EQUIPMENT FORUMS >> SE84UFO >> What a great little amp

Message started by dvl on 03/14/17 at 22:17:00

Title: What a great little amp
Post by dvl on 03/14/17 at 22:17:00

After enjoying a Torii Jr. for over a year, i wanted to see how "low" i could go and still be satisfied, not only in price, but also in power. Black Friday came and i orderd a SE84UFO. i've had it for a bit over a month and wow is this fun. It is so clean and clear and musically satisfying. i have it driving Monoliths, and no, i cannot shake the windows with it, but it gives me more than satisfying volume. What also helps is the fact that i have a ZCD240 driving it with adjustable output voltage. That extra few volts certainly helps the drive and body of the music.

i absolutely love my Torii Jr. i've gotten addicted to its speed and transparency. But i'm in no hurry to put it back in the system. 2.3 watts is making me quite happy at the moment. i keep listening, never wanting to turn off the system.  i remember reading the threads about Decfest this past October, and i remember a comment by Steve where he mentioned that if more people had stayed on Sunday, the little Zen may have stolen the show for the whole weekend. i can see why. i paid around 900 for this little gem, and i'm finding it hard to believe that kind of money can get you this kind of musical enjoyment.

i'm rapidly getting to the point where i don't think about maybe getting better speakers, or maybe a better amp, or maybe a better cd player, or maybe better cables. i'm slipping out of my audiophile self, slowly but surely just enjoying the wonderful music coming out of my speakers. The only questions i seem to be asking are, 1) Can i afford this tube i want to buy? and 2) Can i afford all these albums i want? i just keep listening and listening and listening...

i'm beginning to think a true audiophile needs only 2 watts. Any more is just for empty boasting, like driving a Corvette in the 70s, a sad attempt at compensating for a having such a little d....., daily amount of time to listen. Yeah, that's it, a daily amount of time to listen.

By the way, i have a 2 watt, 20 watt, and 100 watt amp. So there you go.  


Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by Rivieraranch on 03/30/17 at 04:16:11

Who claimed that smaller isn't better?

Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by Acetone on 03/30/17 at 17:33:28

dvl, I have the Zen SE84CKC. The more I read about the UFO mod, the more I believe it is the next upgrade I should make. But, parting with the Zen for a few weeks will be a hard pill to swallow.

Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by DBC on 03/30/17 at 21:13:31


I have the CKC and upgraded to UFO. Right out of the box upon return the UFO was a worthy upgrade. Have to be honest, I was only expecting an incremental improvement at best so I was pleasantly surprised. I also had a stepped attenuator installed and think this is an upgrade worthy of the cost.


Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by Acetone on 03/30/17 at 21:38:00

Thanks DBC, Any logic why the stepped attun.. reaps improved sonics?
I usually have my volume around 8PM  w/ vinyl.
7PM w/ CD's (Zstage in the path).

Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by Lon on 03/30/17 at 21:44:00

I'll say that I personally hear more clarity with the stepped attenuator, and the channel balance seems "locked in" at each volume step in a precise way. I guess I think it's worth it as once I did it on one component I've ordered it on every component since.

Just a bit more transparent and clear. . . which is mostly a good thing (not so on bad recordings!)

Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by DBC on 03/30/17 at 23:06:54

Before the stepped attenuator loud would be around 12 O-clock. With the stepped attenuator loud is now around 3 O-clock. Seems to me like you have more precise volume adjustment over a wider range. With the detents, when I go to change volume I instinctively know how many clicks up or down I need to go. Volume control is very precise.

I have a Zen Select set up in a second room with standard attenuator, so it's very noticeable when I switch to this room. A little more hit or miss when adjusting to the perfect volume.

Lon has kindly stated the sonic benefits.


Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by Acetone on 03/31/17 at 16:05:16

Lon & DBC...thank you. Saving $ has begun!

Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by alper_yilmaz on 09/14/17 at 16:15:10

Dear Lon and DBC,

Is the difference between the stepped and regular pots coming from the quality of each?  In other words, if I spent, say, $100 on a very high-quality regular pot (I do not know if such a thing exists) to replace the existing one, do you think I can reach or surpass the quality I get from the stepped attenuator?  

I use my Decware's with preamps; the SE34I.2+ (to be replaced by the SE84UFO) with a Copland DAC215, and the TABOO mkIII with a ZSTAGE.  I tend to crank up the volumes on the power amps and control volume from the pres.  I am not sure it is best way to go or not, but I find this much more practical than trying to find an optimum between two pieces of gear that might change from recording to recording.

So in your experience, when you crank up the volumes on the Zen's, do you still hear a difference between the stepped and regular pots?

Best regards,


Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by Lon on 09/14/17 at 17:00:15

Alper, to be honest it is so long since I've had a "regular pot" on a piece of equipment that I now have stepped attenuators on that I don't have a ready answer to that question. I now have a "regular pot" (two actually) on my ZTPRE but the ZTPRE is so different from the CSP2 preamps I've had with and without stepped attenuators that it's hard to make a judgment there.

How you are using your preamp and amp is how I do:  I have the amplifier turned up all the way and regulate the volume by either the preamp (was CSP2+ with stepped attenuator, now it's ZTPRE with dual pots) or the ZBIT without a preamp (the ZBIT has a stepped attenuator). The Torii has a stepped attenuator that is most often turned all the way up (on occasion I use a source directly into the amp on the second input and of course I then use the stepped attenuator to control the volume.)

I think that if you have the volume all the way up there's little to no difference between the "regular pot" and a stepped attenuator. I do notice more clarity when using a stepped attenuator to control volume and not completely "un-attenuated."

I'm perfectly happy with the ZTPRE without a stepped attenuator. This is a used ZTPRE, I'm the third owner. Had I ordered it directly from the factory I would probably have ordered it with dual stepped attenuators and without the remote control, but there is so much clarity and "energy" with the preamp in its current setup that I am not sure I would hear a difference between the different potentiometer types.

Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by DBC on 09/14/17 at 18:04:27


I connect my Oppo 105 directly to my UFO (no pre-amp). I do have a Decware pre-amp but prefer the direct connection (to my ear a bit more transparency without the pre). So I use the stepped pot to control system volume (Oppo set to full output).

Technically the stepped pot is of higher quality. Is the difference audible, I can't say I hear enough of a difference to make that claim. If you are going to have a standard pot full open then I think having the stepped pot would be a waste of money.

Main reasons I like the stepped pot is it's fine adjustment capability and wider range of adjustment. The standard pot on my UFO hit max volume around 12 O'clock on CD's. The stepped pot hits max volume around 3 O'clock. Just seems easier for me to hit my desired volume (less under / over shooting). Of course this is of no value if the pot is going to be set full open.


Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by alper_yilmaz on 09/14/17 at 19:56:36

Thank you very much for the detailed and quick responses, Lon and DBC!

Title: Re: What a great little amp
Post by alper_yilmaz on 09/14/17 at 20:10:39

Now that I look into my DAC/preamp that I will be using with the SE84UFO, I will try to do the following.

My signal chain in this system is:

Apple TV --> Copland 215DAC --> SE84UFO --> B&W DM630

The Copland DAC has two outputs: (1) Amplifier Output; and (2) DAC Output.  The Amp Out includes a tube preamp after the DAC stage.The DAC Out is a 2.0V rms output directly after the DAC stage.  Somehow, I did not try the separate outputs.  

What I will do is I will connect both to the SE84UFO, match the volumes of the channels, and see how much they differ.


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