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Linear Tube Audio ZOTL10 Mk.II power amplifiers, sound on another level

Dale Davies |
The Linear Tube Audio ZOTL10 Mk.II is an expression of EL84 amplification that is accurate, uncolored, and now at another level.

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A redesigned backplate features WBT binding posts, copper RCA jacks, separate inputs allowing either a direct-to-board connection or the use of a volume control. After extensive listening, Linear Tube Audio reconfigured the output wiring to improve the sound and shortened signal paths whenever possible. There are two inputs, one direct and one with a volume control. The standard unit has an Alps Blue Velvet volume control for those that are skipping the preamp.

The Alps pot is a very nice, respected volume control, but for those that want a remote and zero signal degradation, Linear Tube Audio now offers an optional remote stepped attenuator utilizing Dale 1% precision resistors. All ZOTL10 models are upgradeable to the new power supply. Designed by David Berning, the ZOTL10 Mk.II uses his ZOTL technology, which allows for a highly reliable protection circuit, low output impedance, very consistent performance regardless of speaker impedance, and low heat operation with long tube life.

Traditional tube amps are known for their liquidity and linearity, but their “warmth” masks details and can sound thick. Solid state amplifiers give you that detail, but can be “clinical.” Linear Tube Audio ZOTL amplifiers give you the best of both worlds: beautiful tube tone with the clarity of solid state (while being entirely tube-based). The Z10 Integrated amplifier is based on David Berning’s patented ZOTL technology, the only advance in tube technology since the 1950’s. For a technology to be patented, it must be deemed “new, useful, and non-obvious.”

Linear Tube Audio thinks that sums up our approach quite nicely. Most tube amplifiers run through tubes every 1,000-2,000 hours. That sounds like a lot until you consider that Linear Tube Audio estimates tube life for their amps to be in the 10,000-20,000 hour range. Why? Because Linear Tube Audio uses ⅓ the current through the tubes, which results in lower heat and dramatically longer tube life. The price starts at $3,200 and while some think it’s not exactly the “classic” sounding vacuum tube amplifier, it's a model you definitively must check out if you want a superior sound.

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