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25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier (Read 333534 times)
Steve Deckert
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25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
11/17/17 at 02:53:19
 

This is the development thread for the 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier model SE84UFO25

The amplifier can be found (and ordered from) here: https://www.decware.com/newsite/SE84UFO25.html

NOTE: If you have not followed this thread or are new to this amplifier, reading it (or at least my posts in it) will be time well spent because you will gain tremendous insight about not only this amplifier's design but why it's so good. This is information that is simply not covered on the web page!

Back Story: The Zen in Decware is like surfing a wave where the wave is in charge, not the surfer.  

I have decided that this years Christmas design fest where I unplug for a couple weeks and dive back into new Decware amp designs, is going to be something different than intended.

I have decided to go with something other than the 6C33 mono's.  As great as they are, even in a simple chassis they are going to be expensive, similar to the TORII MONO's and while a hand full of us would love them, the majority of people would just be bummed due to the price.

Instead I am going to come out with our 25th Anniversary Zen amp. (Keep in mind that the Zen Amp pre-dates Decware's going on line by several years.)

So far the prototype of this amp concept is owned by Lonely Raven. This is hopefully going to smoke that. Achievements are seldom higher than the goal, so set the goals high.

If it works, it will be so good as to be a game changer.

There is also going to be some new offerings in 2018 in the ZKIT department we're looking forward to that everyone will love!

So those holding out for the 6C33 mono's can have another year to save up for them, you would have needed it anyway.

Happy Holidays!

Steve
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Lon
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #1 - 11/17/17 at 12:42:47
 
Wow, Eric has gushed about the sound of his Zen amp "all revved up" and I know the 25th anniversary amp will really be something! I know I'm not alone in wanting to see this product appear and in details along the way.
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Palomino
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #2 - 11/17/17 at 15:31:32
 
I very much like Eric's amp.  

Maybe this is the reason I just couldn't pull the trigger on a Zen amp purchase despite wanting one for several years.  I didn't know it but I was waiting for the Zen wave to arrive.  The cosmos are tricky.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #3 - 11/18/17 at 01:07:12
 
My ZMA and the 25th Anniversary Zen Amplifier, will be all I ever need.

Steve, I'm excited to read about it as you take what you developed in Eric's.....to new heights!

.....consider my order placed.....I like serial #0001 (just like it's listed under my Zen Mystery Amplifier).  8-)

Thirteen (13) years of beautiful music produced with my Zen Select #76.....driven by my voltage adjustable output AA Gear... .
Yes, I have been adjusting voltage output into Amps since 1994..... And came the SE84CS into .... My Listening Room (May/2001)....the rest is history....as I scrapped my jaw off the floor....albeit moderate to loud listening levels....but you get the picture.

Time to Coda back....and with a ZBIT (no longer use the AA) if necessary. All in good time of discovery. I look forward to this.

Steve QUESTION: Will you be sticking with the 6922 tube variant for input or switching to the 12AU7, for the Anniversary Edition?
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busterfree
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #4 - 11/18/17 at 17:49:05
 
Not that you are taking suggestions, but I would like to see meters and tube regulation in stereo 2W Zen if it works out. This would be unique to the 25th Anniversary amp. How about Cardas copper speaker binding posts and better RCA inputs in an effort to further differentiate this amp?

Regardless, I look forward to hearing about it.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #5 - 11/19/17 at 00:50:50
 
Yeah, I was thinking those things too buster.....SuperZen UFO2 ....all that and the upgrades .... EricLR prototype + more

......there lies the intrigue of speculation.

.....now I'm also thinking ....why not mirror along side the Anniversary development ....Rachel? ....now I know the special magic of the SE84CS (13 years)...but to hedge for more headroom.....maybe I want/need for Steve's topology mojo upgrades in the Rachel UFO............ .
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #6 - 11/19/17 at 01:07:56
 
.....and to the Lurkers/Learners out there about these great Amps....don't be bashful....sign up and ask questions please! .... Great people here.

.....www's too. .....so, not to lose site of all this .... Why would I want the Anniversary Amp, when I have a Decware Zen Mystery Amplifier? Are you kidding!? .....Steve's topology Pentode's run in Triode genius  .... And his next incarnation of this......yeah, I'm in...... .

.....and NO....my ZMA is not ever for sale. I just need Decware/Triode, when I want it. My well deserving Stanford grad son......gets my ZMA if my Stent and my favorite craft beers get the better of me  :D

PR for the Marathon is 2:40:41. Hereditary factors for the Heart are a cruel mistress. My son was an All Conference champion in Cross Country.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #7 - 11/19/17 at 03:44:03
 
Quote:
Steve QUESTION: Will you be sticking with the 6922 tube variant for input or switching to the 12AU7, for the Anniversary Edition?


It wouldn't be a Zen Triode Amplifier if not for the original tube compliment, so the tubes will not change.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #8 - 11/19/17 at 05:35:50
 
I'm sure it will be great, but a fourth iteration of the "2 watt zen amp" in the lineup? Why not trick out a Rachel or even better, create a non-bridged pair of 12 watt Rachel mono blocks (SET + watts for a little more headroom)? The whole reason I was interested in the 6c33c monos was because it was SET and headroom.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #9 - 11/19/17 at 05:39:59
 
......as I asked/stated in my Reply #361...Beowulf....good reiteration...asking? ....will see what Steve says...... .

.....thanks Steve about my question....makes sense....and I love my 6922 tube variants/bought and paid for....to apply.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #10 - 11/19/17 at 11:21:38
 
What can be done in the Zen triode amp that isn’t already implemented in the mono version available? I asked if possible to add meters in my pair, but because of design Steve could not fix that at the time. Some talk about V-caps that isn’t on the option list, but is an upgrade, may be an option here? Two inputs maybe? But keep the pass-thru option as well. Of course, one chassis... I was under the impression that the mono is pretty much maxed out
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #11 - 11/19/17 at 11:53:11
 
Quote:
What can be done in the Zen triode amp that isn’t already implemented in the mono version available?


This is the interesting part of the process by stepping back from a particular design and trying again without any assumptions. I envision a lot of trial and error.

Is there a better cap or a boutique resistor at 2x price that sound better?

Will a small OC2 fit in the UFO2 chassis in place of XLR?

A second chassis for power supply, large ZMA cap, or dual rectifiers?

A Zen without a tube rectifier?

How about a slightly larger chassis footprint with wood base and optional retro tube cage with Decware logo?

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #12 - 11/19/17 at 12:06:50
 
Quote:
I'm sure it will be great, but a fourth iteration of the "2 watt zen amp" in the lineup? Why not trick out a Rachel or even better, create a non-bridged pair of 12 watt Rachel mono blocks (SET + watts for a little more headroom)? The whole reason I was interested in the 6c33c monos was because it was SET and headroom.


I would like to see an improved Rachael. A single chassis 12 watt SET would be nice. I often wonder what could be done with this amp if there were biasing options like the ZMA or if it could use the KT120 or K150 tubes.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #13 - 11/19/17 at 13:51:04
 
Yeah, I have to admit my interest in the 6C33C's was the more headroom in triode output. I would want the Rachel or Rachel's at 12 watts per channel, with the Upgrades.

.....and yes, the biasing and don't forget the balancing option I have with my ZMA. I'm spoiled by this.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #14 - 11/19/17 at 20:31:53
 
@ stone - agree, I was not really interested in the 6c33c mono's for the tube compliment, but rather the wattage/headroom and SET circuit.

Living here in the dry hot San Diego climate, I don't think I would ever be interested in the 6c33c mono's anyways due to the heat of that tube.  it's already mid November and we just turned our A/C off last week and opened our windows ... but a couple of days ago it got so hot I was almost tempted to turn it back on.  I live in a place where we keep our windows open pretty much all winter then close them back up late June to early July and run the A/C pretty much until late October all the way up to mid November when we can open the windows back up again.  I've read those 6c33c tubes are like mini space heaters and don't think they would bode well for my area.

@ busterfree and stone - a hot rod'ed 10-12 watt Rachel (in either single or mono chassis) that could come in between the price of a Torii Jr and Torii would really fit the bill for me.  Not only would that be my dream amp, but it would fill a gap in the lineup as far as wattage goes as well.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #15 - 11/21/17 at 16:33:57
 
Quote:
So far the prototype of this amp concept is owned by Lonely Raven. This is hopefully going to smoke that. Achievements are seldom higher than the goal, so set the goals high.


Quote:
Wow, Eric has gushed about the sound of his Zen amp "all revved up" and I know the 25th anniversary amp will really be something! I know I'm not alone in wanting to see this product appear and in details along the way.



When I brought my little Zen amp to Steve, it was kind of tough for me to do because it's an early serial number, and completely unmolested. He genuinely gave me grief about it, pointing out that of the early Zen amps, not a single one has come back for mod or repairs; they they were overbuilt in order for him to have that lifetime warranty that his amps are known for.

But Steve also taught me to trust my gut; if something doesn't sound right, or feel right, or just off and/or I think it can sound better, do something or say something about it! And I really felt that my old Zen amp didn't keep up with the newer zen amps - it still had the transparency it's known for, and still does it better than the ZMA....but I felt like all the newer Decware amps were making the little Zen amp feel slow and old. So I pressed on and told Steve I wanted the UFO mod that he kept suggesting was absolutely worth the cost "and whatever else you  think it needs - I think you know what I like in an amp"

That last part turned into a $700 ouch! Remind me not to tell Steve to do whatever again unless I win the lottery!  ;D

So when I showed up to pick up the amp, Steve had this mischievous grin from ear to ear - I like when I see that, it means the audio gods have whispered something to him and something clicked. And Steve started in with his you'll be blown away, it will melt your brain (etc) and I'm like yeah, yeah, I've heard this before and I'm a picky bastard so to me it's rare something is as good as someone thinks it is. Well I'll be damned, this amp just blew me away!

I've heard the UFO Zens and tweaked out Selects and whatnot and ProgRobs always stood out as being pretty amazing to me - and I honestly felt this surpassed that one. My little Zen had the transparency and honesty it's known for, but it's faster and slicker and appeared to sound at least twice as loud! I easily fill my 25' x 15' x8' home theater with the little Zen and my MG-944 or my Omega SuperHemps. For about a two months after getting the little Zen back I honestly had zero interest in listening to the ZMA - and that's saying a lot because that's like saying I didn't need to eat or drink two months, LOL.

Can I run it out of Steam? Yeah, that's really the limitation of the little amp - there are times I miss the grunt and horsepower of the ZMA, but the little Zen now feels like it does so much more that the ZMA hints at but can't do. Steve mentioned some of his tweaks to me, and I won't steal his thunder, but it boils down to being able to voice not only the tone of the amp, but the speed and honesty. Add to that he's got some great build quality tweaks to eek out a little bit more, so I'm expecting the 25th Anniversary Zen to surpass mine (and be totally worth it).

I'm bummed about the 6c33c amps - not that I could afford them, but to me, they were probably the only thing that could bridge that gap between the honesty of the Zen and the Horsepower of the ZMA. But if it's a $10k amp, 99% of us will want to hear it at DecFest and otherwise just shrug it off...like seeing a $100,000 supercar roll by; yeah it's great, but if I have to choose between a house and a supercar, well...
Even if the 6c33c monos can be brought down to the $6000 range it would be out of reach for most of us, but that's getting it closer to the ZMA territory which even I was able to afford (after selling a car and a rare guitar! LOL)

I wonder if there is space in the lineup for a 6c33c Zen amp. I know a few of you guys that posted don't seem to care about the tube, but more about the headroom, and I get that (seeing as how I run my little Zen out of steam, I do get that!). But like how Steve pioneered the SV83 tube because there is something special about it, I think the 6c33c tube has something special about it as well, even given it's quirks and expense - there is something there. I think I could get by with a 6c33c 25th anniversary Zen amp! LOL

Sorry for the Will level of long post, but it's rare that something exceeds my expectations, and this refreshing of the Zen amp is one of those times. For those of you in the market for this kind of flea watt purity, I wholeheartedly say go for it!


P.S. I like to think me trusting my gut is one of those ways that the audio gods nudge Steve.    ;)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #16 - 11/22/17 at 15:15:56
 
Yeah, I'm out of the running for the 6C33C's. As you stated LR, I too, am fortunate to have afforded my ZMA at the time and Cabling (+ my Adagio's). .....NOS Tubes too...... .

Far as the 2 and 6 watt Zen's go?  I have faced the facts.....I'm addicted to my ZMA.....right through its Cabling to my modified Adagio's. I can't go back.

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My Christmas and Birthday present to me? I am ordering the ZROCK2, Friday 11/24. A good 20% of my Redbook collection (read/Rock)....should benefit from this beauty.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #17 - 11/22/17 at 18:22:34
 
Is there a Black Friday special???
If so, what is it?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #18 - 11/22/17 at 18:27:27
 
Received in an email:

Nov 20 at 6:23 PM
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #19 - 11/22/17 at 21:37:41
 
@ LR - cool story dude and I'm sure its a fine amp!

Pardon my being underwhelmed with this latest amp in development ... it's just that I already have a Zen Select and I'll go out on a limb and say that a majority of Decware owners already have and/or have had an iteration of this 2 watt amp in their kits at one point.  There's already 3 iterations of this amp in the lineup as well, so I just don't see any reason for a fourth one when there's other areas of untapped potential that people have been waiting for ... i.e. a SET with a little more headroom.  

If the 6c33c's are going to be too expensive I understand that Steve may not want to continue with the development of them, but putting the breaks on the development of the 6c33c's to make yet another iteration of the Zen Triode 2 watt amp when people were hoping for a SET amp that had the potential of 18 watts is kind of a let down (for me at least).

Anyways, no offense Steve I'm sure it will be a fine amp for whomever may want to purchase it.

p.s. Happy Thanksgiving to all ... heading to Vegas to spend the holiday with mom, big sis and family!!!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #20 - 11/22/17 at 22:04:52
 

Quote:
Pardon my being underwhelmed with this latest amp in development ... it's just that I already have a Zen Select and I'll go out on a limb and say that a majority of Decware owners already have and/or have had an iteration of this 2 watt amp in their kits at one point.  There's already 3 iterations of this amp in the lineup as well, so I just don't see any reason for a fourth one when there's other areas of untapped potential that people have been waiting for ... i.e. a SET with a little more headroom.  


You make a fantastic argument, and don't worry I plan to continue with the 6C33 amps, just not right now, because as I said, the ROI will be too slow at least for this year.  

As for a fourth iteration of the Zen amp, the 2 watt Zen Triode is the legacy of Decware and I can make it appreciably better than anyone has ever heard one, so I have to do it.  

For those wanting more SET power than the 6 watts, firstly understand that the 6C33 amps are all about the tube and I would pusue them even if they only made 2 watts.

If you want a 12 watt SET amp, you simply bridge a pair of SE34I.5's.  There is no way to get to 12 watts any cheaper and maintain the Decware sound.   People don't realize that SET costs a LOT more to build than push pull.  The power supplies have to be twice as big, and if you use directly heated triodes to keep the hum down the power supply becomes twice as complicated.

To that point, the 6C33 mono's that I prototyped are in fact the 2 watt Zen Triode Amp built with 6C33 tube as cost effectively as possible.  The result is at least 6 or 7 times the price and the weight and the heat.

Beer is here -  more later.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #21 - 11/22/17 at 22:48:51
 
What I think will be interesting with this Anniversary amp will be the sound and signature of a mono'd pair. They would probably have grunt and sparkle and be all many systems would need.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #22 - 11/23/17 at 02:14:49
 
Many people don't realize that a Decware SET amp is fundamentally different when bridged than I would say probably most if not all retail tube gear. That difference is in the output stage where in a Decware amp it floats. Specifically there is no connection from the negative speaker binding post to ground like there is in virtually everything else.

Because the outputs float, and the transformers run a non-standard ratio they function rather well in series as opposed to in parallel into most speaker loads. Being in series means that the two tubes are in series as well. When the transformers and or tubes are in series, they become one. They do not have to match. Their differences compliment the whole. In contrast when output stages or tubes are in parallel, the differences fight each other causing an audible smear or veil over the music.

This is why you can bridge a Decware SET amp into mono without any obvious penalty. The 12 watts you're all wanting is a pair of SE34I.5 for around $3K. I can not build a 12 watt stereo SET that sounds better for less than that or even for 50% more than that.  Sure I could set up a KT120 or KT150 and advertise it as wonderful, but so far I fail to be impressed. I have listened to both single ended and they don't have it. Not surprising, but had to try it.  

If 12 watts won't do it, then you need to move into the push pulls. Your speakers aren't fast enough to discern the difference when you compare the two in the Decware line. Other companies, yes, the difference is painfully obvious even on your inefficient speakers. Not so here.

It's been my opinion since the beginning that people should put there money into the speakers and run a 2 watt Zen amp (The super serious ones anyway). It's a big commitment to run large speakers that are around 100dB with response down in the low 20's in a room that can support it and it's not cheap. Instead everyone goes the other direction, bigger amps, smaller or inefficient speakers.

I've done the best I can within the window of opportunity, which is to say the window that defines the fidelity vs. power curve (2w ~ 40W) since anything outside that window can not compete.

Precious few people have actually followed this advise and own a pair of SE34I.5 strapped into mono, so consequently it remains a well kept secret.

As for making the SE34I.5 better with tube regulation, I might do that, it just depends.  Voltage regulator tubes are not in current production anywhere, and are not all that easy to find in any real quantity, so I have to plan wisely what amps would use them, and that is done with price.

So that's where I'm coming from. That said, as mentioned I have every intension on building myself a pair of 6C33 mono's that look good. Likely in the original sketches I submitted that match the ZTPRE. Once I have done that, it really won't be a problem to make more, since I can buy 1 pair of chassis for 90% the cost of 10 pair of chassis, I will own 10 pair of chassis just to build my own pair. I'm going to go to the trouble because the tube has something special that I appreciate and is non-user friendly which also appeals to me on a personal level. Wink

Happy Thanksgiving!

Steve








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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #23 - 11/23/17 at 02:26:44
 
It's true what Lon says, as everything I just talked about applies to the 2 watt Zen's as well.  In fact it is only a 3dB difference in level between the 6 watts of a bridged 2 watt ZEN and the 12 watts of a bridged 6 watt Zen so by far the biggest bang for the buck is a pair of SE84UFO or UFO2 bridged into mono.

Many have discovered that 6 watts is enough in large spaces with speaks that are 94dB or higher. The assumption is of course that there will be no bass compared to say a 60 watt amp. False. Same bass., Usually better.  Why?  Because a 60 watt amp is paired with 86 dB speakers that have a moving mass of 80 grams and the 6 watt amp is paired with a speaker that has a moving mass of 20~40 grams making the later two to four times faster. Faster bass is always better bass. How low it goes is only a function of the cabinet size and tuning, not the amplifier.

If my true interest was in profit, I would present you all with a nice 300B amp for the same price as a TORII, but it wouldn't sound as good. You would never know that because you would never own both.  

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #24 - 11/24/17 at 03:27:44
 
Well, as I stated, I'm firmly in what Steve mentioned of his fidelity vs. power curve/window. I'm a firm believer. You will not find me running a Class A/B Amp (in my Listening Room).

I'm at the higher watt rate of 38 and peak power (AB1) of 114 per channel when I push my ZMA.....which is often.....with my higher moving mass of x grams modified Speakers.....that absolutely has crushed all contenders that have entered.

......I will leave it here.  8-)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #25 - 11/28/17 at 11:25:07
 
Quote:
It's been my opinion since the beginning that people should put there money into the speakers and run a 2 watt Zen amp (The super serious ones anyway). It's a big commitment to run large speakers that are around 100dB with response down in the low 20's in a room that can support it and it's not cheap. Instead everyone goes the other direction, bigger amps, smaller or inefficient speakers.


What speakers would make the short list?
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Reply #26 - 11/29/17 at 01:20:18
 
Actually it can be done with 94dB or higher.  The trick is the cabinets bass response and extension.  I have had a pair of Imperial Horn cabinets at 28 cubic feet per side that were never less than 100dB regardless of the numerous combinations I played with, and a 2 watt Zen amp would just crush you.  While the 94dB won't crush you, they are more than enough for musical satisfaction.  I find the trick is when you find yourself listening to a 2 watt zen amp and you forget your not listening to a 40 watt amp because the bass and punch is the same. Then you know you have a great speaker. The speaker's sensitivity is such that with either amplifier, your listening level is easily reached with one watt. In that world, the smaller amp can often have the advantage and come out victorious in a head to head shoot out.

Back in the 1970's radio shack designed a nice poly woofer sold for the diy crowd to "improve bass response".  It was a high Q driver with an fs of 33Hz or so, and could be in either an infinite baffle or a 5.29 cubic foot ported box. By infinite  baffle, they meant a wall in your house. Cut a hole in the wall and install the driver.  It was only 89dB.  It marked a point in the audio timeline where efficiency was no longer a big priority because solid state was the new thing and power was cheap but still we were all used to large boxes. It took several more years for speaker box sizes to shrink.

Today, if you put a single 8 inch driver in a nearly 6 cubic foot cabinet you'd be laughed out of the room. Most manufactures can cram at least 5 drivers or more in that amount of space Wink

I have found over the years that the biggest reason not to have too big a speaker in a small room is imaging. Typically the large speakers are hard to make disappear. The Zen amp is however so good at making giant speakers invisible that it works more often than not.

In our line, the HDT and the DM947 are best we offer pre-built that are efficient enough and have the bandwidth to sound like a big amp is driving them with only 2 watts. We do have plans for the Imperials online and also our corner horns as well as our Imperial SO (Sub only) which can be used horizontally across the front of a room and paired with smaller open baffles to create a completely realistic experience on 2 watts.

Horn speakers, good ones, sound heavenly on single ended triodes. The two go well together. Use anything else and you will not like the horn for very long.

Back in the 50's it wasn't that uncommon to find stereo systems built into the house. High Fidelity was a novelty and celebrated. Today it is taken for granted, and compressed and downsized to fit in you pocket.  How special.  It's up to you and me to save it!!!


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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #27 - 11/29/17 at 10:43:12
 
I have to be careful about what I say in response to the comments regarding a 25th Aniversary Zen Amp because I ‘m afraid that after experiencing the 2 watt based system that I have I may not be able to be all that objective.  You see I’ve become a Zen Snob and make no apologies for it.

I have followed followed the “philosophy” and continued to work with it in order to achieve it’s full potential.  The results have led me to the conclusion that a lot more is possible with with a 2 watt Zen Amp.  That the fidelity that is possible is completely disproportionate to the power.

Yes, I understand that certain speakers require more power, but IMO, that does not mean that it will result in higher fidelity, just in the ability to drive speakers of lower efficiency.  The two are not necessarily related.

At one time I would excuse the prescence of “ungainly” components as being a necessary evil, not so anymore.  In fact I now acknowledge that such components have become repulsive to me.  No offence intended here, just a statement of how I feel, after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there’s no accounting for taste, including mine.

So, in conclusion; A 25th anniversary Zen Amp? - It’s about time to ramp it up to the next level!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #28 - 11/29/17 at 13:22:09
 
JOMAN wrote on 11/29/17 at 10:43:12:
So, in conclusion; A 25th anniversary Zen Amp? - It’s about time to ramp it up to the next level!

Agreed! I think a bridged pair of these upcoming amps may be the ultimate amplification for my audio/visual system, and I will definitely consider that in the future.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #29 - 11/29/17 at 15:01:30
 
I have read a recent post by Steve regarding a pair of 2 watt Zen Amps..."by far the biggest bang for the buck is a pair of SE84UFO or UFO2 bridged into mono.".

Please pardon me if i missed it, but when is the release date of the 25th Anniversary Zen Amp?  I am considering the possibility of buying 2 of these to drive a pair of 95db Tekton Pendragons in a 2.0 ch music/HT system.

Which amp to buy has been the hardest decision to make.  Having read alot about the SET made me consider the Zen & Rachael, then worrying that there would not be enough power, the Torii Jr and MKIV became likely candidates and preferably the MKIV because of it's bass and treble adjustments.

I just can't get my mind off of the SET amps, and now hearing about the upcoming Zen amp mod, AND Steve's mention about a pair of 2 watt Zens is series:  "Many have discovered that 6 watts is enough in large spaces with speaks that are 94dB or higher."


Using an iphone db meter app (and i know it's probably not the most acurate), i have determined that we listen to music at an average of 85db and a peak of 98db at 6'.  If a pair of 2 watt Zens would accommodate those levels with music and also provide enough power for DVD...consider me in!  Source will be an Oppo Sonica and Oppo UDP-203 for DVD transport.

An intervention from the audiophile gods on amp and interconnect cables would certainly be welcome because i'm banging my head against the wall here.

I also want to say "Thank You" to Lon, Will & Lin for previous advice.

FWIW, Christmas present to self will be seeing my name on the Decware Amplifier waiting list.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #30 - 11/29/17 at 15:41:29
 
Ginny, at the present the 25th Anniversary Zen Amp is something that Steve will work on with the idea of possibly debuting it next October at the 2018 DecFest. So. . . some time to go before it's a new model on the website if it becomes so, maybe a year.

The truth is that matched with an appropriate speaker any of the Decware amps will give amazing music. I've gone through quite a few and have some gathering dust because it's so hard to part with them! So you can't go wrong. . . and it's a hard decision to make.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #31 - 11/29/17 at 20:43:58
 
Hi Ginny,

I would definitely start with one, rather than two SE84UFOs.  Your speakers are efficient enough to be driven by one amp.  I would invest in a high-output buffer/preamp, though, in order to run the SE84 to its limits.  That is what I do and I have been very happy with the results even though I am using much less efficient speakers than yours (91dB, 2.5-way speakers with relatively more complex crossovers).

In a later stage, you can still invest in a second one, if the first does not satisfy you volume-wise.

Best,

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #32 - 11/29/17 at 22:24:19
 
I've read some comments in more than one thread on this forum that running bridged pairs always take away some of the magic. Hence my not ever wanting to buy a second Zen amp and run them bridged.  I would also assume that this would not effect the Zen mono's.

Knowing that I have heard about the reduced magic (when bridging them) a few times on this forum was why I was suggesting Steve to build a pair of non bridged Rachels, but after hearing his explanation on why he doesn't want to I understand that it is too costly ~ so it doesn't make sense as very few could afford them.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #33 - 11/29/17 at 22:50:32
 
Wouldn't affect the Monos as they aren't bridged, but one chassis per channel.

I'm sure there's a little loss in bridging but there's also a gain. Life is full of losses and gains and balance. . . .
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #34 - 11/30/17 at 03:06:38
 
Lon wrote on 11/29/17 at 22:50:32:
Wouldn't affect the Monos as they aren't bridged, but one chassis per channel.

I'm sure there's a little loss in bridging but there's also a gain. Life is full of losses and gains and balance. . . .


Yes, but the question should be ... Is any loss in fidelity more important than 3dB or so louder volume?

Maybe it's just splitting hairs as I've never heard them in such a configuration, but I've talked with enough people that it would have me believe that it does make a difference in sound quality and to me the loss doesn't seem worth 3dB gain in volume.  IMO it would be better to have a real set of mono blocks in the wattage you need to drive your speakers with the authority that you want.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #35 - 11/30/17 at 12:01:43
 
Without experiencing it ourselves it's hard to tell either way. To be honest I react from reading the opposite, that the extra gain made the amps more appealing with someone's loved speakers with a tiny loss of magic. No use having a bit more magic if you really can't hear it at the right volumes. To me it really does boil down to the magic of the amps suiting the speakers. I've fallen in love with speakers that have more magic than others for me, and 3 more DB may keep that magic even if the amp loses a touch of its magic.

Jeez, we're talking about magic! I think I'd welcome an opinion from Steve about this. I think in my case, in love with my HR-1s and used to the different magic of the Toriis I might well be able to enjoy the Zen amp magic with a bridge pair, especially of what I imagine a bridged pair of Anniversaries would deliver. Steve is the best judge, and we have time to find out.

There are many ways to skin a cat, and the interesting part of my experience of the last few years is that my "purist" ideas are turning if not on their head, on their side. With my there Z Amigos (ZTPRE, ZBIT, and ZROCK2) everything gets better. . .with three additional components, three more interconnects and two more power cords. You'd think there's magic lost. . . but there's so much that has been gained.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #36 - 11/30/17 at 12:22:21
 
I think that the answer is in what Lon concluded with... Balance.

If we were to state that no loss is acceptable then that would apply to the entire system from the electrical plug in the wall to the room.  Sometimes we can demand the ultimate in one component and get it only to find that it makes matters worse because it shows where the imbalance is.

My system delivers what I want in fidelity and I continue to try to wring out  more, only to find out that some very poor recordings sound much worse and better recordings sound much better.  For me that’s OK, that’s what I want.

I believe that there always will be some compromise and that at some point we will go round and round until reality forces us to accept some sort of compromise.  A compromise that is acceptable to each one of us individually and what that compromise will be will vary from individual to individual.

Perhaps then, for some monos will be it, but for others bridged amps will be more than sufficient.  It depends on the whole system right down to the room.

I don’t know if there is one clear cut answer for anything in this hobby, that’s what makes it both interesting Smiley and at the same time frustrating Cry.


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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #37 - 11/30/17 at 12:37:25
 
Actually Lon, I found that the same has happened with my “purist” ideas (damn it!).  Now I get to rethink everything and reorganize everything (damn it!).  But I like the result and so I keep at it (DAMN IT!) Wink.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #38 - 11/30/17 at 12:40:22
 
Yes, DAMNIT. Smiley
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #39 - 11/30/17 at 16:33:28
 
For me, it is difficult to figure out if there is a significant sonic difference between one amp versus two amps bridged in themselves.  One of the reasons is the difference in volume.  Without volume matching, one should not get into comparing the two systems.

Back in the day, when I was having difficulty with driving my speakers with one SE84 (I think it was the C+ version), I went for the second one and used the two bridged for a few years.  It definitely reduced the clipping issue and I do not remember noticing a significant sonic difference.  However, even with the bridged amps, the system was struggling with operatic voice or forte piano passages.  So, when we switched to a TORII mkII, it was like a difference between day and night.  

So, again, I would start with only one SE84UFO.  Please note that the most recent version of the SE84 is a total beast in comparison to the earlier versions.  Because of all the changes in the design over years (Hazen Grid mod, UFO outputs, etc.), the amp has reached another level and with the same set of speakers, I am much happier with it.  

If you are looking for crazy volume levels, I would rather go for a TORII or ZMA, but they are different beasts.  With the Pendragons, I have a feeling that one SE84 would suffice, if it is fed with a high-output source...
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #40 - 11/30/17 at 16:51:51
 
I think Alper is spot on (for what it’s worth)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #41 - 12/02/17 at 15:51:39
 
When it comes to the UFO version of the SE84, (which will be true for the Anniversary edition as well--I'm sure they will have UFO transformers) Steve has in fact weighed in on the matter on the Zen SE84UFO page:


Worried about 2 huger than life SET watts not being enough power?

The SE84UFO employs a unique floating output transformer scheme where the negative speaker wire is not tied to chassis ground. That means when the amp is bridged, both channels may either be series or parallel wired. In series, both channels work as one and transparency is preserved.

So with no sonic drawbacks to running the amps in mono, you can expect 6 dB of additional power rather then the expected 3dB. This is thanks to the power increase the amp has when it sees half the speaker load from being series bridged.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #42 - 12/07/17 at 02:48:19
 

A note about the purist approach:

It's easy to think of transparency as the result of fewer parts, but the reality is transparency is about the transparency of the parts.

Think of transparency as crystal clear water, and a lack of transparency as cloudy water. If you start with somewhat cloudy water in a cup it may be hard to tell it is cloudy because there is so little water in the cup. It's not until you add more cloudy water that you begin to notice it's loosing clarity.

If you start with water that is crystal clear in your cup, you can add many layers of water on top of that until the cup is full and it can still be clear.

The reason this has caught many of you by surprise is because most audio gear is not this transparent. There is precious little hand made point-to-point tube gear available with this price/performance ratio.

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #43 - 12/07/17 at 03:27:42
 
I can say I have no issues with transparency (my perspective at least) with bridged ufo2's.  With zu druid v's spec'd at 16 ohms and if you look at the curve they are closer to 19 in good portion of the spectrum.  I needed the extra power as steve advised.  FYI I start getting distortion around ~95db/meter. Somewhat dependent on source. They are spec'd at 101, most reviews question that number.    Normally listen at 70-80.  So it's enough.  I doubt with those speakers a single se84 with my room size and un ideal acoustic environment would have been enough in my case, but it sounds magical.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #44 - 12/07/17 at 03:44:30
 
ANNIVERSARY 2 WATT ZEN AMP will HAPPEN!

Well, something wonderful is happening here behind the scenes with the Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier development not to mention something completely unique! Even better it is something that is only possible in a 2 watt Zen Triode Amplifier - which is to say that it can't be duplicated in any other amplifier. It is something I have been wanting to do for years on any amplifier and for some reason a dead pocket of brain cells was brought back to life recently and I realized I could have done it all along... go figure.

This is just a teaser, so I'm not going to tell you what I did, or anything else at this point except to say a working prototype exists and things are going better than well.  

Stone cold off the bench in it's first breath it is already more liquid and more dimensional than anything I've ever heard. Yup, this is going to be some good stuff.  It's so extreme and so good, I don't know if I should be happy or disappointed that it took me 20 years to figure this out.

Hehe.. maybe I'll call it the SE84UFOHC for "Holy Crap".

Save your questions, I'll tease you with it more as it develops.

BTW, I know... overly exuberant statements that seem hard to believe and thus diminish everything else I've said over the years, but take it seriously because I have always been able to put my money where my mouth is and if I say no one has ever heard a Zen this good you can be completely certain of it.

-Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #45 - 12/07/17 at 03:59:20
 
Nice tease, hope I can upgrade the UFO2's!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #46 - 12/07/17 at 04:19:41
 
Steve,

Alpine brewery out here in San Diego named their epiphany beer HFS.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #47 - 12/09/17 at 03:06:24
 
The most exciting write-up since Torri Jr. I am eager.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #48 - 12/09/17 at 04:41:03
 
Quote:
ANNIVERSARY 2 WATT ZEN AMP will HAPPEN!

Well, something wonderful is happening here behind the scenes with the Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier development not to mention something completely unique! Even better it is something that is only possible in a 2 watt Zen Triode Amplifier - which is to say that it can't be duplicated in any other amplifier. It is something I have been wanting to do for years on any amplifier and for some reason a dead pocket of brain cells was brought back to life recently and I realized I could have done it all along... go figure.

This is just a teaser, so I'm not going to tell you what I did, or anything else at this point except to say a working prototype exists and things are going better than well.  

Stone cold off the bench in it's first breath it is already more liquid and more dimensional than anything I've ever heard. Yup, this is going to be some good stuff.  It's so extreme and so good, I don't know if I should be happy or disappointed that it took me 20 years to figure this out.

Hehe.. maybe I'll call it the SE84UFOHC for "Holy Crap".


So...Steve, does this mean I should bring mine back for whatever this magic update is?  I'm in town again on Monday.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #49 - 12/09/17 at 18:29:29
 

Sorry, this new Zen requires a scratch built chassis and as a result it will be impossible to upgrade any prior amps.

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #50 - 12/09/17 at 18:38:38
 
So, when is the expected release date, Steve?  I cannot believe there can and will be anything better than the SE84UFO in the price range (plus, say, 50%); but I will take your word for it!  :)

And of course, looking forward...

Cheers,

Alper
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #51 - 12/09/17 at 19:13:11
 
Oh boy, this is going to be A HELLUVAN amp.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #52 - 12/09/17 at 20:02:19
 
So, maybe it should be named HELLUVAN84 then!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #53 - 12/09/17 at 20:04:46
 
Yes! LOL.

I'm going to try to save up for a bridged pair, and hopefully Steve can leave space in there for a treble cut circuit. . . ..
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #54 - 12/09/17 at 21:48:22
 
25th Anniversary Amp🤔🤔🤔🤔
Of course you have to get one.

HK
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #55 - 12/09/17 at 21:55:49
 
Just one?  ;)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #56 - 12/09/17 at 22:34:57
 
The word on the street around here is that Steve is working on some 1500 watt solid state monoblock amps and some really cool 80 Db efficient speakers.
The street around here is usually right.... Roll Eyes
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #57 - 12/11/17 at 04:28:43
 

Well the Audio Gods have blessed the new Anniversary Zen amplifier design... which is important.

This time the sine they left was and is simply unmistakeable. The amp has been on for days continuously playing music and the power transformer is just warm (110 degrees F). The normal temperature of every Zen ever built since 1996 ranges between 129 ~ 139 degrees F. I am using the same power transformer and the current draw is exactly the same as it's always been.

I am wrestling my way through the burn-in process of VCAPS which I have chosen for this amp to raise both the gain and the dynamics. As always with any cap, there is a window of 30 minutes to a few hours during the initial cold off the bench listening test where you can hear exactly what the cap will sound like once it is burned it. Then it goes away not to return for several hundred hours.  

Another note regarding burning in stubborn caps that I've learned since 1996... what you play when you burn in the cap is important. I learned early burn in is about memory. The cap is learning.

Sine waves, Pink Noise, warble tones, and all the other electronic crap found on Burn-In CD's makes the cap really good at reproducing those noises and as a consequence music reproduction also improves a tiny bit. However, let the cap learn good music, real music, and it will be far better at playing it while as a consequence it will also be better at reproducing the noise of a Burn-in CD.

I say real music meaning non-electronic, non-processed recordings of real instruments that are properly tuned to themselves - is the ideal thing to use when training the caps. Things with complex harmonics are best, such as you will find in classical music. I have found that the most complex harmonics I have found seems to come from 18th century Tibetan Singing Bowls which is an ideal thing to use when training the caps so long as the recordings contain many different bowls.

If you're going to try Singing bowl recordings to burn in new caps, you will also need well recorded music to alternate it with. That said the bowls will cut the burn in time in half.

Anyway back to the temperature thing. There is no SPICE models I am aware of that could predict this sudden temperature reduction, or explain it. The cool thing (excuse the pun) is that everyone who owns one of these will be able to experience for themselves the sign every time they feel the disarmingly cool power transformer.

As a final unrelated thought, I spent most of the week exploring the voicing and trying to wrap my head around how the most subtle things can simply discombobulate the sound. It's like painting a portrait in Oils and you had the face nearly perfect but you just had to see what would happen if you add a little paint here and take a little away from there and presto... it's all F'd up! Now you spend the next couple days working backwards to fix it. In this case what I am referring to is the voicing the power supplies and getting them to the correct speed so that the timbre is correct and the dimensionality doesn't compress. All of this can come from seeming nothing and just as easily return to nothing because just using the wrong brand of bypass cap or the wrong value or both anywhere in the entire amp can wreck it.

The Voicing of my amps, especially this one, is sacred. It's a real bitch to get it there and it comes from unexpected places, so assuming a particular brand or type of cap can be replaced with something that cost more money and positive results will come is foolish. Your job is what's on the outside of the amp, i.e. the tubes, cables and power cords, speakers, room, sources. I juggle all of these during the voicing process to keep from getting an amp that only sounds good in one system.

So that's my update, and truly of the hundreds of sines I've gotten over 25 years, this one is hallmark.  I'll probably spend the next 25 years trying to figure out how it is happening ; )

Steve




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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #58 - 12/11/17 at 05:47:50
 
(Eric is frantically going through music library to see if there is any Tibetan Singing Bowl music - oddly, find 3 albums)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #59 - 12/11/17 at 06:18:51
 
Since it's running so cool, does that mean you could bore it out, port and polish the heads, throw a high lift cam in it and get it to 10 WPC without it over-heating?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #60 - 12/11/17 at 11:28:39
 
Maybe Singing bowls with Ohm speakers?  Ohmmmmm.


HK
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #61 - 12/11/17 at 16:54:19
 
Steve, thanks for your comprehensive last post, to remind me of what you do to make music so convincing and enjoyable in my Listening Room.

You stated (among everything you said and I appreciate):
"Your job is what's on the outside of the amp, i.e. the tubes, cables and power cords, speakers, room, sources. I juggle all of these during the voicing process to keep from getting an amp that only sounds good in one system."

....not an easy task  

Furthermore/you're:
".....wrestling my way through the burn-in process of VCAPS which I have chosen for this amp to raise both the gain and the dynamics."

........and with the raise in gain and dynamics you're providing.....oh yeah.


I'm back in. My modified Adagio's Tweeter's and Driver's, I can't be without...can be driven by the Anniversary Amp. My SE84CS, really had no problem. With the VCAPS, the living hell, as described to burn them in.....will be worth it, to BE BACK IN THE COMPANY OF YOUR PENTODES RUN IN TRIODE ~ 2ND TO NONE.

I look forward to reading more.  

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #62 - 12/11/17 at 17:12:26
 
"If you start with water that is crystal clear in your cup, you can add many layers of water on top of that until the cup is full and it can still be clear."

Lower temp on the power transformer, due to what you stated in your post/reply #398?

....can the new layer of the right clear parts affect this lower temp back?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #63 - 01/03/18 at 14:28:02
 
OK, here is my summary of what makes the 25AZPT special.  It's really in the attack of the notes.  So notes have an attack, a body and a decay. The 25AZPT is especially fast and really lends great definition to the attack part of the note.  That draws you into the music more, keeps the music moving and involves you.

Not that the body or decay is lacking.  Quite the opposite, but its the attack that makes this the most engaging Decware amp I have listened to.  I put it in and it didn't come out until the CDApS meeting because I just didn't want to.  I put the Rachael back in because I wanted everyone to hear the difference when the Zen went back in.

In contrast, I find that he ZMA gets the body of the note really well and squeezes out the definition.  Its no slouch of course on the other aspects, but it is not a fast as the 25AZPT.

Soundstage on this Zen and imaging are also first class, but again its the attack that I think really separates it from other Decware amps.

I did have to make an adjustment to my bass amps for the Zen and turn them up a few clicks to keep the bass at the same level as Rachael, but otherwise if Steve can keep the attack going in the production model, this will be a really great amp.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #64 - 01/04/18 at 01:32:20
 
Regarding the temperature, the amp has been on 24/7 since I first mentioned it and the temp simply won't rise.   Consider this, it is the same 170mA transformer we have always used in most of our amplifiers. The Zens only draw around 50 mA on average from that 170mA power supply.  Some are built with a resistor, some are built with chokes, and none have run this cool.  In fact the original zen ran hot.

The only explanation I can offer is that both the resistor(s) and or the choke reflect something backwards back into the transformer through the bridge rectifier which causes friction/heat that isn't necessarily tied to load.

In any case with it running so cool I have no qualms about leaving it on 24 hours a day and it makes sense that without the chaos of this friction, the sound would have insane liquidity - almost disarming.

The reason there is none of this is because I have eliminated the resistors and the choke and am using the vacuum gap of the OA3 tube in place of it to feed high voltage to the plate of each output tube. This has never been done before, only the grids of the output tubes, or the high voltage for the input tubes has ever been done in the past. In this amp all the high voltage for everything is resistor-less and has no chokes, just the vacuum gaps of three separate vacuum regulator tubes, one for each output tube and one for the input tube.

Of course this can not be done with any other amplifier because all other amplifiers use larger output tubes, and we're at the limit of the current capacity of the Voltage Regulator tube with the Zen's 6P15P-EB / EL84 output tube. So something this graceful can only be done on a 2 watt Zen Triode Amplifier.  
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #65 - 01/04/18 at 01:49:10
 
Wow, that's an amazing design. Can't wait to see more of this amp!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #66 - 01/04/18 at 03:02:40
 
Steve, your thoughts on bridging a pair of these into mono?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #67 - 01/04/18 at 18:12:16
 

To clarify Palomino's post (quoted here); I loaned him my little Zen amp that is the prototype for the 25th Anniversary amp, and he had about two weeks of playtime with it. He said he wasn't giving it back. I agree with his assessment - the speed and honesty of this amp is very engaging - we just kept running out of steam when we wanted a little grunt, or with quiet recordings.

Quote:
OK, here is my summary of what makes the 25AZPT special.  It's really in the attack of the notes.  So notes have an attack, a body and a decay. The 25AZPT is especially fast and really lends great definition to the attack part of the note.  That draws you into the music more, keeps the music moving and involves you.

Not that the body or decay is lacking.  Quite the opposite, but its the attack that makes this the most engaging Decware amp I have listened to.  I put it in and it didn't come out until the CDApS meeting because I just didn't want to.  I put the Rachael back in because I wanted everyone to hear the difference when the Zen went back in.

In contrast, I find that he ZMA gets the body of the note really well and squeezes out the definition.  Its no slouch of course on the other aspects, but it is not a fast as the 25AZPT.

Soundstage on this Zen and imaging are also first class, but again its the attack that I think really separates it from other Decware amps.

I did have to make an adjustment to my bass amps for the Zen and turn them up a few clicks to keep the bass at the same level as Rachael, but otherwise if Steve can keep the attack going in the production model, this will be a really great amp.


Oddly enough Steve, using the regulator tubes on the Zen amp is exactly what I imagined you were doing - somehow I just *knew* that was the next step in purity for the little Zen. With all the other details you're putting into it, I'm seriously thinking I may have to have a 25th Anniversary Zen myself!!


Quote:
Regarding the temperature, the amp has been on 24/7 since I first mentioned it and the temp simply won't rise.   Consider this, it is the same 170mA transformer we have always used in most of our amplifiers. The Zens only draw around 50 mA on average from that 170mA power supply.  Some are built with a resistor, some are built with chokes, and none have run this cool.  In fact the original zen ran hot.

The only explanation I can offer is that both the resistor(s) and or the choke reflect something backwards back into the transformer through the bridge rectifier which causes friction/heat that isn't necessarily tied to load.

In any case with it running so cool I have no qualms about leaving it on 24 hours a day and it makes sense that without the chaos of this friction, the sound would have insane liquidity - almost disarming.

The reason there is none of this is because I have eliminated the resistors and the choke and am using the vacuum gap of the OA3 tube in place of it to feed high voltage to the plate of each output tube. This has never been done before, only the grids of the output tubes, or the high voltage for the input tubes has ever been done in the past. In this amp all the high voltage for everything is resistor-less and has no chokes, just the vacuum gaps of three separate vacuum regulator tubes, one for each output tube and one for the input tube.

Of course this can not be done with any other amplifier because all other amplifiers use larger output tubes, and we're at the limit of the current capacity of the Voltage Regulator tube with the Zen's 6P15P-EB / EL84 output tube. So something this graceful can only be done on a 2 watt Zen Triode Amplifier.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #68 - 01/05/18 at 01:30:15
 
"In this amp all the high voltage for everything is resistor-less and has no chokes, just the vacuum gaps of three separate vacuum regulator tubes, one for each output tube and one for the input tube."  - Steve

This sounds so exciting! I hope I get to hear one of these. Of all your amps, I think this is the one I would like best.
Brian
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #69 - 01/05/18 at 14:22:35
 
It also makes me wonder if maybe there is some obscure regulator tube out there that might be able to handle bigger output tubes...

It would be fun if there was a big stash of some unwanted Russian submarine tubes that Steve could use to develop bigger amps with this.  ;)

Just daydreaming.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #70 - 01/05/18 at 15:14:34
 
Yup, I try to walk away....and then get sucked right back in with your answer to my temp inquiry.....and pull me back in with tube regulation.
Grin

Okay, hook or crook.....I'm buying one in Oct/November.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #71 - 01/07/18 at 05:19:46
 

It comes at a price, adding the OA3 regulation for each output tube that is...  Rather than the two capacitors used in the power supplies of the SE84UFO and SE84UFO2, this uses a few more. The first cap comes off the rectifier tube just like the other amps but then the power supply is split into three separate filters, one for each tube.  This adds 7 additional caps and nine additional poly film bypass caps. There was no option other than to spit it into three separate supplies due to the 30mA limit of the OA3 tube. And because the large gap beautifully slows things down, all of the caps have to be carefully bypassed to speed things back up. This stretch between speeds expands the transient playground to a very large window giving a more immersive sense of depth and complexity. The slow side of its personality creates unbelievable liquidity. The fast side of it's personality reveals stuff you had no idea was there, and that Zen duality creates an infinitely variable speed power supply that fills in the middle.  

It's not real practical, but it is something you do when you're trying to not be practical, and voyage well beyond that point of diminishing returns, through the neutral zone and into heavy waves of total realism... something I think the little Zen deserves after being such a trooper for so many years!!

Who would have thought 25 years ago when Eric Barbor of Svetlana contacted me to see if I had any interest in an EL84 substitute called the SV83, such incredible effort would have ended up going into the amps for it.  25 Years ago it was a $4.00 tube.  Who would have thought a $4.00 tube would justify a $2500 wholesale price pair of amps (and counting). The bizarreness of it from this perspective just makes it even more desirable to do, just to see how much further can we push the resolution of this amazing output tube, which is actually a Russian 6P15P-EB.

We've always known that EL84's are faster than virtually all 8 pin output tubes, be it pentode or triode wired, but the 6P15P-EB was nearly twice the bandwidth and subsequent speed and as a result nearly perfectly neutral.  So there is no reason not to see how fast the tube actually is... just know it's expensive aka painful, but worth it. I predict it's going to hurt fairly bad until the moment it arrives. Most of the pain will go away in the first hour. I would say 90% of it. By the third week you will begin to understand that the amp is easily worth twice what you paid for it, and it's limited production ensures that it will always hold it's value and you will then become forever pain free.


Steve



Here's a picture of the prototype... don't worry I was just having some fun with the finish.  The actual model will be done in a beautiful textured powder coat resembling a green patina with silver jacks, and white silkscreening for a really vintage upscale look and backlit meters.



The current tube compliment is presently a globe 80 rectifier tube with adapter, a pair of OA3's for the output tubes, an OD3a for the input tube which is a 7DJ8. So far the input stage is working out as a wonderful opportunity to voice your own amplifier. With 3 voltage regulator tubes ranging from VR75 to VR150, you can make any input tube sound three different ways. Powerful tool. The input tubes used and liked are 6N1P-EB, 6N23P, 6N11, 6922, 6DJ8, 7DJ8, 6N5P.  I'm presently torn between the 7DJ8 and the 6N5P with the OD3A on both as to which should be the stock tube compliment... but that could change with more time.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #72 - 01/07/18 at 06:07:44
 
I am sure this question is looming in the minds of many, but thus far with this amp as you have described, how would you summarize the strengths and weaknesses in comparison to a Torii MKIV or a ZMA.

I am very intrigued by the notion of running a pair of these bridged mono.  My Omega's are 97db efficient and I am running everything through my Ultra preamp.

What do you think?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #73 - 01/07/18 at 06:29:40
 
On second thought...  I don't care.  Just know I'll be the first to order a pair of these when they come out.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #74 - 01/07/18 at 06:36:29
 
Speed.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #75 - 01/07/18 at 06:45:52
 

Submarine tubes,...  that does sound exciting.  How about if we take my tired Carbon Dioxide Laser tube and use it to superheat a titanium diaphragm while simultaneously cooling the other size with liquified gas.  That should get down to at least a few hundred hertz.  Stereo systems always sound better when they could accidentally kill you.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #76 - 01/07/18 at 07:01:21
 
What type of change (not sound characteristics) if any can be expected when compared to a SuperZen.

Still two watts?
Still stable to 1 ohm?
Noise level?
Bias switch?
Dual volume controls only?
One input only?
How limited is production if decided (100, 1000, etc)?
Pushing output tube harder?

Not that the answers will change anything. I like your 2 watt amps.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #77 - 01/07/18 at 07:07:35
 

Whatever you do, don't listen to Takla Makan at 1:00 in the morning on this thing!  You won't be the same.  

Based on what I'm hearing this means the middle of the night bloom is not all about power, as expected. This proves it's the suns effect on the Ether and much as the state of the power grid. It's also almost disturbing that I'm listening to digital... seems impossible to sound like this.  



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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #78 - 01/07/18 at 07:13:46
 
Quote:
Still two watts?
Still stable to 1 ohm?
Noise level?
Bias switch?
Dual volume controls only?
One input only?
How limited is production if decided (100, 1000, etc)?
Pushing output tube harder?

Not that the answers will change anything. I like your 2 watt amps.


Yes, same, same, yes, yes, don't know, no, the audio circuit remains identical.  It's just that a well kept secret in audio design is that the power supply has more effect on the sound than the audio circuit itself... and is by far the most expensive part.  The Zen has for 25 years used a 170ma power supply for a circuit that draws less than 50ma., so at the price points we're at getting more extreme than that is well past the point of diminishing returns.

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #79 - 01/07/18 at 07:17:17
 
Steve Deckert wrote on 01/07/18 at 07:07:35:

It's also almost disturbing that I'm listening to digital... seems impossible to sound like this.


ZROCK2 in the chain?  If not, say it isn't so!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #80 - 01/07/18 at 15:21:45
 
Oh my!  That is beautiful. I like the red. I'm sure the green patina with silver jacks, and white silkscreening for a really vintage upscale look and backlit meters....will be just as stunning.

Oh, I'm trying to hear it in my head....ZROCK2 in play. Not, all about power as you stated and any of us that have owned your 2 watts knows.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #81 - 01/07/18 at 15:36:15
 
Nice!!  Question is!  Do I build 2nd system around it, or sell my SE84CKC to finance this?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #82 - 01/07/18 at 17:27:46
 
Was listening to Borris Blank Tidal Masters on the ZDAC2 feeding the ZTPRE... no ZROCK this time.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #83 - 01/07/18 at 18:22:12
 
I just want to say that RED amplifiers always sound better. It is a scientifically proven fact.
I learned that in my advanced studies at MIT. (Mississippi Institute of Truckin')
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Reply #84 - 01/08/18 at 04:23:32
 
I have settled on the stock tube compliment.  OD3a with a N.O.S. 7DJ8.

I say this because this weekend I put all the exotic bypass caps in the power supply, 9 in total, and up until now, the amp was slower than the Lonely Raven Prototype. More musical possibly but lacked the surprise factor that makes music sound real.  I had to see where the amplifier landed without the full bypass, which has taken all this time.  

Now with the bypass in place the OA3 and OD3 work as intended and HOLY CRAP is the amp fast. I just heard it do things tonight that I have never experienced before. It is like a black hole. And it's going to get better still as the bypass caps break in.  

Literally tonight I listened to something extremely well engineered and recorded, digitally, and walked out of the listening room shaking my head in complete disbelief because honestly, I have never heard anything sound that good.
It was the whole package, weight, power, scale, dynamics, insane, repeat insane imaging, and absolute liquidity with spooky presence. The sound stage was a 270 degree arc and about 50 feet wide, 20 feet tall and 70 feet deep and you could hear around each image. This is personally thrilling to me because I thought I've had better rooms in the past 20 years, but now I know that isn't probably as true as I thought. The thing is, the amplifier was able to literally say -censored- the room, and just force it's will to happen regardless. Talk about making speakers disappear...  it's just sick.- I thought the speakers were really pretty good, but I just heard what they can really do... it's bitter sweet of course because only Decware customers have any idea what I'm talking about.

Happy listening... it's only 9:45 P.M. and it already sounds like 1:30 A.M... some of you know what I'm talking about. Imagine if this damn thing can actually stretch the golden hours of which there are never more than 3 into a number more like 6 or even 9.

My only advise is don't handicap this amplifier with anything less than an honest 94dB 1/w 1/m because it deserves at least that. Also, the bigger the speakers the better.  It will make anything disappear, so don't be afraid of larger full range speakers, the amp will love you for it. At 94dB I can reach the same density and pressure that I do with the larger amplifiers using the same speakers... so I catch myself forgetting I'm not listening to the larger amplifiers, but tonight I have to say that letting the speed out of the box has made it pretty easy to hear your not listening to the larger amps... which makes sense, but look, this is what it actually took... a zen amp that might well be the same price as the TORII MKIV... I'm not counting at this stage, just excavating for that treasure that will pay for all the excavation. ; )

It's just counterintuitive because I always use digital for amplifier design since that is what the world listens to, and it's a worse case scenario in many instances as a source. This is making digital sound better than I've ever heard it.  My only theory is it must be the "stretch" between slow and fast that we talked about with the power supply design.  The amp is slowing it down and speeding it up to the point where 88kHz up sampled is sounding better than native DSD used to. I may have stumbled into something here. It just sounds so real.  Definitely have some new respect for ZDAC2. I can now hear it is better than my favorite, the ZDSD, for streaming from the computer.  It gets along well with TIDAL when set to use the DAC directly as the only output device, ignoring the computer's operating system.

I can already say it was the right decision to postpone the 6C33C's because the original prototypes were not this good. I realize that it is now 10:20 and I still haven't hit the save button. I have never heard an amplifier this good before. I'm sorry, but it's true.  

Anyway, I don't have time to post, because the black hole effect is sucking my ass to the sweet spot.  

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #85 - 01/08/18 at 04:29:29
 
I can say that before the evening really gets going, I have been completely humiliated by my own amplifier.  I literally thought I knew what was possible and built products to take us all there, and I did.  Tonight I hear that I didn't know shit.

Smiley
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #86 - 01/08/18 at 05:07:35
 
Well, it sounds like my 97db Omega SAHO's are a perfect match.  I had a feeling the ZMA was an overkill in a sense for such high efficiency speakers when I purchased them. But after my ZMA went back to the mothership for meter repair and upgrades, when I put my 2 watt SuperZen into duty powering the SAHOs, it became obvious that these particular speakers didn't "need" the ZMA.  I must clarify, need.  My ZMA crushes it with these speakers and of the all the Decware amps I have in my possession (Super Zen, Torii MKIV, Rachel, ZMA), the ZMA would be the last amp standing.  

However, since I do have such an ideal foundation to create the magic with these 25th Anniversary amps, I cannot NOT get them.  Yes, them.  Price of a Torii MKIV, or not, put me down for a pair to run as mono blocks.  

Steve, how does serial #1 and #2 sound?   Wink
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #87 - 01/08/18 at 05:19:15
 
So a little more real time documentation.

I'm still listening of course and all I can say is it's just SICK. I almost can't understand how it can take control like that. Believe you me, it's in charge, and it's conscious. It's freaking me out... the audio gods have spoken and if I make it through the night without pissing my pants I'll be really impressed.

I've just never heard anything do this before!!!!  This is probably going to really be bad for business... or change everything.

This is proof that if you're a slow learner but have the staying power to spend 80,000 hours chasing audio nirvana some higher vibrational being will eventually feel sorry for you and toss you a bone.  This one is hard to comprehend... I guess be careful what you ask for because I'm just getting shredded here... it's so humbling it's embarrassing.

Haha... I get it... game of the weakest link that I've been preaching for 20 years just.... and ironically, or paradoxically right when I didn't think the Decware line had any weak links worth exploiting.  

The sound is so different. It's real.  It's having it's way with physics that defy logic. It's having it's way with the speakers and the room and me all at the same time and the more I notice it, the more it does it, proving consciousness.  

I recognize this kind of power... it used to manifest when we jammed in the studio in Peoria.  The music would become conscious and take over your body and make you play well outside your abilities.  It's happening now with this amplifier. The music has taken over the amplifier.  It seems to be playing WAY OUTSIDE it's capabilities... Not missing the bigger amps ? ! ?  No, because the presentation has the same forcefulness with higher resolution.

OK, I get it again... l am just now hearing the UFO output transformers... what they are actually capable of. Solid state amplifiers sound like turds compared to this. Even the chip amps which are artificially fast are slow.  

See this is what happens when you find the weak link in your system, you get to hear everything for the first time and it greatly exceeds what you thought was possible. See it still happens even to me, so it will happen to you as well!

It is literally a black hole.  So captivating that it is impossible to sit on the side lines and enjoy from afar.  It's conscious and you don't want to insult it.  Unbelievable...  I'm actually scared to listen to my Vinyl Rig, and then some master tapes. There's is no way I would try that tonight.,,, I'm on the edge of my sanity now.

Thank GOD I haven't hooked up the EGGS because this is making tower speakers image better than the EGGS did, which we all know is impossible. When things sound like this, the last thing you want to do is start screwing with it.  It's just too good to touch.








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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #88 - 01/08/18 at 05:31:37
 
Well Steve, we "don't know what we don't know."  So, to read of this audio epiphany is not surprising to me.  The difference between those who wallow in content to the point of complacency and guys like you, is unwavering curiosity fueled by a "no compromise mindset."  It is inevitable that progress and innovation will ensue, even if it takes 25 years!  Hey, if all of this stuff was quick and easy, everyone would be doing it and you know what, it would be boring as hell!  It is the pursuit of perfection where the thrills lay.  You never want to get there, because then the chase is over.  

I am already anticipating the Decware 35th Anniversary amplifier and all of the incredible mysteries it will possess.  I know you have a few more tricks up your sleeve, even if you have no idea what they are at this moment in time.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #89 - 01/08/18 at 06:08:29
 
I have to continue documenting this because sadly I'm getting that age where by the time I recall it to write it down to make some point, well you know.

I am experiencing sound right now in a new way. It feels like water. I can feel it. I can swim in it. I can touch it. I can taste it. I can become it. It is so completely immerse and 3D that it reaches from 30 feet behind the speakers right up to your chest and you swim in it. It has so much mass it feels like water.

Things like distortion, fatigue, flatness, boredom, or being teased are alien concepts in this reality. The music is in charge and it literally feels like the stereo system / by the fact that it hits a certain harmonic purity / becomes an antenna for consciousness and then you suddenly have a one million dollar stereo because nothing on earth could sound better than this, even the artist has only heard this in his or her minds eye, never from speakers... this is surreal.

What I am hearing I would have thought was impossible until tonight. Wow did I under estimate speed. I knew our amps were so firkin fast already that I best protect us all... obviously a big mistake or else the universe is just using me for a practical joke and none of this is happening.  

Nice try... it's happening.

Holy Crap, the textures are so complex it just stops time. That would actually explain some of the sensation I'm having. If you haven't read my recent article about "what is sound" I beg of you to do it now, because what I am hearing is directly linked to what's in that article.  https://www.decware.com/newsite/DECWARESOUND.pdf

I feel like I'm hearing music in an alternate universe where the sound is so lucid that you swim in it, and so complex that the species never wasted their time with speech because it was just too slow to communicate complex ideas.

The fact that this is happening with only 2 watts, is the thing that is really freaking me out.  It sounds like 40 watts, which I know and love in the ZMA. It's just projecting so much energy into the space and everything in it that the sweet spot is levitating.  

I'm going to have to make some videos of this, because the energy will come through the video and let you hear this happening.  I feel like I have to ask it permission first...  

This is so humbling... I just listen to  what's coming out of my speakers and it's like the first time I've ever heard hi-end audio. Had it the whole time and didn't know it. It just goes to show that the magic in technology is knowing exactly how to do something. There can be no guessing and no chance. It only works like this and I was so close I drove the audio gods mad to the point where they just knocked me up with it pushing my ability to comprehend it.  

Thank God I'm a good listener because I heard the little voices that said "Do this" and "Do this" and I did it. I can't wait for this to be heard by others!  I guarantee you'll either jump out of the listening chair 25 times and pace around in circles, or you'll turn to stone in the listening chair.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #90 - 01/08/18 at 06:18:29
 
Yea, I've never heard an amplifier this good.  I'm not even sure I've heard anything even close.  I'm really not.  I have to think about that for awhile.  I'm going to pull the plug now before get sucked into an all nighter. Lots to think about, be hard enough so sleep after having my ass handed to me like this. Tomorrow is a new universe of what is possible with the Zen Triode.


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Reply #91 - 01/08/18 at 06:55:37
 
So nice! Thanks.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #92 - 01/08/18 at 13:34:58
 
Very exciting news. I think with this news this should not be a "limited edition!"
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #93 - 01/08/18 at 13:45:48
 
There is nothing quite like an excited Steve Deckert.  Looking forward to the new 25th Anniversary "Mighty Zen" amplifier.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #94 - 01/08/18 at 14:43:17
 
Steve, reading your reactions certainly makes one wish to participate! Which of your speakers are you using for these sensations?

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #95 - 01/08/18 at 17:38:09
 

Steve,

You're probably pretty bushed after last nights session - but I'm in town today and can swing by if the magic is still in the air?

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #96 - 01/08/18 at 17:59:30
 
Sorry, too busy today, didn't sleep much last night and got lots to do.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #97 - 01/08/18 at 18:39:19
 
Steve,
Considering the current state of the prototype, and your feelings toward it, do you have a new time estimate - ballpark even - as to when you hope to get this amp to market?  
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #98 - 01/08/18 at 22:31:02
 
I'm in the 91, 92 or maybe they are 93 now with single caps @ 1w/1meter camp. Before my single cap mod, my Adagio's were 91 @ 1w/1meter....with all the kludgy x-over in them.  I might still have a shot at driving them with the Anniversary Amp? If not I will have to muddle on with my ZMA an ZR2.  8-)

Good question Jeff on window of release and I agree Lon ....this certainly should not be an limited release.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #99 - 01/08/18 at 23:19:34
 

This is very exciting news. Time to start saving up duckets.
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Reply #100 - 01/09/18 at 02:03:52
 
After reading those descriptions, I don't have anything useful to say!  
But I wanted to say thank you for designing this amp. And congratulations on the accomplishment!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #101 - 01/09/18 at 02:05:48
 

So this new Zen will be happy with some 94db 2 ohm speakers with no crossover?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #102 - 01/09/18 at 02:19:28
 
Happy with 94dB speakers between 2 and 16 ohms.  

Will not be a limited build, other than by what we can hand produce.

Should be ready by this summer.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #103 - 01/09/18 at 03:18:06
 
Steve, your enthusiasm for this Amp is infectious. I'm glad I waited to add/get back to your Triode design. I'm working for one come Christmas. If I can't run my mod Adagio's to my satisfaction(?) I will need to revisit a little higher sensitivity.

My ZMA System is a lock and goes nowhere. It is just time to climb back into your Triode, in addition.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #104 - 01/09/18 at 20:31:37
 
Reading again your last half dozen posts.....absolutely exciting! Spot on ballpark $ of the Torii MkIV....makes total sense to me. I know I should run it with an honest 94db sensitivity.....but, I'm still going to give it a shot first....because I have a shot with my love for my mod' Adagio's.

I can't wait to read more development finalization, as you come to your potential release this summer.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #105 - 01/10/18 at 04:04:02
 
Still digesting this new sound...  the speed of this amp changes perceived physics. It makes the amp sound like is has a lot more power. The music in fact sounds louder. You can feel it in the concrete floor where you stand, in fact everything is energized. This is fascinating to me since it's actually no louder and has no more measured power.  

I have a visualization that will help to explain the ideal power supply filter.

First for reference picture an 8000 gallon above-ground swimming pool, and that will be our capacitor. It's an endless supply of current but sadly it's a slow process to get that current where it needs to go.

Where does it need to go?  Each note in music has a frequency, or speed and will draw energy from the power supply the correlates with that frequency. For example, let's say there were only 88 notes in music that would ever be played because the only instrument on the entire planet was the piano. The ideal capacitor would be 88 smaller barrels instead of the large pool.

The total volume of water of the pool is divided into 88 parts, one for each musical note. The lower notes would draw from larger barrels and the higher notes would draw off smaller barrels. Each barrel is exactly the amount of water the note needs to play at full power. It's not more water so that we need to figure out what to do with the extra, and it's not less water so that we have to compromise the power of the note. This allows each note to play with perfect speed, i.e. no lag and at full power.  

Trying to suck water from the large pool for each note is by comparison a complete cluster -censored- that prevents each note from playing at it's full power and thereby cuts the power of the amplifier as a whole. Of course power is your least concern because the resolution that comes from having the correct size barrels to draw from is the real prize here.

Now this is nothing new, we've been doing power supplies like this for many many years, but on Zen Amplifiers where the transparency is so high, if it's not done right it will make the amplifier sound way worse. Also, it takes a LOT more room inside the amp, and a LOT more money, and because of the resolution I always feared people would shoot the messenger. Decware amps were already faster than just about everything and pushing the envelope for detail about as far as I was comfortable with, but now after hearing this I have to accept that digital has come a long way on the playback side and has never been a problem on the recording side of things.  

What is ODD is that with this amplifier, the bypass is not making power supply grain part of the experience like it would in any other amplifier. (Remember this amp filters the DC between a cathode and an anode for every tube.) Therefor it must have been the grain being featured over the top of the recording that made me think so many recordings weren't good. I am now finding that the things I dislike about digital when it isn't sounding perfect are actually less on this ultra resolution amplifier, not more. This is the very reason why I would not have bothered to go here on my own. It was my desire for a 25th anniversary Zen Amp to be better than anything ever done here before that got the Audio Gods involved to make this happen because if I had any intention on making a Zen amp faster, I would have by now.  

The power supply temperature was the first sine they were heavily involved (Thank God) and the fact that I liked it better than anything else while it was still technically broken gave me the time and the space to listen to the amplifier and finish the voicing of the power supply.  All of the bypass caps were chosen based on their sound as coupling caps in the signal path. I think I used 4 different types which I am certain has a great deal to do with the synergy that is taking place. A) it only took 24 hours to go from questionable to incredible and most power supply mods like that would take a week or more. B) the way it is sculpting out space from nothing is like the expanding universe. There is a tonality to the signature that reminds me of playing mismatched but like minded speakers together and hearing what happens to resulting frequency balance. (Always way better). I recognize that in the sound and I know it's from the cap recipe.

I'm a little disappointed I didn't explore this, (as in I had to be lead by the hand to the answer like a completely lost cause) sooner and on my own. As I nurse my ego back to health which isn't ever going to happen because it's impossible while I listen to the amp, and I can't stop listening to the amp. I have an entire music library to revisit, and a dozen pair of speakers to hear for the first time, so I've got no chance of a recovery.

Interestingly I am working on two things simultaneously... one is this 25th anniversary Zen, and the other is a prototype for a lower price zen that maintains the same price/performance ratio to get more people hooked into this side of the wonderful hobby we call audio. As a result of this experience with power supply design, I am already clear on what to do and how on the other prototype.  I'll give up more on that later, but I want an entry level amp that is below the price point of our current SE84UFO amplifier.

Back to the amplifier sound... one thing I noticed since my last ramblings is that I caught it sounding like an amplifier usually does after 10:00 p.m. at 1:30 in the afternoon which really just never happens.

Right now I'm listening to bells, triangles, chimes, and things that always have been hard to get right in a digital system, and are so easy in an analogue rig. Tonight on this amp they sound right, at least 97% what I would consider perfect. Keep in mind I haven't listened to analog on this amp yet, because I'm a little scared of it ; )  But I will.


Steve







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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #106 - 01/10/18 at 04:48:27
 
Will the RCA input location of the final product be the same as the current prototype?  Towards the front of the amp?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #107 - 01/10/18 at 05:41:54
 
Some observations from tonight:

I am noticing a different curve that plots the difference between good recordings and great ones. Before the a great recording was about twice as good as a good recording suggesting a somewhat linear curve. Now bouncing between all these same recordings the difference is so far up to between 3 and 4 times better suggesting an exponential curve.

I feel like my ears and hearing in general feel 30 years younger.  

I just can get over the tone. The tonal colors are so overwhelming your mind spills the excess off to your sense of smell and taste.  You can taste the sound.

Dynamics are non-existent as a topic or descriptor. The music just is. There is no dragging it down or hyping it up. When I say it just is, I should specify that it sounds and feels real. You sit there and marvel at it like a kid who just saw Santa Clause for the first time!

Bass & Drum Intro Niles Lofgren Band: Drum and Bass solos are spellbinding and absolutely huge. This is the part that would completely short out someone who has never heard what genetically evolved two watt amplifier can do.

Saitensprung Friedemann: The music has such density and is so tangible that I feel like I could walk on it. Again it just sounds completely real. This exceeds my reference (Acoustat monitor 4 with servo charge tube amps) and it's on cone speakers.

The Bridge Boris Blank: Ha! Surround sound has got nothing on this. Literally. It's just about hard to believe. Also if it wasn't this good, it would be easy to drive by without every pulling over. Glad I stopped.

Tears Run Dry Malia, Boris Blank: An example of a perfect recording in every way. It's a 12 out of 10. Sounds completely real now.

Yesterdays (Rudy Van... Paul Chambers: Just the most fulfilling stand up bass you've ever heard. This is a timbre and texture and tone demonstration as well as being completely 3D and there in front of you. The definition of the bow and strings is too real to have your eyes open because your brain starts to short out when you see nothing there. It's like your sensitivity is increased massively as I would imagine happens to a blind man. I still feel like my ears are getting fresher with every hour I log on this amp.

Have You Heard (feat... King Curtis, Nat Adderly, Wynto...:  It just sounds completely real. Big band music, exquisitely recorded in a big and old music hall.  This is one of those 70 feet wide stages that is 20 feet away from you and 30 feet deep. Horns sound delightful and and the cymbals on the drum kit just sound real.

Holy Crap!... I just had a thought. I hope I'm not dead!! That would explain why everything sounds so bleeping good!

I can imagine the sound I'm hearing is very similar to what you might hear with a 4 chassis fully battery operated directly heated triode amplifier designed by someone who knew what they were doing. It exists, just not for people with more brains than money.

Afro Dite Friedemann: This lights up your soundstage like a Christmas tree, and then like an entire forrest.

Midnight Procession Borris Blank:  A great piece for late night listening. So real, so Big, so layered, just as always really impressive engineering on these recordings. If all recordings were done so well we would all be addicted to our stereos and unable to go to work!

Of course once you go here, it's time to have a beer and and just visit for awhile. 30,000 Days Yello

Yea, the whole album is good.  

I noticed that a couple times when the music put on the breaks, I slid forward off the couch and almost face planted on the floor.  This is the kind of realism I'm talking about... seems to mess with all your other senses. Your level of tactical involvement with the music is super peaked.

The more I listen to this amplifier the more clarity everything I know seems to have. It's like reading from the book of knowledge as you start to connect the dots. A deeper understanding of musics ability to use mans simple oscillator as a carrier to modulate its will.

Certainly there is a greater understanding for the recording process since you can now hear 4 times deeper into the mix.  

Another interesting observation is that all those nagging room acoustic issues that you would like to get to are suddenly some distorted rubbish of your own imagination because clearly when you hear this amps sound, there is no need for improvement.  It's like the room just fixed itself.  Or like the music just phased your room into another dimension where it would have no effect on the music.

Going to man up and try some analog here in a minute.  Been nice chatting with ya.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #108 - 01/10/18 at 05:57:35
 
Imagine the shock you would feel if you realized that the music you hear is actually conscious and when given the right vibration it will manifest in your space.  It's not just air molecules colliding into repeating patterns of frequency generated by your speaker cone like we're all comfortable thinking, in fact the stereo steps back out of the way when the music takes over.

Again, I've experienced this when playing live music on those rare occasions when everyone was in the same mindset and it started sounded WAY TO GOOD!!!  But, I've never experienced it with electronic gear such as an amplifier.  Somewhat humbling, because it means the music doesn't give a crap weather it's you sitting on the drum kit playing live, or a recording of someone who knows how to play from 20 years ago coming out of your stereo, once it starts to sound that good, it just simply manifests.  Where music exists there is no such thing as time yet time is what makes music possible. It's a paradox.

On that note, have a great night and don't worry some of this technology will find it's way into all Decware amplifiers in do time.  Even yours.

Steve

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #109 - 01/10/18 at 06:18:54
 
Cat's are great listening buddies as many audiophiles know. A cats ears never lie. You can learn a lot about your room and speakers by watching the cats ears triangulate the sound sources.  

Tonight the cat is hearing things behind the speakers that aren't really there from the speakers, but as I pointed out earlier, are actually there.  I hear it, the cat hears it.

Going to finish off the night with Live in Berlin, Yello.  I chickened out on the analog.  Even though I have a lot of Yello on LP until the DAC quits amazing me like it is, I just have to put off analog.  This is the first time in my life that I have ever loved digital.  Why ruin it right?

I'll let myself continue for another day without spoiling it.



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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #110 - 01/10/18 at 06:32:40
 
Steve Deckert wrote on 01/10/18 at 04:04:02:
Interestingly I am working on two things simultaneously... one is this 25th anniversary Zen, and the other is a prototype for a lower price zen that maintains the same price/performance ratio to get more people hooked into this side of the wonderful hobby we call audio.


Bravo!!!  And lets face it, the largest consumer base in America are the Millennials. Like it or not.  As was the case with all other preceding  generations, age and money directly correlate.  Think back to our 20's.  Most would not have been in position to purchase the equipment we all own. But if this industry is to succeed and stand the test of time, it must have a greater reach and price is a major factor.  But it's not the only factor.  There is plenty of low price gear marketed/hyped as quality.  We can all see through B.S. based on our experience.  That is not true for those who have not travelled the roads we all have.  Making this hobby more approachable will have a broad reaching benefit to us all, regardless of age or income level.  The future of quality-based  audio (notice I didn't use the term "high end audio") will rely on designers and manufacturers realizing the importance of being inclusive, rather than elitist.  

Creating such a "gateway" amplifier for those who are curious/interested, for the greater good, is one of the most refreshing, forward thinking ideas to come from Steve, in my opinion.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #111 - 01/10/18 at 06:38:24
 

Something pretty amazing is happening...  a few beers into the wind now. Some of you are familiar with the 1dB per beer rule. We're three beers in, thus 3dB louder than when we started. I'm listening to Live in Berlin by Yello on tidal, the Master series version of the album.  I shit you not, I am attending a live Borris Blank concert in Berlin in my listening room on a 2 watt amp.

It's impossible with 94dB speakers.  A 104 dB speaker, perhaps... Yet it's happening. I don't want to hear it any louder or any softer.  It's at the magic level... the ZMA level even though we know that's impossible.  So this is the power of micro speed in an amplifier. Simply insane to be pulling this off on a 2 watt amplifier and having it sound so real, so big, so deep, so dense, like a live concert sounds?!?  

It's got me completely involved in the concert and experiencing it live. Boy you could really mess with someone's mind if you blindfolded them and turned this on. See what happens when they discover there are only two speakers in the room.

Music like this pushes the performance boundaries of the amplifier which is always of great interest to the designer, and it's so different it's just a nice escape.

Jeff, kind words for sure, but yes, been wanting to do it for a long time, and then decided I am going to do it because I'm tired of wanting to do it.  Also going to be adding some more DIY amplifier kits here very soon, and we all know that how many of us got hooked into the hobby.

Steve

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #112 - 01/10/18 at 06:51:54
 
Ha! Ive been having a blast just following your playlist from these last posts tonight.  Been a big fan of Boris Blank and you are spot on with those track disruptions.  The other stuff was also fun to explore on the ZMA and Hegeman combination.

Thanks for the interesting, provocative, and entertaining posts these past couple nights.  Im a night owl so it has certainly provided for some great reading & listening.  
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #113 - 01/10/18 at 06:55:18
 
Yea, I can relate to the night owl... that's when things get clear and accomplished.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #114 - 01/10/18 at 06:59:09
 
This amplifier is healing my ears.
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Reply #115 - 01/10/18 at 07:08:05
 
The concert is over and this is a trip... the clapping and cheering at the end was the best part!!!  So real.  SO REAL.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #116 - 01/10/18 at 07:38:11
 
Quote:
Afro Dite Friedemann: This lights up your soundstage like a Christmas tree, and then like an entire forrest.


Not a 25th Anniversary, just a ZMA, but criminy!!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #117 - 01/10/18 at 13:21:16
 
Fascinating reports Steve. I'm not familiar with the music you are listening to, nor am I a beer or alcohol drinker, but know that the sound must be delicious. I know there are many who have their appetite to experience sound like this thoroughly whetted now!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #118 - 01/10/18 at 15:13:09
 
I am so enjoying this Steve. Settling in with your ZR2 creation and then this Amp, is more than I could have hoped for in 2018/Audio!
The first paragraph in reply#461   ......has me secure, for my Speaker's...1 5/8" round ribbon; Midrange/Woofer 2, 6.5" underhung voice coil drivers, 4.5 cross...single capped.

Yes Jeff, Steve's decision to make one more affordable was not lost on me. My son of 22, would be hooked..... .

Funny, the db increase/beer effect! I love when that happens!

Surprised Lon, you mentioned you're not familiar with the music? Paul Chamber's started playing in my head....soon as I read Paul & Rudy (Van Gelder)....Steve mentioned....it does not need to be an specific one of Paul's.
Furthermore, as I have stated before....alcohol not needed too.....love my listening sessions with coffee as well.....but love my beer!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #119 - 01/10/18 at 15:49:41
 

Well I hope I can come hear this amp soon!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #120 - 01/10/18 at 15:59:39
 
Oh I knew the Paul Chambers piece and the piece with King Curtis but not the other pieces, which is okay. Steve's description gave me an idea of how glorious the sound is.

For those who love alcohol fine. I've seen it ruin the lives of too many friends and coworkers nd members of my first wife's family. . . I don't enjoy it or being around it. That's just me.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #121 - 01/10/18 at 16:04:06
 
I checked out some of Steve's tracks on Tidal.  Nice recordings.  May not be everyone's cup of beer, but I really like the Yello Live in Berlin.

I may have missed this in an earlier post, but Stone mentioned this amp being in the price range of a Mk IV.  Is that the current estimate?

I'd have to sell more stuff.  I appreciate some of the technology trickling down to lower price amps, but I'd like to figure out a way to buy this amp.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #122 - 01/10/18 at 16:10:26
 
Nope LR. You are not allowed to hear it!



..........I'm just jealous, you travel with work through the area and get to stop in.  :D

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #123 - 01/10/18 at 16:17:53
 
I hear ya. I'd like to buy two of them! (I'd need to mono block them). I'd need to sell a lot too. I just might.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #124 - 01/10/18 at 16:19:30
 
Alcohol:
".....and maybe, too, as a new study suggests, a more creative one."

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/drinking-alcohol-wine-booze-beer-work/story?id=16...

....and not to be insensitive to your mention of its destruction Lon. I respect that. I don't want you to think I ignored what you stated and is so true, by posting this. I just know from my own experience, the creative standpoint to be true at times under the influence and as we all know alcohol is a double edged sword.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #125 - 01/10/18 at 16:27:25
 
Palomino, Steve stated in reply#440:

"a zen amp that might well be the same price as the TORII MKIV... I'm not counting at this stage, just excavating for that treasure that will pay for all the excavation. ; )"
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #126 - 01/10/18 at 16:29:24
 
Quote:
I hear ya. I'd like to buy two of them! (I'd need to mono block them). I'd need to sell a lot too. I just might.


I right there with you Lon.  That is my plan to run a pair to my Omegas.  I have an extra Torii MKIV and non-UFO Rachel I will be listing in the near future.

I will keep my ZMA to power the Hegemans and alternate between my fully restored HK Citation II.  No way I am parting with my ZMA in its current state.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #127 - 01/10/18 at 16:35:07
 
Studies, shmudies. I have seen what I have seen with my own eyes, and I've had my own experiences, and I don't at this point in my life like to drink nor be around those who do. Which is neither here nor there. It's not required to enjoy music, and in fact in my days of making music it got in the way of good music more often than not.

I only mentioned it in this thread in that the "third beer" rule of things getting higher in volume and somehow "deeper in listening" (a fallacy) is not in my repertoire

Enjoy what you enjoy. I'm drinking sparking mineral water, milk and coffee as my staples. I'm not judging, just saying how it is with me.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #128 - 01/10/18 at 16:35:35
 
It's only 429 miles/6.5 hours drive from Oakdale to E. Peoria. By appt. come Spring~Road Trip!

Holy shaaat! It has been 10 years. I was at Decfest 2005 & 2008.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #129 - 01/10/18 at 16:36:44
 
Ha!  Just a hop skip Stone!  ;)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #130 - 01/10/18 at 16:39:54
 
"Well I hope I can come hear this amp soon!"

Me too! My ears are not as finely tuned as LR's and Steve's but I would love to hear this amp. I have been running my CS amp this hole time so would love to hear the difference between them and this new one.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #131 - 01/10/18 at 16:40:17
 
No doubt Jeff! If I was in 3 hour range...I would become the unwelcome house guest.  ;D
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #132 - 01/10/18 at 16:53:08
 
Thanks Stone.  From what I have heard of Eric's amp and now recognizing this is a completely different (and better) beast I think its a strong value proposition, to be sure.

Jeff, it may be a good time for others to upgrade/join the legion of Decware owners soon.  That's how I bought my Torii - when the ZMA came out.

I have two amps, two different power plants and a spare DAC or two that could be on the block.  I'd hate to see any of them go, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #133 - 01/10/18 at 17:11:19
 
Quote:
Nope LR. You are not allowed to hear it!

..........I'm just jealous, you travel with work through the area and get to stop in.  :D


I wouldn't be surprised if Steve kept me at bay for a bit...the past two visits when checking out something Steve was excited about I was like:



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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #134 - 01/10/18 at 17:19:50
 
Pal, what you reported on of Eric's Amp...will be interesting if the "entry level amp that is below the price point of our current SE84UFO amplifier." .....Steve stated (possibly) he wants to come in at $....matches Eric's?

As Steve states below....I can imagine these two Amps on the bench side by side as he manages to work on the slow down and speed up he describes with the power supply, caps and regulator tubes, et al, ....beyond my laymen brain.  Fascinating ART!

Furthermore, the entry level not to cannibalize the Annv. Zen Amp.


"Interestingly I am working on two things simultaneously... one is this 25th anniversary Zen, and the other is a prototype for a lower price zen that maintains the same price/performance ratio to get more people hooked into this side of the wonderful hobby we call audio. As a result of this experience with power supply design, I am already clear on what to do and how on the other prototype.  I'll give up more on that later, but I want an entry level amp that is below the price point of our current SE84UFO amplifier."
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #135 - 01/10/18 at 17:20:58
 
HA! Ren & Stimpy!

Yes, understandable, Steve is not ready to have anyone in yet.


Not that he is worried whether you Like or not.

He, is just not ready to have anyone in-at this development spot/position in time-common sense to me.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #136 - 01/10/18 at 17:33:46
 
I'd like to throw a bit of water on the fire.  I believe every word Steve wrote about his listening experiences.  That said, I remember (pushing 40 years now!) the first time I got stoned and listened to music.  My stereo was nothing to brag about but I was inside the music and it was a three dimensional space that I could touch.

Conditions of the mind, accessible through concentration, drugs, suggestion, or whatever, are powerful and "real."  I'm only mentioning this because no matter how good Steve's amps are, I know that I will NEVER hear them the way Steve does (or some, but by no means all, listeners).  Steve's listening abilities are developed to a super-human extent, as they need to be to do what he does.

The reason I bring this up is that I've been an observer to a few of Steve's newer amp design threads and the buzz always makes me want to sell everything I own and buy his latest creation.  This isn't "sour grapes," just my attempt at keeping perspective.   Wink
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #137 - 01/10/18 at 19:24:16
 
Archie, understood and well-expressed. I do know that my "listening" has really improved over the last two decades, especially the last, but none of us can hear into these amps the way Steve, creator and student/master of the electrical interface with music can and does.

I listen to my system and am very happy. But I do know that Steve creates improvements by "blood, sweat and beers" as Richard Rawlins says, and they ARE exciting to hear. And it's hard not to want that improvement, even as we listen in contentment to the blessings he has helped us attain in the past. But it's wise to keep things in perspective. Wise, and a struggle to do so.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #138 - 01/10/18 at 19:26:15
 
Valid point Archie, but having listened to what Steve came up with for Raven I tend to buy into his enthusiasm here.

Even though I still have it, I won't put it back into my system because my Rachael pales in comparison.  I don't want to be spoiled and then have it taken away.

And here is how Steve described the latest iteration to me in a separate email back in mid-December:

Imagine Eric's amp running on pure DC battery power and that's pretty much what it sounds like.  Sorry the PS Audio power plant does not compare.

Raven's amp is like #100 or something and it still has the same transformer and permanent power chord.  The RCAs are upgraded and I think maybe the speaker taps, but I kept thinking "what if I could get an old Zen and have Steve work this magic but upgrade some more of the hardware??"

He's done that and added the power mods with this new amp.  This is going to be a good.  After I first heard it months ago, I told people to just buy it.  It can only be better in the latest itereation.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #139 - 01/10/18 at 19:28:56
 

I totally get that, I'm a skeptic at heart; when I go in, I go in with as neutral of a mindset as I can, or an "OK, Impress Me" attitude like a producer seeing yet another starlet that wants to make it big.

It's rare that something really Wows me fully. DirectStream did (and has with *most* of the OS updates), ZMA did right off the bat. Steve's old listening room in the early days of the Zen amp definitely did. And the prototype for the 25th that Palomino is borrowing. Not really much else has.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #140 - 01/10/18 at 19:31:02
 
And when Raven told me he was listening to the Zen instead of his ZMA, that was additional confirmation for me.

Bring on the hype.  Bring on the amp.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #141 - 01/10/18 at 19:32:37
 
Quote:
Raven's amp is like #100 or something and it still has the same transformer and permanent power chord.  The RCAs are upgraded and I think maybe the speaker taps, but I kept thinking "what if I could get an old Zen and have Steve work this magic but upgrade some more of the hardware??"


Damnit, if you aren't listening to it I'll just come and get it then!

I think it's serial # 47 or 49

I'll let Jeff get serial #1 and #2 of the 25th anniversary, and I bet Stone will get #3, then change his mind, then change his mind again, then change it back.   Grin  I'd be in line for the 25th, but I don't see me being able to afford it anytime soon. Maybe if Steve kept it under $1500.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #142 - 01/10/18 at 19:34:18
 
All this talk has me reconsidering that decision to keep it out of my system Grin

I may seek out your services to help sell some of my equipment.  You know how to move the merch
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #143 - 01/10/18 at 19:36:40
 
Bugger - I'm going to do donuts in your lawn with my truck.  :P
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #144 - 01/10/18 at 20:03:43
 
To funny LR!  

I will be in the 10+ serial number range.
I can't do the summer release initial order/launch.
It will be Oct/November for me.

I am so glad it won't be a limited release.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #145 - 01/10/18 at 20:13:47
 
It will be interesting (as I mentioned in my reply#490):

Entry level Zen (like Eric's little Zen hot rod/presumably or better)

vs.

Anniversary Zen (whole other league).
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #146 - 01/10/18 at 20:21:54
 
I have my ZROCK2 coming to keep me busy + my NOS Input Tube collection growth/addiction....continues.

Decware 2018.......sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #147 - 01/10/18 at 20:24:02
 
The mods to Eric's amp were *not* inexpensive.  

If Steve can bring some of this to a Zen and keep it in the ballpark of a Rachael, that would be great.  Using the same caps I don't know how he would do it, but he is Steve and I am, well, not Steve Smiley
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #148 - 01/10/18 at 20:59:33
 

I believe that the planets are aligning in my favor. Been deliberating over a SE84UFO for a while and I suppose my reticence paid off. Ready to dive in headfirst when this beast is brought to market!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #149 - 01/10/18 at 21:26:37
 
[quoteValid point Archie, but having listened to what Steve came up with for Raven I tend to buy into his enthusiasm here.

Even though I still have it, I won't put it back into my system because my Rachael pales in comparison.  I don't want to be spoiled and then have it taken away.] [/quote]

This, and what follows in other posts is NOT helping me keep perspective!!!!   Grin
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #150 - 01/10/18 at 21:30:02
 
Give up Archie.  The cosmos are aligning and Steve is channeling their power.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #151 - 01/10/18 at 22:13:42
 
ZROCK2 is packed and ready to ship. I will have to call Sarah tomorrow and pay for it.  Oops, wrong Thread. Smiley
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #152 - 01/10/18 at 23:40:26
 
Beer is of course an excellent accompaniment, but Tequila is an awesome pairing with Steve’s amps!
(just make sure it’s 100% blue agave)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #153 - 01/11/18 at 01:12:42
 
I just think it's damn cool that a designer and a great one at that lets people in on the process.

JD
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #154 - 01/11/18 at 02:32:08
 
No doubt JD. I still marvel at my ZMA and enjoyed the process thread back in 2013. I good read to revisit or for others whom have never read it.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #155 - 01/11/18 at 02:42:30
 
Lonely Raven wrote on 01/10/18 at 19:32:37:
I'd be in line for the 25th, but I don't see me being able to afford it anytime soon. Maybe if Steve kept it under $1500.


Yeah I doubt I could swing a pair of mono's (I don't feel one would be enough for my setup) as I thought he mentioned they will come in at the price of a Torii MK IV.  That would make a pair of mono's close to $7,000.00.  Making them the most expensive amp (per watt) in his lineup ... $1750 per watt! Huh

That makes the 60 watt Torii Mono's, which in comparison @ $93.26 per watt, sound like the deal of the century! Grin
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #156 - 01/11/18 at 04:49:43
 
Quote:
That makes the 60 watt Torii Mono's, which in comparison @ $93.26 per watt, sound like the deal of the century! Grin


Ha, that made me laugh.


Quote:
The mods to Eric's amp were *not* inexpensive.


Um yeah, the mod to my old Zen A was $700 by itself!

Steve would have to go back to a simple box, stripped down design, same power transformer, but do the caps like mine to get the speed right. If he could bring it back down to the original $499 price that my Zen was back in '98....now that would be something!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #157 - 01/11/18 at 15:15:55
 
At the risk of being labeled a passenger who is spending a little too much time on the SS Fanboy, I’ll write one more post on this amp.

Given that Raven *will* someday take his amp back, I decided to do an A/B last night – Rachael vs Zen -- using Steve’s Tidal playlist.  I went into it knowing which I would like better, but I thought I might be able to jot down some differences that others may find useful.  Both amps were run plugged into my PS Audio P5 with PS Audio AC10 Power Cord to the wall, Cryo’d Hubbel outlets and dedicated 15A circuit.

Steve has selected a nice playlist here and that was clear with Rachael.  My notes include nice big soundstage, interesting positioning of instruments, nice ambient content by Boris Blank, maybe a little sibilance on the female vocal on Tears Run Dry.  

Some of the tracks were a little in my face but I was able to back the volume off a bit and they were fine.  Nils Lofgren sounded like it always does.  On several of them I thought these are neat, creative artists and I like their music.  Overall clear and accurate picture with a fair level of engagement.

I put in the Zen and let it warm up.  I find that it takes about twice as long for the Zen to get to its happy place than it does Rachael.

Then I sat down determined to analyze the differences.  

You’ve heard this one before, but I ended up pretty much just sitting there, feeling immersed in the music.  I listened to the playlist, then I listened to it again, then I went out on Tidal to listen to more tracks by the same artists, then I listened to the playlist again.  Nearly three hours.  Poof.  Up in smoke.  No notes.  I felt that satisfaction you get after watching a really emotionally engaging movie.

This morning I got up early and went down for another listen with the intent of jotting down at least some notes and managed to do so.  In addition to what I have said in earlier posts about this amp being quick and getting the attack right (which engages you), it also draws you in with how lush the soundstage is.  Its enveloping to a higher degree than Rachael and its cozier there.  

As mentioned before, I do have to turn up the Crowns a bit to get the bass to the right level, but I love the timbre of the bass from this amp.  That alone makes this a more enjoyable amp.  It has rich timbre on other instruments as well, but I am a sucker for good bass.

The most immersive songs were Tears Run Dry and The Bridge and I can relate to some of Steve's comments although I don't think I am getting the full experience he is.

I had to keep reminding myself that I am getting this level of engagement out of a little gray box with red and black plastic speaker taps and a power cord thinner than the one that came with my kid’s new computer.  

I get the $$ per watt analysis.  But in fairness to the big picture, try doing that analysis with one of those tube amps vendors that show up at the audio shows.
 
So, I would put a different spin on the analysis.  $$ per level of engagement.  Hard to measure and relay to others, but I think we are all looking for that value.  

If the production model (or its shared DNA siblings) are anything like this amp, I think Steve will deliver a very high $$ per level of engagement.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #158 - 01/11/18 at 16:50:42
 
$700 upgrade ~ is inexpensive in the scheme of things.

Here is how it lays down:

Steve stated he wants to bring the Entry Level Amp in under the 995.00/UFO ZEN.
I think it can be done....if it goes a little over (2, 300 or to $1495)/no one would fault him....It will be, LR/Eric's equivalent Zen or better.

Then we have the 25th Anniversary Amp...with Tube Reg' + all the other Steve's/expertise (please read his last dozen posts).....and a whole other ball game.....and will justify its ticket for entry.

Hope this helped.

NUMBER ONE FAN BOY HERE!   Grin Grin Grin Grin
.....AND WHY I CREATED THIS THREAD: 08/22/14 at 17:45:10.  8-)

Hey, I did not cancel my ZROCK2!  (tool(s)) Tongue
Oh, when I have canceled...I've order an other product...for example; my PAC-S's.....and I've OWNED/PURCHASED NEW: SE84CS, Torii III, SuperZen, CSPreamplifier3/with Jupiter Caps & Styx Speaker Cable.  

Love my ZDSD & ZMA.....more purchased by me from Decware, than the Tool types......... .


I look forward to J of A getting his hands on a pair....and reviewing come late summer!

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #159 - 01/11/18 at 17:34:37
 
I may have misread Steve's post about the "entry Zen," but I thought he wanted to get something for sale at a more attractive price point for newbies and not necessarily something up to the modified Zen level.  1K for his lowest price amp is shocking when you come in cold.  It needs to be a "gateway" amp that leads to the harder stuff!   Grin
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #160 - 01/11/18 at 17:40:14
 
PS Audio did this with the Sprout.  Not sure how well that product has done for them.  But I see the wisdom in it.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #161 - 01/11/18 at 17:53:12
 
Quote:
I may have misread Steve's post about the "entry Zen," but I thought he wanted to get something for sale at a more attractive price point for newbies and not necessarily something up to the modified Zen level.  1K for his lowest price amp is shocking when you come in cold.  It needs to be a "gateway" amp that leads to the harder stuff!


That's how I saw it as well. That's why I mentioned it would be amazing if he could do my Zen for that classic $499 price. The V-Caps would immediately put it out of that price range, but if he could keep the power supply speed, UFO transformers, classic power supply at that $499 or thereabouts. Wow.  Maybe to get it into that range, base model (classic power supply transformer with my PS caps), at $499, then do a $200 UFO option, and $200 VCAP option. The key would be to have it at that price to pull people away from the $300 Chinese tube amps that people think are actual tube amps.  ;D  But then give them an option for the real Zen magic.

Quote:
So, I would put a different spin on the analysis.  $$ per level of engagement.  Hard to measure and relay to others, but I think we are all looking for that value.  

If the production model (or its shared DNA siblings) are anything like this amp, I think Steve will deliver a very high $$ per level of engagement.


I agree with this wholeheartedly. That's part of what made the ZMA a Duh! purchase for me. Horsepower and engagement. The little Zen certainly is a whole nother level of engagement.



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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #162 - 01/11/18 at 18:57:42
 
Obviously, it is speculation on my part....I'm a good speculator.

I think it can be done (match LR prototype) under or at $995 Archie, as I mentioned.

However, working on them side by side on the bench (25th Ann)...if the temptation to add a little more to the Entry Level.....?....could justify bringing up the EL a notch/$ (or, have option upgrades for the Entry Level). Still, very approachable in price.

Fun, to speculate! Intrigue!




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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #163 - 01/11/18 at 19:25:00
 
I don't think you will ever see a Zen amp for $500.  

I priced out a build a couple years ago with basic components the circuit board and it was more than $350.  Add in skilled labor, etc. and you are over $500 easy.  Granted Steve gets better pricing on components, but I don't see any positive margin there even with lower prices on materials.

Loss leader is probably not a strategy that is often employed by small businesses.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #164 - 01/11/18 at 20:11:14
 

That's exactly what I was thinking as well - back when Steve was hand building these himself, he didn't have the overhead he has now with a proper shop.  Loss leader doesn't make sense as well.

Granted, he could always hire me to sling solder for him - I'm cheap, and good at following ready made examples.   Wink

Have solder, will work for watts.


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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #165 - 01/11/18 at 21:21:52
 
Certainly no loss leader need be done. But, as I said, their might be a reading comprehension problem here....but, here it goes.... As I said, with the base entry model....option upgrades/offered at the time of entry level amp purchase....or later send it back for upgrade. .....Steve making them side by side on the bench right now like I said, you need to wrap your brain around that..... .

Side by side = Annv Amp and Entry Level Amp.

Enough on this matter.....probably will be lost in translation again.


Heck, my ZROCK2 is coming and with my ZDSD, ZMA, Kabling and Speakers....I might have to poke out climbing back into Steve's Anv Triode until Fall of 2019.  8-)

That is Twen-ty Nine-teen. ....F A L L
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #166 - 01/11/18 at 21:46:11
 
Bring on the vinyl review....hope Steves anchored down.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #167 - 01/11/18 at 22:43:46
 
I have been watching this thread with great interest, but can anyone share what speaker Steve is using for his tests?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #168 - 01/11/18 at 22:57:32
 
Good question!  Steve will hopefully let us know.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #169 - 01/12/18 at 00:30:34
 
Hi Everyone... I too have started saving-up for a Zen Anniversary. Very exciting. How much fun is doing high-end audio with 2 watts?! I'm going to be using a floor-standing version of the Omega CAM.

Also, I was wondering what the Zen Anniversary would sound like on a high-end headphone? Any chance of a headphone-output option on the new Zen amplifier(s)... please!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #170 - 01/12/18 at 02:11:02
 
Quote:
I have been watching this thread with great interest, but can anyone share what speaker Steve is using for his tests?


I was about to ask the same question.  If I was to guess, the Monoliths!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #171 - 01/12/18 at 02:26:10
 
"You’ve heard this one before, but I ended up pretty much just sitting there, feeling immersed in the music.  I listened to the playlist, then I listened to it again, then I went out on Tidal to listen to more tracks by the same artists, then I listened to the playlist again.  Nearly three hours.  Poof.  Up in smoke."

Not at all. It was three hours immersed in the here and now.

Be here now!

Be here now!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #172 - 01/12/18 at 02:40:57
 
Hifiguy - welcome to the forum!

Any Zen Triode amplifier can be used to drive headphones including planar headphones by using a remote headphone jack that is wired to the speaker binding posts. The sensitivity of the headphones when exceptionally high will reveal the noise floor of the amplifier in which case a series resistor is used to drop the output below the noise floor. We can make these jacks for you and tune them to your specific headphone for about $200.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #173 - 01/12/18 at 03:01:07
 
Actually, I have used the Monoliths (DM947's) but most of the time I have been using a new DNA horn we're experimenting with. It is simply a scaled up version of the current DNA horn on the site. Rather than using a 5 inch driver it uses an 8 inch driver. In fact it uses the same driver compliment as the DM946/DM947 which is the 8 inch crossover less silver flute wool cone driver and the isodynamic planar ribbon tweeter.  The signature of the speaker is very similar to the DM947.Monoliths but better. The cabinet is an inch and a half thick composite co-mass layer damped DNA horn that gives higher efficiency, tighter more articulate sound with more slam and because you can hear a couple dB increase in efficiency over the Monoliths it gets louder on the 2 watt Zen. This somewhat small difference is just enough to feel like I'm listening to the DM947's on the ZMA which is a favorite pairing of mine. The density and size are about the same, the ZMA having slightly better control and the new Zen having more resolution.

The speakers are proving to be something special with the 2 watt Zen, and being able to get this efficiency across such a wide bandwidth really makes you forget you're only using 2 watts, so that is a small part of my raving about this amplifier and since I really like what I'm hearing right now I don't want to scramble my brain with a bunch of new variables (like speakers) at this stage.

This weekend I'll either sabotage by new found fondness for digital by listening to analog, or who knows... anything can happen.  I just know I don't want to have to work the following day ; )
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #174 - 01/12/18 at 06:03:01
 
Stone,
It sounds like this new DNA may be the perfect (higher sensitivity) compliment to your modified Adagio's allowing you to exploit the 25th Anniversary for all its got.

Like you, I will not sell my ZMA. Just too good and has its strengths.  It can power speakers the 25th Anniversary cannot.  I don't want to lose that capability.  So, it will power my vintage/restored Hegeman Model 1a's which are about 92db efficient, similar to your Adagio's.  In the same room, I will create another amplifier/speaker compliment using a pair of 25th Anniversary amps with my 97db Omega SAHOs.  Best of both worlds.  Can I do it with one amp? Yes, I can.  I had great results with a single Super Zen powering these Omega SAHOs (with my Ultra pre-amp).  That being said, this new amp will be better enabled to drive like speakers than the standard 2-watt Zen amp, based on what Steve is reporting.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #175 - 01/12/18 at 11:07:11
 
Definitely has been a fun read and I know this amp is going to be really special.  

The below also caught my attention...

Quote:
...some of this technology will find it's way into all Decware amplifiers in do time.  Even yours.


Steve...which amps could be upgraded and when do you think that might be possible?

Nothing like pestering the developer about his innovation pipeline before the initial innovation even launches.  
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #176 - 01/12/18 at 14:04:37
 
FWIW, the speakers I am listening to with the Zen have the Silver Flute driver.  Steve does some modifications and has his own waveguide but the sound is similar.  

Using the TEAC 503 as my DAC/pre it is big and produces more volume than I need.   My room is on the small side 16.5 X 12.5.  YMMV
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #177 - 01/12/18 at 15:24:26
 
Oh yes J of A, the scaled up version of the current DNA horn-I took notice.

It has been 10 years since I have seen Steve and DeVon. I plan, by appt., to stop in....if they are willing to put up with me for a few hours.

I plan to do this before I take off to TX, ....tend to my Folks and their Roses and Pineapple Palms.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #178 - 01/12/18 at 17:18:01
 

Sounds like Palomino and I might have a new speaker build to do soon! LOL

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #179 - 01/12/18 at 17:58:40
 
Sounds to me like if Steve and Ziggy do not put it into production you may have more than two of them to build!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #180 - 01/12/18 at 19:06:41
 
I hope to do a comparison of the Dayton Audio AMT to the ribbon tweeter this weekend.  Just for fun.  

While the Silver Flute was never intended to be in an open baffle, I find it to be very good.  The wool cone has a nice organic sound to it.  I will also put the Tang Bands back in this weekend just to see which I like better.

I have built a DNA and my own version of the monoliths.  Raven and I later built the El Camino horns, but it was a flat pack from Zygi.  Night and day difference with the flat pack.

Believe me, this type of build is best left in the hands of professionals.

Anyhow, I can really imagine the sound Steve is getting and think a commercial version of the 947 DNA is a great idea.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #181 - 01/12/18 at 19:48:32
 
Quote:
Raven and I later built the El Camino horns, but it was a flat pack from Zygi.  Night and day difference with the flat pack.


Seriously - seeing the precision of Bob's work is very humbling.  Yeah, if I had to choose between making one from scratch, or paying extra for a flat-pack from him, I would absolutely get the flat-pack!

That said, I do have a really, really nice table saw now.   Wink

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #182 - 01/13/18 at 01:34:00
 
Quote:
Steve...which amps could be upgraded and when do you think that might be possible?


So far the only candidate is the SE84UFO3 monos because that is the only other 2 watt Zen amp with a tube voltage regulator. I have just completed the upgrade to a pair today in fact and will be evaluating the results shortly.  

As those with the monos know, there is only one OA3 tube in the design so the natural question is will we put a second one in and the answer is no. The monos only use one half of the input tube which does not draw enough current to fire a voltage regulator tube and keep it lit. At the same time since there is only one output tube instead of two the power supply generates a higher working voltage. This means we can drive both the input tube and the output tube with the same OA3 regulator. Presently the SE84UFO3 uses the OA3 to drive the input stage and shunts a bunch of current to ground to keep it lit. By removing the shunt and combining both stages we can actually benefit from a higher working voltage than before. The upgrade took 11 additional caps per amp, and a couple resistor changes and some basic rewiring.

Now completed I'm expecting similar results to those I've been writing about with the stereo amp. Also this particular pair were optioned out with type II beeswax caps and I left those installed rather than changing them to VCAP's and then updated the recipe accordingly by using more beeswax caps for some of the bypass work. This should be a very interesting comparison. VCAPS are more percussive while BEESWAX are more organic. The higher voltage on the SE84UFO3 will naturally make the signature more percussive anyway, so in those amps it is possible VCAPS might be a bit much and the Beeswax will actually make the amp sound more like the stereo version... which would be ideal.

In testing on the bench today I did notice the clipping character of the amps was improved and the distortion dropped a bit indicating they can be pushed a bit harder than before.  We'll see.

As for the other amplifiers in the Decware line I will be experimenting with various bypass recipes to see what improvements can be made and if their cost is justified.

Steve

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #183 - 01/13/18 at 02:46:08
 
That's really interesting Steve. Those monos are beautiful. . . and if they have the potential to be as wonderful with the new tech. . . wow. And with Jupiter caps too.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #184 - 01/13/18 at 16:11:36
 
Eager to hear more about an "Anniversaried" pair of Zen Monoblocks. I have always sort of wished I had a pair of Monoblocks and I'd be tempted to get a pair of these if all the mojo of the 25th Anniversary Zen were there. And their 2.7 watts may just be enough for my audio and video needs with the ZTPRE as a pump to feed them. . . .

Exciting times for the Decware world.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #185 - 01/14/18 at 17:30:54
 
Sadly I found one of the tube sockets is chipped on one of the amps meaning it was built that way.  On tuesday the builder will replace input stage and socket. I'm not going to listen to these amps until that has happened, but have great expectations and will report back when I know something.

Steve

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #186 - 01/14/18 at 17:49:43
 
Thanks Steve. Looking forward to your impressions.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #187 - 01/14/18 at 19:22:00
 
Nice to read about the SE84UFO3 monos with the Jupiter's instead of VCaps, as candidates. The different topology derived you mention, very nice as well...to achieve your goal of putting the 3 on par with the AN25th.....at the 3.5k ballpark for either, or.

What I would like to see...is an remote volume added to the ZSTAGE preamp? Looks like their is room to put it in. Bring that to us at $1295 (you won't be able to make them fast enough/here/on Facebook and get/purchase the mailing lists of the Hi-Fi mags...we/you know the ones-direct mail subscribers-about your ZSTAGE WITH remote), per my calculations with Jupiter caps. Then I'm set running ZSTAGE to ZROCK2 to ZMA and UFO3 mono's or AN25th. (Obviously, single input & output at $1295....additional cost for more inputs and another output).

I want the simplicity/transparency (as you wrote) found in the ZR2 of the single tube WITH that simplicity/transparency of the single tube in my remote volume ZSTAGE preamplifier.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #188 - 01/14/18 at 21:08:38
 
That would be cool if the ZSTAGE could be fitted with a remote volume control. . . I personally doubt that it's feasible.

I don't know Larry, I've had the ZSTAGE and I've had and have CSP2+ and I've the ZTPRE. I really preferred the CSP2+ to the ZSTAGE, so I think you may be better suited with your AR preamp if you prefer that to the CSP3 you used to use. Me, I'm good forever with the ZTPRE, I've never heard anything better and don't plan to stray. What I'd love to see is a ZROCK2 with either dual volume or another way to adjust balance. . . in my second system a ZROCK2 will be the icing on the cake, but because of room/positioning issues a little bit of balance control would be excellent and I don't have it in any of the other components.  I don't want to run a CSP2+ AND a ZROCK2 in that system . . . the only real complaint I have with the Peachtree Audio Grand Integrated Z1 I'm using there is that there's no balance control. . . otherwise it's working great as a pre, DAC, amp and headphone amp. And the ZROCK2 would allow me just that little bit of tailoring I sometimes want.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #189 - 01/14/18 at 21:48:45
 
It would be cool and I think it can be fitted. Steve was working on a switch box with remote volume he spoke of.

I'm not totally sure.... But I think Steve put the ZSTAGE up to 0 to 15 volts output and as you know the ZROCK2 handles larger input now. Your ZSTAGE might have been the 0 to 5 volts output.

Love my Audio Research single tube FET Hybrid Line Stage.... But would like to go all Decware. Probably keep my AR too.

Off topic, ....my girlfriend went to the Vikngs game with my ticket. I need to play it cool for my stress test tomorrow.  :'(  she is a bigger fan than me .... And I made sure she went.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #190 - 01/14/18 at 23:34:41
 
Okay. I still suspect you'd be disappointed with the ZSTAGE but the proof is in the pudding. I'd also still be surprised if Steve could put a remote volume control within it.

Hope your test goes well, best of luck.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #191 - 01/15/18 at 05:04:32
 
I prefer the ZMA direct from my ZDSD.  I look forward to only adding the ZR2. Their is a purity of tone from the ZMA I like.

However, I do like this particular Audio Research Line Stage signature pushing through the ZMA.....turns it into a beast of weight and definition.

Just curious about an enhanced ZSTAGE?

Thanks on the test....should go well.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #192 - 01/15/18 at 05:40:30
 
Wishing you the best Stone!  I'm sure it will all go well.

And very cool gesture to "punt" on the tickets and allow your girlfriend to have the experience of her life.  Well done amigo!

All of this is so very exciting.  You and me have some pretty killer gear.  Yet, we are at a point in time where we are presented with some very exciting/interesting information to chew on that may, or may not, catalyze some unexpected buying decisions.  But whether we pull the trigger or not, is immaterial.  We have subscribed to a philosophy in Decware that continues year in, and year out, to peak our interest and provoke thought.  Regardless of how we slice it, it is a win!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #193 - 01/15/18 at 17:17:41
 
stone_of_tone wrote on 01/15/18 at 05:04:32:
I prefer the ZMA direct from my ZDSD.  I look forward to only adding the ZR2. Their is a purity of tone from the ZMA I like.  

I preferred my source directly (through the ZBIT to get that extra voltage) as well. Until the ZTPRE came along. Blew that satisfaction away. . . now I can't imagine life without the ZTPRE. Didn't feel that way with the CSP preamps.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #194 - 01/15/18 at 17:19:59
 
Thanks Jeff....I think it will go well.

Sue, enjoyed the history making win last night, ....is an understatement.

Speaking of catalyzing (so true...what you just said above).......which are the inputs vs. outputs in the ZROCK2?

I assume nothing ......if they are not marked.....I am not hooking them up?!!!!  

Soooo, I'm sitting here with my Zrock......wondering!   Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes

Nothing in the Manual....and nothing in the copy/website? Unless, I missed it.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #195 - 01/15/18 at 17:23:38
 
The outputs are those furthest from the IEC inlet, the inputs those closest to the IEC inlet.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #196 - 01/15/18 at 17:28:16
 
Thanks Lon!

I had a 50/50 shot at it.  I'm left handed....so most things in life are difficult for me.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #197 - 01/15/18 at 17:29:41
 
Since Steve says that the ZTPRE is a pair of CSP3s in one chassis, is the difference due to the balanced in/out you think?

Ha ha, I asked that same question about the RCA position a couple weeks ago.   Wink
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #198 - 01/15/18 at 17:42:44
 
For me. . . I think yes, it's the balanced in and out and also the increased range of gain that is output. Even when using a lower gain setting the sound seems to benefit. And it is dead silent in a way that no CSP preamp I've had ever has been. (Steve has a "no hum" circuit built in and you get NO HUM out of it, and the differential circuitry eliminates a lot of single-ended noise). This has four toroidal transformers as well, and I think this is a factor, as is the fact that solid state fixed rectification is used (the electrical setting is well-chose and there's no sag or degradation of a tube).

So a number of reasons potentially. And there's the remote control. . . which I didn't think I'd use much but I use all the time.

I didn't really "believe the hype" but I find it to be as Steve notes: a preamp that is not there but makes everything sound better. Even single-ended sources plugged in using a quality adaptor sound better than they do through a CSP preamp.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #199 - 01/15/18 at 17:44:34
 
stone_of_tone wrote on 01/15/18 at 17:28:16:
Thanks Lon!

I had a 50/50 shot at it.  I'm left handed....so most things in life are difficult for me.

You're welcome. I think Steve has been consistent with this configuration with the products in these chassises. And it makes sense when I think "Inputs are furthest in, outputs are on the outer edge."
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #200 - 01/16/18 at 06:42:39
 

So here's a thought - ZTPRE with regulator tubes?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #201 - 01/16/18 at 11:53:16
 
Hmmm. . . not sure where they would fit in the chassis design. . . and not sure they are needed. (I think the ZTPRE sounds phenomenal as is and doesn't need that line of regulation, but I am using a P10 with it as well). (I love my ZTPRE, it has really taken my system up another level).
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #202 - 01/17/18 at 03:36:41
 
Time for an update on the Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier...  I was fortunate enough to have my good friend Randy of Caintuck Audio over yesterday, who's ears I completely trust, for some conformation.

The sound of this amplifier seems too good to be true and since I found out I'm not dead and it's still happening I better be sure I haven't just simply lost it.

The good news is that I haven't lost it. We sat down to listen to it around 5:00 P.M. and before we even realized what happened it was 2:00 A.M. and then I decided to do the unthinkable, I put on some analogue tape.

Couple things happened... we both found out at the same time, despite my doing it for years, what tape actually sounds like.  It ruined us both.  

Also after spinning a few tapes my cat tried his hand at operating the tape machine which didn't go well for the tape. And interestingly I could have cared less that an expensive tape was nearly destroyed because the high you get from this kind of sound is so strong that it takes a lot more than that to kill your buzz.

This morning after a nice breakfast, we sat down to listen for a bit and next thing you know it's around 3:00 P.M. So clearly I think this illustrates that time travel is possible.

I'll also make the following observation: At 10:00 A.M. when we sat down to listen the sound quality was virtually indistinguishable from the sound we got during the middle of the night.  And I've been noticing this happen for the last week now.

On a personal level, this is the biggest breakthrough I've had since I built my first tube amp and discovered the middle of the night bloom of which I've written some articles on. I say that because I've always dreamed of and tried to figure out a way to get THAT middle of the night sound during the daytime. In the 1990's, I listened only at night, and because of those middle of the night experiences I have never until today been able to do any serious listening during the day... This is going to be a serious game changer for me. Not only does this somehow recreate the middle of the night bloom, but it does it with easily more than twice the un-hyped up detail that I've ever heard.

Despite my earlier efforts and I think Randy will agree, there are not words to accurately describe what we heard, nor will there ever be. It's something you have to hear for yourself to believe it. Randy and I go all the way back to the first Zen Triodes and have been listening to them for all these years and this thing simply went were no amp has gone before.

I believe the amp had its way with Randy, just as it did with me last week when I posted about it... so now I feel like it's a real thing and not some weird spell I cast on myself that makes me hear things that aren't really there.

Steve




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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #203 - 01/17/18 at 06:44:26
 
Great update Steve!  And I have been around Randy long enough, and it only takes a New York Minute, to realize his ears are to be trusted.  

Keep the updates flowing....   I am sure there are many who are chomping at the bit over this amp.  

The only question is, who is getting serial #3?   Wink
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #204 - 01/17/18 at 07:35:46
 
Exiting! I think I can imagine what you are hearing!

Since I started playing with bypasses on the power supplies of my Torii and CSP3, after eliminating caps I had that were not ideal for all types of music and tones, and finding ones that worked nicely together, I came to a combination that has remained pretty solid in the Torii. Though I still play around a little, I keep coming back to a similar place...six or seven pairs of bypasses (1 or 2, depending on the arrangement, bypassing bypasses), the combination of different synergistic cap values and types adding complexity that is really beautiful.

With connectors and the volume pot upgraded also, what you describe sounds similar to what I am hearing....lucid, fast, easier flow, deep, fine detail complexity in deeper space bringing out definition, textures, enhanced ambient and harmonic complexity, bass solidity, natural timbre, improved soundstage saturation and separation....

When I imagine VRs for each tube's power, UFOs, a super simple circuit, and quality bypasses on a more discrete power supply...it must be magnificent!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #205 - 01/17/18 at 14:36:47
 
Great read in this thread. Got an extra smile on my face when i read about a possibility for an update on the mono amps- even if i dont exactly find them to come short in any way. Mine are fitted with upgraded caps already.  Looking forward to read the test With these updates, and curious to when it can be done and to what cost
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #206 - 01/17/18 at 15:52:03
 
Were the euphoric listening sessions using the "new" 8" speaker horns or a combination of several speakers?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #207 - 01/18/18 at 02:59:04
 


Greetings all,

After my return trip to Caintuck from East Peoria (fighting the winter weather) I had to catch up on some errands this afternoon ..... but wanted to share a few thoughts about the new amplifier.

First, all of our listening that was done Monday evening was done using the new DNA horn with the 8" driver.  Without any doubt, this is one fine sounding speaker.  In times past, my favorite Decware speaker was the ZOB which shouldn't be much of a surprise since I spend most of my time listening to open baffles and have become very sensitive to "box colorations" in most conventional speakers.

Of course, it's possible that whatever the amplifier was doing made the DNA horns sound spectacular ..... but I don't think so.
Whatever the case, the Anniversary amp / 8" DNA combo produced music that made me lose all track of time.

The following thoughts concerning the new amplifier were validated by a second listening session on Tuesday using a pair of my Betsy & Buck baffles which I am VERY familiar with.

I currently have in my home stable of amplifiers an SE84UFO, a pentode Spud and a custom built 300B.  All of these amps are excellent sounding in their own way. Many of the readers of this forum are familiar with the SE84UFO, the Spud has only a single gain stage and when used with speakers efficient enough to let it strut its stuff is a revelation and the 300B sounds nothing at all like many "typical" syrupy sounding 300B amps ..... it's more like a 45 or 2A3 on steroids with all of the beauty of a directly heated SET without the negatives.

Having these amplifiers as my references made me curious as to just how good the Anniversary amp could be.
I was not prepared for what I heard ..... period.

Anyone who has attended a Decware Zen Fest and has heard Steve's reel to reel front end is aware of the amazing realism that it produces.
After hearing it the past two years, I have done my best to forget about it and convince myself that I'm too old to get involved in a new music format ..... but if you ever hear it, you will be ruined for life.
Take my word for it.

Thankfully, in addition to being ruined once again by the reel to reel front end, we also played some familiar CDs that I brought with me and streamed tunes from Steve's computer ..... so I was able to hear the amplifier on a level playing field.

To the point ..... when this amplifier goes in the Decware online store, I will be buying one.

What does it sound like ? The answer is simply "music".
Everything is just right. Steve told me that it's a combination of things including the power supply, capacitors, voltage regulation, etc. that combine to make it sound as good as it does.

The attack of notes, the decay, the space and air between instruments and vocals, the tonality are all excellent ..... but what amazed me the most was the depth and focus of the sound stage. I'm accustomed to a deep sound stage, but the amplifier created an image deeper than any I have heard in Steve's room in the past (with both pairs of speakers) and the focus and density of the image at the back of the sound stage was so real that I felt like I was able to reach in and put my hands on the instruments and voices.

To make sure that the listening session was not "chemically enhanced", I limited myself to one beer over the several hour "concert".

I'm sure that most of the readers of this forum are familiar with and probably bored to tears with all of the "audio jargon superlatives", but this amplifier really is that good.

On Tuesday morning, I had every intention of hearing the new amp with the Betsy baffles I brought with me and spend about an hour with that combo.  I finally forced myself out of the listening seat and headed home at 3:00 PM .....

I went back and re-read everything that Steve shared concerning his listening sessions with this amplifier and could not find a single thing I could disagree with.

Thanks for indulging my long winded rant ..... but anyone who is considering the purchase of their "last amplifier" and has a pair of speakers efficient enough to let this amp sing should give it a serious look .... and a listen.

Happy listening,
Randy

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #208 - 01/18/18 at 03:48:23
 
Tonight I am listening to the SE84UFO3 with the anniversary update. Since it is just starting the burn-in it of course has me thinking about burn-in and I realized something important. Capacitors have memory that occurs in the specifics of how the dielectric and the foil seat together. Temperature cycles and signal passing through the cap creates a physical change in the cap that you can hear.  

It's been my experience as I've mentioned in the past that if you want your caps to sound good on music, use music to train them during the break-in process. Use music that is well recorded only. Use music that you like. Do not use burn-in discs as that will train your cap in many cases to play test tones and then when you switch to music it has to be re-trained to sound good with music. Can it ever be completely retrained is the question.

It is very apparent even in the first hours of listening to these monos that like the stereo unit, there is simply no grain in the high voltage power supply so even unburned in the amp has over the top liquidity. That means that the coupling caps are never going to see or experience grain ever in their service lifetime so I think this is having a profound effect on the sound of the cap as a result of how it is burning in.

The immediate difference I hear between the two at this awakening state is that the mono's have more power and more headroom. I'll keep you posted as things develop.



To comment on Randy's post, I felt like the speakers on Tuesday were simply extraordinary and still just as hard to believe as ever! In fact I heard more similarities between the two speakers than differences until you look at size price and weight and then there is no competition for Randy's baffles.

Here is how good they actually are - if I had to give a demo of this new amplifier in front of the worlds audio critics with Randy's baffles, especially these new ones, I wouldn't even hesitate. Besides meeting my criteria for a speaker able to clearly demo what the amp is all about, it would just make the amp more impressive since people would have such a hard time rationalizing what they hear from such a simple and smaller speaker they would give the amp more credit.

One thing I learned as a result of the things we did during Randy's visit is that at this level it is an exquisite balance between speakers and amplifier and room to get the kind of sound stage depth we were getting. During one test with crossover points on the Baffles changing it by a few percent made the back of the sound stage somewhat disappear. This is because the midrange got about 1/2dB louder and the phase angle no doubt changed from the change in inductor size. I know that this would have been easy to miss with any other amplifier because no amplifier I've heard has the same focus for ever layer all the way to the very back of the sound stage.  

If sound were light and ears were eyes, even with 20/20 vision depth of field is less focused than what's up front and since audio amplifiers always seemed to achieve a similar result it is easy to assume that it is the same for sound. It's actually not. The focus does't change regardless of how far away the sound is, unless something alters it.  So it's quite alarming to hear such 4K focus so far back in the stage and realize that's how it really actually is.


Steve



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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #209 - 01/18/18 at 13:01:48
 
Steve, I'm certainly not surprised at how well the new anniversary design shines in the SE84UFO3 as these amps always seemed to me to be capable of fantastic sound, though I've never heard them. I'm interested in a pair . . . I'll see what I can do when the new version is made available.

Randy, how awesome that you got to hear what the 25th Anniversary Zen can do with both the new DNA Horns AND the Betsy Open Baffles! With both you AND Steve over the moon with the sound. . . we who have learned to trust both pairs of ears know that there's real magic in the new design!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #210 - 01/19/18 at 00:29:03
 
Last year I purchased 2 ufo2's steve wired them for mono to cope with my 16-19 ohm druids, and I was debating if I should get the 25th anniversary amps,  I thought nah...  then I looked at what I spend on cartridges.   Then thought I am in!

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #211 - 01/20/18 at 01:35:14
 
For those of you more capable; ELI5 what is done with the ufo3 mono amps when upgraded.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #212 - 01/20/18 at 03:58:33
 

I'm still listening to the monos and the thoughts that come to mind tonight is that I am reminded why I like the Beeswax caps as the burn in is so much less traumatic and quite a bit faster.  Already the amps are sounding so good that I know I'll be on the fence as to which one is actually better.  The slightly higher voltage of the monos and power that comes with it brings an endearing sense of honesty to the playback, but other than that it's hard to tell what the differences are without a lot of tube rolling. It's very captivating so far.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #213 - 01/20/18 at 18:12:13
 
Gosh Steve, you have me hoping that 2.7 watts would work for me for both audio and video needs. Or if I could get a transparent switcher that would allow me to switch between two amps and one single set of speakers!

Three things about the 25th Anniversary design and implementation:

1) SILVER. The 25th anniversary of a wedding is a "silver anniversary." It might be cool to visually add "silver" to the cosmetic palette of the amp(s) . . . top plate in a silver paint, "Decware" in silver on a face plate, something visual like that. Might even add a degree of "spousal approval."

2) BRIDGED AMPS: It seems that with the new UFO transformers sonic degradation from bridging a Zen amp properly is diminished or not existent. There are many who would find that a pair of bridged 25th Anniversary amps would be great to power speakers like the HR-1 and ERRx etc. We love these speakers, and we'd love to have the "magic" of these new amps. Would you consider a "pair of bridged amps in one chassis" as a future model? Seems it would cut the cost of a pair of bridged amps and save on power cables, etc.  seikosha was wondering why one was not offered in another thread, and it's an interesting question.

3} The TABOO: would the Taboo as a power amp be compatible with/considered for the 25th anniversary redesign in the future? That would be about 4 to 5 watts I think that could meet the needs of someone considering a pair of bridged Zen amps in one or two chassises. . . .

Thanks!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #214 - 01/20/18 at 23:21:04
 
Good questions and suggestions Lon and seikosha.  I do think he mentioned something about an upgraded green colored chassis a couple pages back ... trying to imagine what that would look like?  Perhaps the green color of some old school Altec Lansing drivers.  I also like your idea of a silver Decware 25th Anniversary badge/moniker like the Decware/Icon with 3D plate.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #215 - 01/24/18 at 04:33:28
 
I can tell the majority of the break-in is completed and while there are some differences between these monos and the stereo model, they have basically arrived at the same address. I could easily forget which ones I was listening to and at this point it wouldn't be difficult to accidentally fool myself as I switch back and forth.

My observation or takeaway tonight is that the success I'm having with these anniversary amps is largely effected by tube rolling. The input tube and the rectifier tube are the major players with these anniversary amps just as it is on any Zen Triode amp. Since the resolution of these amps is so extreme, differences in tubes are magnified. Where you would normally hear a very noticeable difference between two different input tubes, it is now like hearing completely different amplifiers.

I'm also going to predict that the lower voltage stereo model is going to have a more dreamy sound while the higher voltage monos will have more headroom. To try to figure out which is actually better is going to be a waste of time because we're into the subtleties of voicing.

My strong advise is to stick with the regular Zens on speakers less than 94dB 1w/1m (unless you listen near field) because if you make this about power it's possible to miss the boat. The efficiency, which is a result of less moving mass in the speaker, is a requirement to track the speed of the amplifiers and without it some of the magic and the value of the amplifier would be diminished. Which is to say the difference between the SE84UFO2 and these would be smaller.

In fact it would be my preference that the speakers be placed well away from the wall because again the difference between the two amplifiers would be lessened. Will it sound better than a SE84UFO2 in any situation... yes. However it designed for serious aka hardcore audiophile use because that is where the design can shine and reveal it's magic.

Do you need a perfect room, no. You just have to have a decent room and put some effort into speaker placement and type. Each year I have done things to improve the acoustics of my room and while the improvements have been very noticeable I felt like I could take it further and probably should. These amps have achieved the sound stage I was looking for and it either means the room was better than I thought, or the amps are magic. Either way I just saved a bunch of time and money on trying to make the room better.


Steve


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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #216 - 01/24/18 at 06:41:38
 
Interesting results. Sound like amazing amplifiers, both versions, and we're excited.  I'm a bit confused. . . stick to the Zen if with speakers 94 or below, and the Monos above 94?

I'm really enjoying the Taboo Mk IV with the ZROCK2 and ZTPRE and even have headroom with the HR-1s. The only real "wish list" for this set up would be a Treble Cut Circuit as well. Perhaps I should just stay with this set up if I want to continue to use the HR-1s, especially as I have to have the speakers closer to the front wall than I'd like. Any chance the Taboo Mk IV could (in time) take advantage of this "Anniversary" re-design? Perhaps only possible with a "power amp only" version?

Lots to think about, and exciting times in Decwarelandia.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #217 - 01/24/18 at 07:17:35
 
Confused a little as well ... go with a pair of bridged Zen Anniversary stereo amps if under 94dB or Zen Anniversary mono amps if above 94dB?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #218 - 01/24/18 at 08:14:37
 
Quote:
My strong advise is to stick with the regular Zens on speakers less than 94dB 1w/1m (unless you listen near field) because if you make this about power it's possible to miss the boat.


If I am not mistaken, I believe what Steve is saying is, if you don't have speakers with at least an efficiency of 94dB, you should not go with the 25th Anniversary amplifiers (monos included) and instead utilize the standard 2-watt Zen amps - or other Decware amps in the current line up.  

The magic of these 25th Anniversary amps will not be realized with less efficient speakers (less than 94dB).
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #219 - 01/24/18 at 11:15:37
 
That's a good interpretation Jeff, thanks. My HR-1s don't quite make it . . . not quite 94db efficient. I may be SOL as far as these new amps go. . . . I need the omnidirectional aspect of the HR-1 in my room setup, and buying an amp AND speakers would be prohibitive!

Lots to think about, but still, Monos as good as yet different as the Zen in these new versions, great news. Options are good, two different routes to sonic splendor.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #220 - 01/24/18 at 13:40:53
 
I would think 2 bridged stereo amps would have enough power, in terms of magic and transparency, that's a steve question.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #221 - 01/24/18 at 13:47:54
 
Yes, that's an option I have considered. And a considerable expense. .  . . Personally I believe that with the UFO transformers and the available capacitors that the "magic" would be there, but yes, that's best to be heard from from Steve!

I'm obsessing over this a bit but this is an exciting move forward for Decware, and the excitement so far from Steve is encouraging, and there's a lot of interest from Decware owners and potential Decware owners. (I've gotten a few messages from Facebook readers expressing interest and wanting to continue to see developments.)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #222 - 01/25/18 at 00:12:22
 
@ J of A ... I agree with Lon ... your interpretation seems to be about the best of the bunch.  I'm sure it's going to be a great amp regardless, but it seems as if the Zen Ann's improvements are going to be much more noticeable with high efficiency speakers above 94dB and greater.

Lon, sorry to hear that these might not work out for you as you are one of the most vocal supporters of them ... hopefully Steve will chime in about going bridged (though that's going to be expensive).

Although from Steve's enthusiasm the Zen Ann's are blowing away the 6c33c mono's at this point ... my initial disappointment with hearing that another 2 watt iteration was coming forward was its limited ability of play back with speakers that are less than what I would consider high efficient seems to be coming into reality again and I'm not sure if these are for me either.  

I know that even my single driver 95.5dB Omega's are super easy to drive with the Taboo MK II, but I still sometimes wish for a little more headroom when watching movies (not with music as I am completely covered there, but during quiet dialog passages I always find myself reaching for the remote to turn up the volume in some cases to the absolute max).  Perhaps one day he'll get around to making another SET with more power and headroom.

Well Lon, you could always go Omega (jk Grin ... I know you love your HR-1s!)
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #223 - 01/25/18 at 00:24:03
 

Quote:
If I am not mistaken, I believe what Steve is saying is, if you don't have speakers with at least an efficiency of 94dB, you should not go with the 25th Anniversary amplifiers (monos included) and instead utilize the standard 2-watt Zen amps - or other Decware amps in the current line up.  

The magic of these 25th Anniversary amps will not be realized with less efficient speakers (less than 94dB).


Correct.  Now, it's not a rule by any means, just a natural desire from the creator of the amplifier for people to hear it, and a knowledge that lower efficiency speakers will somewhat diminish it's potential.  I knew when I wrote it that it would cost sales, but it's the truth.

That said, anyone wanting to experience these amps who doesn't have appropriate speakers can contact Randy of Caintuck Audio for an open baffle speaker.  The ones on our site for $450. a pair will do it., but he has new ones with two drivers that are so good, I would have to listen to them again to determine which is better, the new DNA horns or Randy's new baffles.  Anyone not having heard these speakers will just have to trust me on this one.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #224 - 01/25/18 at 00:50:55
 

Another Update of the SE84UFO3's with the mod...  funny how this hobby works - today I listened to the monos again and gave them my blessing comparing them to the un-modded mono's even my cat could hear they were better.  So I decided to put the poor guy who ordered them out of his misery and get the amps in the shipping room today.  

I turned them off and hooked up the stereo unit which has been unplugged for a few days and turned it on to let it warm up. Curious how it would compare now that the monos are burned in and I'm happy with the results, I turned up the volume and prepared to un-pause the source which had been playing on the monos when I turned them off. Same song, right in the middle.

Now if you read yesterdays post, you know I was pretty convinced these mono amps sounded almost the same as the stereo amp. Then I hit the play button and in under 3 seconds the stereo amp had basically laid the monos to rest. I suppose the look on my face would have been priceless.

So, all day I spent making the mono amps as close to the stereo as possible. This involved installing the additional VR tube and then setting up an independent filter supply for it. I put an OC3 on the inside of the amp since it's likely to last for many years. Eight hours later the monos are almost a carbon copy except for two resistor values that were raised slightly to deal with the higher voltage. The fear of failure made me smarter as it usually does, and I was able to overcome how to get the second VR tube to work.

So having just put them back on line and un-pausing the source, it took again about 3 seconds to recognize the sound. It's now JUICY like the stereo model and can be billed as a mono version of the same amp with the same sound.

This was important because there are likely to be SE84UFO3 owners who after following this development thread will want to hear this anniversary amp and if their amps can be upgraded to the same sound and performance they will be thrilled. You can imagine however if a SE84UFO3 owner gets the mod, loves it, decides some day to get the stereo anniversary model and compares the two and they don't sound the same...

So one more evening with the monos, I'll let you know what happens.

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #225 - 01/25/18 at 00:55:26
 
In the first section of Elenor Rigby by Duofel, I just got goosebumps from my ankles all the way to the back of my neck.  I think that's a new record on the goose bump meter and I haven't even started yet.  Time to eat something and prepare my brain for what's about to happen!

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #226 - 01/25/18 at 01:43:59
 
beowulf wrote on 01/25/18 at 00:12:22:
Well Lon, you could always go Omega (jk Grin ... I know you love your HR-1s!)

Well, I know those are great speakers. But. . . I won't be able to afford speakers and amp. And. . . I have a unique situation. I'm using half of a big room in our house (that started out as a cabin. . . one big room that is living room, dining room, den. . . One half of it (with an irregular, sloping ceiling) is the living room and my system is in this half. The HR-1s have a magic that allows one speaker to be near a corner and the other to be without a side wall. I put two chairs along that side and I get left and right with nearly identical frequency balances and a strong center image. . . it's all almost as if this was a complete room, not half a room. I've had other speakers in this room. . . and boy that does NOT happen. So not only do I love the HR-1s, and somehow afforded them and paid for them, but I'm loathe to change speakers as I can't change where the system is set up, this is the only possibility even IF I had free reign to set up the system anywhere.

I think I can live with the Monoblocks, I'll put that to the test soon. As I have a lot of gain from the P10, the DS DASC and the ZBIT And ZTPRE the HR-1s are surprisingly nimble with lower powered amps in this room, and I have a Zen C that was modified by Eddie Vaughn to be a power amp that I can hook up and run through its paces with both audio and video aspects of the system. If the C cuts the mustard the Monos will, and I'm pretty sure with my system I won't be wasting money on the sound quality. And if I someday get higher efficiency speakers that work in this room, or another room, I'll have the amp to use. And there's still possibilities of birding two, or that there may be another option on the horizon. Hope is still alive!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #227 - 01/25/18 at 01:49:30
 
Rocking good news Steve! The monos would be my top choice if they could cope well enough with my HR-1s. Beautiful amps and I love the idea of mirror image amps side by side.

Question: do you think the Taboo might be a candidate in time for the 25th Anniversary treatment? Might be a great fit for some of our speakers and systems. I could send you a Mk III if you wanted one to play around with. Wink
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #228 - 01/25/18 at 04:15:40
 
TONIGHTS NOTES:

Bass & Drum Intro - Niles Lofgren Band Live: Just sounds and feels completely real.  My thought is that this will short people out because it's too good.  They won't believe it, and they'll think either they've lost it, or some kind of trickery is involved.  They'll talk themselves down from it to keep their sanity.

Tarova - Snark Puppy: Sounds like I am standing there live in so much as it sounds real. But I'm listening to a solid state P.A. system of average to above average quality.  This explains why I've always had some issue with this one.

Midnight Procession - Boris Blank: The master of texture, soundstage and dynamics. The music feels so real and so much more real than normal that I feel like I'm doing something forbidden like looking at porn.

Ein Samen Kauboj - Friedemann: The vividness of some of the instruments, like the wood block. The complexity and texture in that simple wood block strike even though it's only 1 second long is like purchasing a book and when you got home the covers and pages were glued shut.  Tonight it opened and there are 632 pages in that one second strike.

Afro Dite - Friedemann: The slide up the guitar string has enough data in it and hangs time long enough that any good guitar player would know what brand strings they are and how long they've been on the guitar. Most audiophiles are thrilled to hear the finger sounds on the strings, which is like 4 pages of a book several hundred pages long. Even live you don't get this much detail from the strings a lot of the time because the noise floor in the room is higher, your setting farther away, or the same distance but speakers are focused at your head, the real guitar is an omni directional instrument that to sound like this has to be close miked. That means the sound I am hearing is the same level of detail and complexity I would hear if I were playing the guitar myself.

That could be the magic of these amps, perhaps somehow they actually create dream time, like drummers get, where time slows down in so much as the notes get farther apart and you have like 5 seconds or more to think about them and plan your next bar even though to everyone else your playing at 120 bpm! Perhaps that's why you hear the notes hang in the air I would say 300% longer with these amps.

The problem then becomes trying to figure out how so much data was actually captured on the CD/Stream?  It just seems completely impossible to me.  

Trackless Deep - Yello: When you first dreamed about hi-end audio looking at a glowing amplifier in the magazine that costs more than your car, and you fantasied about what it might sound like.  This is what it sounds like.

Waving His Hello - Anna Ternheim:  This song is like standing on the edge of the grand canyon listening to angles.  The choir is usually what cracks up when this song is played back and with these amps you can hear it's not distortion in the recording, just an artifact of the compression that the engineers were likely unable to hear.

Partido Alto - Dominic Miller:  Exciting presence with forward and intimate dynamics, it just sounds completely real.  Crazy real.


Observation - I spend 50% of my time in the sweet spot and 50% just outside the listening zone where I hear the room and not the speakers. When the music sounds too good outside the listening zone that I have to go set in the sweet spot to see what's happening I notice a difference in the sound quality between the spots... obviously, but each has it's merits. What I notice or realize tonight is that when I walk into the sweet spot now the difference is three times larger than expected. This is solid science because I go between these two spots every day, seven days a week and on average 8 hours a day or more.  It's what I do. So I am used to the difference in sound I am going to hear from my outside the listening zone location and my in the sweet spot location. Very used to it. To be completely stunned each time I do it now, is just nuts.

If you analyze what I wrote the last couple days about these monos and compare that to what I'm writing now you can clearly see the state of mind is different. Tonight I am not alone because the music is here and it's now conscious, completely tangible and real. Before this last go around I would say it was so good I couldn't find anything wrong with it, seriously, but it wasn't alive and it wasn't conscious. You can sense consciousness when it is in the same room with you.

Saitensprung - Friedemann: Just such a great execution.  So 3D, expansive and intimate with such exquisite textures. Listening to this when it's over I find myself thinking if this much detail can be found in a 16 bit format which is what's left of a 20 bit master with the least significant bits erased (4 bits) compared to other amps I must have only been perceiving about 10 bits. I realize I am up sampling with the ZDAC2 everything to DSD but no algorithm can write this much correct information between the dots. So since there is no logical explanation we go back to the spiritual explanations where the music manifests through the amplifier and has it's way with the room and speakers because it's not bound by physics.

Witching Hour - Jesse Cook: I can see a stand up bass that like a Disney animation, has arms and legs and it's playing itself with a somewhat indescribable expression on its face. Sounds completely real, but that part is a little surreal. Like every cut I've played you are feeling the music and it feels like you experience the music and it experiences you.

Takla Makan - Yello, Dorothee Oberlinger: OK, it's so real, I moved my head out of the way as if a baseball was coming at me so I wouldn't get hit in the face with one of the notes in the music.

Another observation: Couple days ago I kicked things up a notch in the monos when I put some NOS Amprex 6DJ8's in the amps similar to the 7DJ8 I have in the stereo model.  I took out the 6N5P, which is just beautiful but I was craving more detail if you can imagine...  tonight I have the 6N5P in the amps and have not even heard the 6DJ8's, nor do I have any plan to this evening.  I'm afraid to.  We're out in the neutral zone here and this is no time to be "censored" with the ship.

And make no mistake about it, these are space ships that can travel both through space and through time. There is no drug that can compare to music that sounds this good.

I Tried to Tell You - Smooth Jazz Lounge Nights: Sounds like a very nice dinner club with a front and center table, the building is solid and old, you can feel it in the sound. No drywall or steel studs here. The drum kit has an energy in the high hats that you would only experience if it were real and you were standing 8 feet in front of the kit.

Oppression - Ben Harper: The bass drum feels like it's 5' in diameter about 20 feet back stage left. It's moving a lot of air in a round pattern coming directly at me.  The separation and tonality, every audiophile adjective (EAA) it contains. Simply real sounding.

Yesterdays (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (2007 Digital Remaster): The mesmerizing bow on this bass and the bass itself and Mr. Chambers are just so incredible. This recording would sound good even on mid fi gear, .....  on this however,  holy crap, how many times can I say real in a single post.  

There's no sense on going on because everything sounds and feels real. It shouldn't be happening but it is, and it's doing it on 16 bit digital source files.  

Lets just sum it up by saying the UFO3's can be made into UFO325's and at this point the only thing I've learned is that these monos might be better than the stereo model by the mere fact that they are one amp per channel. That is the impression I am getting using tubes that aren't even as good so it's a pretty good sign.

Just for kicks I gots Lon's CD today in the mail with largest existing Tannenberg pipe Organ (1728~1804). Astounding sound not to mention the human pumping bellows to create the air!

I don't know how these amps are doing it, but like all the music these spaceships just make pit stops in different space times and the experience is completely real. Now that I've started listening to this unprocessed organ music well recorded in a large space I'll have to remain here for the rest of the evening. No coming back from this. In fact I'm going to see what kind of organ music I can find on Tidal to amuse myself after this is done. Boy the sound of this particular organ is taking me back to the organ I grew up with as a boy... uncanny resemblance, the room the organ is in sounds familiar, much like the space I remember.

The music on this CD is so good. It completely took me back to 1969 in my dads church.... what a complete trip to go back after more than 40 years. The experience is vivid. Ever have a dream that was completely real? Becoming conscious that you are dreaming in a dream is called lucid dreaming. What is it called when you are awake and become conscious that you are in a dream?  

This reminds me, because organ music will bring many systems to their knees, that despite the 2.7 watts I wouldn't want to turn the volume up any louder. It is at the actual level it would be in the church, which is plenty loud believe me. How is it doing it...  Well it's at the magic live volume or damn near it where even 1dB quieter would take it just outside of real and 2dB would bring it from real back down to real good and there is a large difference between real good and real. I wouldn't want to loose even 1 dB under any circumstances so the speakers must be a solid 94dB from top to bottom and have some bottom.

BTW, I could be getting 98% of everything I'm hearing now from Randy's Baffles believe it or not... as the low slung driver that close to the floor generates real bass and it's large.  So yea, even this CD could be easily appreciated on these amps with Randy's humble speakers.

I'm going to spend the rest of the evening listening to organ pipes resonate through my castle.... it will likely end as it usually does with the IMPERIAL SO's handling the bottom end...  and we have all the power need somehow!


Steve








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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #229 - 01/25/18 at 05:10:44
 
So now I'm listening to a large organ and a full orchestra which would clip most amps and by some miracle it is not clipping, and it's just impossible. So then I decided to do the unthinkable, put on Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 and it did it with ease!  WHAT!  OK, so now lets just see what these amps would do on a pair of HR-1's...

If there was more than 1dB of difference when I hooked them up I must have missed it.  I'm listening to Tocatta on the HR-1's and it's the same... just as good, just as loud some how...

Boy that was a reminder of how low and powerful the HR-1 bass is!

These damn amps are making a fool out me, writing in circles.  Boy when the Audio Gods decide to teach you a lesson they really have calculated just how far they can bend the stick before it snaps.  Unbelievable.

So I guess you could use a pair of HR-1's with these amps and get better results than I thought.  The bass is so good and so low and tight you wouldn't think it was possible from such a small footprint as the HR-1 and certainly not driven by a 2 watt amplifier!

This is why you don't publish live journals ; )

Steve
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #230 - 01/25/18 at 05:44:56
 
Using the HR-1's I notice that on Takla Makan for example, you can tell we're right on the edge of the amps clipping so to correct for it, we drop the volume by another dB or two which combined with the 1 dB lower efficiency is just enough to make a difference.  Boy what a tease.  A pair of the stereo amps bridged would just sale right through it as if you were listening to the larger DNA horns with possibly a touch more headroom.  A room that was smaller or more live would also do it so a bridged pair may not be needed for some people.

Meanwhile it has me wondering what the HDT would sound like and many of the other speakers so the rest of winter will be more than bearable as I find out!

Steve

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #231 - 01/25/18 at 06:46:59
 
Quote:
Do you need a perfect room, no. You just have to have a decent room and put some effort into speaker placement and type. Each year I have done things to improve the acoustics of my room and while the improvements have been very noticeable I felt like I could take it further and probably should.


In my room, I experience notably improved soundstage when power supply bypasses in the Torii MKIV, and CSP3 are well balanced. I like milder bypass iterations quite a lot....illuminating. But finding the boundary of getting the most from them, when everything is totally awake and balanced, but before things get too big and hyper articulate ....amazing....but in that area especially, it appears there are as many ways to throw the balance as create it!

Either way, the caps used, values, and how they compliment each other have been really big deals for me. When it works, it is something like those unusually great listening sessions when the magic happens with captivating wonder. But once the power refinement is sweet, it is less of a passing thing...it sticks.... disappearing into beauty becoming more normal.

It makes sense, the power supply effecting everything, making transformers, tubes, resistors, caps, wires, connectors.... reflect their truer potential. I have not heard anything close here, dense tonal resolution in spaciousness that does not feel affected. And I love it when it comes with speed, but also with a beautiful ease that increased resolution from emptier space creates. Deep and musical bass with natural feeling definition (for the most part!@#$%^) and refined timbre...beautiful speed, everything complex while also being discretely defined, and integrating musically...captivating drum and cymbal hits.....piano hammers shifting reality....richness that can bring tears.

It sounds to me like less noise; effortless immediacy and greater signal integrity and resolution helping solve congestion on complicated parts; more complete fine detail, bringing out more tonal layers and smoother and more natural edge creation and transitions.... definition that sounds real....harmonic complexity...ambient completeness, layers, and transitions that help define a player in space.....and all made clearer coming out of deeper and more empty space.

As I interpret it, for cleaner and musically tuned power and signal...different caps, like different tubes, offer loads of subtle ways to bring out beauty that in combination can be pretty far from subtle.....  

Back to soundstage....enhanced speed, resolution, and space, enhance soundstage saturation and spacial information, making it bigger, more engulfing and real feeling, finally enhancing how I interact in it. Seems increase in perceived volume comes along with this. Not using a meter, I am pretty sure my volume actually goes higher before distortion.

Quote:
My strong advise is to stick with the regular Zens on speakers less than 94dB 1w/1m (unless you listen near field) because if you make this about power it's possible to miss the boat. The efficiency, which is a result of less moving mass in the speaker, is a requirement to track the speed of the amplifiers and without it some of the magic and the value of the amplifier would be diminished.


Though this Anniversary amp sounds like it breaks even the Decware mold of power as it relates to how it pushes speakers, here, I have not been able to fully enjoy anything with less power than a Blue Torii with my HR-1s, though the 944s did pretty well with a SE34. The Rachel and Taboo I auditioned in more recent years sounded really good, but something really important to me happens with more driver push/extension and headroom. For my tastes, and biggish rooms, I need the drivers to move more for deeper emersion. After Toriis for years, in this setting, I would have had to get more efficient speakers in order to really get what the Rachel and Taboo had to offer.

From your listening with the Anniversary Zen on the HR-1s, even if on an edge, to get that far into them with 2 watts seems to illustrate just how far the mold you have made of excellence from the first watts has come! Congratulations.....Very exciting!
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #232 - 01/25/18 at 09:19:28
 
Hey Steve, will the 25th Ann mono blocks also come in the green patina chassis that you mentioned the stereo version will come in?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #233 - 01/25/18 at 11:52:16
 
Wow! I'm glad you listened to the cd of a performance on the organ my great great great great great grandfather built! It's a very good cd and I knew you would enjoy it. And thank you for listening to the HR-1s with the Monos. I suspected the HR-1s would perform well and it appears that they may just do the ticket here for me. But it also appears as if a bridged pair of the 25th anniversary Zens would do better.

This is exciting, YOUR excitement comes through. It's great to be a music lover, and it's a great time to be one.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #234 - 01/25/18 at 15:57:00
 

Lon, is that CD available for sale?
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #235 - 01/25/18 at 16:24:41
 
Yes Eric, it's here:

https://ravencd.com/merchantmanager/product_info.php?products_id=133

And it's on amazon and cheaper there from market place sellers.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #236 - 01/25/18 at 17:03:49
 
OK Lon, once you reminded me about the CDs I decided to open the box and check them out today...the Tyner in now...I think it will take a couple listens before I settle into it.  The Blue Mitchell looks like quite the line up.  I'm not used to hearing him in such a large group...that one later.

Just to get the interconnects settled and warmed, I put them in the second system between the ZROCK and Monoblocks...so far so good.

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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #237 - 01/25/18 at 17:34:48
 
Yeah, there's not that much difference between the Ultalinear and the Stradivarius to me, just a little more of the good body and detail in the Stradivarius, and when you have an all Stradivarius setup the goodnesses are all cumulatively enhanced. I hope you enjoy them, they've given me really good sound. I moved some equipment around and it turned out I was only using those in my second system. . .and I can put those you sent to me in there as I have a balanced source and a ZBIT.

The Tyner is not really one of my favorites of his or Blue Note in general but I have warmed to it over the years. At least now you can hear what the latest Japanese mastering on SHM-CD (or not, some have been reissued not on SHM-CD) sounds like. I think you'll like the Mitchell.
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #238 - 01/25/18 at 21:31:46
 
Well, I did a quick test. I took the Taboo Mk IV out of my system and put in its place the Zen C amp I have that I bought four years ago (it's one modded by Eddie Vaughn to be a power amp only, and I'm not sure what other modifications were made!)

I didn't listen long. Did is sound anything like the Taboo? It had a family sound. Did it sound better than the Taboo? No. It sure needed time to warm up and come out of its dormant stage from not being used in a few months. And I didn't give it that time. I wanted to go back to pleasure listening.

But I did play music through it from the PS Audio Duo, listened to some TV broadcast via both DVR and the Blu-ray and ran a bit of an episode of the X-Files from the Blu-ray set I've been going through, Season 6.

I was surprised that everything was loud enough. Music, definitely. The video sound. . . yeah my wife might have wanted to turn it up a bit more, she doesn't hear as well as me and likes compressed sound, but man, it was loud enough. Bodes well fr me and any of the 25th Anniversary models to come.

I let out a short and subdued "Yee Ha" (what can I say, I spent more than three decades in Texas) and put the Taboo back in. Now I can stop obsessing. (Yeah, right).
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