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25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions! (Read 57198 times)
Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #50 - 09/08/18 at 01:49:26
 

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dvl
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #51 - 09/21/18 at 21:31:36
 
Two days before the hurricane hit, i left North Carolina for the midwest to see family, visit a great brewery, and on my way back home, stop in Peoria for a quick listening session. i didn't have much time, but i wanted to hear the anniversary amp and the DNA 2.

That amp is extraordinary, and hearing it in Steve's room was wonderful. At one point i looked at Steve and said, "i don't know how to describe what i'm hearing." Sure you could talk about detail, soundstage, bass, all the audiophile terms, but none of that gets to what the amp does.

i can tell you what it did to me. Before i left, i thanked Steve and said, "i don't know how to think about this." i really didn't. It got inside me, it made me feel certain ways that stayed with me. The more i listened, the better it got and i didn't really listen that long. i thought about it all the way back to North Carolina. i woke up the next day thinking about it. This paragraph of one of Steve's posts gets it better than anything he's written or anything i can come up with.

"Listening to this amplifier is not the typical mainstream audiophile experience.  You can't play it without becoming engaged with it.  That means that despite your best efforts, background music is just a fantasy.  In fact this is where it begins it's witchcraft.  You try to play it in the background while you work or relax and like it or not you become captivated.  It controls you, not the other way around.  This is the Yin and Yang of Zen.  We have crossed the neutral zone with this amplifier and for those of you who chase the holy audio grail, be careful what you wish for.   While it is effectively a drug, the only side effect is obsession.  I believe sound like this has healing properties and spending a little too much time with it would only have the consequence of living longer."

It is a drug, and after only a short time, obsession followed me for two days. Sitting here typing i feel what i felt listening to that amp. It hasn't gone away. And i agree, i think it is restorative to listen to, i think it does have healing properties. He is not exaggerating. i suspect if i would have stayed for a couple of hours, what i felt would have just deepened. Listening to this amp did not fit my audiophile auditioning mindset. It doesn't fit into that. It's different.

i've been at this for almost 30 years. i haven't heard an amp do this. Is it for everybody? Probably not. It is just 2 watts. But if i was a digital only person, no vinyl, no tape, i would buy this amp and never look back. i would come back to it every morning, sit in my listening chair, and not get a damn thing done all day. And even though i love vinyl and low output cartridges, i still might get it.

i look forward to reading reactions from people who attend Decfest. You will hear that amp in that room, just like i did, so it will be really interesting for me to read what others experienced. Please don't hesitate to share!

By the way, the DNA 2s were beautiful in person.

David




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JazztoGo
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #52 - 09/29/18 at 14:54:07
 
Hello there I thought i would post some of my thoughts on the new 25th annviersy amp.  I got it the beginning of August this year and once I put it in it never left.  I stream spotify from my laptop to the decware zdsd dac into the zrock and then into the amp to my Omega ALnico HO towers.

I have the CSP3 preamp but after sometime I just unhooked as I did not feel it needed it.  Maybe someday i will get the mod for it but not in the cards anytime soon.  

The clarity and power that i get form only two watts blew my mind.  I had the torii MKIV for years as my main amp and somehow the this new amp made that amp sound slow which is weird but before i never felt it was slow.  I think its just a different amp flavor.  The bass is great out of this amp though having the zrock2 definitely helps alot for streaming spotify.  I dont have any room treatments but when I pull out my speakers from the wall i almost get a 3d sound that i never got before.  I could image if I did room treatments.  Form top to bottom the sound is just clear and tight.

The side benefit is I can run this all day during the summer hot days unlike the torii MKIV in middle of summer it was just too hot to use in my small office lol, though winters it was perfect haha.

Anyways this amp just rocks!  friends are still amazed wwhen they come over to listen and then telling them its just too watts

sorry for the rambling but just wanted to mention how much i am enjoying this amp.
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dvl
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #53 - 09/29/18 at 16:02:23
 
JazztoGO wrote, "...when I pull out my speakers from the wall I almost get a 3d sound that i never got before."

One of the things that stuck with me after hearing this amp was the depth of the soundstage. Steve had the DNA2s well into the room so that helped, but damn, that 3d imaging is amazing with that little amp. My Jr. sounds a little flat and 2d in comparison.

Very jealous you get to hear that amp every day!

David
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JOMAN
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #54 - 09/29/18 at 20:29:17
 
Just put a Telefunken PCC189 in my UFO25 and in the CSP3 a Valvo D getter PCC88 in the driver position.  This puts a whole new meaning to soundstage depth and 3D.  The music and vocals are so detailed and dynamic, alive and yet like velvet or at times majestic.
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Lon
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #55 - 09/29/18 at 21:59:52
 
It's amazing how these amps show every tube change, etc. I rolled an Amperex 12AU7 back into the ZROCK2 taking the 6085 back out. The 6085 is perfect in the Taboo Mk IV and almost perfect in the ZROCK2 but lacks just a hair of lower frequency presence. And I went from vintage SV83 output tubes in the Monoblocks to Steve's red-tipped stock military style. . . . I like them both, miss the SV83 "ease" a bit and may move back to those. . . .

I also went from an Arcturus Type 80 globe rectifier to the Sophia Electric Aqua 274B in the Taboo Mk IV, and that was an improvement; I now have the Aqua in the Monoblocks, the CSP3-25 and the Taboo Mk IV. Seems my "anchor" for the sound.

Really enjoying the overall sound and trying to just listen to my material without listening to the system but the amps just shine so strongly and they still are a novel element of the system for me that draw attention to themselves. . . .
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV; Rega RP3 w all GrooveTracer mods PS Audio: DMP+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkr cbls;Mapleshade:Samson V3;;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati intrcncts, Iso-Pods;headphones:PM1,HD800S,ZMF Ori
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Lon
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #56 - 09/29/18 at 22:13:05
 
JazztoGo, rather than apologizing needlessly for the "rambling," thanks go to you for sharing your impressions and keep them coming. These amps give us a lot to "chew on" and write about.
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV; Rega RP3 w all GrooveTracer mods PS Audio: DMP+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkr cbls;Mapleshade:Samson V3;;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati intrcncts, Iso-Pods;headphones:PM1,HD800S,ZMF Ori
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JOMAN
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #57 - 10/01/18 at 19:46:15
 
JazztoGo, I would like to second Lon’s about being apologetic and add to that to my previous comments about “a whole new meaning on soundstage and 3D”.

I won’t detail the all tube rolling that I’ve done as it would distract from the point which is what the UFO25 is capable of.  In my previous post I stated that I tried a Telefunken PCC189 and what the UFO25 did with it.  As it’s been burning in the experience has progressed to a level that I’ve tried to achieve in over 40 years with many itenerations of components and to date have not succeeded to my satisfaction... until now.

The typical audiophile babble won’t cut it so perhaps you’ll be able to relate to the following... if you are familiar with the visual portrayal of the Holodeck where in an individual can immerse themselves in a virtual reality environment... then that describes what level I’m at with the UFO25 and associated components.

The whole room has become a sonic “holodeck”, I kid you not!
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Ace-Tone
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #58 - 10/02/18 at 00:38:05
 
Joman,  I had to chuckle when I saw your "holodeck" comment. Haven't heard that term for quite some time (Nor, watched Startrek for that matter).
But, I do agree with your comments on tubes and the amazing sound of this UFO25! In fact I just sat down after several hours submersed on the holodeck.....insert "smile" here!
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SE84UFO25, ZP3, Zstage, ZR2, ZSB, DM947, HERESY iii's
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JOMAN
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #59 - 10/02/18 at 03:58:13
 
Hey Ace,
Never really thought about it at the time but it is a variation on a theme... UFO25...Alien Abduction Video...The Dimensional Space Ship that needed a Sonodeck and kidnapped it from Steve???  I admit it’s kind of cheesy so I think that we need to come up with something better than the above to add to the “UFO25” designation.

Perhaps the “marketing team” among us can chime in here....
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fmanheck
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #60 - 12/20/18 at 03:53:21
 
Hello everyone.  :)

This is my first post and my first night running the SE84UFO25. I figure I would keep up the trend with first impressions. I was using a Rachel and thought I was somewhat familiar with Decware sound (or is that non-sound). Still cold the UFO exhibited a very coherent musical picture. No bloat that accompanies some tube amps but of course not Decware. My speakers are about 105DB efficient so I was not really worried about not having enough power.

An aside - I was considering ordering a second UFO25 without having heard the first during the Black Friday sale but... I knew I would have the needed power. Who knows maybe next Black Friday  ;)

Back to first impressions. As I continued to listen, the amp loosened up a bit. Imaging seemed to get more solid. About 2 hours in and all of a sudden bass became audibly more deep. full and articulate. A very pleasant and unexpected surprise. I was looking to hear extra finesse and heard a nice improvement in the nether regions. This is actually one of my systems strong suits so that was really nice.

I listened about another hour with familiar music and it sounded very nice. A very solid soundstage with great front to back imaging. Very Musical. The amp is real pretty with those glowing tubes and the build quality is of course beyond reproach. Thanks Steve. I am excited to hear how things change as it breaks in .

I'll post some system photos soon but my wife has made me put equipment on the TV stand to make room for the Christmas tree. I used to have a dedicated sound room but last year I was told to put in a TV. Now I have to accommodate a tree. Thank God I have great music to keep me on the straight and narrow.  ;D

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Decware SE84UFO25/ Phasure G3 DAC, MACH III computer playback w / XXhighend Blaxius^2 Lush^2 digital cabling/ Jamboree Bass Bin Horns/ Altec 288/287 Field coil Mid-Horns/ 2 GR Research Dual 12" servo Subwoofers/ Various Room treatments and power conditioning
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Lon
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #61 - 12/20/18 at 11:18:19
 
Welcome, and thanks for posting your first impressions. As you know, this amp will sound better day by day. Lots of great listening ahead1

I share your distress about system changes being imposed upon you. Hopefully you can get the system well situated soon. What source(s) are you using if I may ask?
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV; Rega RP3 w all GrooveTracer mods PS Audio: DMP+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkr cbls;Mapleshade:Samson V3;;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati intrcncts, Iso-Pods;headphones:PM1,HD800S,ZMF Ori
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fmanheck
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #62 - 12/20/18 at 11:56:34
 
Hi Lon and all. I have read that SE84UFO25 will keep sounding better and better. What I am hearing now is a great place to begin already. I had been eyeing Decware for years and when I got the super efficient speakers I knew now was the time.

My source is the Phasure NOS G3 DAC and its accompanying computer; the MACH III both connected with very interesting cabling that gives you the ability to float the cable ground with many possible combinations.  XXhighend playback software (also designed by Peter S. of Phasure) is on the computer and music resides on a file server that also controls MACH III. Music files are loaded into RAM and sent to the NOS G3 DAC. XXhighend.nl

Honestly it is so good that I left vinyl. I am considering Reel to Reel but my hobby now consists of listening to music and I like it that way. My system is quite resolving and even with a nights listening I can tell the SE84UFO is a fantastic amp. I'll try to get some photos up there soon.
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Decware SE84UFO25/ Phasure G3 DAC, MACH III computer playback w / XXhighend Blaxius^2 Lush^2 digital cabling/ Jamboree Bass Bin Horns/ Altec 288/287 Field coil Mid-Horns/ 2 GR Research Dual 12" servo Subwoofers/ Various Room treatments and power conditioning
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Lon
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #63 - 12/20/18 at 13:00:36
 
Sounds like a great setup. Listening to music is the goal, so relax and let that amp season! Keep us informed, thanks for joining the discussions.
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV; Rega RP3 w all GrooveTracer mods PS Audio: DMP+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkr cbls;Mapleshade:Samson V3;;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati intrcncts, Iso-Pods;headphones:PM1,HD800S,ZMF Ori
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MrDerrick
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #64 - 12/22/18 at 19:10:29
 
Fmanheck,

My SE84UFO25 is on the build list.
I run Avantgarde Duo Omega horns.
What is the impedance of your horn set up?
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fmanheck
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #65 - 12/31/18 at 00:13:59
 
Hi MrDerrek
the impedance on the midhorns is 8ohms and the Jamboree bass bins is 2 ohms. Hope this helps
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Decware SE84UFO25/ Phasure G3 DAC, MACH III computer playback w / XXhighend Blaxius^2 Lush^2 digital cabling/ Jamboree Bass Bin Horns/ Altec 288/287 Field coil Mid-Horns/ 2 GR Research Dual 12" servo Subwoofers/ Various Room treatments and power conditioning
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fmanheck
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #66 - 01/04/19 at 03:20:04
 
Tonight I had friends over for a listening session. As the 25th Anniversary Zen has been breaking in, it has getting more and open and relaxed. Detail retrieval is just phenomenal. Not because of quantity (of which there is plenty) but because of the absolutely natural and musical way it is woven into the soundstage presentation. The amp is magical.

The only concern I have been having is I think I have a need for more power. Not in most cases, but there are times when I listen louder than normal to music with substantial bass output and very strong dynamics. In these cases the amp seems to loose liquidity and becomes a bit opaque.

One of my friends brought over a First Watt SIT-3. This is about 18wpc solid state Class A Single Ended amp with no feedback. Created by Nelson Pass it is probably in the top tier of best SS amps made. I have heard it in my friend's system and it sounds great. It is a great amp.

I was excited to hear how more power added to my system would sound. I switched out the Decware and put  in the SIT-3 amp in. The difference was shocking. Now there was plenty of power you could tell this amp drove the speakers easily. Bass was more powerful and  pronounced at higher volumes.

Folks there is no going back. Despite the higher power it was immediately noticeable how the magic was no longer there. It just did not sound real anymore. I think you would need the SE84UFO25 to hear this type of staggering difference. The First Watt is a very good amp by most any standard but once you hear UFO25 there is no going back. This was a unanimous opinion for all of us, even my friend who left a bit saddened.

So I will be talking with Steve soon about ordering another SE84UFO25. I guess I should have gone for it back in November.
2 SE84UFO25 = Twice the magic.
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Decware SE84UFO25/ Phasure G3 DAC, MACH III computer playback w / XXhighend Blaxius^2 Lush^2 digital cabling/ Jamboree Bass Bin Horns/ Altec 288/287 Field coil Mid-Horns/ 2 GR Research Dual 12" servo Subwoofers/ Various Room treatments and power conditioning
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Steve Deckert
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If the 1st watt
sucks why continue?

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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #67 - 01/04/19 at 03:53:43
 
 
fmanheck,

I appreciate your feedback!  Especially gratifying when you consider how far out I stuck my neck on the chopping block during my descriptions of it's sound during it's development.  Posts like yours and really everyones so far, have proven that it's not just me, and it is real, and it is repeatable.  What more could I possibly ask for!  Please keep up up to date as things season and continue to burn-in.  

If you want to post pictures, this site makes it too easy not to do!  https://imgbb.com

Thanks again for your update!

Steve
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Ace-Tone
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #68 - 01/29/19 at 19:42:47
 
it's been several months since I've weighed in on my SE84UFO25. But, I have a good excuse. "I've been sucked into the vortex of beautiful music it provides and, have not made any adjustments (tube rolling etc.) for several months as well." I'm so happy I made this purchase....LP's, CD's it doesn't matter...it's all awesome! It took approx 250 to 300 hrs burn in for the UFO25 to hit it's stride and sonic consistency. Having a dedicated (acoustically treated) listening room does help as well. So, I used to read at least 15 hrs a week....that time has been replaced with longer listening sessions filled with music I am well acquainted with, as well as a lot of new music. This amp has me expanding my musical tastes and enjoying the ride immensely!! Gotta go listen now.
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SE84UFO25, ZP3, Zstage, ZR2, ZSB, DM947, HERESY iii's
VPI-Traveler2 +SS Zephyr MKIIIes.
Cambridge CXC. Schiit Bimby DAC
IC's Audio Envy, Decware, RAC-PC's, Mapleshade Dbl Helix+Spkr wires & jumpers
Blue Circle PLC FX2X0e, Herbies, GIK, PI Audio DIY treatmen
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #69 - 01/31/19 at 19:49:44
 
Well,  IT finally arrived,..  after a missed delivery day yesterday due to the extreme cold it showed up this morning.  Had to let it sit for 4 hours and come to room temp, but that gave me plenty of time to eye it up and down, inside and out,...   Truly a beautiful piece of machinery.  A masterpiece for sure. Soldering on the inside expertly done,  wood work flawless,  finish.. exquisite.  It really is a work of art.
 Finally got it powered up about an hour ago.  Playing in the background while I try to work.  Any worries I had about SPLs I could get out of my Zu's  have been putt to bed.  Easily plays louder than I listen without even the OA3's blinking!  Sounds good cold and off the bat.  Yeah I could easily nitpick but that would be fair at this point.  I will say that cold it has more life and presence than the sand amp I have been listening to in the interim just needs to smooth out a bit and I know it will.
  More to come,  I know I need some hours for it to really open up,  but wanted to post some very early, initial impressions.
  Excellent job Steve.  This one's a keeper for sure!!
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PureFidelity Harmony (SS Zephyr MIMC) > Roon ROCK/NUC > Holo KTE May > Supratek Cortese LCR > 25th Anniv. Zen Amp / Gerus 300B / Radu Tarta Ultimate 300B > Triangle Celius 202 / Zu Omen (Hi-Mod) / ZenMstrL-F15 : PSA P12 : Iconoclast Cabling
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Lon
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #70 - 01/31/19 at 20:05:48
 
Great news John! At last! Your journey begins. In 300 hours or so of listening you'll be just floored!
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV; Rega RP3 w all GrooveTracer mods PS Audio: DMP+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkr cbls;Mapleshade:Samson V3;;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati intrcncts, Iso-Pods;headphones:PM1,HD800S,ZMF Ori
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jslateiv
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #71 - 01/31/19 at 20:25:29
 
Thanks Lon, I'll get there quick!   Working from home has it's advantages when it comes to putting hours on gear!  Am contemplating letting her run through the night.  Wouldn't/don't normally do that but sometimes with brand new stuff will just to get some extra hours in quick.
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PureFidelity Harmony (SS Zephyr MIMC) > Roon ROCK/NUC > Holo KTE May > Supratek Cortese LCR > 25th Anniv. Zen Amp / Gerus 300B / Radu Tarta Ultimate 300B > Triangle Celius 202 / Zu Omen (Hi-Mod) / ZenMstrL-F15 : PSA P12 : Iconoclast Cabling
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Lon
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"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
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Posts: 18574
Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #72 - 01/31/19 at 21:53:09
 
Yes, we're both lucky in that we can get hours on our equipment pretty quickly. I've left mine on for 72 hours or more before, with signal one through . . . never had an issue.

UPS bailed on me. . . after waiting all day to be here to sign for the package they sent me a "delayed" message at 4 p.m. Sheesh. I don't know if I can be here all tomorrow, hope I can be here when it comes. UPS is never my first choice of shipper.

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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV; Rega RP3 w all GrooveTracer mods PS Audio: DMP+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkr cbls;Mapleshade:Samson V3;;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati intrcncts, Iso-Pods;headphones:PM1,HD800S,ZMF Ori
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Lon
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"Love without
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worthless!"
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Posts: 18574
Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #73 - 01/31/19 at 23:18:38
 
Oh UPS will handle it just fine and Decware always packs wonderfully. . . I just wanted to have it all tomorrow to listen to. As it is it will probably come near the end of the day, and during the evenings and weekend I don't get to listen much at all. . . so that's what disappoints me, that it will arrive and not be put into use right away.
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV; Rega RP3 w all GrooveTracer mods PS Audio: DMP+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls, Reference spkr cbls;Mapleshade:Samson V3;;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati intrcncts, Iso-Pods;headphones:PM1,HD800S,ZMF Ori
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Steve Deckert
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If the 1st watt
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #74 - 02/01/19 at 02:42:22
 

Quote:
it's been several months since I've weighed in on my SE84UFO25. But, I have a good excuse. "I've been sucked into the vortex of beautiful music it provides and, have not made any adjustments (tube rolling etc.) for several months as well." I'm so happy I made this purchase....LP's, CD's it doesn't matter...it's all awesome! It took approx 250 to 300 hrs burn in for the UFO25 to hit it's stride and sonic consistency. Having a dedicated (acoustically treated) listening room does help as well. So, I used to read at least 15 hrs a week....that time has been replaced with longer listening sessions filled with music I am well acquainted with, as well as a lot of new music. This amp has me expanding my musical tastes and enjoying the ride immensely!! Gotta go listen now.



"So, I used to read at least 15 hrs a week....that time has been replaced with longer listening sessions filled with music I am well acquainted with, as well as a lot of new music"

I think that pretty much nails it don't you?

Steve
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #75 - 02/01/19 at 03:17:37
 
Decware has pretty much ended my television watching.  I used to wind down at night with some random programming of news and episodes of whatever network series was worth a damn.  That quickly ended once I got my Decware system installed and dialed-in.  

I now end every day with at least 2-3 hours of listening at night to de-compress from all the chaos I endure on a daily basis.  Aside from it being enjoyable (obviously), it is therapeutic.  This ritual puts me in the right frame of mind before bedtime.  

The bottom line is, I could not endure the hours of weekly listening that I do if my system was not musical, entertaining, AND non-fatiguing!
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #76 - 02/01/19 at 15:06:39
 
I'm listening right now as I work from an adjacent room.   The stereo is always on and streaming either Jazz24 or a Classical station out of Portland that I like.  I keep the volume low enough to be able to answer calls without distraction.   The sound has always been lacking in this type situation,..  other room/low volume,..  as one would expect,  just not a lot of life to it,..    However with the 25th, the low level volume is just plain alive,  it's amazing how much better it sounds at a low level compared to my other amps,  and this on a 96kbs stream!  Just stunning,...     I left the amp playing all night.  At this point it has been on approx. 24hrs straight  and has really smoothed out ALOT in that time period!
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #77 - 02/11/19 at 15:00:49
 
OK, here are my impressions of the 25th Anniversary amp so far.  

I doubt that my thoughts will change much as the amp seasons, but you never know.  My tube compliment ended up being A03s for output regulators, Sophia 274B for rectifier, Steve’s output tubes, OD3W input tube regulator and Mullard input tube (sorry, I don’t remember what it is).

I am not sure I can add much to what has already been said. I can’t recall anything that I disagree with.  It’s a great amp and definitely adds to my listening pleasure.  I’ll try to frame this up as how it works as a music producing system from start to end and focus on one attribute at a time to keep my ADHD in check.

Black background – this is easily the quietest amp I have ever heard.  Inky black is the term that comes to mind.  This I believe lays the groundwork for the whole sound of the amp.  The background is so quiet, it allows the music to come through easily, without breaking a sweat.  Very enjoyable at low volumes.

Speed – with the background so quiet, it allows you to hear how fast the amp is.  This speed manifests itself mostly in the lower notes where you hear the leading edge of the note and that sucks your attention in.  I found myself not only hearing separation of bass drum and bass, but thinking about how the bass drum was damped to produce the specific sound they were after.  There is no bloat to notes at all.  They are what they are.  I am hoping that the amp loosens up more as I feel that the soundstage is a little constricted right now.

Bass-monster.  This is clearly the best bass I have heard in my room.  The attributes above allow you to hear the individual bass notes better than my other amps.  Following intricate, detailed bass lines is something I enjoy and this amp allows you to hear them fairly easily.

Pop.  This amp has a lot of pop to it.  Snares, bass drums.  Lots of thwack going on.  Amazing with just the 2 watts but it has more pop than Rachael at 6 and Torri at 25.

Loud.  This amp is louder than I ever need it to be.  I kept cranking up the volume until finally I got it to clip, but it was louder than I would ever listen, even on a multi-drink night.  My room is 12.5’ by 16.5’ so its not huge and my speakers are 92-94db efficient.

Seductive.  Clearly, the more you listen to this amp, the more you want to listen to it.  All the things mentioned above suck you in.  I had no problem at all listening for 5 hours yesterday.  With the quiet nature of the amp, the detail and pop that come through, etc., it engages you long term.   Very nice.

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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #78 - 02/11/19 at 15:11:47
 
Wonderful that you are already experiencing all of this, the extra hours Steve put on it are paying off.

It will get better. After 300 hours or so I was surprised to find a new level, and don't hesitate to experiment with any "gain riding" you can.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #79 - 02/15/19 at 16:39:28
 
Hi
I would like to add my impressions of The SE84UFO25 :

I have had the amp for 8 days now and it is the most amazing amp ever. When I fired it up for the first time and turned up the volume a little I knew I had something special.

I look forward all day to come home and listen to the music this amp so magically wraps me in

I know the sound will continue to improve as the weeks turn to months

Thanks
Bob
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #80 - 02/15/19 at 16:56:48
 
Hey Guys,

Would love to hear if you are listening to the amp with a pre-amp or not? Also would like to know if it is mostly digital or analog listening (sources etc. if they aren't in your profile). I'd love to get as many details as possible so when I do pull the trigger I've got plenty of ammunition. I've been listening to a LTA ultralinear amp lately and love it but might have to pick one of these up as well. I'd like to keep and upgrade my csp2+ to the 25th anniversary mods and not have to purchase another preamp if possible.
Thanks in advance.

JD
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #81 - 02/15/19 at 17:04:05
 
I have my TEAC UD503 as a pre of sorts and use the remote for changing volume.  I also have a ZBIT that I have at about 2:00 and then the 25th pots wide open.

I have become a fan of balanced outputs from the DAC into the ZBIT.  I get a density that I enjoy.  

These settings mentioned above are a holdover from where I ran Rachael after experimenting quite a bit.  I will likely adjust now for the 25th.  I did notice that Steve ran the 25th wide open at Zenfest so maybe I will ultimately end up back there.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #82 - 02/15/19 at 17:07:38
 
I also have a question about what to expect from the amp during seasoning.  

Soundstage size and sort of a contextual soundstage mapping are the only things I have not heard in my amp that I heard at the Fest if that makes any sense.

I was able to work at home yesterday and I felt like it is beginning to open up more and got a taste of this contextual mapping that I heard in E. Peoria.

Any feedback is appreciated.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #83 - 02/15/19 at 17:50:11
 
Tom, I'm unable to set up my system to maximize soundstage etc. but I do get a very satisfying level of that as is, and during the first month the amp swung back and forth on occasion in this aspect and at the end it was clearly the best in this aspect of any that I've ever heard. That you are getting that glimpse I think means you'll be where you want to be holographically in the near future.

Justin, I've been using my 25th Anniversary SE84UFO3 amps with my ZTPRE and my CSP3-25 both separately and both at the same time. I have a CSP2+ as well that I used heavily in the past, but haven't used with these amps yet. (As you know Justin that is at the mother ship now for the mod upgrade). Because the output from my DSD is so wimpy due to its (excellent-sounding) design I too use the ZBIT to feed the preamps.

I was for a long time a "no preamp needed" guy and especially when I first started using the ZBIT I didn't think I'd benefit from one. . .  but when I got the ZTPRE that ended that definitively. The ZTPRE is amazing, as is the 25th Anniversary CSP3. There's a body to the imaging and a solidity to presence and stage that I won't now be without. Your CSP2+ will be very good with the 25th Anniversary Amp with or without the upgrades. I'm sure the upgrades will be amazing so considering them as you are is a good idea. As I mentioned in PM I'll update you when I have the CSP2+ back with mods.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #84 - 02/15/19 at 17:56:15
 
Than Lon.  I have moved off the 5 hours at a shot breakin and now I'm listening however long I want.  I have a three day weekend so I'll be spending some time listening.

I do know the longer its on, the better it sounds.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #85 - 02/15/19 at 18:01:08
 
Bob, so glad you are enjoying your amp! Keep on playing it and your enjoyment will deepen. . . . .
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #86 - 02/15/19 at 18:05:11
 
Pal,
Have you tried adjusting your speaker positions with the new 25th amp?
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #87 - 02/15/19 at 18:06:08
 
No, but that very thought occurred to me last night and I intend to do so this weekened.  Great suggestion.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #88 - 02/15/19 at 19:10:25
 
Hey Pal,  

 I can say that my speaker position moved considerably once I really got a feel for the 25th-A and it had some hours on it.   I'm currently running with about 200hr's on the amp but I found that at around ~80 hrs the speaker adjustments were warranted and easily dialed-in.   Once adjusted everything locked into place again with the added benefit and sonic improvement that the 25th def. brings!
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #89 - 02/15/19 at 19:14:44
 
Thanks.  That's about where I am now in hours with the time Steve put in.

My gut says I am too toed in and I need to spread the soundstage.  I sometimes lose depth when I have experimented with this before but I'll give it a try.

I am also mentally comparing a listening experience with horn speakers (DNA2) with Open Baffles.  There is a completely different soundstage between these two speaker styles.
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will
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #90 - 02/16/19 at 00:26:25
 
Hey Pal,

Sounds fun. I am agreeing with thoughts on burnin and speaker placement. This amp sounds tricky, being so good in design and parts choices to begin with, it sounds like it is extra good "out of the box." By all reports, with reduced smearing, masking, congestion...and related, enhanced balance, space, speed, clarity, transparency, etc...sounds like Steve's best effort to date. But it still uses new parts, many similar to other Decware amps. So no matter how good the sound is new, the parts will get notably better!

Looking at effects pre-burnin...rigidity, subtle distortions, thickness, congestion, we wait for faster and deeper articulation and spacious complexity. Related, I think there is an additional balancing act between increased density, and fine detail and spacial information that can resolve with burnin. Anecdotally, as I carefully increased speed and density in my amps, while attempting to hold spectral balance, all aspects seem interrelated, creating balancing acts. A slightly fuller, note-centric density, could off-balance fine detail and ambient information. Though the fine detail and space were there, if density was a bit strong, or tending toward thickish, it sounded like the denser attributes could dominate, and also bleed into the spacial areas of the presentation, negatively effecting ambient/harmonic information that can contribute to better soundstage. In effect, like rigidity pre-burnin, if a change was compelling enough to "ride it out," I found subtle speaker adjustments could adjust spacial information, and soundstage width and depth.

So even starting off as good as the 25th, relatively, the usual new parts rigidity, smearing, distortions, congestion are there... And as parts refine, the signal becomes less damaged, more complete, more complex, rigidity resolving into more fine detail and spaciousness. Another similarity in my explorations, one day I took out all the very small bypass caps from my Torii seeking an optimal foundation from combinations of 0.1 power supply bypasses mainly. Though in this case the 0.1s were all burned in, once sorted out, by bypassing the 0.1s with (the right) 0.022s, and 0.01s or 0.0047s, bypassing the bypasses increased speed, space and complexity notably. Density remained (or increased), but with more complexity and space, soundstage depth, width and saturation got better.

Burnin refinement seems very similar to me. As the parts wake up, especially after ±300 hours, ups and downs mostly resolved, the parts becoming more supple, we hear more. Finer information coming with more space for the notes to rise and fall more clearly from, speed and spacial information are enhanced, enhancing the soundstage. This is how it sounds to me at this point of my listening anyway.

So I am agreeing with burnin thoughts folks have made. Also, to best utilize a given state of sound, checking speaker placement periodically along the way, adjusting the room and system interactions, and therefore the soundstage.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #91 - 02/16/19 at 13:42:07
 
Great thoughts Will.  Your guidance in implementing the bypasses (.01 and .0022) certainly raised the overall SQ of my Rachael.

I am looking forward to further breakin as this amp is already a listening gem.  

Last night I opened up the stance of speakers by just 1” and it had a pretty big impact on soundstage width without sacrificing too much depth.

The funny thing is I probably experimented with 15 different positions of those speakers pre-25th and figured I had that dialed in.  It just goes to show you when you introduce a new piece in the chain, everything needs to be re-considered.

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will
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #92 - 02/16/19 at 19:05:34
 
Nice! It is amazing how system/rooms are sort of living things...each part contributing to and changing the whole. I bet your amp is going to get a fair bit of play this weekend! Exciting!
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #93 - 02/21/19 at 18:05:56
 
I am around 100 hours give or take (including the hours Steve put on the amp).  It is seasoning nicely.  Overall timbre has improved which is making the amp even more engaging.

Lately an album I keep coming back to is Daft Punk, Random Access Memories.  Electronic may not be everyone's cup of tea but there is a lot of stuff going on so its an excellent album to evaluate gear.

The 25th really handles all that activity really well.  Staccato base lines, complicated drumming, low electronic bass, high instrument count, etc.  Exceptional separation of all this going on at the same time.  Because of this, more is coming through and I am hearing new stuff.  Like breaths taken by the singer doing the vocorder on certain tracks.

Paul Simon's Graceland is an album I like, but I have found over the years its hard to fully appreciate unless your system is up to snuff.  The 25th allows the mastery of this recording to come through.   Great thematic instrument selection on this album and really well produced.

Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball can be harsh mashup of incoherent, overlapping instruments.  Not so on the 25th.  My Rachael gave me a glimpse of the production value of this album, but the 25th really brings it home.  Great instrument separation and ease of vocals leads to a better connection with the music.

So, I guess my point is that as the 25th seasons, it continues to raise the listening pleasure and value of your music library.  I will be interested in revisiting these albums in another 100 hours or so.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #94 - 02/23/19 at 17:14:15
 
After reading about people using speakers of various sensitivity levels I decided to try the lowest efficiency speakers I have - some Silverline Minuets rated at 88db.

With the DAC at 0db and the zibit at 2:00 and the 25th pegged I was able to achieve a very acceptable listening level without clipping.  I did use the high bias setting but with more adjustment the low setting could be used as well.  

My room is 12.5 X 16.5 so not big.

I turned on the Crowns and ran the subs to fill in the low end but it was actually pleasant listening without them on.  The minuets are mini monitors with only a 3.5” woofer.  

My iPhone was measuring low 80s. Not that reliable, but still.

Interesting.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend people with 88db speakers pair them with the 25th but this little experiment gives you an idea of the amp’s range.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #95 - 02/23/19 at 18:38:30
 
I'm curious as what clipping sounds like.  I can't say for sure that I've even clipped my ZMA.  Steve says that when the meters really "dance" that clipping is either happening or very close.  Solid state clipping scares me to death so maybe I've never pushed my ZMA hard enough.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #96 - 02/23/19 at 18:53:00
 
The sound breaks up and has a static sound.  On the 25th you can see it visually on the meters and the power regulation tubes in the back flicker a little.   With my OBs I really have to crank it up to get it to clip.  But they are around 94db efficient.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #97 - 02/24/19 at 00:59:45
 
Thanks.  I don't think I've heard that.  I may need to crank things up a notch!   Cheesy
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #98 - 02/25/19 at 13:17:41
 
On my Zu's  (and I really have to push it),..  I notice that the low end (~30-80hz) starts to become fuzzy first.   This is especially noticeable on Acoustic / folk (or other) type music where clear separation of the instruments excels and there is a prominent bass/low end.   I can start to hear this degradation at the onset of the rear Rgs. just starting to move/fluctuate in brightness,  the meters are moving +/- 2ma (4ma swing).   In more congested/dense type recordings/mastering's,  it is somewhat masked and less noticeable at the onset of clipping. The upper end (shimmer/shine) where the 'space' of everything seems to come into play is the 2nd to collapse,  at this point the rear Regs,  would be relatively noticibly starting to fluctuate in brightness and honestly the it isn't worth listening to at this point.
  Still amazes me though just how loud and dense this little 2.8/w amp is!  I never really ever come close to clipping during normal listening,  but ~98db sens. speakers will get ya that  :)
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PureFidelity Harmony (SS Zephyr MIMC) > Roon ROCK/NUC > Holo KTE May > Supratek Cortese LCR > 25th Anniv. Zen Amp / Gerus 300B / Radu Tarta Ultimate 300B > Triangle Celius 202 / Zu Omen (Hi-Mod) / ZenMstrL-F15 : PSA P12 : Iconoclast Cabling
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lazb
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Posts: 300
Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier Impressions!
Reply #99 - 02/25/19 at 14:46:29
 
I agree with the "amazing" part on this amp! It gets me all the volume I ever want with my DNA2 speakers. About 94dB sensitivity according to Steve.
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