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AUDIO FORUMS >> Reviews >> A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
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Message started by George Moneo on 07/30/15 at 21:56:21

Title: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by George Moneo on 07/30/15 at 21:56:21

Forgive me for asking about comparisons but I'm very intrigued about the Decware amps.

I have a pair of vintage (and refurbished) McIntosh MC30 mono amps that drive a pair of B&W 804S loudspeakers through a passive preamp (the McCormack Micro Line Drive). I have two sources: a Oppo BDP-105 and a PS Audio DirectStream DAC that is fed by the Oppo. Depending on the material it's one or other. SACDs and Blu-ray Audio have to play natively on the Oppo, CDs and music files, including DSD, are fed to the DS DAC by coax. No analog sources. (Don't hate me.)

I'm very intrigued by the Torii Mk.IV because of its two inputs. At one point I was actually connecting and disconnecting the sources from the McIntoshes but that got very tiresome very quickly. How does the Torii Mk.IV compare to that vintage McIntosh sound, if anybody knows. I love my McIntoshes but they are getting on in years and I need some new blood in my system. The B&Ws are currently driven beautifully by the 30 watts with absolutely no stress.

I just can't go back to solid-state. I used to own Bryston and Parasound but can't bear the thought of not having tubes. So help a brother out and opine. The price on the Mk.IV is just about right.

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by Rivieraranch on 07/31/15 at 01:44:01

You've answered your own questions. Get the Torii MK IV and don't look back. We don't bash other gear here, so there is nothing bad to say about McIntosh. I personally cannot give a comparison. But you can try out the TORII MK IV and if you don't like it they have a return privilege. You will feel welcome here with all the good people willing to share their knowledge and experience.

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by George Moneo on 07/31/15 at 14:02:32

Believe me, I don't want anybody to bash the amps I have. I love them. I listen to classical, opera, jazz, and classic rock from the 60s and 70s. That's 99% of what I listen to. The McIntoshes handle them all with aplomb. They are the best thing I've ever acquired in 40 years of this hobby. However, amps, like people, have personalities. That's why I was asking. For a brief period last year I had an Audio Research tube integrated amp in my system. It sounded very different than the McIntoshes. It's gone and the McIntoshes are still here. That's all I need to say about comparisons. I just wanted to hear opinions from Decware buyers.

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by Lon on 07/31/15 at 15:02:58

It has been a few decades since I listened to McIntosh amplification so I will preface my statements with that. I liked what I heard then, and it was just before I began my Decware journey.

From what I remember the Decware amps have a different personality. They are more direct and open in nature. Perhaps brighter as well, but with the treble cut circuit in the Toriis you can tailor that to your speakers and room. From memory the McIntosh sounded slower, a bit more romantic, a bit less dynamic. Perhaps veiled, in a "smoothening" veil way.

The Torii will sound different I am reasonably certain in a more modern and revealing way. And this may be pleasing to you--or not. . . that's the hard part isn't it?

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by George Moneo on 07/31/15 at 15:25:59

A very descriptive take on of the McIntoshes. I would definitely call them "romantic" but not veiled or lacking in dynamics. With a great recording they can be breathtaking. (Ravel's complete Daphnis, with Levine and the BSO on uncompressed AIF files: WOW!)

When I switched from my Bryston the first thing I noticed was how my B&W tweeters had been finally tamed. I was getting all the highs in the music without any of the harshness I had heard before with solid-state. I listened to my desert island CDs and LPs -- I had not switched to all-digital back then -- and, to use a well-worn cliche, my music came alive again. I can't describe it any other way. This, with a pair of amps that were of the power of my Bryston.

I guess listening is the only way and that is the hard part of this hobby. I've made bad purchase decisions in the past that I do not want to repeat, hence my reluctance in buying something without hearing it first.  Thanks for your comments!

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by Lon on 07/31/15 at 15:50:49

I would only have called the McIntosh "less dynamic" in comparison to the very dynamic sound of the well-seasoned and well-dialed-in Torii. (Or the Zen amps, which are also very dynamic). These amps excel at portraying the dynamics recorded in music in ways no other amp has for me.

A call to Steve may be helpful as well. . . he's very well-versed in how his amps sound in comparison to others, and he's very good at explaining how they sound.

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by Lonely Raven on 07/31/15 at 16:34:36


George, I have the same two sources you do - I'm surprised you don't run everything through the DirectStream. I find even Blu-Ray discs to be smoother when run through the CoAx connection to the DirectStream. I love my Oppo, but compared to the DS, especially with the new Yale firmware, the Oppo sounds etched.

Granted, I've also switched to 99% digital fed via a computer, so I could play back all my files at native resolutions - so my Oppo doesn't get used much lately - just for the rare SACD or Blu-Ray that I couldn't find a digital copy of. Someday I'll figure out how to rip them myself so I can be 100% digital files via USB or Bridge II.

As for the amps - I find the Decware stuff to be more revealing, honest, and dynamic. Modern sounding (wide bandwidth etc) without sounding analytic or dry. I've always liked the good old McIntosh for their grunt. Nothing against them, but I find more emotional connection while still being modern sounding with the Decware amps.

I'm currently running the ZMA - Zen Mystery Amp. And I have an 18 year old original Zen amp, plus access to Zen CKCS, Rachel Amp, and Torii III. All of them have something "Decware" to them which I think is their "honesty" in reproducing the recording well.

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by George Moneo on 07/31/15 at 19:14:27

You're on the PS Audio Forum, as well. I recognized your handle. I have LOTS of SACDs so I'm kinda stuck there. I've been buying Blu-ray Audio discs as well and they don't go the DS DAC either. But... My other 3-and-a-half thousand CDs all go to the DS DAC and, yes, it is a great thing. I haven't installed "Yale" yet. I might do it this weekend.

As to the Decware, Dorgay's review in TONE was what led me to scour the site. He seems to have a pretty good ear. In the end, though, they're his ears not mine.  :D  The DS DAC is proof positive that hearing is believing...

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by Lonely Raven on 07/31/15 at 21:29:04


I can attest that DS DAC and Decware are a good mix.

Just add decent speakers and a really good room and you'll be in audio heaven.  :)


Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by Lon on 07/31/15 at 22:09:54

I can attest to that as well!

I too have a lot of SACDs. It took a very special player to make them sound a lot better than they would redbooked then DSD'd in the DS.

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by Dave1210 on 09/19/15 at 23:40:07

+1 Decware/PSA DSD

Title: Re: A newbie (to Decware) has some questions
Post by lLance on 09/20/15 at 15:09:12

+1, ZMA + PS DS + Janszen zA2.1 = spectacular

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