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Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions (Read 545 times)
dalza1
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Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
11/12/22 at 18:31:32
 
Hi Everyone,

I owned a SE84cex from 2005-2007. I absolutely loved this amp, but sold it due to changes in my living arrangements. What I appreciated most was its lush yet fast sound. It threw a fantastic soundstage and had a gorgeous midrange. I found the sound exciting, but never fatiguing. Detail, to my inexperienced ear, was exceptional. It was a real breakthrough moment in my “audiophile” journey.

I waited 13 years to own another Decware amp, and in April 2021 (after waiting impatiently for 12 months!), I received a Se84UFO with copper bypass mods. As you can imagine, I had enormous expectations for this amp and couldn’t wait to get it hooked up.

My modest system today is comprised of:
- Homemade Caintuck Audio Lii F15 open baffle loudspeakers
- A Sony HAPZ1ES audio player
- Homemade Duelund DCA16GA tinned-copper wire (interconnects & speaker wire) 

Unfortunately, I have not found the same level of enjoyment with this new amp as I had with the older se84cex. Like everything in audio there are lots of factors that combine to give a certain sound signature: the room, the tubes, the other equipment in the chain, etc. Before receiving the se84UFO I had the Musical Paradise MP-301 MKIII in my system, which I enjoyed very much.

I was expecting the se84UFO to be a significant, and clear, upgrade over the Musical Paradise amp. I was expecting a wider/deeper soundstage with the new Decware amp, greater detail, more holographic imaging, more magical midrange, more full-bodied presentation, greater refinement, etc. Unfortunately, outside a more refined sound, I don’t feel (in my room with my equipment and with my ears) that the Decware amp gave me any more of the qualities I had been hoping for.

The Decware seems to give less punch than the Musical Paradise (of course I understand that it outputs fewer watts: 2 watts versus 6.5 watts). Even with theF15 open baffles, I find I have to turn the volume knob to about 12 or 1 o’clock to get the volume I want. Also, everything sounds smaller, less expansive and less energetic to me through the Decware. Yes, it’s smoother and more refined, but for me there is something missing. It doesn’t seem to be breathing full-bodied life into the music like the MP amp does. I did not have this feeling at all with my previous se84cex amp.

I am not trying to be critical of the se84UFO, everyone has different tastes and is looking for a different sound signature. Perhaps the new Decware se84UFO sound is not for me. As it stands, after a year and a half, I am not getting the sound I am looking for.  

If you’re still reading this, thanks for making it this far! I have two questions:
1) Is it possible that something is wrong with my amp that is leading to this experience?
2) Are there any tube complements that might give me the sound I am looking for (nothing too pricey please)?


Thanks for any and all feedback. 

All the best,
David
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HockessinKid
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #1 - 11/12/22 at 18:58:00
 
I would check all of your interconnect and speaker wire connections as a first step. If you have reversed one or more you may have inverted the polarity of the system. This could result in an anemic sounding system and some other issues. Are there any room treatments in your listening room? OB speakers benefit from diffuser panels being placed behind the speakers. Make sure your have the speakers pulled out from the rear wall by 2-3' and separated by 8-11' from each other.

I'd try these two fixes before rolling tubes.

HK
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Nottingham Interspace TT w/ Dynavector 20x2 LO cart + Modwright PH 9.0X phono OR Modwright modded Cambridge CNX V2 > CSP3-A preamp > ZMA-A amp > PI Audio UberBUSS > Omega SAHO XRS or Caintuck Audio Lii15 Magnum speakers > Snake River Audio & ZenWave cables.
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #2 - 11/12/22 at 19:14:56
 
Hi HockessinKid,

Thanks for your reply/suggestions.

I will double check the interconnects/speaker wires once I'm back at home. I didn't think interconnects/speaker wires had polarity. Are you talking about making sure "red goes to red" and "black goes to black"?

I do have my speakers pulled out 3 feet from the walls. I don't have the space to separate the speakers by 8-11' in my room:(

No I don't have any room treatments yet, but would like to some day.

Thanks again for your help.
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HockessinKid
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #3 - 11/12/22 at 19:34:47
 
Yup, red to red and black to black. Speaker wire + to + and - to -. Also, the Decware amps benefit from larger gauge speaker wire. Your probably restricting bass response with the 16 gauge Deulund wire. I would suggest getting some new Decware speaker cables if you can spring for them or ay least a 12:gauge cable.

HK
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Nottingham Interspace TT w/ Dynavector 20x2 LO cart + Modwright PH 9.0X phono OR Modwright modded Cambridge CNX V2 > CSP3-A preamp > ZMA-A amp > PI Audio UberBUSS > Omega SAHO XRS or Caintuck Audio Lii15 Magnum speakers > Snake River Audio & ZenWave cables.
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Sean
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #4 - 11/12/22 at 20:12:37
 
David,

Does your last name start with A and end with I? If so, I currently own your old SE84C-EX.

I recently got a SE84UFO 25th anniversary, in my experience it was a significant upgrade that met my expectations. Overall, they both have a similar tone/sound but the UFO seems to have a "bigger, fuller" tone/sound.
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Mofi StudioDeck, AT OC9III, AT 630, ZP3, SE84UFO, Tekton Pendragon

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CAJames
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Posts: 776
Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #5 - 11/12/22 at 20:14:49
 
I'll just say that times change and people change. It is certainly possible that between 2007 and now your tastes and whatever have evolved in a different direction than a Decware UFO. There is nothing wrong with that.

My feeling is if you aren't happy with the sound of the amp with the stock tubes I think it unlikely that tube rolling is going to make the kind of difference that you are looking for. I can imagine after a decade plus how disappointing it is for your amp to underperform your expectations but in your situation I would seriously consider selling the amp and moving on. Life is too short and the good news is you should be able to get most or all of your original purchase price back on the used market. Good luck with your quest in any event.
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[FOOBAR2000 | Jay's CDT2 MRK3] -> Denafrips Terminator 2 + Gaia
Sumiko Pearwood -> Mapleknoll Athena -> Luxman SUT -> Maple-tree Phono 3E
Woo WA22 -> 2x SE84UFOs (anniversary mods, balanced-differential)
Omega SAM , Hifiman Arya, Senn HD-650
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #6 - 11/12/22 at 21:15:16
 
Hi Sean,

Yes indeed, my last name starts with an "A" and ends with an "I". That's quite incredible that you are the person who bought my amp all those years ago! I forget, are you in Europe or did I ship it from the US? Anyway, it's great to hear that you're still around these parts and still have the se84cex and are enjoying your new se84UFO 25th anniversary amp.

Your comments really make me question whether or not something is wrong with my amp. Of course your amp is the 25th anniversary model and mine only has some of the mods, but I would expect I should be hearing a significant improvement in any case. Hmmm ....

Best of luck to you!
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #7 - 11/12/22 at 21:24:03
 
Hi CAJames,

Thanks for your thoughful post.

Certainly all those things you mention are possible. As you say, it really was a disappointment after all those years. Before moving on from the se84UFO, I just want to be sure that it's functionning the way it ought to be, it sounds the way the designer intended it to and that I did everything I could to make it to my liking. But as you've said, perhaps I prefer tube amps with a more "tubey" (lush, meaty, rounder, darker, thicker) sound and little more juice. We'll see!
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CAJames
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Posts: 776
Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #8 - 11/12/22 at 21:30:28
 
Quote:
Posted by: dalza1      Posted on: Today at 21:24:03
... I just want to be sure that it's functionning the way it ought to be, it sounds the way the designer intended it to...


There are lots of helpful people on these fora, but IMO if you want to know for sure the best thing to do is email or call Steve.
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[FOOBAR2000 | Jay's CDT2 MRK3] -> Denafrips Terminator 2 + Gaia
Sumiko Pearwood -> Mapleknoll Athena -> Luxman SUT -> Maple-tree Phono 3E
Woo WA22 -> 2x SE84UFOs (anniversary mods, balanced-differential)
Omega SAM , Hifiman Arya, Senn HD-650
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Sean
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #9 - 11/12/22 at 21:50:08
 
David,

I bought it in Dec 21 from John(?), I believe in Missouri. What a small world! I didn't ask him the history, but at some point it did go back to Decware to have it switched to US voltage, there was a block of wood wedged under the cover. I think that was 2007. Your original tag is still on the bottom.

In any event, I bought it to get my feet wet on Decware. I liked it so much I just had to go for a UFO.
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Mofi StudioDeck, AT OC9III, AT 630, ZP3, SE84UFO, Tekton Pendragon

Schiit Bifrost, Mac Mini, Roon
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #10 - 11/12/22 at 22:13:06
 
Quote:
There are lots of helpful people on these fora, but IMO if you want to know for sure the best thing to do is email or call Steve.


CAJames,
Yes, that will be my next move if I don't find the answers here.
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #11 - 11/12/22 at 22:15:41
 
Sean,

When I get a chance I'll look back through my records to see who I sold it to.

By the way, what do you mean by Quote:
there was a block of wood wedged under the cover.


I never opened the case, but why would there be a block of wood under the cover?


Quote:
Your original tag is still on the bottom.
Is my name on the tag? That's cool!

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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #12 - 11/12/22 at 23:03:20
 
HockessinKid,

Quote:
Also, the Decware amps benefit from larger gauge speaker wire. Your probably restricting bass response with the 16 gauge Deulund wire.


Thanks, that's interesting. When I had the se84cex I used cat6 wire for my speaker cables and they sounded great. If I can, I'll give 12ga a try just to see.
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Dominick
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time Rock and Roll!!

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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #13 - 11/13/22 at 00:18:29
 
Dalza1,

Not sure this will help…..but I recently acquired an SC84C+ white amp from a forum member.  It had a channel issue, so I sent it in for a full upgrade to bring it up to current spec. I added the Anniversay mods, UFO transformer upgrade, and Miflex caps.   The sound I get is nowhere near anemic…and at the 12 o’clock on the amp, and my ZSTAGE at 3 o’clock, it’s plenty loud enough…..it’s detailed and full with great dynamics. My speakers are the Err’s which are like 90 dB efficient, with the DH Labs T-14 Silver Sonic speaker wires.

Like the others have said….make sure your not running your speakers out of phase, and check to make sure your not getting interference from power cables….amongst other things.  I would say to give Steve a call to have a discussion after you check all of the potential issues.  

Hope this helps.  

Dom
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Raspberry Pi 4 [Roon], Schiit Bifrost True Multibit DAC, My Audio Cables [MAC] Ultra Silver+ Cables, ZSB, ZSTAGE [Beeswax Caps], DAG Cables, DHC1, Torii MKIV 25th or White Zen SE84C+ 25th, Reg P2Turntable, Velodyne Dual Firing Sub, ERR Radials [Bubbinga Wood].
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Sean
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #14 - 11/13/22 at 01:13:01
 
Quote:
By the way, what do you mean by Quote:
there was a block of wood wedged under the cover.


I never opened the case, but why would there be a block of wood under the cover?


Quote:
Your original tag is still on the bottom.
Is my name on the tag? That's cool!


Yes, your name is on the tag on the bottom plate and inside the case. I have pics, but didn't want to post your name without consent. I can email them if you want to see without your name being out there.

Here's a pic of the block of wood:
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Mofi StudioDeck, AT OC9III, AT 630, ZP3, SE84UFO, Tekton Pendragon

Schiit Bifrost, Mac Mini, Roon
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Same Old DD
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #15 - 11/13/22 at 04:16:44
 
I am curious about the purpose of the block of wood.
Is it there to stabilize some physical interaction between the transformers or is there more to it?

I've never seen this before.

So, if I read correctly, you sold this amplifier long ago and are now getting to know the adoptive parent after many years?

Ignore me, if I am off a bit.

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SE84Cs Mono'ed, Lii Audio F15 OB, McIntosh MC2500, Yamaha Pre, Dual TT, Ortofon, Kleenline Iso Power, Revox, Crown & Sony R-R, JBL "H" frame Subwoofers.
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #16 - 11/13/22 at 10:28:09
 
Same Old DD,

Quote:
So, if I read correctly, you sold this amplifier long ago and are now getting to know the adoptive parent after many years?


That's a funny way of putting it ... lol ... it wasn't the primary goal of starting this thread, but I did find the adoptive parent!


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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #17 - 11/13/22 at 10:34:00
 
Dominick,

Thanks for your feedback.

Your experience with the se84UFO with much lower sensitivity speakers is what is making me wonder if there is something wrong with my amp (I have the Miflex caps as well). You do have an extra gain stage however (ZStage), so it's not an apples to apples comparison.

Perhaps I just listen to music much louder than most people, but that doesn't seem to be a good explanation ...
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #18 - 11/13/22 at 10:37:17
 
Sean,

Quote:
Yes, your name is on the tag on the bottom plate and inside the case. I have pics, but didn't want to post your name without consent. I can email them if you want to see without your name being out there.

Here's a pic of the block of wood:



Yes, thank you for not posting my name on the forums Smiley No need to email the pics, thanks nevertheless for offering!

Yes, there is a block of wood inside the case! Must have been something done by Decware when changing the voltage of the amp.

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CAJames
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #19 - 11/13/22 at 15:02:00
 
Quote:
Posted by: dalza1      Posted on: Today at 10:34:00

...Perhaps I just listen to music much louder than most people, but that doesn't seem to be a good explanation ...



Is it possible you were listening to your previous amp at a higher volume than your UFO? I actually had a similar experience recently with a new-to-me 300B amp. After listening to it for a month I went back to my UFOs and they sounded small and anemic in comparison. After a day or so of distress I nudged the volume up a bit and the everything was back to "normal." Volume does have a significant impact on perceived sound quality.
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[FOOBAR2000 | Jay's CDT2 MRK3] -> Denafrips Terminator 2 + Gaia
Sumiko Pearwood -> Mapleknoll Athena -> Luxman SUT -> Maple-tree Phono 3E
Woo WA22 -> 2x SE84UFOs (anniversary mods, balanced-differential)
Omega SAM , Hifiman Arya, Senn HD-650
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #20 - 11/13/22 at 15:53:27
 
CAJames,

Quote:
Is it possible you were listening to your previous amp at a higher volume than your UFO?


That is a really good point.

On my Musical Paradise amp, which apparently has a lot of gain, I reach my max listening levels at around 11 o'clock. On the Decware amp I have to turn the volume knob to about 1'o clock to get the volumes I want and even then I don't know if it's as loud.

I don't have any SPL testing equipment I can use, so I'll have to try to match volumes by ear. I also don't have a preamp or switch box which makes comparing the two amps more difficult. It certainly seems to me that I have to turn the volume knob way up on the se84UFO, something I don't remember doing with my previous Decware se84cex, even though I was using it with less sensitive speakers and in a slightly larger room.

I'll have to try to match the SPL by ear and make sure I'm comparing the two amps on equal footing.
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Dominick
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Still like that old
time Rock and Roll!!

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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #21 - 11/13/22 at 18:46:23
 
Dalza1,

I should have added a bit more to my last post.  Yes…I run my amp with a ZSTAGE with moderate gain at the 3 o’clock position.  I can say though that if I turn my ZSTAGE to unity gain at 12 o’clock where I’m not adding any gain to the equation ( just some tube magic), I would be running the amp somewhere under 3/4 max volume.  At that level the music level is fairly loud.  Maybe turn the amp up a bit and see if it opens up to your liking.  

Dom
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Raspberry Pi 4 [Roon], Schiit Bifrost True Multibit DAC, My Audio Cables [MAC] Ultra Silver+ Cables, ZSB, ZSTAGE [Beeswax Caps], DAG Cables, DHC1, Torii MKIV 25th or White Zen SE84C+ 25th, Reg P2Turntable, Velodyne Dual Firing Sub, ERR Radials [Bubbinga Wood].
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dalza1
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Re: Help Se84UFO: looking for opinions
Reply #22 - 11/14/22 at 21:43:46
 
Dominick,

Thanks for clarifying that. Maybe I just have to get used to turning the volume knob way up.
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