DarTZeel NHB-108 Is this the best amp ever?

Too many screaming high end amp owner I know have been telling me that the DarTZeels are simply the best they've ever heard. Solid state and tubes irrespective. Are they right?
I think a makeover is due for the fasia. Having an ET stare me down is unsettling.
Hey Bill,

You've been talking to Jonathan again, ay.........John
Why don't you hear them yourself and do a review/comparison for all of us? :D

At that level, I think it comes down to personal preferences and system synergy.

Here's what Hooper wrote:

"Yes, there are amps out there that do this or that "better" than the 108."

Here's what Panorama wrote:

"As far as the DartZeel, I liked what I hear from the Tenor compared to the Dart I had in my room."

To me, the word "best" means that nothing can beat it. If another amp does just one thing better, I would see how one would prefer it over the Dart. From my limited experience, I don't think a solid state amp can ever do exactly what tube amps do best in, and vice versa.

I think from a marketing perspective, if Dartzeel ever comes out with the option of Silver or Black faceplates, it'll sell a lot more! Right now, I know what my girlfriend would say about the amp. :P (not that I'm a pushover or anything *cough*)

If the Dartzeel distributor ever drives up to Vancouver, perhaps he can bring one for me to audition :D

Anyways on with comments from people who actually know what they're talking about heh.
I've never even seen a DarTZeel amp, but I think this thread may become interesting so I want it on "my threads".

On something related to the topic at hand, I don't mind the color.
This web site (link below) Dart Eel is referred to as a "Bad Boy." The images certainly explain peoples objection to the style.

Well the Leather with Gold Fleck might pass for Unagi jerky. Tasty!

I've never seen the Dartzeel amp either but from the pictures, I don't necessarily mind the style or the colour. Just that looking at the design, it'll be so easy to offer a different colour faceplate changing what would be considered an "industrial" look. Unless Goldmember is behind all this...
I own a DarTZeel in France, which I bought months ago. Unfortunately, getting my speakers shipped here has been a nightmare. (spelled FRENCH GOVERNMENT/INTERNATIONAL SHIPPERS) After Menlo Worldwide turned down shipping the Kharma's to France after picking them up, they stayed in shipping hell for about three months. Finally, I had them delivered to my home in NY. (where they sit) Bax global deigned to ship them for only $2800 to France. I remember that my first BMW, a 1967 1600 cost $2652. It's kinda hard to spend more than that to ship speakers from one house to another. I won't! I ordered Von Schweikert VR4Jr's. Yes, I've become a Von Schweikert robot. I just figure that I could get them shipped here for a lot less than $2800 and that when I decide on what I want in the room, I'll have them shipped slow boat at a human price. It will be someone else's problem, not mine.

I bought an Audio Aero Capitole II to replace the one I sold to be brought here. It burned down and to the credit of Globe Marketing, Jody had it repaired under warranty (thank you) and returned (while the factory closed to move and we waited for them to find parts in France). I brought it with me this week. It sits on the floor of the living room. It is attached to the DarTZeel with Jena's.

Which brings me to this thread. No, I haven't heard the DarTZeel's. Yes, I likely will. No the VR4Jr's aren't here yet. Yes, I'm waiting for the delivery this morning.
Yes, I'll have some opinion if I ever hear the system run.
I believe that our three children took only slightly more time to arrive than this system.

I'm still interested in your opinions.

Bill, thanks for the clarification on the thread ... initially I thought you were considering the 'zeels for your VR-11 monoliths.

Personally, no matter how sweet it sounds, I think it is rather ugly industrial design. Perhaps, if they could change the face plate to a nice lacquered wood finish, with only one glowing light in blue.
Wow! Another best ever amp. I am interested in hearing the DarTZeel, but having been completely underwhelmed by the other superseded "best evers," e.g. Tenors and Halcros, I am a bit leery of the hype. But, then again, John Marks, who is, to me, the best reviewer being published these days, also loves this amp.

I have very efficient speakers. I find that none of the higher powered amps sound very good with my speakers. Different horses for different courses.
Interesting thread. Well, of course Lakefrontroad should open the box and plug it in. :)

Howie: Panorama heard a darTZeel setup incorrectly and still felt is was close to his reference Tenor amplifiers. When he heard it properly setup, he was singing a different tune. Hooper's comments, I think, were based on power. He felt if speakers needed more power than the darTZeel's provide, there might be a better solution. He replaced his Tenor Hybrid monoblocks with the darTZeel's and is completely satisfied and off the amplifier market. :)

When I brought in the darTZeel to audition, I had high expectations. Surprisingly, they were quickly surpassed when I heard it right out of the box. The level of clarity is unmatched while still retaining a musicality and harmonic truth that I will not sacrifice for anyting. If I had to describe myself, I would say I am a dedicated "tube guy". I can tell you that listening to the solid state darTZeel does not leave me wanting for anything. There are plenty of good amplifiers on the market, but only a few really special ones. This is in that very elite group. It is definitely my amplifier of choice in my system.

For those interested in hearing one, we will be showing 4 of them in a multi-channel setup in Las Vegas at the St. Tropez. The room will include the following:

Von Schweikert VR9SE
darTZeel NHB-108 Model One
Jena Labs Speaker Cables
Jena Labs Interconnects
Jena Labs Line Conditioning and Power Cords
EMM Labs Switchman 3
EMM Labs CDSD - SACD Transport
EMM Labs DAC6e
Silent Running Audio Isolation devices

I look forward to seeing some of you faceless AudiogoN members there!
Faceless!?!?! where's the love :^)
I have seen your face.... in those movies. Maybe that was not the face they were showing :) BT, she was real cute.
Hey Jtinn. Didn't Panorama's comments come from owning the Dartzeel? And Hooper said he was looking to get out of tubes though. :D Regardless, I'll be interested in hearing more of your comments comparing the Tenor Hybrids with the Dartz with Kharma speakers. I would still venture to think that the sound coming from these two amps would be quite different in character though.

Multichannel setup with all VR9SE? That would be interesting. Must be a big room.
Howie: No, Panorama never owned the darTZeel. I am sure he will in the future. :)
Hello Folks and happy holidays.

I heard this amplifier at it's USA introduction in 2002 at the NY Stereophile show.

I remember meeting the passionate designer of the amplifier and his significant other (both from Switzerland) and spending well over one hour being so captivated by it's sound and the associated equipment that was being used including a Goldmund Studietto turntable which is one of the best I've heard.

The owner also pointed out that he was using very basic speakers (brand I forget) as well as very cheap speaker wire. Clearly he was trying to demonstrate that his amplifier design was more important to the sound then the speaker wire provided. (I know this starts another "debate" but save that for another thread.) I was playing vinyl examples that he owned. Most were MFSL pressings of the highest quality.

In one word this amp is musical. Everything thrown at it yielded a picture that leaned towards harmonic richness but also precise and balanced. Far from the overt sterility of so many other solid state designs.

If I also remember correctly, he may have used an older Joule Electra tube preamp that obviously contributed in a big way to the harmonic presentation that I am reporting.

Be that as it may, this is one of the finest solid state amplifiers ever built. Both in sound and construction quality. The only others in it's league or better are Pass, Musical Fidelity, Threshold and Krell.
Be that as it may, this is one of the finest solid state amplifiers ever built. Both in sound and construction quality. The only others in it's league or better are Pass, Musical Fidelity, Threshold and Krell.
"The only others" - that's quite a limiting statement. If those are your comparison amps, there must be a number of other solid state amps that would be in the same league.

Danhirsh: I appreciate your passion for what you heard, but to make a statement like you did is a bit misleading. I no it is very innocent on your part, but it is very difficult to walk into a room at a show and hear a system you have no familiarity with and walk away saying that amplifier is not as good as this amplifier.

If you were very familiar with the speakers and had heard them with Pass, Musical Fidelity, Threshold and Krell, your statment would be based on valuable experience.

Please understand I am not trying to harass you about this, because I know you mean well.

Whatever passion I have left I keep for... Oh what the hell. Ain't anyone entitled to an opinion anymore? So? You don't like it?
That's why their called opinions.

As to my first real thoughts on the Dartzeel.
Yes, it's an opinion!
And I trust everyone won't agree with me.
Your opinion.

Here in Verberie,

The amp is marginally different sounding here in this house from the Tenor 300's in our other house. I can only make comparison based on speed in the bass, attack of horns and overall presentation of piano and orchestra. Actually, I haven't had a lot of time to just sit and listen alone. I have been able to listen to some cd's I know well and they are Jazz and Symphonies.

Given the distintly different environments, I'll have to await a side by side comparison in NY between the Tenors and the Dartzeels, but the similarity is remarkable. The openness is noticable as with the Tenors, the clarity of the detail and the separation of the detail is similar. The apparent diffence is the make up of inner detail shen listening to a string bass being plucked. With the NY room there are the beginning the mid note and the decay. All noticeable and distinct in good recordings. Here, there is bass bloat caused by what I presume is the stone and endless reverberation times which makes it difficult for me to get a handle on the detail.

I am not able to consider the diffences in the speakers which is huge and the efficiency which is greater than 10db. I am looking forward to a side by side with the Tenors in NY. There it's apples to apples.

The keynote for me is that this system is really good. But given the cost, It should be.

Richard Byrd, where are you?

Lakefrontroad: Verberie? I thought you were in Rhuys . :)
Shush! I tell everyone it's Verberie. It's really Rhuis. Don't tell.
Lakefront...Are you having more fun than we are?

Who's we?

What do you mean by fun?


I have great difficulty with fun.


And who did you say we were?

DARTZEEL NHB-108, is only "Effect of Fashion".
VIOLA LAB SYMPHONY Amps is this the best amps.

Since this hobby is so subjective, defining "the best" is often an exercise in futility. Then again, these types of discussions can serve as guideposts to what to explore and what to avoid, so, in that sense, they are useful. IMHO, the DarTZeel is definitely worth exploring. Whether it's the best amplifier out there, who knows? I can say this, though: It's the best amplifier that I've heard personally, and I've heard a few in my time. Its combination of clarity, speed, dynamics, and musicality is unsurpassed in MY experience. As I've mentioned before, the only potential caveat regards power. It may not be the best choice for EXTREMELY demanding loads. But my speakers (VR-9s) are very sensitive at 96 dB, and the amp can handle them without breaking a sweat. That's my 2 cent contribtion to the discussion!
This is interesting. Looks like folks have found an amp that competes with the Tenor Hybrids.

I am wondering if folks have gone back and compared the Tenor Hybrids with the Tenor OTL's??? I have listened to the 300's and the OTL and thought the OTL was better.

Maybe we should all go back to the OTL's?? Hmmm....

Rich, you're not the only one. But why go back, when the company is closed down?

Brian, you must really enjoy your transformations into a troll whenever the subject of tenor amplifiers come up. But I'll take the bait. Many companies were and are on the verge of bankrupcy (some become known some don't; some gets rescued while some don't; some form new companies, while some successfully restructures). Why buy classic cars? Why buy Quad Speakers (hey they at one time went bankrupt!) What about Nissan and Mazda? They're doing pretty well now. Why buy discontinued gear? Trump said it best when he filed for bankruptcy, "It doesn't matter - it's a modern-day thing, a legal mechanism." A good product is a good product, no matter how old it is. Have you check out the number of wanted ads for Sonic Frontier products? Do you know why discontinued DVD players and CD transports are so frequently recommended? Warranty and service convenience has nothing to do with it. But since you're a dealer for competing and similar products, I can see why you would want to diss Tenor every chance you get. I'm sorry, I don't mean to attack you. But you seem to hate Tenor with a vegeance which I find highly unprofessional and uncalled for.

Rich. I think it's a matter of taste and personal preferences. I would be interested in a direct comparison in my room, although I don't think that will ever happen :D What is interesting to me, is that Kharma owners seem to prefer the Hybrids, and those who prefer the OTLs are either non-owners or compared them in system that are not their's. Another variable is that the OTLs might act more like traditional tube amps and be more "tweakable" in the form of vibration control. But which is better for long-term ownership? Do Kharma owners prefer the Hybrids because they immediately give them what the OTLs have lacked and therefore give the impression of being better in almost every way? Or are they really better in every way. Does it once again come down to associated gear and personal tastes?

My impression is that they each of these amps along with the Dartzeels (in keeping with the thread) do some things better than the other. What virtues do you value more?
Howie: Tenor is restructuring and moving to a new location. They will be servicing (if needed) and selling amplifiers by January 15th.

Your points are well taken though.

Rmaurin (Rich): How ya doing :) Almost all of those who have heard the Hybrids, outside of Bill Parish's house, have felt they outperformed the OTL's. I do have one customer who loves the OTL's and prefers them to the Hybrids. He is the only one of my customers that feels that way.

Given the right speaker, the Tenor OTL's are clearly one of the finest sounding amps I have ever heard. I personally prefer the Hybrids slightly better. They may have a little better clarity than the OTL's, but ultimately they are almost identical other than the way the Hybrids easily outperform them in the bottom end control on most speakers.

Rich: Come to Vegas!!!
Thankyou Jonathan for supplying us with this information. I have heard from other reliable sources as well, that they are indeed restructuring and everyone is just waiting for the announcement. Maybe Trump was right. It's more of a legal mechanism :P I like the way Tenor markets their amps though. You're suppose to choose the amps based on the sensitivity of your speakers. Believe that low power sounds better? Get the 15WP!

I think this thread will pick up after the show. Too bad I can't be there.
Regarding A/B'ing the Tenor OTL's and hybrids, I did that in my home over a 2 week period when I had both amps.Contrary to what I've heard others say, and I'm not sure how many of them actually had both in the same system or heard them in different systems which isn't a fair comparison, I felt the 300's were superior. The midrange magic that some feel the OTL's had over the 300's is simply not the case in reality. The authority and significantly better botton end of the 300's balances the 300 across the spectrum, so the although the midrange magic is still there, it merely doesn't stand out as much as it does with the OTL's, relatively speaking. In my system, the DarTzeel is even better, same midrange magic that comes out of an even blacker background with virtually no noise floor, excellent extension at the frequency extremes, and a palpability that I'd not previously heard in a solid state amp, and very few tube amps. It competently heandles all the audiophile requirements, but more importantly is easily forgotten once the music starts and stands aside for the music which, to me, is its greatest attribute.The Tenors are some of the finest amps out there, and I could easily have lived with them for a long time. But the DarTzeel is magic.
Bare in mind folks that Mes comparisons were done listening solely to Right Said Freds timeless classic "I'm too sexy". Which is a true reference recording :^)
I think it is incumbent on the person giving information about these amps to tell us what speakers are being used, and any other equipment was involved in the evaluation, too.

These amps don't play without speakers, and matching can make or break an amp's performance.
Speakers utilized in the comparisons I made included Kharma Exquisites, 3.2 CRM, Midi Grand Enigma, Von Schweikert VR-4jr's and VR 9's. Front end is EMM labs. Cabling is Jena Labs and room is by Rives. I can't intelligently respond as to whether or not these amps play without speakers as I didn't try :^) And Tim, I feel it is incumbant upon me to tell you..... I am too sexy.......