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Decware SuperZen Triode Model SE84UFO2: The Audiophile System Builder

The Decware SuperZen Triode Model SE84UFO2 is a handmade 2.3 watts/channel tube amplifier that hits much harder than its power rating would suggest.

Decware SuperZen Triode Model SE84UFO2 Amplifier

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.

Maybe.

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.

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DecWare SuperZen Triod SE84UFO2

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.

Peruvian Pollo a la Brasa

Listening to music through the SuperZen Triode is even better with some Peruvian Pollo a la Brasa, french fries, and hot green sauce. Wash it down with a cold Inca Cola or Pillsen Callao.

Single Driver Heaven

CAM_Natural_walnut_5-0226_1024x1024

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.

CAM_Natural_walnut_6-0227_1024x1024

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.

Alternative Loudspeaker

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.

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Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 Bookshelf Loudspeaker in light oak
Wharfedale Diamond 12.1s

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.

Sources

There are a wide range of DACs and streamers that work well including the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt (which you can use separately as your headphone amplifier), Andover Audio Songbird/Schiit Audio Modi 3 Multibit DAC combination, or Cambridge Audio CXN V2 streamer/DAC

Another excellent network streamer that keeps the cost down is the brand new Bluesound NODE which keeps things really simple as it already has an internal DAC. $599 and access to all of the major streaming platforms.

The Decware almost screams out for a good vintage turntable and we’re huge fans of the restored Thorens turntables by Vinyl Nirvana which is based in New Hampshire.

Select either the Croft Acoustics or Moon by SimAudio phono stage from our list of favorite audiophile phono preamps and you have a very high-end system for under $7,000.

If you require a CD player because you don’t do the streaming thing or gave up on vinyl playback, the Marantz CD60 is a really good option for the SuperZen Triode.

For more information: Decware SuperZen Triode Amplifier

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. ORT

    March 2, 2022 at 2:16 am

    This Decware SuperZen Triode is gorgeous. I am currently saving for an LSA VT-70 and the Decware is just as beautiful.

    Have you any thoughts regarding these two? As outright unconventionally cool looking as the Decware is, the LSA VT-70 is, in its own right, one righteous looking integrate amp.

    ORT

    • Ian White

      March 2, 2022 at 3:34 am

      I know the people behind the LSA and that gives me some pause. I think the quality of the amplifier is fine, however.

      Decware is a fantastic company. One of my favorites in America when it comes to handmade tube amplifiers. The wait times are the harsh reality of being a small company with more than one product and having a few that sell like crazy.

      The SuperZen Triode has some power limitations so speaker selection is critical. 93dB would be the minimum in my personal opinion if you plan on playing music loudly and in a decent sized room.

      The sound quality is superb; I would consider it almost ideal for a desktop or nearfield system.

      Best,
      Ian White

      • ORT

        March 2, 2022 at 4:06 am

        Ian, as I said about Jude so to I hold true to be of you. No deceit do I find in you or your words.

        The small set up I am gradually preparing is about as near to nearfield as one can get. I sit before the two Atmos speakers on small stands and there is a powered sub off to the right. Currently drive by that itty bitty Douk ST-01 until I find the One Trump Integrated to serve me. Another friend also recommended Decware and spoke well of the LSA VT-70. I think he spoke of a different integrated amp from Decware and so I will have to look further into this.

        This may well be my retirement gift to my self. Thank you for your thoughts on this and I would be grateful for any other recommendations/thoughts.

        My budget for the integrated was originally $1,000 but I may go as high as $1,400 or so. The 35 watts of the LSA is plenty and yes, I am very much about the subjective gorilla in my listening room as it is concerned with the looks of equipment. If I want to look at fugly, I need only seek out my person picture of Dorian Gray…The Mirror. 😉

        Enough ramblin’.

        ORT

        • Ian White

          March 3, 2022 at 2:23 am

          ORT,

          What I like about the Decware is the bespoke nature of the design and how well they are made. These amplifiers last.

          Good luck finding one used online because nobody wants to sell them.

          The power is an issue for sure unless you are using very high sensitivity speakers or don’t mind listening in the nearfield.

          I’m considering the SuperZen Triode with some Omega CAMs for my desk. The tone from this combination is magnificent. Not sure how I’ll get much work done.

          Ian White

          • Michael

            August 18, 2022 at 10:16 am

            I’ve had the UFO2 and Omega CAMs on my desktop for two years. They use up some real estate but sound wonderful. Even more desk space goes to a Bottlehead Crack that powers a pair of Sennheiser HD 6XX. I couldn’t ask for more from a desktop system.

          • Ian White

            August 18, 2022 at 9:09 pm

            Michael,

            That sounds like an amazing system. Did you have Louis make you a front-ported version?

            Best,

            Ian White

          • Michael

            August 18, 2022 at 10:50 pm

            Ian, the CAMs are rear ported but the front baffles are more than two feet from the wall. Maybe they would be better if front ported but I’ll never know.

  2. Mike

    August 18, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    I would add one more speaker to the list and its Decware’s own Tiny Radial, very bespoke with its variants and usually as hard to get as any of his tube gear.
    I had those on my desk for quite a while with a Rel TZero sub and its a great combination.

    I paired it with a Project S2 BT as I was looking for more instant gratification than waiting for a Zen.

    • Ian White

      August 18, 2022 at 9:10 pm

      I’ve seen his speakers and they look very interesting.

      I really wish Zu had not dumped the original Cube because those are perfect for the SuperZen Triode.

      Best,

      Ian White

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