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Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions (Read 850 times)
Dominick
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Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
10/04/22 at 13:18:21
 
Here are my first impressions of my fully modded SE84C+ Zen amp.  I posted this reply in the topic  “ The 25th Annniversay Experience”…. but I will do all of my follow up posts here.

Today I fired up for the first time my fully Anniversary modded SE84C+ that I just got back from Decware.  Before I sent it in, it had a issue with the left channel playing no music.  It was purchased used from a forum member and I only had a chance to listen to it briefly before it went in for an overhaul.  The stock tubes were about a year old.  

The audio chain is streaming Qobuz from a Google Chromecast audio into my Schitt Bifrost True Multibit DAC, through MAC Ultra Silver+ cables, into my ZSTAGE via Decware DAG cables, and into the Zen amp with a pair of MAC QUAD Silver cables.  The Zen amp is powered by a custom power cable built by forum member Will and fed into my PSAudio Soloist outlet on a home run circuit.  Running them on my ERR speakers with the DH labs Silver Sonic T-14 speaker wires.  

So what are my first impressions… The short answer is I’m speechless.  The upgrades totaled close to $800 which included a new tube set and warranty transfer….it was more than well worth the cost.

Out of the box it’s very different from when I sent it in. So what do I hear…. The bass is full and tight on most tracks.  The highs are crisp with a little bit of a dry and clinical presentation….but not in a bad way.  The mids can be a bit recessed at times, but that’s due to my speakers, which tend to be the culprit.  Hopefully my new Miflex caps I bought will help with that once I get a chance to wire them into the ERR’s.  

The surprise….the backgrounds are black as the ace of spades.  It’s quiet with nice decay and all of the detail coming through.  From what the guys here have said…that’s the Anniversary mods shining through.  I would have never thought this little Zen amp would power my ERR’s sufficiently for my every day listening levels in my new space, but it does so with headroom in reserve.  Late night listening sessions…no problem.   I’m gonna keep this one short for now and see what the upcoming days bring.  

Dom


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Raspberry Pi 4 [Roon], Schiit Bifrost True Multibit DAC, ZBIT, ZROCK2, My Audio Cables [MAC] Ultra Silver+ , ZSB, ZSTAGE [Beeswax Caps], DAG Cables, DHC1, Torii MKIV 25th or White Zen SE84C+ 25th, Reg P2 Turntable, Velodyne Dual Firing Sub, ERR’s [Bubbinga Wood].
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Sean
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #1 - 10/04/22 at 14:21:29
 
Congrats! I for one am interested in more details of the mods you had done. I have a SE84C-EX that I replaced with 25th SE84. We’re the transformers upgraded? I’ve been dragging my feet on what to do with the amp, it’s just been sitting since I got the newer amp.
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Dominick
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Still like that old
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #2 - 10/04/22 at 14:42:27
 
Sean, Yes I upgraded the entire amp including the UFO transformers.  My amp now has the high/ low impedance switches right by the speaker binding posts.  The signal caps were upgraded with the Anniversay mods which included  Miflex copper foil caps along with the Miflex bypass caps as well.

Do not let the amp sit…I would send it in for the upgrades. At the end of the day even if the amp does not get used as much…you could always turn around and sell it on the used market and pretty much get the same return on investment.  With the waitlist on a new and being close to two years… These UFO amps sell pretty quick. Steve had my amp for only about three weeks before the upgrades were complete and sent back to me… So it is a win-win.  Just my thoughts but I’m sure that other forum members would agree to upgrading the amp is definitely the way to go if the funds allow it.  

Dom


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Raspberry Pi 4 [Roon], Schiit Bifrost True Multibit DAC, ZBIT, ZROCK2, My Audio Cables [MAC] Ultra Silver+ , ZSB, ZSTAGE [Beeswax Caps], DAG Cables, DHC1, Torii MKIV 25th or White Zen SE84C+ 25th, Reg P2 Turntable, Velodyne Dual Firing Sub, ERR’s [Bubbinga Wood].
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tempest62
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #3 - 10/04/22 at 17:20:41
 
Hey Dom,

That's surely a very pretty little amp. Congratulations on getting her fixed.....and upgraded for proper listening. Very nice. Great for a 2nd system.

I've been hearing now for quite some time about the SE84 type and how it surprises everyone when it comes to volume. With my Taboo MK 4 experience over the 2 years I had it, I have to believe there's something about the SE84 and its 2.3 watts that's very different and obviously superior to the Taboo and its 3.2 watts [note: when it comes to speaker duty only; headphones, which are its primary purpose, its undeniably outstanding] that keeps me scratching my head.

I'd like to have somebody explain in clear terms exactly what it is in the design of the 2 amps that allows for better apparent volume levels on the SE84 over the Taboo.....Steve?

Brad
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Lon
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #4 - 10/04/22 at 17:35:28
 
I own both and have owned other earlier models of both and don't find that the SE84 are perceptibly louder than Taboo. Your experience of lack of headroom with the Taboo and the speakers and that small room is imo relatively unique.
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV;Rega RP3 all GrooveTracer mods;PSAudio:PST+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls,Reference spkrcbls; Mapleshade SamsonV3;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati interconnects, IsoPods; headphones:Sennheiser HD800S,ZMF Or
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tempest62
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #5 - 10/04/22 at 20:55:13
 
Lon, that makes more sense. My mistake in making a direct comparison.

As for the Taboo, it’s nothing like the Torii MK 5. The bass region is glorious. The Torii has a much more full bodied, robust very satisfying sound that was overtly missing for 2 years where the Taboo had to be pegged just to get 3/4 of the way there. Though I didn’t do the Taboo any favors by marrying it with audio lite in the single driver Omegas; that combo had we wanting too often no matter how hard I tried to love it. Overall thin sound is the way I describe it. And thin no more, not at all, and the Torii has about 3 hrs on it now with the stock tubes (though the 6N1P inputs were yanked in 10 secs in favor of a pair of Mullard 7308’s).
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Lon
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #6 - 10/04/22 at 21:12:20
 
Personally I think you were hearing the speakers.

I've had two versions of the Torii and two versions of the Taboo with HR-1 speakers and don't/didn't hear what you heard.

Whatever. Glad you're happy. I just think you keep dissing the Taboo perhaps unfairly.
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th x2, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV;Rega RP3 all GrooveTracer mods;PSAudio:PST+DSD,P15,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pwr cbls,Reference spkrcbls; Mapleshade SamsonV3;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati interconnects, IsoPods; headphones:Sennheiser HD800S,ZMF Or
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tempest62
Ex Member



Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #7 - 10/04/22 at 21:26:09
 
Lon, thank you I am very very happy now. Though this thread is really about Dom and his new find.

Like I said several times IMO the Taboo as a headphone amp was spectacular. I know it’s funny, but I listened to speakers far more because that’s how I mostly like to hear music. At the beginning my estimate on speaker vs headphone duty was the opposite.

I will say this looking back….beyond all else I will never buy a single driver speaker again.

And perhaps I need a lot more headroom than you do. We certainly hear differently. I need that significant extra room to listen to all those recordings that left me on the slim side back then. That problem has been handily solved, and that makes me very very happy. The sub was sold, not needed at all, which simplifies the system a bit.

Brad
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Dominick
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Still like that old
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #8 - 10/04/22 at 21:30:40
 
Brad,

The amp is definitely an attractive piece for sure and I was caught off guard on how loud it plays.  I would have to agree that there is a synergy that comes with matching amp to speakers… especially when it comes to SET powered amps like the Zen.  With the push pull amps like the Torii…your speaker choices do open up.  While my ERR’s are advertised to be 90dB… I have talked to Bob Ziegler and he says that they tend to be conservative when it comes to rating  their speakers and he feels that my speakers probably closer to 91 dB.  

My Torii and Zen are both fully modified, and if I had to make a very early comparison one thing I can say is that the bass response out of the gate was tighter in the Zen than the Torii.  It took like 2 weeks for the bass to tighten up in the Torii.  The Torii had more punch and a fuller sound out of the gate, but the Zen is cleaner and more transparent.  Keep in mind this is just my initial impressions with only 6 hours of play time on the Zen.   For the next few weeks I will listen to the Zen exclusively to hear how the amp changes and develops.

Dom  

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Raspberry Pi 4 [Roon], Schiit Bifrost True Multibit DAC, ZBIT, ZROCK2, My Audio Cables [MAC] Ultra Silver+ , ZSB, ZSTAGE [Beeswax Caps], DAG Cables, DHC1, Torii MKIV 25th or White Zen SE84C+ 25th, Reg P2 Turntable, Velodyne Dual Firing Sub, ERR’s [Bubbinga Wood].
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CAJames
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #9 - 10/05/22 at 02:55:11
 
Quote:
Posted by: Dominick      Posted on: Yesterday at 21:30:40

...if I had to make a very early comparison one thing I can say is that the bass response out of the gate was tighter in the Zen than the Torii.


Great to hear you like the SE84 Dom!

I'm amazed at how good the bass is with my UFOs. Better than my 100 watt Pass SEM (single ended MOSFET) SS mono blocs. But for me it is the transparency and detail that make them so special, but I didn't really get that until they were broken in. I have the older copper-beeswax caps and it took probably 60 hours before I could really appreciate what the amps could do.
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Dominick
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Still like that old
time Rock and Roll!!

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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #10 - 10/05/22 at 14:26:37
 
James,

My first Decware listening experience was back like 5 years ago at Decfest some five years ago. It was when the featured SE84UFO25.  I absolutely fell in love with the sound. The micro detail and transparency was off the charts.  

The Zen and the Torii both share the Decware house sound…but are totally two different amplifiers.  The Zen’s bass response is truly remarkable and I am looking forward to hear how the detail and transparency present themselves as the amp opens up.  
To say that I’m captivated with this amp is an understatement.  

Dom
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Raspberry Pi 4 [Roon], Schiit Bifrost True Multibit DAC, ZBIT, ZROCK2, My Audio Cables [MAC] Ultra Silver+ , ZSB, ZSTAGE [Beeswax Caps], DAG Cables, DHC1, Torii MKIV 25th or White Zen SE84C+ 25th, Reg P2 Turntable, Velodyne Dual Firing Sub, ERR’s [Bubbinga Wood].
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Dominick
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Still like that old
time Rock and Roll!!

Posts: 696
Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #11 - 10/17/22 at 22:26:57
 
Just a quick update on my white Zen.  After several extended listening sessions, my original statement of the amp having somewhat of a dry and clinical presentation is no longer valid.  The amp is starting to open up a bit and the dryness is gone.  The bass region has rounded out a bit and has more depth.  I am still amazed how this amp handles the bass region… it’s very full and pronounced.  I decided to throw on Yello’s Takla Makan….and this track just left me speechless.  

I have a buddy who now wants a tube amp.  He going to come over one day this week, so both my Torii and Zen will get play time.  I want him to decide for himself whether he prefers the SET or Push Pull sound.
He want a Decware qmp, but doesn’t want to wait the 1.5 years for a new one.  If anyone has either a newer Torii and/or a Zen that they have been contemplating selling… please shoot me a PM.  I think by next week he will have a better idea of which amp he will prefer.  

More to come…

Dom
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Raspberry Pi 4 [Roon], Schiit Bifrost True Multibit DAC, ZBIT, ZROCK2, My Audio Cables [MAC] Ultra Silver+ , ZSB, ZSTAGE [Beeswax Caps], DAG Cables, DHC1, Torii MKIV 25th or White Zen SE84C+ 25th, Reg P2 Turntable, Velodyne Dual Firing Sub, ERR’s [Bubbinga Wood].
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Tony
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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #12 - 10/18/22 at 00:06:41
 

Dom,

Congrats on your white Zen!  

I saw this Torii for sale in the Decware classifieds in case you did not see it:

https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1665166138

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Dominick
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Still like that old
time Rock and Roll!!

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Re: Fully modded SE84C+ First Impressions
Reply #13 - 10/18/22 at 04:07:19
 
Tony….I am really enjoying the Zen amp.   Thanks for the heads up on the Torii…. I definitely missed that post. I’ll reach out to him to see if it’s still available.

Dom
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Raspberry Pi 4 [Roon], Schiit Bifrost True Multibit DAC, ZBIT, ZROCK2, My Audio Cables [MAC] Ultra Silver+ , ZSB, ZSTAGE [Beeswax Caps], DAG Cables, DHC1, Torii MKIV 25th or White Zen SE84C+ 25th, Reg P2 Turntable, Velodyne Dual Firing Sub, ERR’s [Bubbinga Wood].
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