I have been using the MZ2 as a preamp with the ZOTL40 powering Janszen zA2.1 hybrid electrostats. The Micro ZOTL was originally built as a headphone amp, and then David Berning tweaked the design for use as a preamp (the MZ2 that Mark Schneider currently builds) and what a good one it is. A huge Audio bang for the buck. As good as the MZ2 sounds, it’s a bit of a Swiss Army knife product and not a dedicated preamp with full functionality. Enter the Micro ZOTL Preamp.
I am lucky enough to live near Linear Tube Audio and Mark let me borrow his prototype preamp for a few days. The new preamp has a wider, more clearly defined sound stage and more sparkle at the top. The bass is just a bit more real sounding. There is smoothness, a little smoother without losing dynamics. I can’t explain this but could the MZ2 have been a little grainy sounding?
The piano is sounding more real than ever. There is more clarity in the sense of having more space in between notes or just less noise? Not that I could ever detect any audible noise before with the MZ2 but the background is darker. I guess more real, more in the venue feel.
So the flavor is similar, improved and enhanced in purity, refined, actually more refined. I even tried the carefully selected NOS tubes that I use in my MZ2 for comparison to discover that the NOS tubes that come with new pre are pretty darn good. I think Mark has optimized this circuit design as far as it will go and the more I listen the more I like it. I had to return this one but I have already ordered one when the production models are ready.
I remember Mark showing me a prototype on his test bench when we had our DCHFG meeting at his shop. It looked very promising then and it's great that your test drive in you system went so well. Looks like the MZ Preamp will be a very exciting product when it begins shipping.
Just a quick follow up now that the Micro ZOTL Preamp now that it is well burned in. This is certainly the best preamp I’ve owned but it’s more.... it’s a revelation. I am using the LTA UltraLinear 20 watt amp and this pair have my system in the stratosphere of Audio.
Comments from professional reviewer Terry London on Audiogon:
“I have spent the last 48 hours, did not go to sleep last night, listening to Linear Tube Audio's new dedicated full size, full function Micro ZOTL Preamplifier and I'm amazed, mesmerized, and delighted with what Mark Schneider in conjunction with David Berning has brought to the market with this new creation.
I'm a reviewer for hometheaterreview.com and about three years ago I awarded the "Product Of The Year" to the LTA ZOTLhead phone/preamplifier, which as a preamplifier completely out performed my $22,000.00 reference linestage! Even today this remarkable piece, which sells for $1,700.00 with the upgraded power supply is still one of the best preamplifiers on the market.
Well, it took about three years for Mark to come up with a better "mouse trap". This new linestage is on a significantly higher qualitative performance level then its less expensive sibling and is driving my reference system to beautiful musical heights. You can go to LTA's website to see how their new chassis work looks and the details of the internal quality of parts/construction and the explanation of the Berning's Zero Hysteresis Output Transfomer-Less circuit design.
Across every sonic attribute: timbres/color, image palpability/density, spatial qualities- air around players- tremendous soundstage depth/width/height, powerful overall dynamics, and deep extension with great low frequencies regarding tone/accuracy which gives a great foundation to the music. All this and delivered with total liquidity and ease. This preamplifier renders the illusion of real music better then any other linestage I have had in-house for review.
My full review for hometheaterreview.com, with many more superlative details, will be coming out in the next few months, just wanted to give this "heads up" to the GON members because this preamp just kills it. By the way I believe the retail cost is 4K, which is a bargain for what you get and the "magic" it will bring to your system”
Last Edit: Nov 17, 2018 22:52:27 GMT -5 by lancelock