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Is 6 Watts Enough? (Read 1615 times)
Ruleof72
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Is 6 Watts Enough?
06/13/20 at 01:44:55
 
I'm a brand new forum member who's looking to upgrade my listening experience by switching to tubes from solid state. In my research I came across Decware and after exploring the site and the products I'm very interested in how I might be able to make it work in my system. My budget is ideally <$2500. Based on that the Zen Triode Integrated (with some upgrades) is appealing.

The issue I'm struggling with is "how much power do I really need". My speakers are ~91db sensitivity and we sit about 9 feet from the speakers. The room is 14x17 and listening levels are typically 75-85db. Online power calculators say I should be fine with 4-5 watts for that level but what about the peaks? I hear that "tube watts are better than ss watts". How does that translate? I plan on reaching out to Steve to get his feedback but wanted to get a sense from the community as well.

Thanks in advance for the help!
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Speakers: Tekton Enzo XL
Amp: NAD 326Bee Integrated
Turntable: Technics SL-1210GR
Phono pre: Lounge Audio LCR MKIII
DAC: Schiit Modi Multibit streaming Roon/Tidal
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4krow
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #1 - 06/13/20 at 13:14:53
 
I had the size of room that you do approximately, and I owned the same amp that you are referring to. I was using speakers that claimed 93db. I cannot say at what level that I listened, but it certainly wasn't background music. I found more of a problem with recording levels being too high or low, more than volume being inadequate. Having said that, there were too many times that I had the amp very near full volume to get where I wanted. I would suggest more in the order of 20 wpc which I am running right now, though it is a SS class A amp.
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RJR
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #2 - 06/13/20 at 14:48:00
 
Ruleof72,

You state that your Speakers: Tekton Enzo XL are ~91db sensitivity, however Tekton states 96.5dB sensitivity 2.83V@1m. ~5dB is considerable. For example, 91dB at 1 watt, 94dB at 2 watts and 97dB at 4 watts (this is where your speakers are at with ~1 watt).

I have a Torii MK3 > Zu Audio Omen Def MK1b and couldn't be happier, though I am looking for bookshelves because I also have 2 JL Audio E110 Subs.

Best of luck!
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Ruleof72
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #3 - 06/13/20 at 15:17:46
 
Yes, the Enzo's seem to have some variability in the sensitivity specs. I'm going off of the measurements that Stereophile took as part of their review, which was 90.6db.

You're right, there is a large difference between that and the 96db Tekton claims. Unfortunately I have no way of verifying which one is correct so I'm going with the lower number, just to be safe.
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Speakers: Tekton Enzo XL
Amp: NAD 326Bee Integrated
Turntable: Technics SL-1210GR
Phono pre: Lounge Audio LCR MKIII
DAC: Schiit Modi Multibit streaming Roon/Tidal
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Brian
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #4 - 06/15/20 at 04:55:55
 
Hello,
For your $2500 budget, you could change both your amp and your speakers with the Caintuck Audio model Betsy speakers @ $500 (Alnico magnets $220 more) and either the model SE84UFO @ $1000, model SE84UFO2 @ $1300 or model SE34I.5 @ $1500.

Or for more efficiency and impact, the same speaker but with the Lii 15 inch driver for $850.

I don't know if these combinations would be an upgrade over a Decware amp with your existing speakers or not, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Brian
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alper_yilmaz
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #5 - 06/16/20 at 21:05:14
 
Hi Ruleof72,

Welcome on board!

Currently, I have two Decware amps.  The SE84UFO25 is driving 91-dB, 4-ohm B&W's (with complex crossovers) and the SE34I.2+ in my bedroom is driving Rega RS1's which are 90.5 dB and 8 ohms.  Please note that these are just the announced specs though.  Previously, I had the SE84UFO in place of the SE84UFO25, and actually I even tried it with my 88.5-dB, 8-ohm ProAc's which was quite fine.

Neither of my Decwares are kidney stone removers, given the relative inefficiencies of my speakers.  Yet, the sound from both amps are to die for, particularly the SE84UFO25.  I hear every detail and in such a balanced way that I seldom turn on my Copland push-pull tube amp, which is also another great piece of gear.  With classical piano and operatic vocals, there is occasional clipping in my systems, but again, I am willing to compromise.

My experience with most high-efficiency single-driver speakers has not been very good.  Using some Omega speakers as well as Zu Druids in the past, I always struggled with the bass, and in most such speakers, I hear a shout effect.  However, please note that I have not done any room treatment, etc., as I do not have a dedicated listening room.  Most other forum members here have much better experience than I do, so I would definitely listen to what they have to say as well.

If I were you, I would not rush things; i.e., one thing at a time I would change in my signal chain.  Personally, I would start with the SE84UFO with the upgraded caps, as well as some decent set of cables.  I would listen to it with your existing speakers for at least 3-4 months till the system settles in.   You might already fall in love with it; so rather than investing in speaker, you can look for upgrades in your front end, like a good DAC or a better phono stage, etc.

Of course, if you do not like the combination even after the break-in period, you can start looking for speakers which we have so many alternatives these days (it was not like this 10-15 years ago, to the best of my knowldge).

Cheers,

Alper
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alper_yilmaz
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #6 - 06/16/20 at 21:14:59
 
By the way, the SE84UFO25 is only 2.3 watts per channel but it is louder than my 6-watt per channel SE34I.2+.
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Lin
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #7 - 06/17/20 at 04:33:41
 
SE84 louder than a SE34i? Huh
Must have been an error in the testing procedure.
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alper_yilmaz
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #8 - 06/17/20 at 08:21:25
 
Interestingly, it is...  I have not used any device to come up with test figures, but when I use the same speakers and the same inputs to both amps, I hear the EL84-based amp louder.
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4krow
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #9 - 06/17/20 at 20:26:34
 
Maybe a way to test in that case is to hook up one channel to one amp and the other channel to the other. Of course, it would be unlikely that you could match volume of the two amps, and might have to go for max volume with each amp.
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Lin
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #10 - 06/18/20 at 03:59:11
 
"I have not used any device to come up with test figures, but when I use the same speakers and the same inputs to both amps, I hear the EL84-based amp louder."

SE84 -1.5 volts for full output
SE34I - 2.5 volts for full output

Huh? was the emoticon that I used.
Not interesting, 2 watts are not louder than 6 watts.
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Lin
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #11 - 06/18/20 at 04:11:18
 
"I had the size of room that you do approximately, and I owned the same amp that you are referring to. I was using speakers that claimed 93db. I cannot say at what level that I listened, but it certainly wasn't background music. I found more of a problem with recording levels being too high or low, more than volume being inadequate. Having said that, there were too many times that I had the amp very near full volume to get where I wanted. "

4krow, did you ever try a preamp with the SE34I?
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alper_yilmaz
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #12 - 06/20/20 at 12:57:34
 
Exactly, mostly it is about the input sensitivity-related, I guess.
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alper_yilmaz
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #13 - 06/20/20 at 12:58:58
 
By the way, I use both of the amps with preamps in front.  When I try the same preamp in front of both with the same sources, speakers, cables, etc. I still hear the smaller amp louder.  It might be the UFO output transformers, maybe?  I do not know...  :)
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4krow
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #14 - 06/20/20 at 21:30:13
 
Lin,

Good point about the input sensitivity of the amps. As a guess, a CD player usually has an output of  2 volts. In some cases, not enough for the integrated to put out all that it has to give. Of course, there were CD's that were recorded too damned hot to begin with, so that was a good reason for a volume control...HA! Accounting for variables between the two amps, it is only rational that 6 is more than 2, agreed? Not a hell of a lot of difference in some ways, but math is math. The perceived difference in the two as far as loudness would be a bit more than 3-4db.

I had wished to try a pre-amp with the integrated, but only did so with lesser equipment, and though the experience was improved in some ways, using the Racheal by herself came to be the preferred method.
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Lin
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #15 - 06/21/20 at 00:45:43
 
a_y,

Maybe you didn't notice the distortion as much with the smaller tubes. Undecided
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Lin
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #16 - 06/21/20 at 00:59:26
 
4krow,

2 to 6 watts wouldn't mean much in a lot of systems, in some it would make a significant difference.
How much difference would there be between 102 and 106? Smiley

I was at Decfest several years ago and was talking off to one side, all of a sudden I realized the amp had been pushed past what it could give. It was a Rachael and the listeners turned the music up a bit too much (it was pretty loud); Steve came in and swapped it for a Torii IV, problem solved. Cool

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Lon
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #17 - 06/21/20 at 03:08:27
 
It's the magic of that bypass mod. Density!
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4krow
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #18 - 06/21/20 at 23:42:33
 
Lin,

 In hindsight, I would have been happier with a Torii Jr. at 20 watts for my system. The Rachael was just a tiny bit short (without a preamp).
 I agree that a few watts will matter in systems, or maybe rooms, where the speakers are high sensitivity, hardly being pushed with one watt to attain high volume. That was certainly my experience with Khorns.
I really raise an eyebrow when I see low sensitivity speakers that would require some serious power to begin with. Pushing a boulder uphill I'd say.
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Decware 34I.3 integrated amp/Forte' 3 bass amp/Velodyne SMS-1 bass mngmnt system/Decware ZOB speakers/Audio Nirvana 8" bass drivers/Xiang Seng DAC/ LR Audio Computer/Rega Apollo R CDP/Emotiva ERC3 CDP/BPT 3.0 power cond.
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alper_yilmaz
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #19 - 06/22/20 at 07:38:23
 
Hi Lin,

Re: distrotion, yes, that might be the case as well.  I do not think I hear any clipping or overdriven signal, but tube saturation is so smooth at times, it is difficult to tell by just listening.

Actually, in a lot of recordings, mixing engineers add a bit of overdrive to the bass tracks to make them sit better in the mix!  :)

Alper
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Lin
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #20 - 07/09/20 at 22:53:06
 
I have 15 watts now and it is too much (90 dB speakers). Smiley
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will
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #21 - 07/24/20 at 01:05:49
 
So many variables...efficiency ratings, amp ratings, how different tubes effect the amp output, room size, speaker placement, source voltage, pre used, listening comfort zone, even speaker cables ... acceptable volume assumptions are a labyrinth to me!

I have a Torii MKIV (25 watt), HR-1s (rated 92.5 dB), and a "t" shaped room that is difficult to accurately calculate since there are several shallow alcoves, and also partially open segues into other spaces. So the main listening area is far from a straight up rectangle, but roughly 28x15. One end 1/3 of the wall is open, a walkthrough and a pass through into the small kitchen. On the right, in effect part of the listening area, is a small bump-out creating about 1/2 of a small dining area, the other half in the listening area proper. And on the left is a bump-out that is an entry way to the house. The kitchen and space extensions combined add up to 28 x 10. I guess the main listing area is a little over 400 sq ft, and with extended spaces, something like 700 sq ft.

My amp is toned back from max using 40 uF power supply caps rather than 47s, a milder than usual rectifier (4V, 1.1 amp), OB3 rather than OA3 voltage regulators, and ECC189 input tubes. Also a similar rectifier in my CSP3, if I use 5V higher amperage rectifiers, or OA3s, my setup can go louder, but I love the sound of these old mesh plate Euro tubes, and OA3s make my amp too forceful sounding for me. My speakers are in the middle of the long dimension of the listening room area (28' without the "t" extensions) and only about 5.5 feet apart. They are angled back a bit, and toed out just a little. So not maxed focus at the seat, but I prefer it that way, with great balance, space and soundstage, and it sounds great anywhere in the room, anywhere in the house for that matter.

I have a Gustard x20pro DAC, balanced outs @ 6 volts, then a ZBIT, then CSP3. This pre stage combo causes the amp to saturate at a little lower volume than with either pre stage alone. But I really like the sound tuning flexibility from gain balancing with both along with the Torii, so keep it this way.

For movies, with a milder source, and just the CSP3 and Torii in the loop, I generally come close to maxing out the Torii volume, and run the CSP3 not maxed, but on the higher side....giving good volume for my wife and I's movie immersion preferences. Fully maxed, I don't tend to get distortion with the DVD source.

But in my late night music sessions, higher source voltage, and both pre stages, though gains are set lower, my favored volume is louder, putting me close to the edge. In fact, with my test track playlist, I usually set the volume by going into distortion on hot notes on a hot recording, and then back it off a bit before listening.

Quite satisfying, it is room filling and captivating, but not ear shattering. If I could get it without sacrifices to the sound I love, I would prefer having just a little more headroom.

I have tried lower power Decware amps here, some with my MG944s which are 94dB, and, with the SE34 being good on a lot of music, but also quiet enough to feel incomplete on others, and too quiet for my preferences on a percentage of movie mixes. I really liked the sound of the speakers, so did not look into more efficient ones. This was quite a while ago, but figuring I could always use more power, I got one of the first Torii MKIIIs.

With DAC sources that are 2.25 to 6V, I have never noticed being able to get meaningful volume increase before distortion from having a pre before my Decware amps....

I can dial in more density by upping the pre stages, but it seems that if the source can drive the amp fully, the amp will distort at close the same output volume with or without a pre. I have not checked this with a meter, but this is the sense I get...more pre gain, the amps need lower attenuator settings to avoid distortion. So unless the source has low output voltage for the amp, in my experience, I have not been able to understand the concept that pres can make the Decware amps I have tried appreciably louder.

Finally, on the borderline with power for my room and setup, rather than letting "low power optimism" guide my decisions, I would try to calculate speaker efficiency, source, and amp power in relation to room conservatively, trying to be sure there is a little excess rather than potentially having to struggle with the edge.

My system, room and tastes anyway.
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Lin
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #22 - 07/25/20 at 13:59:36
 
I used a 22 watt triode push/pull amp with 85 dB 1w/1m speakers and never felt that I needed more power. I wonder how loud some people listen; a simple SPL number would be helpful. For me right around 90 is max, usuallly lower.
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ArtMan
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #23 - 07/25/20 at 16:41:55
 
One factor that often gets overlooked is the level of your background noise. I presently live in the mountains and have measured the background noise in the low 40's db range.

My room is approximately 18' X 13' with a ceiling that starts around 11' and goes up to around 22' on the other end. It is not a large room but has a larger volume that many. I run my Caintuck Audio Lii 15's (97 db) from my Decware SE84UFO amp (2.3 watts) and I rarely go past 12:00 on my volume control. Most of my listening is done between the 7:00 and 9:00 position. I rarely go past 85 db in my listening and much of what I listen is in the 60-70 db range.

Occasionally the HVAC fans comes on and if I want to hear a somewhat equivalent level of detail, I have to turn the volume up. I can sometimes hear the refrigerator when it turns on or the kitchen exhaust fan when it is running. Other than these types of noises, the background noise level if never above 45 db.

If I lived in an urban area, I would suspect my indoor background levels would be somewhat higher. That directly effects how loud you really need to play your music and be able to hear it at levels similar to life.

Just my two cents.
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will
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Re: Is 6 Watts Enough?
Reply #24 - 07/25/20 at 18:50:56
 
Good points Lin and ArtMan.

My room has 9.5' ceilings for something less than 1/2 the space, and a few inches less than 8' for the rest. This includes the "t' step outs and the partially open kitchen associated with my listening area.

I was reticent to post SPL earlier as I had not checked for a few years, so not sure I was remembering correctly. "My" dB meter is in my wife's phone too, and she was out of town.

I remembered readings something like Lin's though. With serious listening levels, on rare occasions around 90 for max peaks, and much lower in general.

My sound has improved a lot since then, and as it turns out, what feels louder to me now is actually quieter using the same "meter" at my listening seat.

Our house, being adobe, and out of town, is pretty quiet. With a sensitivity setting of .33 second, at my listening seat, ambient is 34-35 average with peaks 39-41, refrigerator running.

I first checked a test track where a few hard notes of a sax part can cause distortion if I am a little high on gain but within my serious listening levels. Not unusually, this one sounds to me like it is in part some distortion on the recording. Most of the song, watching peaks, they were 55-75, and the sax solo got up to 84 max, but most peaks did not go much above 80.

Trying a few other test tracks, I got similar results, the last one, with a loud "crescendo" section, it was riding for a while in the mid to high 70s with regular bumps around 80-81, and a max peak of 85. This was getting a little uncomfortable sounding for me, but I wanted to see what my absolute max might be at this point.

Undoubtedly another variable...my sound is very dense, resolving and fast. Guessing this combination is sort of power hungry. With fast, full and complex bass, and really excellent complex detail and spaciousness across the spectrum, it does not have to be very loud to sound really good. Most of the time I don't get close to the above dB levels, only with serious listening in the seat. Contributing to this are the HR-1s full body and rich resolution potential. To me the originals; then the same speakers with Bob's more recent modifications; and my modifications on top of those, they are quite lively now at low levels, but have always really sung louder....dynamics, bass complexity, detail macro and micro, and soundstage depth, width and saturation in big space....all become really amazing and transporting louder. So I crank it in my "immersion" sessions.
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Power-PSA P5, Brickwall/Shunyata Defender+>RevolutionMacMini/Audirvana>Kitsune Singxer>Gustard x20pro DAC modified; Cables: Pi Audio PC, DIY: PCs, ICs, USB, Speaker; Decware- CSP3, Torii IV, HR1-all modified; DIY ZBIT; feet- Archie's, alum/ball bearing, and more
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