are there...but overall dry presentation right now. I know, I said in a previous post...I would put 30 hours on it before I would comment.....you know that was not going to happen  ::).

Anyway, .....I will now go for the 30 - 40 hours before I return. LR, I wish Steve kept the blue lights in the Bias/Balance Meter's. I did not see them in yours and I don't have them. He must have decided not to go with....obviously....but he had to go do it/we saw it....when showing us the build/design process....now I want them.  ;D  ....he can't be doing that!   -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/23/14 at 03:25:33

I officially disavow any knowledge of blue LEDs in or around any such devices known heretofore as ZMA, AKA Zen Mystery Amp, AKA the Mystery Amp.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by lLance on 01/23/14 at 18:55:08

I just ordered my mystery amp, upgrading from but not getting rid of a Torii MK3. Anyone else taken this path? I would like hear your thoughts.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 01/23/14 at 19:51:10

I'll be comparing my torii3 to the ZMA when it arrives.

Lately, my Torii is sounding so very good.  It sounds fantastic.  

It's as if the Torii knows the ZMA is coming...and it's on it's best behavior  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 01/23/14 at 20:53:22

heard the Torii  IV, III, ZMA and mono's at zenfest... I'm with you llance... I might see a ZMA in my future... but my Torii3's not going anywhere in the foreseeable future - pure sonic nirvana.  Honest-to-God... I'm afraid to touch anything in my main system these days, it's never sounded better and I'm afraid I'll futz it up!
;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 01/24/14 at 00:13:49

You guys are killing me with this torii III talk. I am buying my ZMA but have never heard any decware product ... perhaps I should have purchased a used mk III first and waited a few years to see how the ZMA reviews came out... argh.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 01/24/14 at 00:29:20

I called Sarah today to check on the status of my Mystery amp (002) and it looks like it's going to be another 2+ weeks to finish the build.  They are waiting on a batch of caps to come in.  I had a funny feeling the last stretch was going to seem like forever...    

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by ski bum on 01/24/14 at 00:35:49

Stellablues-  Don't worry too much, there is enough of a Decware signature common to them all, and it's really tasty.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/24/14 at 16:27:25

I got a Lemon ZMA so far.

It constantly & consistently blows fuses. It was to ship with 6 amp fuses...it came with two fives. I have tried 6 amp fuses as well=still blows the fuse. The Torii uses 5's ....ZMA uses 6's. Obviously, a better final QC checklist needs to take place when you're shelling out 5K.

I spoke with Steve/he recommended the 6's=and I sent an email mid-day yesterday. No response to the email that went directly to Sarah and flagged. So, of course I know she received it.

The ZMA will run periodically, but when you shut it off after a Listening session and turn back on for your next session, it will blow the fuse.

This should have been caught on the test bench...using multiple different outlets! Of course, I trouble shot my whole System and all is working 1st class.  

I will drop another $10 to $15 bucks today on 7 & 8 amp fuses....and see what happens.  ....pissed off-Stone....Amp is extremely truncated and grainy in the highs...and absolutely has no bass...with 14 hours on it. It would have 35 hours on it by now...but it keeps blowing fuses...so it might have other issues too!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/24/14 at 16:37:35

I'm sorry to hear that brother. Sounds like an electronic fault. I'm not sure I would put bigger fuses in it unless Steve recommends it. That sounds like it needs to go back to figure out where the fault is.

I'm pretty sure mine has 5 amp fuse BTW - no popping issues. So something electrical is probably faulty. Maybe one of the caps went bad? Or a regulator tube is shorting?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/24/14 at 17:38:36

Bummer Stone! Not sure I'd do the 7 or 8 amp fuses either. . . but I know how much you wish that would work!

Hope it gets resolved without the amp taking a trip on back.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 01/24/14 at 21:43:10

Actually, the ZMA is spec'd out for a 5 amp fuse... but I told my guys to ship it with a 6 amp just to be safe since the big red caps take a while to fully form.  Sadly they did not, but apparently it wouldn't have made any difference.  It worked well here having never blown a 5 amp fuse during the 12 times it was cycled at various stages of the testing/listening.  I listened to it personally and it was not bass shy or etched.  

The fact that the amp works once you get it going means the turn on surge is what causes the fuse to blow.  Perhaps the freezing temperatures during shipping irritated the caps.  We will see if the the 7 or 8 amp fuse blows.  If they do I recommend getting the amp back here so we can find out why.  You will then have the option to walk away without a restock fee or have us send it back to you repaired and reset the 30 day trial on our dime.  If the 7 or 8 watt fuses do work, I would expect that after 30 days a 5 amp could be installed without further issues.

If you patients holds out just know we always make it right.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/25/14 at 03:16:43

Hey Stone,

      Don't give up on it work through the problems in the end you will be very happy you did I believe and thank yourself for being patient. I hope to have one myself someday. Its not very far from where your at now to Steve's shouldn't take to long to get her back. If it stay's this cold I would probably follow Steve's advice and try to keep on using it and hope Steve's hunch is right. Sorry to see you having all of these problems that's usually my luck in life almost guaranteed.


Good Luck!



8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/25/14 at 04:16:01

Steve, the 7 amp fuse is working! I cycled through the ZMA 6 times with no fuse blow. I apologize for my over reaction. Especially, when I had not tried the 7 amp fuse yet. I will put the 5 amp back in, as you suggested in 30 to 40 days. It seems to be those cold Caps.

I have to say, she is sounding fuller, just waxing and waning like the CKC and III did. I will exercise patients moving forward.

Digger, I usually have pretty good luck. Sometimes though, I engage my mouth before putting my brain in gear.  ::)  -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Greg12 on 01/25/14 at 13:10:35

I would probably have had a little "the sky is falling" moment in your situation too. $5K and the seemingly endless anticipation of getting the amp and all.  Happy it worked out.  Have fun with your new toy.

Greg

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/25/14 at 15:03:35

Stone,
     I understand what your saying. I had an issue with my CSP3+ and have to say kind of panicked do to not having previous dealings with Steve and company. It was a internal problem not obvious from UPS rough handling and Steve found it and made every thing good. I hung in there and worked through the problems and now have full trust in Decware and Steve making things right. I don't blame you for panicking a bit 5 g's isn't spare change that most of us just have laying around its huge for me also. I am so happy I hung in there with my CSP3+. I don't feel I would of ever been satisfied with another product that would of replaced it. I love my CSP3+ and its voicing makes everybody elses equipment sound good so I can't imagine what owning a dedicated Decware amp would do for my listening pleasure. Hopefully someday I can find out.



8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/25/14 at 17:53:37


For those who don't know or haven't seen it, this is the case that Steve ships the Mystery Amp in. It's made by Pelican - it's airline approved for transport of fragile gear and weapons. It's got a pressure valve to balance the internal air pressure when it's in the cargo hold of a plane. They call it nearly indestructible - it's the real deal in gear protection. Yet Steve told me he's had shippers manage to crack them and damage the gear inside!



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/25/14 at 19:01:49

This Pelikan case also ships with the Torii amps. I have one.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Chris K on 01/27/14 at 00:52:42

I have a brief case size Pelican case for my Mac Mini and accessories. They are top flight protection. Only thing you could do I guess is jacket the whole thing with stainless steel armor.

Anyone remember the Samsonite luggage gorilla commercial from the 70's? This is the picture that comes to mind when you say they damaged the amps in these Pelican cases.

Back to your regularly scheduled program. ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/27/14 at 20:53:39

Really minor update ~ 60 hours on the amp.

Trying out some regulator tubes. I've been trying to find some that glow blue, simply for the *blue* - I've got a pile of NOS JAN VR90 I'm testing that all burn purple - I'll keep a pair for myself and sell the rest in the forums for cheap so keep an eye out or ping me if you want/need some.

Was listening to Fleetwood Mac Rumors 24/96 while writing someone who asked me about the Mystery Amp via E-mail, and the music kept distracting me! That's a hugely good sign.

Next morning, was feeling terrible, decided to just chill in my favorite chair and listen to music quietly and let the cold medicine kick in. Was playing the Hackers soundtrack - a disc I've played hundreds of times since it's release in 1995 - and even at low level volumes I was catching sounds that I'd never heard before! How is that friggen possible when I've been listening to the Zen Amp all these years!

The only thing I can figure is that the ZMA reproduces sounds across the whole spectrum evenly and equally; nothing is really overpowering anything else  which I think was the case with the Zen amp. When things got too dynamic, the little Zen amp would trip over itself a bit to get the music out, whereas the ZMA with those big caps has the reserves to push out all frequencies with ease. That, and/or the harmonics - I know I keep bringing this up, but I really feel the harmonics is what sets this amp apart from other tube amps. It just breathes a little bit of life into the recordings, making the reproduction sound more like a live instrument in the room.

More and more happy every day as the amp burns in. Part of me wants to lock it up in a closet blasting at 75% volume for a week straight to speed up the process - but the journey is part of the enjoyment!





Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/27/14 at 20:58:17

I forgot to add - I've got one of these on the way! Found an open box deal too good to pass up!

I'm officially broke for the rest of the year. LOL


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/27/14 at 21:25:35

Lonely Raven,
      Your not broke you are actually in the process of fixing things. Remember the cup is half full. What matters is your living life to its fullest!
Bottom line enjoy the amp I enjoy hearing about it. Were not here for long.



8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/27/14 at 22:02:57

I could not agree more Digger...it is getting shorter all the time.

I had the luxury today to put the 19th through 26th hour today on my ZMA. I am very pleased. I new my front end could handle the honesty of ZMA in 20 bit dither. The DTI Pro32 is key here...with Redbook.

I switched my Galo 3.1's around, where the bass woofer's fire out instead of in towards each other. These being acoustic suspension, this change really locked in/improved the bass. The ZMA has weight. The high's are extending too/coming along very well.  

I had the Amp at 91.5 db SPL peaks today....hovering in the mid 80's db SPL....just magnificent...no clipping or compression. Just shear music! I recently had a 175 watt/channel, Moon Solid State Amp in, that could not compete with this Amp/ZMA! Harmonics, Harmonics & Harmonics = ZMA! You just want to turn it up and up.....no fatique or grain! It is certainly very far from being burned in too.

Lower level and low level Listening is just as impressive ( I, 9 out of 10 Listening Sessions-listen at 68 to 74 or 74 to 82db SPL). There is even more there in detail, than my SE84CS. I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that....but it's happening.

My System for ZMA:

Room is 9' x 11'
Acoustically treated/Michael Greene Room Tunes & Home Brew 18" x 30" open filter panels = 18 of them.
System Tri-configured on floor (no rack) on flat shelves/on full carpeted room/floor underneath-concrete ...Townsend CD Seismic Sync under digital Audio Alchemy components ...XLO Pro Power Cord to ZMA ...Adcom AC-enhancer 515 ...all four components plugged into it...has sequential on off start & shut down

Sony DVD Player as Transport
Illuminati D-60 Digital Coax
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro32 (Set at 20 bit dither)
i2s Prophecy Cryo Digital (sends music 20 bit dither signal separate from clock signal in which it also sends to DAC)
Audio Alchemy v3.0 DAC (dual ladder DACS-w/remote wand volume/adjustable voltage output/driving directly into ZMA)
Kimber Select 1030 interconnect coax/RCA
ZEN MYSTERY AMPLIFIER
Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable
Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference 3.1 Loud Speakers

-Stone


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/27/14 at 22:21:15


Quote:
Harmonics, Harmonics & Harmonics = ZMA! You just want to turn it up and up.....no fatique or grain! It is certainly very far from being burned in too.

Lower level and low level Listening is just as impressive ( I, 9 out of 10 Listening Sessions-listen at 68 to 74 or 74 to 82db SPL). There is even more there in detail, than my SE84CS. I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that....but it's happening.



Sounds like our notes are pretty much the same. I'm glad you got your fuse issue worked out. Hopefully after those caps form, you'll be able to put a normal 5 amp fuse in there. Not that it matters I guess.

Question for you stone, when you power down the amp - do the regulator tubes percolate and do a soft popping through the speakers as they drain the capacitors?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/27/14 at 22:57:59

Hi LR, I get no soft popping as the Amp Powers down or percolating from the 0A3's. However, with powering up/on...the 0A3's percolate quite a bit (with no popping through the Speakers). I DO remember them doing this percolating, as well with my Torii III.

I always turn my volume on the Amp all the way down before shutting off the System. This way, when my Adcom AC-enhancer turns things on in order, from Transport to DAC to Amp/ZMA...I get no "thump" through the Speakers.

Have you noticed how cool temp wise, the outer Tranny's run compared to the warm inside/inner Tranny's?    -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/27/14 at 23:32:52


Actually I've done more than notice...I picked up an IR thermometer and I've been measuring the tube and transformer temperatures regularly. I originally got the IR Thermometer to measure the heat on the little Zen amp as it seemed a bit excessive, but the ZMA showed up the same day the thermometer did, so the little Zen kinda got forgotten! LOl

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0017L9Q9C/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/28/14 at 03:19:24


Raven or Stone?
   
     Have you guys noticed as you have gone thru your share of amps as you have climbed the food chain with them as they become so much more revealing, clear and transparent that you find yourself really cranking them louder and louder without realizing they are as loud as they really are? As my systems have improved I have found it to be a symptom of success within my two current systems one tube and one solid state. Things must be good when all you hear is the music floating around within all of this open black space within it all.
     It is good hearing what these amps are bringing to the table for you guys. I'll be looking forward to hearing more! Looking forward to my opportunity to hear one in person.                          :)



  8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/28/14 at 16:05:06


I get what you're saying, and I have sort of a non-answer. LOL

Yes with the little Zen amp. That's part of why I upgraded, was because I kept wanting just a little bit more. Now with the Mystery Amp, I find I'm turning it down more - not because it's harsh or fatiguing (though too much volume does make me tired of listening), but because it seems to do it's thing at pretty much any volume.

Then, some songs just want to be cranked. LOL

Well see if as the ZMA smooths out, if I find myself turning it up more to peek deeper into the music - or if I'm sated with lower level listening, because, seriously - the amp just does it at all volumes.




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/28/14 at 23:29:39

    Lonely Raven,
    I guess what I was saying about volume is and I really didn't explain it very well was that the volume can be turned up a bit more than I think do to the sound not having any bad or harsh effects that I have had with some of the earlier equipment I have owned over the years. What I have had happen to me is I'll set the volume to where I can start feeling the bass and hear everything so nice thinking I still have it at a volume for my wife and I to still be able to talk and find out it is a bit louder than I thought. Easy to do with transparent sounding equipment.
    It does sound like your having some fun!


8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/28/14 at 23:33:42

I am loving this Amplifier. It is my SE84CS with CKC....sounds like Steve's pentodes in triode...but with Power! No B.S. ...I don't get paid to say these things. I am just a customer....whom is taken aback by the musicality of this Amplifier. Surprised, but not surprised, by Steve working in this fidelity spectrum/envelope of 38 watts/channel.

I put my Polk LS-90's in place of my Gallo's. They are a little more efficient. Did the bass show up? Boy, did it ever and everything else continues to shine. The ZMA is extremely musical with full denseness. I am in my 33rd hour on the Amp, with my most favorite pair (the 90's) of the three that play well with the Zen's & now the ZMA.

These Speakers have been a Gem for low level to moderate level Listening, with the SE84CS by luck, when I got my CS in May of 2001. I have owned the LS-90's new, since February of 1993. ...Never to be sold.

Now, the LS-90's with the ZMA are great at low, moderate....and when you want turn it up! To bad Solid State = not aloud in this Room!  

The bad news is: I'm canceling my Torii IV order.

The good news is: I'm ordering the HR-1! I can't do both in calendar year 2014....but am glad I can swing the HR-1's. I have to get Steve's best to go with my ZMA. Plus, the craftsmanship of Zygi & his Son.  

Cheers, Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/28/14 at 23:49:58

Stone,
      Glad to hear your still liking your Polks with the ZMA. I certainly like my LS 70's for me they are the right size for my room and they can crank when needed. Although they are much better than when they were stock units. 60 watts of tube power is plenty more than I need for sure.   :)

      I'd say my only dislike with tube vs solid state is listening to certain types of rock music. My solid state set up still rules for punch and speed. I'm speaking in behalf of my current equipment setup!



8-)





Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/29/14 at 00:13:08

For sure Digger, my Reference Rig(s) via Decware....and HR-1's to join the Stable in my Listening Room will/and does rule for the most INVOLVEMENT deep into the Music. This is why, we go through the trouble. I can tell the difference in two notes between at least a dozen Alto & Tenor Saxophonists. I want all the tone & texture...Decware delivers!

However, for Rock (mostly all recorded like Sh$t).....my basement Living Room Rig with my Polk SRS SDA 1.2's....will definitely get your YA YA's out! I love old vinyl on this Rig too! I leave my Audiophile Hat in the Listening Room...when I come out to the Living Room Rig for Solid State Mid-Fi, as I also leave my Audiophile Hat at home for Live Concerts (we all know how that can go too).  

http://www.lasareath.com/
Here's a dude with the ones I have.
I need to post some pics's.

Cheers, Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/29/14 at 01:13:07

      Stone, Those Polk's are huge. There was a pair locally for sale a while back and the bells started ringing and than I came back to my senses do to there size and power requirements to make them breath properly. I wasn't sure if I needed such an adrenalin rush anymore in life like I did when I was younger He He!. I'm currently running a custom set of MTM designed speakers with 2 seas 7" woofers and Vifa tweeters with 10" Aura subs running off of a Dayton 900 watt sub amp for the mains in my solid state 2 channel system. I run the Dayton from my McIntosh pre amp along with the Mac power amp. At this point its plenty to get my Ya Ya's out! And your absolutely correct about the S###y recordings but Zeppelin sure can kick some as@@$ when needed.

Keep that ZMA cookin!



8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/29/14 at 04:37:08

Sweet setup Digger...with the Solid State Mac's.

Oh yeah, the 1.2's are 180 pounds each. A Royal pain in the back even with a hand truck. Well worth the effort. If I ever need to rebuild the Xover's...I will take it to Midwest Speaker, 10 miles from me. Polk shelves and sells the original TL Tweeter's (which mine actually have the original 1st year Tweet's)...and of course offers better improved Xover parts now.

I won't Frankenstein Polk these...because of the SDA Function. The great part is I can completely redo them to Polk Spec and protect their resale value. It is not uncommon for these to sell on the Polk Forum...where someone will meet me half way between Mpls & Kansas City for example, pay my gas and hotel to buy them over dinner. However, I am not selling them anytime soon. They do have a cult following for SDA and this model, along with a couple of other good SDA models from 85 through 1991.

I do use the SDA function for all forms of media out in the Living Room: TV (Palladia & AXS too), DVD, Blu-Ray, Sirius Sat Radio, Vinyl on my Pro-Ject Debut Carbon III/modest setup.


Living Room Mid-Fi Rig:

I have a Emotiva XPA-2, 300 watts/ch into 8ohm.
Kimber PK10 Palladian Power Cord to XPA-2...that I bought used (less than 1/2 price)...completely transforms this Amp...I ABA'd to death...and I still scratch my head how this passive Power Cord can do what it does musically for Solid State...

Kimber 8TC to the Polk SDA SRS 1.2's...that kick ARSE'
Rotel 1062 as a preamplifier
Velodyne Sub (I'm not really big on super big bass)...8TC to it as well

I bought a HSU Research MBM 12 that sits behind me/couch. This thing is impressive....the weight it adds between 50 & 120hrtz!

You just reminded me Digger?! I have Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day on my DVR from the O2 Arena....time to go crank it and watch!  

Yes, the ZMA will keep cookin'....Stone very pleased!  


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/29/14 at 23:15:22

Digger, what Tube Amp are you running at 60 watts per channel?

I assume your're following this Thread with interest in how NO Negative Feedback in the push pull ZMA, with no circuit boards, Cryo Jupiter Caps with Tube Regulation can sound/do for your Music?! The ZMA sounds like my SE84CS SET Amp, but with the Power of 125 watts per channel.
This I discerned in its 30th hour! I now have 43 hours on it.

1) It won't be going back.
2) I would own a 75 watt or higher push pull Tube Amp, if it made better music than my ZMA. I have listened to a few in the 8 to 12k range...they sound like Solid State...because of the necessary feedback needed and their being sooooo NOT, Steve's Topology. ...like I said above, SE84CS/CKC....with Power.

I don't blame you for modifying the Polk LS-70. I still remember them compared to the LS-90's/we salesman-did not like them. I sold them at Audio King back in 93'....kinda like an Ultimate Electronics, but with more class.

Anyway, the LS-90's I do have tweeked with necessary large Tiptoe's Spikes under the Speaker's. However, sandwiched between the Tiptoe Cone and the Speaker base, I have 28 lb Vibrapods for each Tiptoe. Night and day Tonal Balance adjustment to the Speaker. Furthermore, for complete Resonance Control, I have 2 Megafeet/Mapleshade Brass Weights on top of each Speaker. You have to be careful with weight on top....not to over do it. End result? ...a great Speaker....that has great driver's....but needed help with the weak enclosure. The LS-70 might not suffer the same issue....with your upgrades to it.

....throw, some good Room Treatment in & Power Treament (you don't need to kill the mosquito with a Sledge Hammar), my Front End & Kimber Select...I have my Nirvana. I also rotate two pair of other Speakers in the Listening Room. I am considering making it 4 pair, with the HR-1 Omni's     -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/29/14 at 23:53:31

Hey Stone, I knew you would be enthused with this amp!

Two things:

1. Don't you think it's better to say the ZMA is tube-regulated rather than -rectified?

2. I think one day you'll be trying out the Decware Monos!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 01/30/14 at 00:07:14

 Stone,
      I'm running a modded Jolida 502 P at 60 watts. This amp is the 6550 power tubed version not the El34 version. My Polk 70's I wasn't impressed with in stock form. I don't suffer with any cabinet problems as you have mention with your 90's. Mostly driver and crossover modifications needed to correct the LS 70's now very nice. There is no longer a speaker buried in a blanket sound to them. I'm running 60 watts at 4 ohms thru these and a pair of Pioneer HPM 100's. The Pioneers weaknesses may lay in the upper ranges where my Polks with the Morel drivers are very strong. The bass in the HPM 100's with 12" drivers are shining on the bottom end. Need to gut the mids and highs on the 100's and just put a low pass in and use them that way would be nice.
          Yes, I am following the ZMA do to my future interest in owning. I like hearing your and Ravens perspectives of these amps and learning more about your backgrounds on sound in order to make assessments of what is being observed in these amps. I have been around live music for a good number of years when I was younger and spent about 5 years in recording and mixing music as a hobby. My days of playing guitar ended some years back do to life changes and time and energy restraints. I do very much appreciate quality sounding equipment even with older ears I'm sure my hearing isn't what it used to be anymore.
          Keep your comments and assessments coming I enjoy reading about them.



8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/31/14 at 19:43:39

Steve, is most certainly in his masterpiece stage of design for his Amplifier's (this/his ZMA). I will not be changing my order to a pair of HR-1's. I can't wait to get the Torii IV. I will figure out a way in the Fall, to purchase the Omni's.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/31/14 at 19:47:10

LOL, and I thought I changed my mind a lot!

I still want a set of radials, but that's put off for a while, especially with the P10 on the way, and a possible wedding next year.




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 01/31/14 at 20:17:40

At this point, I would be happy with just the ZMA in my system!  It's still sitting on the bench waiting for caps to arrive, and then onto QA...  

While waiting, I am putting the finishing touches on my room.  Will send some pics when I get a chance.  

I am glad you guys are enjoying the amp.  Your descriptions are causing me great anticipation.  SuperZen with more power, weight, harmonics, tone and clarity is exactly what I was looking for.  I can't wait to get it onto the rack!  

Cheers and happy listening!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/31/14 at 20:22:56

I did some quick math. I'm putting in about 25 hours a week, so I figure I'll hit that 600 hour mark that's been Guestimated as the breakin point in about 5 months.

The honeymoon period has clearly passed - Going from ground zero (less than 5 minutes burn in at Steve's), to where I am now - it's clearly a whole different/better amp. I'm honestly giddy at the thought of what it's going to be like once it blooms.

At this point I'm sure all you future ZMA guys are going to love this - it's a truly amazing machine.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/31/14 at 21:03:10

Eric you are going to love the sound of the system with the P10. Any further impressions of the power cord?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/31/14 at 21:04:40


stone_of_tone wrote on 01/31/14 at 19:43:39:
Steve, is most certainly in his masterpiece stage of design for his Amplifier's (this/his ZMA). I will not be changing my order to a pair of HR-1's. I can't wait to get the Torii IV. I will figure out a way in the Fall, to purchase the Omni's.   -S


Stone, just place your order for the Omnis now. They won't ship til the fall anyway. :)

Personally, enjoying the amazing sound of my Omnis right now as I type, I think you need these more than a Mk IV. I mean you have great Decware amps arleady. You need their ultimate speakers. You just might retire one of the other pairs you have. No shit.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/31/14 at 21:56:38


Quote:
Eric you are going to love the sound of the system with the P10. Any further impressions of the power cord?


Not really - I've not had time to really evaluate the power cord, Herbie's speaker footers, or the iso-cups and tenderfeet. They are all in place, but I really don't have time to A/B and play around.

The tube dampers however are a clear difference, both in my room, and when I brought the ZMA over to Palomino's house. I loaned him my spares and he's pretty sure he's going to order a set. The sharpening effect they have I liken to nudging a projector that last 2% from focus, to *perfect* focus.

I figure, P10 and dedicated circuits, Herbie's gear all around, and the room treatments - I have a foundation for an amazing system (any system really). The Oppo - ZMA - MG944 should do well in this room long term.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/31/14 at 21:59:37

Cool. I really think the Herbie's stuff (footers and tube dampers) are the icing on the cake after you get the power treatment in hand. I think the P10 is going to make a big impact and after that power cords may make a big impact. I know when I put my Power Plant Premier in I found the sound of every power cord in place to be clearly delineated, sometimes not for the best.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/31/14 at 22:06:20


Quote:
. I know when I put my Power Plant Premier in I found the sound of every power cord in place to be clearly delineated, sometimes not for the best.


I'm kind of worried about that actually. I'm tapped funding wise, and I'm not sure I can afford another $175 power cord that I'll probably need between the P10 and the wall.

Of course, I'll try the Pangea between the P10 and the wall, and my hand braided Zen Styx type wire on the ZMA, and vice versa and see if I can live with that. I might even drop a few bucks and buy some sort of braided shielding or flat copper shielding and re-wrap my Styx type power cable, since PS audio recommends a shielded cable on the P10. Maybe that would help a bit...

I would certainly be happy with Blacker Blacks and sharper focus on top of everything else I have though!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 01/31/14 at 22:22:39

I hear you Lon. I will just straight up order the HR-1's next month. The time table will workout just fine...as you eluded too. I am still getting the Torii IV too....you can find me at 1/06 Larry B.

600 hours?....I know it will get even better LR....but with my Kimber Select 1030 IC & Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cables...it is the SHit....already....I like taking a great Front End....Cabling....and Decware into my 2K to 4k pair of Speaker's (3 pair alternating)....and make them over achieve. Thus, why, the HR-1 Omni's will be the 4th Pair to grace the Listening Room. All else, is in the Living Room Mid-FI Rig....which does not suck to much. However, it is not the Listening Room with Decware & AA, with Kimber Select, obviously.

I should add, the Torii IV is not coming in to decide whether to keep to the ZMA or IV? It is coming in of its variation. For example, I did not upgrade my SE84CS....because you don't mess with stock perfection. I just got a Super Zen CKC too....which has its own perfection too.

Stone.......of Tone............off to Party.  



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/31/14 at 23:45:22

Okay, glad you're going to order the HR-1s. I still don't see why you need a Mk IV with the amps you have, but it's your money to burn! I tried to see why I would need a ZMA with the amps I have and came to the conclusion I don't, I've a great system or two and am holding steady!

I can't wait for you to experience the ZMA a year from now or so!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 01/31/14 at 23:47:06


Lonely Raven wrote on 01/31/14 at 22:06:20:
I'm kind of worried about that actually. I'm tapped funding wise, and I'm not sure I can afford another $175 power cord that I'll probably need between the P10 and the wall.

Of course, I'll try the Pangea between the P10 and the wall, and my hand braided Zen Styx type wire on the ZMA, and vice versa and see if I can live with that. I might even drop a few bucks and buy some sort of braided shielding or flat copper shielding and re-wrap my Styx type power cable, since PS audio recommends a shielded cable on the P10. Maybe that would help a bit...

I would certainly be happy with Blacker Blacks and sharper focus on top of everything else I have though!


Ah don't worry about it! Just put the best cord you have on the P10 for now, and in time you can add power cords to all the components and you'll really reap the benefits. And you'll have great sound in the meantime. I'm really excited that you're getting the P10, I'm anticipating it will be a game changer.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 01/31/14 at 23:55:43


Quote:
I'm really excited that you're getting the P10, I'm anticipating it will be a game changer.


Honesty, you're not even the first person to say that to me today - so I am really looking forward to the PS Audio gear. Paul seems to have philosophies that resonate with me, just as Steve does - so I expect good things to come.

Also considering upgrading my source to a PS Audio DAC in the upcoming years. But that's a ways off for now. I need to focus on what I have, especially the room.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/01/14 at 00:43:05

I know what you mean, it's like someone famous once said

In my experience (and boy have I had fun twisting and gropinga round behind the racks experimenting) putting the best cord on the Power Plant yields benefits for all components, I'd try that first.

Looking forward to hearing your jaw drop. I'll keep a window facing west cracked a little bit.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/01/14 at 01:07:55

Stone, glad to hear you are digging the ZMA already.  I was holding my breath during the fuse episode.

Herbies rings will be my next purchase.  Icing on the cake.

Raven's ZMA is now banned from my house.  It's like some guy stopping by with his 20-something trophy wife in a bikini.  She walks around your listening room winking at you.  Then she blows you a kiss, walks out the door and she's gone.

Seriously, I am looking forward to the next meeting of Rachael and Zen-zilla.  I might even have a shielded power cord you can borrow if I can find some connectors (used them for another cord).  Also, I have my horns with the Zygi driver combo back in.  They go pretty low and I'd love to hear how the ZMA powers them.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/01/14 at 01:12:50


Quote:
Raven's ZMA is now banned from my house.  It's like some guy stopping by with his 20-something trophy wife in a bikini.  She walks around your listening room winking at you.  Then she blows you a kiss, walks out the door and she's gone.


Well, except for the bikini, I pretty much have that going for me with Brianne as well.  :)


Quote:
Seriously, I am looking forward to the next meeting of Rachael and Zen-zilla.  I might even have a shielded power cord you can borrow if I can find some connectors (used them for another cord).  Also, I have my horns with the Zygi driver combo back in.  They go pretty low and I'd love to hear how the ZMA powers them.


I have connectors! I bought a set thinking my Styx style power cable would be good enough and planned on making more, but this Pangea showed me I was wrong.

I like "Zen Zilla" - after out meet, that's kind of the feeling I was getting. It's got some of the classic Zen stuff going on, but on a city crushing scale.  ;D


Quote:
In my experience (and boy have I had fun twisting and gropinga round behind the racks experimenting) putting the best cord on the Power Plant yields benefits for all components, I'd try that first.


Thanks Lon, your experience is always appreciated!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/01/14 at 01:21:32

Zen-zilla! Best laugh I've had all day.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/01/14 at 01:21:44

I already offered you my unsolicited advice about Brianne  ;)

Ok, I'll dig it out.  Its basically the same cord I am using on Rachael.  I made two a year or so ago.  I was also using the unshielded until recently and one day popped in the shielded and haven't gone back.  You can A/B and see if it helps you out.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/01/14 at 01:50:51

Thanks my friend, it's much appreciated!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/02/14 at 17:42:41

I just posted this in the What's Spinning thread - but I wanted to put it here to make sure Steve and crew see it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I just had a moment - I'm not ashamed to admit it, I teared up a bit as I got a bit emotional...over a test CD.

I'm still having some imaging issues in my room, I grab the test disc below (ripped to FLAC) and go through all the phase and soundstage tests...they sound OK at best. Then the music comes on and Vaquero sounds great, I turn it up a little bit...then a little bit more...and soon I'm at 80% on the volume. ZMA is sounding great. The next tunes don't excite me much, and I'm about to either turn it down to background level or off and get some housework done, when I see the Toccata in D-Minor is the last track. I love this piece - it's a classic in Monster Movies, my Mom used to play good portions of it on the piano, and I even transcribed some of it to electric guitar with all the fancy two handed tapping, whammy bar, and special FX that make modern electric guitar so fun.

I guess I was a little unprepared for how good this would sound - I found myself cranking it; ZMA 100% full on, balls out - and I kid you not, I teared up with how beautiful it was. I'm sitting here now all puffy eyed as I type this.

Thank you Steve, this is the amp I've been looking for.




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/02/14 at 20:22:34

LR...sounds like you had a truly Zen experience.  Great music often does the same to me.  

Did you drive the amp into clipping cranked all the way up?  I think I saw mention of the meters bouncing when clipping.

Also, I saw mention in a previous post that the ZMA didn't seem that much louder than Rachel.  I was wondering if you could comment further on this.  I am surprised, but maybe I misunderstood.

Keep your comments/observations/experiences coming.  Hopefully I will have my ZMA soon and will be able to join in.   Cheers!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/03/14 at 00:17:37


When the ZMA was new, it wasn't as loud as I expected. As it aged and the caps broke in, it got louder and I found myself turning it down more. It also takes a while to warm up, so all of that has something to do with volume perception. I've also found it's input sensitive; if it's a loud recording, it really jumps, but on quieter recordings I find myself cranking it due to lower input from my Oppo (I've not measured, but I believe this test CD was on the quieter side).

If it was clipping, I honestly didn't notice, nor did I bother to look at the meters since I was so in the moment. The ZMA clips rather smoothly as well...in one of my previous posts I mentioned where I was cranking Keith Jarrett...and it was clearly clipping, but in a way that made the piano sound like an electric keyboard, not nails on a chalkboard. So I think it's easier to get into clipping and honestly not notice it.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 02/03/14 at 01:38:40

LR,
      By chance while at DecFest did you have the opportunity to hear it hooked up to a CSP3? Just wondering how it would sound with the CSP3 up front may also add a bit more gain to it. I've noticed in posts about the  Mark IV's that it wasn't an added advantage to have a preamp up front so just wondered about the ZMA. Thanks again for all of your input on the ZMA lots of us are curious about your observations of it. You are the trail blazers. I just wish I was in the position to move on one sooner than later.


8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/03/14 at 03:35:02


No, unfortunately not. Besides the fact that with so many people there I was lucky to get 15-20 minutes to myself, I also only listened to the MK IV and Mystery Amp the way I would at home - which is source, to amp, do MG944.

On my last visit to see Steve, I asked about adding a preamp, and Steve simply said "it would make more things listenable" - which I gather means you can smooth out some rough recordings.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/03/14 at 14:36:32

Sorry, I didn't mean to mislead.  We didn't do any volume tests per se.  I thought I put the volume about the same level as were I put Rachael.

Raven, do you remember where we had the ZMA volume at?  Rachael was at 2/3 which is just before clipping.  It will routinely play music at over 104db (according to my meter ap).  I generally listen in the 80db - 90 db range).

For some reason, my black top Rachael is significantly louder than my white top.  I still haven't been able to figure out why.  The only difference is the v-caps in the black top.

Anyway, the ZMA was so much fuller at whatever volume it was at, I didn't care about the volume.  I don't remember fiddling with it much.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/03/14 at 15:18:34

Yeah, I really don't care about volume much either, as long as it's "enough for the recording", which the ZMA has for everything so far (with my MG944)

I don't recall touching the volume knob at all during our meet, and neither of us took measurements, so I can't say either way.

Next time I'll remember to bring my meter - plus my measurement mic, and we can see how accurate our phone db meters are compared to the Radio Shack one I have.

Still no shipping notification on my PS Audio P10 - hopefully I'll have it before the weekend so I can give it a run and start the burn in process.  I still have *no idea* where I'm going to put the beast...I doubt my glass shelving will handle it!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/03/14 at 19:13:29

About 90% of my listening is done at ‘low’ volume.  I am sure I am Preaching to the Choir when I say…there are times when 1) you just want to crank it up 2) the source material has been mastered with minimal/no compression and you want to listen at moderate levels or 3) the recording uses up a good portion of a cd’s dynamic range (e.g. classical) and you want to effectively hear the softer passages and not have the louder passages be compressed/clipped.    

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the SuperZen doesn’t always excel in the above situations (and likely wasn’t designed to), even with moderately efficient speakers.  Part of the reason I purchased the ZMA was because of the additional power.  I hypothesize that the ZMA’s extra power/headroom will provide a more satisfying listening experience at low volume because the amp won’t be anywhere close to clipping, even during ‘loud’ transients.  The additional power will also give more flexibility in the above situations and enable the amp to drive a broader range of speakers (in case I decide the MG944’s won’t be my last pair of speakers).  I am sure the amp clips softly (most tube amps do), but my preference is to avoid clipping altogether.  

In summary, I am most excited about the tone and liquidity of the ZMA, but also very excited about the extra power.  Amazing tone + more power = winning combination.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 02/03/14 at 22:44:36

What should be ZMA#0005 is now "parts pulled".   It's hard not to watch the list every moment.  I already have an outlet timer set aside for "6hours on, 6hour off, repeat" burn in.  Will wire speakers out of phase, facing each other, and let the music play for a long time.  I already know it won't sound as good as my torii3 at first, so I'm tempted to not even compare...But I'm sure curiosity will get the best of me.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 02/03/14 at 23:12:08

Actually, we seem to have one drop out.  The 4th ZMA for Mr. Veerachai of Vietnam has gone from the list!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 02/03/14 at 23:49:35

 Probably shipped its Monday!


:)



      8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 02/03/14 at 23:50:57

I let my MkIV burn in for about 220 hours before bringing it into the main system and it would not have hurt to go more. Though it was fun to listen to before, I think 325-350 may have been the real leveling off area...not any more notable "off" phases, and some nice smoothing and articulation. And wow, you guys have Giant caps for power as well as for coupling.

Dave,

From your comments, I think the Mystery will amaze you compared to the Super Zen. With my Toriis, I really enjoy quieter listening, but if your experience is like mine, you will find yourself listening louder than you might have guessed at times. Aside from the different signature, I am guessing you'll find that pushing some power through those 944 drivers will change your world. They really do respond to the push.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/04/14 at 22:33:38

I have a ways to go...for even 220 hours Will.

I am in my 69th hour on my ZMA! Having the extra headroom at my beckon call...is so sweet. I just finished: Larry Carlton - Deep Into It. I was deep into it! With the LS90's back in, the ZMA is a combination of power, control, subtlety and agility - for sure.

My System for ZMA:

Room is 9' x 11'
Acoustically treated/Michael Greene Room Tunes & Home Brew 18" x 30" open filter panels = 18 of them.
System Tri-configured on floor (no rack) on flat shelves/on full carpeted room/floor underneath-concrete ...Townsend CD Seismic Sync under digital Audio Alchemy components ...XLO Pro Power Cord to ZMA ...Adcom AC-enhancer 515 ...all four components plugged into it...has sequential on off start & shut down

Sony DVD Player as Transport
Illuminati D-60 Digital Coax
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro32 (Set at 20 bit dither)
i2s Prophecy Cryo Digital (sends music 20 bit dither signal separate from clock signal in which it also sends to DAC)
Audio Alchemy v3.0 DAC (dual ladder DACS-w/remote wand volume/adjustable voltage output/driving directly into ZMA)
Kimber Select 1030 interconnect coax/RCA
ZEN MYSTERY AMPLIFIER (3lb Brass Weight on each inside Transformer)
Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable
Polk LS90 Speakers (Resonance Control Megafeet Brass on Top & Spikes/Large Tiptoe's with Vibrapods on Bottom)

-Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 02/05/14 at 05:48:30

Sounds like it is great at 69! Good for you Stone!

Title: Picking up on the Polk LS-90 part of the thread...
Post by Axilarry on 02/05/14 at 09:27:07

This reply is to Stone re mods to LS-90s. Sorry in wrong place, but I'm desperate. Cap blew on one, spooged all over the crossover, tweeter driver is fershlugginer. VRMods too busy, need some help fixing, found this here and I can just tell you know how to upgrade these. Any further detail on what you already wrote, or what the best crossover repair would be, much appreciated!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/05/14 at 15:59:45

Axilarry, go to this Forum:

http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?28-Vintage-Speakers

....very knowledgeable group....with passion for all things Polk.
You will get some excellent advice on how to proceed.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/06/14 at 17:34:24

Dave1210 & SteveC, you're going to love the ZMA!

Lon, a few posts back you mentioned, I don't need the IV. I agree, for now. I ordered the HR-1 guys! I posted in the HR-1 Thread (talking to Lon & Will).

Now, I do have some 0C2 VR Tubes...so I will have to get a Torii MK IV in 2015!   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/06/14 at 17:37:46


So who's the next couple ZMA owners on the list? I've not been following the build sheet since I received mine - I'm looking forward to others thoughts on the amp. Hopefully they won't let what Stone and I have said influence their thoughts on the amp.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/06/14 at 17:48:29

Absolutely LR, I want their gut opinions. I am so glad Steve set me straight with an email...I manned up, got the 7 Amp Fuse in it...and the rest is History. After my momentary lapse of reason...I am glad I did not send the ZMA back an cut my nose off to spite my face.

Here's hoping...Dave1210 & SteveC...whom are communicating with us here...have not much longer of a wait.   Cheers, Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/06/14 at 17:59:16

I should be next.  According to Sarah, the amp is near complete, except for caps (not the Red Nuclear NOS's).  Apparently, it's a cap they order in small batches and it is taking longer than expected to get the reorder in.  Also, the caps are going through a cryo process, and I'm not sure (didn't ask) if the cap supplier is doing the cryo or they are being shipped elsewhere for that.  Last I checked (1/24), they were expecting the caps to take another 2 weeks.  The wait is pretty painful at this point (I think I placed the order Mid Oct), but I'm sure it will be worth it.  

I will definitely be posting thoughts throughout my ZMA journey.  


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/06/14 at 18:11:36

Those caps/cryo are totally worth the wait - let alone the whole amp.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/06/14 at 18:37:07

I'm so glad you did order the HR-1s stone. I mean you have that amazing ZMA. . . why not give it the Steve and Bob flagship speakers to rule over!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/06/14 at 19:22:59

You know it Lon X 2 (Pair).  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 02/06/14 at 20:58:01


Quote:
stone said,
You know it Lon X 2 (Pair).


You guys are killing me ... Back to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 02/06/14 at 22:00:24

Mine is the last of the Mystery amp group on page 1. Aaron B. I ordered Nov 15th so I don't have as much to complain about but I would love the amp to compare to my Pass Labs xa30.5 and start my speaker search.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 02/06/14 at 23:46:23

A watched pot never boils.  So I'm forcing myself to be very "Zen" about this. :)  Zen master on the outside.  Kid on Christmas Eve on the inside.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 02/07/14 at 18:24:37

Mine as of this morning is the very last line on page 1.  I ordered mine in early December.  I'm hoping now that the guys are on a roll, mine will follow up with minimum delay after that big log jam on the middle of the build page. :)

I was the first MK IV shipped and I must say it is sounding real sweet.  If the ZMA can sound that good with the added power, I'll be done.  Wow, how many times have I said THAT??  My wife will say every time I buy something. ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/07/14 at 21:56:02

Cool, jsm71, Stellablues, Dave1210 & SteveC...all onboard.

I am in my 91st hour on my ZMA. Right now, I am making the needles dance with Larry & Lee! No square waves here!

http://www.amazon.com/Larry-Lee-Ritenour-Carlton/dp/B0000001UU

Everyone have a great weekend!   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 02/08/14 at 13:49:30

Larry and Lee are two of my favorites for easy to consume jazz fusion.  They both always bring plenty of punch to the recording and make good demos when you want to show off your system.  I will need to get that album.  I wish they pressed on vinyl though.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/10/14 at 19:39:28

Amp just moved into 'testing' status.  Wishful thinking wants me to believe that Steve secretly burned in the giant Nuclear caps while waiting on the other caps.  Ok, back to reality...  


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/10/14 at 20:08:49

I'm about 150 hours on the ZMA, and 10-15 on the P10 Power Plant - it's starting to level-up again! I played some choral music last night, and for the first time, I could clearly hear the different sections! (rather than one amorphous blob of voices) I think I'm starting to see what the P10 is supposed to be doing! Followed up with some Beatles albums I've not listened to in years. While I didn't have the "I heard things I've never heard before" thing happen, I was clearly hearing some wonderful depth and detail that I didn't have previously.

I still have to work out the buzz issue I have. I spent more time on it last night and got nowhere - was up till 12:30am working on it and up for work at 5:05am. Oppo suggested running a cable without a ground pin - but I'm having this buzz issue even when power isn't applied to the Oppo!

I made some progress on rebuilding my garage/workshop last night as well; so I'm a little bit closer to starting to build my Big Ass Diffusers. when I get back into town, I hope to get further along on the garage and maybe be able to start cutting wood for my prototype diffuser this weekend!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/10/14 at 20:39:54

Now we're talking.

Sorry about the buzz. Hopefully it will be gone soon.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/10/14 at 20:48:44


This buzz is driving me nuts, Lon. I'm really good at dividing and conquering issues. Usually I can narrow it down and come up with a plan in no time, and this one issue is taking me weeks!

I'm really going to have to start swapping components to figure out the exact source, so I can find an exact solution. When I get back home later this week, I think I'm going to swap in my old copper chassis Denon CD player and see if the problem persists.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/10/14 at 21:05:31

I know how it can be. Sounds like a good plan.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 02/12/14 at 20:45:49

For what it's worth the best trouble shooting procedure for noise, hums, buzzes, ticks etc., is to start with the speakers and work backwards.  

Hook the amp to the speakers and plug it in with nothing hooked to it's input jacks.  Let it warm up, and see what you hear.  Whatever you hear is the base noise floor you have to work with.  You can raise or lower this base noise floor somewhat with tubes, but essentially it should be so low that you don't care.  

Then hook the source to the amp while the amp is still on, but the volume is down, and see if anything changes.  If it does, you have three possibilities.  A) cables  B) the source itself  C) ground loop.

Under A) cables - we would also include the following scenario;  Unshielded interconnects picking up a square wave being broadcast through the air from a solid state module in todays light dimmers.  This would cause a buzzing sound.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 02/12/14 at 22:26:03

Getting ready to ship number 3 today!  Since this one has the XLR option I wanted to spend a night listening to the RCA inputs and then a second night listening to the balanced inputs.  To test the balanced inputs we hooked up the Otari 1/2 track mastering machine directly to the amplifier and spent the night listening to a master tape of Robert Plant from 1974 that I happen to own.  To describe the sound in less than a few pages would be nearly impossible, but I think I can do it with two pictures... let me see if I can find what I need and put it in my next post.  Meanwhile, let's just say... wow!



I've always said this is the only way to hear how good a Decware amplifier really is.... I was right.

Steve :)


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/12/14 at 22:38:25


Steve, I sent this to you in E-mail, but wasn't sure if you got it -

Here is the shop that rents reel to reel tapes - they also have upgrades for Otari and some other machines.

http://www.tapeproject.com/

There was another group renting out masters, or 1 generation away from masters, but I can't find them anymore, I think they dried up.

Also, Stone of Tone says he's having what sounds like the same buzzing issue I am with the ZMA - I'm going to do more testing tonight if I get out of work at a reasonable hour...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 02/12/14 at 22:40:01

Yes, I found a picture that accurately communicates what the master tape sounds like in a side by side comparison with the DAC.



Not only are all the leaves missing on the digital copy, but the ambient environment is much drier and much cooler and it's not even the same frikin tree!  That's because digital copies are always manipulated by the mastering engineer.  To resist manipulating it would be like taking a crap without wiping your ass...  Very few people could pull that off without side effects.  

Steve  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/12/14 at 23:18:48

Those are cool trees.

And I just discovered why an engineer I know smells so bad.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/12/14 at 23:35:51

Steve, that is so cool!  XLR and a 1974 Master you own of Robert Plant.  Wow. Where is my Star Trek Transporter!

Well, I did what you said and all is well. I disconnected the IC's this time with all of the front end off. Just the Amp on, connected to the Speaker's...the ZMA is quiet. Add the IC's back into it...and I have an antenna... . So, I moved the power supplies of my DTI-Pro32 & DAC...and that lowered the buzz! Definitely, not a ground loop/obviously. The little buzz that it does do...is not effecting the fidelity of the Amp and my music running through it.

Now, I could go to a more shielded IC. Hell no, my Kimber 1030 with Kimber 3035 is to musical with the ZMA, SE84CS & CKC and Loud Speakers I like to use...for me to do that. With the SE84CS & CKC all is dead quiet.

Well gents, the Listening Room is all TUBE, with three Decware Amps & two pair of Speakers I like with all three Amps.

The Gallo 3.1's, have been moved to the bedroom system with my Anedio D2 DAC and Solid State Amp. They do better service in that capacity...and worth keeping.   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by lLance on 02/13/14 at 00:02:13

Steve, I ordered my ZMA with the balanced option. What do you think between the RCA and the XLR? Any sound difference?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/13/14 at 00:04:19

Great news stone.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by DBC on 02/13/14 at 01:11:40


Quote:
stone_of_tone wrote:  So, I moved the power supplies of my DTI-Pro32 & DAC...and that lowered the buzz! Definitely, not a ground loop/obviously. The little buzz that it does do...is not effecting the fidelity of the Amp and my music running through it.


Just a little food for thought based on what happened to me. In my case the "little buzz" was in the 60 Hz region due to a grounding problem. For almost a year I put up with it thinking it might just be normal.

During this time frame I was using an HSU Mid Bass Module and it produced very good bass through the 50 to 150 Hz range it was designed for. I had the MBM volume knob set at about the 10 O'clock position. Any higher and the Bass would start to get a bit boomy.

Finally one night I decided once again to try and root out the source of the "little buzz". Turns out I found the problem and the "little buzz" was completely gone, my system was dead silent. On top of that I was able to increase the MBM volume knob from 10 O'clock to 1 O'clock and it was wonderful, closest thing to live bass I have ever had in a living space. No boomy tendency at all.

In retrospect I think the actual noise floor of the amp is below what is audible. Only the 60 Hz "little buzz" was audible, an abrupt peak on the noise floor. Then when amplifying a music signal anything in that 60 Hz region rides on top of that peak creating a boomy effect to the ear (similar to a room induced peak) if the Mid Bass Module volume setting were too high.

Point being the "little buzz" may prevent you from getting the most out of your Sub and or Mid Bass Module as it did in my case?


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/13/14 at 14:31:22

I have my MBM 12 out in my Living Room System. I could not be without it, out there. I thank you DBC, for turning me on to this great device...Mid Bass Sub!

My Listening Room is only 9' x 11' and I get enough low end & mid bass from my main Speakers. Of course, my Room Treatment makes the Room sound like a much bigger space.

The strange thing is; my SE84CS & Super Zen CKC run dead quiet. I have so minimized the slight hum with the ZMA...it no longer concerns me. I can hear a mouse piddle on a cotton ball in the back of the Studio & all is extremely musically maintained (thanks Steve for a great AMP/ZMA).

My next move is bringing a pair of LSiM707 Speakers in for audition (the ZMA should be able to pull them off/if not, I will ship them back):

http://www.tonepublications.com/review/polk-audio-lsim707-loudspeaker/




My System for ZMA:

Dedicated Listening Room is 9' x 11'

Acoustically treated/Michael Green Room Tunes
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

& Home Brew 20" x 30" open filter panels = 18 of them.
System Tri-configured on floor (no rack) on flat shelves/on full carpeted room/floor underneath-concrete ...Townsend CD Seismic Sync under digital Audio Alchemy components ...Pangea AC-9SE Power Cord to ZMA ...Adcom AC-enhancer 515 ...all four components plugged into it...has sequential on off start & shut down~

Sony DVD Player as Transport
Illuminati D-60 Digital Coax/BNC
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro32 (Set at 20 bit dither & sometimes 22 bit)
i2s Prophecy Cryo Digital (sends jitter reduced music 20 bit dither signal separate from clock signal in which it also sends to DAC)
Audio Alchemy v3.0 DAC (dual ladder DACS-w/remote wand volume/adjustable voltage output/driving directly into ZMA)
Kimber Select 1030 Interconnect RCA
ZEN MYSTERY AMPLIFIER (3lb Brass Weight on each inside Transformer)
Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable
Polk LS90 Speakers (Resonance Control Megafeet Brass on Top & Spikes/Large Tiptoe's with Vibrapods on Bottom)

-Stone (I just added the Pangea....Stone Like!)

*PS-ALL components in the Listening Room, including my Decware Torii III/sold, SE84CS & CKC = were purchased new.

Yes, I have owned the Audio Alchemy Digital new, since 1995 & the LS 90's new since 1993. NO Redbook front end under 6K has beat my Audio Alchemy front end (I have had in-quite a few/and recently). The only thing I have found that can....is a 6K Esoteric Player.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 02/14/14 at 02:56:09

my ZMA is now 'on the bench' ... woohoo!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 02/14/14 at 04:39:13

We have been spending a great deal of time dialing in our digital system using my highly modified Acoustat Monitor's - which are direct-coupled full-range electrostatics with a 20Hz to 20kHz response and the effective cone area of eight 15 inch woofers per side but with only the total mass of a single 1 inch soft dome tweeter per side ...to get some impressive sound.  Each speaker has a bias voltage of 5000 volts.  There is no hum. 

So far, the only real competitor is the Torii Mono's or the Mystery Amp using either the DM945's in the companion cabinets or the HR-1's. Despite the overwhelmingly impossible odds, the Mystery amp has now on more than 6 occasions kicked the Acoustat's ass using the DM945's. in the companion cabinets. [u]Impossibly the density of sound in the room on the Mystery amp / 945 combo which is one 8 inch driver per side sounded like 5 speakers per channel vs., the electrostatics with their own amps and some 30 times the cone area which sounded like half as much speaker.

It happened again tonight... but the real discovery turns out to be the balanced input transformer.   Using the balanced outputs from the tape machine into a Mystery amp without balanced inputs just didn't have the same magic.  It sounded perhaps half as good.  This of course would not be the case with single ended sources like your typical DAC or CD player, but from this balanced tape machine there was no comparison between the two ZMA's, one balanced, one not.   We created a magic the other night with the balanced Mystery amp and the 945's that we can not re-create with anything else.   It's so good, we had no idea.

So unbalanced the Mystery Amp / DM945 combo is equal to the Acoustats but balanced the Mystery Amp was perhaps twice as good...  Could the shimmer of a great input transformer make this much difference?  Apparently so...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 02/14/14 at 04:53:04

Steve.... I asked the question months ago if I should get the balanced option.. and everyone said no, don't do it, just a waste.

and then today my mystery is 'on the bench' and you come out with this..

anyway to add the balanced output option at this point? will this find the same improvement with my balanced xlr dac output...

need advice asap.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/14/14 at 11:06:10

Amigo, if you need advice ASAP: give Steve or Sarah a call. Whether he'll see a post in time is risky. . . .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/14/14 at 13:06:41

Sarah said my amp hasn't shipped yet because they are still waiting on Pelican cases.  I think it's REALLY because Steve and team are still listening to master tapes on the ZMA/R2R combo.   :)  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/14/14 at 14:50:42

In general, I am not a huge fan of blanket statements.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of them tossed around in the audio world.  Single ended is better, balanced is better.  Better on what gear?  Did they experiment with my gear?  

Also, I don’t know what my listening room setup will be 5 years from now.  Maybe I’ll have the ZMA sitting between the two speakers and my front end in a different room.  Would I want to have a long run of RCA or XLR?  

I don’t currently have a pre-amp (I guess you could argue the PW DAC is a pre-amp/DAC), but I may get one in the future.  There are plenty of pre’s that are truly balanced designs.  Would the XLR outputs/inputs sound better?  Maybe, maybe not, but at least you would have the option to try both.  

So, my thinking on the balanced option was--I’ll try both and decide for myself.  Plus, experimentation is half the fun with this hobby.  

StellaBlues…I agree with Lon.  Best thing to do is call Steve first thing this morning if you want to discuss further or make a change.

Cheers.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/14/14 at 16:12:45

So, is both balanced and single-ended outputs available for this amp both on one amp?  I thought not. . . .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/14/14 at 17:04:11

The ZMA is blowing my mind this morning! At the 124 hour mark here now...and I'm at 86db with 93db SPL peaks....and just loving the density, speed & power of this AMP!  No hyperbole, just LIQUID MUSIC!

I am going to need a can opener to pry myself out of my chair, hit the shower and go get Steaks & Salmon for my Sue Marie on the grill tonight. The steaks & salmon on the grill/not her....hehe.

Cheers, Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/14/14 at 17:06:19


Yeah, I noticed the ZMA really warming up and wowing me around the 100-125 mark as well.

I'm still putting on about 25 hours a week with mixed music and TV/Movie watching. So I'm at about 150 now, give or take a little.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/14/14 at 17:28:28

Lon...you can get both balanced and unbalanced inputs on the ZMA, you just can't use them both at the same time.  Not sure if that is what you are asking...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/14/14 at 18:54:40

Cool! I thought you could only get one or the other.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/14/14 at 19:26:36

LR, I am going to use restraint and not put in KT120's until my ZMA has 300 hours on it. I also have ...23p Cryoset pre's & NOS RCA 0A3's. All in good time...all in good time.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/14/14 at 20:06:11


I'm looking forward to your thoughts on all those tubes. I'm just going to keep trucking with what I have.

Speaking of which, I don't see the Super Cryo 23P on the page anymore.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 02/14/14 at 20:30:55

the 23p is currently available only on the "regular" cryo preamp tubes page... not available in "Super" cryo version at the moment. (I shared this info with you a few days ago LR)  
here is the regular cryo version --> http://www.cryoset.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21_24&products_id=243&osCsid=16425415cc2f68a993098e61e59a93bd
But given my understanding from Ron at cryoset about what makes his "super" cryo'd tubes "super", I bet he can make you some - if you ask.......

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/14/14 at 20:51:25


I thought I remembered someone bringing them up recently.  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/17/14 at 15:31:18

Stuck home this morning, so why not make the most of it.

The ZMA is Blooming its Brains out! I truly love this Amp!

The Pangea AC-9SE is a worth while upgrade. Music is more relaxed without loss of speed or detail. It replaced a very good XLO Pro Power Cord, which provides more than a subtle difference from the stock cord that comes with and I have used for years. I also took the brass weights off the two inside tranny's...not needed.

Well, some work and then time to Snow Blow.....I really need to downsize and find an affordable inlet beach house in the St. James Florida area.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/17/14 at 16:02:44

I guess I should do a small update as well.

~175 hours on the ZMA

Brought it over to Palomino's house for the 3rd meeting of the Chicago Decware Audio Enthusiasts (or whatever the hell he called us LOL).

Last time I brought the amp over to Palomino's listening room, it only had 25 hours on it and Palomino's Rachel sounded scary good - the ZMA sounded better after an hour of warming up, and as he said "never looked back" from that point.

This time, the ZMA smoked his really excellent sounding Rachel right from the get go, no contest, not even in the same league. Listening to the Rachel by itself is awesome, but having an amp like the Mystery amp in the same room simply made the Rachel sound anemic.

We did a lot of A/B testing with the limited gear we have, and our notes were exactly the same all throughout - here are some highlights:

#1 My MG944 are *way better* than I realized. The room treatments that Palomino is constantly adding and adjusting in his room, plus his excellent sounding Rachel proved that. I'd say their only drawback is that they are a bit beamy and very room dependent - if the room isn't balanced, and your head isn't in a vice at the sweet spot, your imaging will be off. His room sounds so good, we were hearing imaging off by inches due to something in the room. (the room was that good and the sound that detailed!)

#2 I knew this already, but it still shocks me when you listen to a well treated room - the quality of sound in his his room, before/after room treatment, is on the same level as the difference between the Rachel and the Mystery amp - his room treatments were as big of an improvement to his *existing* gear, as dropping $4600 on the ZMA! Keep in mind, he's got less invested in his *whole setup* room treatments and all, than I paid for the ZMA alone! The room and room treatments are that good, and that important.

#3  The Mystery amp in a well treated room, is truly amazing. We both agreed, this was the first amp we've ever heard, that truly gets Piano right. We also heard guitars in recordings, that sounded *live*, like they were right there in the room with us. I've said this in almost every post about the ZMA, the dynamics and harmonics - this amp makes the music truly come alive.

#4 The PS Audio P10 power plant easily added 25% quality improvement to Palomino's setup. I completely agree with Steve now, that with the big caps on the ZMA, a Power Regenerator is *less* necessary, but on the Rachel it brought it up to another level. I still firmly believe the Power Regenerator makes an improvement to the ZMA, just not as drastic as what we heard with the Rachel. I can now see why you guys say these things are game changers. While we agreed that it was a 25% (huge!) improvement on the Rachel, I think it was more like a 5% improvement on the ZMA. But at this level of quality, every percent counts!

Side note: when I got home I put my little 2 watt Zen amp on the P10, and *wow*, that was like buying a new amp! It even sounded louder! Zero regrets on the expenditure of the P10 now - I'm very happy with it!

Lastly, the negative - part of our audio play date was to help me suss out the buzz issue I'm having between the Oppo and the ZMA - we easily recreated the issue, and basically ran through all the elimination tests I did at my house - I do have *two* different buzzes - #1 being the ICs picking up noise like antenna, which with proper equipment and cabling layout is minor and almost inaudible at the listening position (even in Palomino's small room). #2 The buzz between the Oppo and ZMA, it's there, no doubt about it - as soon as you plug in the ICs, BZZZZZZ, goes up and down with the volume control.

But, as soon as we plugged in the Rachel, it's *dead quiet*. All things being equal, only change was the Rachel, dead quiet. In fact, it was so quiet, I actually said "is it on?".

I'm in Peoria today for work, but there is a big storm rolling in - I'm going to call Steve and see if I can swing by tonight with the ZMA and Oppo and see if we can figure out what's going on. I *really* like the Oppo, it does just about everything I need it to, and I really can't afford to replace it. So I'm going to see what Steve can do to help out. Right now my worst fear is that there is something off about the Oppo's design that will be inherent in any Oppo I get - I don't want to get rid of it, so I'm hoping we find a solution. I *need* to get the dead quiet I heard coming from the Rachel.

Calling Steve now to setup an appointment.   :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/17/14 at 16:12:07

Well, you're closer to getting the buzz gone! I hope that you can get some insight and cure from Steve.

As for the P10, I'm so glad you got to hear what it can do. Even if it is only improving the ZMA 5%, it is doing more than that for your other components.

It's nice that you and Palamino have someone to share these experiences and to help with tests.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/17/14 at 16:26:47


Just spoke with Devon and Steve - Devon said roads are pretty impassable right now - so I'm hoping to drop off the Amp and Oppo with Steve tomorrow if the roads clear up. Being without the amp for a week makes me sad, but I know it's in good hands. Wish me luck and cross your fingers!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/17/14 at 16:35:29

+1 on all Ravens comments.  I put my system back together after he left and felt petty good about my system/room but side by side with the ZMA Rachael felt, well, a little violated.

I learned a huge amount in just 4 hours. We could have gone on the rest of the day easily. See my comments on the regenerated power thread but the P10 is a game changer.

My only add would be my cheapo DAC faired well versus the oppo.  I bought it because of the giant killer claims to use in a second system and it's become my primary DAC.  In fairness to the oppo we did not test this much.

Finally my horns did not play well with the ZMA.  I had different drivers in and the ZMA just overpowered them.  It's interesting because they were the first speakers we listened to with Rachael and the P10 and they sounded good.  With the ZMA they sounded unlistenable.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by DBC on 02/17/14 at 16:51:16


Quote:
LR Wrote:  But, as soon as we plugged in the Rachel, it's *dead quiet*. All things being equal, only change was the Rachel, dead quiet. In fact, it was so quiet, I actually said "is it on?".


LR:  Is it also true that you can connect your Oppo to your Super Zen at home and there is no "Buzz #2" ???


Quote:
Steve Deckert Wrote:  The earth ground at the IEC connector is bonded to the metal chassis and the audio ground of the amplifier is also connected to earth ground.  This can be verified by taking an ohm meter and testing between the ground lug of the IEC connector and the metal chassis and then again from the earth ground at the IEC connector to the outside part of any RCA jack.  And finally, from the outside part of the RCA jack to the metal chassis.  All three points will read as far below 1 ohm as your meter's cables are capable of reading (usually 0.4 ohms +/- 0.3 ohms)


If you only get "Buzz #2" with the ZMA (not other amps) then I would suspect the Earth Ground on the ZMA. If the ZMA has a higher resistance to Earth Ground than it should then the path of least resistance will be through the interconnects to the Earth Ground of the Oppo.

I'm sure if you get to Steve's he will sort it out in short order. I'm South of you in Springfield, IL and the ice is bad here. Be careful on the roads.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/17/14 at 17:00:35

Also, when we changed out the DAC - everything else the same, there was still a buzz, but it was much quieter.  Maybe it was a different frequency tone too.  Hard to tell because it was maybe only a quarter of the volume.

My DAC is on a 12v battery.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/17/14 at 18:16:51

Very cool & constructive LR, Palomino & DBC. I look forward to Steve's further insight.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 02/18/14 at 07:05:05

I gotta say, this is a great thread,  Learning a lot and quietly listening to the buzz saga.  I know LR, Palomino, DBC and Steve will get it worked out.

On a side note, interesting to know that the Rachel is overcome by the ZMA ... I was always thinking that nothing could touch the SET experience.  The ZMA must really be special. 8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/18/14 at 12:57:57

I'm still forming my opinion but I feel the ZMA is SET on steroids. All the imaging plus more detail pushed out by those massive caps. This is not just raw grunt or low end.  It's across the frequency range.

Maybe Raven can chime in on the "cymbal" experience we had.  That cymbal has always been heard in that song and Rachael plays it crisply and clearly. But the ZMA plays it more fully and you can hear the full cymbal resonating and as the sound wave expands to the full circumference of the cymbal it gets deeper.  We just looked at each other and said "now that sounds like a real cymbal."

Same thing for the dsd violin music we listened to.  You didn't just hear the strings, you heard the bow rubbing against the strings *making* the sound.

So when Steve says liquid honesty I think he's saying all the lifelike detail and none of the "edge."

Note: I'd like to hear some comparisons to the Torii.  Maybe it is too big a jump from a Zen or Rachael and you can get some of this with a Torii III or IV.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/18/14 at 14:43:24


Quote:
On a side note, interesting to know that the Rachel is overcome by the ZMA ... I was always thinking that nothing could touch the SET experience.  The ZMA must really be special. Cool


Seriously, after the first 150 hours of break-in, the ZMA is on a whole different level. I really feel I've got my moneys worth out of the ZMA and the PS Audio P10 now - and I expect the ZMA at least will get even better with age! I wish I had a MKIII or MKIV to demo in Palomino's room, up against the ZMA - where we can really take our time and ferret out all the nuances between the amps.

Oh, a couple photos from our mini-event.   ;)
(please forgive the cell phone photos)

















A side note about why Palomino's crawling on the floor:

Since my source is an Oppo Universal Disc Player, I really needed a screen to utilize it for anything other than shiny disc - and we were going back and forth between his DAC and my Oppo. We could *hear* the addition of that little screen in the room, as well as a small table we put drinks on next to the chair. So we had to move these two small items out of the way, otherwise they shifted and/or distorted the image!

Edit to Add: which reminds me of another detail about the setup - I brought a small green laser pointer I got off eBay for $8-$12, and we used it to setup the speakers as accurately as possible. Using the tape marks on the floor as a starting point, I placed the laser pointer on the inside-side panel of the speakers, right at tweeter height, then pointed them to about the same 1" square at the listening position. This little detail further sharpened the image on top of everything else we were doing. Of course, you could always adjust in and out from there, but it's a quick and easy starting point to try and find some balance in the room.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/18/14 at 14:48:08

I was bowing and paying homage to the ZMA/P10 combo ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/18/14 at 14:49:12


Quote:
I was bowing and paying homage to the ZMA/P10 combo Grin


I just laughed so hard I snorted.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by busterfree on 02/19/14 at 02:20:29

What power cord was used on the Rachael, Mystery Amp and P10? Did you use any tube damper items on the Rachael? Just curious. Thanks

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by busterfree on 02/19/14 at 02:43:19

Does the output power change if one were to use the other compatible tubes (KT77, EL34, 7027, 5881)?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/19/14 at 03:14:20

Eric can comment on the p10 power cord.  I simply called it "the python."  

Rachael had the DIY audiophile power cord recipe from DIY audio.  Basic shielded power cord.  We had herbies tube dampers on the input tubes.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/19/14 at 03:59:29


This is the power cord used on the P10

http://www.amazon.com/Pangea-Audio-AC-9SE-Signature-Power/dp/B005AXJRUG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392782278&sr=8-1&keywords=pangea+9se

The Mystery Amp and Oppo used DIY power cables using Zen Styx type cable in 10AWG.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/19/14 at 05:24:36

Hi,

I am the owner of 4th ZMA which someone mention before. (Mr. Veerachai from Vietnam). I would like to share my experience of ZMA. I am new in tubed audio amp. The ZMA is my first tubed audio amp and first Decware amp. My objective to buy ZMA is to replace my Pass Labs X150 SS amp. I want to try tubed audio amp. However my worry is that
1) Short of Watt power to drive Avalon Avatar speakers which have 85 dB sensitivity. Tubed audio need to match with >90 dB sensitivity speakers.
2) Short of dynamics or bass to play hard rock musics.
The result of 50 hours played with ZMA is
1) It can drive Avalon Avatar loud enough for my listening level ~83-93 dB. Wife does not allow > 93 dB. Once I can get 96 dB for music and movie or home theater system.
The different of ZMA to Pass labs is that ZMA can still keep holographic sound image and layers of music instrument while Pass labs cannot when play at 93-96 dB level with complex instrument musics. For Pass labs, the louder you play, the noisier you feel. It is less musical and messy or fighting between music instruments. But ZMA keep all music instruments in line.
2) Bass, now I hear bass different. It is much more articulate and details, details and details. With ZMA, I can hear drum skin resonant and bass string resonant.  This feature is one of my happiness to buy ZMA. I can play without sub. Normally I must use sub with Avalon Avatar speaker.  
Dynamics, No dynamic problem at all with ZMA. It is very liquid transition from quiet level to loud level, no delay and no over shoot, no canny sound.  

I am very happy with ZMA now. It is worth every dollar for buying ZMA.

I will use V-Cap capacitor sound characterizing from Clive Meakins for sound characterizing of ZMA as following.

My immediate and lasting impressions were of dry tight bass, clear treble and very broad stage width. Bass is strong, laying a carpet of bass in the room. Treble very clear at the top-end (of my hearing), vocals are meaty. Famous Blue Raincoat / Jennifer Warnes; not only does this reference recording sound impressive, the V-Caps deliver a strong bass foundation, excellent treble extension and impressive vocals.

I provide my system information because different system provide different sound.

Player is SACD player DP77 Accuphase.
MIT Oracle RCA.
Decware switch box.
MIT Oracle RCA.
ZMA
MIT Oracle speaker cable.
Avalon Avatar speakers.
Shunayata Hydra 8.
Power cord to Hydra 8 is Kubala Sosna Emotion.
Power cord to ZMA is Synergistic research Tesla precision reference.
Power cord to Accuphase DP77 is Siltech.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 02/19/14 at 05:52:31

Hi vyokyong, welcome to the forums and Decware family!  Thanks for that great detailed review of the ZMA as well (I can't wait to hear one myself someday).  Anything made by Pass is no slouch as you can attest to, but I think the magic of Decware tubes is rather seductive in comparison to any solid state that I have heard thus far.  Congratulations on your ZMA purchase!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/19/14 at 08:48:36

Hi LR,

Thanks for your post picture of ZMA. However I saw that ZMA is Stacked on top of PW P10. I would like to recommend that please don't place ZMA stack on PW P10. Because PW P10 has big toroidal transformer inside and magnetic filed from toroidal transformer has a great interfere with ZMA. It makes ZMA sound dull or less transparency.  You can proof it by place ZMA at other place and see result of sound improvement. You will be really surprise.

Now all my Amp, CD players, Pre-amp, power regulation and DAC converter are placed to make sure that there is no magnetic filed from transformer to interfere them in order to maximize transparency of system.

Second, all IC and power cable cannot be touch each other or be closed together, particularly power cord must not be closed to Interconnect cable. When music has more bass sound, the magnetic filed from power cord can interfere signal current in IC and make sound dull, less transparency.  

Just recommend from my experience.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/19/14 at 08:52:09

Sorry wrong typing. It should be Magnetic field, not magnetic filed.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/19/14 at 08:59:51

Hi Beowulf,

Thanks for your welcome. I totally agree with you that Pass Labs is no slouch. I am very happy of Pass Labs X150 for 7 years and it makes me very worry of replacing it by ZMA. However the more I read on Decware forum, the more I desired to try Decware Amp.

Now my Pass Labs X150 must find new home!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/19/14 at 12:03:07

Welcome and thanks for your review.

The ZMA was stacked on top of the P10 just for our listening session. Lonely raven brought all his gear to my house and we didn't have much room to set it up so we stacked them. They are both too heavy!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/19/14 at 12:55:41

Mr. Veerachai, excellent review!

As Palomino said, the stacking was only temporary as I was visiting his house. At my house, the P10 is about 5' away from the Mystery Amp - but that is a great observation, and I will keep it in mind!

I too love the detail the Mystery Amp brings out! Palomino and I were admiring how you could hear the bow resonate on the strings of a violin. I'm going to have to pay more attention to drums next time I listen!

Again, great review, and I agree 100%. Just wait till you get to 150 hours on the ZMA, it wakes up even more!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/19/14 at 13:02:06


Quote:
Maybe Raven can chime in on the "cymbal" experience we had.  That cymbal has always been heard in that song and Rachael plays it crisply and clearly. But the ZMA plays it more fully and you can hear the full cymbal resonating and as the sound wave expands to the full circumference of the cymbal it gets deeper.  We just looked at each other and said "now that sounds like a real cymbal."


I missed this part earlier - Yeah, when the cymbals came in, I was a bit caught off guard as I was listening elsewhere, and Palomino and I both perked up, and I said  WOW, that actually *sounds* like *brass*.

It's funny when we're listening at his house, because he's got this big, lumpy, comfy chair that you have to climb into (in the sweet spot), and an old wooden kitchen table looking chair right behind it (just outside of the sweet spot). It's like we're the Sanford and Son bobsled team. But the person in the back seat can watch the body language of the person in the comfy chair while still catching most of the effect of the music, and I'd giggle when I caught something cool in the sound, and I'd see that Palomino would perk up in the chair at the same time. Or I think he caught me cringing when I was really into a piece, and there was some distortion in the recording on a high pitched note that almost turned my eardrums inside out.  ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/19/14 at 14:30:03

You know my wife saw that Sanford and Son bobsled visual and has been chuckling ever since.

She also takes pictures of my various projects to prove to her family/friends that I've gone off the deep end.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/19/14 at 17:12:08

Great report vyokyong.

I can't get enough of my ZMA!  

LR, have you brought your ZMA to Steve?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/19/14 at 17:19:43


Quote:
LR, have you brought your ZMA to Steve?


Yeah, dropped it off yesterday on my way back home from Peoria. So I'm without ZMA or Oppo for a week. I have high hopes that he'll figure it out and get me back on track. If he can help me figure out the issue, and I can get the setup as quiet as Palomino's Rachel was, then I'd be in business!

Hell, if it was that quiet, I'd probably have to start working on lowering my noise floor in the room!

On the Plus side, the lack of distraction (Mystery amp) this weekend will mean I'll be in the garage shop prepping for building the QRD diffusers. I've already ordered some new router bits, and I'm calculating material needs and tweaking my final design. I'm still debating between a really broadband (500Hz to 12kHz), very complex diffuser, or a slightly less complex diffuser that uses less materials, will cost less, be faster to build, but will only cover 600Hz to 10kHz range.

Whatever design I decide, I really want to stick with because I'm going to be building a few jigs to help me mas produce the individual parts faster and more consistently than doing everything in small batches. I'm calculating about $100 each, just in materials, and I want to build 24 of them!!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 02/19/14 at 17:22:32

Interesting trip LR and Palomino. A lot of good information from your Palomino room ride. I have few thoughts.

My seriously modded Oppo 83, for the subtler stuff does not remotely compare with my Tranquility DAC with PureMusic and a Mac Mini...except for playing movies :-). I hear the newer Oppos are better, but based on your explorations, I wonder if the Oppo might be an aspect your image issues LR???

I have decent stuff throughout...cables, feet, power, vibration control and lots of tubes to play around with for synergy, but "live" player in the room sound is the norm here. Also, my MG944s image beautifully in my main room (this one has various treatments but no traditional diffusors), and also in my untreated workshop with a Rega Apollo in front of the Torii MKIII, but tonal balance is not as good there. I have damped the mid/bass drivers a touch with 3mm Marigo dots and this definitely "awakens" and tightens the speakers by calming dulling resonance.

Both rooms here have good stuff shape-wise and material-wise. They have diffusion of sorts in the ceilings with irregular round log beams and rough boards with gaps on top. Then a tarpaper "diaphragm" under thick fiberglass. The image is deep, wide, saturated and stable with the 944s, no vise necessary, though being in the middle areas are the best. There was virtually no image change bringing in the HR-1s.

With the MKIII an MKIV piano is very, very real with my 944s, though the HR-1s do it better. Both systems sound like players in the room with half decent recordings. I have experimented a lot, but I take this quality as normal.

On my main system I do EQ to fine tune, also having explored cap rolling, cable rolling, speaker damping on both pair, various feet and foot placement, room treatments, and tubes to no end, all toward that real and live sound without harsh. It has been fun and in the end the system has a very convincing balance.

I have a few 3mm dots on the HR-1 drivers also, as well as a couple deflex panels inside tightening them up. I found this to articulate the sound throughout while maintaining warmth and excellent balance. Everything became more real sounding from bows on strings to big drum hits.

One area that was really interesting to me was adjusting the HR1  tweeters with caps and resistors to balance the highs. It was amazing once the macro and micro detail balanced out...more information, but appearing less bright. I am a sucker for micro detail, and this further improved stuff I love... the bow on strings and wood of an instrument, the hammer pad on the piano string, fingers on strings, the roll and shimmer of a cymbal, ambiance near the player and far.... all there before, but it is more balanced and smoother now...there, but it is not in your face. I have not gone there with the 944s, but know it is possible ...I think it is the same tweeter..simpler really as there is no resistor.

I don't know Raven, seems like you have a fair bit of treatment....have you ever tried EQ, or maybe better yet, Palomino's front end in your room and maybe play with his software EQ. If not a fix, it could be informative to see if you can pull things into better image focus and locate problem areas?

Is it possible that your bass, mid-bass and/or low mids are masking your mids to highs a bit too much? You might benefit from a little midbass or low bass cut in the right places....and/or some upper mid/high assistance to bring the upper mid balance to your room. For me, getting the right balance really helps clarify the sound stage and makes it more real/live sounding. Really good recordings are solid even with masked upper mids, but for depth and complexity, there is nothing like the right balance of mids, highs and bass to articulate the players in space.

I used to do this with tubes, but now tubes and EQ is better and easier. I do fairly complex EQ these days with a bunch of little parametric cuts and bumps as well as progressive low and high shelves. It is amazing to me what 1-3 dB in the right places can do for fine tuning!

But for experimentation it could be interesting just to try some really simple EQ tests...Like a low shelf that dumps heavily below 20 Hz or so... and maybe another low shelf with something like a 3db cut that you could slowly sweep from maybe 25 to 160 hz and see if it shows a problem area. If so, and things were a little off from the shelf, you could play with parametric cut(s) in the noted areas and keep the low dump if that helped. Even though my room does not measure much down there, I like the sound better with a low dump.

The other areas that could be informative and an easy test would be a high shelf....maybe adding about 3dB again for experimentation sake. I might sweep from somewhere around 2800 up to 7500 and see if somewhere things wake up in a real sounding way. Maybe even 1.5 dB would do the right thing to liven up and solidify the sound stage.

Just thinking out loud...good luck with it all!

This is fun thread to follow.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/19/14 at 18:36:13

Well, my room is getting better, but still needs work.  Eric brought his mic but we didn't get a chance to sweep the room and see what we were up against.  

I started with 2" absorbers, then added a little diffusion and got the imaging pretty good, then this recent round of bass traps.  Then I rearranged the room using Ethan Winers suggested setup.  Before the bass traps and room rearranging, I did use EQ.  Now I go without.

Once we really measure the room (I only measured the low end using crude tools), I think I'll revisit EQ.

I felt the imaging off the speakers was better after using the laser to line everything up.  My speakers also don't give you much latitude either so it could be the room.   In the sweet spot though, that is the best I have heard the 944s.

My DAC did sound good next to the oppo, but it is very limited in terms of inputs.  No USB, only optical and coax.  Can play up to 192k only.  No native DSD.  But if you are on a budget, I think its hard to beat.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/19/14 at 18:53:04


Quote:
I felt the imaging off the speakers was better after using the laser to line everything up.  My speakers also don't give you much latitude either so it could be the room.   In the sweet spot though, that is the best I have heard the 944s.


That was absolutely the best I've heard my MG944 as well. I'm smiling now just thinking about how good it sounded. Now I need to surpass that in my room!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/20/14 at 02:44:21

Hi,

Thanks for all your welcome.

My first priority set up is TRANSPARENCY AND CLARITY. If your system provides great transparency and clarity. You will hear all details, focus and holographic sound stage.

In order to get Great Transparency and Clarity,

1) Black back ground noise.

One recommendation to get rid of buzz sound and get black back ground noise or very low noise floor is to plug all power cords in one source plug. It prevents to have different resistant in ground so that no appliance use other ground path of power cord, for example ground path through IC cable to other appliance which has less resistant of ground.    

2) Magnetic field is great enemy to transparency and clarity.

Magnetic field from transformer inside appliance. More expansive appliance has bigger transformer inside and more powerful magnetic field sending out side of appliance.

Magnetic field from current flow in cable from strongest to lowest is power cable, speaker cable and interconnect cable. When music has more bass or high dynamic, the more current flow in cable, the more send out of magnetic field far from cable and interfere music signal in cable. It create dull sound, transparency disappear.

Then you have to make sure that all signal cables, interconnect cables and speaker cables and appliances are not interfered by magnetic field.

Second recommend is to use Glass cone like in picture to raise your appliance far from each other at least 15 cm and see the result. If it provides more transparency. Yes, that is main course of your dull sound. The transparency disappear because of magnetic field from other below or above appliance. And all shelf do not design to have big gap between shelves because it looks not nice. We always ignore or over look of shelf problem. However if you want to make shelf look nice, you can do decorating later when you get great transparency by place your appliance far from each other at least 15 cm below and above.

This is one of my observation to see pitfall in many set up of expensive hi-fi system and does not get excellent sound as it should be! Just my 2 cent!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 02/20/14 at 09:53:10

vyokyong,
       
       Thanks for your input on transparency and clarity. I know its something that I need to pay more attention to in my own system to get best results. Glad to hear your enjoying your mystery amp we will all be looking forward to hearing about your on going impressions of it as it breaks in and smooths out. Always interested in hearing about others experiences.


Enjoy!



8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/20/14 at 20:31:53

It might be a Blizzard outside!  But, I made it home to my ZMA, giving me a mind blowing experience inside! Just sell something, strike a deal with the Devil at the Crossroads....purchase this AMP!  This Amp is it!  

I am now at 141.5 hours!   -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/20/14 at 20:43:25


Mine's still chillin with Steve while he helps me figure out a solution for my Oppo/Grounding problem. I'm sure a few hours are being put on it, but I left it with him at about 175 or so.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/20/14 at 21:38:46

I wonder if it really is feedback to ground. Or, maybe, just encase the Tranny's like the Mono Block's have, to mitigate the problem.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/20/14 at 21:49:42

It has nothing to do with the transformers, it's not RF or Magnetic, it's definitely coming down the ICs.

As I test, I put a 1/16" steel panel between the transformers and ICs, and hear no difference.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/20/14 at 22:08:14

Yeah, I figured you tried this (1/16" panel....separation/encasement) just to eliminate the remote possibility of it.

As I concluded too with my IC's....working back from the ZMA first.
You can find my post....and you later stated too....I want to keep the Transparent IC's I have....NO over shielded non-transparent garb allowed.

I have mitigated my issue down to where it does not concern me. Probably just the nature of the beast. As long as the micro dynamics and overall musicality is off the charts....which it is with this Amp.
Below 60hrtz...maybe a little noise...but surely does not seem to be masking anything.

However, having said that...then why my interest? Well, I want mine to be perfect too...and look forward to Steve's insight on this and how I can squeeze the last ounce down on the noise floor as well. -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/21/14 at 02:13:30

I will add one trick to create wall or block magnetic field interfering between components. Using old textbooks to place between components as in picture. It helps a lot to block magnetic fields and you can do to see the result before and after without any extra cost.

Transparency and Clarity is king!

I listen to ZMA and my foot is always tapping to music with any song. It doesn't matter a slow song or a fast song, even playing not loud, just 80-83 dB level. ZMA provides excellent power, speed and details or high resolution of all frequency spectrum, particularly bass, bass, bass.

Really enjoy excellent PRaT! It is quite rare that tubed amp can give excellent PRaT but ZMA is one of rare excellent PRaT tubed amp.

Remark : PRaT is abbreviation from Pace, Rhythm and Timing. Defining it, as with most audiophile terms, is more or less an exercise in futility.

Some components appear to have better PRAT than others because of the aspect of the note that you are hearing. As a drummer, I time the music on the edge of the notes. And I guarantee that you hear/assess PRAT in the same way.

If a player opens up the middle of the note more than another, it may sound fantastic for vocals, but appear to have less PRAT--or even to sound too laid back--than another player that accentuates more the edge of the tone. This is often the reason that one player has you tapping your foot to the music, and another not. Or that you might conclude that a particular component is great for rock but not for jazz.

It is not only does the PRAT get better but everything else get better also ,Tone and Defintion!


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/21/14 at 02:21:25

What is PRaT? Without them you've got nothing musically.

Some comment about PRaT from AudiogoN member Ghunter

Objectively speaking, PRaT is directly related to the speed of a system's response and is the continuously relative delay between the information being read from the source and the tones being reproduced from the driver. The design factors that will have perhaps the largest impact on this would be the quality of the power supply in the amplifiers and the speed of the materials used in the driver material.

There are lots of opinions about this out there, and if you google "flat earth audio" you will undoubtedly find a link to the flat earth forums where this has been debated into the ground.

Legend has it that the foot-tapping description was attributed to Linn, who encouraged their dealers to tap their feet when demoing Linn systems and not tap their foot with competitors equipment to demonstrate the rhythmical superiority.

Now, to add a bass player's perspective (adding to the drummer's) the PRaT of a system just means that large transient attacks of a bass are not softened by a slow amplifier and the punch of the instrument is properly presented to the listener. My current bass amp is small by most standards but even then a home hi-fi would have a considerable task to replicate the punch of a 400W dedicated amplifier and two 12" long voice coil drivers. Systems with PRaT do try, and some do it very well.

Other commend.

The key is largely tuning the power supply with the amplification circuitry. This is relatively easy with a simple SET amp but gets much harder with SS amps. I personally don't know a scientific method to attack this. I just play around with power supply topology/component values until things settle in with actual music, the o-scope and meters be damned at this point. One way to attack things is to have a regulator dedicated to each amplification stage. This I suspect allows the sinking of current from regulator to one stage of amplification as it is being modulated by the music signal not be seen as an error on the power supply line by another amplification stage. Naim does this on the CD player that costs as much as a car, the 555. Lamm also does this on their products.

This is why in my profile I say, “Power supply design is what separates the men from the boys”.

Another commend:

While I readily confess to using them from time to time, terms like PRaT and slap (or its cousin slam) are shorthand for a combination of attributes that can be more precisely described by identifying them separately. Terms like dynamics, speed, resolution, transparency, power, bass control and tonal balance are more precise and more widely understood ways of specifying an amplifier's performance. If you were to tell me that a particular amplifier has good dynamics, speed, resolution and bass control, I would expect that it would have good PRaT and slam because those attributes are the "building blocks" for PRaT and slam. OTOH, you may or may not like its overall sound depending on the tonal balance and it may not be appropriate for your speakers if it does not have enough power.

I think you are talking about slew rate, not bandwidth. Slew rate is the amps ability to accurately track a signal with a large rise in amplitude with a very short rise time. This is what gives an amps`ability to reproduce good dynamics, not what makes an amp fast. Desribing an amp as fast is technically wrong.

Slew rate is still a very important spec that is unfortunately not understood very well. Its the single spec that gives a quantifiable measure of how well amps can track transients in music. An amp with a poor slew rate but very low harmonic distortion will sound much worse than an amp with a high slew rate and say .1% harmonic distortion.

Timing can be upset by sources (especially jitter in cd and phase shift in cartridges), amplifiers (especially at the bandwidth extremes) but mostly in speakers. I suspect the superior timing performance of many panel loudspeakers is one of their big attractions. Timing particularly affects the capacity of a system to create a convincing illusion of soundstage from just two speakers. The term Stereo actually translates as 'solid' and the solidity of a stereo image depends on accurate timing from microphone to speaker. How many listeners have noticed that many systems reproduce cymbals in nearer than the drums of the same kit? How long are the drummer's arms? This is usually caused by crossover timing errors between midrange (or mid-bass) unit and tweeter, on top of their individual & inherent errors.

Conclusion

PRaT are the most basic building blocks of musical performance. In domestic audio they are essential for appreciation and enjoyment of music. If your home audio is purely for home cinema it is probably not important to you, but TNT-audio.com is a magazine dedicated to domestic reproduction of music.

Sheet music prioritises these elements for good reason. Without them you've got nothing musically.

http://www.tnt-audio.com/edcorner/prat_e.html


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/21/14 at 02:43:43

Transparency and Clarity is King! You will enjoy every nuance of music notes, micro dynamics!

Magnetic field from power cable is enemy to Transparency and Clarity. In order to prevent its magnetic field to interfere signal current in interconnect cables and speaker cables, one trick is to use thick fabric to wrap around power cable as in picture. You can try it and see the result before and after without any extra cost.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/21/14 at 08:39:40

Pace, Rhythm, & Dynamics
By Martin Colloms • Posted: Nov 24, 1992

Martin Colloms (footnote 1) suggests that the traditional ways of assessing hi-fi component problems overlook the obvious: does the component dilute the recording's musical meaning?

For all its quantifiable technical faults, easily identified in the laboratory when compared with the measured near-perfection of CD, the vinyl LP disc possesses a powerful and effortlessly musical content, with an easy, fundamental rhythmic stability and solidity. Interestingly, this innate character seems to be quite robust, more so than digital. Subjectively rewarding results may be obtained from analog sources without much trouble. Many well-established but not necessarily high-priced components may be assembled to produce musically satisfying results. With analog, one can listen through the blemishes and be aware of a strong musical message, one in which the music's flow, pace, and tempo are well conveyed, and into which the listener is drawn.

By contrast, digital audio is a fragile medium. Sonic greatness remains elusive, digital replay often seeming to get bogged down at an earlier stage, one in which the listener's lack of involvement leads to a substitute activity. The mind remains busy, but is now cataloguing perceptual features and comparing them with previous experiences. This is an interesting abstraction, comparable in the realm of visual art with the analysis of the brush techniques of old masters. But, as Robert Harley points out in this month's "As We See It," an obsession with technical minutiae can blind one to an appreciation of the whole. That easy, rhythmic grace inherent in competent analog replay points to one of the greatest paradoxes of digital replay.

Digital's technical advantages at low frequencies include low group delay due to a highly extended bass response, in theory even continuing down to DC. Technical appearances can be misleading, however. From my experience of more than 250 digital products, coherent, expressive, naturally explosive dynamics and the ability to present good musical pace and a confident, upbeat rhythm are areas in which digital is surprisingly weak. If digital bass is agreed to be tighter-sounding, less colored and less "phasey," then how on Earth can analog still be in the running when it comes down to subjectively satisfying bass rhythm? Nevertheless, digital bass generally sounds laid-back and downbeat, even if it is highly neutral when viewed purely in technical terms.

A listener well-trained in the analysis of sound quality may understandably be fooled into thinking that good bass automatically implies good rhythm. It does not.

While good rhythm is a key aspect of both live and reproduced music-making, it is not easy to analyze. It's as if the act of focusing on the details of a performance blinds one to the parameter in question. The subjective awareness of rhythm is a continuous event, registered at the whole-body level and recognized in a state of conscious but relaxed awareness. Once you've learned that reproduced sound can impart that vital sense of music-making as an event, that the impression of an upbeat, involving drive can be reproduced again and again, you can't help but pursue this quality throughout your listening experience.

http://www.stereophile.com/reference/23/index.html

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by marky on 02/21/14 at 10:49:27

This is all entertaining reading. You could become bewildered wondering if
what you`re listening to is p.r.a.t endowed....time taken away from just enjoying. You dont really want to have to sample endless combinations for comparison as a part time job. Some do, and enjoy it.
Which is what brings us here ....Steves ears :)  he designs and voices the amps. All you have to do is supply your front end, cables, speakers, and room treatment, all of which, I`m sure contribute more to p.r.a.t. than the amps. You either compliment the amps more, or less, or a lot more.

And of course why were here again. Paraphrasing Steve " The advancements in digital technology are for the first time rivaling analogue, so I decided to design a new amp for our users who are keeping apace with the new technology  " The ZMA

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/21/14 at 14:31:35


Quote:
Paraphrasing Steve " The advancements in digital technology are for the first time rivaling analogue, so I decided to design a new amp for our users who are keeping apace with the new technology  " The ZMA


Which describes me exactly.


I hate to be the naysayer, but I don't see how vyokyong's books and towels do *anything* for magnetics. By nature, magnetism goes right through these materials.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 02/21/14 at 17:41:42

yeah, non conductive materials have no effect on a magnetic field.  I think vyokyongs point is about separation of things, components, wires.  Field strength diminishes with distance (inverse square I think), "padding" things so they cannot be physically near each other can help.  That's how I read his advice.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/21/14 at 22:58:25

OK, that makes more sense.

I'm really missing the Mystery Amp - I'm looking forward to swinging by Decware and bringing it home on Tuesday night.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/22/14 at 05:28:44

I just spent my first two hours listening to the ZMA. It's late and I am listening at low volume.  Excellent clarity and musicality right out of the gate.  I don't think I am missing any of the low volume essence of the SuperZen.  And the bass is much more pronounced.  I would say the sound has more tone and fullness across the entire frequency range.  It's very engaging.  I can't wait to turn it up tomorrow.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/22/14 at 06:33:39


I didn't want to say anything at the time, but when I stopped by Decware on Tuesday, I saw a Pelican case with Dave W (I think it was W) on the lid staged for pickup.  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/22/14 at 13:37:46

Congrats Dave! I'm glad you are enjoying it from the start.

I should stop reading this thread. Even though I don't need one I find myself wanting a ZMA. Won't take one without treble cut circuit incorporated though.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/22/14 at 13:41:38

Lon, with raven's amp on my full rangers I did feel the treble cut was needed.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/22/14 at 13:48:17

Thanks for mentioning that. I know I would need it as I have loved and used it on four Decware amps now. With tube-rolling and a much better room I haven't needed it running my modified C amp at my Dad's but I don't have as wonderful a room at my place.

The treble cut circuit has been the best upgrade on a Decware amp I've made, even more so than Beeswax caps, which is a big one. with the treble cut circuit I can listen to any recording satisfactorily.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/22/14 at 15:17:47

Sweet Dave1210.

Happy Saturday to you...with your new ZMA!  I have mine on right now...enjoying Clapton...Reptile with a good cup of Joe!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/22/14 at 19:16:22

Thanks guys!  It's been a long time waiting and I am glad to have it on my rack.  Attached are a few pictures, assuming I know how to attach multiple pictures…which I clearly don't…so here is one picture : )

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/22/14 at 20:48:14

Here is one picture of the room…


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/22/14 at 22:14:28

My Guide for how to post images in the forums.

https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1388257078

Are those diffusers on the right and left first reflection points?

Looks like some PS Audio goods as well!

Of course, anyone with a Blackface Deluxe reissue and a THD Hotplate probably has good taste in sound and room treatments.  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/22/14 at 23:49:41

Those Hot Plates are really useful tools! I have one for my '59 Bassman LTD reissue.

I'm using a Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face with my Bassman TV Fifteen to accomplish almost the same thing. I love that Bassman TV Fifteen, it brings out the best in all my guitars and basses.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/23/14 at 00:00:46

Thanks for the image guide LR.  

You nailed it on all the gear.  

Room Treatments:  
-First Reflection Points (except for ceiling): GIK Q7d Diffusers (I think I prefer diffusion at the first reflection points because it seems to better extend the width of the soundstage)
-Second Reflection Points: GIK 242 Absorption Panels
-Front Corners: GIK Soffit Bass Traps
-TV: 242 Panel (Without the panel, the reflected sound is a little too bright.  I spoke with Steve and he thought diffusion in front of the tv should be better than absorption for increasing SS depth, so I may try that in the future)

I am still working out the rear of the room and will post pictures in the future.  

Gear:  
Outlet: PSA PowerPort Classic
PowerCord from Wall: PSA AC-10
Power Plant: PSA P5
Power Cords to Gear: PSA AC-3's
Transport: PSA PW Transport
Connected via I2S: PSA AC-12 HDMI
DAC: PSA PW DAC mkii
Interconnect: Anti-Cable Reference Plus
Amp: ZMA
Speaker Cable: Anti-Cable Reference
Speakers: MG944's

I love the Deluxe Reverb…nice clean sound at low volume and breaks up nicely for that sweet tube crunch/distortion at higher volumes.  Without the HotPlate my neighbors would hate me even more than they already do, and so would my ears.

Cheers!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Fireblade on 02/23/14 at 00:42:17

Excellent setup. I would have preferred the HR-1's there, though.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/23/14 at 00:42:33

Nice Room.  Thanks for posting!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/23/14 at 00:52:41

Thanks guys.

Fireblade…the HR-1's are definitely on my consideration list (I think the ERRx's would be a little too laid back for my taste).  The 944's are sounding pretty good right now and I will continue to post my thoughts as the ZMA breaks in.  I have <10 hours on it so far…

Cheers!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Fireblade on 02/23/14 at 01:25:02

Sure! I just meant the level of investment in your setup (great) is a liitle unbalanced in the important loudspeaker area. The 944's are very much appreciated in this forum, but I think there's a consensus also on the superiority of the HR-1's.

This is just a rational thought based on my formed opinion, though, as I have not heard either. But in order to tap the best out of the setup in place, I'm just wondering if the 944's may become a bottleneck, especially after room treatment.

Take this thought with a grain of salt.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/23/14 at 01:29:06

Yeah, it's too bad the HR-1s are over five grand a pair! They're fantastic speakers and we should all have a few pair. I do, but ten years ago I couldn't have imagined owning one pair at this price, let alone two! I could the last few years, but the hard way (losing my wife and being able to be more "liberal" with my spending, then selling my house and moving across the country and making quite a bit of money on the sale.)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Fireblade on 02/23/14 at 01:33:18

That argument looses face in front of the large investment already committed in rationally less important areas in this setup.

$0.02

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/23/14 at 02:01:45

I think you have a very valid point Fireblade.  Most people upgrade their speakers first.  I plan to upgrade them last.  


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/23/14 at 02:21:35

I think every part of the chain is important and I find that the best source is equally as important and in some systems more important than the best speakers. We all take different paths and my two cents are that there's no one right way. My personal path has led me to believe that the best source with not quite the best speakers is a better listen than the best speakers and not quite the best source. That's me though.

You've got a great system now, and you're enjoying the sound a lot, and that is what counts. That amp is going to really take it all to another level.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/23/14 at 02:57:49

Lon…great points.  Like you said, there is no right or wrong way, you just need to figure out what works best for you.  I am a big fan of experimentation and learning for myself.  I also try to listen to as many systems as possible for additional perspective.  For me, the journey is a lot of fun.  The destination of great music and toe tapping is even better.  Lets just say my toes have gotten quite the workout today.    

I greatly appreciate the different POV's people bring to this forum and I am all ears.  Cheers everyone and happy listening!  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/23/14 at 13:03:50

Having heard the ZMA and 944 combo a weekend ago, I would say you have a pretty sweet setup right now that it would certainly "tide me over" until I could upgrade my speakers.

The ZMA raises the game of all speakers I have heard connected to it.  It may disrupt the conventional wisdom in terms of the sequencing of gear purchase.

Let us know how the break-in process goes.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Fireblade on 02/23/14 at 14:44:23

Just to clarify: I don't mean to put off this wonderful setup, and it does not have anything to do with 'sequence' ...

Every component counts, so you should aim at getting the most out of the set by avoiding 'relative' bottlenecks. In this case, it seems the MG 944's are the bottleneck. It does not mean those speakers are not good or the setup won't sound great, just that  it could get even better for the already committed amount.

I hope it is now clear enough?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/23/14 at 14:53:51

Not really clear that was in your previoius statement for me, but that's okay.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 02/23/14 at 15:31:59

I have adjusted both my HR-1s and 944s, but I think the 944s sound great with my MKIII and MKIV. The HR1 has more sophistication to me, and improves on the 944's sound...but they are definitely family and the best Bob could make each design using the same front drivers and tweeters. The slightly less sophisticated character of the 944 is compelling to me too. For me, in both my rooms, I prefer both speakers less dark and tighter. But this is with Toriis in front....My 944s have no crossover coil different caps than the original (toning down the tweeter just a little), the mid/bass drivers slightly damped with resonance dots, and I have the plinth spaces plugged some, and they got a lot better after maybe 1000 hours, the tweeter now smoother, and the mid/bass drivers loosened up.

Tightening and smoothing the speakers with these adjustments does make them different speakers (to my sensibilities, notably better), but they both changed in the same ways and to my tastes, and to me sounded similar in many ways before, and perhaps more so now.

If I had to choose, I would choose the HR1, but I would be very happy if the 944s were my only speaker.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/23/14 at 15:51:03

Fireblade…first off, no offense taken and I understand where you are coming from.  I appreciate your POV.  

I think there may be some assumptions as to how much money I have in my current setup.  For example, I bought the PW system when it was BOGO (purchase a DAC, get a Transport for 'free').  I also got the PP5 at a deep discount.  So, there isn't as much in the system as you might be thinking.  I have been upgrading my system in an unconventional way, partly because I have been opportunistic about deals for upgrades.  

My overall plan is to better balance the system in terms of cost of the individual components.  Is there a weak link in my system?   Maybe.  It's certainly not the front end.  You could have a similar 'bottleneck' situation if you spent your entire budget on speakers and had a crappy cd player or amplifier feeding them.  How about those who buy Maggies and try to power them with their HT receiver?  Most people don't buy their entire system at once, so I think sequence does come into play.  Cheers!  
     

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Fireblade on 02/23/14 at 19:59:48

Dave, I was frankly trying to make you notice that there's good potential for improvement there for the future. Regardless of what you actually paid for those (none of my business), their specs are objectively at a higher level.

You probably already knew this, but I did not think mentioning it would cause such a wave. Sometimes being rational is anathema in this forum.

Enjoy your great setup.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by seikosha on 02/23/14 at 20:27:24

Nice looking room Dave.  I don't know if others do this, but when folks post shots of their setups, I tend not to get at all envious of their equipment, no matter how exotic, but it's the nice listening rooms that make me jealous.  I'm stuck with a smaller sized room and while I think I've done a good job setting it up and treating it, at the end of the day you can never match what can be done in a bigger room.

Congrats on the new amp.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 02/23/14 at 20:33:00

What specs are you talking about FB, the prices of the two speakers? Or how speaker price relates to the price of the the Mystery amp or PS Audio components??? The HR-1 has to be notably higher than the 944 since it is so complex in shapes, and with its hand-made radial driver, but to me this does not make the 944 a less than stellar speaker.

It is hard to talk about the quality of speakers based on price or concept. I heard from a reliable source of the HR-1 comparing favorably to a 64,000 speaker, and I would say the 944 compares well in many ways against the HR-1 and my 944s were a bit over 900 delivered! Others on the forum got pretty worked up about your speaker with the new horn base at Decfest. All pretty subjective based on too many things, but I can say that in my opinion, the 944 is a world class speaker, especially after adjusting it a little to my spaces and tastes.

I guess I don't understand the rational of comparing speakers without hearing them, especially when they were both the "babies" of the designer and builder as he made them. I am guessing they both kick ass with the Mystery amp. At least with room and gear synergy!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/23/14 at 20:36:28

Fireblade...I don't think you caused a wave at all.  I thought you had a good point from the start.  I wanted to provide additional perspective as to why the system looks a little unconventional on paper.  And the others who chimed in have experience with the speakers and provided their perspective on performance.  No harm or foul.  If we all just agreed with each other, would we have anything to learn?  It was a good discussion.        

Cheers!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 02/23/14 at 20:50:07

I agree, it is all interesting to discuss, and are we ever lucky to have such amazing sounding gear to talk about!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/24/14 at 17:55:23

So, I got an update from Steve about the Buzz issue with my ZMA - he said that mine had a slightly different ground scheme than production (Seeing as how mine was the prototype) and it was a one in a million chance that a source would have caused an issue with it - I guess I was just lucky. LOL

So he's changed the ground to match production and the buzz is solved. So all the other ZMA's out there would never have had the issue I had.

Although he said the buzz that he heard he had to get right up to the speaker to hear; that didn't sound much like the Buzz that Palomino and I heard at my place, or his. Either way, Steve said it's silent! I'm going to be picking it up tomorrow on my way home from work in Peoria, and giving it a try tomorrow night!

I hate to say it, but I really missed the amp a lot! It's been a highlight of each night, as I wind down and decompress after work with some (usually random) tunes. Not surprisingly, I got a lot of house work done this week without the amp distracting me! LOL

Thanks for figuring it out and taking care of it, Steve!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/24/14 at 18:15:47

Great news! I don't know why you would hate to say you really missed it, I think almost all of us here can more than relate. I know I can't wait for my day to be done and my parents in bed to come home and spend a few hours with my stereo, and when I wake up I don't lie in bed and doze, I get right up to seize another hour with my Torii before I have to go to their place and get them out of bed. And this when I have great sound at my parents' as well, with my C amp there and the CSP2 and ERRs. Some magic with the Torii and also hearing my selections, it's what helps make life a great thing.

I hope when you get it back it's silent and sounding wonderful.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/25/14 at 00:25:02

Well, make that 2 in a million chance...the prototype and the 01...which is mine. I have a buzz that increases in volume (loudness)...as I turn it up. Noise not good Grog...not good! Ugh.

For your ZMA LR, Steve might have done a STAR ground or loaded the input down with resistors to ground, maybe a 200k to ground from the input RCA jacks did the trick.
http://www.geofex.com/Article_Folders/stargnd/stargnd.htm

I hope Steve will chime in.     -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/25/14 at 00:30:13


I thought your buzz was related to using unshielded cabling picking up RF? I have that too, but was mostly resolved by rearranging my gear, as was yours.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/25/14 at 00:37:48

Rearranging my gear did help like it did with yours. However, I do have the buzz sound volume increase when I turn the ZMA up. It is also in the Tweeter's besides coming through the Midrange. The buzz can be heard at the Listening chair. I thought I did a pretty good job of lowering it. But, all I cleaned up was the RF from the IC's and/or Speaker Cables.

I will try lowering the fuse value too, back to a 5. I had to put an 7 amp fuse in to keep her up and running (34 days in now=167 hours=I love this AMP). This issue is probably from the cold on the Caps.  I cooked all my 5 amp fuses the first day I had it (Jan 22nd). I will try a 6 amp I have.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/25/14 at 03:30:19

LR,....what put me off track was...when I tried the ZMA only connected to my Speakers...no front end powered or connected, the ZMA is quiet.

MY logic was...then it is my Front End with IC's and maybe Spk Cables acting as antenna's, etc...RF noise happening even more so when you turn up the volume.

Now, with this revelation from your ZMA...their has to be something "Fishy" about my "ground scheme" too. Obviously, when turning up the volume knob....I should not be getting a BUZZ at the Listening Chair. All things being equal-my other two Zen Amps don't produce the BUZZ in the System. SO, that really tells me right there-it is the ZMA!

My SE84CS is quiet all rigged up with the volume full up. A slight hum with ear right in the Driver's I should say. But, certainly no Buzz or anything audible from the Listening position. The Transformer has a slight hum when your ear is right up to it.

My Super Zen CKC has no Tranny hum at all, with your ear right up to it. The cover's and density on this Tranny seem thicker too. The CKC is quiet at the Speakers.

I will call and send it back to be fixed. However, that sucks....I might have someone STAR ground it here and investigate the fuse issue.  

So, I will quit my frustration and get it fixed.  Steve makes great Amps. -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 02/25/14 at 04:00:07

sounds like we need steve to comment on past vs current ZMA grounding issues. mine should be shipping next week so I would love to hear the answer.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/25/14 at 04:07:35

Below are some observations/first impressions.  I have <30 hours on the amp.

1) Build quality is top notch.  The amp is meaty.  Not surprising, the amp is heavier in the back because of the transformers.  Right now I have 4 Herbie's Tender Feet (extra firm) under the amp.

2) Adjusting the bias and balance is simple and takes < 30 seconds.  I did have a couple random +/- 20 mA bias swings on the left channel.  I was listening and noticed the left/right imaging suddenly became unbalanced.  I checked the meters and the readings on the left channel had either increased or decreased by ~20mA.  This only happened a couple of times and seems to have stabilized.

3) If I put my ear up to the speakers I can hear a slight hum.  The hum does not change with volume until I get to about 80% of full volume.  Then the hum gets slightly louder until I reach 100% volume.  I think I am hearing some RF  (it is more apparent when I pass the 80% volume threshold).  I cannot hear the hum at my listening position.  In comparison, the SuperZen is dead quiet with the same setup.  

4) First things first.  The amp is musical.  I don't know what that means other than I just want to snap my fingers, tap my toes and dance.  

5) The ZMA has a lot more weight and bass than the SuperZen.  I think I will wait a bit before trying to describe the type of bass I am hearing.  

6) I did crank the amp a few times just to get some early impressions.  If you watch the meters you can start to see them bounce a little once the amp begins to clip.  If you push the volume further up the meters will start to dance.  At this point in the break in process, I find the amp to be slightly harsh/edgy when pushed.

Thats it for now.  Back to the music.      

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/25/14 at 04:23:16

Thanks for those impressions. Enjoy!

Title: BUZZ BE GONE
Post by Steve Deckert on 02/25/14 at 05:46:38

Hi everyone!

For whatever reason, 000, 001 were definately built with a standard ground set up where the audio ground, chassis ground(shield) and earth ground are all bonded together.

This is how we build all of our amps so the difference in noise you hear between a 2 watt SE84CKC or a 6 watt SE34i.3 and the mystery amp is simply attributed to the difference in gain or in this case power.  If you took either of the two quieter amps and multiplied the power by ten times, the noise would increase by that amount as well.

That said, with the dual mono design and other unique properties of the Mystery Amp, I took #000 back to the bench and put the noise magnifier on it.  Once magnified enough, I was able to get the noise floor of the amp at idle in the headphones and then start playing around.  

Indeed you could hear an increase in the noise floor once the oppo was connected to the ZMA, and this happened regardless of volume position, and volume position had no effect on the noise floor.  This contradiction with user results is attributed to my testing with shielded cables vs. non-shielded cables.

In any case, you should not hear the noise floor change appreciably when another component is hooked up, and if you do, the component is either noisy or there is a ground loop.



With the Oppo there seems to be a ground loop, albeit with shielded cables and less than 94dB speakers you would likely never hear it, I was able to eliminate it by separating the audio ground from the earth (shield)  grounds.

The final results on 000 are zero noise or hum with the amp at idle, and no change when Oppo is connected with shielded cables, volume control makes no appreciable difference.  You can not tell that the Oppo is connected either OFF, ON or on pause.  

So for 001, I think we can easily modify your amp the same way and possibly without the need for soldering.  Email me at zen@decware.com and I'll elaborate.

Everyone else should be fine because we're building the ZMA's with a separated audio ground and earth ground to push the noise floor into blackness despite these higher power levels.

Hey, if it bothers you even a tiny bit, it bothers me twice as much.  I've always got your back no mater what it takes.   If 001 wants to send it back here rather than risk opening the amp I'll have no issues covering the shipping.

OK, That being out of the way, I am complexly pleased after reading the last few weeks of this thread to see the same results as I get here with the ZMA.  It IS a rather impressive amplifier.  In my room it has been competing with my completely modified Servo-Charged Acoustats and that should not be possible.

The real head bender was on the Reel to Reel when it surpassed the Acoustats by a lot.  What did I call it.... Liquid resolution?.. if not I should have... it's simply incredible when paired with my recent acquisition of the Otari MTR10 reel to reel mastering console.  I can't wait to write about the experiences I have been having with this amp using the "ultimate" source playing 15 and 30 IPS half track master tapes...  To be bluntly honest, my turntable doesn't suck.  But, I had no idea how good Decware gear actually was until recently, and the gap between the ZMA and everything else is getting larger.

The combination of this amp, and the master tape machine has finally achieved my goal of audio crack cocaine.  It's so good that you can't listen to more than one song without releasing energy by running around the building twice and mumbling things like holly crap over and over until you realize it's 14 degree's below zero outside... and the tape is still on pause.  Then you go in for song two, and bam... you're back outside in 15 below zero weather mumbling things like holly crap...  you get the idea... there IS a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and I firkin knew it...   just took over 20 years.

Now on a related note, we have had some interesting experiences with the new TORII MK IV using Siemens 7DJ8's or Russin 6P23P-EV tubes and had a night where that combination also surpassed the Acoustats...  

Hear's my thought...  If you guys want to to "ferret out all the nuances" between the TORII MK III, MK IV and Mystery Amp, and or ALL other Decware Amps, I would invite you to come over, get a hotel, start around 5 p.m. and go till you drop.  Recover and then document the experience.  There is probably at least a thousand people who would like to know what the specific differences are from someone other than myself.  My shop is your shop.  Weekends are also open for this if you're game.

I will even attend the event with master tapes in hand.

-Steve








 




Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/25/14 at 07:10:01

Steve, I'm willing to open it up and work on it. If you think I have a good shot at doing it without solder...I am game. Lets do it (separated audio ground and earth ground).

I will send you an email.  Thanks, Larry

Email sent.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/25/14 at 14:54:00


Quote:
Hear's my thought...  If you guys want to to "ferret out all the nuances" between the TORII MK III, MK IV and Mystery Amp, and or ALL other Decware Amps, I would invite you to come over, get a hotel, start around 5 p.m. and go till you drop.  Recover and then document the experience.  There is probably at least a thousand people who would like to know what the specific differences are from someone other than myself.  My shop is your shop.  Weekends are also open for this if you're game.

I will even attend the event with master tapes in hand.

-Steve



Well, I'm in obviously - but this is probably going to ruin me for source. There is no way I'm going to get *Back* into reel to reel - let alone *master tape* reel to reel. LOL I'd really like to hear what the ZMA can do - and I'm getting the feeling I know why the OTL amp looked like it was recently in use when I last stopped by. I'm sure a Master Tape on the OTL was pretty mind bending.

If some of you somewhat local guys want to take Steve up on his offer, just pick a day and I'll do what I can to come down as well with my ZMA - an impromptu mini-Decfest. I'm really curious what the ZMA does with such a great source!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 02/25/14 at 15:42:18

Given all that I have learned when just Raven and I get together for a couple hours comparing amps/speakers, I'd say this would be worth the trip for you guys who live further away.  

Just make sure your heart is healthy enough for ZMA activity.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/25/14 at 15:52:12

I would also be interested.  I am about a 5 hour drive from Peoria, so a weekend would probably be better for me.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by deucekazoo on 02/25/14 at 16:35:30

Im in. Just need to know when.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 02/25/14 at 16:44:07

I acquired some National 7DJ8's per the recommendation of another Torii owner, whose handle I do not remember and not sure which vintage Torii he was using them in, probably a mk-III.  But I can attest that they get it done in my Jupiter capped MK.III in a big way.  
I also have some of the Rocket-logo 6H23n-EB's(aka - 6N23) in my preamp and have contemplated getting another pair to try in my Torii as well.  Those that be, are of the opinion that this tube can do no wrong.  I can certainly say I like them in my preamp.

Depending on "when" this big shoot out goes down, I might be interested in attending also.  I went thru my own persona, smaller version of this contemplated compare & contrast of these amps at Zen last fall.  I did not find it completely decisive for me at the time.  I could use another good long A/B/X session to get it settled in my mind for sure.  I'm about 5 hours away from Decware - weekends work best for sure.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 02/26/14 at 00:34:25

Let's assume then that a weekend will be the most ideal time and work out which weekend it should be!

-Steve

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/26/14 at 02:04:49

My reply #767 above... .

On second thought...I better not open her up Steve. Those CAPS scare the crap out of me. Even if I let them drain for several days, I would still need to alligator clip/ground with wire one end and test positive ends of caps for charges with the other clip. I could do it....butttttttt?.....I better not. (....with a resistor in the wire and the test clip on a chop stick).

However, please do email me (I sent you an email last night to the address you gave), on how to/schematic.....separate audio ground from earth ground in the ZMA. I will have a Tech do it here.  -S



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/26/14 at 02:38:26

Just got home with the ZMA - had a nice chat with Steve and Dave while I was at Decware picking it up. I always learn something new when I stop by there!

My ears are kinda shot from the road noise of the almost 3 hours drive home - but I can say that with the ZMA at 100 and Oppo at 100, I kinda, sorta hear a little buzz if I put my head right up to the speaker.

I would say this is a huge success! Even got a smile out of Brianne - once I pointed out the buzz, she couldn't un-hear it and it was bugging her almost as much as me. So we are *both* very happy with the results.

Thanks for taking care of it Steve!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 02/26/14 at 10:24:48

My ZMA landed today.

I disconnected the Torii3 and put the ZMA in.  I put 6 hours on it so far.  Still trying to understand everything I think I heard.

Right out of the box, it sounded tighter, cleaner, more controlled in the bass and I guess overall.  I think it's faster.   My superzen and torii were trade offs.  zen was faster, crisper.  torii is fuller, powerful, but slower.  strings plucks aren't as crisp as a superzen.  

Well, this zma seems to sound fast like the zen, but powerful throughout the spectrum.  

I listened to several songs I know well, including my bass torture tests.  I was immediate focused on the bass because it was so present and so articulate.

I moved one channel and speaker cable over to the Torii, and set foobar2000 to output in mono.  This way I could compare zma and torii simultaneously single channel just by the volume controls.

the torii3 bass control can make the torii sound much leaner or much boomier than the zma.

And on my HDT's, the treble control can make the torii sound too dull or too bright relative to the ZMA.

I found it curious that the ZMA sounded very similar to where I tend to leave the bass and treble controls on the torii.  The ZMA has a good balance all on its own.  The torii3 allows for way more adjustability than you need.  

I was concerned that the single driver HDT's would pitch up like they can on the torii at full treble.  They don't on the ZMA.  It's a little brighter than I'm used to, but it also seems less offensive, I think because it's "cleaner" or faster.   something about the clarity of the treble makes more of it tolerable.  it's weird.

it was obvious the speed difference when they were side by side.  notes and instruments are rendered by the ZMA very distinctly.  things are very clear and separated.  on the torii, I noticed some bass lines blurred a bit.  There's a long suspained low piano note at the end of a song...  it sounded like a decaying note on the torii.  on the zma, I think I heard wavering or some other detail I didn't quite understand. it just seems "more like a real piano".    It's strange how you don't realize your bass is getting blended a bit until you hear something else that doesn't do it.

I went back and forth for a long time wrapping my head around the speed and clarity differences I was hearing.  I do realize at times I thought the torii sounded better even though it wasn't technically as clear.   On some cd's there was a trade off between accuracy and listenability.   The torii is lush in it's presentation.  on some cd's, it's better.  I realized that good cd's sounded better on the ZMA, but the torii play more of my cd's in a pleasing way.   some were not fun to listen to on the ZMA.  

This made me think of photography.... sometimes you need to blur or soften an image for it to be most pleasing.  sometimes you want the sharpest image you can get.  there's a time and place for different amounts of "accuracy".

I started thinking of the torii and zma in these terms.  I also wondered.... if I just heard "better" because of a speedier amp, wouldn't my old solid state amp do even better?  have I fooled myself into loving tube audio for it's softness, while now I'm back on a quest for speed?   I hooked up my Myryad MI-120 side by side with the ZMA.  The amp was fast and powerful as I remember it.  I forgot though that that crisp dryness also causes listening fatigue within 1 or 2 songs.  I back on the shelf for another few years for that one.

So, the zma is fast..but not too fast. I guess.

I'm also redefining what I thought were well recorded cd's.  what sounded good/bad on the torii, isn't the same on the zma.  some cd's I don't like on torii, are tolerable on zma.  and the other way around.  haven't figured out why yet.

volume knob seems to have more usable range on zma.  music doesn't get loud until more than half way, then the power really comes on, and never strains.  The torii seems to get louder faster. (I use less of the volume range).  

Anyway, this is just my first impression, first day.  I'll let it burn in for a while and try all this again.   I forgot what it sounded like back in October.  it's nice. very nice.  I like how it presents notes and instruments very clearly.  I'm preferring that over the smoothness, lushness, listenability, of the torii.





I listened to a few tracks and liked what I was hearing.  The increase in control is definitely apparent.  bass notes are crisp.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/26/14 at 11:10:00

Steve, this is exactly the comparison I was hoping to read of, thanks! Very interesting results. Though I may be interested in the ZMA one day, this makes me feel that the Torii may be the better amp for me.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/26/14 at 11:48:13

WHEW! Good news.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/26/14 at 14:04:36

Excellent review SteveC! It sounds like your listening notes are spot on with mine.

Just wait till you break that 125 hour mark, it really starts to smooth out and bring even more detail.

One of the things that Steve wanted to point out to me while I was there, is that a preamp would help my Oppo smooth out some of the more dry recordings, as well as allow me to dial in the "balls" of the instruments a little better. I'm seriously considering a CSP3 now that my buzz situation is sorted out, and I'm not changing my source anytime soon.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/26/14 at 14:59:48

Seems like there may have been a few here on the forum saying something similar. :) I think that is true even if used with fantastic sources, the CSP2-CSP3 preamps are just wonderful tools for listening.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/26/14 at 15:12:07


I guess I just don't fully appreciate what a preamp can do, since I'm very much of the KISS method. As few items/connections in the chain as possible.

I'm also afraid I might lose some of the detail I'm so fond of, if I add something else in the chain.

I guess I'll just have to try a preamp and see what I see.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by JD on 02/26/14 at 15:18:05

I was of the same mindset with the preamp as well...until I bought a CSP2+ and now it will never be taken out.  Really allows me to fine tune my "sound".

Are you new Mystery Amp owners using preamps or running directly from source?  Anyone listening to vinyl through it?
Thanks

JD

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/26/14 at 15:34:21

KISS is often great, but it's not often you get a perfect match of source and amp, a great preamp lets you have that. And you can lose some detail with some amps and other devices (the ZBox I think caused me to lose a little when I was using that, though I think its benefits outweighed any loss)--but you won't with a ZP3.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/26/14 at 15:41:18

Hi,

So am I as SteveC comment. ZMA provides a excellent resolution and speed but without analytic feel, dry and fatigue. For this kind of Amp, source is very important or first priority to be considered. It will give high reward with ZMA.

Sorry that I misunderstood about EMF You are correct that non-conductive materials cannot block EMF. Then the case of fabric wrapping the power cord do not have any effect on EMF. But the sound improve because of power cord position changed in distant to IC cables, Second commend of text books, it makes subtle change in sound, i have try A/B comparison many times. But it may comes from anti-vibration of shelves, not EMF.

However I would share my trick again, it may like woo doo magic but it does not cost any thing more, just try and see the result.

Using clear plastic or acrylic material to block wave frequency to get through CD open/close tray as in picture (vibration reducing). It improve pin point image or focus of instruments in sound stage.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/26/14 at 17:12:17

Steve C.  Awesome review.  I am glad you are enjoying the amp right out of the box.  

I wanted to build on something you said regarding reference discs.  I do not have a Torii, so I cannot compare, but the ZMA appears to be more transparent and revealing than the SuperZen.  I have gone through multiple discs in my reference stack and have begun to segregate them into an awesome pile and an almost awesome pile.  The ZMA provides the extra magnification needed to find the best of the best.  Surprisingly, I don’t find the extra resolution to be fatiguing (I have never had a ‘lush’ sounding amp in my system as a reference point).  I am wondering if the musicality (maybe this is the liquidity Steve is referring to and I just don’t get the terminology) of the amp allows it to be both transparent and non-fatiguing.  Like I said in a previous post, I constantly find myself tapping my foot, snapping my fingers and wanting to get up and dance when listening to the ZMA.  It has great rhythm and pace.  I wonder if this amp truly breaks a longstanding trade-off in audio (analytical vs. musical)?  Happy listening.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/26/14 at 19:07:48

Well, I have no regrets selling my Torii III. The ZMA kicks it to the curb...the IV too, from what SteveC has described. I have no regrets not owning a PS Power pooper regenerator either. The ZMA does not need one!

I canceled my HR-1 order. My vintage Polk LS 90 Speakers, vintage Polk SDA 1 and soon to have in, Golden Ear Triton 2's will be all anyone could ever need with the ZMA (nice rotation in the Listening Room).

I am having my ZMA STAR grounded. It will then be a SZMA!
************Super-Zen-Mystery-Amplifier**************

It will be done by the time I get back from Vegas. Vegas Baby-Vegas!

Goodnight, good luck and enjoy.     -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 02/27/14 at 01:16:10

I just received mine today.  It was a long wait but it sure screams quality when I opened it up.  Got this and the phono stage as I am entirely vinyl.  I will run this with my VPI Classic and Martin Logan ESL's.

 Could someone repost the tips for setting the bias and which speaker posts are 4 ohm and 8 ohm.  No manual yet.  Thanks a bunch

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 02/27/14 at 02:55:03

Congrats! Here in this thread a few weeks back Steve explained the bias method. . . I haven't found it yet but you may be able to. . . .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 02/27/14 at 12:01:18

FarmBoss…hopefully you found what you were looking for.  If not, see link below.  LR did a great job describing how to adjust and balance bias.

https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1365130519/480

4 ohm taps are in the inside when looking at the amp.  8 ohm on the outside.  

Looking forward to your listening impressions with the ML's.   Cheers!  


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 02/27/14 at 23:25:15

Thanks Dave! I even had trouble finding that post - here is a cut and paste of it:

To set the Bias

So, you drop the KT66s in, power on - Steve has the "bias window" set so the amp will come on in the ballpark of the tubes we would be using. (this is a great design/safety feature)  Using this image for reference -

https://www.decware.com/newsite/images/DSC_0014big.jpg

The two tiny white knobs behind the voltage regulator tubes are the bias knobs - one for each channel. Dial them in till they are close to 60ma, which is what Steve said is right for the KT66.

Now, say the tubes are pretty damn close right off the bat; you dial the bias in and it comes to 58 on one tube and 62 on the other. You use the bias balance next to the volume knob to sweep them closer or further - in this case closer so they both line up to 60ma. Do the same for the other side.

If you sweep the balance knob full left or full right and can't get the tubes to match, they are out of range and need replacing (or rematching in extreme cases I would assume).

As the tubes warm up you can tweak as needed to keep them on track. After an hour or so, they should have settled and and you can simply leave that setting till next time. Or, you can tweak, tweak, tweak and dial them in as they warm up...but they will eventually end up in that same spot after an hour.

Tubes can and will drift with age - so the bias when the tubes are new will most likely be different as the tubes age, and are aged.

I can dial in my tubes in about 15 seconds - and after 4 hours, they were within .5ma still.

I hope that helps out!

Edit to add: I find that once set, I don't need to mess with bias at all unless I physically change something, like swap tubes (or mix them up if they aren't well matched), or I did have to re-bias when I got my PS Audio P10 as it regulates the voltage to a proper 120v 60Hz vs whatever mess was coming out of my wall. Once dialed in, I've left the bias untouched for two weeks and it didn't need tweaking at all, it's very stable.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 02/27/14 at 23:31:24

That is very helpful thank you.  I am a little confused about which tap to put the speakers on.  I think they are 6 ohm.  I remember reading that I should just try both and keep it on the best.  What are you guys doing?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 02/27/14 at 23:46:34

I'm using the outermost speaker posts. I don't remember exactly, but I think I remember that was 8ohms from Decfest.  frankly I haven't tried the inner ones.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 02/28/14 at 01:25:53

Hi Farmboss,

My speaker is 6 ohm impedance same as you. I have same your question asking Steve. He recommended that you must try your speakers on the 4 ohm taps and then on the 8 ohm taps to determine which you feel sounds the best.

In theory, speaker impedance should be higher than amp speaker output for safety, less current draw from designed. But you get less designed watt power from Amp also.

In my case, I like 4 ohm taps rather than 8 ohm taps. Bass sound is more punch, tight and well control in 4 ohm taps than 8 ohm taps in my case.  There is more heat on transformer for 4 ohm taps rather than 8 ohm taps.

Enjoy your listening.  ;) ;) ;) :D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 02/28/14 at 18:14:25

Their is no fatigue from this Amp and it just keeps getting better and better. I think the Jupiter Caps are now coming into their own at 191 hours now! Plus, I was reminded my Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable's are still breaking in...from just being purchased back in early November from the Cable Co.....wonderful coupling with my Kimber 1030 RCA IC and the ZMA! They certainly make my vintage Speaks' overachieve.

Welcome Farmboss!  Do post your impressions with your ML ESL's.
I keep telling myself to make a bigger commitment to Vinyl...nice Table your VPI Classic. I have a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon III out in my Living Room Rig though...and it is great fun (certainly not the caliber of your VPI Classic).

Well, Steve sent me the Mod for the separation of audio ground from earth ground. It is easy (with Cap draining resistor's)....I just have to get myself from enjoying the Amp and do it.
I can do it without making the Darwin Page.
http://www.darwinawards.com/

However, no hurry, the noise has to be below audible that is being picked up by the IC inputs that are connected to earth ground...because of the way this Amp is making Music.....fast, liquid & no fatigue.

I decided not to do the Star grounding....it would have been overkill and cost me a pretty penny.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/01/14 at 03:59:46

I just hooked everything up and am having a bad night of it.  I turned it on and no power.  Pulled the fuse (5amp) and it was gone.  Tried the replacement and the amp came on.  I hooked up the zp3 (phono stage) and no sound.  Zp3 only had three of the five tubes light.  I switched to an ipod and got some sound out of the martin logans.  

I was expecting the amp to have more than enough power but I had the ipod on max and turned the amp up and up but the music barely go above conversation level.  I got frustrated and turned it all off and walked away.  After I calmed down I turned it back on and the second fuse blew.  >:( Now it is getting late and I have no way to get a fuse and will need to drive an hour tomorrow to get one.

I can get past the fuse part but I need some reassurance that this amp has some balls..  My old solid state amp died (Dennon) and had around 200wpc.  I had read that tube amps rated at 40wpc equaled a160wpc solid state amp.  I definately need it louder. Also I don't get why the zp3 will not light up.  Another frustrating thing is the zp3 manual also was not included and the manual on the website has the jacks in the front and mine are in the back so I am not positive which are inputs and which are out.  

Rotten night


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by maddog07 on 03/01/14 at 05:14:31

FarmBoss,

an ipod cannot properly drive most amps.  You need the ipod connected to a proper preamp, or at the least, a buffer, like the Burson buffer or something like that.  I have a Torii mk.III, and an iPod.  ipod direct to Torii = bad sound, flat, no dynamics, no bass, not much volume, just bad any way you slice it.  ipod to my burson(AB-160) and then to Torii = pretty good sound.  source(ipod or other digital source) to my Dac(Wyred Dac2) to Torii = excellent sound, source to Dac to preamp to Torii = best sound I've ever had.  This turns out to be a case where less IS NOT more... I have been converted to the camp that a good preamp is necessary... and I used to run a passive pre in my SS system for years, but not anymore...

do not judge the ZMA by your experience so far.  I also have a pair of ML Vista's and my Torii(60% of the power of the zma) can drive them to normal "listenable" levels in a large room... but not head-banging, rock-out w/your ??? out levels.  Be patient and take the time to get your system dialed in - you will be glad you did.  
But you're probably going to discover that you need or prefer a preamp if you use a more conventional speaker of average sensitivity like the ML's.  I keep a hi-power solid-state amp around to drive the ML's - but use a tube preamp with it...

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/01/14 at 07:41:33

Farmboss, make sure to pick up 5, 6, 7 and 8 amp fuses. I had the same problem and know your pain. I went out and picked up just some 5's. I had to make the 2nd trip at -16 below for the 6, 7 & 8's. The Amp did blow the 6's....7 was the magic number. Steve, did approve up to the 8. He surmised it might be the big Caps needing some time to settle in. He said to use the 7 for a month then back it down to 5 and see if she blows. It has been over a month and I will try to back it down soon.
I have had no problems/blow with 7 amp fuse. NOTE: Home Depot & my local Hardware Store did not have 7 or 8 amp fuses. Only Radio Shack had the 7 & 8's that are needed.

Your Speaker's are 90db/2.83 volts/meter, 4ohm, 8 inch woofer & 20 watts per channel capable. The ZMA has balls....you will be fine.
Here is Decware thread with ML user's:
https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1386981742

As Maddog mentioned....don't try to run it direct with an iPod. I am 197 hours in and I can't get enough of this Amp!

I don't have any experience with the Zen Phono Pre....someone else will need to help with that.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 03/01/14 at 09:03:55

My ZMA is now passed 100 hrs. And it makes my system closed to below article. What is great sound quality?

The value of well produced music
Listening to music is one of life's great pleasures. Close to our sense of smell, music has the strongest power to evoke mood changes and bring back memories. We have all had the experience of hearing a song we loved in our youth. Immediately, we may think of a first love, a holiday or special event, friends we knew and experiences we haven’t remembered in years.

Listening to music actually causes the brain to release dopamine, the “feel good” hormone that restores logic and enables us to focus and concentrate. This can literally change your life. For example upbeat, high tempo songs raise energy levels if you feel lethargic. Classical music or jazz will often help you unwind properly after a busy day. It is interesting that when Dame Kelly Holmes won Olympic gold in the 800m and 1500m, she had a theme song in her head for the training and events. Where would films be without music to capture the mood so much better?

Why have great sound quality?
The actual quality of sound reproduction can have a very strong influence on our enjoyment of music. Why is this though? Surely if you can identify the song it's good enough? Ultimately the answer to this lies in defining what exactly is “better” sound quality? To be clear about this, leads to understanding the issues  and making correct choices.

What is Great sound quality? The ear and brain enjoy particular aspects of music. The order of priority is different from person to person but all of the following are present in a great system.

Dynamics:  The ability to reproduce the full energy of a note without loss of impact.  Loss of dynamics  are usually manifested by an artificial softening of bass notes, lack of speed,  blurred treble etc. The sound is essentially dull and boring in comparison with a dynamic sound. Dynamics are akin to the acceleration and braking performance of a car. You should put a big flag on the fact that measurements of dynamics are never included in loudspeaker specifications! This is not to be confused with dynamic range which simply states the range of frequencies that a speaker produces. Neither are efficiency / sensitivity figures a proper measure of dynamics.

Timing / musicality:  Live music is coherent, liquid and integrated – For example, the bass does not lag behind due to sluggish speed or overhang.

Tonal balance: Too much treble emphasis soon causes listening fatigue. Conversely a bass oriented sound  will become heavy and oppressive.

Separation / clarity / definition / transparency: This creates interest as it enables you to “see” into the mix and latch onto each individual strand of the music, whether it be vocals, drum beat, keyboard etc.

Natural Sound:  The ear does not like distortion introduced by resonance, electronics or phase issues.

Freedom from Coloration: Cabinet resonance, cone breakup and ringing are often present in loudspeakers. These are a bit like artificial additives in food and detract from music by causing distraction, usually at a subliminal level but there nonetheless.

Ability to create an “out of the box” 3 dimensional sound image: This is really a result of good definition and tonal balance because if these are present you are halfway there, but imaging is also related to cabinet shape and driver dispersion.

Because the brain knows what it likes and expects to hear from music, it is constantly “filling in the gaps” for reality. In other words it imagines it is hearing the real thing. This is a form of “error correction” that is going on all the time. Visual cues sometimes make this easier. For example one of our staff was at an exhibition and noticed that watching a video of a singer and band  as it was played through a reasonable system made the effect much more real. As soon as he closed his eyes the flaws of the music reproduction were immediately apparent. Closing your eyes is not something we recommend but the point here is that the brain fills in for reality.

There is one caveat here and it is a big one. The error correction process that goes on, is work for the brain that it prefers not to do. Eventually it gets tired and your level of enjoyment does not last anywhere near as long as it would with a better system.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by marky on 03/01/14 at 11:49:29

farmboss
re ZP3.....input terminals are the inner pr terminals, output to amp are the outer ( nearer the side ).
My pr Rachaels, 12 watts, drive ML aeon i`s with plenty left in the tank for accasional raunchy levels. Other sources than vinyl, even louder.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/01/14 at 13:04:35

It is now morning and I will get to the bottom of this today.  I will have to drive to Radio Shack in the next town for the fuses.  I will also try a few other phono amps and focus on getting the bugs worked out of the ZMA first. Agreed that the Ipod is weak but it was all I thought of last night.  I also may swap out some old Advants to take the ML out of the picture.  

I don't have the right spare tubes to try to trouble shoot the ZP3 today.  I will call Steve next week on that.



Thanks for

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/01/14 at 13:30:04

It looks like the ZP3 phono stage has a ground that needs a plug.  Any idea of type of male connection I need to add to my tone arm grounding wire? All of my other phono amps just have a lug I tighten against the bare grounding wire.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/01/14 at 15:21:36

Hmmm. . .on my ZP3 I simply tightened a bare wire down to the lug, though a small banana would have worked better. . . .

Sorry your tubes don't light up, makes little sense three would and two wouldn't. I'm sure the rectifier must have lit up if any did. .. .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/01/14 at 16:08:26

Farmboss, call ahead to Radio Shack and have them check in the drawer for 5, 6, 7 & 8 amp fuses (you mentioned an hour drive-you have). I live in a major metropolitan area...and it was like going on a snipe hunt, plus finding a smoke shifter and a sky hook to find the 7 & 8 amp fuses....but, Rat Shack came through!

It is nice they still keep them in drawer's at the Shack'.  However, instead of being sold by the handful for 20 cents each they are packaged by 4 for $3.49 at the Shack....and 4.29 at the Depot and 4.99 for 4 at my ACE Hardware.
Oh, I miss the good old days....going with my Grandpa to the Hardware store, "grab a handful of those 5 amp quick blows for me Larry, then will go get some fresh eggs at the Farm"...miss those days and him.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/01/14 at 16:36:00

I ended up getting 6.3 amp fuse.  That was the max they had.  I also got 8 amp but they are 125v so I tried the 6.3 and they work so far.  Now I hooked up my yaqin ms12b as the phono stage.  The yaqin has two out put and i used the .7v out.

The mystery amp and the yaquin sound pretty good but I have both set to maximum volume and I don't nearly have enough power to play them as loud as I want.  Any chance I have the mystery amp set too low.  I have the meters at 60.  Does it get louder as the amp breaks in?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/01/14 at 16:52:00

I tested the decibel level with my iphone.  Average is 65.  Hooking up the ipod through the other input in the yaquin is better at about 75.  I do have a high output moving coil dynavecter cartrige that I do not have a step up for.  I always was powerful enought with my mini torrie without the step up.  I will keep changing stuff around/ switch up the input tube on the yaquin.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Donnie on 03/01/14 at 17:15:35

FarmBoss, It is all about input voltage. I fought the problem with using a iPod for a source. Once I got a true digital output to my DAC the problem went away. RCA out of a iPod isn't enough.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/01/14 at 17:53:18

I believe Steve said the ZMA needs 2v for full output. If you're only feeding it .7v, you are no where near where the ZMA needs to be to drive the volume you're looking for.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/01/14 at 18:57:54

Slowly getting there- got the zp3 working.  As I did not have a manual I used the manual on the web to install the tubes.  It looks like the manual was based on a different design than I got so I had the two big tubes in the wrong sockets. No harm done it is hooked up to the mystery amp and does sound better and (a tiny bit) louder.  I don't know what the zp3 output is but I will go look it up.  Still needs a lot more power until I will be happy.  It does sound good though.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/01/14 at 19:22:43

....you need to get that line level voltage output at least to the industry standard of 2 volts output, as pretty much stated.

On a different note, I just A-B-A'd my Pangea AC-9SE Power Cord. I know you have one too LR. I have 80 hours on mine so decided to switch it out....and the Pangea will be staying in. Nice tonal balance from top to bottom with tight bass. Relaxed, but not messing with the vibrancy of the music and its staccato.  Deep bass I should add..... .

I will highly recommend for the ZMA. Get one while they are still available at Audio Advisor. I did the comparisons on the fly too...like LR & Palamino did. Those big Caps with stored energy did not skip a beat pretty much.  -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/01/14 at 19:33:37

Glad you dig it Stone. I've heard one, similar build and sound to the PS Audio that I love so much, I prefer the PS Audio quite a bit but they sure cost a lot. (I've bought most of mine nicely used).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/01/14 at 22:00:34


FarmBoss wrote on 03/01/14 at 18:57:54:
Slowly getting there- got the zp3 working.  As I did not have a manual I used the manual on the web to install the tubes.  It looks like the manual was based on a different design than I got so I had the two big tubes in the wrong sockets. No harm done it is hooked up to the mystery amp and does sound better and (a tiny bit) louder.  I don't know what the zp3 output is but I will go look it up.  Still needs a lot more power until I will be happy.  It does sound good though.


So glad you got the ZP3 going! It's a great phono preamp.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/01/14 at 22:23:59

i finally got it so I can get it loud enough.  I ran the Zp3 phono stage to the yaquin preamp then to the mystery amp.  The yaquin will need to go back to my mini torrie so I need a more permanent solution.

I think I could do one of two things to boost the input.  The first one is to buy a step up transformer the other is to get a csp3.  Both would be about the same cost.  The csp3 looks like it could also help if I were to hook up another source.  Not sure which would work best.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 03/01/14 at 22:31:48


    I sure like my CSP3+ if I did have a Mystery amp it would be up front. You would not be disappointed I'm sure. I love mine. Do the CSP3 you'll love it.


8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/01/14 at 22:39:17

Wow. Does the Decware step-up transformer cost that much? I was going to suggest that as you wouldn't have to wait months for one to be built, my guess (I could be wrong).

The CSP2, CSP2+ or CSP3 preamps are amazing components. I have a CSP2 and three CSP2+ in my first and second systems and my Dad's system. They are indispensble for me.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by marky on 03/01/14 at 23:45:07

I use both. The ZMC is around 1/3 price of the CSP. If your dynavector is the high output version of my one, 20xL, .28mv then it`s 2.8mv. I step mine up x20 (ZMC1) that would equal around 6mv going into the ZP3.  So you might need to double the output of yours, or more. The ZMC2 is for high output carts and if you specify the cart when ordering you`ll get the best match.

CSP, I`ve got the 2+, is a superb tool. Pre in/out trims plus volume control, and lots of scope for future tube rolling.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/02/14 at 21:23:29

Well, I figure since 2/3rd's of my dance card has been punched this past month...I am ordering a pair of Acoustic Zen Adagio's tomorrow. Lars, livin' large in the Northland!  I will report back once I put some hours on them. -S


My System for ZMA:

Dedicated Listening Room is 9' x 11'

Acoustically treated/Michael Green Room Tunes
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

& Home Brew 20" x 30" open filter panels = 18 of them.
System Tri-configured on floor (no rack) on flat shelves/on full carpeted room/floor underneath-concrete ...Townsend CD Seismic Sync under digital Audio Alchemy components ...Pangea AC-9SE Power Cord to ZMA ...Adcom AC-enhancer 515 ...all four components plugged into it...has sequential on off start & shut down~

Sony DVD Player as Transport
Illuminati D-60 Digital Coax/BNC
Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro32 (Set at 20 bit dither & sometimes 22 bit)
i2s Prophecy Cryo Digital (sends jitter reduced music 20 bit dither signal separate from clock signal in which it also sends to DAC)
Audio Alchemy v3.0 DAC (dual ladder DACS-w/remote wand volume/adjustable voltage output/driving directly into ZMA)
Kimber Select 1030 Interconnect RCA
ZEN MYSTERY AMPLIFIER (3lb Brass Weight on each inside Transformer)
Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable
ACOUSTIC ZEN ADAGIO

*PS-ALL components in the Listening Room, including my Decware Torii III/sold, SE84CS & CKC = were purchased new.

Yes, I have owned the Audio Alchemy Digital new, since 1995 & the LS 90's new since 1993. NO Redbook front end under 6K has beat my Audio Alchemy front end (I have had in-quite a few/and recently). The only thing I have found that can....is a 6K Esoteric Player.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 03/02/14 at 21:50:51

Stone of Tone,
      Are you by chance able to hear them before purchase? I have a custom pair of 2 ways and comparing them with my 3-way polks and Pioneer HPM 100's I prefer the Polk setup over the 2 ways. I believe you have the mid base setup also they may work out with those running with them. I have the 2 way with 10" Aura subs integrated into the cabinet and my feelings for music they don't work the best for music but HT they are great. It seems even with the sub there is a lack of connection in the bass of the 2 ways to the sub a gap you might say they don't layer together as nicely I would like. Just my thoughts on 2 ways. I know different builders can make a difference but that has been my experiences with 2 way speakers. I know I've read 2 ways can actually sound much better than a good 3 way but so far have not come across a set that I could say that yep there right. Most have smaller woofers and leave a lot to be desired in the bottom end of the music. Integrating a more full bottom has always been a problem! I've read some of the reviews on these they spec out ok but would need to hear them in person to drop the bucks.




8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/02/14 at 23:17:09

If you are on the fence when it comes to ordering this Amp/ZMA. I would get on the Build Sheet. I would raise the price if I were Steve/and he will.

So, figure out what you're going to sell?!  Or, grow a pair and stand up to the better-half. My Pair(s) of Speakers...with this Amp are incredible. The Acoustic Zen Adagio's will take it to another level in Treble Extension with Musical Transparency.

Peace, Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/02/14 at 23:28:20

Hey Lars, I just might do that but I need to know first if I can have the treble cut circuit added. I need to have that on any Decware amp, it's the best option I could add.

I'm thinking about it, and the new PS Audio DAC. A lot of money, but I might be able to swing it if I come out of tax season unscathed.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 03/02/14 at 23:56:31

~36 hour ZMA update.

I listened to a lot of music last night.  The power, authority, and clarity of the music coming out of this thing just gives me perma-grin.  

I did not do any comparison with the torii3... I'll wait for a while until I'm thoroughly accustomed to the ZMA, then i'll put the Torii back in again and see if my first impression is Wow, or hmm, dull.  That will be telling.  (This is how I learned how fast the superzen was compared to the tori... it was when I switch back to the superzen that it blew my socks off).

So, my observations are the same as before.  it doesn't pitch up like the Torii...  There were only a couple cd's where I thought I'd want a treble cut.  Mostly it was just great.

It is still definitely apparent that some cd's sound great, some sound unlistenable.  The ZMA does not compromise.  garbage in, garbage out.  It will put a magnifying glass on your source in an unforgiving way.   if your source/cd is great. It will sound amazingly great.  If it's junk, you will cringe.  The Torii3 definitely treats bad cd's better.  I guess that's the price to play when it comes to this level of accuracy, honesty.  

I mentioned before a difference in how the volume level comes on with the zma and torii3.  Torii seems to get louder faster.  ZMA gets louder later on the volume knob, but it comes on strong and clean.  I think this and the transparency/clarity are what are responsible for my hearing more of the soft details and flaws in the music.  some songs that have very quiet intros before the music really starts... these things are clearly audible on the ZMA.  more so than on the Torii.  these same songs in my car... I can't hear the intro.  sounds like a long pause, then suddenly the music starts.  On the ZMA, I also hear more noise... tape hiss.  flaws in the original recording.  The ZMA is extremely revealing that way.  It will show you the ass hair of a gnat on a flower in a field.  it's amazing.  Good source material is a must.    I cringed on the bad cd's.

what confuses me is why I didn't realized such a big difference at decfest between the torii Mk4 and the ZMA.  I knew it was different, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  Of course it's easier to compare my ZMA to my torii3 on my speakers in my room. (because I'm accustomed it).  At decfest, I was comparing two unfamiliar things.   but, it could also be that the Torii4 (~30% better? (sharper?) than the torii3 according to Steve right?).  is more similar to the ZMA when running kt66's, etc.  maybe the decfest differences really were smaller.   I don't know.

You guys gotta do that torii3 torii4 zma shootout.  

So, the ZMA makes some of my music no fun... but makes some of it amazing beyond anything I've heard yet.  so far, I enjoy the trade off.



Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/03/14 at 00:25:24

See, this is what makes me feel I should stick with the Torii. I'm excited by the "liquidity" part of the reports of the ZMA but very worried about the "honesty." A large number of the large number of recordings I have are not good recordings. If the Torii "makes more of a bad cd," that is probably the right amp for me. I notice that Steve's designs get "sharper" and more revealing as the years go by, and those attributes don't bring me closer to "musicality" because I don't listen to audiophile recordings.

Slowly I've been seduced by these reports and the idea and design of the ZMA but if it is a lot less flexble than the Torii and there's no treble cut available for it (and on top of that it can have only one input). . . . I'm better suited with the Torii for my listening world.

And I do love my Toriis. I may love my oldest Torii more than the new one, still. It would be hard to part with either.

I need to step away from this thread for a while. :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 03/03/14 at 00:42:39

I hear you Lon.

Yeah, I'm discovering all of this as I go and wondering... "do I like this? Or that?"  "Is this more important than that?"  

I forgot to say, Here's my component chain (no preamp).

pc>foobar2000 with wasapi(~bitperfect)>toslink>zdac>decware ics>ZMA>styx>HDTs>ears.

(when schiit finally comes out with their Yggdrasil DAC, I'm going for it.)

Anyway, I don't have anything in here to buffer the crud (handle less than optimal source material).   I haven't tried using a preamp to de-edge bad source, because I also subscribe to KISS, preferring minimal everything.    

But maybe that's the right thing for me downstream to get back the part of my cd collection that I "lose".

 


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/03/14 at 00:53:24

Thanks for that info Steve.

I was long a proponent of the keep it simple syndrome. . . and for the longest time got by without a preamp but I finally needed to add more sources (getting a chance to move to the living room/dining room and to use it for video as well as audio service) and went with a CSP2. . . and now I feel that every source and amp is better with one of CSP preamps in front of it. It is still simple enough and there's so much benefit in the body and dynamics and tonal balance areas.

I've tried a few other preamps since I went with CSP2 and CSP2+s . . . I'll politely say all preamps are not created equal. :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 03/03/14 at 01:00:36

      I didn't ask for arrogance while wanting to engage in conversation on this thread! I just asked a question to see if you personally heard the speakers sorry you took it whatever way you did no harm meant in my part just an observation I've had with some 2 way designs. As far as purchasing a ZMA I wouldn't need to sell a thing if I choose to do something on one of these amps nor would I need to grow any nuts to get it done. Further more I'm not really sure that an amp of this caliber would be necessarily what I would need to own to be perfectly happy with my sound. I have some thoughts about it as we are all gathering information. I have similar concerns as Lon's not much of my music is perfectly mixed and recorded and it may not in the end seem like a sound step up if all other things aren't equal in quality. The decision becomes just how far do I want to chase it. I've been around live music for years and mixing and recording and seen some of the best sound come from middle of the road equipment it became technique and synergy in the end.


Cheers!



8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/03/14 at 03:52:02

Steve C/Lon...Like I mentioned before, I have never had a lush/romantic amp in my system.  For me, it has always been fast, slightly dry SS or fast/transparent tube amps.  I listen to a variety of music and I have music that sounds good and music that sounds great on my system.  I don't think I have come across anything that makes me cringe yet.  That said, it's possible I have been selecting better sounding discs during the break in period to understand what the ZMA is capable of.  For me, it would be instructive if you could provide a list of music/cd's that you love, but think might not sound good with the ZMA (lets be clear, it's not just the ZMA, b/c everything else in the chain matters).  Steve C...what discs made you cringe in your recent listening session?  While I don't think this will replace the experience of hearing a Torii mk3 in my system (or a weekend at Decware to compare the amps), it's a start.  

The ZMA does so many things right (bass, transparency, musicality, etc).  My only gripe so far is that I expected it to go louder without clipping (maybe I am not assessing clipping appropriately, but I thought it was when the meters started to bounce).  My speakers are 94dB efficient (944's), so relatively efficient.  I am curious what others think about this.  


   

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/03/14 at 05:10:16


Quote:
The ZMA does so many things right (bass, transparency, musicality, etc).  My only gripe so far is that I expected it to go louder without clipping (maybe I am not assessing clipping appropriately, but I thought it was when the meters started to bounce).  My speakers are 94dB efficient (944's), so relatively efficient.  I am curious what others think about this.  


That's a very general statement. Use your ears - not the meters. I way overdrove my ZMA when it was still young, just to get a feel for how it handles clipping, and it was surprisingly smooth - reminded me of the smooth clipping of a vintage guitar amp. In fact, it made a dynamic piano sound like an electric keyboard; instead of clipping in a jarring way like a pane of glass shattering. So drive it till it doesn't sound right/good and don't mind the meters unless you're biasing.

This is one of Brianne's favorite albums, Barenaked Ladies - stunt.

I don't recall if I've played it on the ZMA, but just before the ZMA arrived, I played it on the Zen Amp, and it was so painfully harsh, I shut it off before the first song ended. I'd give this a try if you have it or can find a copy. I'll do the same when I'm back home from work, but I think this is a good example of a modern album that doesn't sound good under the magnifying glass.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/03/14 at 11:06:27

Dave on my system with the Martin Logan ESL's I expected to have more than enough power to play beyond my normal volume.  I ordered the csp3 hoping this will get me there.  Right now the way I am configured my normal listening volume is around 100%.  Even at 100% I do hot have clipping and my meters are pegged at 60.

Does this amp support larger driver tubes?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/03/14 at 13:38:26

Dave,

I'm not looking for a lush/romantic amp. But I am very worried that I wouldn't be happy with a treble that cannot be adjusted. On my Toriis you would be shocked at how much of the treble I have to be dialed down. And on the Integrated I had with treble cut circuit it was dialed down less, but it was dialed down. The amps I had before that without the treble control I was far less comfortable with the sound. I have my hearing checked each year in January and I have not had appreciable treble hearing loss below normal. The way that Steve voices amps I need the treble cut circuit.

Sigh.

Saves me money as I'm likely to stick with my Toriis. Best amps I've ever owned.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/03/14 at 15:07:42

LR…it is a relatively general statement and I was a little hesitant writing it last evening because I was too tired to expand.  Let me try and provide a little more background.

Below are a couple discs/tracks I have experimented with.  IMHO, these tracks scream to be played loud.  Also, they weren’t mastered with a lot of compression, so the overall volume is low compared to most modern cds.

Fleetwood Mac (Rumours): Dreams
Steely Dan (Aja): Peg
Dire Straits (Brothers in Arms): Money for Nothing

I first set the volume on the ZMA to 80-100% and then used the volume control on the DAC to adjust the volume to a level I thought was appropriate for ‘rockin out’.  I would always listen first to a short passage of music and then repeat the same passage while checking the meters on the amp.  So I am using my ears first.

I would hear slight variations of what you described (piano sounding like an electric keyboard), but in general I would describe it as a slight distortion.  A specific example would be to listen to the cymbal crashes in Dreams.  When clipped they sound slightly unnatural (less like wood on metal) and a bit harsh (I personally find these cymbal crashes to be a good test and I don’t’ think a lot of systems get them right).  Regarding the meters on the amp, they would range from moving on bass or snare drum hits to full on dancing.    

For reference, my DAC outputs a higher than normal voltage at 100% volume versus a typical source--2.83V vs. 2V.  I would have to do a little research to find the volume setting at which the DAC is outputting 2V to understand what happens at 2V output on the DAC and 100% volume on the amp.   In hindsight, I should have captured the exact volume settings on both the DAC and amp, but I didn’t.  

Another way to word what I am saying (and I’ll do the experiment), is that the amp may not get loud enough to rock out with a typical source (2V) and moderately efficient speakers (94dB) using these types of tracks (e.g. rock music w/low compression).  For me, this is a special listening circumstance.  I also understand that ‘rocking out’ is subjective.  That said, I am trying to understand what the amp is capable of and provide my perspective.

It has been said that if you are going to be listening to an amplifier loud enough for it to clip, then you are much better with a tube amp versus a SS amp.  I have no doubt about this in my experience (ears) and I am sure a scope would confirm it.      

Hopefully this provides some additional perspective.  I understand there are a lot of variables at play here and I don’t want to over generalize.  

Notes:  My tubes are biased at 60mA.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/03/14 at 16:21:57

Dave,

I meant no disrespect, I hope you didn't take it that way.

Wow, you must be really rockin' out!

I've cranked that whole Rumors album (24/96 in my case) and I've for sure made my meters bounce! I think I rock out a little less than I used to though, so it does sound like you're driving harder than me, especially with that added input voltage!

Good call on the cymbal crash, I'll pay better attention to that in the future; I typically notice distortion come in on vocals or dynamic guitar (probably because that's what I subconsciously focus on).

The ZMA is very forgiving when it clips, but I can see it turning it's beautiful reproduction of cymbals into a mess if it clips to hard - especially noticeable because it does such a great job at that reproduction in the first place!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by will on 03/03/14 at 16:30:58

Hey Dave,

I think my experience was similar to yours with the Taboo and Rachel I auditioned. Just BEFORE the meters started to waver I heard distortion that I found disturbing to my listening experience. That it was "better" than some other clipping we have experienced was little consolation since I wanted a bit more clean volume for the music to come to life.

Your talk about DAC output causes me to wonder a bit though. I guess you have experimented with the DAC set for a bit lower output and the amp higher???

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 03/03/14 at 16:51:28

You guys must be looking to make your ears bleed.  I really never liked extreme volume live shows and have stayed away from bad venues that pound your ears.  I'm really looking to retain my hearing as long as I can.  What SPL are you talking about trying to achieve when "rocking out"?

I get a little uncomfortable at home once the SPL hits 80dB.  My system does that with no distortion using my Torii MK IV, and my speakers are only 87dB sensitive.  I'm really looking forward to my ZMA, but not to drive above that 80 mark.  I'm hoping for more foundation and that added liquidity Steve talks about.  I also believe I'll need the extra oomph if I ever get a larger room.  My listening room is a 13' x 12' spare bedroom.  I love Led Zeplin and Rush, but I guess at 60 I'm just an old fart.  I really deserved that label BTW at a much earlier age I suppose. ;D

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by deucekazoo on 03/03/14 at 17:55:40

I was thinking the same thing. With those speakers at 32 watts you are hitting 112 db. That is pretty loud. So maybe 113db at 40 watts. It would be interesting to see what the db is when you hear it clip.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/03/14 at 18:38:34

LR…I didn't take your comments in a negative way.  I shouldn't have commented until I had the time and energy to explain in more detail.  You gave me the little kick I needed to get my thoughts down, so thanks!

Will…I have experimented a little with both scenarios 1) low DAC/high amp and 2) high DAC/low amp.  Maybe I wasn't listening critically enough because I can't say I have a strong POV either way.  Also, I'm not sure my DAC really provides the level of gain necessary to fully experience 'riding the gain'.   That said, it's probably worth exploring further.

I will have to take some dB measurements with the trusty iPhone next time I feel the need to rock out.  No ear ringing yet and I know I am listening north of 80dB.  As stated before, +95% of my listening is at much lower volumes, so rocking out really is atypical.  That said, sometimes it just feels right to crank it up….

Cheers!

Note: My room is 25' x 13' x 10' (l*w*h).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/03/14 at 18:55:07


Quote:
Note: My room is 25' x 13' x 10' (l*w*h).


Wow, I wish I had that kind of space!

Steve mentioned to me; he noticed I had the ZMA cranked about 95% and was using the variable output on my Oppo as a volume control (you know, since it has a remote and sounds good). He said he felt it sounded thin with the volume down on the Oppo (possibly true) and reocmmended I crank the Oppo to 100% and try controlling the volume with the ZMA instead.

So far, I've not really noticed a difference either way, but I've not had much time for critical listening in the past week since I got my ZMA back from Steve. The only real difference is my *harumphing* each time I change a track and I have to get up and dial the ZMA volume up or down manually.

That also reminded me that I forgot to ask Steve why none of his preamps have a remote volume control - I'd be sold on one of his preamps if it had a remote volume knob.With my main source of music being digital now, I bounce around from albums and tracks, and I absolutely need to adjust the volume between tracks, or as the mood hits me...or Brianne starts talking to me.   ;)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/03/14 at 19:58:42

Have you tried setting the ZMA volume with the Oppo at about 90 percent and that allowing you a bit of adjustment headroom via remote and even if you diminish a bit you're still in the high end of the Oppo range. . .and you're riding the gain too.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/03/14 at 20:35:36

Lon, that's pretty much what I do by default. Both devices up pretty high, but the Oppo being my variable rather than the ZMA. Maybe that's why I'm not hearing much of a difference, because I'm pretty much there already. When Steve said the Oppo sounded thin, it was because I left it at my late night listening volume when I dropped it off with him (and I forgot to bring the remote so he could crank it - LOL)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/03/14 at 20:41:11

I figured that would be how you would manage it. Yes, in Steve's situation it would sound thin. :)

I have a lot of ways I can ride the gain in my system, but what works for me is to have the PWD Mk II all the way up, the Torii Mk III about 90 percent, and my CSP2+ (the one with the Jupiter caps!) adjusted with the output gain so that the lowest source, my DVR, is plenty loud with the CSP2+ nearly turned all the way up. Then I generally set the volume with the CSP2+ which works for me as I listen to a disc at a time, etc.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/04/14 at 01:23:33

Digger, sorry, I did not mean to be a prick. I see now from what I wrote...was not good. I appreciate your point on the 2 way vs. 3 way and....because of your thought/insight....I am sticking to the Speakers I have. The ZMA does love them.

Furthermore, from reading further posts in this Thread...about the ZMA...and Lons insight about adding a Decware Pre and past insights....that is what I am going to do.  ....should I opt for the Bee's Wax Caps....is my question?  Digger, you have the Decware Pre too...so any insight is appreciated. I feel the ZMA could be even better with a Decware Pre....now having spent 5 weeks with it and my past experience of owning the SE84CS for 12 years and a Super Zen CKC since late 2012.....with no Pre...I think the ZMA would benefit well from its addition.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mark58 on 03/04/14 at 01:35:59

Stone,  I vote for the Bees Wax Caps.  I can't compare since I have had them in all my Decware Gear from the start....CSP3, ZP3, Taboo MK III and Torii MK IV...but Lon has had his CSP2s with and without them and will tell you they're worth the added expense.  I've also run my Amps with and without the CSP3 and with is best in my opinion.  Mark.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/04/14 at 01:48:44

Get the Jupiter caps. Not an inexpensive option, but a worthy one.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mark58 on 03/04/14 at 01:52:08

Stone, another option I got was two stereo outputs rather than one stereo and one mono as is standard on the CSP3.  That way I can have both my Speaker Amp and Headphone Amp hooked up at the same time...ready to go just by turning on the Amp I want to use for my listening session. And if you want to run a sub you can get an adapter.  Mark.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/04/14 at 02:02:17

Thanks, Lon & Mark. It was meant to be....I had the late afternoon today...listening to the ZMA....and realizing you know what this needs Larry...a PreAmp....I go to the ZMA Thread...and you guys are talking about this aspect...in detail!  Dave1210....on thru.... .

I am ordering the Pre right now with the Jupiter Caps & the Double Line Level outputs.  Thanks guys, this is what it is all about. This Pre of Steve's...I can see now being so successful...when you have 0 to 6 volts of gain to adjust per channel...out of the Pre...besides the ZMA gain and my up to 3.6 volt gain out of my Audio Alchemy DAC. Of course I have to get another .5 meter of IC...but well worth it.    -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 03/04/14 at 02:13:43

Stone,
       No offense taken! I felt a bit bad about my response. Didn't mean to catch you wrong. I value all of you guys input on these amps there are so many variables to all of this equipment to reach there potential. I love my CSP3 I feel at this point with my current equipment it is truly the core of my sound. I like Lon, have had issues with the high frequencies in my system and have had to settle for a bit less resolution to tame it down to where I like it. As far as the two way speakers you were looking at I have not had the opportunity to hear for myself but wanted to point out shortfalls that I have experienced with 2 ways. I have to say the best 2 way sound I have experienced was not with home audio gear but with a Mackie PA system I used to own. The bad thing about a power system is your not really looking for imagining and 3d depth like we are all listening for in our home audio systems but sound balance tonal balance and volume is where it is at with PA's. Not worried about sweet spots to listen from in a room. I was running two 15's in the mains with horns and 2 18" EV Eliminator subs and I have to say that has been the only 2 ways I have heard where the low frequencies from the subs integrated to the mains.
      Just wanted to let you know two ways can be difficult at times depending on your taste in sound. I think you would probably really like the CSP3 with the mystery amp it will provide a bit more flexibility in your system with some tube rolling. The Mystery amp I am sure is a bit flexible also but with the CSP3 it should provide a bit more control without the need to EQ. The CSP3 has kept me from adding unnecessary equipment. The simpler the better. You can't beat Decware.

Thanks for your response back Stone! Its all good.


8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/04/14 at 02:30:43

Yes, hammer/nail on the head-Digger...I think you're right....the CSP3 will provide more control without the need for EQ.

.....CSP3 ordered!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/04/14 at 03:28:05

Funny how we are all on the same page on this.  I never needed a preamp on my Mini Torrie, but in my opinion the mystery amp requires one.  Running the ZP3 directly to the mystery amp really does not give me enough gain.  I also changed tables and tested a moving magnet cartridge and really didn't see any improvement so my conclusion is that my high output moving coil cart was not the problem.  I ordered the preamp this weekend without the Jupiter caps but today I was thinking about how much I have already spent and my goal has been to put together a top notch system and another $275 is just a drop in the bucket at this point.  I added them tonight.  Is there any reason you didn't opt for the 0-12 volt option.  IMHO why limit myself to less control by going with the 0-6 option.  I am sure there is some downside somewhere.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by mark58 on 03/04/14 at 04:03:16

FB,  this is what Steve says in the write up for the CSP3....

"Output level 0-6 volts or optionally 0-12 volts.
You would only need 0-12 volts with certain SUPER HARD TO DRIVE amplifiers like some SET amps that omit the first gain stage."

I haven't heard of anyone who has the 0 to 12 volt option.  It would probably be best to ask Steve about it. Mark.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 03/04/14 at 04:44:07

The Mini Torii was designed with an additional gain stage to accommodate an iPod.  Specifically, it has enough gain to make an iPod sound like it actually has balls.  This is a must for a desktop amplifier like the mini torii.   It is the first and only Decware amplifier to have two gain stages, and on a 2 volt source it clips at just past half volume.  This is fairly typical and what most people are used to.   That said, the "Decware" way to handle gain is normally to move the input sensitivity of our amplifiers up to and in some cases past the 2 volt mark making it A) Difficult to clip and B) In the higher better sounding range of the gain/volume control of the amplifier.  That means the normal volume control position when no preamp is used will be somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 volume to hit a normal listening level.

What happens when you add a CSP3 is you flush out the full 2 volts from any source or recording.  In fact, you can take a CSP3 and transform a 2 volt input from your CD player into a  whopping 30 volt output and then squeeze it back down at the input of the amplifier via the amp's volume control set to 1/2 vol.  This creates incredible weight, explosive dynamics and impressive tone (tube love) which is what all digital needs to sound right.

So when you compare "how loud" an amp gets relative to the volume control on the amp, you are comparing INPUT SENSITIVITY aka GAIN / Not the amplifiers POWER.  A Mystery amp ranges from 33 watts RMS to 48 watts RMS depending on the speaker impedance and the output taps you're using.  If you're not trying both sets, you could be cheating yourself.  Peak Power on this amp ranges between 68 and 98 watts.  That is with a laboratory grade 2 volt reference source at 442Hz.  The Mystery Amp has by far the least distortion during clipping of any Decware Amplifier, and I have yet to rudely clip it with over 2 volts to see what it can really do... and that's likely because I am surrounded by 92~94 dB efficient speakers at 1w/1m and can reach almost any SPL I want without strain.  For the same performance and sound quality on lower efficiency speakers we have the Zen Torii Mono's.  But more often than not it is more cost effective to get a higher efficiency speaker than to increase the power of your amplifier(s).

Bottom line, the ZDAC or similar caliber DAC's like the TEAC UD501 are the minimally acceptable sources for a ZMA if you going direct with no preamp, and only really enjoyable when using 24 bit recordings.  All other cases will benefit greatly with the CSP3 and frankly, so would the better DAC's in most cases... it just handles digital so well you forget about formats, gear, and everything else...as it should be.

KISS principle - observation:  

If every audio component was like a glass filled with 1 inch of water, and the water was not perfect... it had in fact a slight cloudiness to it, you would never know because there was only 1 inch of water.  In a clear glass cup, you could see right through the bottom of the cup with respectable transparency.  However, add two or three more components of equal quality (cloudiness) and now you have a glass cup filled with the 3 inches or more of water and the cloudiness is now apparent.  

If you were to do the same test as above with transparent water that was not cloudy, (Decware gear) you would find little difference between the cup with 1 inch of water and 3 inches of water.  This is how a CSP3 can actually improve things without the stereotypical tradeoffs common with mass produced audio gear.

Now that we can build a CSP3 with Beeswax caps (incredible transparency) there really should be no fear.

FarmBoss, sorry for the rocky start and thanks for fastening your seatbelt.

Oh, a note about the CSP3 voltage option... the 0-6 volt vs. the 0-12 volt options were designed to reduce noise or hum to undetectable levels in even the most adverse situations.  Shortly after production of the CSP3 we got it down so good that we are now making all of them 0-30 volts like the the original but with zero noise or hum.   I hope to get the web page updated soon by eliminating this option from the shopping cart.  This preamp has never been this good.

-Steve





Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by SteveC on 03/04/14 at 05:29:18

Did you see that?  How smoothly Steve just sold me a CSP3?  He's so sly ;).  

it makes perfect sense.  I'm waiting for a new DAC, now I'm saving for a preamp.  The hobby that never ends.... :)


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/04/14 at 10:20:32

Steve thanks for the confirmation.  I never really was too worried as I know there was something wrong with my config and not the amp.  It raeallydoes sound wonderful.  The two things I have noticed is how it just powers through the lower end.  Tons of what I think of as torque.  Also I have been blown away by the soundstage using my VPI Classic.

I would make sure that the fuses sent on future amps are changed.  Yhe 6.3 volts seem to work fine.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Fireblade on 03/04/14 at 15:08:17

Hi Steve,

The implications of the extra gain on the Mini-Torii (a well known design fact) are not that convenient when trying to 'ride the gain', especially to boost weight and body, isn't it?

I mean, if we need to increase the output gain from the preamp we need to also decrease the volume on the amp to achieve a positive signal pressure on the preamp's end and allow the boosting described.

This would entail the amp would always be run in the less transparent range of the volume pot, a not desirable condition.

If, on the other hand, one wants to use the higher range of the amp's volume, the preamp would have to come down, therefore creating a leaner sound altogether (as the starving input signal would be diluted further by the amp's higher volume), wouldn't it?

So either we lean the sound and work on the transparent range of the amp, or else, boost the sound by working the amp on the less transparent range. A difficult tradeoff to face.

On a side note, I'm about to get a DAC with a built-in, transparent preamp. The range of the preamp's 'analogue' volume is 0-12dBs. The output voltage is rated at 2V at 0dB. Would this be enough to ride the gain in the Mini-Torii?

Thanks for any orientation.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/04/14 at 17:09:56

Thanks Steve for your post. ....just what I am looking for into my ZMA.

......"cases will benefit greatly with the CSP3 and frankly, so would the better DAC's in most cases... it just handles digital so well you forget about formats, gear, and everything else...as it should be".

....0 to 30 volt just knocks it out of the park too!  Cool.

....and of course the CSP3 is getting a Kimber Select 1030 run in to it as well.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Digger on 03/05/14 at 00:33:37

        Guys have fun! Sounds like you will have some more excitement coming your way. Your going to love those CSP3's. Best money I have ever spent.                           :)






8-)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by beowulf on 03/05/14 at 01:18:25

~ IMO ~

With the lack of inputs alone on the ZMA , a Preamp is almost a given unless you like to get up and swap sources and cables every time you change mediums and I don't believe an input selection box is really the best way to go ... sometimes there's a source that just needs a little gain/oomph to get it going.

I'm chasing a unicorn here, but I'm still waiting for a 2 channel Decware Preamp that has enough inputs for 3-4 analog sources and a remote (only a volume is needed, but source selection would be nice).  The Zen Ultra is overkill (not to mention expensive) for most 2 channel guys.  There is a big hole in Decware's lineup for this product.  I could see the cost coming in between the CSP3 and Ultra.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 03/05/14 at 03:49:33

I seem to be the only person with whom this whole preamp subject is not sitting well?

Plunked down 5000 for an integrated amp that it turns out really is not integrated and everyone recommends a preamp... I wasn't really looking for a new problem to solve when I made the order.

I got the xlr input option so this means I need a pre with rca and XLR output... does decware have one of those? is it an option?

Also, its tuesday but our ZMA's did not ship. anybody know why or have an estimated date?

I'm hoping getting the amp in my hands helps to alleviate or clairify my concerns and I can stop conjecturing. is that a word. :-/  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/05/14 at 04:26:10


Except the ZMA isn't exactly an "integrated amp". An integrated amp implies that it's a preamp and amp in one - this is an amp that happens to be able to handle source level inputs. Slight difference, true, but still a difference.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 03/05/14 at 04:39:30

Good point. totally understand. Auralic Vega is 4.7v thru rca and xlr... might be a great option.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by FarmBoss on 03/05/14 at 10:24:33

Don't wory about it until you try out your own equipment and room.  It probably will be just fine.  For me it drives my speakers to right about where I would actually listen to it.  I want it to go to 11.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 03/05/14 at 13:28:49

Having multiple source level inputs with a volume control as many of Steve's amps provides is the same as having a passive preamp with a volume control tied to an amp at full gain.  Many purists who's amp has no gain control of its own take this approach as a way to not introduce any new "character" to the amp's signature.

Adding an active preamp that adds gain is the missing piece that really drives the amp's capabilities.  This added gain is like putting a turbo on a car engine.  A car's engine, like an amp, has a fixed horsepower.  It can only put out so much.  How you get to that max horsepower is another story.  An active preamp urges the amp's power with better responsiveness, helping dynamics.  

From day one with my Torii I never considered not using my preamp (Cary SLP 98P).  It will take its place with my ZMA soon.  I happen to need it for its phono stage but I really like the other control features, such as separate channel level controls for room balancing, a master volume, and of course the remote.  I really enjoy having a remote for various reasons, even if it only controls volume and mute functions.  

Because the Cary is all tubes playing CDs through it seems the best approach also.  If the CSP3 could merge with the ZP3 and an RF remote, that would be a great offering but it would require starting from a clean sheet of design paper, something Steve has some experience with I think. ;)  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 03/05/14 at 14:42:13

My speaker sensitivity is only 85 dB.  There are only some CDs, not much, which are not loud enough. I am also considering to have CPS3.

But today I got new power cord, XLO Reference 3. I replace my old Siltech SPX 30 power cord which is used with Accuphase SACD/CD player DP77. I am surprised with result. The sound tone harmonic shift to more mid and high freq. Its sound is more transparent and more speed, vivid. But the most surprise is that it is louder, may be 2-4 dB. Now all CDs can play loud enough. No need to add CPS3 pre amp. So that in my case, I would like to give one observation about power cord that it can provide enough current to your device or not?  You can play around with power cord also to tune your sound tone and loudness. Just my latest experience to share.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/05/14 at 16:52:00

Exactly stellablues, you need to have the ZMA in your Room to know.

I could happily live with my 3.6 volt output from my DAC/volume control. However, I can swing it at this time to add even more "Tube Love"...with the added versatility...to "squeeze" even more goodness out of the combination of CSP3 & ZMA.

I love this Amp. It never leaves Class A/no neg feedback with glorious even order harmonics....this does not get talked about enough. Thus, the balancing Act...of Watts output Steve chose...NOT to get into negative feedback needing to be applied.

Before I ordered Steve's CSP3...I actually considered getting a $4500 Audio Research Pre....but I want the no neg feedback and purity Steve provides with the 0 - 30 volt gain for use with the CSP3's Master Volume control! This also affords me to be able to buy another .5 meter of Kimber Select 1030 IC, that I so dearly love with all 3 of my Decware Amps (with Kimber Select Speaker Cable).

Vyokyong, I have similar XLO Power Cords...love them. I use one in my bedroom system with my SE84CS per Svetlana SV83 original NOS output Tubes...great Cord. I will use my other XLO for my CSP3....I have a Pangea AC-9SE for the ZMA....just perfect/great.    -S

Caveat outside the Purity of the Listening Room Experience: (I use a Kimber PK-10 Palladium Power Cord to my Solid State Power Amp in my Living Room Rig....makes the thing much more tolerable for sure = it is more than subtle in what it does = improvement).

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/05/14 at 19:45:55

Plus, I will add, if your going to run Redbook in to the ZMA....I new I would probably need the Preamplifier. I have an exceptional front end with the DTI-PRO32 in front of the v3.0 DAC. With the DAC, I run it in its upper digital volume range to preserve the 20 bit dither output.

However, with my Cables and all mentioned and the ZMA.....as Steve eloquently stated in his most recent post (and in his design notes way back)....you will need the CSP3 for your Redbook. Even though I could live nicely with my DAC to ZMA...as I said above. But why? I want the best out of the ZMA....AND the added SPL when I do want it!   -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 03/06/14 at 02:56:11

Hi fellas,

Glad to hear that ZMA is working wonders for you all. :)

Dear Stellablues,

System synergy has an important bearing on whether an extra preamp is required.

My experience with the Decware CSP3 is that it added an extra layer of sonic veil which I did not like with my Decware Torii MK4.

On the other hand, it added an extra pinch of hypnotic allure to my other SE tube amp whilst preserving the sonic transparency.
( my other non-Decware SE amp has the same transparency and lack of sonic veil as compared with the PP Decware Torii MK4).

So there is a risk that you might not like the sonic veil introduced into your ZMA based system, which I gather is already extremely transparent.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/06/14 at 03:02:13

Are you sure an interconnect is not adding another sonic veil?

(Ducking under the chair).

I just don't find that veil with my CSP2+s in use with my Mk III.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/06/14 at 03:13:54

My ZMA is being fed a fine feast of bits directly from the PW DAC and it's spitting out some beautiful music.

I should hit the 100 hour mark by the end of the week.  The amp hasn't sounded better and my ears are VERY happy!  

Back to the music...  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 03/06/14 at 03:23:21

Hi Lon,

In my system test, the entire audio Chain was the same.
Used the same interconnects with both amps.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/06/14 at 03:42:28

Okay. It's just not my experience at all.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/06/14 at 16:32:42

...certainly a possibility Lord Soth?

However, after I put extensive hours on my new CSP3 and Kimber 1030 IC with my ZMA system and three gain controls to work with (DAC w/adjustable voltage output/VOLUME CONTROL, CSP3 w/adjustable voltage/MASTER VOLUME CONTROL output & gain control on ZMA)...I will come to a conclusion.

Plus, tube rolling....out of curiosity, I have to get KT120's in the ZMA...probably in another month. I have Cryoset ...23P's too. I think LR said Steve stated the KT120's were warmer sounding. To be able to use KT120's in a Decware/Steve's Topology....especially this Amp/ZMA is exiciting/cool.

Plan B: I want a great Headphone Amp. The CSP3 will fit the bill. All the strides the last half decade in Planar Headphones is exciting! The Kimber 1030 can easily take up refuge in one of my other two Systems (or stay right with the Headphone setup).

I don't have money burning a whole in my pocket. I sold a few things to afford the ZMA = well worth it. Having the CSP3 coming in is a great luxury/problem to have for all us whom get to indulge in this great Hobby.....right?!  For me, I have 900+ compact Discs to serve. Six more Disc's should arrive from Amazon today.    Enjoy, -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/06/14 at 17:31:12



Quote:
I think LR said Steve stated the KT120's were warmer sounding.


Steve said "more romantic" - whatever that means! LOL

I don't know if this was happenstance or you saw my post in the Classified, I'm looking for a quad to test. Reason being, last night I was playing some recordings that I kinda like, but it was very dry. I'm also trying what Steve recommended by putting the Oppo at 100% and using the volume on the ZMA to see what I see.

As far as I can tell, having the Oppo at 100% and ZMA being the variable, it's just showing how dry and analytic the Oppo is, and dry or poor recordings are painfully so. I'm hoping to try some KT120 to see what a "more romantic" presentation might do for that.

I can't afford a preamp right now, so maybe some used tubes will help.

I still love the Oppo though, it does the detail thing well.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Steve Deckert on 03/06/14 at 18:58:02

For those who ordered the ZMA with transformer balanced XLR inputs, I think you'll find the beauty of the transformer is it's ability to remove dryness which can occur when feeding the amplifier directly from a DAC.  Very similar sonic effect that an active preamp brings to the table where dryness or lack of dimensionality are concerned.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by vyokyong on 03/06/14 at 23:24:00

Yes, ZMA is liquid, honesty and high resolution. Oppo is in thin and dry sound compared to Accuphase. In my case of Accuphase, I am impression of ZMA to provide low freq sound region, base is tight, speed and details so that I can hear details of drum skin, like you sit next close to drummer. But I wish base to have more weight and slam! However the mid freq sound region, particularly vocal voice, is not impress. It is improved and better than my Pass Labs SS Amp. But all of us know that tube amp has mid sweet sound, particularly vocal voice, to die for. I just have a hope that the mid sound will be sweet when ZMA passes > 200 hrs. But it is lucky that I replace my Siltech SPX30 power cord (which is made of silver + gold wire) with new XLO Ref3 power cord which is made of copper wire. The sound tone shifts to more mid range sound. Now my mid sound is very sweet and vocal voice is so sweet to die for. It is sacrifice of details in base sound, less hear drum skin, but the base has more weight and slam as I wish. The sound stage is wider, each instrument has more mass or size of real live concert, more separate with more black background. Before each instrument is small size, thin and sharp image. Now I am very very happy.
Its sound improves to next level, more like real live concert.

Then I would suggest to try replace silver cable of IC or power cord with copper cable. It may help to solve dry sound in your system!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lord Soth on 03/07/14 at 02:01:12

Hi Stone and Lon,

What I was trying to say is that I got mixed results when I introduced the CSP3 into the same audio chain.

Oppo 95 --> sound silver symmetry --- > CSP3 ----> sound silver symmetry ---> Amp A / Amp B ----> Clearday double shotgun -----> Alesis speakers MK2 Passive

I got the sonic veil ( from the CSP3) when amp A was the mk4.
On the other hand, there was no sonic veil when Amp B was the other non-Decware amp.
The CSP3 was utterly transparent and I could not hear any veil.

The MK4 sounds just as transparent as my other setup combos when the mk4 is run directly from the source.
So that is my preferred setup for now.

Dear LR,
The Oppo DAC is extremely accurate.
I suggest trying warmer input tubes in your ZMA.
I have found that Decware amps, ( CSP3, CSP2+, MK4) are like a straight wire with gain and the input tubes can significantly alter the sound.

My MK4 required a couple of 100s of hours to mellow, like a typical "man" ;)
It was a bit too analytical at first.
Since the ZMA takes sonic accuracy to an even higher level, I suppose it requires even more hours to mellow as compared with the MK4?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by lLance on 03/07/14 at 02:14:09

Parts pulled for my ZMA today. I like what Steve is saying about the balanced inputs. I can't wait to hear how it sounds straight from my M51 DAC.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/07/14 at 02:31:27

I understood what you were saying, Lord S. I just have had no similar experience with my sources and the CSP2+ and the Mk III.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/07/14 at 02:40:25

I am very much enjoying how my system sounds right now (PW DAC-->ZMA-->944).  I expect it will only get better with continued break in.  

I recently used a laser measure to fine tune placement of the 944's.  I wish I would have done that earlier.  Imaging is spot on and the sweet spot is very sweet.  Albeit very head in a vice.  

I have never had a tube pre-amp in my system so I don't know what I am missing (if anything).  I applaud the folks who are going to get the preamp and decide whether or not it works for them.

I have a couple things I want to try over the next week:
1)      Plug the ZMA directly into the wall and bypass the PowerPlant
2)      8 ohm vs. 4 ohm taps
3)      Balanced vs. unbalanced inputs

I also have an Oppo BDP-93 that I can substitute as a source.

LR…Not sure if others are interested, but it would be great if you could provide a list of the discs/music you found to be dry so people can use them as a reference (if they so choose).  Cheers!  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/07/14 at 04:17:18

They weren't very good recordings, but look at my list in the What's Spinning thread for the past day or so, starting with the Tribute to Tom Waits. The Heart albums sounded fine as they always do.

The Tom Waits one is really bad...one of the tracks actually sounded like a low rez MP3 dumped to CD, but then the next track sounds like a proper studio recording.

The Kelli Ali discs were really dry.

I feel that what really made this dryness apparent. is that I'm running the Oppo at 100 and using the volume of the ZMA - it really lets the source shine through, for better or worse.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/08/14 at 18:46:18

I did the MOD!

Separation of Audio Ground from Earth Ground. BUZZ be gone....I have cast you out!

Lowest possible noise floor now re-established. Engage Mr. LaForge! ....give her all you got Scotty!    

It was cool to crack her open and follow the signal paths (0A3's to preamp tube) and see those sweet Jupiter Cap bundles too!

.....and not a DAMN TRANSISTOR IN SIGHT!

Cheers, Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/08/14 at 19:20:24


Congrats! I'm glad you got that worked out!

I happen to be listening to my (modded) ZMA now, actually using it for TV watching.

Tell us what you notice later tonight after you get some quiet time with it!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/09/14 at 03:19:55

Today I'm playing with my new Roku device, seeing what all features it has and watching some TV and listening to Music on it - and I'm astounded how great it sounds, even on streamed TV shows. Then I play some BBC TV shows I downloaded, and every opening track sounds great. Now I'm playing some random FLAC files and I'm marveling at how great everything sounds.

Then I remember, Oh yeah, I've had the amp on (not playing the whole time) for 2 days straight, and I'm closing in on 200 hours. This amp just gets better and better.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/09/14 at 03:34:13

I find that these amps love to be run for days on end, day after day, they get incrementally better sounding after 24 hours and more of running time. Mine has been on since Wednesday and the sound is stunning.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/09/14 at 17:04:18

ZMA is back in and sounding very good (quiet now). I had my SE84CS in the System on Friday. Man, do I love that AMP!

However, the ZMA is back in this morning with the Power...is just kickin' it right now!

I do look forward to seeing what the CSP3 in front of it will do. Also, I am going to sell a couple of pair of Speakers in the Spring to get a good pair of Headphones....like the Audeze LCD -X. Beats Audio WHO?  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/10/14 at 20:50:07


Not sure if anyone cares, but Parts Connexion has Mundorf M-Lytic HP+ 500v caps on "Overstock Special" in the 2200uF Range.

I have the big reds, so I obviously won't be messing with mine - but it's out there for you tweakers who have the courage to mess with a $4600 machine.  :D


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/11/14 at 19:23:04

Yes LR, we have to appreciate the Big Reds = Mallory NOS Caps in the ZMA.

I also appreciate the design of this Amp, having personally opened it for my MOD and admired the build quality of the ZMA with tracing most of the signal paths and grounds.

LR, what do you think of your Pangea AC-9SE? I find it, in my System with the ZMA, to be elaborated to excess in the Bass & midrange push out. I have gone back to my XLO Power Cord, which has complete Tonal Balance with the ZMA. I am glad I have another of the same XLO to go to my CSP3 coming.

Of course, yours and others mileage may very with it to the ZMA.

I put the Pangea AC-9SE with my Rotel 1062 preamplifier = very nice with Solid State. I have a Kimber Palladium PK-10 (Kimber's best I bought used from David Weinhart/Weinhart Design out of LA-he has a lot of good stuff he takes on trade...because people have upgrade idis'-hehe)...the Palldium runs to my Emotiva XPA-2 Solid State Amp....and takes this Amplifier to a whole other level for the Living Room Rig.

But I'll tell you, this Pangea is one hell of a value because it competes with my Palladium PK-10.....no doubt. I just feel it is better suited for Solid State, like the Kimber Power Cord is..... .

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/11/14 at 19:48:25

Pangea AC-9SE is between the wall and my AC-10. I have my DYI braided 10AWG power cable (made from Zen Styx type wire) between the P10 and the ZMA.

I honestly don't hear any difference between (quality) power cords. That said, with all the noise I've had previously, on top of my high ambient noise in the room, I simply wasn't really able to hear any subtleties between power cords.

Palomino and I have been talking about sitting down to focus on a power cord showdown, especially now that he's got a PPP - but we really don't have a lot to choose from.

I guess I'm still skeptical about power cords. IMHO - if the power cord isn't holding the amp back, it's good. Anything that does hold the amp back in any way, or adds noise, isn't good. So, again, IMHO - all the "high end" cables I have appear to be good, because they don't hamper the equipment in any way. Stock cords maybe sound a little less dynamic (hampering the gear) - beyond that, I don't hear the changes people talk about like with ICs and Speaker Wire.

Still, I'll give power cables a fair shake and see what I see. I just feel I need some more samples besides my Pangea, DIY, and Palomino's DIY.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Palomino on 03/11/14 at 20:10:57

I am thinking about signing up for the trial service at the cable company to give us some variety.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/12/14 at 03:26:46

The amp has definitely turned a corner and is headed closer to Zen (I have a conservative 125 hours on the amp at this point).  I feel there has been a recent breakthrough in texture and 3 dimensionality (dryness and flatness appear to have vanished without a trace).  I just finished listening to the new Beck album and to say it was enjoyable would be an understatement.      

I still haven't gotten around to doing any of the additional experiments I planned to do.  For example, I want to try out the balanced inputs, but apparently don't have any balanced cables (seems they have gone missing from my tangled web of Pro Audio cables).  On a similar note, I did some research on the balanced outputs of the PS Audio DAC and at 100% volume it outputs 5.6V (2X the unbalanced, which is already reasonably high).  Should be an interesting experiment (even more gain than I realized and Steve's comment that the Jenson transformers add some of that pre-amp magic).  Anyone have a recommendation for good XLR interconnects?

Cheers.    

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 03/12/14 at 03:58:25

Hey Dave,

I just got the ZMA up and running tonight.. Im on hour 2. :-) I am using XLR and have not yet tried my RCA.

The beck album is amazing on vinyl. i played side 2 about 8 times in a row last weekend...

You might look at VH Audio DIY silver XLR cables. this is what I am using but I have always built my own cables and always preferred silver. not too difficult but soldering experience helps.

http://www.vhaudio.com/wire.html  

altogether around $110 with all parts. if you upgrade to OCC wire its 70 bucks more. I may build another set using that cable here soon.

won't get you that immediate fix however.






Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/12/14 at 04:49:28

Thanks for the info on the cables SB.  

Enjoy your journey with the ZMA.  I have been listening throughout the entire break in process and it has been insightful.  Keep us posted.

Sounds like I should pick up the new Beck album on vinyl.  I have been spinning and collecting vinyl for 10+ years (I was a dj in college and maybe you could argue I never stopped).  Seems like a crime that I don't have at least one turntable setup at the moment.

Happy listening!  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 03/12/14 at 15:14:12

Which Beck album are you talking about here?  I'm putting my monthly vinyl buy list together so this is timely.  I am also picking up my ZMA tomorrow at Decware (road trip) and will like getting some new music to help put it through its paces.

I will be picking up the ZMA in person becuase I'm swapping the Torii MK IV for it.  Steve and I came to agreeable terms on that.  I will be a little sad giving up the MK IV.  It is sounding SO good.  Has anyone else had both the MK IV and the ZMA?  I'm guessing from reading early reports that the ZMA won't disappoint, rather it will be the amp I really need for my JansZen speakers.  

The Torii has worked really well but I can foresee a time in the future where I will have a bigger room and the ZMA seems like a better fit given the nature of my speakers.  I also remember reading way back on page 7 of this thread where Steve and David Janszen both certified this speaker/amp combo.  I'm really looking forward to seeing if the ZMA does in fact give that extra oomph.  The sound is so good now with the Torii that any added performance will be very cool.  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/12/14 at 15:29:43

Congrats on the upgrade!

Drive safe! It sucks out there right now with the slushy snow, and it's supposed to get colder (freezing this mess) later today!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 03/12/14 at 16:00:14

I have been watching the weather.  We had 73 degrees yesterday here in Cincinnati.  Today is much colder and rain.  I realize traveling north will make that worse.  I'm motivated however and have four wheel drive if needed. :)

My son has the day off and he will be my traveling buddy to help with the driving and to provide company.  We both like road trips and I don't get as much time with him as I would like, so the trip will be good for a variety of reasons.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lon on 03/12/14 at 16:40:28

Have a nice safe trip! Here in Cleveland area it has been snowing since 8 a.m. (afer raining a few hours) and there's no end in sight. :) But as you say, you're motivated!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/12/14 at 17:02:03

The latest Beck album is Morning Phase.  See link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Morning-Phase-Beck/dp/B00HHYEOY0/ref=tmm_acd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1394639807&sr=8-1

If you like the music on his new album, also check out Sea Change.  Both albums have excellent sound quality.

Can't wait to hear your impressions of the Mystery amp with the JansZens.  Those speakers are on my short list to demo.

Cheers and have a safe trip!

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stellablues on 03/12/14 at 17:28:31

jsm71 if you would like to get rid of your janszens please let me know. I loved them in the store but they didn't fit my room configuration at that time. I didn't get them and then the price hike in december really hurt my spirit.... now I need to find a demo or used pair. and force my room to work... or just put that dream on the back burner.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/12/14 at 18:54:59

Awesome jsm71, you are going to love it (ZMA).
You have a nice Pre for it too.

My CSP3 has made the Build Sheet!

I came to my senses and I will run my Kimber Silver Streak from DAC to CSP3...then from CSP3 to ZMA will be my Kimber Select KS-1030. The damn 1030 IC has gotten to up there in price for me to get another.

ZMA is making music right now.....back to it.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/12/14 at 19:42:07

I look forward to Tube Rolling and others impressions late this Summer and Fall...after seasoning of this great Amp.

1st, KT120's.......keeping all else equal. I have 251 hours on my ZMA as I type. I will put the 120's in approx. 2 to 3 weeks before my CSP3 arrives to get an understanding of them prior to my Pre.  -S

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/12/14 at 22:21:01

I just switched from the 4 ohm taps to the 8 ohm taps to assess differences/preference with my setup.  For reference, I did ask Steve what he prefers, and below is the response I received:  

"Myself I often use the 8 ohm taps with 944's, but it's a room dependent choice combined with how loud you're going to try to play the amp."

That said, I think the guidance is try for yourself and decide.  

LR...have you tried both taps with your 944's?  If so, where did you net out?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/12/14 at 22:26:47


No, I haven't really tried both taps - I will eventually now that my buzz issue has been resolved.


Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Dave1210 on 03/12/14 at 22:41:16

This may be a stupid question, but do transformers also need some time to break in?

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 03/13/14 at 17:41:42

For those of you running the ZMA, how hot do your transformers get?  My inner transformers get hot enough that I can't keep my hand on them for more than a couple of seconds and after several hours the top plate gets very warm.  My ZP3 and CSP3 run relatively cool.  Some of the ZMA heat may just be heat soak from the KT-66s which run super hot.

Thanks for any input.  Also, you guys must have incredible hearing.  I find my ZMA phenomenal right out of the box!  One thing though.  At very high volume I had really bad feedback due to induced vibration of the ZMA from the (very solid) platform that it sat on.  I built a separate isolation platform using springs and the feedback was eliminated.  I built similar platforms for under my ZP3 and CSP3 and all induced vibration is eliminated from the components.  (Doesn't isolate the airborne vibrations -- of course.)  I pick springs with natural frequencies well below the audible range, say 10 Hz.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Lonely Raven on 03/13/14 at 18:11:26


Maybe your more heat sensitive than I am, but my power transformers don't get too hot. Really warm, but not too hot to touch. I measured it with an IR (touch free) thermometer, but I don't have my notes in front of me. I can report back later with the exact temps. Some of that heat is probably from the KT-66 as you said.

My old Zen amp on the other hand, I couldn't keep my hand on for more than a second and I'd flinch away. That was one really hot amp!

I've also noticed (and measured) that with the PS Audio P10 Power Plant, my power transformer temps dropped about 4-5 degrees, and no longer buzz with DC or other crap on the power line. Which is possibly a source for added heat by the way.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 03/14/14 at 00:37:05

LR:  The inner transformers definitely get hot.  I'm running off of a Hospital grade Triplite. I don't notice any transformer buzz on the ZMA but the ZP3 and CSPS have audible buzz.  Steve seems to have fixed any noise issues.  With everything turned full up I can barely hear anything with my ear against the speaker.  I have the red caps like you.  Maybe the difference is the CSP3 or that I've been playing LOUD a lot?  It all sounds so good I just can't help myself.  :)

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/14/14 at 17:59:38

Well, you're going to have an ever so slight hum...lets call it from the swooshing of the Tubes/Transformers. The BUZZ LR and I had, was from the Earth Ground and Audio Ground being connected. Steve sent me the instructions to do the MOD myself. It was very easy, just had to clip off a 14 gauge wire in two spots....  .75 inches of.... . The ZMA has draining resistors....so no worries when I went in there....but I was still careful....you show those CAPS...the Big Reds some Respect! It was also cool to admire the Build Quality of Steve's & Company.

Anyway, I digress, ENJOY YOUR ZMA! I love this Amp and can't wait to get my CSP3....I am watching it climb up the Build Sheet!   -Stone

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by Archie on 03/14/14 at 18:39:30

Steve told me that the transformers should NOT be running as hot as mine seem to be.  He said you should be able to touch them for a minimum of 10 seconds.  He told me to set my bias at 50ma and let him know how things are.  So far, at 50ma, the transformers are running warm to the touch.  We shall see what they are in a couple of hours.

Stone -- With my CSP3 and 91 db Monitor Audio speakers I can get the volume up well beyond what I consider too loud.  I haven't tried the ZMA without the CSP3 so I don't know how loud it would get or if I'd notice a change in sound.  When I ordered I got the capacitor upgrades on my ZP3, CSP3 and ZMA but I did not get the stepped pots.  My motivation for the CSP3 was the flexibility of having two outputs to the ZMA but there are other obvious benefits!  Steve gave me an input/output knob setup that is different from the description on the CSP3 product page.  He suggested having the ZMA volume full up and the input knobs, which are closest to the CSP3 volume knob, full up and then to set the other knobs (output level) to normal listening level with the CSP3 volume set at the halfway point.  Of course for headphone listening, the setup would be different.

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by stone_of_tone on 03/14/14 at 19:21:35

Hi Archie, I have my output tubes at 60ma and I am able to keep my hands on the inner tranny's. They are warm to hot and run a little cooler than my SE84CS Tranny' that has been in service for 13 years come May. I am sure you will get yours worked out with Steve.

I run 90-91db Speakers too. I love the added SPL I can now get with the ZMA. However, I just recently had the SE84CS back in....I love the lit from within Pentodes run in Triode musicality...and would never sell my CS! I am so glad I purchased the ZMA! It comes so close to my CS & CKC it is spooky....but with the Power added headroom when called upon.

So, why do I want a CSP3? I want the ZMA to be all it can be with what Steve exactly described in his #848 reply. Some, but very few recordings can be a little dry with the ZMA too....as compared to the whet/wet sexy hot humid....that I can get from my SE84CS. Plus, quite frankly, when I want to pound the piss out of the ZMA with Dynamics & the Organics I'm getting with through my Kimber Select 3035 Speaker Cable....I NEED the CSP3 to do so.  8-)

Okay, I am confused when you say "Steve gave me an input/output knob that is different.....". I do plan on having the ZMA volume full up/treating it as a straight power amp with the CSP3 running into it. I will have the volume 1/2 up on the CSP3....my DAC turned up full/for best resolution....and then from 0 volts on each left  & right channel (the ones labeled C in the CSP3 product info)....I will slowly turn those up for volume....then use the Master volume knob on the P3 to fine tune.

I guess I am confused with the: "He suggested having the ZMA volume full up and the input knobs, which are closest to the CSP3 volume knob, full up and then to set the other knobs (output level) to normal listening level with the CSP3 volume set at the halfway point".

Is this involving the B knobs illustrated in the product info/headphone knobs? Or your different output knob setup you mentioned?  

Title: Re: The MYSTERY AMP !
Post by jsm71 on 03/15/14 at 15:20:17

I picked up my ZMA Thursday from Steve and had it in the system in time to put about three hours on it that night.  Initial impressions:

1.  Heavier for sure than the Torii.  Ugh!

2.  Love the looks, including those red caps.

3.  Initial bias was indeed easy.  I haven't had to fiddle too much since.

4.  I actually thought running hours were put on this unit it sounded so good out of the box.  Steve says, "no, that's the way the amp sounds".

5.  Based on everyone's feedback on the improvements in sound to come, I'm pretty excited.  There is just a bit of edge to the sound that needs to be shaved off.  I know this will come with time.

6.  Love the power switch in the front.  No more on my knees to turn on and off.  Thank you Steve for that change.

7.  I haven't pushed volume yet but there is no doubt this amp has the goods.  Dynamics clearly have more attack, like a rim shot getting more force than before.

8.  Bass.  Ah, bass.  Yes, its there in spades and oh so tight.  I played some Count Basie where the stand up bass with the torii was in the background.  The bassist with the ZMA has taken a few steps forward and again, much more tight.

9.  I'm not a fan of the placement of the bias knobs behind the regulators.  I have short fingers and this was a PITA.  I may have to keep some longer needle nose pliers handy.  I got it ok but this is my only ergonomic issue.

10.  Quiet as a church mouse.  I could hear the faint hum from the transformers on my Torii.  Nothing with the ZMA.  I hope it stays this way as it breaks in.

So far I'm thrilled with this.  A great amp and still a relative bargain.  My JansZens are happy to have a new mate.  This combo is great.  I know David has raised his prices some but these are superb speakers that really ignite when fed a quality signal.  He will be advertising a new stand mount model soon using the same technology but with less size, fewer drivers, and lower cost of course.  I'm so happy I got mine before the good reviews hit and price increases became inevitable.  I kind of feel the same about the ZMA.  Steve can raise the price any time now that I have mine. ;D

Edit:  I do not have the ZMA's gain at full tilt.  If I did, my preamp's volume control would be too sensitive and not have much swing.  I