I don't have any experience with those exact bundles but I do own the LTA MZ3 and ZOTL 10 power amp. Also using an older Benchmark DAC. My speakers are Spatial Audio open baffles and the result is superb in my opinion. Before I owned this system, I used to go over the "For Sale" items religiously looking for the next best amplifier or preamp. I no longer look at the used items for sale.
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My two cents:The systems LTA puts together seem to consistently win 'best sound' awards at electronic shows and they offer them for sale at discounted prices.If I was in the market for new equipment I would trust what they've paired up and go for it.I own one of their preamps and absolutely love it.
The speakers i am using are the M4 Triode Masters.They are placed 15 inches from the side walls and 41 inches from the wall behind them. They are in a 10' wide by 20' long room with the speakers placed on the short wall. They could be placed closer to the wall behind them but I pulled them out farther into the room to see what the affect would be. I don't think it made much difference from the previous location 36" from the wall behind them.
high-amp, I’ve been using an upgraded MicroZOTL2 as an integrated amplifier feeding a pair of Zu Omen DW mkiis (rated 97db). This replaced a Decware Mini Tori and regulated my Decware SE84 to my office room system.
I would describe the MZ2 sound as liquid - bass is tighter than on the Decwares and overall dynamics pack more punch. It also gives more detail, or rather, the background is so black the details stand out more, if that makes sense. It has not issue driving the Zu’s - I’m listening comfortably to acoustic jazz on vinyl right now and the gain control isn’t even up to noon yet.
I also tried a ZOTL10 mkii. Obviously louder, with sharper soundstaging and fuller mids and even punchier bass. As others have mentioned, LTA amps have little to no bloom, but still have a warm sheen to them that I enjoy. I sold it off because a) it was waaaaay more gain than I needed, as in I never turned the gain knob past 8 o’clock b) the MicroZOTL2 had a certain something I really liked - it just sounds more “liquid” than the ZOTL10 to me, if that makes sense, and c) aesthetically the ZOTL10 wasn’t working in our living room - it is the epitome of a big black cube.
Having said that, I also saw the bundle sale they did for the Labor Day weekend. I reached out to them and they offered a version of the discount for the Z10 integrated and Orchid DAC. I got the phono stage upgrade, hoping it will help me clear the audio shelf of boxes and power cords. They offer a 14-day grace period, and given that I live close to their shop, it ended up convincing me to give the Z10 a go.
Running an LTA Ultralinear with the Daedalus Apollo’s, which are a larger version of the Muse. Check out my lengthy “review” of this pairing here. 30 years+ in this hobby and this pairing is the best I’ve found. Heard the Muse at 2018 CAF and knew it was a keeper—then Lou did the bigger Apollo with the same driver array and placed my order. Speakers and amplification for life!
@mesch Here's a link to a review of the Muse ; LTA amps were part of the group of amps used in the evaluation
I can’t speak highly enough about LTA. David Berning’s designs are genius and Mark Schneider has brought them to another level not to mention bringing these amps more affordably to the masses. These are great guys to buy from. They stand behind their products and they have some great deals going on right now.
I don’t own Spatial speakers but I heard the combo at CAF and it was one of the best rooms at the show. The ZOTL40 and preamp make my Janszen hybrid electrostats sing like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
I have the LTA Z10 integrates and Spatial Audio triode master speakers.
The two combined are awesome. Everyone who has heard the combo, including my wife who couldn’t give less of a crap about audio sometimes, say it’s like everything between the musicians and you is stripped away. Super clear, clean, and dimensional.
I’ve paired the Spatials with a Decware 6 watt amp and a Primaluna Dialogue Premium Integrated before. The decware has what I would call the traditional tube sound with tons of dimensionality and tube bloom which was super comforting and easy to listen to, but lacked dynamics and bass. Midrange was crazy good though. The Primaluna was good too, but needed high volume to really get the most and was not as affected by tube changes as the Decware. Not as much midrange magic and still light on bass.
The LTA has a crystal clear sound that trades some midrange tube magic for unbelievable space definition (the sense or “realness” of music is uncanny), silent background (like no sound....the Primaluna and Decware added hiss and hum from the transformers), and the bass is all there. The ten watts is a lot for my Spatials. I had to crank the Decware and Primaluna to halfway or more to get the same dynamics I get at 15 out of 100 on the LTA.
Beyond that, LTA service is superb. Always quick to answer questions and, when my power supply developed a hum, they instantly responded with a shipping label to send it back, assessed it and repaired it within 48 hrs, and had it back to me. No fuss. No fight. Everything with Primaluna was a battle, specifically Upscale Audio...they don’t give a crap about customer service once the sale is made.
The LTA amp is un freaking real. My speakers are 95 dB sensitive and I think the ten watts are beyond capable for more. The Primaluna was putting out 22/38 watts depending on mode and the Decware was 6 watts. LTA outshines both with ten watts and the quietest and clearest background I’ve ever heard. And that extends to the headphone amp which is balls out crazy good.
If I had to complain about anything it would be that it’s almost too clear. I’m trying to figure out a way to get some of the warmth back that the Decware has and tame some of the top end which my ears don’t enjoy as much as others. That’s a personal preference and no knock on the amp.
Excellent information, above and beyond, thank you!
Makes the LTA bundle (of joy) sound better & better all the time!
Although I think I might trade out the Lampizator Dac for an NOS R2R unit. Also, the ZOTL Ultralinear amp sounds like it might be a good step up. Maybe it would giv back some off that warmth you were looking for over the Z10? What Dac are you currently using with your Z10?
The DAC is my next thing to “fix”. I think adding a tube DAC would help and I’m torn between the Border Patrol, which seems to be more in the vein of warm analog sound, and the MHDT Orchid which seems to have a little less but still good. Need to get one in my system but neither offers a really good in-home trial.
I’m using the Parasound ZDAC which won’t win any awards but it’s been a good workhorse for about five years now. Nothing really to complain about but not a lot to fall in love with.
I’m also CRAZY tempted by the Ultralinear but just couldn’t justify the expense. I’ve asked the LTA folks a lot of questions about it and how it compares with the Z10 and their comparisons don’t give me the sense that it will be warmer or more smooth but just that it’s more refined, which is hard to translate into how it will actually sound different. If you’ve got the dough, try the Ultralinear and see what all the fuss is about.
Now that we have heard from the LTA fan club, I wonder what Atma-Sphere has to say. In LTA's marketing, without mentioning Atma- Sphere by name try to compare their ZOTL design to Atma-Sphere's OTL design. Unfortunately, there is a fair degree of deception there. Their amp is under powered for most high end loudspeakers. They will do fine on high efficiency speakers except their output impedance is 2 ohms which is very high so forget about bass control. I'm just playing devil's advocate.
Personally, I require an amp of at least 200 watts/channel. Atma-Sphere's MA2 fits the bill nicely. I have never been in contact with an LTA product. They look well made and I'm sure will work well for a lot of people. Unfortunately, nothing in their product line interests me and their marketing turns me off.