DarTZeel Preamp


Does anyone have experience with the new DarTZeel NHB 18NS Preamplifier? A few 'Goners have commented on hearing the unit at 2005 CES, but I was wondering in particular if anyone has purchased one, or heard one in a familiar system or at a dealer for instance. Thanks.
ubglub
I have one on order, and, with God's good grace, it should be here in several weeks. :) I heard the prototype at CES, and it floored everyone who heard it. We were using the preamp section of the EMM DCC2 (which, IMO, is one of the most accurate, revealing pre sections out there), and the Dart was clearly better in every regard: quieter, much more fluid, more dynamic, more revealing, etc., etc., etc. Jonathan Tinn (JTinn) and Mike Lavigne (Mikel) have both heard the finalized version, and both are positively drooling over it. DarTZeel is starting to get some very good press over here (that utterly ridiculous Soundstage review excepted), and the preamp should vault them into the stratosphere. It's certainly not cheap at 20k, but that has more to do with the weak dollar than anything else. IMO, judging from what I heard at CES, it'll set a new standard in preamp design. It's that good. Give Jonathan a call, and he'll go into detail about it with you. His email is info@chambersaudio.com. Hope this helps!
Hooper, so just because someone doesn't agree with your opinion of a DarZeel product his opinion is "utterly ridiculous?" I have always thought you were more open-mined and reasonable than that. This hobby is almost entirely based on personal tastes and opinion. If I subscribe to your theory, then I would have to call your comments and opinion of Kharma speakers "utterly ridiculous" because I do not share your opinion. However, I choose not to do that because it makes no sense since your comments are based on YOUR opinion, YOUR tastes and preferences and in the context of YOUR system (or other systems you heard them in) with all the numeroius variables involved.

Just because I like white chocolate and you like milk chocolate does not make you or me "utterly ridiculous." It simply makes us different in our preferences and opinions. I know the reviewer who wrote the review you call "utterly ridiculous" and he had NO ulterior motive and simply wrote what he heard and believed - just like you do when posting here or on Audio Asylum.

On another note, did you go to that first meeting of the SE Mich Audio group in Royal Oak?
Frank:

I thought twice about writing that comment--perhaps it was worded a bit strongly--but I thought I should make my thoughts known. (And I actually am pretty open-minded. If you read my posts, that should be pretty obvious.) If you read that review, Jeff Fritz paired ONE DartZeel with the Alexandria X-2s. He claimed that the Wilson is an 8-ohm load, but that only tells part of the story. Actually, the Wilson dips below 4 ohms in the bass and elsewhere, and that may explain his complaints about the bass. As for value, I can understand his reservations. The cost of the Dart is largely based on the weak dollar. And I didn't agree at all with his comments about the comparisons with the M1.2 and Boulder 1060. You own the Lamm, correct? I don't mean to step on any toes, but I've heard the 1.2 several times in friends' homes--one actually had them paired with Kharma 3.2s--but the sound just wasn't my cup of tea. (I prefer great SS to great tube, anyway.) While the construction of the Boulder 1060 is beyond reproach, I found its sound sterile and uninvolving. Same thing with its bigger brother. Yes, it was Fritz's opinion, and to that he is entitled. But I'm entitled to mine, and I found his choice of partnering gear a little suspect. I heard a single Dart paired with the Maxx2s, and I didn't like it all. The X-2s simply were not a good match for the Dart. And to make the pronouncement that the Dart is not a good value, based on what was clearly a system mismatch, is a little irresponsible. You, as a reviewer and longtime audiophile, should know how important gear matching is--especially when your comments could potentially make or break a company. Also, you write for Soundstage, don't you? Was your post perhaps a little influenced by that? If not, I apologize. At any rate, as you say, we're all entitled to our opinions--that what this hobby is all about anyway--but I think journalists have a responsibility for covering all their bases before they make a pronouncement like Fritz did. As a one-time writer for a New York newspaper, I know all about that. BTW, I didn't attend the meeting. Ellice wanted to see the Rodin exhibit at the DIA. After years of her suffering with my audiophilia, I thought it time to reciprocate. :) I may host a meeting once I get the preamp in and everything broken in. Then we can get a chance to argue again!
I hate to disappoint you buddy, but I won't be "arguing" with anyone. The problem IMHO is there is TOO much of that in this hobby anyway - too much music to enjoy to waste time arguing.

As far as your points made above though, I thought I should at least clarify a few things:

1. Yes, I own Lamms and you didn't step on my toes - that was the point of my post - I like the Lamms you like the Darts - so why does one of us have to be "wrong" or have his toes stepped on? What I guess I find silly is how people get so offended if someone doesn't like or agree with our opinions of our gear. Who really cares who likes what or even if a reviewer likes our stuff? Is that what we are left to? We now need our purchasing decisions to be validated by other audiophiles or, worse yet, by reviewers?

2. Yes, I NOW write for Soundstage but I did NOT know Jeff or have any affiliation with Soundstage at any time when the Darts were auditioned or reviewed or even before the review was published. As far as Jeff being irresponsible, I find that comment totally unjustified. The Darts are supposed to be 100 watt amps are they not? With an 8 ohm nominal load even dipping to 4 and with the Wilsons sensitivity my Lamms at 110 watts have NO problem driving the Wilsons (or my Kharmas). I could see if Jeff paired a weak SET amp or the 30 watt Aloia with the Wilsons, but most would think a 100 watt solid state amp should be able to drive the Wilsons. In addition, many people who have heard Marc Mickelson's system (the Editor at Soundstage who drives his Wilson Maxx 2s with the 18 watt Lamms with no problem) claim the sound is incredible, so how is Jeff "irresponsible" by assuming the 100 watt Dart was a good match?

3. I am confused by your comment about the Lamms. You say you heard the M1.2s with the Kharma and it wasn't your cup of tea - no problem, your opinion based on your tastes. BUT, you then say "I prefer great SS to great tubes anyway." Why this reference? Did you really hear the ML2.1s which are the Lamm 18 watt SET amps? Or the ML 1.1s which are 80 watt tube amps? The M1.2s are 110 watt hybrids (but really are essentially SS amps as they only have 1 tube).

Finally, as I said above, I had no affiliation with Soundstage when the Darts were reviewed. The reason I responded is that it seems a bit hypocritical and disingenuous to me to attack someone's opinion as "utterly ridiculous" when at the same time expressing your own opinion on the same issue - when they are both just that - opinions. Don't get me wrong, I do agree that if Jeff paired and old set of Soundlab U-1s with a 12 watt SET amp you could call his opinion into question due to system mismatching - I just don't see how pairing an $18,000, 100 watt solid state amp with Wilsons amounts to a glaring mismatch sufficient to render Jeff's opinion "utterly ridiculous." IMHO, in retrospect you might have been better served by saying that, in your opinion, Jeff did not hear all the Darts had to offer paired with the Wilsons as the Dart is not sufficient to drive them.

Just my $.02

ps - GOOD CALL on the DIA - always a smart idea to keep our better halves happy.
Frank:

You make good points. And I don't want to argue, either. I was just being facetious. Guess my humor needs a little work. You're right: There is WAY too much arguing and dick swinging in this hobby. It makes my stomach churn. As for my calling Jeff's comments irresponsible, again I may worded things too strongly, but IMO the X-2 is NOT the best match for the DarTZeel. Maybe our sound of "great" sound differs. The DarTZeel may be 100w, but for some reason I can't explain, it doesn't sound as good with really tough loads, which the Wilson definitely is in the bass. I heard another friend's Grand Slamms paired with the 2.1s, and, at least with the music I'm used to listening to (rock), it just didn't have the slam and balls I wanted. Others may have different expectations, and that's fine, but for me, the combo just didn't do it. But, that's my OPINION. I did hear the M1.2s that you have (I think) paired with the Kharma 3.2s, and even though it essentially is a solid state amp, it still does have a tube, which influences the sound. If not, why would Vladimir put it in there? Anyway, I liked the sound alot, but something (I'm not quite sure what; I have to flush the cannabis from my brain) just didn't click with me. I didn't mean to start a war with you with my words. I thought that Jeff's matching of the Dart was a little suspicious because of the Dart's quirky speaker-matching characteristics--and I stand by that--but I don't want this to turn nasty. There's more than enough of that on these forums. Let's just say, we agree to disagree about certain things. I will watch my words a little more carefully from now on, but in the heat of the moment, sometimes things don't come out as you quite intended. I'm sure you're not immune to that, either. Ellice loved the exhibit. Makes my impending purchase of the Dart preamp a little easier. Did you make it to the inaugural meeting of the SE Michigan Audio Club (or whatever it's called)? I'd like to make it to the next one. Maybe we'll see each other there. No hard feelings?
Frank:

You make good points. And I don't want to argue, either. I was just being facetious. Guess my humor needs a little work. You're right: There is WAY too much arguing and dick swinging in this hobby. It makes my stomach churn. As for my calling Jeff's comments irresponsible, again I may worded things too strongly, but IMO the X-2 is NOT the best match for the DarTZeel. Maybe our concepts of "great" sound differs. The DarTZeel may be 100w, but for some reason I can't explain, it doesn't sound as good with really tough loads, which the Wilson definitely is in the bass. I heard another friend's Grand Slamms paired with the 2.1s, and, at least with the music I'm used to listening to (rock), it just didn't have the slam and balls I wanted. Others may have different expectations, and that's fine, but for me, the combo just didn't do it. But, that's my OPINION. I did hear the M1.2s that you have (I think) paired with the Kharma 3.2s, and even though it essentially is a solid state amp, it still does have a tube, which influences the sound. If not, why would Vladimir put it in there? Anyway, I liked the sound alot, but something (I'm not quite sure what; I have to flush the cannabis from my brain) just didn't click with me. I didn't mean to start a war with you with my words. I thought that Jeff's matching of the Dart was a little suspicious because of the Dart's quirky speaker-matching characteristics--and I stand by that--but I don't want this to turn nasty. There's more than enough of that on these forums. Let's just say, we agree to disagree about certain things. I will watch my words a little more carefully from now on, but in the heat of the moment, sometimes things don't come out as you quite intended. I'm sure you're not immune to that, either. Ellice loved the exhibit. Makes my impending purchase of the Dart preamp a little easier. Did you make it to the inaugural meeting of the SE Michigan Audio Club (or whatever it's called)? I'd like to make it to the next one. Maybe we'll see each other there. No hard feelings?
No hard feelings? NO WAY you 2-bit ingor . . . just kidding. ;-) My whole point has been that there should be no hard feelings and I never felt this was nasty because it has all been JUST opinion, which is why I am of the "opinion" that since it is all "opinion" we should not need to condemn another's "opinion."

AFAIC, the fact that we all buy different gear is proof we DO hear differently and have different opinions so I never take offense to someone else not liking my stuff.

I didn't get to the first meeting as I was on vacation but I may host the next one. We will see. I hope to see you there.

Frank
Fmpnd: The comment of "utterly ridiculous" is extremely valid since "Soundstage" had an agenda and lied to me. There was a promise to listen to the amplifier after 30 days of hard break-in, which was not even close to being done, as well as removing "DC compensation", which, again was not done. Both Jeff Fritz and Marc Michelson had assured me that these requests would be honored and I was lied to by them. As a matter of fact, Mike Malinowski, of 6 Moons, recieved the amplifier directly from Jeff Fritz and acknowledged in his review that after about two weeks or so of his extensive use of the product that he heard a dramatic change in the amplifier. He happened to use the same speakers as Fritz.

When Marc begged for Soundstage to review the amplifier, I told him I was not interested because of his strong ties to LAMM and Jeff's to Boulder. I should have followed my instincts. Jeff is as slimy as I have ever read. Totally unprofessional and an out and out liar.

As a reviewer, shouldn't you write for something other than that rag? I do not know why you would pick such a magazine. You should be able to write for almost anyone...Soundstage? Please.
Hooper: I absolutely disagree with you about there being a mismatch with the Wilson Alexandria. The darTZeel drives them incredibly well. Please read:

http://6moons.com/audioreviews/dartzeel/108.html

Mike Malinowski had the same exact amplifier that Jeff Friz used for his review. His experience was totally different, and I know why. Mr. Malinowski states, "Break-in: The 108 needs break-in. Let me rephrase that. It requires a metric ton of break-in. My break-in procedure is very simple. Place product in the equipment chain, listen for a short time, leave it running and leave for days. Come back, listen and repeat the process until the sound stops changing. My unit was not new. It was a review sample forwarded from another industry reviewer. For this piece, it took 2.5 weeks of continuous playing in addition to whatever the previous reviewer had put on it to arrive at sonic stability. It would have been an unforgivable mistake to evaluate this amp before then."

I refered to this in my response to Frank in my previous reply. I do not mean to be reduntant or even reduntant.
Frank; i hope all is well with you.

no amp is perfect to all ears or in all systems. and all the amps discussed in this thread are very good.

regarding Mr. Fritz's review of the darTZeel NHB-108; Mr. Fritz did not say that the darTZeel was not a good amp, but that for it's price it was not competitive with two other references that he has on his speakers; that it was not 'special' enough sounding and lacked dynamics.

i had two issues with Mr. Fritz's conclusions.

1. Soundstage asked the darTZeel importer for an amp to review. at that time all the demos were loaned out but the importer did have a brand new one that he could send along.....but.....it would require a 30 DAY BREAKIN for it to sound correct. Soundstage agreed to spend the time for that breakin....as they were anxious to get the darTZeel amp.

in the past all the darTZeel amps were burned in for 30 days at the factory...and no additional breakin was required. when the importer ordered 30 of the things at once the factory was not able to burn all these in at once and so the importer agreed to pass on the info to darTZeel owners. the importer had been careful to only send out broken in darts for demo.

2. the older draTZeel amps had no automatic DC compensation. it needed to be adjusted by hand once put into a system. with the new run of amps (with a 'B' designation in their serial number) the amps do have automatic DC compensation. unfortunately, the amps don't sound nearly as good when this auto circut is engaged. there is a jumper that allows you to turn off DC compensation.

the importer asked Soundstage to call him ONCE BREAKIN WAS COMPLETE to get instructions about turning off the DC compensation.

i have had 5 different darTZeels in my room....one of the orginals and 4 of the new version. i have broken in 4 new darTZeel's and turned of the DC compensation in each. the performance is really dramatically different in terms of refinement, noisefloor, and textural nuance when the DC compensation is turned off. at 30 days the amp 'gets its legs' in terms dynamic grip and low frequency weight.

Mr. Fritz had the darTZeel for 2 weeks and did not play it continuously. he never checked back with the importer for information. he was not impressed....which is understandable. i had the same initial experience with the dart. i listened to a new dart for about a week and then went back to my Tenor Hybrids. a month later i tried the darTzeel again.....only this time i kept using it. the improvement was not gradual....all of a sudden at about 30 days the thing stood up and came alive. i called the importer and then he told me to defeat the DC auto compensation.

the amp was a different animal.

Jeff Fritz wrote what he heard; no one questions that. but, what he heard was not what the darTZeel amp is about.

the same amp that had gone to Mr. Fritz next went to Mike Malinowski of Stereo Times. Mike also has X-2's. Mike loved the darTZeel, wrote a review, and bought the damn thing.

the darTzeel amp is not perfect, and not for everyone. but it is very special.

and then we get to the dart preamp.....WOW!
Mikelavigne: As usual, you stated exactly my feelings in a way I might have been better saying. Maybe that is why I am not a reviewer and generally not regarded as someone who is politically correct.:)
jeez, you guys all need therapy!
Can we go back to discussing the preamp now?
Hello All,

I think that we all can agree that adequate break in is essential for proper analysis of any audio or video component. Many great pieces of gear require a long break in period before they give you even a hint of what to expect. It is irresponsible fo a reviewer to make any bold comments before the piece was fully broken in.

Responsible journalism begins with the understanding that certain products require adequate break in before they reach their true potential. Some reviewers may not know any better ... perhaps because they haven't the first hand exposure or maybe they have a core belief that every component should only require a little amount of time to fully break in.

Regardless, the reviewer should inquire what the normal break in period is and other pertainent info, such as the DC compensation, in this case.

It should be the reviewer's goal to do whatever possible to make the reviewed piece sound optimal ... this should include proper isolation, cabling, etc.

This speaks volumes about the reviewer in question and hopefully not about the magazine as a whole.

Respectfully,

Jack Seaton

Ubglub: Where are you located? I have it here in Portland for a short time before I send it back to Switzerland for the last minute fine tuning which did not get done due to my rushing darTZeel to send it for the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Great show, I recommend it to you for next year!

The first production run of the preamplifiers will be shipping in November. I am sure someone here can share their thoughts. Mike Lavigne has had the unit for a little time to play with and Hooper, MES and quite a few others have been exposed to it.

Since my opinion would take some criticism from some of the Audiogon users due to me being the importer, I will refrain from sharing how brilliant it sounds :)

Artg: More therapy? :)
Jtinn:

The Malinowski review is quite interesting--and heartening to an owner of the DarTZeel amp. I'm a little surprised that Mike had such good results with the X-2, since mine with the Maxx2s was less than impressive. I chalked it up to the impedence dips in the speaker, but perhaps I was wrong. Maybe the amp wasn't broken in. Who knows? I've been wrong enough times to fill the Grand Canyon.
Jtin. Why didn't u just break the amp in b4 giving it to Jeff Fritz to review.

Surely u as the importer has a vested interest in making sure any unit u distribute is ready 4 action.

than no excuses.
JTinn, thanks for the offer. I'm on the E coast, hardly convenient. I didn't realize that the first run of the preamp hadn't even been shipped yet. Will you or anyone from DartZ be demonstrating the preamp at CES in Jan?

MikeLavigne, Hooper or MES, would you care to comment on the preamp alone? Did any of you hear it with an amp OTHER than the DartZ?
I was fortunate enough to be able to hear the DartZ amplifier in my own system. The owner (who I met through doing business on Audiogon) lives very nearby and graciously agreed to bring over his DartZ for a head to head showdown with my CAT JL2. We turned both amps on and went out for a bite to eat so each would be properly warmed up when we got back. Maybe it was just my speakers (EggWorks Savoys) but compared to the CAT the DartZ just sounded like a soft, smooth, dynamically compressed solid state amplifier. We just kind of looked at each other, blinked and stared. I’m sure the DartZ is just as good as everybody says it is but you should be mindful of the load it is asked to drive.
"1. Yes, I own Lamms and you didn't step on my toes - that was the point of my post - I like the Lamms you like the Darts - so why does one of us have to be "wrong" or have his toes stepped on? What I guess I find silly is how people get so offended if someone doesn't like or agree with our opinions of our gear. Who really cares who likes what or even if a reviewer likes our stuff? Is that what we are left to? We now need our purchasing decisions to be validated by other audiophiles or, worse yet, by reviewers?"

Truer words have never been spoken.

Reading through most of these threads don't we always find the hype coming from the people who own them.

I know both Jonathan as well as Mike Lavigne and have utmost respect for both and can call them my friends. I have surely been just as culpable with me hyping my gear.

FWIW, I own X-2's and am driving them with Lamm ML 2.1's at 18 wpc with plenty of head room to spare. Only once have I made these amps clip so, to say that the DarT is not a match for the big bass on the X-2 simply doesn't cut it with me. In "my" system the ML 2.1 is simply the most musical amp that I ever heard. I have talked to Mike Malinowski about the Lamm ML 2.1's. He expressed doubt that when pushed to high volumes they would take a last gasp. MIke has X-2's as do I. I can say in all honesty that I have run these amps at volumes sufficiently high to make my ears bleed.

This whole hobby is nothing more than a "pick your flavor". You like yours and I like mine. Neither is correct. My mantra for the past 33 years in which I have been involved in this hobby is "it all boils down to 'our' ears and 'our' wallets.

I also know Jeff Fritz and he too is my friend and I find the unkind remarks made above by people who I call my friends are less than charitable and very demeaning.

All of you seem to be looking for some validation in your gear. I have been certainly just as guilty. It seems that for some of you who have posted here the holy grail in your systems seems to be forever replaced with the next holy grail with each new component added or changed. It seems at some point there comes to be the Law of Diminishing Returns. My mentor in stereo always had a very important question he would ask of me when I changed or added something and claimed to have replaced the holy grail with the holy grail. He wopuld always ask me "Did I hear something better or did I hear something different?" This is the $64K question because IMO switching out gear only often only changes the flavor, but to our ears might make it sound better.

All of you --myself included--need to sit back and just enjoy the music. To chastise a reviewer for a lousy review IMO is just not right. You pay your money and you take your chances. It doesn't mean that the reviewer is an SOB or disengenuous.

Just my $0.02
As I've said in another thread I've only heard the Dartzeel in few ocasions with Sonus Faber Amati, and my opinion is similar to what bmelehu wrote "soft, smooth, dynamically compressed solid state amplifier". I could had the adjectif coloured.
Was this a case of speaker-amp mismatch? I dont know but the sound did not thrill me.
My my, what a furor a few hastily chosen words can cause. It's completely true that there is no "right" or "wrong" in this hobby. There are many ways up the audio mountain. Each person who has posted to this thread has his own, and each is equally valid, IMO. My comments about Jeff Fritz's review did not paint him as an "SOB" or "disengenous," even though, in my haste, I did call his review "utterly ridiculous." I don't really feel that way, but at the time of the review, I felt that the X-2s were a hard load for the DarTZeels, and that he should have either chosen a different speaker or a different amp. My experience with the Maxx2/Dart combination did nothing to change my mind about that. But since some here are having great luck driving the X-2s with 18W Lamms, maybe I missed something. Maybe the Darts truly weren't broken in, hence the lackluster showing. I trust JTinn when he says that the Dart can drive the X-2 to ear-splitting levels. I just have to hear it for myself. As for the Fritz review, it may not have been for the reasons I cited, but his journalism DID leave a lot to be desired. See Jonathan's and Jack's comments above for a recap.
Hooper

Very Interesting

When I went through my residency in OBGYN one of my professors used to tell us that the best way to be a successful consultant is to agree with the doctors who send you patients for referral. Obviously he was talking tongue in cheek but you understand my analogy. Is Jeff Fritz falling outside the mainstream because he had the brass cajones to say what he heard?

Understand that I am merely asking a question here and obviously there will be two sides to the argument. I am neither for or against the DarTZeel quite honestly, and as I have said above, Jonathan, Mike Lavigne as well as Jeff Fritz are all friends of mine. I am in no camp but merely playing the Devil's Advocate.

I remember when Halcro amps hit the market. There was the same street buzz as there is here
If Jeff Fritz was told to break the amp in for 30 days and remove dc compensation and it was not done, this can mean only 2 things

1. There was a hidden agenda to give a poor review.

2. Pure laziness on the part of the reviewer to do the work required.

I think any sensible person would realise that the first point is very unlikely.
But this still does not excuse Soundstage's respectability as a publication, and if I was a manufacturer I would be wary of sending anything to them for review.

But then there is also the issue of the importer being at fault, why the hell don't you break the gear in yourself before sending stuff out??

It never ceases to amaze me when I read reviews where a componant improves after 200 hours of break in. Either the reviewer is lying or the distributor of the product is an idiot who is trying to cut his own throat by not presenting the product in the best possible light.
Oneobgyn:

I understand and appreciate your stance. I don't think Jeff Fritz fell outside the mainstream because he described what he heard. At first I thought that he had matched his components poorly, but I trust Jonathan and Mike when they say that an 18W amp can drive the X-2s successfully, so a 100-watter should as well. My experience with the Maxx2s led me astray, as there must have been something wrong with the Dart at that demo. Either it wasn't broken in or something else was amiss. That experience led me to conclude that the upper-end Wilsons were tough loads not ideally suited for the DarTZeel. Obviously the 6 Moons review has proved me wrong. Wouldn't be the first time. At any rate, I want to let this rest. You have a beautiful system that must give you immense pleasure and satisfaction. Mine is well different from yours, but it also gives me satisfaction. Your comments about the Halcro, BTW, are accurate, though I think the buzz was even stronger with the Halcro. IMHO, and to my ears, the Halcro generally didn't live up to the hype. Maybe the DarTZeel will. Who knows? Only time will tell. I'm a pretty happy camper right now, though, and that's all that counts to me.
To recap, the darTZeel amp needs continuous burn-in for three to four weeks, as mentioned in the 6moon review.

As a result, the importer could not burn-in the amp for Mr. Firtz. Only Mr. Firtz could burn-in the amp for his review.

I would like to declare I was against the darTZeel amp and think it is simply a "soft, smooth, dynamically compressed, tube-sounding" overpriced solid state amplifier several months ago.

Now I change my mind, YMMV.

Cheers,
Sjmgr
Sorry for the typo. That should read as Mr. Fritz.

Sjmgr
As Uglub said, can we get back to the preamp again? How does it compare in character (please no best or better commentary) to other leading amps and if I am not mistaken it was designed specifically with DarTZeel power amp in mind including connectivity....so how does it perform with other power amps from different mfrs?
First let me say that even if I conveyed exactly how I felt in my post, it was probably in bad taste on my part and I regret stating it the way I did. Certainly I could have told the story and people would have been able to draw their own conclusions. I guess growing up in NY I tend to avoid sugar coating.

Downunder: Many reviewers like to report on how a product sounds out of the box and describe the changes that take place during break-in. As an audiophile, I like to read about what to expect. In this case it was purely a rush request with a complete understanding upfront that the amplifier ABSOLUTELY needed break-in. The condition of Soundstage doing the review on their time schedule, was that they could not recieve an amplifier that was broken in. There were just none available. They agreed and I sent it. In hind sight, I should have followed my instincts and just held to my original decline of their request.

Ubglub: Yes, I will be showing the darTZeel NHB-18NS Preamplifier with the NHB-108 amplifier in Las Vegas.

Oneobgyn: I did not have any regrets until I read your post. I know you are kind of caught in the middle of this and that is not a fun place to be. Not my intentions!
I would think we need to wait a bit longer for the shipment of the first commercial batch, or the first industrial review of the preamp, if one is really going to pursue this option :^)

Cheers,
Sjmgr
OK guys; so you want to know about the dart pre? you sure you don't want to debate reviewing methodology a little more?

;^)

i had one of the first two production run dart pre's (the other one is in Europe) in my room for a week prior to the RMAF, and then for a few days right afterwards. so about 10 days in total. this unit is from the initial production run but was not fully functional. it was rushed here so it could be shown at the RMAF. it only had one BNC output and one RCA input operational. the remote control was still flukey. i am told fully functional dart pre's will ship in November (mine is fully paid for and in the first batch).

for the first week i had it i assumed that it was running on the battery power......as i drooled all over myself at it's amazing performance (for those of you that have not already read my comments click on my system below and read the more recent posts on my system thread). the day i shipped it out to RMAF i found Herve' e-mailed me to let me know that the software for the pre-production pre was buggy and you needed to unplug the pre if you wanted to hear it is DC mode (this will not be necessary for the regular production units). so all my initial comments related to the pre running on AC. as it turned out; i ended up only listening for about 20 minutes total in battery mode due to some pre-production issues. these 20 minutes were quite mind-blowing.

so i have listened to the new dart pre for a week in my room; then for 4 days at RMAF (in a very similar system but different room), and then back in my room for a few more days.

Henryhk, to answer your questions;

since only one BNC output was operational; it was not possible to try the new pre with anything but the proprietary darTZeel 'zeel' connector (BNC connectors with a 50 ohm cable) and dart amps. i could not compare cables or other amps. it is too bad as i really wanted to know how my Valhalla interconnects and Tenor Hybrids might have compared. when i get my new pre (with all the outputs operational) that will be one of the first things i try.

if i were guessing, i would expect that most of the magic of the pre would transfer to other amps. the only caution would be that the darTZeel amps are particlarly quiet and without any sort of mechanical nature or any sort of added warmth. the pre is sooo transparent that any coloration of any kind will be fully rendered.

how does the new darTZeel pre compare to other preamps? i can only relate it directly to my Balanced Placette RVC passive. first, i have compared the Placette to around 15 SOTA pre's over the last 4 years and always preferred the Placette in my room and system for it's total transparency, lack of veiling, superior microdynamics, and naturalness without edge.

the new dart pre improves on every aspect of the Placette's character and in a few ways goes waaay beyond. first, there is a liquidity, palpability, and delicacy that is simply unique. it took me a few hours of listening before i could understand how this was happening. eventually i figured out that there was a layer of 'greyness' that was removed from the music, a kind of distortion that i had been accepting as detail and texture. with this greyness gone; the music was just there without edge, with considerably more substance and nuance. everything just was more real and pulsating with life......more ACTION.....like 'live' when the recording captured that. details that had been obscure or just hinted at became significant. separation between instruments was greater but also more natural. the greyness also had given an unnatural edge to things....with that gone the soundstage was more like live.

it's late, i gotta go to bed....more later.
"Jtinn" why don't you drop the vitriol and face reality. There was nothing wrong with the Soundstage review. I just read it and it seemed extremely honest and to the point. Yes, there is an opinion in the review but, that's what this hobbly thrives on. 90% of the posts around here are opinions. Frankly, that particular Soundstage review is one that I would like to seem more of instead of the regular "sugar coated" reviews that we see in some of the other media pubs.

An $18K amplifier should not require break in and, besides, break in is largely a pschoacoustic effect that lays with the person, not so much the equipment (except maybe speakers). It's a largely overhyped syndrome.

Would Honda send out a car and tell their dealers to be sure and tighten the bolts because they were hurrying production? Of course not, nor would any other company of merit. I expect an $18K amplifier to sing it's best tune right out of the box. And, I suspect that it is in this case - it's just a case were an amplifier with no global feedback is more sensitive to the speaker it's connected to than one with moderate or large amounts of global feedback.

But so what, I don't care about technicalities, I just care about sound. And, Soundstage provided a well written opinion of this sound.

You sound more like a spoiled NY brat whining because your mother didn't allow you to take a cookie at the grocery store.

Get a life.

OK Mike you got me--I am totally in the dark when you say the DarT pre has "liquidity, delicacy and palpability"

I am a simple guy and have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Please explain what you mean.
i guess we really do want to debate review methodology. if you want my further take on the dart pre you'll find it on my system thread when i have the time.

regarding what Honda might do. Honda spends around 2 Billion dollars and at least 4 years to develop a new model. the market expectation is likely up to 1 to 3 million units worldwide for the model run. and......they still put break-in oil in the crankcase and advise that the best gas milage won't occur until at least 5000 to 10,000 miles. it is important to be easy on the brakes for the first few 100 miles. on certain models, the RPM's need to be restricted over the first 500 miles. the seats and suspension do slightly 'breakin' over the first 500 to 1000 miles. i drive 3 to 4 new demos a year for 25 years so i'm quite expert on breakin for Hondas. so for a company that is race engineering based; clearly breakin is reality.

many times customers complain about their car because THEY DIDN'T READ THE OWNERS MANUAL OR PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT THE SALESPERSON TOLD THEM ABOUT BREAKIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

in fact; anyone can get on the internet and post a complaint about their Honda whether they followed initial instructions or not. when a complaint finally gets to me i ask why they didn't just call us first so WE COULD HAVE EXPLAINED IT TO THEM......AGAIN.

sound familiar?

Jeff's review was not wrong, just like my customers are not wrong. but their perspective is incomplete without following all the instructions so the product will perform as it should.

next case.......

Yes, it does sound familiar, Mike. That was my point.

Remember this? http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=hirez&n=200129&highlight=Esoteric+Jack+Seaton&r=&session=

Jack
Jack,

regarding how my post on the Esoteric/emmlabs comparison compares to Jeff's review;

1. my post was not a formal review, it was a one-day shootout...no more, no less.

2. full disclosure. i was very forthcoming about exactly the circumstances of what i did, down to the shelves and interconnects used.....with a picture of the setup.

3. breakin. at least i addressed the issue and said what i knew.

4. i mentioned that the gear was set up according to what the importer had told my friend. i certainly did not ignore any specific insrtuctions that were given me.

i gave any reader enough info to judge for themselves exactly whether my conclusions were valid. also, i had the comments of two other listeners included.

i did not represent my 'shootout' as the last word and even questioned whether there might be something wrong with the Esoteric gear.
Mike:
I certainly hope that nobody took your "Esoteric 5-box ----Meitner shootout-----tomorrow" as the last word, although there are those out there that take the word of a man with the funny little (R) next to it as just that, regardless if it was valid or not. It is the reviewers responsibility to provide a valid report, is it not? Isn't that in question here?

Fortunately, there are folks out there that realize that DarTZeel AND Esoteric require a long break in period and that for suitable break in period AND proper isolation (including several different coupling/decoupling attempts) are required to provide a VALID comparison or report of any kind.

And, I haven't even addressed external damping with pieces like the HRS plates or cabling (and so on) to attempt system integration.

In this case, the DC compensation switch was also ignored, which anyone with first hand experience on the earlier DarTZeel can tell you, makes a dramatic difference.

Responsible journalism. It isn't a one way street determined by what you personally own.

Best,

Jack
Since anyone who disagrees with Mr. Tinn or Mr. Lavigne seems to get lambasted, lets look at JUST WHY NOBODY should give any credibility to anything Mike Lavigne or Hooper says on this thread (Mike and Andy, don't get mad yet, it's nothing about you, it's about the problematic logic of Mr. Tinn so read on).

In Mr. Tinn's vitriolic post above he states and I quote:

"When Marc begged for Soundstage to review the amplifier, I told him I was not interested because of his strong ties to LAMM and Jeff's to Boulder. I should have followed my instincts. Jeff is as slimy as I have ever read."

So from this quote we see that Jtinn's position is that Marc's ownership of Lamm gear and Jeff's ownership of Boulder gear constitute "strong ties" to those respective companies sufficient to render their credibility unfit to give an unbiased opinion on DartZeel amps. In addition, it should be noted that Marc, while knowing Vladimir Lamm and Jeff while knowing the people at Boulder are not "good friends" with them - just owners and admirers of their gear.

However, in the case of Mr. LaVigne and Hooper (Andy) Jtinn as well as Mike and Andy have admitted publicly in this forum and AA that they are "good friends" with Jonathan Tinn. To those close friendships we must add the FACT that Andy and Mike own Dartzeel amps and preamps (sold by Jtinn), Von Schweikert VR-9s (sold by Jtinn) and EMM Labs gear (sold to them by Jtinn).

Therefore, based on Jtinn's OWN logic on why we should NOT trust the opinions Marc or Jeff due to their "strong ties" (when Marc's and Jeff's are based on ownership alone and not close friendships), we CERTAINLY THEN CANNOT trust the opinions of Hooper or Mike since they not only OWN all Jtinn gear, but they are close friends as well. Now understand, I DID NOT SAY THIS, Jtinn did in his post when he implied that Marc and Jeff could NOT be trusted nor could they be unbiased due to these "strong ties!"

Most of us can see how ludicrous Jtinn's logic is. MOST reviewers own some sort of reference system. Following Jtinn's logic, they are all untrustworthy because they have strong ties due to their ownership of their particular gear. Yet Mr. Tinn routinely engages the assistance of Hooper and Mike (and any one who thinks he doesn't, doesn't know JTinn as he did the same with me many years ago) who clearly have "strong ties" to Jtinn's products.

So, either Hooper and Mike are totally non-credible due to their "strong ties" or Marc and Jeff have been unjustifiably accused by Jtinn - you can't have it both ways.

Next, Jtinn aims his attack at the Soundstage magazine when he states to me:

"As a reviewer, shouldn't you write for something other than that rag? I do not know why you would pick such a magazine. You should be able to write for almost anyone...Soundstage? Please."

Then why submit an amp for review to such a bad mag to such biased reviewers with "strong ties" to Lamm and Boulder - particularly one that isn't broken in when that break-in is apparently so crucial? Who had ultimate control over THIS situation?

First, I have no argument with a claim that some gear needs adequate break-in. The issue is this: If I AM THE MANUFACTUER OR THE DISTRIBUTOR WHO HAS AN AMP FOR WHICH BREAK-IN IS SO CRUCIAL, why in God's name would you let an amp go without being broken in - much less to a slimy bunch like the biased goons at Soundstage?

I am going to admit that my following statements about Mr. Fremer ARE hearsay from a third party who claims to know this and I will invite Mr. Fremer to correct me if I am wrong. Mr. Fremer, like many other reviewers, is a busy man. I understand that Mr. Fremer will NOT break-in a product due to those time constraints. So it is with many reviewers, they do not have the time nor the desire to wait hundreds of hours for a product to burn in. This is common knowledge. I am not saying that a reviewer may not agree to do this for the company, but, if Mr. Tinn had the reservations he said he did about the reviewer and the mag, then WHO was the negligent one? Who had control over the issue of giving an unbroken-in amp to a "biased" reviewer with "strong ties" to Boulder who wrote for a crappy mag?

I can only answer for myself and say if I had the reservations Jtinn did and thought the reviewer was biased and the mag was crappy, I know what I'd have done.

Next, MY original issue was with Hooper's categorization of Jeff's review as "utterly ridiculous" because of Hooper's reasoning that the DartZeel was a mistmatch for the Wilsons. At that point Hooper (Andy) and I [who are buddies] were having a civil debate over the isue with no vitriol or venom. I took issue with basing the "utterly ridiculous" opinion on a 100 watt amp allegedly not being powerful enough to drive the Wilsons when both the 18 watt and 110 watt Lamms can. My point being that Jeff was not negligent in assuming a 100 watt, $18,000, SS amp could drive them.

As Jtinn's post pointed out, my point was correct and the DartZeel is powerful enough to drive the Wilsons. So when Andy's categorization of Jeff's review for the reason given was proven to be wrong, the new libelous onslaught began.

Then, Mike had to come in and try to clean up JTinn's mess with a more civil explanation. But even then, did anyone notice the suspicuous disappearance of one of Mike's later posts? Mike had graciously posted a comment that, in his opinion, Jeff's review was not "wrong" it was incomplete. But that post disappeared. I will leave the readers to decide as to whether or why Mike would delete a kind and ameliorative post (or was he asked to delete it? - regardless of any subsequent posts, ask yourself who had the most to gain from deleting a post that said Jeff's review was not "wrong?).

Mike, I agree with you that cars and audio gear need break-in and if you do not follow instructions, it is your fault if something goes wrong. But Mike, your analogy misses the mark. Your analogy is aimed to OWNERS or purchasers. I would bet that if Honda was sending a car to Road and Track or Motor Trend and, if that car was like the DartZeel amp and the car would NOT perfom well unless it had 300 hours on it, you can BET Honda would put those 300 hours on it to avoid a bad review.

In closing I will stick to my original point, if I like milk chocolate and you like dark, why is one wrong and one right and why do "owners" of gear get their undies in such a bunch if someone else doesn't agree with them? When I have people over for an audio club day, if I offer them Pespi or Coke and they choose Coke when I like Pepsi, would I ever think of getting defensive over his preference? Then why is it when the Coke drinker goes into the audio room that I should be any different? As a reviewer, audiophile and music lover I am loyal to good sound and good music regardless of what gear gets me to the promised land. As you have noticed, not once have I disparaged DartZeel or any thing the posters here prefer over what I have. It simply doesn't matter as they have the gear they want and can afford as do I. My concern was a colleague was being disparaged over a review said to be "utterly ridiculous" for a reason that turned out to be fallacious (e.g, the Dart not being powerful enough to drive the Wilsons - a statement confirmed to be wrong by Jtinn himself - of course Mr. Tinn had to do that so he won't lose an entire prosective DartZeel customer base who own Wilsons or other speakers allegedly hard to drive)).

It is my opinion that this forum has been polluted by unscrupulous dealers/distributors who muddy the water of a forum designed to be a friendly sharing of ideas and civil debate to one of ulterior motives and libelous vitriol for their own profit.

I will wait for the further onslaught.
nealhood, your comparison of dartzeel amps to honda automobiles has no basis here and is essentially irrelevant. you reference the physical state of a car to the sound performance of the amp!?

as mike states above, its a very well known fact that a car performs much better after being run in. i would expect the same with a brand new amp.

i'm sure there was nothing physically wrong with the amp, whats under question here is the performance of the amp, which is spectacular. surely there can be no doubts about the amps build quality and craftsmanship which are simply stunning.
actually Fmpnd major automobile oems send cars out all the time to car magazines with a list of qualifiers (and most of the time instructions) on certain aspects of the car that can not be commented in the review due to various reasons. to be fair though, its usually pre-production and early production units. after production its fair game, and comes down to the owners manual.

its also true some oems (mostly exotics) refuse to send their product for review to some magazines due to biases of the magazines. in this case magazines rely on the good graces of those private owners.

no bashing please. i am just trying to give you guys insight into the car biz, just as i get from you on the high end biz.
Dlwask,

Thanks for the info. This has been my exact point throughout this thread. WHY should you have to be afraid of being bashed in this forum for stating your "opinion?"

You shared some insight and info and we are richer for it. MY problem is that dealers and distributors who have profit motives and financial gain at stake are allowed to make the type of claims Jtinn does (e.g, that Jeff and Marc are biased due to their "strong ties" resulting from ownership) while expecting us to then turn around and give credence to his, Mike's and Andy's opinions who have even stronger ties.

As I said above, you cannot have it both ways - either Mr. Tinn admits he unfairly accused Jeff and Marc of being biased or lacking credibility, or you include Jtinn, Hooper and Mike in that same group due to their "strong ties!"

This is simply about consistency and double standards.
Jack, the difference between us is that my 'R' likely should be an 'A'; and your 'A' should be an 'M'.

:^)

Frank, the reason i deleted that 'early Sunday morning' post was after hitting 'submit' i thought that maybe if i just didn't go any further we could get back to the title subject of this thread. fat chance.

...and where did i lambast anyone?

OB, call me and i'd be glad to expand. but not here.
Frank:

You're right that there could be a double standard here. Hey, I really don't care. I just want to enjoy my music, and this whole blowup is seriously getting in the way. If you and others don't want to give me or Mike credibility because we're close friends with Jonathan, that's fine. Doesn't bother me one whit. No one else cares what I say, so why should anyone here? :) But I do essentially agree with your point. If the reviewers are to be criticized for their ties to Boulder and Lamm, then, yes, maybe Mike's and my motivations should be called into question because of our ties to Jonathan. I can assure you that my opinions of my gear are NOT biased by my connection to JT. You and others may think so, and you're entitled to your opinion. But I've listened to a lot of gear over the years, and this is the best I've personally heard. THAT'S MY OPINION, and people can either accept or reject it as they see fit. Doesn't bother me in the least, just as it shouldn't bother you if people disagree with your thoughts on Kharma or Lamm. As for my comments on Fritz's review, yes, it does look like I was wrong, but at the time, and based on my audition, I seriously thought the Wilson was too tough a load for the DarTZeel. So sue me; I was in error. You're a good guy, and you're in the game for the right reasons, but have you never been wrong about an audio component? Everyone makes mistakes, but I was crucified for mine. I guess that kind of stuff happens when you make yourself a target, though, doesn't it? :)
Mike, I did not mean YOU did the lambasting. Basically, since you agree with Jtinn and are acting as his more civilized mouthpiece (Jtinn stated above that you said what he meant in a nicer way), I lumped the two of you together.
Andy, NONE of this has been to disparage you. You, like me, just want to listen to good music. As I said, I did NOT say you had no credibility, just that if we use JTinn's logic, you and Mike would not be credible either due to your "strong ties." That is why I said what I said -- that using JTinn's logic EVERY reviewer would be biased.

Yes, it appears you were mistaken about the Dart being powerful enough to drive the Wilsons (assuming JTinn is correct) and that would have been the end of the discussion as THAT, if you go back and read my original posts, was ALL you and I were discussing. As far as making mistakes is concerned, TRUST me, I have made a ton of them, but I try to learn from them and not make them again if at all possible. Who cares if you were mistaken, you have the integrity to admit it, so, no big deal, we just go on. However, I never meant to crucify you nor do I think, re-reading the posts, you were crucified. You came across as a gentleman and I hope I did as well.
Frank, while i may agree with jtinn regarding the review methodology, i don't agree in any way with jtinn's characterization of Marc and Jeff or his opinion of their motivations....and have told him that is how i feel. i think you know that i am not one to blindly follow anyone or defend a friend's assinine assertions. you should know that from your personal history with me.

i think you are waay off base in assuming that likeing the same gear means that myself or Hooper approve of jtinn's posts. jtinn speaks for jtinn. i am loyal to the person, but not to all the acts. jtinn doesn't always agree with me either.

this whole thing is getting just too weird for me.

this is suppose to be about music.
Neilhood: You and I do not know each other and have never had any dealings with each other. You came at me hard, which is your preference to do. The "mother" statment may have been a bit over the top. My mother died of Pancreatic cancer not too long ago and I am sure your intentions may have been different, but that was extremely rude.

It is exactly for the reason you stated that I have a BIG problem with the review. You said:

"There was nothing wrong with the Soundstage review. I just read it and it seemed extremely honest and to the point. Yes, there is an opinion in the review but, that's what this hobbly thrives on. 90% of the posts around here are opinions. Frankly, that particular Soundstage review is one that I would like to seem more of instead of the regular "sugar coated" reviews that we see in some of the other media pubs."

Looks can be decieving. Soundstage had a responsibility to deal with the review in a professional manner which I assure you was disregarded. They gave me their word and did not do as they promised. Is that breach? Was it an out and out lie? Maybe just completely irresponsible on their part. Is that fair to the manufacturer who worked hard to produce such a special product? Certainly if they had done as requested and come to the same conclusion I would have nothing to say. I can tell you that each and every owner of the darTZeel amp reports REAL and long break-in is required and that the changes are dramatic. If you do not believe in break-in, I would offer a challenge to you. Buy a darTZeel amplifier. If it does not change as I state and does not sound as good as those who have heard it aver, return it for a full refund.

Also, "well written" and honest may be two different things.
Fmpnd: After reading your closing statement, I mean post, I have to say I thought I was the devil and should be tarred and feathered. You obviously, being a lawyer, are extremely thorough and convincing, although in this case, conveniently misleading.

Certainly, after I came to my senses from reading your diatribe, I realized that my thoughts and statements were twisted around quite a bit by you. I stated my thoughts about Marc and Jeff having "strong ties" as pertinent ONLY when I considered whether or not to give the amplifier to them for review. Once I made the mistake to do so, it only became an issue that they did not keep their word to do as they promised in regard to properly breaking in the amplifier and removing DC compensation. Nothing more.

You are making this personal and seem to take the opportunity to do so in every post you can. I do not think that is very professional. Especially as a reviewer who works for the magazine in question.

Your statement:

"It is my opinion that this forum has been polluted by unscrupulous dealers/distributors who muddy the water of a forum designed to be a friendly sharing of ideas and civil debate to one of ulterior motives and libelous vitriol for their own profit."

I don't know Frank, but it comes across to me as you are just trying way too hard to discredit me and those who share my opinions no matter how honestly I, or they, speak, whether industry affiliated or not.
JUST to clarify and for all you Paul Harvey fans out there - HERE is the REST of the story:

The following quotes are taken DIRECTLY from the DartZeel amplifier's Owner's Manual:

Page 8 of the NHB-108's Owner's Manual states:

"The darTZeel NHB-108 model one has been designed to deliver more than 90% of its magical sound at cold start. After 5 minutes you are very close to the best the machine can offer. The increasing quality you may hear as time goes by will be mostly the reflection of your growing musical pleasure."

Page 16 of the NHB-108's Owner's Manual states:

"...all machines are broken in for more than 4 weeks in continuous use..."

Soundstage would rather rely on the manufacturer's information as opposed to an owner, dealer, or distributor so if the manufacturer made the forgoing statements DIRECTLY in the Owner's Manual AND IF THEY BURNED IN THE UNIT FOR MORE THAN FOUR WEEKS ALREADY, why should Jeff doubt it.

I have also been informed that, notwithstanding the Owner's Manual's advice, Jeff played the amp continuously for FIVE weeks before writing his review.

Next, DID ANYONE ON THIS POST READ JEFF'S REVIEW? It never bashed the sound of the ampliifer at all!!! The review was positive on every sonic count and only calls the amp's value against its competition into question. In the reviewer's opinion it was simply overpriced! WHY? Because before JTinn became involved with DartZeel, that same amp sold for $12,000. Afterwards it was $18,000!!!!!! A 50% increase!! The Euro is only about 23% higher than the dollar. Also, have you seen ANY other audio product made in Europe increase in price that much due to the alleged Euro disparity during that same time period? I haven't but then again I may not know of all such products.

Gentleman, Jeff Fritz is an honest man who simply called it as he heard it. For that HE was crucified and defamed on this thread. Jeff is a big boy and can take care of himself, but why should such mis-information be allowed to go uncorrected on this forum?

It kills me how everyone seems to complain that too many reviews are too nice and not "honest enough." Jeff then: (1) is led to believe by the manufacturer and Owner's Manual that the amp is at 90% cold out of the box and close to the best the amp has within FIVE minutes (as well as it being broken in by DartZeel for FOUR continuous weeks); (2) plays the amp continuously for FIVE weeks NOT FIVE minutes as suggested by DARTZEEL (now totalling NINE weeks of burn-in); (3) praises the sonics but; (4) calls it like he hears it when the recently raised $18,000 price is considered particularly against competition in that price range. And what happens? You saw for yourselves.

NOW ask yourself. WHO has no credibility and WHO is biased?

Funny thing, I just wrote a not so positive review for Soundstage for the ELP Laser Turntable. The classy people at ELP simply agreed to disagree with me and filed a classy response in Soundstage.

NOW you know the REST OF THE STORY!!
Round TWO of therapy!