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Need help deciding... RKV vs MicroZOTL

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Im getting a new amp... wheee =)

unfortunatly, i have exhausted all the local shops as far as available amps go. (which is pretty much the MG-Head, XCans, and the Creek amps) So im going to mail order one.

Which means trusting im getting the right amp. =)

Im looking to use it with my HD-600's, and source will either be a cambridge DVD player, or computer drive with a custome 24/96 DAC i built.

Music/sound tastes vary from TV to DVD movies, to Electronic music to classic chamber peices. So, my main two criteria are a pleasing sound which i can listen to for literaly hours at a time, and powerfull bass.

Also, I will probably add another pair of phones or two in the future, probably a pair of grado 325's, so ability to drive both high and low impedence phones (without much more investment) is an advantage

My last amp was the MG-Head, which just sold this week, so the time to decide is now.

what are your opinions guys?
post #2 of 10
You might want to factor in availability as well; MicroZOTLs are rarely seen on the used market, and according to a dealer whose Audiogon ad I responded to, the lead time for a new unit is at least a month..

- Wasif.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thats a good point. I have already been in contact with Mr. Berning, who said he had some in stock so lead time is just what its going to take to get payment to him. Im still waiting on Dr. Meier about availability on the RKV.

Im not too worried about the availability used, I plan on getting a new one, and waiting a month isn't a major problem at the moment. (it probably will be a problem after a month of waiting, but thats a different story)
post #4 of 10
I've owned the ZOTL, but I've never heard the RKV. From what I've read, sounds like the RKV may have "more" bass, but it's also alleged to be "rolled off" on top, which in my mind might not be so good for the laid-back HD600s. You'll also have to purchase an Impedencer if you want to use the RKV with other cans in the future, whereas ZOTL in stock form is ready to rumble with any cans you throw at it.

If you decide to tube-roll your ZOTL, the tubes in it are much more readily available with more choices in good NOS tubes than the RKV with its somewhat obscure tubes and fewer choices.

That didn't really help, did it?

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
No, i find your comments definatly helpful markl. any information which helps me decide will be considered, and tube rolling is a definite for me in the future.

If anyone has any other tube amps that are in the same range/league as these two, feel free to mention them. My absolute maximum to spend would be RKV prices, and even that is stretching my rescorces.

post #6 of 10
I own both. There's a MicroZOTL and RKV comparison I posted before I actually owned an RKV that still reflects my views on these amps. If high-end transparency is your primary goal, the ZOTL is your amp. If solid bass is your priority, the RKV is the clear winner. The midrange is very close, and will depend on the tubes used, particularly with the ZOTL. The RKV drives all impedances well, but is noisy with low-impedance cans. The Impedancer can apparently correct this, but I don't have one and cannot speak first hand. The ZOTL drives all impedances well, and is quiet, but tends to be headphone selective. There are a number of tube sets that are best with high impedance headphones, and others that are best with low impedance cans...and very few that are great with both.

I wouldn't ignore the Melos SHA-1. At the low prices currently commanded, this amp is a steal. The Earmax Pro is another option, but I don't have enough listening time to fully evaluate it.

There may be another contender coming along very soon that competes with these. I won a DIY amp on ebay that became a prototype of a product that could be very strong in this price range.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response Hirsch. I have read your comparison of the two, and its one of the reasons im having such a hard time deciding =)

How is the new amp doing?

The only reason i haven't looked seriously at one of those is, well, no offense to the guy, but i find it rather ugly. And its gotta sound realy good for me to get over the visual apearence =)

I know its a petty thing, but does the guy who made it offer any other body styles?

post #8 of 10
Check some of the posts here of first impressions of the MG Head/OTL32. Those who tried it were hugely impressed, comparing it to the RKV and even the ASL Twin Head. Even with some tube rolling you would still be well below the cost of RKV + impedencer.
post #9 of 10
As others have stated here, it will all depend on what you prefer in an amps' sound. I find that while the high end is rolled-off on my RKV, it is pleasantly so. There is no harshness or grating high end to speak of. The bass is incredible on the RKV, a big plus in my book. Tubes are cheap and readily available from Jan Meier for about $7.50 per tube, which includes shipping. While they both are incredible sounding amps, each has it's own strength and weaknesses. I hated how they designed the ZOTL with the headphone jack and volume knob on top instead of the front, or at least a side. The RKV is just incredible looking, well laid out, and has high quality parts throughout the entire amp.

It also comes down to money. An RKV with Impedancer right now costs about $1120, while a new ZOTL will run a mere $600 or so. This may also help you decide which one is for you.
post #10 of 10
Originally posted by ServinginEcuador
It also comes down to money. An RKV with Impedancer right now costs about $1120, while a new ZOTL will run a mere $600 or so. This may also help you decide which one is for you.
IIRC a new ZOTL runs about $750 plus shipping. Also note that you're very likely to roll tubes in the ZOTL, while this is not a necessity with the RKV. Those little glass bottles add up
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