Reviewed by: Neil, Audio Enthusiast from Delaware

Price Paid: $695 at Decware

Product Model Year:

Just a little background. I have been into home audio for about 20 years (including DIY modifications). My systems have consisted of mid level solid state gear (due to a lack of deep pockets). However friends and mentors have high priced tube gear such as Audio Research and Nestorovic which I always referenced to my systems (as well as a lot of live music).  

I've always admired the sound of good tube gear. Don't get me wrong, there is some astounding SS gear which I thought was the cat's pajamas such as Spectral. But of course that is way out of the price bracket.

Fast forward to a few months ago. My system consists of a Bryston amp (250W/ch), PSB Gold i speakers (3-way, mid, tweeter, woofer, 90 dB effc, 4 ohms), ZTPRE (had for 4 years), Marantz player used as a transport, and a MSB Gold DAC. The system has been giving me half decent sound for a few years, but every time I go listen to my friend's system, I realize I'm still way off. There is just a lack of holographic, quick, involving musical qualities. Another friend let me borrow his Classe amp and preamp. As soon as the Classe went in, there was an immediate difference. Mids and vocal were great and there was an excellent degree of quickness. However, there was a loss of sound stage width and depth . In addition, my ears were fatiguing in 15 minutes. ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH I was tired of chasing my tail. I was going to pursue a different tack.

I called Steve and he gave me options including what I should do if I wanted to start from scratch. My SE84CS came in this past Tuesday.

The Bryston came out and the Select went in its place. I let the amp run a few hours before I seriously listened. Popping in some Windham Guitar sampling music, I noticed great placement of the instruments with lots of air. The background also seemed very quiet (black). The music came off extremely smooth (no grain). The speakers by the way play very loud in my 21 x 13 x 8 room. However, I felt the amp was holding back by casting a veil. I was expecting more detail such as textures and transient decay as fingers stroke across guitar strings. With all the things the Select could do over my Bryston, I still felt that the music could be more involving. I assumed that the amp was not broken in yet and that to get the detail I wanted would also include a more efficient speaker.

Thursday, I talked to a friend who has had a Zen B for quite a few years.  After hearing the bittersweet story, he told me to pop in a 6922 for the 6N1P that was sitting at the input.

Well "Knock me over with a feather" (as Opus would say). With that simple suggestion, my sound stage got deeper and wider. The placement of instrument materialized into rock solid images. There were many layers to the music...outstanding!
The textures are evolving as well, but still not there. But hey what I am getting now, I've never had before in my life.




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