Have you heard the new Linear Tube Audio Z10e amplifier?
May 21, 2020 at 7:32 AM Post #31 of 66

complin

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Running the tubes at those voltages (and 1/3 the current) is part of the unique nature of the ZOTL circuit.

I'll have to consult more technical minds than me if you want deeper info, but the electrostatic output is the standard STAX 580v interface. https://staxaudio.com/technology

Thanks that would be great please if you could.
Its just that I currently own the original and Legendary Stax T2 amplifier made for the very first Omega headphone and would like to know how the ZOTL campares. I also use David Bernings stereo amplification in my main system and know how good they are, so the prospect of using the same technology with my electrostatic headphones is very attractive. Here is a thread about the T2 and its specifications are quoted there.

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/stax-srm-t2-staxs-greatest-electrostatic-amp-ever-made.847212/
 
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May 27, 2020 at 9:48 AM Post #32 of 66

jtnt

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Thanks that would be great please if you could.
Its just that I currently own the original and Legendary Stax T2 amplifier made for the very first Omega headphone and would like to know how the ZOTL campares. I also use David Bernings stereo amplification in my main system and know how good they are, so the prospect of using the same technology with my electrostatic headphones is very attractive. Here is a thread about the T2 and its specifications are quoted there.

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/stax-srm-t2-staxs-greatest-electrostatic-amp-ever-made.847212/
Do you have any specific questions? I've never heard the T2, so I can't tell you how it compares sonically. The Z10e gives you everything you likely already love from your current Berning/ZOTL setup, but with electrostatics.
 
May 27, 2020 at 12:49 PM Post #33 of 66

complin

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Do you have any specific questions? I've never heard the T2, so I can't tell you how it compares sonically. The Z10e gives you everything you likely already love from your current Berning/ZOTL setup, but with electrostatics.

@jtnt I would not expect you to be able to compare the the T2 with the Z10e. My question is really around the technical specification and performance parameters as referred to in my previous post. I have cut and pasted the details below:

SRM Technical specifications:

The SRM-T2 had a maximum output voltage of 630V


Frequency Band:
1 - 70,000 Hz (100 r, m, s, output, when using one SR - Ω)
Amplification degree: 60 dB
Harmonic distortion rate: 0.01% or less / 630 V RMS output (1 kHz, when using one SR - Ω )
Input impedance: 50 kΩ  
Maximum output voltage: 630 Vr. ms / 1 kHz
Bias voltage: 580 V × 2


So can you say how the Z10e compares to this please?
 
May 27, 2020 at 4:37 PM Post #34 of 66

jtnt

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@jtnt I would not expect you to be able to compare the the T2 with the Z10e. My question is really around the technical specification and performance parameters as referred to in my previous post. I have cut and pasted the details below:

SRM Technical specifications:

The SRM-T2 had a maximum output voltage of 630V


Frequency Band: 1 - 70,000 Hz (100 r, m, s, output, when using one SR - Ω)
Amplification degree: 60 dB
Harmonic distortion rate: 0.01% or less / 630 V RMS output (1 kHz, when using one SR - Ω )
Input impedance: 50 kΩ  
Maximum output voltage: 630 Vr. ms / 1 kHz
Bias voltage: 580 V × 2


So can you say how the Z10e compares to this please?

I'll include the specs for the Z10e that most closely relate to the ones you included, but you can find all published specs here: https://www.lineartubeaudio.com/products/z10e-electrostatic-headphone-amp-integrated-amp

Frequency response (8-ohm load): 6Hz to 60kHz, +0, -.5dB
Input impedance: 47k
Electrostatic Headphone Output: 5 pin Stax interface, 580V bias

One additional bit of info that's not on the page is the output voltage, which is limited to 410Vrms on the Z10e. STAX themselves recommends that "maximum output with 470 Vr.m.s. or below for any amplifier driving STAX headphone in order to avoid damages to sound elements."
 
Oct 13, 2020 at 7:30 AM Post #35 of 66

Isseki

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Just another thought - I have my amp being fed by my Yggdrasil - I have both XLR and RCA cables going to the amp and I can switch between them ( since there are 3 inputs ) - most of the time I have been listening on the XLR input, even though it gets converted to single ended. I switch to the RCA if I am driving more sensitive headphones.

I use the Monoprice Premier series cables, which sound really good to me, even though they are pretty inexpensive. I just ordered and tried their new Monolith XLR cables. The Monoliths are very well made and look great, but seemed darker to me, and I liked the brighter sound of the premier so I will be returning the Monoliths.
After use the Z10e several months, what do you think about this amp ?
 
Oct 13, 2020 at 5:52 PM Post #36 of 66

number1sixerfan

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Would also love to hear any impressions. I love my Woo and my BHSE, but having two separate systems is really decreasing the chance of me using the electrostats at all. I've been curious about this amp.. would be great to know how it compares to some of the other TOTL amps.
 
Oct 13, 2020 at 11:35 PM Post #37 of 66

davesa

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Well after a few months with the amp I am still enjoying it a lot. I have added a D90 DAC to my setup in addition to my Yggy. The Yggy feeds the LTA via balanced input and the D90 via the single ended input. I changed the preamp tubes (12AU7) and the 12AT7 tubes to NOS tubes ( Radiotechnique and Mullard) from Upscale Audio, and the new tubes have settled in nicely. I am still using the LO output jack to drive all my non-estat headphones. I have just added a ZMF Verite Closed to my collection (arrived today! ) and they sound amazing from this amp. The ZMF Auteurs also sound excellent, as do the Dan Clark Ether 2's.

I still love the ability to move between headphones, electrostatic headphones and speakers. It is very versatile in that regard. I bought a relatively inexpensive set of Martin Logan bookshelf speakers to have on my desk and can switch to those if I want a break from headphones, or to share something like a video with more than one person.

The amp is more engaging that my solid state Monoprice THX-887 - so if I find myself gravitating to the LTA more. The Monoprice is a great amp, and has top notch measurements but the LTA pulls you into the music more.

If the LTA has one down side for me, it is that I do not think it pairs well with my Voce, either with the original tubes or the NOS tubes. I have not changed the 4 EL-84s yet, so maybe that would make a difference. My Mjolnir Audio Carbon seems to drive the Voce much better than the LTA. On the SR-009 the LTA does a good job of driving them, and for the things people call out as strengths to the SR-009, like classical, jazz, or guitar they sound great on either amp. The Stereophile review loved the Z10e with the Voce's - so still a little baffled here.

After living with the amp past the honeymoon period - I can say I still love the aesthetics of the display. The volume knob feels awesome and the little clicks it makes are cool. I use both the volume knob and the Apple remote. I did not think I would even use the remote... I mean the amp is right over there, just reach over and turn the knob... but I do. It is really nice when you want to sit a bit further away - for me that is a 9' or 10' cable and sitting in my reading chair. Sometimes a song needs a little more or a little less volume and the remote is great for that when you are all settled in. I have the extension cable for the SR-009 that I can add and again sit in my reading chair across the room or at my desk.

One thing I find is sometimes the volume is a bit variable, meaning that when the amp is warming up it is loud enough on 8, but then I like it on 12, or 15, or 18. I would say on the other amps with an traditional potentiometer I am always in a repeatable range - low is 9 o clock, jamming is 11 to 1. Not a big deal, just something I have noticed.
The amp remembers the volume settings between inputs - important as the balanced input has a higher voltage so is louder. If I am listening to the Yggy at 12, I might be at 25 on the D90 (single ended).

On the single ended input, using the LO jack I don't think I have been over 45 on any of my headphones - the LTA goes to 100, so it has had plenty of power to drive the headphones I have. I would love to try a hard to drive headphone like a Susvara on the HI jack someday.

Something else to note, and I think it has been called out before, is that there is a headphone/speaker selector switch on the front, but the electrostatic jack is always live, so if you have your electrostatic headphones plugged in, you will be driving them. So you would want to be sure you don't turn up something else ( speakers as an example ) and forget you have them plugged in. I usually unplug them when I am finished listening.

I wish I had owned, or auditioned a lot more tube amps like the Woo line up or the BHSE - then I could give you a better or worse comparison, but I haven't. I knew I did not have room for a BHSE and a Woo amp, let alone something else to drive some small speakers so this amp fills a unique spot with being able to do it all. Being OTL is also a cool aspect of the design, I can switch between something like the ZMF headphones and the Ether 2's without worrying about impedance.

Plus it's design is elegant - It gets warm, but not crazy hot. I have had it on for hours at a time and can the most it gets is slightly warm on top. It does not use a ton of tubes ( 10 total ) , and while I am a tube newbie, it seems like you can get a wide variety of NOS tubes if you want to try something different. Of course on both the Woo and the BHSE you have more visibility of the tubes themselves.

Headphone amp - headphones laying on the desk (Medium).JPG
 
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Nov 11, 2020 at 5:33 AM Post #38 of 66

headinclouds

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Pleased to hear that davesa. I would like to add an update to my post last year about the LTA Z10e. I have now used the Z10e for about 13 months. It continues to be a delight. I do not see the point in posting another review praising its speed, dynamics, tone, natural sound, low noise, convenience etc. etc. There are many of those. It is an amplifier for reproducing music and human voice. In this I find it totally convincing. I do not listen to music wondering what is wrong or how it can be improved, I just hear the music.The other evening I was using my Dan Clark Voce and started a high resolution download of a concert. As the music began I was so amazed by the reality of what I was hearing that I did a quick check that the speakers were not playing also, because the acoustic was so big and natural.

I bought the Z10e because it would fit into my small listening room and drive speakers and all my phones. It fully achieves this task. It is great that it does all this and on ES phones is in the same class as the KG Blue Hawaii, Grounded Grid and KGSShv Carbon.

Out of interest here’s a picture of a get together where several of these were used. I hadn't built the KG Grounded Grid then.tres ampos.jpg



Incidentally since I have owned the Z10e I have felt it worthwhile to acquire a top level streamer, and am using one of the 432EVO range. In terms of sound quality and musical realism the results are the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Hi-res downloads are great and my CDs play better than ever from the inbuilt HDD.
 
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Jan 3, 2021 at 11:27 PM Post #39 of 66

DelsFan

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I am considering the LTA MZ3 (4 tubes) to pair with Meze Empyrean headphones (or Audeze 4 or 4z, or Focal Utopia, or HiFi Man HE-1000). Does anyone have an idea how much better the Z10e (10 tubes, nearly twice the price) sounds with planer magnetic headphones? Is it a night and day difference, or is the Z10e slightly better than the MZ3, coupled with the added benefit of a real good electrostatic amplifier?

EDIT: Wait! Also, does anyone have a photo of what the Z10e looks like on the inside, with the cover off? I've scoured the internet, to no avail. Of course, maybe there are only a few dozen or so of these in existance...?
 
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Jan 4, 2021 at 4:56 AM Post #41 of 66

headinclouds

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I have not heard the MZ3 but I would expect that it is a superb amplifier with matching sound quality. Looking at the specs on their website the MZ3 should drive the most sensitive planar magnetics but I think it might struggle with the least sensitive. This is a matter of sensitivity and impedance matching. The Focal Utopia is not a planar magnetic and is very sensitive. As always how much power you need also depends on how loud you risk listening and your choice of music.

The Z10e has a lot more power and can drive most phones without problems. I’m sure LTA will be able to guide you on this.
There are some pictures of the innards of the Z10e in reviews but here is a shot of mine

.P1070146.JPG
 
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Jan 9, 2021 at 7:13 PM Post #42 of 66

davesa

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Here is two I took...

D85_3100 (Large).JPG
 

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Feb 3, 2021 at 7:03 PM Post #43 of 66

Ciggavelli

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I keep reading that LTA fixed the Z10e normal headphone output, by giving it more power. My question is, has anybody verified that the amp can properly drive the Susvaras?
 
Mar 8, 2021 at 11:21 AM Post #45 of 66

DelsFan

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@Mshenay : you were a bad influence.

I have had my Linear Tube Audio Z10e for about three weeks now, but have been extremely busy so serious listening time has been limited. The Z10e received a week's worth of burn-in at the factory before shipping (during this same time, I had my new Meze Empyrean headphones burning in here at the house), and then first week I had the Z10e I let the pairing run constantly during the day whether I was actually listening or not.

I'll try and give a good report in the next few weeks. The one thing I can say for sure is, by a factor of a lot, maybe 10, I've never heard vocals and stringed (and brass) instruments reproduced in such a life-like manner. LOTS of separation between instruments (with blackness in-between), for which the ZOTL technology is apparently famous.

[What I think I've learned at the "extremely" high end of music reproduction is, at first listen amp/headphone combo in question sounds so good, then I start to wonder if it is sounding a bit thin. Then I ask myself if what I'm hearing sounds real (and it does). What is difficult to do (at a low price point), and what I think is what I am hearing is, with this setup there is a lot missing from what I remember hearing before. However, I believe what is missing is a lot of stuff that wasn't in the original recording, smearing, etc.; stuff that is not supposted to be there. It is a bit shocking at first listen, to hear "only" what was originally intended, and this goes back to (and maybe is even more appropriate for) older recordings that utilized less processing - an example being recordings by The Doors, whom I like, or Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Were Made for Walking". Many of the more simply done recordings, recorded before Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" became popular. But boy, with many of these older offerings you can you really hear what each band member (instrument) sounded like in the studio, when the recording was made! (Alice Cooper's Bob Ezrin produced "Welcome to My Nightmare" is another example.)]

I must go and accomplish something (nearly as important as headphone listening and reporting). I've not tried the Z10e with electrostatic speakers yet, but I'm sure my friend @Mshenay will be stopping by with his Stax 009 headphones (and maybe some other electrostatics) next time he is in my part of the US. Early June at the latest, as I'm sure we'll be having our Nashville area headphone meet around that time.

If the Atlanta Audio Society are* able to host their early May headphone "meet" this year, as they normally have done in the past except for last year, I'll try and load up my Streamer/DAC, LTA Z10e, and Empyreans, and spend a Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, where a lot of people bring a lot of really nice stuff. I know @purk has some electrostatic headphones as well as some nice electrostatic amplifiers; this would be a good opportunity for several people to hear the (relatively rare) Z10e with a multitude of dynamic, planer, and electrostatic headphones while also being able to make some comparisons with other truly TOTL amplifiers.
* I get confused after having spent so much time in England, where singular and plural agreement rules are backwards to ours - but at least I remember most of the time on which side of the road I should be driving, as I switch countries.

Preliminary report:
In a nutshell, I love the Z10e; it is spectacular. The only question is how spectacular; is it a 99.2% "perfect" amplifier or a 99.6% (or more) perfect amplifier? I'll soon compare it to my Pass Labs HPA-1 (at half the price) before it goes off to its new owner, and eventually maybe some electrostatic amplifiers like the Blue Hawaii and the KGSSHV Carbon at some point in time, and then I (and those other Head-Fiers who have listened) can report back.
 
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