MicroZOTL Preamp vs MZ2
Greatly Improved house sound and more of it.
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.