45 responses Add your response
You said it @teajay , I have the new MZ Preamp along with the LTA Ultralinear and this combo is otherworldly. For the last month I’ve been listening to the new Pre and UL on my Tekton DI SE speakers with the best sound I’ve ever been able to produce in this system.
As good as the MZ2 is the new ZOTL Preamp is in another class. I wished Mark had given it another name because I’ve already had some people get confused when I’ve tried to tell them about it. They say I’ve already heard it and I reply how’s that? I’ve got one of the first ones.
I have now moved the new ZOTL preamp and UL upstairs to my reference system. I removed the ZOTL40 and MZ2. Installed the UL and new MZ preamp, now paired with my Janszen zA2.1 hybrid electrostats. Holy crap! Its freaky good. I am not sure what is at work here because this 20 watt ZOTL amp is powering my 87db Janszens as loud as I can listen. I will be stuck in this chair the rest of the night for sure.
So the hot tip of the day if you want to go straight to the top is to get an LTA UltraLinear and a Micro ZOTL Preamp, save thousands and call it a day. This combo puts you in the stratosphere of quality Audio without the stratospheric prices.
Thanks for the review on the MicroZOTL preamp. I have to admit I'm a bit curious. Just a quick question. How does this preamp play with moretraditional amps? I have a Pass Labs XA-30.8. Are there any issues to consider? Do you lose any of the "magic" of this preamp by pairing itwith non-OTL gear?
I’m running the new preamp (S/N 005) with my XA30.8. The combination is flat out beautiful. I also have an MZ2 which worked well, but the new pre is just better in every way. Clarity, staging, dynamics (both micro and macro). Very liquid, fatigue free, but also dynamic and extended.
One consideration is overall system gain. Listening at typically lower levels the volume rarely goes over 5 out of 100. I should probably swap to some 12au7 drivers but the stock Sylvania 12at7’s have a good sound going. The front end is an Aurender N10 into a Bricasti M1 SE, so I didn’t really need any gain. The sound is just more complete with a pre in the chain.
So far I’ve changed the output tubes to Psvane CV 181T-II (6SN7) with a nice improvement in body and solidity. The supplied outputs are actually pretty good though.
I did hear the LTA combo at Axpona (pre with mono Ultralinears) and really liked it but the setting was somewhat familiar. I can’t say directly how the XA compares to the Ultralinear. My aural memory says that the XA is more liquid and the UL has a little more punch in the lower ranges. Go figure that the 16 lb. amp sounds punchier than the 92 lb. amp. I’m sure the XA is a far superior space heater.
Greg, Lance, Teejay,
Thanks for the feedback. Its much appreciated. I'm going to put the MicroZOTL on my must audition list early next year. In general I'm not a fan of OTL. The ones I've heard have amazing detail and transparency but at the cost of sounding thin or a bit bright and edgy. I'm curiousto hear what the MicroZOTL will bring to the table.
The Backert Rhumba 1.2 is a wonderful preamplifier. However, for my tastes/system the LTA preamplifier, nothing is better then this David Berning ZOTL based piece. It provides all the qualities of a reference level linestage, like the Rhumba 1.2, and adds a special quality of "aliveness" that other preamps do not provide.
Being interested in this preamp, as well as interested in audio terminology and understanding... could you explain what you mean by “aliveness”??
I am assuming it might refer to a combination of things like dynamics, speed and complet tonal harmonics? But that’s me just theorizing a breakdown of what might make a piece of gear seem more ‘alive’.
Great question. When I wrote my professional review on the Tekton Design Double Impact Speakers I used the term "aliveness" to try to convey that this speaker presented the music with the kick/pop of live music. Yes, I could use more objective terms like macro-dynamics and transient speed. However, there are speakers and preamps that are fast/quick, but still lack the illusion of live music in their presentation.
The LTA preamplifier has this special quality to a higher degree then any other linestage I have ever had in my system for review.
Have had the LTA Micro ZOTL MZ2s since Jan 2017 and have been using with my Focal Elears. Very happy, then one day I tried the Micro on my Hartsfields with great results.
Have a large weekend project, building my retirement home, bought new gear for there and decided to try the Micro as a pre amp. Shocking to say the least in a very good way. Takes a while to warm up , but it comes alive after 45 min.
Ticks a lot of boxes for not much mula.
My short term quest has been satisfied. If I feel the need can always do some tube rolling.
I think it's excellent as a preamp.Last week I used it as an integrated while waiting for new fuses for my amp.With only one watt it can't be played loudly naturally,but it sounded fantastic.It even did bass very well.I'm curious to see how it will do when I visit my brother and hook it up to his Cornwalls:-)
Hello Jmolsberg, could you elaborate on what Ben did? I see they sell a stand alone illuminati v3 ps for about $1,250. Did he replace the power supply in your LTA with a modified illuminati v3 ps? I also have Omega speakers: the Super Alnico High Output Monitor which are 97db. You said you had issues with the head room. I also have a First Watts S.I.T 3 which does not have a lot of gain; 11.5.
^ I wouldn't say I have any issues with headroom but I'd like some more at times. It is only one watt! With that said, gotta makes some concessions and this feels like the only concession I am having to make. The music is marvelous - I am sure you know with the S.I.T 3/omega. I did loan my mz2 to my neighbor who ended up buying the microzotl. We did some A/B and I'll be damned if that upgraded mz2 wasn't right there. Personally, I thought the bass was a little better, maybe the illuminati?
I purchased the mz2-s with the switching ps. I had Ben do the following with the purchase of the illuminati v3:
illuminatti v3 ps, Hardwire DC power cable into mz2
24 point Stepped attenuator
Replace fuse with self-resetting Thermistor
Upgrade the main ground from rear to attenuator with OCC UniCrystal silver wire
Upgrade the four wires going from the attenuator to the main board
UniCrystal silver wire
Add an independent ground wire for L and R at output
Bypass the cheap switch in the headphone jack and run the wires directly to the RCAs.
Run the wires from main board first to RCA and jump to binding posts
Jmolsberg, thank for responding to my question. Wouldn't the
modifications void the warranty on it?
I noticed LTA offers a true balance input for $250 more. What is the benefit of this when it does not have balanced outputs? Is it to increase the gain? As noted above the SIT-3 has limited gain. I am also looking at the Denafrips Terminator DAC which does have balanced outputs.
After a lot of searching I finally purchased a MZ3 pre/ headphone amp to use exclusively as a pre. I do own a MZ2 s which I purchased as a headphone amp but tried as a pre as well. I had used the MZ2 with Audio Research, Bryston and Quicksilver and was never 100 percent content with the results. The MZ2 was given a lot of positive press and individual reviews which are in my opinion well deserved and yet in my rig once the volume ( not remote) went past 12 o'clock there was a slight but obvious steeliness to the sound. Sibilants were slightly more pronounced and poor recordings just a little less enjoyable. I really enjoyed the exceptional tone , spaciousness , dynamics that were presented but that bit of dryness kept me from fully enjoying the sound. I did audition a lot of preamps in shops but wasn't able to do home auditions because I live too far away. After talking to Mark, the man is very patient by the way, I decided to try the MZ3. The MZ3 was more affordable than the others I had listened to and the in home trial with full refund seemed to make it a no brainer. Over the MZ2 I now have a remote, there is more detail and seemingly more tonal richness, more ease to the sound and most importantly the dryness is gone. There is a quality to my system that I have not heard before at home or in the shops where I auditioned new and used in the 7 - 10k range Cdn. There are a lot of variables here for sure and definitive comments are likely inappropriate but my system has never sounded better. I can say the MZ3 for me is definitely a worthwhile upgrade to the MZ2.
Cold ears thank you for your take on the LTA MZ3 preamp and the MZ2. I too am ready to purchase a new preamp. However it would help me to make an informed decsion to know if you used the three amps mentioned in your post (AR, Bryston and Quicksilver) with the MZ3? and last but not least what speakers are you currently using?
Thank you for your help!
Best wishes Charlie