EQUIPMENT FORUMS >> SE84UFO >> Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp

Message started by Barnharty on 10/08/17 at 22:57:18

Title: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Barnharty on 10/08/17 at 22:57:18

I've been running the stock tubes for about a year. Switched in some TAD's and it's the best I've ever heard the amp sound. First thing I noticed is there's added weight to everything. Deep bass is improved, voices sound more natural, resonations of acoustic guitars sound more realistic, and drums hit harder. There's no loss to detail or transparency, but there's an overall warmer sound.

Also, another big improvement imho is to switch out the stock 6n1p for 6n2p,. You can get Vokshod ones for cheap.

I have no desire to try other tubes at this point.

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Lon on 10/08/17 at 23:11:03

Awesome! I don't know if you've noticed, but I love the TAD EL84 tubes, especially the cryo'd TAD EL84-STR which I get here:

This is a great tube. I do prefer the SV83 in my Taboo Mk IV but these TADs are wonderful in the other two amps I use with this tube type.

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Barnharty on 10/08/17 at 23:14:53

I should've gotten those. That's basically what I paid for non cryo. Never hurts to have a backup set  :)

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Lon on 10/09/17 at 01:01:47


Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Barnharty on 10/13/17 at 05:39:10

Stock tubes are back in. The TADs are fun but there is a certain magic I missed. I don't know how to describe the sound. Sort of like a holographic sound and more coherent. Never doubt Steve.  8-)

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Tripwr1964 on 10/13/17 at 16:37:27

wow i ordered a set (non-cyro)of these.  right out of box i love them. this with type 80 rectifier has transformed my ufo2.

iam with lon on these.

now for input tube tweak... what do you think?

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Barnharty on 10/13/17 at 17:07:18

I use this one. It's like the switch on the Zen that makes it sound hotter or more laid back, it's like adding a little more to the forward switch. I think it gives you a little extra gain as well. I've tried going back multiple times to the 6n1p but couldn't do it.

I also replaced the two 6n1p input tubes that come with the Schiit Valhalla 2 headphone amp with these tubes and it sounds a hundred times better to me.

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Barnharty on 10/13/17 at 17:09:27

Side note. I like this input tube so much I bought 10 of them because I'm afraid of the tube ever being unavailable and losing that sound.

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by dvl on 10/13/17 at 20:45:56

i tried this tube in my Zen amp. Beautifully, buttery smooth, a presentation that is set back a bit compared to the stock tube, a really nice sound. But i also heard a loss of detail and a touch of realism compared to the stock tube.

i can see how a person would prefer that more laid back, smooth presentation. Sometimes i do. Guess it just depends on the mood i'm in!

i'm also using a Raytheon type 80 as a rectifier. Very nice.


Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Barnharty on 10/13/17 at 20:58:04

dvl are you referring to the TADs or the 6n2p?

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Lon on 10/13/17 at 20:59:40

The TAD tube (all EL84 tubes) won't take advantage of the Hazen Grid Mod/Christmas Comes Early Mod, which is why there's a difference in sound. . . . I like the sound of these amps with and without the mod activated, and for much of my listening the EL84 is the most comfortable. The best sources benefit from the mod, the lesser sounding ones get a bit of forgiveness without it, that's been my experience.

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by dvl on 10/13/17 at 21:38:29

i was writing about the EL84

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by alper_yilmaz on 10/28/17 at 19:14:45

Upon reading this post and checking Lon's link for cryo'd TAD EL84 STR's, I ordered a pair, and have been listening to them for the last two weeks or so.  Last night I put back the stock SV83's and immediately had the urge to switch back to the TAD's.  I love the SV83's, and actually they might be my all time favorite output tubes!  Yet, the TAD's brought the SE84UFO to another level.  Let me share my observations...

First the setup:

Sources: Rotel RCD-1070 CD Player (used only as a transport), MacBook Pro for iTunes and TIDAL (connected to the DAC via USB port)
DAC/Preamp: Copland DAC215 (with Siemens 6922 tubes)
Amp: Decware SE84UFO
Speakers: B&W DM630 (at 91db 1w1m)
Cables: DH Labs
Filters/Power Distributors: Stein InLine Power 2, BlackNoise

Second, the music:

Alper Yilmaz - XX - Revisited; Deep Down; A Day in Granada; Different City, Different Mood (Different City, Different Mood)
Aydin Esen - Anadolu; Song for Santisi; Love's Haunts (Anadolu)
Joe Henderson - Miles Ahead (So Far, So Near)
John McLaughlin - Blue in Green (Live at the Royal Festival Hall)
John McLaughlin - Very Early (Time Remembered)
John Coltrane - Liberia (COltrane's Sound)
Wolfgang Muthspiel - Matteo (Vienna Naked)
Vera Blue - Private (Perennial)
Beatles - In My Life (Rubber Soul)
Daft Punk - few tunes from Random Access Memories
Keith Jarrett - J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations
Rosalyn Tureck - J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations
Emil Gilels, Amadeus Quartet - Brahms Piano Quartet #1
Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Phiharmonic - Schoenberg, Verklärte Nacht

When I put the TAD EL84's on few weeks ago, I could not tell any difference at the beginning.  It might be due to burn-in, or more likely that, it takes a while for me to hear things and process them in my brain.  However, after two weeks or so, yesterday I switched back to SV83's.  The other tubes are NOS RCA 5Y3GT as the rectifier and a 6N2P I bought from Decware.

The first impressions were much around the bass.  On pretty much all Decware amps I have listened to so far, the mids and trebles are to die for.  I know a lot of people try to tame their trebles on their TORII's but when I had the mkII, I never touched the treble controls.  Anyway, my tube rolling experience always revolves around what I hear on the bass.

Going back to last night with SV83's, I started listening to Tureck's out-of-line Goldberg Variations interpretation.  During the counterpointal lines of Bach's masterpiece, I felt like Tureck was using the "uno corda" (soft) pedal way too much, but somehow the pedal sounded like it was affecting all the left-hand lines!  Weird!  It even felt as if the left and right hands were recorded separately and the left hand which covered the bass and low-mid register was pushed back a bit in the mix.  

You know what I mean, the basses were kind of soft, yet they were there, fully detailed.  But soft, and coming from behind...  I thought that might be an issue due to the placement of the mics (towards the right of the piano in relation to the player) or something weird done in the mix.

I immediately switched back to my album, "Different City, Different Mood" which I know inside-out (inevitably) and have been part of all stages of post-production.  Let me tell you this; I could not recognize my bass!  It sounded good (the bass, not the player), detailed, but lacked the body and the punch.  Somehow, the Rhodes and piano, and the drums were taking over the recording and the bass was somehow there but not as prominent.  I know my bass tone quite well; I am not as demanding as Anthony Jackson when it comes to bass tone, but I am almost there!

In order to check, I switched to Aydin Esen's "Anadolu" where Anthony plays the electric basses.  Nope, it was soft.  Peter Erskine's cymbals were crisp, had the shimmer and a very pleasant, linear decay, yet the kick blending in with Anthony's monster bass accompaniment was way too understated.

Interestingly, this representation brought a 3D effect to the music, as if some plate reverb was used in the mix.  But the so-called reverb was applied to all frequencies, so softened the bass.  The soundstage was only a tad higher, but depth of field got deeper as if I were on an opera stage with more depth than width!  Was it good?  Yeah!  But is it what I was looking for?  Well, I am a bass player; switched from guitar back in '93 and never looked back!  So the sound of the bass would rather be good!  :)

Anyway, coming back to today...  As soon as I woke up, I switched back to the TAD EL84 STR's.  Boy, am I loving them!

In comparison to the SV83's, these sound much more balanced and natural to me.  The basses are much punchier and better defined now.  I can now recognize my bass lines and my tone.  Anthony's bass and Peter's kick drum are clicking together much more tightly.

Rosalyn Tureck's left hand is much closer, now, to her right hand and I can tell there is only one piano, not two actually!  :)  The mids on Keith Jarrett's harpsichord on Goldberg Variations are even more detailed now.  They sound less fatiguing, yet more crisp and defined.

The overdubbed guitar lines in Muthspiel's "Matteo" and his voice blend in better; and it really shows a higher appreciation of how well that album was recorded, mixed and mastered (let alone the great music).  The electronically enhanced basses on Vera Blue's "Private" and Daft Punk sound clearer now and make you want to dance.

Coltrane's tenor on Liberia from his re-mastered work at 192kHz/24 bits sounded as good as its original vinyl with the body of the sax, despite there is no close micing in that session.  

John McLaughin's interpretation of Bill Evans' "Very Early" is an amazing interpretation of the late pianist's work with a guitar ensemble.  With the TAD's, you can identify each guitar in the recording and the separation is a bit better than what was presented by the SV83's.

I wish I had the original mono recording of the Rubber Soul.  The remastered stereo version simply puts each instrument in one of the channels.  It is still very beautiful, but I would have loved to hear the mono layering of instruments with the TAD's.

Coming to some of the orchestral pieces...  I did not have much chance to run the SE84UFO into trouble by feeding it some large symphonic work!  But, Schonberg's Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night) sounded amazing!  It is one of Schonberg's earlier works composed in a very traditional way, but under the baton of Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic excels in this recording.  Oh, stop!  I started talking about music, not the tubes or the SE84UFO...  Well, maybe they are both out of the way!  How about that!  :)

Anyway, lastly, I checked Emil Gilels collaboration with Amadeus Quartet on Brahms' Piano Quartet #1 which was recorded in 1971.  Some of the Deutsche Grammophone's chamber music recordings from that era sound a bit mid-forward to me.  But I must admit, they are beautiful though.  The TAD's did an amazing work by putting out what was recorded very truthfully.  It did not sound "not forgiving" though.  But it did not feel like it was coloring the sound, and I love that...

I know I have written quite long.  So thanks to all who have been patient enough to read this far.  My last two cents...  Both sets of tubes are amazing!  As I said before SV83's or EL84's in general are my favorite tubes.  But on SE84's SV83's have been my favorite up until I was introduced to the TAD's.  Even with a problematic set of speakers that I have, the outcome of the combination of NOS RCA 5Y3GT, TAD EL84 STR's and a 6N2P has been amazing.  I just put another order of NOS Mullard GZ32 after the last one was stolen; and I remember those tubes being my favorites on my TORII mkII.  I cannot wait to receive that one to see how it would affect the bass on my system.  I know the mids and trebles would be still to die for!  :)

Have a nice weekend...

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by Lon on 10/28/17 at 19:28:37

Great news Alper! In my modded C amp the TADs are to die for, have the bass presence you are talking of. With speakers I prefer the TADs in the Taboo amps I have as well, though I think the SV83 work a hair better with the headphones I have.

As you say they are both tubes easy to love! The TAD have great construction and last a long time as well. Glad you are enjoying them so much!

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by JOMAN on 10/29/17 at 23:28:56

Alper, I’d be interested in your comments once you try the Mullard GZ32 in your amp.  

I’ve tried all kinds of rectifiers in mine and keep coming back to the Mullard GZ32/CV593.  Bass is one of the reasons but not the sole reason by far.  

Based on Lon’s comments I also went the route of the SV83 and the TAD EL84STR.  In my set up I prefer the SV83 but then mine is a little different from yours.  The signal tube is a Siemens E88CC.  Also I run my ZDSD through the CSP3 pre which gives me a lot of added versatility.

Lately I have moved and the system is in a much larger space.  Seemed to loose some density in the new space.  So I turned up the calibration pots on the CSP3 one notch and WOW!

Not only was the density back in spades but the bass increased substantially, and that’s through Omega S3HOXRS that are still burning in.

Title: Re: Try TAD EL84 STR tubes in your Zen amp
Post by alper_yilmaz on 12/06/17 at 15:29:09

So, after two GZ32's in a row were stolen from my building's hallway, I finally received a pair from John (JOMAN) a few weeks ago.  Replacing the NOS RCA 5Y3GT with the GZ32, I have been listening to the system for sometime now.

Quite a few years ago, I had bought a pair of GZ32's from Upscale Audio for my TORII mkII.  Not familiar with the Decware brand, the owner of the company had immediately called me and was reluctant to sell me the tubes, as he was not sure if it would work in the TORII.  Anyway, it took me a while to convince him that it was fully compatible.  I remember the elegance GZ32's introduced to the TORII, a tad shy in the bass compartment yet still tight and quite airy around the higher registers.  3-4 years later, one of the tubes died and I was left with only one, so I had to go back to some NOS RCA 5U4G's.

Well, the GZ32 brought the same elegance to my SE84UFO and has taken the amp to another level.  With the 5Y3GT's (along with the TAD EL84-STR's and a 6N2P), the amp already sounds so good and balanced, but there is some finesse that the GZ32 brings to the table.  The control on the bass is really good; it is less boomy (no room treatment, by the way) and more detailed.  The mids are more tamed with less of a shout effect; not that previously the amp had a shout effect, but it is even more pleasant in the mids.  And the trebles are even more detailed and airy.

So, all in all, this is my favorite rectifier tube on the SE84UFO so far!

Thanks, John!

Forums » Powered by YaBB 2.2.2!
YaBB © 2000-2008. All Rights Reserved.