Audio Asylum Thread Printer
Get a view of an entire thread on one page
|For Sale Ads|
I picked this amp up yesterday and holy crap, it's bested everything I've ever owned. In fact, I was just at the Newport show I don't think I would trade my setup for anything I heard there. ZOTL 40 + Micro ZOTL as pre + Direct Stream DAC + Janszen zA2.1 speakers = Holy Grail. After some good breakin more will be revealed.
Although I am currently completely happy with my NYAL OTL3, I do worry that it may die before I do, and wonder what might be a viable replacement. Someone recommended a Berning amp to me some time ago, but I am certainly not able to spend $75,000. perhaps two ZOTL-40's would work. Tthe website says one can use speakers with impedances between 4 and and 16 ohms. My Stax speakers, in addition to being very inefficient, have an impedance curse that varies between 4 and 130 ohms. I wonder if this combination would work.
Linear Tube Audio has a fair trial policy but you won't want to send it back. I use the ZOTL40 to power my JansZen electrostats and I have more power than I need. I cant say that about other 40 watt tube amps I've tried. I'll bet 2 of them would do it for you. I have also found that NOS Mullard tubes in this amp brings it to an incredible level.
I have 2 of the ZH270 amps. Davids products are among the best I have ever heard.
Ahendler, if you're not looking to buy a new amp, don't listen to this one. The money will jump out of your pocket.
Not enough power for my Maggie 3.6's
Alan, i understand, I've had my own problems driving my Janszen hybrid electrostats. I'm set with the ZOTL40, plenty of power for me and some headroom. Mark did tell me he could configure the ZOTL40 into mono blocs. I don't really need it and tube rolling would cost double.
Would 80wpc do it? We're installing a stereo/mono switch in the 40 soon, but you can just bridge the outputs in the meantime. But now we're entering a different price range.
Why did you drop the ZH270? This is a great amp
I must clarify, I have never owned the ZH270 but have heard great things about it. I do own the ZH230 (only 30'watts) which is incredible sounding. My understanding is the new ZOTL line is a slightly newer design using everything David Berning has learned in the last 5 years. I am a big fan of the EL34 tube for its beautiful midrange so this is the best of both worlds for me, ZOTL + EL34 = holy grail. I'm having fun tube rolling for now.
Coincidently, I saw David today at the Capital Audiofest.
Would be grateful to hear how the ZOTL40 compares sonically to the ZH30.
To me the ZH230 sounds only slightly better than the ZOTL40 with the stock Tung Sol tubes. My ZH230 has all NOS tubes. I am in the process of tube rolling in the ZOTL40 and am very optimistic that because of the many EL34 tube choices, it can exceed the the ZH230 sonically. The two amps have a similar character. Also, is the ZH230 almost 3K better than the ZOTL40? I don't think so but with the ZH230 you get a nicer laser etched case and stillpoints. More to come after some extensive tube rolling.
I will anxiously await your impressions. Am also curious to hear your experience with new vs NOS tubes.
Mark Schneider and his crew are coming over to my house soon. We're having an EL34 shootout. They're bringing lots of different EL34 tubes to try so it should be interesting.
I can say that the 6CA7 black bottle shuggys and the psvane EL34PH tubes are both better than the stock Tung sol tubes. I'm not sure which set I prefer yet, both sound great in the ZOTL40.
I'm especially interested in how the Gold Lion KT77s stack up against all these EL34s we've accumulated.
I hope you have the "well broken in" KT77's. I have not tried those yet. Also, if you have any reference CD's you want to bring that's fine.
In my VTL ST-80 I tried a lot of el34/6ca7 and finally put in the Gold Lion KT-77. Never tried anything else again.
ZOTL40 - EL34 shootout
The shootout was a lot of fun. For those of you who haven't met Mark, he's a great guy and a dedicated audiophile. I like his business model too. Start with a fantastic design and employ local people to manufacture great products HERE, not by slave labor in XYZ foreign country to maximize profits.
OK, the results are in, the EL34 Tung Sols that come stock with the amp sound very good, but there are a few other tubes that sound even better. Here are my Picks for the top tubes in the ZOTL40 in order, no. 1 being the best:
1. NOS Mullard EL34 XF2
2. Genelex Gold Lion KT77
3.NOS Sovtek EL34 Winged C
4.Shugaung Black Bottle 6CA7 (very long break-in)
5. psvane EL34PH
6. Tung Sol EL34
7. Mullard EL34 reissues
The Gold Lion KT77s are killer in this amp and are manufactured currently.
The very expensive Chinese 6CA7 black bottle tubes and the Phillips knock offs also sound very good but are costly. Equally as good as the Gold Lion KT77s are the NOS Sovtek winged C EL34's and maybe better, but I'm still listening to them. They're getting better with break-in, and I keep going back and forth on that one. I didn't get enough time with the KT77, but my first impression puts it near the top.
If you can get your hands on them, the NOS Mullards in this amp..... I can't explain it.... is the most incredible sound I have ever experienced. Yes, the Mullards are legendary and the ZOTL 40 takes advantage of these vintage tubes in a spectacular way. I bought a set of used NOS Mullards for a fairly reasonable price. Because the ZOTL is so easy on tubes, I expect them to last a long time.
I'm not really good at describing the sound differences in audiophile terms but it was all there, the sound stage, airy highs and tight lows. The top of the list giving the best of these attributes.
The upgraded tubes put the ZOTL40 a notch above the ZH230 in my humble opinion. Maybe that's why David Berning has decided to drop that amp from his line. I did hear that Berning is going to stick to his top of the line amps that he builds himself. The Berning 211/845 monoblock amps were reviewed this month in TAS and I think they used the term "best amp in the world." Oh well, $75K is out of my reach but I've got a ZOTL40.
If you ever wanted to own a $50k amp for a fraction of the price, this is it. I really can't say I've heard anything this good at any audio show. Although I've never heard the 211/845.
Janszen zA2.1 hybrid eltrostats
JL Audio E110 subs (pair)
PS Audio Direct Stream DAC networked
PS Audio P10 regenerator
Micro ZOTL as preamp with linear power supply
Morrow and Cerious Tech Cables
Thanks! That was VERY helpful.
I see from the LTA webpage that the amp now comes standard with the Genelex KT77's. Nice!
After lots of listening, we've decided to use all Genalex Gold Lion tubes for both the ZOTL10 and the ZOTL40 - the superiority of the sound is worth absorbing the extra cost.
My only wish: that they made a 6SN7. It seems like there's the biggest gulf in price for quality with the 6SN7, and the Tung-sol is the best current-production we've tried before you'd need to spend significantly more on high-end Chinese tubes.
The ZOTL 40 just keeps getting better and the Micro ZOTL is the best preamp I've ever heard. I only have some more tube rolling to do. This is it. I'm a little sad. I believe I have finally come to the end of a journey that has lasted some years.
Believe me the journey never ends. I have a good friend who has a megabuck system who said to me it can't possibly get any better. I had him do several things and he is absolutely stunned how much better his system sounds.
Looks like Urban HiFi is having a sale this weekend. $500 off the ZOTL40 (code Z40USA), $300 off the ZOTL10 (code Z10USA) and $150 off the MicroZOTL (code MZ2USA).
30 day return policy too.
No affiliation with them, just a very satisfied user.
Is that the name of a company marketing David Berning designs? If not, I would have thought they are violating a patent DB must own.
Mark Schneider is the engineer and owner of the company Linear Tube Audio. They have licensed the proprietary tech from David Berning. David was very involved in the design process of the new line of products. These amps meet his very meticulous standards. Oh yeah, and sound freakin awesome.
Since I live in the DC area, and I am personally acquainted with DB, perhaps I will visit one of their local emporia and have a listen.
Linear Tube Audio will have a storefront open in Takoma Park, MD, but it is 5 or 6 weeks away from opening maybe more. The store will be under the name Urban Audio.
Post a Followup:
Post a Message!
This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors: