Dartzeel amp lives up to hype

I purchased a fully broken in Dartzeel about a week ago to drive the Von Schweikert VR-7SE. I was concerned about the 100w power rating and was put to ease when I switched it on. Powerful tight bass and the sweetest midrange and delicate highs one could hope for. Transparency is way ahead of all other amps I've had. Definitely lives up to the reviews.
congrats, and welcome to the darTZeel club. i agree that the dart is deceptively dynamic for 100 watts. the fact it is fully broken in is very significant as to dynamics.

you know, of course, you now "need" the darTZeel battery powered pre. it is magic with the dart amp.
Snook2, I'm very glad your very pleased with your new Dartzeel amp. You stated that it's the most "transparent" amp you have ever heard. Would you be nice enough to share what other amps you are comparing it to, along with of the rest of the gear in your system, besides your speakers, it would help to see if the Dartzeel matches well with different types of pieces. Thanks.
The other amps I can compare the Dartzeel to are Manley -250,Wolcott Presence,Rowland Model 6, Cary slm-200. These are the most recent in my system which presently is Manley Steelhead, Audio aero Capitole II,Nottingham Anna/Hyperspace/Benz ruby2. Von Schweikert VR-7SE. Cables are Verbatum,Jena labs and Shunyata
Congrats, Snook. The DartZeel amp is one of the best audio purchases I've ever made--albeit an expensive one. I've heard and owned some of the best amps out there, regardless of price, and the Dart is the best I've heard. I was scared that there would be a backlash once all the positive reviews came out, but thankfully doesn't seem to be the case. It's pretty hard to argue against Herve's baby. I'm getting his NHB-18S preamp in the next few weeks or so. That should take things up another notch or two!
Sounds good Snook, but you should post your system with some pics so we can all drool. Happy listening!
I would find it very difficult to not have a SET. Do any of you have efficient enough speakers to use triodes and compared the DartZeel with one?
I just got the DarTZeel... it's breaking in on my Exemplar horns...I just got the DarTZeel today.
My initial impressions are extremely positive.
I've had Exemplar 300b's, Border Patrol 300b's Tenor OTL's,Audiopax 88 mono's, Custom Wavelength 45's, Custom Fi 2a3's, Brooks 300b's, Verdier 845's luxe se's, Komura 845 SETs and probably a few others on the Exemplars in my room over the last couple of years.
I'm heading out of town early next week for a few weeks so serious listening will commence in the New Year.
These most definately sound like keepers so far!
Very nice~ I have never read anything negative on this unit. Would sure like to hear it.. Enjoy!

Thanks, Glide3, I very much appreciate your evaluation. Please keep us up to date.
Glide3, do you have an update on the darTZeel amp now that it's had a chance to break in? I just bought the amp and pre-amp myself. Expect the amp to arrive next week and the pre-amp in late January / early February.

I heard the Dartzeel and VR9 combination at the CES 2006 and was very dissappointed with the soundstaging and tonality. The dynamics and bass were staggering on rock/pop, the walls were shaking..just like a rock/pop concert. Traditional instruments did not impress.

Please post any further opionions of these products especially how they compare to the CES sound. I am considering the VR9

regards rumney
Norm, Earflappin,
I've had the Dart. for about 35 days and have had it running in for about 20 of those 30day...they say it needs 30 days to get where it's going...so I'll wait a bit for any more detailed response but it already sounds good to me. I've ordered the Dart. pre-amp as it just makes too much sense :-)
It really does seem to be a nice blend of the virtues of tube and SS. I still like my DNM a bit better at low volumes (with high eff. spkr)... perhaps unfair as I have the full DNM system and will better judge when I get the Dart pre. The Dart is very, very musical.

Kurt, thanks for the update! I hope to get my amp tomorrow and I will post later with my impressions. Herve told me that my amp already had some good burn in time on it so hopefully it will sound reasonable out of the box.

Sorry...what does DNM stand for?
DNM is an equipment brand name...it also represents the initials of the equipment designer and company owner.. Denis N. Morecroft.
Mr Morecroft is an accomplished engineer who has pioneered in the areas of capacitor design, 3D circuit design and the effects of eddy current on audio signals....among other things
His equipment, while not too well known in the US (a shame), is quite highly regarded in other parts of the world.
I Think it is just fantastic and would recommend it to anyone with the right speakers (90db+)
I believe the Dartzeel is an overall more refined product and certainly more impressive looking. But the DNM **as a system** is not embarassed. I make this statement before hearing the Dartzeel system so I reserve the right to change my mind :-). It is also fair to say that the DNM amp/preamp (top of the line) is 50% the cost of the Dart combo...but of course we all know how dearly one must pay for that last bit.
Thanks Kurt. I've had my darTZeel amp for about 5 days now and have been running it 24/7 since it arrived. It sounded really good right out of the box, but I can hear it getting better and better. I am currently using a 30' XLR run into its XLR inputs. Later today I'm going to try using the RCA inputs by using an XLR-to-RCA adaptor plug just to see if there is any difference. But like I said, I am EXTREMELY impressed so far by what I'm hearing. It is, as you and so many others have said, just so musical. The artifacts associated with even the best solid state gear are absent and the three dimensionality and pure harmonics are there just as with really good tube gear, but without the added warmth/bloom.

I got my 50ohm coax cables from l-com.com and am anxiously awaiting my new darTZeel pre-amp which I hope to get by early Feb.

I'd love to hear the DNM some time.

Thanks for the update...my amp is just about getting to 30days and it has continued to improve. I agree that it sounds nice out of the box but it really locks in as you approach the 30days of constant play.
I hope to get my pre soon as well and imagine it will improve things even more.

If your ever in the Bay Area e-mail me and I'd be happy to set-up the DNM for you.

Has anyone tried different power cords on the Dartzeel amp? Which on brought out the best.
Kurt, thanks for the offer. I may take you up on that. I get out to the west coast 1-2 times a year. In fact, I just got back from Edmonton, Canada...yikes...very cold. I can't imagine the dart amp getting any better from where it is right now, but I guess it will...;)

Snook2, regarding the power cord question, here's what I've done so far in terms of experimentation with input power. First, the dart sounds best if I bypass my Shunyata Hydra2 and go straight to the wall outlet. I have only tried the Shunyata top of the line Anaconda power cord, but will try some others in the weeks ahead. With the Hydra2 in the input power chain some transparency and microdetail is lost. When I spoke to Herve (the owner/designer of darTZeel) he confirmed that others have found the same thing.

Second, I have the advantage of being able to go back and forth between 120V and 240V input power as I have both outlets by the amp. One just has to power down the amp, pop the hood and change two switches (one for each channel). In my room, the 240V mode sounds better. Where it is most noticeable is at the low end where the bass firms up. Of course 240V is what they use in Europe where the amp is designed. That being said, Herve didn't feel that there should be much, if any, sonic difference between the two mode. Since my amp is still in burn-in mode, I will rerun this test after I have 30 days plus on the unit and report back.

Take care guys,

I heard the Dartzeel in my own system this weekend, I was considering buying it. But based on the fact that a channel went out during the audition, and from my understandig it had just returned from the factory with the same problem. I would not buy it, reguardless of its sound.

As for its sound when working. It does sound very good it had some "tube magic" with solid state imageing and control of bass. Which is a very nice mix.
However, in my own system my Mcintosh MC2000 with NOS tubes makes better music, and gives up very little in bass control. The Mac sound was more 3D, with much better tone.

Before others ask My system: Martin Logan Summits, Supratek Grange Phono Pre, Oracle Delphi V table, SME V Arm, Ruby 3, and a Mcintosh MC2000 Tube Amp. Room is dedicated and tuned to my taste.
Dlanselm - you are a second person to report less than stellar performance from Dartzeel amp. I was considering this amp too, but I have heard form one of the most credible audiogon users that his close friend wasn't impressed at all by dart combo. He uses same speakers as I do - Avalon Eidolon Vision - and much preffered both ARC Ref2/VTM200 combination (which he sold to get the dart) and the VTL7.5/S400 combo he bought AFTER selling the dart combo (pre + power).
the preamp has no remote control...correct?
Elberoth2, I would be more concerned about the twice failed amp than someone preferring another tube amp. Unless you really trust your friend's comments, this could again be the preferences that some always have for tube amps. I certainly fall into that category, but still remain quite interested in the Dartzeel, especially because of its power and my respect for Glide's reports.
Dlanselm: I may be wrong, but, I think the amp you are talking about was one that has was treated with an aftermarket product that voided the warranty. The amplifiers that were treated are the only amplifiers I know of that have ever had any problems. The other amplifiers from the same exact production run are all running flawlessly.

Elberoth2: Considering the preamplifier has not shipped yet, your source making comments about the darT "combo" is not very accurate.

Jonathan Tinn
darTZeel North American Importer
The pre does come with a remote.
Henry, the preamp has a remote control (and most everything else you could want). My DarTZeel 108 has been absolutely bullet proof- it is dead quiet with no hiss, hums, clicks, or anything else to let you it is "on" or even in your system until the music starts to flow. Best amp I have ever owned by far.

I don't know ANY of the details reguarding the amp I listened too. But based on the brief conversation I had with its owner, I think the repairs were an attempt to make this DartZeel actually become dependable not be a sonic upgrade.

As for its operation issues read the reviews: Sterophile or Hi-Fi News. For me persoally products in this price range need to operate better to get my money.

Just for the record I not looking to start a debate, I have no vested interst in this product.
Jtinn - The one I'm talking about was sold in Europe, not in the US.
Dlanselm: Yes, if we are talking about the same owner, he treated the amplifiers with a product I had forewarned him about. It has destroyed a few systems that I am a ware of. Definitely not a problem with the amplifier.

John Atkinson, during his test acknowledged that the Stereophile "Amp and Component of the Year", blew a fuse when he had no load and exceeded the limits of the amplifier. The fuses did their job. It wans not until he mistakenly put the wrong value fuse in that the amplifier was damaged. Please re-read his tests, he absolutely loved the amplifier.

Also, I think Hi-Fi+ gave it amplifier of the year as well.

Elberoth2: The fact that your friend is in Europe does not change anything. There have only been three preamplifiers shipped and I assure you none was to your friend. I am sorry if you recieved bad information. You should give a listen for yourself, if you have the opportunity. The sound is like nothing else I have ever heard.

All the best!
Jonathan, were Andy's (Hooper/Quint) amps "treated with an aftermarket product", since according to some recent posts of his on AA both had problems and he switched to other amps? What do you mean by "treated"? Are you referring to some kind of non-approved line conditioning used? Or are you saying such amps were internally modified? Has a notice been included with all amplifiers shipped, to the effect of warranty being voided by doing so?

According to your post the Dartzeel preamp has not yet shipped, yet you showed it at RMAF and at CES with the Dartzeel amps, and privately at last January's show. So quite a few people have heard it in a couple of settings.
At the present time , there are only two units in the US. Mike Lavigne has had a pre production unit for several months and Jtinn had the unit for the RMAF and CES shows. The first production units are schudeled in the US in about 10 days
first, there was only one pre-production dart preamp in the western hemisphere from October 05' to late December 05'. which was at jtinn's, RMAF, and then in my room. it went no-where else. there were 2 pre-production units in Europe during that time. none of these units were 'sold' to anyone (and have not yet been upgraded to production unit status and have not yet been sold).

the first actual production unit was sent to CES 2006, then went from there to jtinn and shortly thereafter ended up in my room; where it resides. the next 2 production units were shipped to jtinn and recieved a few days ago......and that is all that have been shipped so far.

sooooooo, no one has 'owned' a dart preamp to sell as of this moment.....here or anywhere else.


" you are a second person to report less than stellar performance from Dartzeel amp. I was considering this amp too, but I have heard form one of the most credible audiogon users that his close friend wasn't impressed at all by dart combo. He uses same speakers as I do - Avalon Eidolon Vision - and much preffered both ARC Ref2/VTM200 combination (which he sold to get the dart) and the VTL7.5/S400 combo he bought AFTER selling the dart combo (pre + power).


Elberoth2; i would appreciate more info on your 'friend of friends' experience with the dart pre. my mind is open to the possibility that my info above is faulty. although after spending hours with Herve at CES and many e-mails back and forth over the last couple of months (while beta-testing the pre-production dart pre) i think i'm quite clear on the production status of the various dart preamps.

the whole issue of fragility of the dart amps is simply a lack of understanding of the circut design. i have had 5 different darTZeel amps in my room over the last year. i have had zero problems with any of them and used them in a variety of configuarations. OTOH i have blown fuses multiple times which are easily and quickly replaced. the fuses blow to protect the other circuts. if the amp is quickly turned on and off the fuse will blow. turning on the amp without a load will blow fuses. DC output from the early preproduction dart pre would blow the fuse. this is the design of the amp......and part of the utter refinement of it's sound.

since i have recieved the production model preamp i have not blown any fuses. i never blew a fuse when using my Placette or the DCC2. only when my power has flickered on and off or when i was using the pre-production dart pre in battery mode did i ever blow a fuse.

Andy (Hooper/Quint) was using a 'treatment' that had caused serious issues with other amps. whether this product caused the problems with his amps or not has not been clearly established. as this was a non warranty repair; Andy choose a local repair person to 'fix' the amps. since 'darTZeel' did not repair these amps they don't exactly know what happened or whether the repairs were complete.

any products used on any amps without manufacturers specific approval would not be covered under warranty (Honda would not repair it either under their warranty). in this particular case Andy was specifically warned not to use this particular product ahead of time (as was I) and it appears he used it anyway.

i personally know 15 to 20 darTZeel owners that have all had zero issues with dart amps......like many cutting edge products there are certain guidelines to follow; which when respected result in trouble-free use.

none of the above info would matter if not for the amazing performance of the dart preamp particularly when mated with the dart amp. i have had many visitors to my room to hear these marvels......all have been captivated by them.
Essentialaudio, your point about the DarTZeel combo being shown at RMAF and at CES or privately at last January's show is irrelevant to what Jonathan and Elberoth2 are talking about. If you read Elberoth2's comments carefully, he seems to be implying that this combo (ie. the Dart preamp and amp together) was heard, and more importantly, OWNED! by an audiogon member's close friend in his/her system that consisted of Avalon speakers:

I have heard form one of the most credible audiogon users that his close friend wasn't impressed at all by dart combo.

This seems to explicitely imply that the the dart pre and amp were indeed heard together.

He uses same speakers as I do - Avalon Eidolon Vision - and much preffered both ARC Ref2/VTM200 combination (which he sold to get the dart) and the VTL7.5/S400 combo he bought AFTER selling the dart combo (pre + power).

I don't know about you, but this clearly suggests to me that this person replaced the Arc combo with the darts combo but sold the darts combo and ended up with the VTL combo. This really seems to imply that the Darts combo was heard in this guy's system. I of course am not disputing the credibility of Elberoth or the audiogon member or his friend, since it's all about personal preference.

But whether this audiogon user has INDEED OWNED (and not whether he heard it at the show) is the main point of contention here I think. So if there has indeed only been 3 DarTZeel preamps shipped, has this close friend of a supposedly credible audiogon member really heard it?
Mike , you may want to know that I'm listening ( in Old Europe) the last 3 months to the Dart combo in one of my systems, the plate reads "Pre Serial number 000 " .
They worked flawlessly so far , and the sound is truly special with analog sources in the battery mode.
Mike, with all due respect, I posed the questions to Jonathan, not you. I still don't understand the meaning of "treatment" nor why you are responding.
As long as dissenters are posting, an audio dealer whom I know who has been in the business for 3 decades+, and who really has golden ears and also can sell the amp if he chooses, heard it an was less than impressed. He says it was blown away by other amps costing a small fraction of its price.
thanks on the remote info...as there are no formal reviews out there was under the wrong impression...I am too lazy to do without one and the feel the sonic impact of the purist approach of no remote is not meaningful...one reason why despite their stellar rep, have no interest in Lamm pre-amps etc.

On the Dart pre...perhaps Jtinn can help can educate us but given what you and Mike have said on production of so far...when are we going to see more economies of scale production and commercial availability? For those who are interested in auditioning but living in places (me: Hong Kong) this is something to consider...one can wait only so much!
Are you guys saying that Walker SST can cause an amp to burst into flames like Andy's did? PLEASE let me know if this is something that has happened before as I have a BRAND NEW box of SST I was going to try. I have the SST and the Vivid (which I actually like) but haven't tried the SST yet. Otherwise, if any one wants to buy a brand new box of Walker SST cheap, let me know.

Jitnn, Just curious, what do you think the owner of this DartZeel was trying to accomplish, with this so called "treatment"?
Jtinn -> It seems that I have to eat my own words. There must have been a misunderstanding between me and the person I got that info from. Apparently the person I was reffering to tried just the Dart poweramp, not the Dart combo.
Steinway57- tell your dealer friend it's time to retire- his ears are no longer functioning properly. Thank him for the 30+ years of serving our community.

Fmpnd- If you already have the SST, there should be plenty of warnings in the instructions about the consequences if the product is misused or applied incorrectly. I feel some people don't realize that once you use it on a female XLR or RCA input (like on an amplifier input), how do you remove it from inside the female inputs? Subsequent connections of new male cable pins or cleaned and treated male pins with SST will not prevent the excess build-up inside the female pins. Once too much "highly conductive paste" builds up inside where you can't see it, I would imagine the potential for disaster is high. The ONLY place I would use SST or similar products is where the paste could be completely removed from BOTH contacting points (both inside and out) thereby preventing any build up. Even if used only once, an excessive amount of paste can build up if not applied cautiously. Good luck.

Thanks for the info. I did read the warnings and have heard rumors about potential for it building up. My concerns are: (i) that Andy is not an idiot and used it sparingly like the directions instructed; and (ii) even if I did use it a bit more than sparingly (which I now likely will not use it at all), would a build up of SST really make an amp burst into flames?? I can see it causing a short and blowing fuses - but combusting?

My point is that if anyone else has seen this happen or can explain exactly how this can occur, there is no way in hell I am ever going to take that chance with my components. This thread is timely as I was literally JUST ready to use the SST. I am no novice to this hobby and can deal with a blown fuse but a bon fire????? - NO WAY!!
I really think that hearsay proclomations about the performance or reliability of a product that the poster hasn't actually heard, reflects worse on the poster than on the product. Let's remember that in the end you're talking about someone's livelihood here, and negative comments that have no credible basis in fact can be really harmful even if not intended that way. I have never heard a Dart product nor do I know anyone associated with the company or its distribution, and really my comments can apply to any number of threads and posters. Sometimes I wish that we could all think twice before hitting that submit button.
Wow, lots to respond to:

Elberoth2: No problem, I am sure your intentions were honorable.

Steinway57: Having an audio dealer friend "who has been in the business for 3 decades+, and who really has golden ears and also can sell the amp if he chooses, heard it an was less than impressed. He says it was blown away by other amps costing a small fraction of its price." means nothing. Where did he hear it? What did he know that was in the system? Unless he was incredibly familiar with the entire system, how could he pinpoint the bad sound to the amplifier? Do you really think he could sell the amplifier if he really wanted to? I do not think he could and I think he is misleading you. Hear it for yourself, I would bet my left testicle you would not agree with him. :) BTW, I am much more fond of my left testicle than my right.

Frank: I do not want to get into the SST situation. I am happy to talk to you offline, but another person you should contact is Calloway here on Audiogon. The product is good sounding, but incredibly dangerous and I would not use it. The Vivd on the other hand is terrific.

Dlanselm: I cannot really know for sure. There are plenty of people that love to tweak. It does not matter how good a component sounds, there may always be a bit more there with propoer isolation, damping, contact enhancement, etc. I generally stop at anything that voids a warranty.

Essentailaudio: With all due respect, I do not think Mike was really addressing you.

Jond: Very well said! Hearsay is not generally worth repeating if one is putting their name along with it. Someone told me that once :)
Jond, and the funny side is that we are talking about a pre that doesnt even exists. And the pre as been comercially anouced a long time: It´s all over the NET, wich shows that Jtinn really works hard. Great marketing!!! With this kind of production (or should I say pre-production) Mr. Dart must work until is 128 years to fullfil is obligations to is customers.
I'll just throw in my 2-cents here for what it's worth...
I sat and listened for quite a while to the Dartzeel/ Von Schweikert VR9 / EMM demo at the NY 2005 show and I was stunned by the purity and sheer beauty of what I heard. I'm not sure if it was the speakers or the amp, but it sure was memorable.
Rgs92: Thanks you! We worked very hard to get the sound good in NY, and due to the very small size of the room and the large size of the speakers, we were very surprised at how good it sounded.
Well, I usually hate to dismiss a product if I don't have sufficient evidence of it's danger. However, given the warning in the instructions coupled with even the "possibility" that it can damage an amp, I am going to pass on using the SST. If anyone wants to buy a NEW kit for a cheap price, let me know!

In defense of SST or Mapleshades silver contact enhancer, I used it extensively on several tube amps, line stages, and tube players. There are very precise instructions on how to use it. I worried greatly about shorting RCA plugs and treated them very carefully. I never had any difficulties, although I have now cleaned it all of and use AudioTop instead.
I'll second Rgs92's comments. While I am a vinyl listener, I thought the sound Jtinn was getting from the Dartzeel/VR9/EMM combination was some of the best being offered in NY in 2005. A testimony to the quality of the equipment synergy. If it sounded as good as it did in less than optimal conditions, it's potential in the right space goes without saying.
Rgs92 Hit the nail on the head, I heard the Dart/VR9/EMM Labs combo at the '05 Rocky Mtn. Show in Denver last fall. "Purity" & "Sheer Beauty" are very accurate ways to describe what I heard. In addition, there was an effortlessness and natural sonic signiture seldom heard outside of a live performance venue. Sound reproduction of this quality is extremely difficult to achieve with a top flight analog system and damn close to impossible to pull off with a digital setup. My hats off to Jtinn for assembling a show system of this caliber.