New darTZeel CTH 8550 MKII owner experience

... I also own the DAWs and I´m seriously considering the 8550 mk2 for my next amplifier...
 
You won’t be disappointed. I’m really enjoying my Sasha DAW and DZ 8550 MK II combo
 
What source are you using with it? Obviously the 8550's ability to reveal will be dictated by the resolving quality of the source.

When I demoed the 8550 it was fronted by a dCS Rossini + clock - no problem revealing what this totl player is capable of giving.
I now have a new DarTZeel pre and power in my system fronted by my Rossini+clock (even though I loved the 8550 I decided to go further up the line). This combination EASILY reveals more than my previous totl Naim 552/500 system.

As for price I actually felt the 8550 was a "bargain" (if one can say that). My Naim 552/500 lists for $70k - the $42k super integrated from DarTZeel outperforms and has a lower box and cable count. It is extremely impressive imho.
I also moved from a Naim 500 system, in my case 3 X 500’s driving Naim DBL loudspeakers, to a Dartzeel pre/power. Explaining to change in sound to my local dealer (he sells Naim but not Dartzeel) I remember saying that with the Naim a trumpet would sound like a trumpet but with the Darts every trumpet sounded different. Don’t get me wrong, the dynamic slam of three 500’s the Darts can’t quite live up to but almost every other aspect of the musical performance is improved. I recently bought new loudspeakers, new B&W 801 D4’s, an upgrade from my old 802’s and I can’t quite get over how good the sound is! Looks like the Dart has even more to give. When my dealer heard my set up I could see he was visibly shocked at how good it is. He said he had never heard anything like it before and felt like he was in the control booth of a recording studio before the signal gets processed and produced into media. High praise indeed and I have an early 18/108! Herve told me they have made many improvements since my pair were built, will have to ship them off to Switzerland to be fiddled with one of these days.
Anyhoos, to everyone, enjoy glorious sounds as much as you can in 2024!!
 
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I would love someday to hear the integrated based on the descriptions of how musical they are. However I'm afraid then I'd want one and have to find the money to buy it!
 
You won’t be disappointed. I’m really enjoying my Sasha DAW and DZ 8550 MK II combo
Thanks.

I also own a DZ 8550 MK II and have been thinking of upgrading my speakers (currently a small floor standing Sonus Faber).

One of the concerns i have is about speaker matching, clearly, the DZ isnt the most powerful integrated.

So i was surprised it manages to drive an WA Sasha DAW....definitely good to know.

I have been aiming to get a pair of Stenheim 3 ....target for 2024 and still saving$ :)

Btw, does anyone know if the grounding post at the back of the DZ integrated is for a signal or chassis grounding?
 
330 watts at 4 ohms is plenty of juice for Sasha DAW's! My room is roughly 18x16x9 (Length, width, height in feet). I listen in the 80-90 dB range and am probably only using a couple watts on average. The DAW has a sensitivity of 91dB/W/m at 4 ohms. That would give you at least 115 dB on peaks at 1 meter. Unless you have a small auditorium for a room, I think there is enough power! In my small room, 105 -108 dB peak levels are obtained easily and without strain (except for your ears).

I believe the grounding post is for the phono preamp. When in the phono setup menu, you can choose floating, chassis or signal grounding.
 
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330 watts at 4 ohms is plenty of juice for Sasha DAW's! My room is roughly 18x16x9 (Length, width, height in feet). I listen in the 80-90 dB range and am probably only using a couple watts on average. The DAW has a sensitivity of 91dB/W/m at 4 ohms. That would give you at least 115 dB on peaks at 1 meter. Unless you have a small auditorium for a room, I think there is enough power! In my small room, 105 -108 dB peak levels are obtained easily and without strain (except for your ears).

I believe the grounding post is for the phono preamp. When in the phono setup menu, you can choose floating, chassis or signal grounding.
Thanks for the sharing
 
I am a proud and ecstatic owner of a Dartzeel CTH 8550 MK2.
Was inspired by Michaels Fremmer and Lavigne. Fremmer is on the record, in print, of asking Herve why Dartzeel is so different. Indeed it is different from any amp I have experienced in 50 years at this. CHT stands for Close to Heaven and 8550 for 85% of the separates for 50% the price. Yea! Aside from all the audiophile platitudes, the Dartzeel reveals the essence of the music. The reason we listen to music. It has radically improved my listening experience to a point where I enter into a kind of meditative state.
It is surperb and unique. I feel sorry for all those who do not have Dartzeel!
 
Outstanding! That's what I'm talking about.

However, although their stereo MK1 amp was just about ok driving full range stats... (ML CLX's), the MK2 is supposed to have a higher current capacity. So that should be much better with stats, I'm thinking. I've only had the chance on a home trail with the older version.
Even that one, was in the range of 60grand down unda. The Vitus SS-103 and Aries Cerat integrated Ap model, were both in that same pricing range. So that's pretty much duck pond territory for me (it's a wifey issue nothing else).
Now, regarding those fancy looking monoblocks! Oh yeah! That was a stop the train moment... and so was the price tag! (Appox. 350grand AUD, no thanks, definite duck pond!)

So like you said, feel sorry for those who don't have Dartzeel... yep, can certainly see that! I'm so very sad...

Oh for the love of tooobs.
Cheers matey and do enjoy those finest Swiss tunes!
WOOF! RJ
 
Just curious if 8550 is powerful enough to driver Avantgrade UNO SD (with 18ohms impedanc)? Thanks for all advices!
 
Just curious if 8550 is powerful enough to driver Avantgrade UNO SD (with 18ohms impedanc)? Thanks for all advices!
G'day mate,

If those are the speakers that you're using: Avant Garde UNO SD, of course the Dartzeel amplifier will drive those! In fact, any high quality amplifier (tube or SS) will effortlessly drive horns. These are rated at 107dB 18 Ohm loads, which is a very benign load, there's absolutely no strain on the Output stage, so no issues there.

Just looking at the specs on the UNO SD, it clearly states, recommended amplifier power ratings of just 10W! So in this case, the Dartzeel is overkill.

I haven't heard this particular combination but I'm thinking that you'll be quite amazed at the ample power levels the Dartzeel will have driving high efficiency speakers with easy loads, and especially horns. I've tried that same amplifier (the Mk-1 version) on my CLX's, and it was just about right. Plenty of drive, and very good control on the stats. However, over in Aus, the price was off-putting compared to the other options available, such as Pass Labs, Vitus Audio and Burmester. So I passed on the Dartzeel offer, it was on sale end of last year.

BTW, nice one on the AG UNO SD, they're top flight horns, no doubt. When I was on my quest for that final speaker choice, back in 2018, my short list comprised of the AG DUO XD's. At the time I had a nice little Conrad Johnson CAV45 Control amplifier, 50w of EL34 tube power was more than adequate to fly! But then I ended up with ML Electrostats, and the rest is history.

The Dartzeel is a fine piece of machinery, meant for a certain type of clientele... so if you're serious about getting it, I can confidently say that you won't be disappointed at all.
Cheers, and enjoy those fine tunes!
woof! RJ
 
G'day mate,

If those are the speakers that you're using: Avant Garde UNO SD, of course the Dartzeel amplifier will drive those! In fact, any high quality amplifier (tube or SS) will effortlessly drive horns. These are rated at 107dB 18 Ohm loads, which is a very benign load, there's absolutely no strain on the Output stage, so no issues there.

Just looking at the specs on the UNO SD, it clearly states, recommended amplifier power ratings of just 10W! So in this case, the Dartzeel is overkill.

I haven't heard this particular combination but I'm thinking that you'll be quite amazed at the ample power levels the Dartzeel will have driving high efficiency speakers with easy loads, and especially horns. I've tried that same amplifier (the Mk-1 version) on my CLX's, and it was just about right. Plenty of drive, and very good control on the stats. However, over in Aus, the price was off-putting compared to the other options available, such as Pass Labs, Vitus Audio and Burmester. So I passed on the Dartzeel offer, it was on sale end of last year.

BTW, nice one on the AG UNO SD, they're top flight horns, no doubt. When I was on my quest for that final speaker choice, back in 2018, my short list comprised of the AG DUO XD's. At the time I had a nice little Conrad Johnson CAV45 Control amplifier, 50w of EL34 tube power was more than adequate to fly! But then I ended up with ML Electrostats, and the rest is history.

The Dartzeel is a fine piece of machinery, meant for a certain type of clientele... so if you're serious about getting it, I can confidently say that you won't be disappointed at all.
Cheers, and enjoy those fine tunes!
woof! RJ
Dear Big Dog RJ, so kind of you for this detail feedback. Really appreciated!!! I am also considering CJ’s new ART88+150. Still debating whether SS or Tube works better for horn speakers (learning a lot in the other related post here). How is your experience with CJ? Much better than SS like DarTZeel 8550? I remember in another post that you bought their classic ARTsa. Sadly this ARTsa model is out of the market already.

P.s. 90% of my listening is classic music like Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Chopin, etc. No rock and occasionally Jazz vocal.
 
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I am also considering CJ’s new ART88+150.

For AVG Uno, you wouldn't need 150, 27a would be more than enough. With a high sensitivity speaker reports suggest the 27a may even sound better.

Not heard of anyone running CJ with AVG but can't see why they wouldn't work well together
 
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Dear Big Dog RJ, so kind of you for this detail feedback. Really appreciated!!! I am also considering CJ’s new ART88+150. Still debating whether SS or Tube works better for horn speakers (learning a lot in the other related post here). How is your experience with CJ? Much better than SS like DarTZeel 8550? I remember in another post that you bought their classic ARTsa. Sadly this ARTsa model is out of the market already.

P.s. 90% of my listening is classic music like Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Chopin, etc. No rock and occasionally Jazz vocal.
Very correct as mentioned in the last post, the ART150 will truly be overkill for your AG Horns. The ART150 is a power house, using a quad set of KT150 tubes. These are wired in Ultra linear pentode mode and in push-pull config, they will blow your roof off driving the Uno's very high efficiency ratings. As mentioned in the post below, the ART27A will be far more suited, that's if you prefer tubes. Although rated at just 35w/ch, note this is rated in pure Class A, so very effortless drive with easy loads, such as Horns.

The Art88 is CJ's finest preamp ever made to date. It's a true all tube classic design with no SS buffered output stage, unlike CJ's previous preamps. It's a superb preamp!

Now comparing all this fine tube gear with SS devices, such as Dartzeel is quite simple, there's no comparison! In this case, especially at this level, neither of the two are superior. It all depends on your personal preferences. Therefore, you need to audition both types of gear or least similar type of gear, in order to determine which type of sound you prefer. Only You can determine that, no one else on this forum can determine that for you.

In terms of cost and maintenance, I can say that from past experience, the tube gear will cost a fair bit each time tube replacements are required. This can typically occur within a period of 3 to 4 years upon average operating hours. If you listen to music every day for several extended hours at a session then tube replacements will happen more often, perhaps every 2 to 3yrs... so it all depends on your listening habits. Also, if you happen to listen to very loud playback levels, the louder you go the sooner those tubes will wear out. Therefore, tube gear cannot be abused.

When it cones to SS, well no issues here at all! SS gear can be left on 24/7 without any sonic degradation whatsoever. In fact, most SS gear makes recommended leaving their components on all the time, unless you were going on a long vacation where you must shut down everything.
In nearly all highend SS gear, leaving the gear on also contributes to superior performance, where everything has warmed up nicely, reached proper thermal levels and it's all good to go. With tube gear you simply cannot leave it on, tubes will wear out in a matter of few months!

Once SS gear goes bad, it just stops working and then you'll know when it requires a parts upgrade or a complete overhaul. Whereas with tube gear, although tubes deteriorate over time, they can keep going for a very long time, even out lasting SS gear, just as long as it's well maintained. Just ask Eve Anne Manley (president of Manley Labs) she says, "tubes rule!"

So, that is the question! SS or tooobs? Only you can determine what you like. Hope it all goes well and keep us posted.
Cheers, RJ
 
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Hi
I sell a used DARTZEEL 8550 MK2, pristine, preferably in Europe CEE, UK, Swiss.
First owner, absolutely mint, remote, original shipping box.
Please contact me in MP
 

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This past year I’ve been searching for a new integrated amplifier to replace a Devialet D-Premier (upgraded to Expert) that has been my primary amplifier for the past decade. The Devialet was a wonderful match for Harbeth speakers (C7ES3) that I previously owned, and the Phono section is really good in my opinion. The Devialet allowed me to hear changes in my system as I upgraded, and two years ago I made some substantial upgrades including Wilson Sasha DAW speakers. Thereafter, my audio system took a huge leap forward in dynamics, imaging and resolution and ultimately exposed the Devialet shortcomings. I have been interested in darTZeel after seeing and hearing their products at audio shows over the years. This past June at THE SHOW, I met Ed Sudario at the Audio Association room and set in motion a demo of the darTZeel integrated at my home, which ultimately led to my purchase.

In my opinion, The darTZeel CTH 8550 MKII integrated amplifier is an absolute gem in the world of high-fidelity audio. Its musicality is breathtaking, effortlessly translating every note into an immersive sonic experience that sounds and feels like nothing else I’ve experienced in my home system. Images just float in space, are solid, and have depth that make my speakers virtually disappear. The soundstage it creates is expansive, with a nuanced and rich sound that brings out details I never knew existed in my favorite tracks. As I primarily listen to vinyl records, I wanted an excellent built in phono preamp and I got it with the darTZeel. My records have never sounded better. There is an analog richness, along with transparency and openness that is pleasing. Voices are dynamic, realistic and beautiful, horns have the proper harmonics and bite, bass is fast and well defined, treble is never harsh, bright or veiled. Surface noise is not accentuated. There is “midrange magic” to a high degree and it just sounds “pretty” to me. I played the Nutcracker from the Royal Ballet Analogue Productions LP last night, and the strings were just beautifully rendered by the darTZeel. I am smitten and very pleased with the overall sound. In terms of build quality, the darTZeel 8550 is precision built and is a testament to darTZeel's commitment to excellence – the 8550 exudes quality, contributing to its exceptional performance and user experience.

Lastly, a shout out to Ed Sudario and The Audio Association. Ed deserves immense praise for his exceptional service and commitment to customer satisfaction. Ed's knowledge and passion for audio gear shine through in his excellent communication, guiding enthusiasts like me with expertise and genuine care. The opportunity to home demo the darTZeel CTH 8550 MKII before purchasing was a game-changer, allowing for a firsthand experience of its capabilities. The overall buying experience at Audio Association was smooth, personalized, and truly elevated by Ed's dedication to ensuring customers find their perfect match in audio equipment.
We have similar system and i also came from the Devialet world. Enjoy
 
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For decades I was a die hard tube guy. Mostly SETs. I posted a thread on the AG Forum, “Is there a SS amp that can satisfy a SET guy?”. With many pages of responses, the basic answer was no. Although at that time Enleum was mentioned. I bought their headphone amp. Indeed, it blew away my fine Berning Micro ZOTL. It gives a “clear window” into the music. Whilst not having any of SS nasties. Then I discovered AGD. The AGD Audions were beautiful sounding very much like SETs. Then the AGDs were replaced by Atma-Sphere Class D mono blocks. Even more tube-like with much better bass. Well, at that point, I am no longer a tube guy. And well know that SS indeed has many qualities to love. I am a fan of Michael Fremmer and pay close attention to his gear as well as that of Mike Lavigne. Both are major Dartzeel users. The upper line Dart is well beyond my means. But I had the chance to try the Dart NHB 18NS first version.
The improvement in sound was extreme over my then fine tube preamp. It was a level of SQ that I never imagined. Indeed, it was Never Heard Before (NHB). I then understood that I also needed to also have the Dart amp. It was very rare that the used MK1 18NS was on the market and I also did not see a used MK1 Dart stereo amp on the market. And I was pretty clear that the MK2 integrated was better than the MK1s of the Dart amp and preamp. The solution then became clear. I bought the CTH (Close to Heaven) 8550 MK2 and it is, by far, the best money I have ever spent in Audio. Now, I can’t imagine going back to those blurry tube amps- regardless of price.
 
For decades I was a die hard tube guy. Mostly SETs. I posted a thread on the AG Forum, “Is there a SS amp that can satisfy a SET guy?”. With many pages of responses, the basic answer was no. Although at that time Enleum was mentioned. I bought their headphone amp. Indeed, it blew away my fine Berning Micro ZOTL. It gives a “clear window” into the music. Whilst not having any of SS nasties. Then I discovered AGD. The AGD Audions were beautiful sounding very much like SETs. Then the AGDs were replaced by Atma-Sphere Class D mono blocks. Even more tube-like with much better bass. Well, at that point, I am no longer a tube guy. And well know that SS indeed has many qualities to love. I am a fan of Michael Fremmer and pay close attention to his gear as well as that of Mike Lavigne. Both are major Dartzeel users. The upper line Dart is well beyond my means. But I had the chance to try the Dart NHB 18NS first version.
The improvement in sound was extreme over my then fine tube preamp. It was a level of SQ that I never imagined. Indeed, it was Never Heard Before (NHB). I then understood that I also needed to also have the Dart amp. It was very rare that the used MK1 18NS was on the market and I also did not see a used MK1 Dart stereo amp on the market. And I was pretty clear that the MK2 integrated was better than the MK1s of the Dart amp and preamp. The solution then became clear. I bought the CTH (Close to Heaven) 8550 MK2 and it is, by far, the best money I have ever spent in Audio. Now, I can’t imagine going back to those blurry tube amps- regardless of price.

You used SETs to drive 91 db speakers? Which ones? What impedance do your tetras fall to?
 
Hi
I sell a used DARTZEEL 8550 MK2, pristine, preferably in Europe CEE, UK, Swiss.
First owner, absolutely mint, remote, original shipping box.
Please contact me in MP
The DARTZEEL 8550 MKII is sold. The customer enjoy it. The customer who sold the DARTZEEL enjoy his new amplifier, a huge improvement he said.
 
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Hi,

i have been an owner of the Dartzeel integrated for most than a year now - very happy man.

I have been using a pair SF small floor standing speakers. I have been thinking of upgrading to a bigger speakers - targeting Stenheim Alumina 5 ideally (if not 3).

The stenheim Alumina 5 do demand on the quality/power of the driving amp.

I like my integrated a lot (SQ, look, simplicity). What are the upgrade paths i have if i wanted to keep my integrated yet have more driving power?
 

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