Tube rolling the DECWARE Zen Tori (Integrated amplifier)*

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by TONEPUB, Mar 8, 2011.

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  1. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Are there any Decware Zen Tori owners here? Just got one today and curious as to what your tube rolling experiences have been.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    Which version do you have? I have a Mk III in my main system, and a Mk II in my bedroom system. The only changes I've made are to change one set of rectifiers in each, to RCA 5U4Gs. And I've used a cryo'd set of Tunsol reissue EL34s in both, and have decided to keep them in the Mk II. Otherwise, I've left the stock tube complements in place.

    Both amplifiers really opened up over time, the amps a year later are simply amazing, and sound great all along the way. I hope you enjoy yours.
     
  3. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    I was mining the internet looking for information about cyro'd tubes and came across this essay. I thought you guys might find it of interest. The author uses the Decware amps, and if you get down to about the 16th paragraph (although the first 15 or so are quite interesting) it reads like this:

    My latest amplifier from Decware is the new flagship design which represents the company’s ten year success story to the fullest degree. This is a big, heavy amplifier which just screams integrity and dominance to the nth degree....

    Here's the link:http://www.cryoset.com/catalog/product_reviews_info.php?products_id=32&reviews_id=6
     
  4. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Just got the latest in for review...
     
  5. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    That's very cool TP. I have been enjoying my Mk III for months and months now and it's an amazing amplifier. Very eager to read your impressions.

    Mister Britt, that Mk II used doesn't have the "Hazen Grid Modification" (also called by Decware the "Christmas Comes Early Mod") which really influences the sound of EL34 and really makes using other tube types (KT88, etc.) a thing of the past.

    What the "review" says about current supply is right on. Nothing yet has phased my amp(s). Dynamics and depth are really something, the music breathes.
     
  6. ncblue

    ncblue Well-Known Member

    Location:
    OBX, NC USA
    Really looking forward to your impressions Jeff. I'm using Zu Soul Superflys which the company says work well with tubes. I am presently very satisfied with my Naim Supernait driving them, but was planning an experiment this summer with the Decware. I can always use a spare amp right. :)
    No slight to the Naim either. No one is going to pry that amp from my hands.
    Nat
     
  7. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    ncblue, you should order the Decware amp soon, and then you'll have it by summer. :) It can be a long wait, and a hard wait!
     
  8. ncblue

    ncblue Well-Known Member

    Location:
    OBX, NC USA
    Wow, didn't know the wait was that long. I'll give them a call. Luckily I'm not exactly slumming it now.
    Thanks Lonson!
    Nat
     
  9. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Steve Deckert told me that they take about five weeks to build. Going to visit the factory this summer.
     
  10. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    Yeah.

    I've waited longer.

    Very worth the wait.
     
  11. datman

    datman New Member

    I have been using a Decware Torii MK III for about a year. I think it is an outstanding amp. As for tubes, I am using the following:

    Shuguang Treasure 6CA7-Z outputs
    Winged C black plate 5U4g rectifiers
    National NOS 7DJ8 input/driver tube

    With this setup I am consistently amazed at the sound quality produced by this amp. It is transparent to a fault AND does a terrific job with frequency extremes. I am of the opinion if you can't make this qmazingly flexible amp sound the way you want then the sound you are looking for is probably unobtainable.
     
  12. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    :D I believe I could stand behind that opinion!
     
  13. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Glad to see you like the Shuguangs.. I'll try em after I get used to the amp.
     
  14. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    To be honest, I think that the manufacturer's tube choices are pretty darned solid for this model with the exception of the Ruby rectifiers. I've never been a fan of those, and adding NOS RCAs has made a very positive impact.

    I've shied away from a lot of tube-rolling. After a while I found the process maddening (in 'driving me crazy!")
     
  15. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    TONEPUB,

    Any impressions you can share about the Torii>?
     
  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    Can a mod fix the thread title? Is this an amp, linestsge, phonograph pre, what? Thanks.
     
  17. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio

    Attached Files:

  18. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    Also, it's not really a "Zen" Torii. It's a Torii Mk III.
     
  19. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider New Member

    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    I have two Torii Mk III amps with V-caps on order. I am number 8 in a waiting list of 54 as of about 3 weeks ago. Steve tells me they build two per week, so the current wait time is not insignificant.

    I trolled the Decware site for a couple of years after first learning of them on Head-Fi. I did not buy the Decware portable headphone amp at the time, but after buying Audez'e LCD-2 headphones, and discovering my RSA Apache amp did not drive them well, I took the plunge and ordered a Decware Taboo, my first tube amp in three decades. I was blown away. In addition to the two Toriis, I also have Steve's new Ultra preamp on order.

    I am looking forward to the Tone Audio review.
     
  20. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider New Member

    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Hey Lon, I noticed Steve's page actually does call it a Zen Torii. and as of right now, there is a $100 off coupon there for the next person who buys one. Nice deal.
     
  21. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    but from what you posted above it would be 6 months before they received it.
     
  22. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    Alright, sorry, that's not how I remembered it portrayed when I bought mine. Prior to that the "Zen" amp was the different incarnations of the SE84 model.

    I'm listening to my Torii Mk III right now. It's making the sound of a Blu-Ray scarily real.
     
  23. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    I think Steve will get some help and hasten the time along.
     
  24. scrubjay

    scrubjay New Member

    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM
    I have had a Torii MkIII for many months too. And I had it modded with the latest addition (bass knobs) a few months ago, so presumably it is the "Zen Torii" now. I have played with LOTS of tubes exploring each of the 5 sets in the amp. And since this amp's circuits are largely tubes (and the rest is elegantly simple and resolving) about any tube you put in the amp will show itself well whatever traits that tube has. Then there is the taste thing.

    Finally, for me, synergy is the the whole show. With the right combinations the magic can become overwhelmingly pleasing! Of course there are the usual disclaimers……it all being clearly dependent on everything in the system, especially room and tastes. So though my tube choices sound incredible in my rig, they come from having a nice selection, identifying each tube's traits, and playing with matching combinations.

    And every tube stage in the amp makes a notable difference. So for ultimate tube rolling, I would try to get hold of a selection of different input tubes, 6922, 6DJ8, 7DJ8, and maybe 6N23P. So far I generally prefer NOS but have not tried the new breed of ultra premium tubes. A nice 5AR4/GZ34 could be worth a try, definitely different than the 5U4G. And like Lonson, I love my RCA 5U4Gs. I have ST black plates, preferring the heavy plates from I believe the 50's, over the lighter plates from I think the 40s. But then those are good too if the need is for a little less bass and a slightly more opaque sound. And of course different power tubes will make a mark. But again, the joy lies in the right combination. For example, I have some Telefunken 7DJ8s that are a little too much in my face with cryo'd Tungsol EL34s (very articulate, wide ranging, and open, though they could be thought of as being on the harder side for EL34s). But with the more reserved and richer (not syrupy) Groove Tube (7 rated) EL34s, the Tele 7DJ8s are amazing in my room...rich but detailed. Its that synergy thing. Though I liked them both right off, neither of these tubes totally caught me just changing them into the context of the moment. But together, in this setting....beautiful! With most of my 6922s I often end up wanting the open transparency of the Tungsol EL34, but that may just be me, and I still like to shake things up now and then with power tubes.

    Less noticed, and very important if going for ultimate tailoring of the sound to tastes, the power Reg tubes are worth exploring. I find the stock input reg tubes are the way to go, toning them down being too leaning for me, but this is a powerful and valid choice if needed. For me, the power regs can really be very useful for shifting the density without changing the rest of the signature too much. In my room, I prefer NOS Sylvania or Tungsol OB3s over the stock NOS RCA OA3. They relax the density making the amp more open sounding. But the OA3s do a really good thing too, pushing those EL34s a little harder, so if they sound "right" there is no need to go there.

    Then there is that godforsaken burnin time! This amp will show everything and when it is "right" it is so right that burnin has become a drag for me as it can slightly damp that subtle and indescribable quality that makes the music a totally engaging experience. I have found that I often can't judge a tube for 50 or more hours…some needing 100 or more...like the cryod Tungsol EL34s. For this I have developed a quick love affair with the new Esoteric Breakin CD which seems to speed things up in a big way, and while I am away!

    All in all, this amp is a real pleasure either stock or if playing with the flavor of the sound to taste pulls us in. And I have found that the truly amazing sound is sometimes found with unexpected tube combinations. But finally, I agree with Lonson that the stock tubes are solid and being the baseline choice of the designer, I would really enjoy hearing/reading impressions with them as a foundation.

    Admittedly though, I personally couldn't stay there long. But I had some bass issues to attend to and tried sorting them with tubes first. After having given the room more attention, I am very happy to have gotten into tube exploration though, opening new doors to the outrageously engaging potential of music in the home!
     
  25. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider New Member

    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Yes, and? Steve doesn't charge anyone's card before any order over $100 is built and ready for shipment.
     
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