An affordable handmade 2.3 watt tube amplifier that hits much harder than its power rating would suggest.
Over the past 23 years, I have had the opportunity to listen to more products than I can possibly remember; the truly superb ones that left such an impression that I contemplated selling an organ or getting a third job — I would say that number is under 20. The Decware SuperZen Triode makes that list without too much effort.
None of them were weird looking or so outlandish that I lay in bed at night sweating next to my spouse knowing that she would divorce me (again) if I made the decision to acquire one. Nothing looks sexier than a restored pair of Quad ESLs or MartinLogan CLZ IIz in a post-modern living room. Having owned a Wavelength Audio Duetto, Fi X, and Emotive Audio Sira, it is fair to say that I am someone who enjoys a good light show.
I have just never had a lot of luck with tube gear that has proven very reliable; the truth is that the tubes were almost always the culprit and that includes some Western Electric 300Bs that detonated for no apparent reason and I balked at spending over $800 (more than 20 years ago) to replace them. Cheap Russian 300B replacements lasted two years before I sold the amplifier.
The Unison Research Triode 25 Integrated Amplifier currently under review sounds absolutely stellar and I’m rather smitten. One of the tubes already put on a strange glow and the crackle through my Q Acoustics 3050i proved to be nothing.
Reliability is huge and that’s what you get when you buy from Decware.
When you order a SuperZen Triode amplifier you get durability, tubes that don’t get driven so hard that they die within months, and superb sound quality.
The Decware SuperZen Triode is a handmade 2.3 watts/channel tube amplifier that hits much harder than its power rating would suggest in a smaller room or home office. There are two pairs of RCA inputs, and it is available with several different bases for additional cost.
It’s built incredibly well by a company that has such a cult following that the waiting list is getting longer and longer with each passing day.
Just how long? Possibly 8 months before your order gets built. Or even longer after taking a recent look at the waiting list.
The amplifier has a rather non-conventional look (12”D x 6”W x 8”H) and absolutely becomes the focal point of any system; both aesthetically and sonically.
It’s rare to find their products on the “used” market and they don’t last more than a day when one pops up. $1,395 for this 18-pound amplifier that has a lifetime warranty and delivers rather remarkable performance at this price.
Made in America to very high standards and I’ve never heard a single Decware amplifier that didn’t sound great with high sensitivity loudspeakers.
They also stand by their products, offer excellent customer service, and their amplifiers don’t use super expensive exotic tubes that cost a fortune to replace.
The Decware SuperZen Triode Model SE84UFO2 is shipped with premium quality NOS 6P15P-EV output tubes with gold grids rated at over 5000 hours. These Russian military spec tubes are the top grade of what we came to know in this country for a brief spell as the SV83. You can also use EL84 tubes in this amp.
What makes the Decware SuperZen Triode such a good amplifier is that it gets the basics right; quality circuit design, good iron, affordable tubes, and excellent reliability.
For a tube amplifier, it doesn’t commit the usual sins of rolling off the top end or sounding slightly soft in the bottom. Pair it with the right pair of loudspeakers and it can create a huge soundstage and layers of beautiful music in your space.
Single Driver Heaven
Omega Speaker Systems have a very loyal following because they offer bespoke high-sensitivity loudspeakers that offer tremendous performance and craftsmanship. Louis Chochos is a detail-oriented designer and builder who offers excellent customer service and is willing to work with each customer to make sure they get the “right” loudspeaker for their specific situation. He builds beautiful looking cabinets that are designed to last.
The CAM (Compact Alnico Monitor) don’t have the slam of the now discontinued Zu Audio Cubes, but they are overflowing with texture and definitely more laid back sounding which might be preferable in a nearfield listening situation. They are “compact” in comparison to other Omega models, but they are certainly not small loudspeakers (16”H x 12”W x 8.5”D) that will vanish on your desktop.
They can be ordered with the bass port on the rear/front of the cabinet depending on your set-up location. They work really well in a bookcase with the port on the front of the cabinet. The 94.5 dB (8 ohms) sensitivity rating makes them ideal for the Decware amplifier.
Not everyone wants to spend another $1,495 on a pair of loudspeakers after buying the SuperZen Triode, and most of the single-driver loudspeakers tend to be on the larger side which makes the desktop system scenario almost impossible.
2.5 watts is not a lot of power and that does limit your options — but that doesn’t mean that there are none.
Wharfedale has replaced my beloved Diamond 10.1s which I still use in my office with the new Diamond 12 models and we are huge fans of the Diamond 12.1 bookshelf loudspeakers and have covered them extensively; you can read our system building suggestions here and read my detailed review as well.
The Diamond 10.1s certainly worked with the SuperZen Triode on the desktop as long as you’re not looking for anything more than conversation level volume and I suspect that the newer 12.1s will work as well.
You could also add a REL T Zero MKIII Subwoofer to this system which would allow you to drive the loudspeakers above 100Hz with the Decware and we suspect that might work ever better and it would still be $500 less than the Omega CAMs.
Another excellent network streamer that keeps the cost down is the brand newBluesound NODE which keeps things really simple as it already has an internal DAC. $599 and access to all of the major streaming platforms.