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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
ImageLinear Tube Audio, formed in 2015, is based out of Washington DC, where they hand builds tube components in their workshop. The firm is headed up by Mark Schneider, a highly experienced product design specialist and engineer. Mark is very well spoken, polite, and is very passionate about his products. I contacted Mark about reviewing some gear and one in particular caught my attention, the MicroZOTL 2.0 tubed headphone amplifier and preamplifier, which sells for $1100.

Linear Tube Audio also offers the ZOTL10 and the ZOTL40, both power amplifiers based on ZOTL technology. ZOTL stands for “Zero hysteresis Transformer-Less”, a patented architecture invented by David Berning. Berning enjoys a loyal following and customer base with his ow line of impressive amplifiers that are not for the faint of wallet. They are audio works of art, visually, and state of the art, sonically.

In a nutshell, transformers are generally thought to be the major hinderance to amplifier performance, and eliminating them has been a longtime goal for engineers. OTL (Output Transformer-Less) amplifiers are designed and manufactured by more than a few companies, but according to Linear Tube Audio, ZOTL is a distinct and unique design, and a completely different take despite the common theme of having no transformer. I strongly recommend reading THIS PAGE on Linear’s website, which is extremely detailed and easy to understand.

Linear Audio says their are a number advantages to ZOTL design technology. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Drastically improved tube life due to lower current operation
  • No output transformer intermodulation distortion
  • No low frequency non-linearity
  • Improved bass due to flat, linear bass response to below 10hz
  • Low output impedance for easier speaker matching

The MicroZOTL 2.0, as the name might indicated is based on well reviewed product David Berning produced about fifteen years ago. Mark Schneider reconfigured and updated the original design to maximize performance with the goal of bringing it to a new level of refinement. Features include the following:
  • External power supply
  • Drive low efficiency planar headphones easily
  • Drive high efficiency speakers (89 db efficiency or higher) to adequate volume
  • Universal voltage power supply
  • 2 selectable inputs
  • Class A preamplifier output
  • Simulates the correct transformer turns ratio using impedance converter
  • Low impedance output easily matches wide range of headphones and speakers
  • Same technology & tone as more expensive Berning amplifiers
  • No heavy power or audio transformers
  • Optimized tube life expectancy of 10 - 20 years based on use
  • One year warranty


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