Thanks!I've been looking forward to the review:)
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In your opinion, what is the “Berning Sound”? I’ve never heard a Berning amp of any flavor until I heard the LTA Z10 Integrated and I’ve not heard the amp referred to in this thread. I’ve been a tube amp lover though for many, many years. In general, I chose tube amps for the things they did very well like tone, soundstage, warmth and emotion and overlooked those areas where they didn’t necessarily excel like deep bass and leading edge dynamics and image specificity. Some tube amps did better than others but these were general observations. I’ve only heard a few SETs over the years and they really got the tone thing right but I always considered them for the Yo Yo Ma solo listener on a single driver horn kind of experience.
The Z10 nails the good stuff that tubes typically bring to the table without having to do without those other things mentioned above. Its really a conundrum, quite tough to wrap my head around, because anyone who has been around the hobby for a while with opinions formed over years and years of listening to alot of different gear have likely formed the opinion that these combination of traits wasn’t possible. I’ve had alot of different gear through the years, at least 50 amplifiers (I’ve purposely NOT kept count), and I simply can’t describe properly what is going on here but it resembles taking a little bit of where this amp excels and a little bit of where that amp excels and piecing it together to form a whole that you didn’t believe feasible.
Check it out or don’t check it out, it’s no biggie to me or others but this topology must be taken seriously. This is not the flavor of the month BS of which we are all so skeptical. These circuits are complicated, they are difficult to build, they are labor intensive and when I finally got around to opening up the chassis for a peek, my respect for Linear Tube Audio deepened.
Whether it should be called “the Berning sound” or “the Linear Tube Audio sound” make no mistake it sounds like real music. Everyone should like what they want to and I am no fanboy of any gear, but if you know what real instruments sound like be they acoustic or amplified you can’t walk away after listening to the LTA equipment and say that it didn’t sound correct. Sure, you can say they won’t work well for you, your other equipment or your setup but the gap between the best of what solid state amplification has to offer and the best of what tube amplification has to offer just got blown up.
I would love to hear the new amp.I have the MZ2 which is a flea powered integrated that I use for a preamp.I did run it directly to my speakers for a day out of curiosity at low volume.The music continued to sound clear and natural,even nailed acoustic bass.I don't know how to describe it either except in a visual analogy.Clear flowing water maybe.Certain recordings that had vocals or instruments that used to sound too strident or too raspy just didn't any longer.Natural,organic,clean.
Actually my comment was meant as a compliment to Berning equipment. I am not a huge fan of the typical SET or Push-Pull sound and find the Berning "house" sound to be more linear by comparison. Kind of like getting the best of tube amplifiers without the warts. Also am a big fan of OTLs and similar configurations.
FWIW, I run a Lampizator Golden Gate through my Microzotl Preamp and Ultralinear. The DHT sound of the Lampizator comes through unrestricted. The LTA gear breathes right with it. It certainly helps that they let the saturated harmonics through making a complete presentation. I also have an Auralic dac. Here the system just sounds like this dac, which isn’t too bad either at 10% the cost of the Lampizator. The LTA gear just sounds like what you feed it. Definitely not the weak link.
Enjoyed reading your review. I am in the final stages of my search for a new amp and have always enjoy a good tube amp. Having narrowed my choices down to the Pass xa25 and LTA Ultralinear could you tell me the sonic differences between the two? My speakers will work with either amp. So which of the two amps would you buy if you could only afford one?
@bobheinatz -- the xa25 is a great amp, but here are a couple other Class-A amps you might want to consider. As far as tube amps, Don Sach's KT88 amp is getting some impressive reviews as well. Sorry if I'm just muddying the waters!
First, the XA-25 offers more flexibility when it comes to driving more speakers. It really measures at close to 80 watts into a 8 ohm load. If you do not need that much power, then it really becomes a "horse race" regarding which one of these great amplifiers would I choose.
The LTA Ultralinear offers the pristine colors and emotional intimacy of a SET design. It reminds me of a 2A3 SET, which happens to be my favorite power tube. The XA-25 sounds more like a great 300B SET, which is amazing in that it a solid state design. Both are extremely detailed and transparent and are extended on both the top and bottom end.
So, which do you like better a 2A3 or 300B signature? Does your system tend be slightly cool or warm based on your source, preamp, and speakers. For my tastes, in my smaller system that uses very efficient speakers I would choose the LTA.
Thanks Teajay for your prompt reply. I have owned both a 2a3 & 300b. I also like the 2a3 tube better along with the 45 tube. However I have a interesting dilemma. The current room I have the LTA would proably work best but in around 15 months I will be able to move my system back into a much larger room where the Pass would benefit. I sounds like a win regardless of which amp I buy. Again thanks.