I sold my Dartzeel amp and have never looked back.
The Dartzeel lacked dynamics and bass control for me. If I ever was in the mood to crack it the Dartzeel never came through. I was also very limited on speaker choice with the Datzeel.
I since moved on to Levinson 33H and Boulder 1060. They both put a big smile on my face and do everything very well. Talk about control and power and those babies can drive any speaker.
Now the Dartzeel preamp is a different story. They hit a home run with that preamp.
The amps that came later for me are a pair of Bryston 28B I feel they are better in nearly all ways. The Dart was expensive when it retailed for $12K, then it became ridiculous
Levinson 33H, Boulder 1060 and Bryston 28B preferred to darTZeel.
there are many paths and viewpoints to musical nirvana.....and there is no 'wrong' only different. my comment has no hidden inference.
personally; were i to venture from darTZeel it would be toward SET tubes of some sort.....not toward a more SS sound.....regardless of how much iron grip it provided. that 'grip' is just not essential to my immersion in music compared to other things.
i do own speakers where the darTZeel only needs to drive the speakers down to about 100hz as there are ICE powered woofer/subwoofers below that frequency. these 4 15" powered drivers give me all the 'iron grip' i could ask for.....and they take the signal from the dart so i get the dart magic without any dynamic limitation. even so; my room is large and the dart can energize it from 100hz on up with no problem.
OTOH later this year darTZeel will offer a 500 watt monoblock that will add that ability to easily control any loudspeaker to it's many virtues. for a price one can have their cake and eat it too.
no amp is for everyone. go wherever you find the music touches you.
what would be interesting would be how long does one own a darTZeel compared to how often owners of other amps change them. there is always a pull to try other amps. i've owned darTZeel now for almost 5 years. in the previous 7 years i owned 5 different amps.
maybe it is a matter of one's viewpoint on music.
just like being married (and one's definition of happyness). i still look at pretty women out there (it's biology) but i've been married to my wife for 35 years.
Mtdking mentions that he is pleased going from the dart to the Levinson 33H. I brought the Dartzeel to a customers home and compared it directly to his 33H's on his Sonus Faber Strads. The dart was superior in every way and the improvements were not subtle. My customer moved to the dart combo and has been thrilled ever since. Funny how peoples opinions differ greatly.
On SF strads I might prefer the Dartzeel. Having owned the SF Levinson is about the worse combo you could come up with. On my Avalon Diamonds the 33H and Boulder worked out much better. The Avalon is a harder speaker to drive and it's sound 100% different then the Strads. Peoples opinions do differ greatly but that is exactly what poster has asked for is an opinion so I gave mine.
The other reason I sold it is, I had a product that broke last year that wasn't made in the USA and it took 4 months to get it fixed. I'm not saying Dartzeel would be the same case but I wasn't going to find out. I will not deal with that again so I only by US products plus it helps support my country in these crappy times. I also worry about companies like Dartzeel ability to stay in this business with such a limited product line and such high prices and we all know about the economy. $25,000 for a 100 watt stereo solid state amp that weight 65 pounds is hard to justify even if it sounds out of this world and it hates 4 ohm loads. You will see 20% of high end companies go out of business in the next 2 years. You will hear "business has never been better we are not going anywhere" then the next day a sign on the door.
Sorry for the ot, Mike: "Which SET tube amps are you considering?", I love the Dartzell sound but I'm eager to try a tube amp.
This thread is just another example of how subjective this hobby is.
Equipment synergy is so important when putting together a system. Many people loose site of this.
Mike's response was excellent in stressing this.
Mtdking feels Levinson & Bryston were superior to the darTZeel.
I do respect his statement, as I don't know his speakers, room & associated equipment.
I have owned many Levinson & Bryston products. I like them both very much, & still use them both in other systems.
I have done direct comparisons with both compared to the darTZeel.
Levinson 33H's were used in my same room after I purchased the darTZeel combo, to do a comparison.
The dart was new & the 33H's were fully broken in.
As much as I love the 33H it does not stand a chance against the dart, they are not in the same league.
The darTZeel was clearly the better amp. Much more open & transparent. More musical with with a touch of warmth as in tubes.
A natural presentation that is very pleasing & non fatiguing. Bass control is a non issue as well. I love the bass in the darTZeel.
As a result I sold my 33H's & never looked back.
Mike, ditto for looking at pretty women !!!!! ( been married for the same women 30 yrs. ) I don't know how she put up with me for so long.
Mtdking, i owned the Levinson 33H's for 2 years (1997-1999). a really fine amplifier.....i replaced them with the big Levinson 33's. the 33H is still one of the more 'listenable' solid state amps out there. i know that it has been somewhat updated since i owned it to good result.
regarding your service concerns on foreign made products. it is and should be a concern. one needs to investigate what happens if there is a problem. regarding darTZeel i think within reality you are in as good a position as you could be. it is Swiss after all. not fly-by-night or casual about anything. immediate response to any question. eager willingness to assist with support and advice. and built like a tank. these days there is no audio business or national economy which 100% certainty of continued business health. but i would wager that a conservative Swiss company would be as likely as any to survive and uphold it promises. there is the shipping to Switzerland. the shipping cartons are well designed and everything is encased in thick foam.
i would bet that darTZeel will more likely be here to service their products in 10 years than Levinson or Boulder.
You bring up some very good points >
Service is a very high priority for me as well.
After going through the Levinson camp of service a few times in the 20+ years I have dealt with them. Personally I will never purchase a product from them again unless they revert back to the way things were run when they were Madrigal. I don't even care to type that much to explain.
Bryston , on the other hand, they are to be commended for their excellent service record. A++++
In this state of our hobby / service will be a major factor in gaining a share of the market, as well as quality.
As for buying US based products. I love to support US made products BUT lets face it , it's a world market in most everything we buy now & will continue to be. The strongest & best products will survive. Many US based companies have much of their manufacturing of products made overseas anyway. I lost a job 25 years ago to outsourcing. I understood what the Co. was doing to make itself stronger in the world market. I wasn't mad, I moved on, but I changed my perspective on how I buy what I need & want.
As for the darTZeel service for that matter? I for one am very pleased. From the owner down to the distributer, nothing less than professionalism on the highest level.
I'm looking forward to the new mono's from darTZeel. They will solve some of the problems with the efficiency of many a speaker & will open new venues for them.
were i to venture from darTZeel it would be toward SET tubes of some sort
E, my point here was that if i were to venture away from musical neutrality into an amplifier with a sonic signature it would be toward the 'beauty' end of the spectrom. i dream of having a tube amp sitting around for when i'm in the mood. i'm not really serious about this.....it's more a bit of musing.
if i did go 'there' my short list (one's i've heard i thought were special) would be;
Tenor OTL 75w
Lamm ML3 or ML2.1
any of the Kondo AN's
there are likely others which i've not been exposed to which could be on this list.
all of these wonderful tube amps are entertaining to listen to. but; unlike the darTZeel they always make you aware that they are there to some degree. which is not really a problem but it is a factor.
with the dart it is always the music. i like that.
I never said anything about Bryston. I said Boulder and Levinson! How did Bryston get into this? I have never owned Bryston before and Boulder is a far cry from Bryston.
Mtdking; Jbellow, in the post after you, mentioned Bryston. then in my post, i grouped it in with the Levinson and Boulder as mentioned 'next amps' after darTZeel without attribution.
i'm sure my mention confused who actually referred to what amp.
When I turn the Dartzeel on to drive the VR7Se it is hard to believe it is only 100 watts. Powerful and the most musical amp I have owned. Has anyone done any bench tests on this amp to see if thats a correct rating. Customer service is also A++. Herve answers email in extreme depth promptly.
in the Stereophile test on the darTZeel NHB-108 stereo amp John Atkinson did measure 160 watts into 8 ohms prior to clipping. so the 100 watt spec is quite conservative.
i had the dart on the VR7SE's in my very large room for 5 months and i agree that it did a commendable job at real world listening levels. the dart will sometimes not be as macro-dynamic as some amps (on certain speakers) but it always is fantastic at the microdynamics....which is where the heart of the music is.
I used the Dartzeel in stereo only. I see you use 2 stereo amps in a vertical bi amp config so your results would be much different and you looking at $50,000 worth of amps. If your happy that's all that matters.
As you can see the amp doesn't like being below 4 ohms.
I measured 160W into 8 ohms (22dBW), 230W into 4 ohms (20.6dBW), but 162W into 2 ohms (16.1dBW). The manufacturer strongly recommends using the Lo setting if the amplifier is to be used with low impedances. However, the amplifier then delivers significantly lower power at clipping43W into 8 ohms (16.3dBW), 68W into 4 ohms (15.3dBW), and 95W into 2 ohms (13.75dBW)with no reduction in low-power THD.
"The Dartzeel lacked dynamics and bass control for me"
i really wonder what speakers made this happen to an individual situation. many many reports worldwide on the Dart108 having great bass.
was the low impedance setting tried?
that there are speakers which drop to 2.8 ohms and have an disastrous impedance phaseturn as well; just unbelievable in 2009 year. they did this in 1984 ok.
just look at the measurements in Stereophile by John Atkinson.
by all means just about all speakers have humps of 3 to 5 dB at the 100 hertz region, most speakers drop down to 2.5 > 3.5 ohms as if a common thing. the bad impedance phase behaviour upon that 3 ohm is just kill to any good tube amp.
back to topic.
i have owned the Stradivari as well for quite some time. many amps failed to drive it. in the end a big Accuphase really took it on.
have listened to some late model ML mono amps too, but i never experienced them as touching and moving.
for me they sound just the way they look. grey. ymmv.
maybe the only SET amplifiers which can possibly make you sell the DartZeel 108 ..
to my highest recommendation, and out of real world experience with these beasts:
they can make time stand still at least it did for me.
I owned the darTZeel amp and preamp combo. I've since sold them both and moved on. They are a very emotion provoking combo. Most people who own the darTs do so on either Von Schweikert or Evolution Acoustics speakers. This is because JTinn the USA distributor used to sell VS before giving them up in favor of his own speaker company EA. Both of those speakers were designed by the same designer who designs very efficient speakers. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Avalon designs speakers that are not the most efficient. I own Hansen's. While they are an easy load to drive, they clearly will not sound their best without significant power. The darTs are nice, but they are very expensive for their power rating, and do limit your speaker choices to very efficient speakers if you want to really appreciate what you bought them for.
Repair issue is a valid concern but believe dartzeel are serviced in the USA.
In any event, Herve is very hands-on and will return messages super fast and of course so will jtinn
My Lamm amp was straight outta Brooklyn but my dealer was hard to find and the lamm always had a bug right before vladmir went on vacation or was going to a show. Vladmir is a nice guy but when my lamm amp had an intermittent noise and sent it back to him, he could not find the problem and
Insisted that the problem was in my other equipment or my room
After returning the amp, I diagnosed the problem myself and sent back to vladmir who then was apologetic and fixed it. This process took 6 months and finally I gave up on lamm even though the 2.2 amp was pretty sweet
As much as I liked the 2.2, the dartzeel just sounds better. It is picky about speakers preferring an efficient one but so what you only need one pair of speakers and then it will Sing! the synergy of the preamp with the amp is what makes it super special. The combo reduces me to tears sometimes it's so magical.
I agree that if someone put a gun to my head and made me sell one, I
Would sell the amp not the preamp. The preamp is so profoundly great and tested a lot of other preamps and nothin came close. At gunpoint, I could live with be forced to get a tube amp. But nothing would pry my hands off the preamp short of perhaps jessica alba (joking)
I've asked Jessica to drop around to your place. We'll see if you are a man of your word. ;-)
I would really love it if jessica dug the dartzeel (when she came over) but probably more of an iPod person. This is nature's way of evening out things
Did anyone of you tried the Zeel 50-Ohm cables between the pre and pwr amp ?
I'm wondering how much (if any) I'm missing using those cables vs top quality interconnects.
I know this is an old thread but I am sure people are still around and would love to talk about their favourite darTZeel. I have never heard a darT but I can imagine and understand when people say it is "musically neutral" without any signature etc. My question, there are similar amps in tube camp which are known to be extremely neutral and can drive most speakers like the CAT JL2 and now the JL1 signature. Have any of you heard the CAT ? Since you guys are fortunate to hear true neutrality in your darT I am sure you can articulate the neutrality factor of other amps well. So, how do you compare it to good CAT :-) ?
Pani, I am fortunate enough to have heard both the Dart and the CAT JL2 and JL3's. The Dart is a great ss amp, the CAT's are great tube amps...not really the same presentation. Personally, I prefer the CAT sound....the Dart is slightly-slightly more mechanical sounding. The CAT amps gave me the impression of more power on reserve than the Dart. I heard both of these amps on two different speakers....1) a pair of Magico Mini 2's and 2) a pair of ML Summits.
Front ends were the respective CAT and Dart preamps with a TW analog rig as source.
If one had to choose between the two, it would be a pretty difficult choice, as both are VERY good....my slight preference is to the CAT.