D I O... P A P E R
NEW SIGNATURE MONOBLOCKS
all the amplifiers we manufacture here, it's no secret that
the Zen SELECT (SE84CS) is the overwhelming favorite. We
have good reason to believe it may actually be the best sounding
amplifier in the world. While I've maintained similar
sonic's in all of our other amplifiers the benchmark has always
been the Select. As hard as I've tried for the past several years
I have not been able to improve upon it. Until NOW!
comes the Zen Signature Monoblocks, the closest thing to our
little Select. They were designed to keep the same sound
but with over twice the power and have a signature look representing
DECWARE's very best.
the years, those with modestly efficient speakers between 89
and 92 dB/1 watt who started out with a Select found the mono
blocks a significant upgrade because of the ability of these
amps to better drive their speakers. However, those who
have speakers that are efficient, between 95dB and up, found
that in certain ways the Select sounded better than the monoblocks
when driving the same pair of speakers.
is proof that simpler IS better when absolutes are concerned.
The only difference between the Signature monoblocks and
the little Select is three tubes per channel vs. one. There
is a certain purity in having a single tube per channel. This
can be heard on top grade high efficiency speakers such as Lowther,
Fostex, and many others. This can not be easily heard
on conventional speakers because much of this delicate information
is lost in the speakers crossover network.
who are on a life long mission to create surreal audio bliss
in their systems have abandoned their mainstream high dollar
components and rebuilt their systems around the Zen Triode Select
amplifier. These are quickly becoming benchmark systems
for gear at any price to be compared against. You
can always tell these experienced audiophiles can hear and place
fidelity above all else when their willing to permanently replace
their boutique 5 figure amplifier with a $695 amplifier! The
number of audiophiles who have done this and called me to let
me know which amps lost to the Select is now in the hundreds.
(It might be nice if that figure was in the thousands,
but many audiophiles are too embarrassed to own such an "inexpensive"
amplifier and for that reason alone will not buy one. The
rest simply could never afford high dollar gear so for them
the comparison is usually no contest.)
said, the focus of all this is the insatiable craving for more,
and the unwavering curiosity to see how much if any better it
could get. By the time a person reaches this point,
money is far less of an object. Suddenly we find
them paying hundreds of dollars for individual tubes just to
see if it could make an improvement, and trying various tweaks
usually ending with a phone call to me wanting to know if money
was no object could I improve their Select in any way. The
answer to this question has always been NO because their isn't
anything else we could do to improve it's sound as a production
the Signature monoblocks are wired with three tubes in parallel
and connected to an output transformer with close to 1/3 the
primary impedance of the transformer that is used in the single
tube per channel Select amp. Obviously these two transformers
are going to have a slightly different signature. And
multiple tubes in absolute terms is not going to be as transparent
as a single tube.
was also a Dual Core Option available on the Signature
monoblocks designed to enhance versatility by changing the signature
and performance aspects at the flip of a switch. In this
instance, there are two output transformers, the standard 3300
ohm and an original 9800 ohm model. These were wired in
such a way that one or both could be used. When both were
used more RMS power was achieved and fascinating results that
varied widely from one speaker to another. These results
were in short about imaging. Generally with the dual core option
engaged, the amplifier would add bloom where there was none
- ideal for less than perfect recordings.
thought the Dual Core idea was pretty clever, and many customers
purchased these amps with the Dual Core option and liked it,
even though many probably listened to the amps without the option
enabled. Needless to say I really couldn't find any other
ways to improve our Signature monoblocks and they've remained
unchanged since then.
DID happen. A change in thinking on my part brought on
by many phone calls from thrilled Select owners wondering if
it can possibly get any better, and by a light at the end of
the tunnel regarding loudspeakers. ( It was my hope with
our Radial loudspeakers that we would have a perfect match for
a single Zen amp or Select. That meant an efficiency of
95dB or higher. It didn't happen because it's 360 degree
dispersion eliminates you from hearing more than part of it's
total output. That means that in the listening chair they
measure the same as a 90 dB speaker. Recently things have
come to pass that will enable us to sell a few different speakers
that are 96dB and crossoverless at a very reasonable price.
These type of speakers are a perfect match for a single
Select amp, and frankly better sounding than almost all main
stream audiophile speakers. Because of this, rather than
having to up sell a customer to one of our larger amplifiers
so it will drive his present speakers, I can simply get the
right pair of speakers in his hands and sell him a Select amp.
please the Select owners who already have the right speakers
the only thing I could have done was change the signature monoblocks
to a single tube amp. In this way it would be exactly
a Select amp except that it would be dual mono and have twice
the power supply. That I can tell you is the only way
to improve a Select amp.
solution to all this was to wire the Signature Mono's in a way
that exactly duplicates each channel of a Select with identical
parts while at the same time maintaining the ability to run
multiple tubes for added power when desired.
reconfiguring the amplifier as shown above, it is possible to
switch between a single tube (center one) driving the original
9800 Select output transformer OR run the outside pair through
their respective transformer. The circuit was designed
so that the unused tubes - be it the center one or the
outside pair - can be removed without damaging the amplifier
or left in at all times.
maintain absolute duplication of a Select when in the single
tube mode, the output transformers are left to float with no
reference to ground - just like the Select. Also, the
input tube which is a dual triode is no longer wired with both
halves in parallel to better drive 3 tubes. It is now
segregated so that one half drives the single tube exactly like
a Select, and the other half drives the outside pair.
this new version of the Signature monoblocks in single tube
mode to a Select amp you can expect to hear the following changes:
dynamics from a now even more bottomless power supply.
resolution from the high mass chassis's lower resonant
blacker backgrounds resulting from both things just
mentioned and better RF and Magnetic shielding from
the superior chassis.
may also notice the difference in stereo separation
when it goes from around 50 dB to the limits of your
CD player which can be as much as 100 dB Cross talk
is virtually eliminated.
thing you may do is place the amps by your speakers
reducing the length of your speaker wires by at least
1/2. That is usually a very noticeable improvement
in any system.
there is nothing wrong with the original SV83M signature monoblocks
which are better suited for normal speakers, we plan to continue
selling them exactly as they are.. We will be discontinuing
the Dual Core option however and replacing it with the new SV83S
as described in this paper. The S designation stands for
hope you enjoy this relentless pursuit of absolute fidelity
because for those of us in the know, it really IS worth
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2007 2008 by Steve Deckert