Is Decware worth the investment

A recent email from Decware mentioned how great their 25th anniversary 2-watt amp is according to this reviewer. Is this amp worthwhile to get? At [resent I have the Fea Watt Class D amp with the Betsy speakers and using an SMSL DAC with the source being my iMacPro. With their tubes, the cost is nearly $4,000. Thanks for your thoughts - Paul Hart
 

MikeO

Active Member
In my experience that is a difficult question to answer. I have a couple of amps that I use, one of which is an earlier fleawatt amp that he built before he started building the amps with internal power supplies. I like it very much with a 24 volt power supply. My other amp is an Exposure. Both sound great, but I use the Exposure more simply because it has a phono stage and I still very occasionally play vinyl.

I often find myself "attracted" to other gear. For many years I constantly swapped equipment. Reviews and forums increased that desire. Not saying gear swapping can't be fun but looking at your gear you seem to have what I think would be a great system with well matched amp and speakers. I wouldn't assume that the decware would be any "better" necessarily. But the desire for change often drives any hobby so if that is a driving factor then there is little to lose. I guess what I am saying is that I wouldn't let a good review convince me to make a change to my system. Not specific to decware but to all gear.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
So... I've told my Decware tale many times, many places.
Let's see if I can cut to the chase.
My (much beloved) wife bought me an SE-84B a long time ago (ca. 1998, give or take) for the pair of Klipsch Cornwalls that I had acquired (again, another story I've told before).

DSCN5766 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
  • It is a good sounding amp.
  • It is very quiet in terms of hum or hiss; quietest SET in the house.
  • It is very low powered (in those days, it was claimed to be 5 wpc, although Deckert eventually copped to its being much less after myriad challenges arose on teh webz)
  • Even "little girl with guitar" music, on the (very) sensitive Cornwalls, got strained sounding at moderate volume in a moderate sized living room (ca. 11 x 19 feet).
I moved on to SE 2A3 amplification -- although I do still have the SE-84B, packed up in its shipping box, in the basement.

FWIW, I would not consider it a practical full-range amplifier. It would be OK for nearfield (desktop) use, and I think it'd make a bitchen treble amp in an active XO, biamplified high-sensitivity loudspeaker system.

I ultimately got pretty tired of Deckert's purple prose, and his products ain't cheap any more.
Take his/their claims and descriptions of their products with a grain of salt.
That said, his stuff isn't junk...
But there may be other, higher-value options for the OP -- but that depends upon the OP's taste and expectations!

HTH

DSC_0335 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
Even "little girl with guitar" music, on the (very) sensitive Cornwalls, got strained sounding at moderate volume in a moderate sized living room (ca. 11 x 19 feet).
are you saying the decware didn't have enough oomph for LGWG music on corwalls but a 2A3 amp does? (i have a zkit decware, which is pretty much the same amp.) last time i looked on the webz the decwares are maybe 2-3 wpc. 2A3 is about 3-5 wpc.

i would think that would be enough to run OBs with betsys (depending on the size of the room).

however, the fleawatt class D (probably a TPA3116) is really nice amp. dead quiet, more power than you need for the betsys, very low distortion. super high value proposition.

buying the decware makes sense, as @MikeO says above, if you want to try something new. will be tubes, not SS, so will have a different sound. will you like it better? very much personal preference. if you have $4k to spare why not.
 

Shelby1420

Super Moderator
Staff member
Can only speak to my experience with a set of speakers I built from plans of Decware, had them professionally built to spec with suggested driver. In my system and to my ears they were awful, absolutely dreadful!!! I was sooooo disappointed because the description on their website made it sound like I should be prepared for a life altering experience.......
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
are you saying the decware didn't have enough oomph for LGWG music on corwalls but a 2A3 amp does? (i have a zkit decware, which is pretty much the same amp.) last time i looked on the webz the decwares are maybe 2-3 wpc. 2A3 is about 3-5 wpc.

i would think that would be enough to run OBs with betsys (depending on the size of the room).

however, the fleawatt class D (probably a TPA3116) is really nice amp. dead quiet, more power than you need for the betsys, very low distortion. super high value proposition.

buying the decware makes sense, as @MikeO says above, if you want to try something new. will be tubes, not SS, so will have a different sound. will you like it better? very much personal preference. if you have $4k to spare why not.
That was my experience, yes, with the Cornwalls, which were reputed (!?!) to have sensitivity of ca. 98 dB/watt @ 1 meter.
I think the SE84B morph, at least, is more like about 1 watt per channel (the SV83 had a little more oompf than an EL84 in the amplifier). There was quite a bit of controversy on the internet in the late '90s about the actual output of the Decware "Zen" amp.
I see he claims "2.3 watts" for the current morph. I am skeptical.

The "SV83" isn't a bad tube, BTW and FWIW.
 
Had a Decware amp on the bench last year. I forget the model, but remember it did not meet its 5w rating at all. Coming in at about 1.5 watts 1khz. Slightly less at 100hz.
So given that, i would say the price was high.
However, it was very well made, and sounded great at moderate levels.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
Had a Decware amp on the bench last year. I forget the model, but remember it did not meet its 5w rating at all. Coming in at about 1.5 watts 1khz. Slightly less at 100hz.
So given that, i would say the price was high.
However, it was very well made, and sounded great at moderate levels.
Sounds about right (FWIW).
My recollection was the SE84B or C tested at about 1.2 watts per channel at "hifi" levels of distortion (1%? 10%? ) way back when -- but I don't have a reference to support that.
EDIT: A quick googlin' did turn up this from Decware's site, though.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
doesnt' seem to be worth 4k given what you can get from builders like oliver sayes, lance cochrane, etc. i'm assuming the betsys are on OBs, which is their usual use. so in a medium to small room even 1.5 wpc could be enough (esp if you add a powered sub). my clementine darling (0.75wpc) was enough for my 604s in a smallish room.

another route would be going up the class D ladder. bruno putzeys of hypex ncore fame is now making ipurifi amps. with ghent casework, a power supply from diyaudio and an ipurifi board, you can have close to the ultimate class D for less than 2k (assembly required). 100wpc plus, negligible distortion.
 
Oliver sayes, @paulbottlehead, Radu Tarta and Alan Eaton are all super responsive and helpful if you contact them. There is also a Sayes forum on here that you can check out to see what others have had built.

Lance Cochrane, well he seems to be much harder to get ahold of in my experience.

But with a budget of $4k for just a power amp, you have ALOT of options in boutique builders. Sayes, Radu Tarta, Alan Eaton, James Burgess, the list goes on.

I get the allure of Decware, he makes very pretty amps and get's very good reviews elsewhere. You also have to consider that Decware is currently on a 7 month build timline, where others mentioned here are probably 4-8weeks build timeline depending on what you want.

I have not heard a Decware, so maybe I haven't reached the purported divinity that his amp exudes, but for that there are certainly tradeoffs with regards to price and wait time......

If I buy a Decware, it will certianly be second hand.

My 2 cents. 😁
 
Last edited:

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
There's nothing special about the standard Zen Triode these days. They use Edcor iron (nothing special there - just good, solid, American-made iron), and a relatively unsophisticated (but reliable) circuit. Running the SEPs as triode-strapped may make them sweeter-sounding, but seriously chops overall available power. Personally, I'd say you'll get just as good performance building a Dave Gillespie DGSE-1 amp with slightly upscale iron.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
BITD, even Deckert himself broadly hinted,in the '90s, that the SE84 was a ripoff of homage to a SE 6BQ5 stereo Zenith console amp. ;)
Not entirely coincidentally, I have one of those Zeniths down in the basement someplace... I've never fired it up, much less done the A/B comparison, though. ;)

Nicer lookin' (beefier) output iron in the Zenith than in the SE84B - FWIW. Decware was - or at least claimed to be - rolling their own OPTs in the late '90s, and the OPTs in the SE84B are... modest.
I am gettin' the itch to disinter that amp again, thanks to this thread.
You guys...
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
BITD, even Deckert himself broadly hinted,in the '90s, that the SE84 was a ripoff of homage to a SE 6BQ5 stereo Zenith console amp. ;)
Not entirely coincidentally, I have one of those Zeniths down in the basement someplace... I've never fired it up, much less done the A/B comparison, though. ;)

Nicer lookin' (beefier) output iron in the Zenith than in the SE84B - FWIW. Decware was - or at least claimed to be - rolling their own OPTs in the late '90s, and the OPTs in the SE84B are... modest.
I am gettin' the itch to disinter that amp again, thanks to this thread.
You guys...
They may have been rolling their own OPTs in the 90s, but now they use Edcor (hard to miss those blue bobbins). Again, not a problem - Edcor makes good iron - but it implies that perhaps the whole may be a fair bit more expensive than the sum of its parts.
 
BITD, even Deckert himself broadly hinted,in the '90s, that the SE84 was a ripoff of homage to a SE 6BQ5 stereo Zenith console amp. ;)
Not entirely coincidentally, I have one of those Zeniths down in the basement someplace... I've never fired it up, much less done the A/B comparison, though. ;)

Nicer lookin' (beefier) output iron in the Zenith than in the SE84B - FWIW. Decware was - or at least claimed to be - rolling their own OPTs in the late '90s, and the OPTs in the SE84B are... modest.
I am gettin' the itch to disinter that amp again, thanks to this thread.
You guy
Mark, is this the Zenith amp(4G21) that is thought to be the inspiration for the Decware amps? The Zenith has an unusual output transformer configuration.
 

Attachments

  • zenith.pdf
    786.4 KB · Views: 11
A few observations from a casual Decware observer (and owner, but not of this amp):

1. Decware amps come with a lifetime warranty to the original purchaser.
2. They hold their value far better than most.
3. They're easy to resell.

None of these are be all/end all, obviously, but they are factors to consider.

I get the allure of Decware, he makes very pretty amps and get's very good reviews elsewhere. You also have to consider that Decware is currently on a 7 month build timline, where others mentioned here are probably 4-8weeks build timeline depending on what you want.

The supply vs. demand thing definitely plays into factors 2 and 3.
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
I have a friend who swears by decware, but decware is also local for him. His system, including speakers (decware) has always sounded pretty good to me.

OP what has you wanting to go this route anyway? Maybe that's the question.
 
Top