ZOTL40 REFERENCE+ AMPLIFIER:
When I sent my Oppo 205 into Modwright for the full tube mods on the output stage, I was very pleased with the additional detail and tonal weight. When I sent my Janszen zA2.1 speakers in for the new 8” woofers and improved crossover, I was very happy with the additional bass output and how seamlessly the woofers integrate with the panels. When I got my ZOTL40 amp back from LTA with the latest Reference + modifications, I had to pick my jaw up off of the floor. The sound is so distinct and quite different now, it’s as if a new amp has been designed. I expected some improvement but never imagined an upgrade of this magnitude. How do you improve on an amplifier this good? Well leave to Mark Schneider and David Berning to figure it out.
The original ZOTL40 is a neutral amp. The sound on the new ZOTL40 is ever so slightly warm but with great speed and detail. There is no noise, only a clear window deep into the music. The amp has full control of the woofers which produce a deep tight bass. This deep increase in bass is an improvement over the already excellent bass of the last iteration. The midrange is still magic as always and the highs are sparkling, detailed with absolutely no fatigue in sight.
The improved soundstage I’m finding is most remarkably immersive as it’s deeper, more incredibly three dimensional with luscious layers of sound. The music isn’t projected at you, you are within it. I feel like I’m sitting in the third row center stage at the show. My original ZOTL40 was a good sounding amp which I’ve used strictly with my Janszen hybrid electrostats because of its incredible synergy. When pairing the ZOTL40 with some other speakers such as my GamuT RS5i it just didn’t seem to have the same synergy. The sound could be flat and a little lackluster. This lack of synergy has changed in a advantageous way with the “Plus” mods. The symbiotic relationship between speaker and amp is shear perfection.
I have owned a number of highly regarded tube and SS amps. I have a Coda #16 sitting next to the ZOTL40 on the rack now. The ZOTL40 Reference+ is the best amp I’ve ever owned. I can’t say it’s the best I’ve ever heard because I’ve had the opportunity to hear the Berning 211/845 mono blocks, but I think it’s real close.
There is new liveliness here in the Reference + that’s hard to describe, a “je ne sais quoi” if you will. Are the new mods an improvement? Yes, by a large margin.
It’s quite a privilege to witness up close and personal the evolution of greatness in the world of stereo amplification.