All comments below are my opinions and I understand others may have different thoughts and that is all good. its about the music and everyone hears differently
The Decware Mini Torii (MT for short) is a wonderful amp that I plan to keep in my collection for longer than any other of my amps. I have gone thru so many I lost count in the last 3 years or so. I will try to attempt to give a little review of what I think but please understand I am very bad at describing things.
I have let this unit burn in for a week and a half and was so excited that I could not wait any longer for the reivew so here it is lol...I figure if its this good now it will just get better like a fine wine
These are my impressions with stock tubes that came with the MT....ok here goes.....
Setup I am using
iPure20 (lossless songs)----AVA Vision Dac-----Mini Torii (stock tubes)---LCD-2 rev1 (Q cable)
Begin of Review.....
First off I will go and say that I do not find the MT to be the typical syrup tube sound. It is a tad warm sounding but I find this to be very musical without losing details. For me it adds just enough of warmth that it sucks you in like a vacuum cleaner lol. I believe that the MT does a wonderful job of staying true to whatever the recording has to offer whether it be a bad recording or a good one. Below I will break the review into parts for ease of reading
Dynamics, Soundstage described below....
This amp has got the dynamics on all sides of the table IMO. I have heard some amps with a relaxed presentation and others with in upfront and in your face. IMO the MT is a chameleon of sorts in this department. I believe depending on how the songs are recorded the MT will either be in your face with punches that would make Muhammad Ali jealous or can be like a warm blanket that cuddles you on a cold night ....LOL not sure how else to describe it. Either way the dynamics are just wonderful!
The MT produces a great soundstage with amazing instrument separation and I can clearly hear where instruments are being played from. I found that the separate volume controls for left and right is very nice to find that sweet spot for the headphones. To be honest at first i found this feature annoying but then once I got used to it I love it! Its amazingly fun for me to listen to a song and being able to point in the air where the piano is playing from or the drums to the singer lol.
The bass, mids and treble described below....
The treble is very clean and detailed sounding and with cymbals on songs I can just hear a wonderful decay that to me makes it all worth it
. The treble is not harsh even with my cd quality songs (which is about 98% lol) The tone knob is nice and I do use it on some songs in my collection by toning down the treble on bad records and it makes these songs enjoyable to listen to.
The mids have that magic to them and just sucks you into the music and wont let you go...lol. Alot of my songs I use it feels like the singer is right in front of me and on a few other songs it feels like I am a few rows back. I believe it depends on the way the song was record. Either way I get lost in the music and to me thats what its about
Hurrah for the MT mids!!!!
The bass goes deep in my book and is very tight without blurring bass notes on songs. On songs with a jazz upright bass, the bass sounds just so real that I am still amazed by it. There is also wonderful "Punch" in the bass that just makes you want more (when called for in the music)...again Hurrah!!!! lol
The Mini Torii is an amazing amp that just seems to do everything I have been looking for right. It has great dynamics that let you "feel" the music which to me is whats its about. It has a wonderful soundstage for the LCd-2 rev1. The sound spectrum is spot on in my book and the music just sounds "real" its almost like being there in person. The fact that this is also a speaker amp to me makes it just all the more amazing as someday I plan to buy the Decware Trapezium speakers.
I can't wait to be tube rolling as I am excited to hear differences but even with stock tubes I am very happy. heh i just like to tube roll
Thats all folks, I hope you have enjoyed the review and as stated above these are all just my opinions of what I hear. Remember its all about enjoying the music
------Everything Below is by Negura I am just copying to put it on the first page of this thread--------------
The orignal post can be found on page 77 by Negura
Folks I am going to start this post and it will be a long one. It's been promised for a while and it is the result of months of good old rollin'. Pictures first and I am sure you will know where I am going with this.
, Double D Getter, sometime 1950s, England
(early milspec GEC U52 and arguably better), inverted cup, 1950s, England
, 1942, D Getter, Milspec
, double D Getter, 1952, black base
, US Air Force version etc
Decware Taboo MK3 (we all know this one) w. Amperex "Pinched Waist" 6922, Amperex EL84s or 6P15P-ER milspec
Ariand FV34-A (Single ended speakers amplifier), 2x12W, Psvane EL34
Woo Wee (electrostatic headphones converter)
Stax SR-009, Stax SR-007 MKI
Custom made 96dB Front Loaded Horn Speakers (Fostex Full range)
Stockfisch Reference Recordings (various genres: vocals, classical)
For several reasons the rectifiers have always been to me a fantastic and de-facto way to tweak the sound to my preference or system changes. Firstly these coincidently or not work with both my amplifiers (and soon to be 3) and also for this reason I found them a very worthwhile investement. It's an easy swap too. No need for gloves as there's a good base and a lot of the time there's only one. This is a comparison where I tried to be completely unbiased by the price. Some of the above are extremely rare and expensive, some less so and some are incredibly overlooked. But we all know everything is fair in audio.
Why these? I have a lot of rectifiers of this type and I feel the below represent the BEST of the best in my collection. They are all well burnt-in samples and sometimes I compared multiple samples of one. There are variations, but roughly within the same decade you'd probably be in the same ball park. The fact that I already selected these out of many different models, they are ALL already SO very good. This makes it sometimes super difficult to rate them, and obviously preferences play a signficant role. To try to hit an average I used two very different sounding amplifiers (Taboo MK3 - quite neutral, Ariand FV34A - classic tube sound), different coloration headphones, SR009s extremely neutral and the SR007 MKI warmer. The speakers are in between the headphones in tonal balance.
Sylvania 274b > GEC/Osram U52 > RCA 5Y3GT > USAF-596 > Brimar
Bass Control & Tightness:
USFA-596 > Brimar > RCA 5Y3GT = Sylvania > Osram
This was very difficult to assess because all of these are close. The bass quantity is plenty with all of them.
I don't like bass weak tubes, and none of these is that. Also none of them really have flabby bass either.
It is difficult to call a winner though. The bass driver control and added tightness can result in aparent reduced bass weight. This is why I wanted to separate the two sections. Overall when I wanted to choose one tube for the overall combination bass presence and quality it was either the RCA or Sylvania. If I want top control it is the USAF-596. All of them did a great job here.
Male vocals (Tonality, Texture, Extension):
Sylvania 274B (WOW. To die for.) > GEC/OSRAM U52 (WOW Reloaded) = RCA 5Y3GT (WOW Incredible) > Brimar (Still WOW) > USAF596 ("Only" Excellent)
All of these tubes are very special and excellent with mids. Was it not, any of them would have otherwise been excluded from this round-up. In this select company it is the Sylvania that comes first due to the most fantastic mids texture I have heard. I do not know how they were doing things back in 1942, but while retaining exceptional clarity the mids are smooth and with formidable texture and tone. This said it's almost unreal there is something better than the Osram (which is the milspec version of the famous GEC U52). This one is also extremely impresive. What I said regarding the Sylvania applies here as well.
Female vocals (Tonality, Texture, Extension)
Osram > Sylvania 274B > RCA = USAF-596 > Brimar
While I already had the ranking done from before, I wanted to try a few more songs and start from scratch last night. This time I started comparing the tubes in the reverse order of how I classed them with male vocals. The Brimar was very good but it turned out as the least impressive in this great company. It has excellent tonality, but the texture did the least for me. Again this is only compared to the others. Moving next to the USAF-596 - it was an immediate added sign of goose bumps on the test track: Pink Martini - Taya Tan. The texture and extension were both a step up. I long deliberated back and forth between the Sylvania and Osram with female vocals. They are exceptional and exceptionally close to each other, but a bit different: while Sylvania digs in deeper vocal detail with a bit better extension, I give a slight preference to Osram's texture and refinement.
Sylvania > USAF-596 > Osram > RCA > Brimar
Sylvania > USAF-596 > Osram = RCA > USAF-596 > Brimar
None of these is a bright sharp sounding tube. Yet there a differences. The only one that I feel coming a bit short in the treble department is the Brimar
I really like the air and treble extension of the Sylvania and USAF-596. It makes these two tubes sound just a bit clearer than the others. However in the case of the USAF-596 there is something with the texture of the upper treble that does not sound as natural as the RCA, Sylvania or Osram.
When it comes to overall treble quality with super air, extension and tone, it's the Sylvania that takes the prize.
The Brimar was not going to win any prizes here. The treble has a slight rolloff, but not a deal breaker. Definetely nothing compared to some chinese production tubes.
USAF-596 -> Sylvania -> Osram = RCA -> Brimar
USAF-596 > Sylvania > RCA = Osram > Brimar
Sylvania 274b = USAF 596 > GEC/Osram U52 = RCA 5Y3GT > Brimar
Sylvania 274B > USAF-596 > GEC/OSRAM U52 > RCA GY3GT > Brimar
The USAF-596 produces a very wide spacios soundstage. The Sylvania while still very wide in presentation, has additional height and depth. These two are the rectifiers for large scale orchestras and classical musical.
The others are respectively more upfront with a gradually more intimate presentation that caters many modern genres and smaller ensembles even more.
Best overall you're saying? Firstly the obvious caveat is: This is a tube out of many in a component (or two) part of your system. I obviously can't provide the right answer for something I do not know. Second of all, preferences are anyone's. I always look for synergy and good balance, as no system is perfect or perfectly balanced. This is a reason I favour having some tube gear, as it facilitates fine tuning through tube rolling. For my almost neutral sounding Taboo MK3 I had most of them for an extended period of time in combination with diverse output and input tubes, but a good 60% of time the RCA tube was running the show. For my warmer speaker amp I prefer the Sylvania, USAF or Osram.
I also want to add this should not be read by just looking as what came "first" and "last". These I repeat are what I consider my top 5 tubes. I personally think highly of each one of them.
Value wise if I only had a small budget to spend on a rectifier, it has got to be the RCA. It's a no brainer. I paid 30-40$ for each of mine, including shipping to far away.
Moving up the cost next is Brimar. Unless I find my system a bit too bright, I would actually probably stretch to the USAF-596. They go for 100-150$ if you can find one that is. But if you ask and look around there are still a few. The first was difficult for me to aquire and then I found two more NOS. They are not going anywhere, that's for sure.
The Osram was a very lucky find through a British army person. The base was loose and the guiding leg is missing. I don't have high hopes I will find another one for a non astronomical price, and yes it's a very special tube. The equivalent, the GEC U52, is avaible here and there, but expensive.
Now the Sylvania 274B is the oldest made and most expensive of them all ... it's everyone's decision whether it's worth it. But if you decide it's not or you cannot find one, worry not. The USAF-596 or RCA are in the same tier.
Notes: I also have more recent editions of some of these tubes. Moving into the 1960s and later... it wasn't quite the same quality with many times a drop in SQ.