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Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 2.0 Headphone Amp & Preamp Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 November 2015
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Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 2.0 Headphone Amp & Preamp Review
Set Up and Listening

One of my favorite recent releases is Ryan Bingham’s Fear And Saturday Night, a rocking stew of folk, country, rock, and Americana. The album is well recorded and among Bingham’s best efforts. His gravelly voice make his incisive lyrics come alive, and the sympathetic arrangements are well focuses. The MicroZOTL 2.0 provided excellent body to Bingham’s voice, which is front and center, and bass lines were round and full, with intertwined electric and acoustic guitar lines easy to follow. Having seen Bingham live, it was clear the MicroZOTL 2.0 was producing accurate tone and timbre, with excellent layering.

Listening with headphones produced the same impressions as above. There was plenty of drive, body, and the notion of being surrounded by the music. For some reason I found myself drawn to jazz and ambient recordings with the MicroZOTL 2.0 when used as a headphone amp. The absolutely stunning recording by the Andy Sheppard Quartet, Surrounded By Sea (96/24 FLAC) on the legendary ECM label, was intoxicating. His saxophones had body and bite, the way a live sax does, and the double bass and percussion, along with other interesting additions, were living, breathing entities.

I note to readers that I am not a headphone expert and I do most of my listening through speakers, but the sound of the MicroZOTL 2.0 with the Grado and RHA cans were a real revelation. The word intimacy comes to mind. This feeling may have been brought to the forefront due to the total lack of background noise and virtually seamless tonal balance.

Ergonomically, the MicroZOTL 2.0 was flawless. At the suggestion of Mark Schneider, I left it on 24/7, as the tube life is essentially endless. I thought the volume knob provided plenty of sweep and usable range. There is no remote control capability for the unit, and I did not miss it one bit, especially in the smaller system. I used to be a remote freak, but I no longer
feel they are necessary.


I enjoyed every minute with the MicroZOTL 2.0 headphone and preamp. Yes, I used mostly as a preamplifier, and it was a wonderful match with all the power amplifiers I used it with. If a clean, clear window into the music, with just enough tube magic sprinkled on, is your bag, here you have it. This is a purist product with no remote control, built-in DAC, or wal wart power supply. I would not personally want it any other way. If you have similar priorities, I highly recommend an audition of the MicroZOTL 2.0.



Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 2.0 headphone/preamp: $1100

Amplifier class: Push-pull Class A, no feedback
Sensitivity: 0.6V RMS for full output
Output impedance: (measured at 0.5A, 60 Hz) 2 ohms
Input impedance: 50k
Power output: with 4-ohm load: 1W, 1% THD, with 14-ohm load: 0.5W, 1% THD
Channel separation: (4-ohm loads) 46dB, 100Hz-10kHz, (14-ohm loads): 54 dB,
Size: 7 7/8 inches (19.7 cm) deep, 9 1/2 inches (24.1 cm) wide, 4 3/4 inches (12 cm) tall (including connectors)
Net weight: 5.35 lbs. (total amplifier and external power supply)
Finish: Aluminum case with lexan top
Tube complement per channel: 12AT7 input, phase splitter, 6SN7 p-p output

Review System 1

Server: Bryston BDP-2
DAC: iFI Micro iDSD w/ iFi Micro USB 3.0
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Server: Bryston BDP-2
Preamp: CIAudio PLC-1 MKII
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A
Speaker:  Bryston Mini T
Cables: Stager Sound, Acoustic Zen, Element Cable, DH Labs, iFi
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack

Review System 2

Music Server: SOtM sMS-100 w/ Battery XPS,
DAC: iFi Micro iDSD w/i iFi Micro iUSB 3.0
Power Amplifier: CLONES Audio 25p, Onkyo M5000R
Tape Deck: Sony TC-350
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3, Magnepan MMG
Cables: Stager Sound, Transparent,  DH Labs
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Audience aR6

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