Electronics

This high-end amplifier sounds equally nice with audio system and headphones – CNET

The Linear Tube Audio Z10 Stereo built-in amplifier


Linear Tube Audio

Linear Tube Audio is an American high-end firm that focuses on producing tube electronics designed by David Berning. That is attention-grabbing as a result of Berning has his personal firm, however the parts it produces are much more costly than LTA’s. Each corporations provide designs which can be radically completely different from conventional tube amplifiers, and haven’t got the euphonic sound most individuals affiliate with tubes. Working example: The LTA Z10 is a stereo tube built-in amp that produces extremely clear sound with audio system or headphones.

The Z10 by the numbers

The Z10 has 5 analog-only inputs (4 RCA, one XLR balanced), tape enter and output jacks, two 6.3mm headphone jacks, an LED that is simple to learn from throughout the room and a linear energy provide.

It is a Class AB amplifier rated at 10 watts per channel with eight ohm audio system, 12 watts for four ohm audio system. That may not sound like a lot, however we’re speaking about high quality not high quality of energy right here. The Z10 performed loud sufficient for me.

The Berning’s tech is without doubt one of the causes the Z10 sounds extra clear than any comparably priced tube amp in my expertise. The design makes use of two 12AT7s, 4 12AU7s and 4 EL-84 tubes. The place most tube-based energy amplifiers use particular transformers to couple the ability tubes to the speaker outputs, the Z10 doesn’t. As an alternative, the design contains a zero hysteresis transformer-less know-how patented by Berning. The result’s an amp that runs a lot cooler than most tube designs, which ends up in longer-than-average tube life expectancy.

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The Linear Tube Audio Z10 rear panel


Linear Tube Audio

The Z10’s black aluminum chassis is designed and made by Fern & Roby in Richmond, Virginia; the electronics are hand crafted by LTA in Takoma Park, Maryland. The Z10 construct high quality and components choice are distinctive and use costly Belleson regulators, a distant managed stepped attenuator (quantity management) with Vishay Dale resistors, Mundorf capacitors, and many others. It is labor-intensive work: It takes two days to construct and take a look at every Z10.

The amplifier is offered direct by Linear Tube Audio for $four,900 with a two-year guarantee and a 14-day house trial provide. It is costly, however when you think about the costs at Berning’s personal firm are loads greater — they begin at $33,000 for his Quadrature Z and run as much as $80,000 for the Berning 845 Monoblock amplifiers — the $four,900 Z10 value is slightly simpler to swallow.

A glance contained in the Linear Tube Audio Z10 amplifier


Linear Tube Audio

Uniquely, the amp got here with an Apple TV Distant preprogramed to be used with the Z10. The amp itself is 16 inches broad, 5.2 inches tall and 16 inches deep, and it weighs 18 kilos.

Tubes and the seek for magnificence

Over the course of my Z10 listening checks I switched between two units of audio system, the low-sensitivity KEF LS50 and the high-sensitivity Klipsch Forte III audio system. I anticipated the Z10 can be an ideal match with the tremendous easy-to-drive Forte III, and it was. The LS50 gobbles energy so it wasn’t an apparent selection, but it surely additionally sounded terrific at low to reasonably loud quantity. I’ve all the time most popular listening to the LS50s shut up, from six toes away, and if you’re not attempting to fill a complete room with sound you do not want a number of watts.

The Z10 will not click on with patrons searching for a romantic tube sound, that is not what this one is all about. There’s nothing classic in regards to the sound; on the contrary the Z10 is a high-resolution champ, massive on transparency and presence.

New Orleans nice Dr. John’s solo piano recordings packed a wallop, his massive and small dynamics have been faithfully reproduced by the Z10 over the Forte III audio system. The treble is sensible, tremendous clear, splendidly clear and by no means fatiguing. Then once more, play an excessively crisp recording like Miles Davis’ Water Infants and the Z10 will not reduce the sting, it simply lets or not it’s.

Mac Quayle’s Mr. Robotic Vol. four synth-heavy soundtrack gave the Forte III’s 12-inch woofers a critical exercise. Bass depth and definition have been well-ordered; however high-impact, room-shaking bass, not a lot. There isn’t any muddiness down there of the type I get from a number of tube amps.

The Forte III are very high-sensitivity audio system, so certain, 10 watts per channel labored wonders and performed loud, however what about audio system with a lot decrease sensitivity? I popped on a set of KEF LS50s, and the delectable textures tearing by way of Yo La Tengo’s Electr-O-Pura album made me smile. The stereo soundstage was broad, with sense of three-dimensional physique.

Sticking with the LS50s with Elliot Smith’s I Did not Perceive it was the immediacy of the music that grabbed me. The sound was so energetic. I used to be very conscious of Smith’s breaths as he sang, as if he was within the listening room with me.

Ten or 12 watts will not minimize it for patrons who need to occasion and there isn’t any approach round that, even with high-sensitivity audio system. That stated, the Z10 will click on with a number of audiophiles.

I might be remiss if I did not make observe of the Z10’s skills with headphones.The all-tube amp driving the audio system additionally drives headphones, solely simply diminished in energy. The Z10 powers hungry high-end headphones just like the Hifiman HE1000v2 and Abyss AB1266 with ease.

I additionally loved the Z10 with the Massdrop/Sennheiser HD6XX and Beyerdynamic T1 headphones. The Z10 sounded slightly extra like a conventional tube amp on headphones, the velvety smoothness and wide-open spaciousness have been addictive. Cymbals sizzled and crashed with dazzling realism.

The Linear Tube Audio Z10 is a really particular amplifier, and one I will not quickly neglect. It combines the attract of tubes with the precision of a solid-state amp. The one query is whether or not the Z10 is highly effective sufficient for you. I am not a believer in shopping for highly effective amps primarily based on the notion that they are “loafing” when performed at reasonable quantity. I a lot choose utilizing low-power/higher- high quality amps for that objective. 

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