AUDIO FORUMS >> Reviews >> Torii MKIV Review

Message started by will on 02/28/15 at 01:46:50

Title: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 02/28/15 at 01:46:50

Hopefully this will be of some use for some folks. I have been writing in bits and pieces for many months, but health things got in the way a number of times. And it is clearly late with the MKV coming soon, but I thought I would post it anyway since it is done. I will read Steve's recent MKV paper after I post, not wanting what is coming to influence this exploration. As it turns out, the time it took to finish this story was quite useful, and writing became a nice tool for my personal exploration toward refinements and amazing beauty. The MKIV was a very important catalyst and player, but not by any means an exclusive aspect of this exploration! So hopefully the saga will offer useful pointers for others as it did for me!

So here is Part One:

Writing a review is risky. If one thing is clear, nothing in a system and room is independent, the combination of the many parts creating the whole. By trying to discuss power tubes without mentioning variations from rectifiers, VRs, and inputs, we can easily miss the real story, and that is one small area of personalization with this amazing gear. Add room balance… reflections and bass handling, vibration controls, all the many cables, power treatments, power voltage (one volt is important for me), in a revealing system, each can easily be heard. And if the system/room does not let us hear these things, there are weak links that are bringing down the whole. With the challenges of conveying musical perceptions with thoughts, and considering that everything effects everything, it can seem crazy to even try to evaluate a piece of gear.

But then, there are fundamental similarities from gear and rooms, and if we can get close with the language, we can gather insights for bettering our systems, the basic characteristics and personalities of gear being repeatable relatively speaking. So I guess I will continue since we crave information, for me, the reason for this forum.

At this point, my system and room are highly adapted and adjusted for sound that rules out anything obvious. Nothing sticks out, and nothing missing.... it is eerily captivating. But I keep digging and refining, a really fun part of great music in the home. Like any good art, Steve and Bob's creative process leaves room for the user to take it further, to personal levels no one else can get to. Good art is never finished, it just keeps revealing beauty in different ways as we interact with and get deeper into it.

And I am inclined to DIY, not just to save money, but so I can refine my system to personal levels. So far, no matter how far I get, I find Decware will allow me to go further.


I have 1500 + hours on my MkIV. It lost its burnin down cycles and stiffness at 300-350, but to get into its highly sophisticated and refined clarity and musicality, it took 600-650 hours. Then around 1000 was another refinement shift.

Though all along the amp was really good, with less than 600 hours, its amazing potential is still hidden.At many phases of burnin the amp circuit had more influence and color than I prefer, but once burned in, its way of helping to create music entered true beauty.

I hear refined and convincing realism…fast and revealing, with an indescribable musically seductive transparency.

In a sense this is contradiction, "musically seductive" and "transparency," but I hear these as true attributes of natural music. For great musicians, the breadth of tonal and textural values of instruments and voices influence the expression, and the playing influences the subtle qualities drawn from the instruments. In this, each honest explorer of deep beauty can't help but merge with their instrument in a personal way. Hopefully our system and room can pass these rich and complex expressions on to us….the cycle of the creation of beauty between players and instruments revealed fully.

Yet ways of recording are so variable…. For this, we know that a good tube amp, well integrated in a system and room, can make the music feel more like real playing, the amp itself contributing to a natural  "analog" expression to the recording….After finding synergy in my system/room, the MKIV does this really well. As I have it tuned, it is remarkable. Excellent across the frequency range, with body and speed, smooth musicality, and complex detail…it offers the countless qualities that make up realistic and nuanced expression of recorded music.

Though different, I might describe the way my MKIII is tuned similarly, illustrating how difficult words are for conveying the extreme subtlety of perceptions. So I guess I should compare these amps a bit as I go.


My MkIII's Russian K40Y-9 PIO coupling caps, compared to the stock Wimas, they are more natural, more expressive, with a smooth musicality that solved electronic edge I hadn't known was there.

I have extensively treated power and room, some traditional, and some that some folks enjoy believing don't work. Also luck. The room has many segues to other spaces (big and small), and our walls are plastered adobe bricks, thicker at the bottom, generally angling reflections upward, but with irregular dips and rises from the handmade adobes. There are no flat plains other than windows, which have resonance damping. So wall reflections are generally complex and without particular pattern. The ceiling takes it further, having large natural round log beams (not lathed) with herringboned and gapped rough boards on top. Then double tarpaper, lots of insulation, an angled airspace and foamed roof above. Since this space is airtight (sealed parapets and a foamed roof)…I am guessing it is a sort of Helmholtz resonator. The floor...slightly wonky bricks on sand. Finally, walls and room are filled with African sculpture of many shapes and sizes. No math, but good natural diffusion is a gift of this room, reflections being complicated enough to leave the room without serious reflection/frequency issues except low down. An excellent soundstage has always been a given here.

My room is “live” but just right for me. In the end, subtle room ambience blends beautifully with recording ambience and decays. The "mix" feels seamless, enhancing the "real" and “live” sense of players, and dissolving walls.

I have always enjoyed refining with power and room, tube and amp adjustments, vibration control, and component/cable synergy. I still do, though now I do the final room tune with EQ. An SE34I.2 was very good here without much “outside help”.... Synergistic Research Art Basik, a Schumann resonator, simple and transparent power treatment, a half-baked bass trap, and tube tuning. Then the Torii MKIII's strong bass challenged this room and me. With Steve's advice, I built some bass traps and multiple varied frequency absorbers. But it was still not enough for the MKIII bass with my MG944s. Giant bass traps were not an option. I tuned the 944 drivers with Marigo 3mm green resonance damping dots and by plugging the plinth vents just so. The sound got really good with the right tubes, but still not controlled enough with bassier tube sets. This finally "nudged" me into EQ.

Not being “pure” or something, I was resistant. But with parametric EQ, pulling out bumps around 45 and 65 Hz, and a -18db dump shelf from 18 Hz down, my system room changed notably for the better. Going further over time, measurements now show me peaks and valleys, but finally sound determines subtle octave width and Db adjustments. Along with 45 and 65, there are a few other 4-6 dB parametric adjustments, but most are .5 to 3 Db, and all are quite narrow. EQ is part of PureMusic, my player software, acting directly on uncompressed 44.1/16 files, and sent through the amazing Tranquility NOS DAC.

Though I am starting from a really amazing sound, once I got the nerve to carefully EQ across the spectrum, the musical refinement equates to a component upgrade.


After getting the bass balanced, also removing midrange masking, complex detail in balance became primary in my quest for realistic tone and timbre. My HR-1s were made not long before they went up on the site, so I guess at the end of “prototyping.” I am not sure where Bob has taken the design since then, but I have sure enjoyed playing with mine toward a more amazing fit with my system/room and tastes. I asked Bob to build them with easy access to caps and resistors, so it wasn't long before I started exploring.

Not knowing quite where I was going, slowly I ended up with subtle variations that increased detail, but sounded less bright due to the smoothness, balance and detail complexity from my choices. Combined with good tube choices, this was a really important discovery.

It seems natural detail brings out all levels of what we hear...pace, attacks and decays, the sounds of wood, skin and metal….harmonics….complex ambience…  And perhaps most important, balanced micro detail can create sort of “feathered” edges and decays, actually smoothing edges with more articulate detail complexity.

Had I not found this, I may have never noticed how extraordinary the MKIV is at fine detail retrieval. Or equally...had I not been working with the HR-1s and Tranquility, it may not have been there to be found! This level of revelation obviously needs all the players to be able to pull it.

Also with the HR-1s, I added two deflex damping panels in each top and bottom chamber; added two 3mm green Marigo resonance damping dots on the mid/bass driver and radial; and carefully tuned the plinth spaces, the bass staying big, but more solid. The sound is still rich and warm, but a bit tighter, faster and more dynamic. Along with smooth, slightly heightened and refined detail, I get more sense of musical resolution from bass to the very highs.


With the MKIII, the sound I explored was a long developing track that continues....balanced, "realistic," "alive," and "tolerant," with a visceral bass and a friendly sense of slightly rich warmth... often a difficult balance.

After burnin, the MKIV signature takes me deeper into this sense of “alive” complex beauty, and with less effort.

The goal… everything in balance, nothing taking away from the extraordinary tonal complexity and density brought out by the crazy synergy of this highly tuned system.

So what causes this amp to go deeper for my personal quest?

I knew my DAC was really exceptional with musical micro detail... brilliant ambience, textures, and complex edges...but as I said, with the MKIV, this went to another level. Though many areas of refinements to the MKIV circuit contribute, I think Reconstructive Feedback plays a big role, a real breakthrough in my quest. This circuit opens up the complexity of what notes and phrases are made of, how they interact, and how they decay.

Without balance and complexity, seeking refined detail and spaciousness with a lot of gear can end up with hard edges before ever reaching the goal. And it can get hard with the MKIV, but not as easily. With the right source, tubes, cables, etc, the MKIV's complex of micro information has so many varied attributes that the effect of hard edges actually relax!

Living spaces are created as inner detail enlivens every aspect of the musical presentation.

I had learned from Eric Hider at DbAudioLabs about the importance of the micro detail, how reading ambience, harmonics and textures became a primary tool in defining the feel of analog transparency from the Tranquility DAC. I have little doubt Steve has been using these also. The seemingly unrestricted and tastefully balanced micro information the MKIV is capable of seems extraordinary to me. A tribute to Steve's efforts to refine the Torii sound.

And the Dynamics…micro and macro, they are very fast, but natural sounding. Getting captivated by the rhythm and pace here is pretty inescapable. Really telling for me, is how well an amp does slow pace...some tunes almost feel like they are dragging me into their rhythm, the tension of notes feeling pulled from the instrument. This is a beautiful reflection of the speed of the amp, the space empowering the notes.

Power Tubes:

I thought the stock tube sound was very nice (though I used cryo'd Tungsol KT66), and this was a pointer to exceptional amp qualities I later identified. But in the meantime, I have a lot of nice tubes and couldn't help hunting for, and finding, combinations that can take the amp further. During the sometimes dullish sound of burnin, I needed something to play with!

I kept returning to the rich, yet fast and spacious Psvane 5881s with 50's RCA 5U4G-STs with top/side getters, 50s Westinghouse labelled OB3, cryo'd RCA OC2s, and Zearix PCC88 (Russian made 7DJ8). The sound from this combination was fresh, alive and lush.

At that point, I could not fully "get" the Tungsol KT66, even with a couple hundred hours on them. Tight bass, and articulate, with open mids, but by comparison with the same tube set, a little veiled feeling. And while sounding slightly warmish, they had a strange feeling of distance, emotionally a little cool. The amp kept opening though, presenting more complexity and clarity with burnin. So once I felt it was no longer breaking in, I decided to see what Steve heard in the Tungsol KT66.

They were still slightly soft on top, but nicely so with a liquid, "analog" sense of balanced detail. I had been using the leaner 8 ohms setting, compensating for the softer low end of the Psvanes, and since the bottom is last to resolve with burnin. With the amp's now improved low resolution, the 4 ohm setting really brought out the Tungsols….nicely balanced, everything emerging with power, speed, articulation and openness, while remaining pleasantly a little on the warm and musical side.

This tube set was cryo'd Tungsol KT66 with Mullard labeled OC2s, Siemens tall bottle PCC88s (7DJ8), 50's Westinghouse OB3, and 50's RCA 5U4G-ST with top side D getters.…a naturally complex and engaging sound...I felt little need to change.

But finally the temptation to try Genalex won. Cryo'd Genalex KT66 were surprisingly good new, but kept getting better. More round and open….bigger yet revealing….more atmospheric. Though perhaps a touch slower, they have a complex of slightly textured warmth, spaciousness and smoothness I really like. But the catcher for me is their mysterious, spacious, but rich body...pretty seductive tubes in the right company!

Then, having some credit, I decided to try another remake of the classic KT66s with a quad of Valve Arts. Less big, and more transparent and neutral, I really enjoy their simple, even, open and revealing signature. But then I switch back the Genalex and love them for their classic power and musical “color,” especially with some textured and open PCC88s. For different reasons, I liked both better when I put them in.

Part Two in the next post

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 02/28/15 at 01:49:51

Torii MKIV Review Part Two:

Power tubes continued...

In addition to the above, I spent some time with Mullard reissue and Siemens/RFT EL34s, and 80s Russian 6P3S-E. Along with the Psvane 5881, compared to KT66s, all of these have softer bass, tend to a warmer richness to various degrees (even slightly syrupy depending on the rest) and with varying levels of notable clarity uppermids up. In this context, the brighter/cleaner upper mids can feel like emphasis, especially with the EL34s, and then especially the RFTs with their pronounced detail complexity emerging from a rich warmth. This is always seductive for me at first, but a bit of a challenge after the relative neutrality of the KT66s, their tighter bass, openness, and “revealing-enough” upper mids.

Preferences.....But in the end, though it takes some effort to really get the most from any power tube, it is there to be had with all I have tried. That different power tubes can transform the MKIV signature from within its unified and refined foundation....and quite musically and tastefully, I think this is pretty impressive! Great for a tube lover, this is a testament to how balanced, “real,” and friendly the amp's electronic signature is.

For my personal tastes and system/room, I think I tend to agree with Steve early conclusions that the KT66 is a very good choice in this Amp. And though I would not like to do it, if I had to give the rest up, I would probably be good with the Genalex. That said, they all can be really good with careful tuning and when they are in there, I like them best.

This leads to a revelation about this amp for me. If the source, room and system parts are up to the MKIVs revealing, complex, and sophisticated circuit (not hobbling it), I am afraid to say it, but I think this amp can actually make many tubes better! What can I say? If I am not delusional, I would call this a powerful indicator of how far Steve took this voicing.

The MKIV pulls the beauty of various tubes with great finesse.


In the MkIII, though 6922 types can be nice, their more solid, extended and articulate nature made them more difficult to tune to my tastes than 6DJ8 or 7DJ8's. I typically fell back on PCC88/7DJ8 for more micro detail, texture and spaciousness. But with the right tube compliments, I would occasionally really enjoy  E188CCs/7308s. In general, they bring a nice touch of friendliness and musicality to the 6922 world.

And in the MKIV, it is easier for me to use these tubes, indicating further the care of the MKIV design and how friendly it is with tubes. 6922's, especially E188CCs/7308s can be a real pleasure....the amp circuit bringing out even more of their complex, atmospheric and friendly qualities...along with the expected articulation, extension and accuracy. I still tend to the generally more open texture of good 6DJ8s, and 7DJ8/PCC88s, but not as much as with the MKIII. I think I can say that the MKIV makes inputs bigger, fuller, more solid, yet still spacious, with excellent detail complexity. Though with recognizable traits, in some ways, inputs seem like different tubes in it...better. I loved the MKIII, but something about the MKIV way of using tubes pulls more amazement from becomes less about how good the tube sounds and more how it becomes music.

And More Tubes

But it is not all inputs and power tubes by any means. As with the MKIII, every tube counts in its impact on the whole. My main tube set over many months had been Genalex KT66, 50's RCA 5U4G-ST with top/side D getters, 40s Dumont labelled OB3s, Mullard labeled OC2s, and early 60's Amperex Miniwatt PCC88s, occasionally playing with other PCC88s or 6922/7308 types. But based on forum posts, several months ago I replaced the Mullard OC2s with British 7C51s and started exploring more 5V4/GZ32.

Quite similar to the Mullard OC2s, the 7C51s offer perhaps a little more fine detail, and the Mullards have been harder to find. Both are a step or two up in warmth and complexity from the articulate, but a little tight and cool stock Russian OC2s. I would put RCA OC2s closest to the Russians, but more spacious...more complex and lively... then Raytheons do the open RCA thing with a little more warmth...the Mullards take the warmth a little further while remaining lively and fresh; and finally, the 7C51 have a similar friendly “warmth,” not dark or veiled, but textured with good detail.

I will talk some of this later, but the big VR's are great tuning tools also, for me, one of the most important! The OA3 provides the most push on the power tubes, most tonal density, bass and fullness. Then progressively the OB3, OC3, and OD3 make the sound more open and spacious as density and fullness decrease. And within this context, vintage and make of the different tube types can be easily heard if the system is revealing, with variations in warmth, spaciousness and detail.  Altogether, very powerful tuning tools!

Rectifiers are powerful as well with loads of variations depending on types, vintage and make. I have mostly explored 5U4Gs, 5R4GYs, and 5V4/GZ32s in the MKIV. The 5R4GYs tend to be very solid and articulate. I like Chatham 5R4WGYs for open articulation with some mild warmth, but they are a tight fit if you use KT66. I may have cracked one of those big crazy bases this way, but you can sort of angle the KT's out I their sockets and the 5R4s in to separate them a bit more...still close though. RCA 40s and 50s 5R4GY are  good choices if the tube set needs a high quality, extended and very clean and open rectifier sound.

Of the several 5V4G I have, I generally prefer the even balance and inner detail of my old “standard” Torii Rectifier, RCA 5U4G-ST's. But the RCA 5V4Gs and GE 5V4s tend to be a little lean up high, and a bit thick low down. But not the Mazda GZ32s! Sort of bridging a good GZ34/5AR4 in speed, dynamics and tight/open qualities, with the excellent frequency balance and inner complexity of a good RCA 5U4G-ST, the Mazdas give me really nice balance, solidity and enhanced tonal density that is fast, open and warm. Once I get close with a tube set, I often like to roll rectifiers, a great tool for final refinement. My system, but I think these particular GZ32s take the MKIV to a very good level.

Finally, with a moderate variety of quality tube choices, and with the MKIV's refined ability to use tubes well, you can go a lot of places with this amp. It is quite accommodating with convincingly musical signature shifts.


…is very well handled. The textured steel top plate? Internal parts arrangement? Placement for isocups (and all the other vibration mitigation I use) is still important, but subtler than with the MKIII. And that done, the need for tube dampers is subtler, though I do use them. The MKIV is a good step forward for reducing vibration noise, and big deal if we want all we can get from a system/room.

Amp Adjustments:

I thought I might, but I don't miss the adjustments of the MkIII. With impedance and bass switches, treble knobs, and reconstructive feedback, tuning works really well with the MKIV.

Experimenting without EQ, all variations of adapting the amp to my system/room sounded quite good. Changes are clear but also retain the amp's natural voicing. Testing each parameter, though I have definite preferences, once I adapt for a minute, the sound is good. I think the adjustments do what they are meant to do with the integrity of the amp's refined signature.

Bass Switch:

I have bass intensity challenges with my body and in my rooms, with the MKIII and IV. Because of this, I learned to love EQ for overall system/room fine-tuning with my MKIII. Once I got the MKIV, I just stayed in the habit. I prefer EQ in part for the richer mids with the bass switches off, selecting bass correction specific to room and tastes.

So until I started writing this, I hadn't used the Bass Tightening Switches much. But without EQ, they do musically reduce bass fullness, but with a still natural balance and impact. Here, depending on how bassy the tube set is, the low bass can still be a little too strong for my tastes and sensitivity to bass…but it is very effective while still sounding “right.” If I used the switches instead of EQ, then I might need to make some tube adjustments with some tube sets. That said, in the end I like having the edge to work with. I can carefully tune the bass to “just right” if it starts a little too much.

I like the sound of the switch in my room, and after experimenting with it some, was even tempted to explore using it with only very minor EQ. When EQ refinements of 1/3 dB, or changing the octave width from .08  to .12 can excite me, I think this is high praise for the sound of the switch.

Without EQ, the MKIII took more serious tube set refinement to get the bass "right" here. And the bass knobs have more effect on the tonal complex of the bass and mids. I like the sound of those knobs, but the MKIV and its bass switch offer better bass control while remaining true to the amp signature, making it better overall in my rooms.

Treble Knob:

With EQ, I tend to use the treble knob pretty open. But when I roll tubes, I occasionally use the knob and find it a great tuning tool. By experimenting with an 8K high shelf in EQ, it is clear how useful this knob's range is. There is a sense of fine-tuning the whole of the sound...the mids, bass and the highs. Another excellent design choice by Steve.

Reconstructive Feedback:

The circuit depends first on enough burnin...I think I recall 300-350 hours before it stopped sounding diffused. It brings out space, ambient information, and complex detail, so how it sounds also depends on everything from source on. With less of these qualities to begin with, the circuit is less noticeable. And even with a very revealing source it is somewhat subtle, but within that, really kind of huge also, as it effects the overall feel of the music.
Until that “right” place in burnin, I kept it off, preferring the more focused sound. But finally, its sound became tighter, more solid, and very tasteful in my system. Now it stays on.

Good soundstage here is generally similarly saturated both ways, wide and deep. But the sound with reconstructive feedback is different, increasing the sense of micro information and space in very important ways if you like a “live” feel. From note hits to fading trails, it feels like it takes bits of information and divides them into more bits, enlivening all things of natural detail and space. From the sound of wood, air, early and late ambient information..... the increased sense of resolution makes tones and edges more textured and smoother….more liquid and more complex at the same time. It somehow makes all the spacial aspects bigger and wider while retaining solid and saturated soundstage location for each player. It shows best in edges, in air, and in ambience close and far, but it is throughout. The space between and around instruments is richer in all spacial qualities. And really important for my room, the more “awake,” natural ambient information contributes to a convincing transformation from recorded music to “players.” Recording ambience seamlessly integrates with my room ambience.

I clearly really love it, but as with the other adjustments, the amp sounds excellent without.

Finally, though it generally did not change the already really good soundstage itself much here, I do recall as I was adjusting to the new amp, that it helped the soundstage saturation and locations at times. With mixes that had less skillful mixdown focus on soundstage, Reconstructive Feedback could bring out more soundstage definition.

There is a lot good about this design, but with my source and system/room, the Reconstructive Feedback switch is a big deal, in a sense, bringing the rest to fruition.

The Mystery:

I can say a lot about the MKIV and feel like it is accurate. But its most important traits, the ways it puts it all together, this is harder to describe. Its amazing musical detail, wide tonal balance, complex timbre, natural weight and body, its speed and unrestricted ambience…they are all special. And it is smooth without detail loss, and without being too smooth. It is relaxed and excited depending on the music. It is good at complex musical differentiation in dense recordings. I can hear all these "audiophile" indicators with clarity, but the mystery is in how seamlessly integrated these attributes are as they dissolve into the gift of music. As I listen and write, I am amazed once again at the way the amp integrates all its very articulate musical expressions into one seamless and adept whole.

When I first talked with Steve about the amp, he thought it might be a little less forgiving than the MkIII, and maybe the way my amps are set up is enough different from stock to change this. I don't know, but I consistently find the finesse in which the MKIV presents music more revealing AND more forgiving.

I have been exploring finding this particular balance for years, and my whole system and room is one thing toward the end of revealing with complete tonal balance and without hardness. The MKIV makes this easier and funner, increasing my musical pleasure.

Steve's 20-30% improvement with the MKIV? I am not good at these percentage things, as I feel like no matter how much the system improves over time, I am always working on the last few percent :-).  But for my tastes, the MKIV does most things in more complete and refined ways, and adding each of its many refinements progressively…I think I see how he got there. The Torii heritage is quite apparent, but this amp takes the lineage to new places.

That said, with the right tuning and setup, I can sit down with my MKIII and experience full engagement! Once you get that good, well….. it is just really good. But the refinements of the MKIV spread across every level of the expression of the amp, and therefore the listening experience. I find its balance of the voicing very flexible and refined.

I suspect there would be MKIII folks with great synergy who would like their amps better. Mid-burnin, I might have been on the fence, my MKIII tending to have an ingratiating, slightly wild character, but very beautiful, and the MKIV tending to being a little too refined, too predictable….. But as I got to know the MKIV, and it continued to reveal itself, I fell for its sophisticated and convincing ways of awakening music.

Final, Part Tree next ;)

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 02/28/15 at 01:55:35

MKIV Review Part Three:

Beyond taking good from the past, I suppose the MKIV could be considered a different amp. It feels  correct in tonal balance, with more complex and complete detail, textures, harmonics, and sense of inner detail. And this shows up in everything. The authenticity of the deepest bass and drum hits, right through the rich vibrations of brass and reeds, the ring of a clay drum, to the sweet distortions of great guitar amps, the spacial air of her voice as it leaves the body..... it all sounds right. None of this is possible without complete and complex detail.

And I think this is very important: I don't hear any downside from this extraordinary, more natural expression of detail. Though I experience more detail “particles,” they are fully integrated in the whole of the sound. Like listening to a live Cello in a great reflective room, you hear the bow rosin and hair, the subtle vibrations in and near the wood, the deep resonance of bass, a huge complex of tones and harmonics, the mids and highs...clear and very exciting in their complex expression of detail, and they are without edges!

Since detail is so hard to get right in audio, it took on a bad name for many. But I am suggesting that it is not "detail," it is the lack of balance and integrity of the completeness of natural detail that sounds hard or edgy. This amp, in this system is teaching me about this.

Oh, I can still get some pain from horns on some digital re-masters, (think Van Gelder) but finally, even those are pretty well managed. From string plucks to the sound of wood, moving air, and vibrating mass, well recorded string bass feels as real as it sounds, big and complex. Big drums….the eerily authentic sounds of moving skin, wood and waves of air. The fine-tuned MKIV has taken an already excellent representation of piano and drums to higher levels. Every time I hear a pad hit the piano string, I am amazed at the articulate, warm and dynamic complexity. From solo players to great musical complexity, the amp handles it all with great dexterity, each instrument present and alive.

It can bring tears to my eyes.

Finally, I wonder how much of this is my room and my extensive tuning. But then it could not have gotten here without the beautiful and balanced qualities the MKIV brings to it. I don't know how this would translate to different systems and rooms, how the subtle qualities of the MKIV would convey, but I can say from my experience that there is a lot there to work with!

Here, this amp taught me to re-look into every aspect of my system and room as I hunted for all the MKIV had to offer. And it kept giving me more, so I kept going. This process, and the refinements from a long burn-in showed me just how extraordinary the MKIV can be.

Potential Challenges:

With a revealing system, I think it takes 600+ hours to really hear what this amp has to offer, then it keeps getting better. Patience is rewarded.

If a system/room tends to bass issues, and the speakers go low, depending on a lot of things...the MKIV could possibly present challenges. With some bass traps here, one about 9 cu ft, sealed/diaphragmatic with ¾ MDF for lower frequencies, and a couple others tuned for mid-bass and low mids, I still need EQ or the bass switches. And with some tubes and tunes, the low bass can still be a little heavy for me with the switches. To be clear, this is not boom, just a bit strong for my bass sensitivity. Since I prefer the sound without the switches, and with EQ, this is not an issue here. And without EQ, the switches sound really good, but I would need to tube tune also.

CSP3 integration:
Getting the jupiter capped CSP3 to improve the MKIV took effort for me. The MKIV and Tranquility are so good at very complex fine detail, the CSP3 needed exploration to resolve masking. Even with really good ICs and power cable, chosen to be most revealing, stock tubes were not really close.

To get to know the MKIV, I had listened for a long time without a pre and was surprisingly content considering I had learned to love the potential for greater lucidity and weight adjustment with a Zstage or CSP. But the MKIV does a lot of what the CSP3 does…great dynamics, body, definition and detail, and with a smooth musicality that deftly evens up various recording qualities….It is almost like it has a little CSP built in.

After this “conditioning,” using the amp without a pre, and having “known” the CSP3 could be quite transparent in the past, that the CSP3 could mask subtle though vital musical information, I was actually shocked.

So I had to carefully look at context. This amp reveals loads of subtlety that may have been impossible to achieve without Steve's long Torii exploration......AND the MKIV does have Reconstructive Feedback... AND the amp revealed more of what the Tranquility was capable of. This amp clearly deserves a source and system that reveal unrestricted micro information. Likewise, unresolved room issues will “EQ” the system negatively…or speakers, cables, vibration, power....…all this amp is capable of will not be fully heard without everything supporting it well. Also, if the Torii, or CSP3 are not fully burned in, we won't hear all they are capable of.

I was quite happy without the CSP3, which is a tribute to the MKIV, but after finding the CSP3's deeper beauty, with its transparent way of adjusting weight and dynamics (and other lucidity enhancing qualities I can't describe), the frequency and intensity of a moving musical experience is heightened for me with the CSP3.

Tubes are now: an American Amperex 7308 in front, a pair of Phillip/Holland E188CC in the power positions, and a 1940's Westinghouse labelled (looks like an RCA) 5R4GY-ST.


If you are still here, I admire your diligence!


My room is carefully tuned for balanced and revealing sound. There are no stock tubes in my MKIV or CSP3. Also, I have done notable refinements to literally everything, including some modifications. Vibration is very well handled throughout and actually tuned to each component for system synergy. Excellent cables are placed by sound for each piece of gear and for overall synergy. Power is treated in many very revealing and musical ways. My source and computer are extensively adjusted and tuned to be musically revealing. And it is all synced together from years of devoted experimentation. Based on all this, the MKIV should sound good! But it is beyond good for is a beautiful, musical tool.

When I bought my amp, I heard the Mystery Amp was roughly 5% better than the MKIV. I wanted to spend less money, but my choice weighed heavily on my love of the many tuning tools on the Torii. Five tube sets; treble and bass controls; reconstructive feedback, and impedance adjustment. And from my experience with tuning up the MKIII, 5 % seemed an easy goal. Also, I already had a great variety of tubes for the amp from years of grabbing them for the MKIII.

I know they are different amps inherently, and I expect I would love the Mystery with its amazing caps,  inputs, and bias adjustment, but I had a serious concern that I could not verify without buying one! For my tastes and rooms, losing the VRs, particularly the OA3 as tuning tools in the Mystery seemed quite risky for me. I really tried hard, but for the most part, I just don't like OA3s in my Toriis. OB3s relax the amp, enhancing space just right for me. And with the right tube set, source and so on, they open spacial density without undo compromise to tonal density. That the OA3 is the clear voicing choice for Steve, and if its over-powering spacial density (for me) carries over into the Mystery voicing, that alone could be a deal breaker for me.

Also Rectifiers are primary fine-tuning tools for me, often interchangeable with inputs for the last few percent in a set. I really did not want to lose these three tuning tools, not to mention the amp adjustments on the Torii. And especially with a $2200 price difference there is a lot of room for nice tubes and adjustment tools, drawing me further toward the MKIV.
And finally, the importance of Reconstructive Feedback, for me, can't quite be measured!!!

From excellent tastes and voicing, stock Decware pieces can definitely be end points! But for my needs and preferences, I am really grateful to Steve and Bob for creating amazing jumping off points! They have proven time and again that Decware is so well designed and made, it can always be taken further if we choose. And Steve clearly went into new places with the MKIV, the amp being more flexible and easier to pull lucid and complex sound with great musicality. So the baseline shifted. The MKIV was made more capable, with less limitations for going on with personal voicing.

In summary, since there are no systems or rooms alike...and since we all have personal tastes from within the many indescribable qualities of excellent musical presentation...a broad range of powerful tuning tools are very useful, if not critical. With five tube sets, and its many adjustments, the MKIV covers this amazingly well!

For me, it is a really big deal that with tubes and amp adjustments, I can move the MKIV signature to pretty much countless tasteful iterations, each revealing and awakening. Even if only one of those offered musical revelation, this would be impressive. But I think that with less than $1000 spent on the “just right” compliment of tubes, one could mix and match toward pretty much endless musically enlightening variations of great beauty....In the context of a system with a 3500 amp, I consider this a very powerful incentive for those of us who need to take a system/room as far as we can.

This amp, with its friendliness with tubes and adjustability, is a tube rollers dream.

I guess you have gathered, I think the MKIV is a highly worthy iteration of the Torii progression. Exploration in good hands is like that, opening doors we can't know exist until we find them…Steve's explorations always arrive at discoveries…and discovery changes the baseline, new beginnings to explore from….

This is the natural cycle of creativity. By following the path of preferential refinement with an open mind, things show up that really never existed, thus the root “create.” Native to this process, the mind progressively opens as the excitement of discovery awakens new avenues of exploration. And the open mind is better tuned to noticing the inevitable discoveries that exploration awakens! This creative mind is the ground for insight, the foundation of refined and beautiful expression.

And as with all good art, it is not finished by the artist. The creative process goes on as the art itself stimulates exploration and discovery for the user. Never finished, creative process now opens the mind of the user, each discovery bringing about insights and leading to new beginnings.... opening new doors for exploration.

For me, the MKIV is such a work of art. Its tonal realism and musicality can gracefully transform artistic design into sweet music. And its adjustability and friendliness with different tubes make the possibilities sort of boundless. For an amp to allow for so many paths to heightened realism and beauty…well, you know…..that's beautiful.

As my wife and I were listening to music during breakfast, we realized how lucky we are to live with this level of natural quality. Every time we listen, something wakes up, something core and organic. Exceptional quality is usually reserved for Museums, Concert Halls, Wilderness, and other holders of the extraordinary. And it has taken effort, but quality musical expression in our home is a daily dose of all that is beautiful and nourishing in this world. Through regular interaction with natural beauty, our ways of perception and feeling are enlivened, and this deepens our sense of equanimity in this world where unhealthy distractions like fear and anger seem to have taken on a life of their own.

My seriously tuned room and system of course!

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by beowulf on 03/06/15 at 08:45:02

Wow, nice job Will ~ this is probably one of the most comprehensive reviews of an audio journey that I have ever read.  Seriously ... I felt I was right there in the room with you the whole time!  The only thing missing is some pictures as I would love to see the room you have described so well and the gear setup!

I'll probably re-read this several times more and use this as a reference for any thoughts I have as well.  Especially since the new Torii MK V (or the new Mono's if Steve decides to build them) are what my ultimate amplifiers would be to own.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by Fireblade on 03/06/15 at 16:56:09


As always, a great write-up. It makes me feel as I'm really missing on something gorgeous (and I probably am). Your Mk IV description triggers a tempting wish for a future acquisition in my horizon ... still somewhat far away, but real.


Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 03/08/15 at 01:32:58


Thanks. I am really glad this is useful to you. It has been and continues to be a journey! It is cool you felt here with it! I appreciate your thoughts. I will probably get around to pictures one day. Wasn't it you who wrote up the secret formula to posting them somewhere? I tried several times in the past and gave up some years ago.


Thank you too! As you can gather from my saga, I do love the MKIV, but also the Tranquility, CSP3 and HR-1s, and everything that powers them, protects them from vibration, and all that ties them together, not least of which, room and how well PureMusic makes music sound, and how well it does EQ. I don't know. I think at this point I have carefully explored every part many times toward the whole I love. But the story is always unfolding. I love to listen and I love to play with fine-tuning.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by Fireblade on 03/08/15 at 14:25:20


I'm sure the end result is a sinergistic combination of all those other contributing variables you mentioned. OTOH, the MkIV sure must be special as it is placed in a commanding role within a very transparent and resolving context. It is amazing the level you have reached at this point through your journey. I admire your commitment and dedication. Congrats!

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 03/08/15 at 14:37:21

Yes, the MKIV is amazing to me... a beautiful amp.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by beowulf on 03/09/15 at 08:43:19

Sure Will, (assuming you know how to get the pictures from your phone or camera onto your PC/Mac) these are the steps:

1. You need to upload your pictures to a "free" online host such as Photobucket.

2. Then go to your picture on the Photobucket website and (a) right click on top of the actual picture, (b) select Properties, (c) when the Properties window opens up highlight the Address: (URL) link (it will have a .jpg at the end of the address), (d) right click again on the address you just highlighted and select Copy.

Similarly, there are a set of icons above the picture on the Photobucket website (right of the Facebook, Twitter, etc. icons).  There is an icon that looks like chain links called "Get link codes".  By clicking that you can copy the Direct code and then follow the next steps.  

Now that you have the Adress: URL path copied, you need to paste it over at the Decware Website, so the rest takes place on the Decware website.

3. The third button over is the Insert Image button, (a) click that button, (b) paste the picture's Address: URL (that you copied from Photobucket) in between [img ] paste Address: URL here [/img] (with no spaces).

4. Then click the Post button and that should be it ...

It seems like a lot of steps, but once you get the hang of it ... it only takes a few seconds. 8-)

It should appear something like this:

[img ][/img]

Notice that there is a space (highlighted in yellow), this space is only there so you can see what the code should look like, however when posting for real - there should be no space or it won't appear.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 03/09/15 at 23:50:05

Hey Beowulf,

I remember have to get it up on the web first. One day.....ah one day.....well maybe.....I mean, one day..... ;)

Thank you for the great explanation! I will try to get my act together...


Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by mac48025 on 12/31/16 at 21:33:00


Having just recieved my Torii mkIV last week I'm late to the party here but had to commend you on such a comprehensive and insightful review.....its been an immense help to me in giving me a reference as to how to voice the Torii and my room along with giving me an insight into what is in store in the future with this amazing amp. I'm thrilled with it at 100 hours and can't imagine what's in store over the next few months. I can't wait to implement many of the tube choices you have shared but thanks to your advise I will wait until at least the 350 hour mark to do so. No sense wearing out expensive NOS tubes on burnin. Thanks again.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 12/31/16 at 21:53:25

You are welcome mac. I am glad it helped. I am in the midst of a bunch of experiments now with the Torii and CSP3 internals with powerful results!

I have been using 807 power tubes with adapters for quite a while now, a number of different makes, and still really liking them!

What tubes did you start with?

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by mac48025 on 12/31/16 at 23:04:09

You're the mad scientist of Decware, will!

I started with all stock tubes except I put my RCA 6L6GC black plates instead of the EL34's. I've since put the EL34's back in until burnin is more completed. I have 50's RCA 5U4's, Siemens and Mullard input tubes and a quad of Genelex Gold Lion KT66's on order to experiment with. I was going to try the GEC KT66 gray glass but my tube guru Andy at Vintage Tube Services says they won't sound any differant than the black plates I have so I'll get a quad of EL34 metal bases instead to try. I figure you can't have too many NOS tubes as they wont be available forever.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 01/01/17 at 01:00:15

Interesting. I have not heard the old 6L6s, but liked the new Tungsol 6L6G coke bottle quite a lot. Next to 807s, I think that is my fav. I have not gone back to EL34s in a long time except the other day to test my memory. I put in the popular RFT with short bases and still don't love its tonal balance. Now lost in other wildernesses.

Once you get sorted out with preferences from what you have, if you want, I may be able to help steer you in good directions based on your feedback.

Have fun! I suspect you will!

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by mac48025 on 01/01/17 at 14:16:57

While I don't know nearly as much about tubes as you will, I think you might want to try the RCA 6L6GC black plates.........they seem to be deemed the best 6L6 tubes out there by both audio enthusiasts and musicians. They were recommended to me by Andy at Vintage Tube Services as the holy grail of 6L6's so he gets the credit for me getting them. They aren't cheap at about $900 for a matched quad, but not out of line for well matched NOS tubes and well worth it my book. They have great balance from top to bottom with full, tight bass, brilliant and detailed highs, great dynamics and a tonal balance that is so smooth and real sounding. The only reason they aren't in my Torii at the moment is that I don't want to put wear on them while burning in the amp......I'll save them for when I can truly appreciate them. I believe the 807's preceded the 6L6 so maybe they similar sonically?

I'll definitely take you up on tube rolling advise once I have more hours on the amp. I realize every system, room and owners preferences are differant making one tube great for one but not another, but I enjoy hearing others experiences and learning about new tubes to try. The mkIV seems like the perfect tube rolling amp with its transparency and tuning controls.

Thanks again and Happy New Years.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by hdrider on 01/01/17 at 16:34:15

Will & mac- what a great way to start the New Year with such a detailed read. Keep experimenting, tube rolling and posting but above all….happy listening, Chris.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by Rraymond on 01/01/17 at 16:48:00


WOW, I'm just as amazed as to how great your room must sound as to how well you've described it. You must've aced creative writing in your earlier years. Fantastic write up!  That should be in one of the audio magazines.


Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 01/02/17 at 00:51:31


Those 6L6 sound like a real joy. Also costly! I have not explored 6L6 except the Tungsol ST shaped G, and seem to recall it may be a little different in electronic design than traditional a GC maybe? Can't say how it compares to the old ones.

Yes, I actually broke one of my cardinal rules a few posts up, saying I liked 807s with no explanation. I agree, it is hard to say that one tube being perfect in the balance of one system/room will be likewise in another. With wildly differing system and room conditions...a single tube can certainly act quite differently in different setups. This is why I am so reticent to make tube recommendations unless I have a good idea of what the preconditions are, what the specific tubes are at present, and what qualities are wanted. Other than that, I most often like to compare tubes to tubes, giving some reference. I get lazy now and then, but try to avoid...."I like so and so." Quite limited information without comparative context.

Roughly, to describe the 807s general flavor, I might look at the Gold Lion KT66 as a baseline. Here the GL KT66 is very solid, nicely balanced, dynamic, powerful, and warmish, but very nicely articulate/defined and clear within its "big" tube sound. Hard to complain about anything it does. The TungSol 6L6G is similar in many ways, very nice articulate balance. With an also tight bass, it too is warmish defined and dynamic, but a little less power, it is a little gentler and more spacious, also revealing a little more complex information. The 807 seems to take the gentler, more complexity, and openness a step further. Its balance feels less punchy and defined in macro dynamics, with more sense of micro dynamics, in part due to a little less powerful bass definition, and in part due to richer complexity...more micro detail, harmonics, has a liquidity and complexity that reminds me of a decent EL34. Roughly, it could be sort of like a KT66 and EL34 blend. Something like that! ;)

I could use any of these, but the complexity of the 807 has been captivating and seductive for me.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 01/02/17 at 01:00:13

Hey, thanks Chris and Rick. It is a fun trip and never seems to stop. I think that is in part because making music feel pretty real and captivating is within reach with this level of equipment. But it is so subtle, complex and fragile, it can be elusive! Seems like as we learn to tune a system/room, the complexities of our systems and rooms constantly reveal and teach us new things. And no matter how far we go, the beginning place, right now, is always new, opening new doors to new exploration!

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by mac48025 on 01/02/17 at 13:08:48

Thanks hrider but I'm not nearly in will's league when it comes to tube knowledge or describing sound characteristics......I am learning much from his experiences and his sharing those experiences with us.

will, your experiences are invaluable and inspire me to try duplicating your results. Having a dedicated listening room designed with Steve's suggestions might be my biggest asset, just as your room seems to naturally be acoustically ideal. if my room is helping me get the most out of my Decware amp I'm happy indeed. I love my speakers and just purchased Lon's PS Audio Perfectwave PWT and PWD ( thank you Lon!) and look forward to what they will bring to the table.

I'm only at about 120 hours on my Torii and oh how wish the burnin process could be sped up! It sounds amazing already and has caused me do two things I didn't do before. 1) I can't tell you how many times I've been startled looking around for the source of a sound I've not heard from a cd I've listened to countless times before. Not just a sound I've not heard before but from places off to the side and slightly behind me. 2) I find myself unconsciously smiling while absorbed in the music. After too many years of playing the audio component merry go round in the pursuit of audio bliss I have finally found it.......or at least I'm closer than ever before as I know it will get even better with the Torii burning in fully, tube rolling to suit my tastes and room and adding the Perfectwaves. I'm sure I'll play around with audiophile fuses soon too. It will be fulfilling having my system pretty much in place and just tweaking it.

I put my RCA 6L6GC black plates in last night and wow, the music opened up and seemingly spilled into me. So liquid, with the right amount of warmth, texture, detail, and bloom. The soundstage embraced me. My system became so intimate with me I feel guilty for not sending roses this morning 🌹 😏 The Svetlana EL34's are very nice but I'm quite taken by good NOS tubes. I'm so looking forward to getting my NOS input tubes and rectifiers this week. I have the Gold Lion KT66's arriving tomorrow also, but can't imagine them sounding as good as the black plates.

I look forward to your future experiments and descriptive results will. Thanks again

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by mac48025 on 01/02/17 at 13:43:30


Looking forward to getting together and hearing one another's systems soon. I'm thinking my Torii will have around 300-350 hours on it in a couple of weeks so maybe we can do the end of this month or early February? Should be fun.

Tom aka mac

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 01/02/17 at 17:07:58


Really nice to start with your room! And then there is getting it right....treatment not always working as well as it sounds like yours has without a fare bit of work. Sounds like you are in a very, very good place, especially with the RCA 6L6! With your system that satisfying and revealing, it seems you are one of the lucky ones who can actually hear what their gear can do.

I agree, especially older and quality NOS tubes can be exceptional, but then there are the many power tube type choices the MKIV allows. Though I don't doubt (at all) the beauty of your RCAs, it seems comparing quality new EL34s to new 6L6 would have a pretty big difference also.

I used EL34 for years, but not for the last several, preferring 6L6 and KT66 types. Those Gold Lions took a really long time to open up, but if you prefer them over the EL34, at least they can help you ride out burnin. It is amazing how good the Torii is relatively new, isn't it, and I suspect you will be more amazed as it reaches 400-600 hours!

I say go ahead and send the flowers!!! Sounds like you and your system/room deserve them!

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by Rraymond on 01/03/17 at 20:03:42

Yeah looking forward to checking out your system and making some comparisons. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you've done to your dedicated room also!  I'll be bringing over some albums I'm familiar with to see what your system/room has to offer. Fun, fun, stuff!


Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by ginny on 03/31/18 at 17:30:02

This was such a great read as I always learn a great deal from all of you.  I am thankful for all the effort in describing your experiences.

I have reached a point in our system where I will now sit back and listen as it matures and then start on subtle room treatments.

Torii, Oppo Sonica and Pendragons now have  about 300-400 hours, but a few new additions will be arriving in a few days.....Analysis Plus speaker cables, a pair of AP IC’s, an Oppo UDP-203 and AP digital crystal coax. Needless to say, I am done spending for a while and will now sit back and listen to it blossom.

I hope this thread gets resurrected as it was such a good read.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by kespen on 07/08/18 at 21:34:59

Great read. It makes me incredibly happy to hear such passionate and thoughtful descriptions.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 07/10/18 at 22:48:34

Nice Kespin.



Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by ScottNC on 07/14/18 at 18:11:40

Ginny & Kespen thanks for revisited this review or I would have missed it! [smiley=10.gif]

Will, Thanks as always for all the time you put in so everyone can benefit from your excellent writings and experiences.

I hope it's alright with you if I put this into a Pages Document and PDF File to print, any who wants a good clean evenly spaced copy let me know and I'll reply with the PDF.

Thanks All

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 07/14/18 at 19:45:21

Sure Scott.

Hope it helps.


Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by safebelayer on 03/21/20 at 21:26:49


I noticed that you have diy i/c. What component parts do you use? What goals did you achieve (besides cost) by diy cable that you couldn't find in one retail? Also, have you ever tried the decware i/c? Impressions?

Thank you,


Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 03/22/20 at 01:14:13

Hey belayer,

I was using Decware silvers with standard ends, and from them moved to MAC Ultra Silver+. As I recall they were similar, but I preferred the balance of the MACs a little more in my system at the time. Best I can recall, I found the Decware just a little heavy/thick on bottom and a just little sizzly on top. This was a long time ago, and I can't find them to test now. So I can't say what I would think of them today...could be quite my system is much more refined, and also, cable tech preferences have changed a lot since then. So probably best to check out more current impressions on that cable.

Also long ago, I do remember liking the first DIY ICs I made better than both of the above, 26 gauge VHAudio UP-OCC silver in cotton wire with Eichman Copper connectors, using the VHAudio silver recipe. Now I would find them lacking having gone from that start into many, many iterations of ICs using variations of wires, gauges, ends and geometry, and improved upon those quite a bit for my tastes. I ended up finding the basic geometry and design good, but the teflon core and tape, along with the techflex "sound" so close to the wires...ended up a little too dulling for me now.

At that point, to get much better, I would have had to spend quite a bit on ready-mades, and really was tired of trying different cables and liking some and not others, so I figured it was easier to explore making for me...trying a configuration, and adjusting things by sound to get better. My goal has always been high resolution and transparency with musicality (without hardness), speed top to bottom, spectral balance that does not emphasize any area (neutral), and as much subtle information in space as I can pull musically.

My latest cables I really don't feel like trying to improve. I can't say from experience how they compare to others, but have sent them to some folks who have listened to a lot of cables. One had used a few versions of Voodoo, and liked mine way better than them, but preferred Zenwave D4s over mine, with similar resolution, but as I recall his description, offering "a little more" in his system. I doubt I would agree with that in my system, personally not preferring cables with as much wire as the D4s, at least from my explorations with more wire. I am talking relatively subtle stuff here, but for me, there is a point where the cables become overstated, too dense and pushy bottom to top, after which they tend to loose harmonic subtlety and nuance, and often slow down, especially in the low end.

Another guy who tested mine, a really discerning listener having been a developer who blind tested all parts by sound in the component before using them. He thought mine were better than others he had heard, including Zenwave's D4 and D5, and others up to many thousands, but he, like me, finds the most subtle information very important for the "real" sound. And he did think that if I were to take them to market, I should probably beef up the bass a touch to make them balance more evenly with current trends of heavier gauge cables, cables I tend to find overstated. He figured that if I found that balance without losing the open clarity, fine detail and subtle beauty, they could be as good as they get. So I guess I am in the ball park, and I really like the balance as is, but will explore to see if I can bring up the bass a little without sacrifice.

Overall, of those I have tried, if I were to use one company for wires, it would be Neotech. Dave's Zenwave Neotech-made silver/gold is my current favorite for the signal wire, smoother/less sizzle than Neotech's 24 gauge stranded silver gold to me. All Neotech's UP-OCC wires are to me really good for the metal type used, nicely balanced, fast, and revealing.

WBT connectors are really transparent, but expensive and need a little damping for my tastes. I guess if I had to choose one RCA end company, it would be KLE. The top of the line Absolute is very good sounding to me and way cheaper then WBT, and their Silver Harmony is really inexpensive for the sound, though less refined than the Absolute, surprisingly good. Not much metal in a special plastic, care soldering KLE ends is important.

Wire type choices for signal and ground, including gauges, dielectric, geometry, damping level and materials, to shield or not (I don't), etc, are important areas I will not go into further except to say that they all matter in revealing systems, to me, quite a lot collectively!

Anyway, I hope this helps.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by safebelayer on 03/22/20 at 02:23:38

Thank you for the good information. I was leaning towards zenwave or cerious technologies.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 03/23/20 at 22:44:07

You are welcome safebelayer. Not having heard either personally, I can't comment further on those cables. Best of luck in your decisions!

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by hells on 05/16/20 at 21:19:26

Wow what a review will! Since you've started playing with PEQ, I can recommend getting yourself a UMIK-1 and doing some convolution filters with REW. It truly transformed my audio, HUGE upgrade. I followed and it worked really well. Not a lot of cash to try it out, so if you find an inking, I can totally recommend it. Of course this is slightly roon specific, but that's where the bulk of my listening is these days.

Title: Re: Torii MKIV Review
Post by will on 05/18/20 at 01:58:35

Thanks hells. I will check it out, though I am a little reticent to try Roon for several reasons. A sidetrack from the MKIV, it does all tie together, so I hope this ramble is interesting or useful for some.

Some folks who have dug deeply into digital for a long time, and who I trust the advice of, still tend to think Roon is less revealing and musical than Audirvana and Amarra, at least with the computer, and all supporting it, tuned really well for audio.

With help, a lot from Eric Hider at dBAudioLabs, and loads of experimentation, my front end has been so good, for so long, distinctions like "digital" versus "analog" stopped making sense from my personal experience quite a while ago. So when I continue to hear these distinctions, I feel bad for those making them. To me, my system just sounds like really good music in a really good room, and since some pretty serious listeners still make the distinction of "digital and analog," I figure I got lucky and have something very precious, something worth preserving!

So...being reticent to lose any of this hard earned sound quality, to even try to fit Roon into the front end I have so carefully put together, I just have not gotten up the nerve to put in the time and energy! Every time I start to look at Roon's recommendations for hardware and software setup, and the volumes of instructions and forum appears to me as a convoluted/foreign language and method, daunting.

But again, I am not seriously motivated, my front end is so real sounding, including home-made EQ derived from extensive experimenting in this room and system. And  being perfectly comfortable with a ripped CD collection for so long, as well as extremely picky about what I listen to, any sound compromises to gain a good interface and streaming, would likely be a real issue for me. Also, within its limitations, this system/room is so complete seeming, it is hard to imagine it could improve it with more "accurate" EQ....but maybe !$%^&*()_  It is so good I have even avoided getting "better" EQ software I have been considering forever....or learning REW, even having bought the mic you mention and a long USB cable years ago. Am I "stuck" or just satisfied?

This sound is supported by a heavily modified, stripped down for audio version of Mac OS Mavericks, in a finely tuned and cabled Mac Mini. The Mini feeds a tuned Singxer that I use as a USB to I2S converter going to the DAC, both modified to be more revealing and resolving. The super simple OS contributes smoothness, density and refined subtitles from doing little damage to fine information and space. And all of the above support refinements in Audirvana. If I can hear more, I can get a more refined tune. Years of experimenting with its many settings I seem to have balanced Audirvana filtering with my DAC, as well as a fine tuned EQ. I am amazed how good Audirvana can sound. Here anyway, the default settings are a notable downgrade.

But this OS, a foundation of my sound, is so old in computer time, though Roon still works with it, it looks like Qobuz won't even play with it anymore. And Audirvana still supports my version with updates, but has moved on to a new version that requires newer OSs. So the decisions to stick with this system as-is, in a time when digital playback is finally getting good with less work, is a little tricky. But when it sounds so close to real music, or better, why ask for more! So far I have accepted that it is so good, I am OK without "upgrading."

Thinking about my EQ exploration, I just noticed my MKIV review was posted over five years ago...time is a wild thing. Before my MKIV I had been tuning EQ in my player software (Pure Music earlier on) with my Torii MKIII for maybe 5-6 years. After the first evaluations, based on listening for exaggerated frequencies, and carefully tuning to taste for a few months off and on....Then it was occasional fine-tuning, refinements coming from little adjustments to get better sound across more recordings. This in turn made the best recordings better.

I have a ZBIT and CSP3 for tuning on the fly, but by the time the MKIV came along, the system/room was playing pretty beautifully with most recordings.

I rarely change EQ except maybe 1/10 or two of a dB here or there, or minor frequency moves with very narrow Qs, but I am glad to have this skill when I notice a possible refinement. And for the last four years, doing lots of modifications and cable exploration, to keep a steady baseline, I didn't change the EQ. Being so much in the serious listening mode, for so long, my assumption is that this system/room was nicely balanced for modification work, and now I would say it is maybe twice as refined sounding as when I wrote the MKIV review...EQ pretty much the same.

None-the-less, urges to see if I can make Roon work here have been growing lately. And perhaps once I learn it and REW, and Roon's "convolution" thing, I might be able to improve my sound and have an advanced interface and streaming I like the sound of too!

The main attraction of Roon for me is its ability to help me with music knowledge using its sophisticated interface, and good recommendations based on the music we play, and with streaming, the ability to sample music. But since I really don't even like listening to FLAC files because the degradation I notice is..well...noticeable, compromising the fine detail and spatial information I have grown to need for a natural musical experience, Flac for me sounds too "digital." So I worry about streaming...

I never got into streaming before because we have never lived where there is good enough internet to stream without running out of monthly bandwidth allotments. So I fell behind. But now we got a cool dish rig that hooks up with a big antenna on the mountain above us, and I could now stream, so I am tempted.

All that said, thanks for the links. I will check it out.

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