Dartzeel CTH-8550

I'm wondering if there are fox out there with this amplifier. I recently purchased this new integrated Dartzeel CTH-8550 (could not afford the separates). From the first minute this amplifier was connected to my Avalon Indra the sound was nothing short of stunning. This amplifier, has the same magic of the separates, as it is really sounds like nothing. It is the most natural sounding amplifier I've ever owned, and I've owned many including Pass 350.5, MBL 9008, Boulder 2000s, Lamm and others.
What is your experience?


Roy... someone posted on another audiophile site this comment.

My friends,
I have some fresh comments about the DartZeel CTH-8550:
I heard this $20000 Integrated amp and it sounds like a good $5000 amp.
It is nice to have a DartZeel to show this beautifull product of swiss industry to our friends...and that's all. I said product of industry, not product of swiss manufacture.
The sound is very fast and dinamic and all the small details of the music can be heard, but that sound has no body...that holografic body that you hear in a good Concert Hall ...or from a good highend amp.
I'm sorry to all DartZeel fans, but the sound of this integrated is disappointing.

Your comment?
is this an ad?
Well interesting comments but the one by Rossman flies in the face of recent show reports(including CES 2009) where more than one writer identified the system with this integrated driving it as stunning. Who to believe? My guess is that it's a product that sounds great but because of its cost some will be quick to criticize.Time will tell.
I agree with Rossman. It is disappointing.

Compared CHT8850 with my Jadis DA88s (speakers are Avalon Ascendant 2) and it was not even close. Dartzeel sounded grey, not involving. Jadis has better sense of liveness and purity of tone. Surprisingly, prefered even bass with DA88s - it was deeper, fuller, but still with nice control. Actually I can't find any aspect where CHT8850 would be better....

It is definitely very bad value for money. In my country Dartzeel costs almost twice as much as Jadis.
It's reviewed in the latest issue (8/09) of Stereophile by Wes Phillips. He loves it, but John Atkinson didn't like the way it measured.
Nyctc7: How much did WP like it? What measurements did JA not like? Just curious.
4425, with a caveat that I can't do the review justice (and therefore, the amp justice), I'll try and hit some highlights. But do check out the magazine rack or see if the review eventually appears on the Stereophile website.

Fantastic build quality--each amp handmade for each customer.

Highly configurable: see the manual, pages 9-15 (you can download the manual on the DarTZeel website)

Very powerful for an integrated, able to drive difficult loads. "It drove the Thiel CS3.7 and YG Anat Reference II Pro speakers as easily as it did the benign Klipsch Palladium 39F"

*Very quiet

The downside: Did not outperform the Boulder 865 integrated amp, which retails for $12,000 vs. the Dartzeel's $20,300.

Measurments: Output impedance quite high, which apparently can cause problems (I'm not an engineer or tech). Channel seperation good but not great. The amp exceeeded its power spec, but distortion levels were "not particularly low," only showing acceptably low distortion into higher impedances. One graph suggests the presence of crossover distortion. JA is disappointed with the way the amp measures.
different people, different feelings...

I listened three weeks intensely with the Dartzeel CTH-8550 and compare it with a lot of different integrated (Pass INT-150, Accuphase E450 / E-550, Luxman LU590AII, Mc 6900, Lindemann 882, Einstein, Sharp SM-SX100, Gryphon Diablo, Ayre AX-7e (IMO very very good for the money), Pathos Logos (my current amp), and some others. I also tried the PASS XP10 and the XA30.5 which were also very good. But IMO the Dartzeel is in its own class. Now I have to save up money...

So if you know a 5.000 $ amp, that sounds like the Dartzeel please let me know!


P.S. My system: Speakers Ayon Eagle, CDP RA Opus 21, Cables from Shunyata
I've had one for a month now and can positively state that it's an awesome unit replacing and compared to other very expensive US gear. The sound and ergonomics are top of the class. I have a pair of Mini-Exquisites and couldn't be more satisfied with the combo.I clearly understand that the price leads many to be biased against the unit because "it's only an integrated amp" but if you can afford the unit and are open minded you'll discover the beauty of Herve's design. I'm keeping mine a very long time.
Great integrated. The only comparable integrated is the Vitus SS-010 I use next to the Dart integrated. If it is overpriced - anyone has to decide by himself. to me it is a fairly priced integrated with a very nice onboard phono stage.
I am owner of Sroll Lyric for last few month.I have heard Dartzeel integrated in hifi show in Prague this year and I was disappointed as well,sounded little to bright and mechanical,maybee the speakers Wilson Benesh Chimera were the reason,I don't know but for the same money you can get the best inetgrated in the world Sroll Lyric.Please,it is not an advertising from the company,I am just an admirer of this product and I am very sad that the wide public is not aware of this treasure in hifi world.
These words you can find on his website and let me tell you there are absolutely correct,never heard anything like this in one box nor in 2,3,4 or more boxes!!!
Music is like Poetry. It is very abstract and everybody can feel something quite else when hearing it. Emotions from Music express themselves in us like invisible poetic lines. By means of our amplifier you can fully devote yourself to music Poetry, experience non-specifiable feelings. This amplifier has such extraordinary abilities that it literally excels in this “poetical” performance. That´s why we called it “LYRIC”.

During years of successful experiments with new technologies concerning analog signal processing we discovered what topology and physical properties of circuits are important for clean, natural and true sound reproduction. The output is the SIL technology in which these pieces of knowledge touch the very end of physical borders of capabilities of today´s component parts and production technologies. The LYRIC is a unique product of the highest possible category not only from the point of view of utility and technical characteristics but also as to high reliability and durability.

This amplifier reproduces a really clean and natural sound, perfectly controlled with a real dynamics and an excellent resolution of even the finest details. Its distinct characteristics is the precise depth of focus of all the dynamic peaks which don´t mask even the most silent instruments in the background of the record.

The reproduction is always full of emotions and pleasure and it is not tiring even during a long-term listening. On the contrary, when choosing a suitable genre, it works positively on the listener´s psyche and so it supports maximally healing effects of music. Thanks to the SIL technology the sound is not changed at all and it keeps all the described characteristics for very low, middle and high loudness’s.

These characteristics wouldn´t be fully used with a standard quality signal source. That´s why the amplifier contains an equally perfect D/A convertor which corrects jitter signals on the top level and in that way it needs above all data read in an errorless manner, which is only done well by the newest CD transports.

The experience with such a high amp and D/A technology shows that it is possible to get really top performance even from CD format which is comparable with high resolution formats. Even output sound from digital radios surprises the listeners.
The advantage of the SIL revolutionary technology comes to light above all during long-time hearing, best on precise loudspeakers capable of high resolution. They are commented upon too large drawing of records disadvantages, though, but after some experience with our technology you find out that huge majority of those disadvantages surprisingly disappears in full.
Goldylocks Rawks!!!
I am definitely in the enthusiast camp. I am a long term integrated user and have had many highly rated units at one time or another;
Viva solista
Lavardin IT
Karan K180
Pathos Inpol2
Ayon Spark
I use the latter 2 now. None have come near to what I have heard with the Dartzeel and I'm not a SS fan. Fast, in fact I can't recall anything so fast and transparent, good soundstage depth in particular, good imaging.
The last time I heard them for a prolonged listen was with Wilson Sashas and I don't like Wilson. They sounded wonderful with the Dartzeel. I have also heard the top of the range Pre and Monoblocks with Magico speakers. Great, but I still liked what the integrated could do.
In short, I would buy them tomorrow, if I could afford them, which I can't, even second hand. But if I win the lottery who knows. Do you have to do the lottery to win it?
Add YG Carmel to the list of speakers that work well with the Close To Heaven 8550. :)
Frankpiet - please can you expand on how the Dart compares to the Vitus, as I am looking in to both ... ?!!?

Symphonic line blows them both away
Hi Rossman,

I'm disappointing also listening the 108/18 from Dartzeel with several loudspeakers with an ease load. The sound is highly colored and slow in the transients. You can hear easily its limits when playing some big orchestra!
Its a good amp. but at 20k I would go for vac phi 200 monoblock.