Have you heard the new Linear Tube Audio Z10e amplifier?
Mar 16, 2021 at 9:27 PM Post #46 of 67

Jeweltopia

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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.

Hey! I was the girl at the Headfi meet we were both at who listened to your Z10E headphone amplifier. I really enjoyed that amplifier and wasn't expecting to cry when I hooked my Abyss 1266 Phi TC into it. I've had limited experiences with tubes, so, it's hard to say how this compares to other tube amplifiers for me (especially since I imagine tube rolling can give completely different results), but nonetheless, I was astonished at how much power this amp had. I listened to the Stax 009 on this amp as well and was amazed at how much power it had. The 009 isn't my cup of tea and this amp certainly didn't change it. I think I'm just not a Stax kind of girl. However, my Abyss 1266 Phi TC, Focal Stellia, HD800S, and even my Meze Empyrean all sounded wonderful on this amp. Empyrean with tubes perhaps almost isn't entirely my cup of tea because it's a touch too soft for my taste. I know that you like that sort of thing, though, and I have friends who adore their Empyreans on tubes. It definitely added a lot of that tubey emotion that I felt things that are a bit cold needed. Hearing the Abyss 1266 Phi TC + the Z10E tube amplifier was probably the highlight of my headphone journey which I started 10+ years ago. I don't think anything has ever brought me as much joy in the headfi hobby as the Abyss TC with these tubes. I started crying and everything which has never happened with headphones before. I see now why so many people praise tubes for adding emotion and soul into transducers. This amp can power anything. I'm likely going to end up with an Auris Nirvana and I can only hope it sounds as good as this one. It was a treat to listen to.
 
Mar 17, 2021 at 9:54 AM Post #47 of 67

skhan007

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I had visited LTA a few days ago and listened to the Z2 and Z3 with my DAC and various headphones they had on-hand. Such amazing and high-quality amps! The Z10 looked nothing short of amazing, as well. I did not give it a test-drive, as I'd probably love it and could not afford it. Great bunch of guys there and I've nothing but really positive interactions with them over the years. Highly recommended.
 
Mar 17, 2021 at 10:11 AM Post #48 of 67

SteveM324

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.... This amp can power anything. I'm likely going to end up with an Auris Nirvana and I can only hope it sounds as good as this one. It was a treat to listen to.
If you get a Auris Nirvana, you'll love it with the 1266TC. You don't need to spend a fortune on tubes, but upgrading the tubes does make a significant difference in the sound quality of the Nirvana. The Nirvana also drives the Susvara without breaking a sweat. I would like to hear the Z10e if given the chance.
 
Mar 17, 2021 at 5:10 PM Post #49 of 67

Tarttett

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Hey! I was the girl at the Headfi meet we were both at who listened to your Z10E headphone amplifier. I really enjoyed that amplifier and wasn't expecting to cry when I hooked my Abyss 1266 Phi TC into it. I've had limited experiences with tubes, so, it's hard to say how this compares to other tube amplifiers for me (especially since I imagine tube rolling can give completely different results), but nonetheless, I was astonished at how much power this amp had. I listened to the Stax 009 on this amp as well and was amazed at how much power it had. The 009 isn't my cup of tea and this amp certainly didn't change it. I think I'm just not a Stax kind of girl. However, my Abyss 1266 Phi TC, Focal Stellia, HD800S, and even my Meze Empyrean all sounded wonderful on this amp. Empyrean with tubes perhaps almost isn't entirely my cup of tea because it's a touch too soft for my taste. I know that you like that sort of thing, though, and I have friends who adore their Empyreans on tubes. It definitely added a lot of that tubey emotion that I felt things that are a bit cold needed. Hearing the Abyss 1266 Phi TC + the Z10E tube amplifier was probably the highlight of my headphone journey which I started 10+ years ago. I don't think anything has ever brought me as much joy in the headfi hobby as the Abyss TC with these tubes. I started crying and everything which has never happened with headphones before. I see now why so many people praise tubes for adding emotion and soul into transducers. This amp can power anything. I'm likely going to end up with an Auris Nirvana and I can only hope it sounds as good as this one. It was a treat to listen to.
Hi.

I would be interested to know of why you have decided that you would purchase an Auris Nirvana at some point within the future, instead of an LTA Z10, considering your experience that you had had listening to a Z10e.
 
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Mar 18, 2021 at 5:01 AM Post #50 of 67

Jeweltopia

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Hi.

I would be interested to know of why you have decided that you would purchase an Auris Nirvana at some point within the future, instead of an LTE Z10, considering your experience that you had had listening to a Z10e.

Well, the Z10E is massive. It's a bit overkill for me seeing as I don't ever intend to get Stax. I also wish it had balanced outs on the back. I've heard great things about the Auris Nirvana. I like the look of it and have spoken to a few people who run it with Abyss. In that price range, I think I'd be super enamored with any tubes I try. Keep in mind that the Z10E was one of the only tube amps I've ever tried and it impressed me with the Abyss, yes, but that's not to say other tubes won't impress me either.
If you get a Auris Nirvana, you'll love it with the 1266TC. You don't need to spend a fortune on tubes, but upgrading the tubes does make a significant difference in the sound quality of the Nirvana. The Nirvana also drives the Susvara without breaking a sweat. I would like to hear the Z10e if given the chance.

Can you message me or respond here about which tubes you run with your Nirvana? I'm not quite sure which tubes the guy with the Z10E was running, but, he said that it was somewhere between dry and euphonic. They weren't super tubey and euphonic but weren't entirely dry either, though perhaps leaning a bit closer to the dry side. To me it seemed like slightly euphonic tubes with a kiss of warmth. Not enough to make the sound signature mushy but definitely took the slight edge off the Abyss TC and brought it down enough to where it breathed more realism and emotion into the Abyss. Was a lovely experience. I can't wait to tube roll and try different things.
 
Mar 18, 2021 at 8:15 AM Post #51 of 67

Tarttett

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Well, the Z10E is massive. It's a bit overkill for me seeing as I don't ever intend to get Stax. I also wish it had balanced outs on the back. I've heard great things about the Auris Nirvana. I like the look of it and have spoken to a few people who run it with Abyss. In that price range, I think I'd be super enamored with any tubes I try. Keep in mind that the Z10E was one of the only tube amps I've ever tried and it impressed me with the Abyss, yes, but that's not to say other tubes won't impress me either.


Can you message me or respond here about which tubes you run with your Nirvana? I'm not quite sure which tubes the guy with the Z10E was running, but, he said that it was somewhere between dry and euphonic. They weren't super tubey and euphonic but weren't entirely dry either, though perhaps leaning a bit closer to the dry side. To me it seemed like slightly euphonic tubes with a kiss of warmth. Not enough to make the sound signature mushy but definitely took the slight edge off the Abyss TC and brought it down enough to where it breathed more realism and emotion into the Abyss. Was a lovely experience. I can't wait to tube roll and try different things.
Thank you for your response for my enquiry to you.

I had believed that LTA had made a version of the Z10e without the electrostatic amplification. However, it appears that I had misremembered, as the Z10 is an entirely separate product.
 
Mar 18, 2021 at 3:45 PM Post #52 of 67

Maelob

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Thank you for your response for my enquiry to you.

I had believed that LTA had made a version of the Z10e without the electrostatic amplification. However, it appears that I had misremembered, as the Z10 is an entirely separate product.
You are partially right the Z10 is a different product but it is same amplification section at the Z10E minus electrostatic. I believe the difference besides the size and more inputs is that the Z10 is only one chassis with power supply inside.
 
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Mar 18, 2021 at 3:56 PM Post #53 of 67

DelsFan

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Well, the Z10E is massive. It's a bit overkill for me seeing as I don't ever intend to get Stax. I also wish it had balanced outs on the back. I've heard great things about the Auris Nirvana. I like the look of it and have spoken to a few people who run it with Abyss. In that price range, I think I'd be super enamored with any tubes I try. Keep in mind that the Z10E was one of the only tube amps I've ever tried and it impressed me with the Abyss, yes, but that's not to say other tubes won't impress me either.


Can you message me or respond here about which tubes you run with your Nirvana? I'm not quite sure which tubes the guy with the Z10E was running, but, he said that it was somewhere between dry and euphonic. They weren't super tubey and euphonic but weren't entirely dry either, though perhaps leaning a bit closer to the dry side. To me it seemed like slightly euphonic tubes with a kiss of warmth. Not enough to make the sound signature mushy but definitely took the slight edge off the Abyss TC and brought it down enough to where it breathed more realism and emotion into the Abyss. Was a lovely experience. I can't wait to tube roll and try different things.
Hey girl, just a quick note/response here, as I am short on time (Translation: was reading a book earlier when I should have been doing what I'm about to do (work).)
First, here is a link so you can view the LTA Z10 amplifier
Nicholas at LTA is very responsive to emails and phone calls and you can/should verify the following, but I believe the Z10 utilizes the exact same circuitry as the Z10e, with the exception that the Z10 is not designed for use with electrostatic headphones. I think, otherwise, it is sonically the exact same amp (if using with non-electrostatics like Abyss, Focal, Empyreans, etc). [Edit: As @Maelob states, the Z10 comes all in one unit, it does not have the outboard power supply like the Z10e.]

I will eventually get some different tubes for my Z10e amplifier (at the rate I'm going, it will be in a year or two); but what I have are the stock tubes that LTA ships with the Z10e. I talked to a Z10e owner near DC who has done some tube rolling, and of course different (sometimes better) results can be had when swapping out tubes, but this owner said the stock tubes were very good and I wanted to get my "new" amplifier in hand so I decided to just start with the tubes LTA supplies (which I assume, at this price range, are at the least, good).

I won't explain this as well as other people, but the design of the David Berning ZOTL circuit(s) is what gives all the LTA ZOTL amplifiers their (signature, but I hate to call it that) sound. Most of the tube magic comes through, a lot of detail comes through that would normally (only) be attributed to solid state, and (most telling?) the background of these amplifiers is really quiet/black. The tubes also run pretty cool, and last 10,000+ hours rather than 1,000 to 2,000 hours. This is a byproduct of the circuit design (the amps are designed to sound good, running cool is the byproduct); but for someone like me who will "accidentally" leave their amplifier on for days at a time, not having owned a tube-based system previously, this is a plus.

It would be nice for you to hear the Auris Nirvana somewhere, soon, as it would be great to be able to hear this tube-based amplifier before purchasing. In a way, I hope you get it so we can someday compare it with my Z10e! The Nirvana was on my short list, and I'm sure it is a teriffic amplifier. It was great to meet you last week, and I'll PM you (but don't hold your breath!) soon with some ideas I have for you about the tweaks we were talking about (vibration isolation, power cords, interconnects, etc).
 
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Mar 18, 2021 at 4:03 PM Post #54 of 67

Tarttett

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You are partially right the Z10 is a different product but it is same amplification section at the Z10E minus electrostatic. I believe the difference besides the size and more inputs is that the Z10 is only one chassis with power supply inside.
I am not certain of why I had believed that, but I had believed that there was a model that was identical to the Z10e, with the single difference being that an electrostatic headphone output was not included within that version of the amplifier.
 
Mar 18, 2021 at 4:12 PM Post #55 of 67

DelsFan

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Nicholas at LTA is very responsive to emails and phone calls and you can/should verify the following, but I believe the Z10 utilizes the exact same circuitry as the Z10e, with the exception that the Z10 is not designed for use with electrostatic headphones. I think, otherwise, it is sonically the exact same amp (if using with non-electrostatics like Abyss, Focal, Empyreans, etc). [Edit: As @Maelob states, the Z10 comes all in one unit, it does not have the outboard power supply like the Z10e.]
Although, I think Nicholas told me that (for a small fee), it is possible to custom order the Z10 "upgraded" to have the power supply as an outboard unit, exactly like the Z10e power supply is configured. I'm getting old and feeble; for certain if someone thinks they want a Z10 with a separate power supply, this should be verified!

To put a point on it, the only difference for the Z10 are:
- will not drive electrostatic headphones
- more inputs and outputs (lots more flexibility, which I don't need but others may)
- integrated power supply

Probably, sound quality wise, for speakers or dynamic/planer headphones, nearly exactly the same as the Z10e.

MAYBE I was told an outboard power supply became beneficial (to sound quality) when utilizing the electrostatic feature of the Z10e, but with non-electrostatic headphones, going to the trouble and expense of utilizing an outboard power supply yielded little (or no) sonic benefit. Maybe Nicholas will weigh in here... I MUST get to some work!
 
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Mar 18, 2021 at 4:17 PM Post #56 of 67

Maelob

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Although, I think Nicholas told me that (for a small fee), it is possible to custom order the Z10 "upgraded" to have the power supply as an outboard unit, exactly like the Z10e power supply is configured. I'm getting old and feeble; for certain if someone wanted a Z10 with a separate power supply, this should be verified!
I did, they customized my z-10 with external power supply to minimize noise on my Ananda and Z1r these are sensitive headphones
 
Mar 22, 2021 at 10:30 PM Post #57 of 67

Jeweltopia

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Hey girl, just a quick note/response here, as I am short on time (Translation: was reading a book earlier when I should have been doing what I'm about to do (work).)
First, here is a link so you can view the LTA Z10 amplifier
Nicholas at LTA is very responsive to emails and phone calls and you can/should verify the following, but I believe the Z10 utilizes the exact same circuitry as the Z10e, with the exception that the Z10 is not designed for use with electrostatic headphones. I think, otherwise, it is sonically the exact same amp (if using with non-electrostatics like Abyss, Focal, Empyreans, etc). [Edit: As @Maelob states, the Z10 comes all in one unit, it does not have the outboard power supply like the Z10e.]

I will eventually get some different tubes for my Z10e amplifier (at the rate I'm going, it will be in a year or two); but what I have are the stock tubes that LTA ships with the Z10e. I talked to a Z10e owner near DC who has done some tube rolling, and of course different (sometimes better) results can be had when swapping out tubes, but this owner said the stock tubes were very good and I wanted to get my "new" amplifier in hand so I decided to just start with the tubes LTA supplies (which I assume, at this price range, are at the least, good).

I won't explain this as well as other people, but the design of the David Berning ZOTL circuit(s) is what gives all the LTA ZOTL amplifiers their (signature, but I hate to call it that) sound. Most of the tube magic comes through, a lot of detail comes through that would normally (only) be attributed to solid state, and (most telling?) the background of these amplifiers is really quiet/black. The tubes also run pretty cool, and last 10,000+ hours rather than 1,000 to 2,000 hours. This is a byproduct of the circuit design (the amps are designed to sound good, running cool is the byproduct); but for someone like me who will "accidentally" leave their amplifier on for days at a time, not having owned a tube-based system previously, this is a plus.

It would be nice for you to hear the Auris Nirvana somewhere, soon, as it would be great to be able to hear this tube-based amplifier before purchasing. In a way, I hope you get it so we can someday compare it with my Z10e! The Nirvana was on my short list, and I'm sure it is a teriffic amplifier. It was great to meet you last week, and I'll PM you (but don't hold your breath!) soon with some ideas I have for you about the tweaks we were talking about (vibration isolation, power cords, interconnects, etc).

Hey! Thank you so much for the response. I actually had no idea that the Z10 existed and was a non electrostatic version of the Z10E. It's a bit cheaper as well and might be worth saving for because I 100% fell in love with your Z10E amp. I ruled it out because I had no need for estats but this changes things...

If you're going to be at the meet in May, I'm planning on going, and who knows what I'll bring with me. I just bought the Abyss 1266 Phi TC and am saving up for a Holo May but might as well add the Z10 to the wallet draining list. :sob:
 
May 10, 2021 at 4:03 PM Post #58 of 67

Tarttett

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Hey! Thank you so much for the response. I actually had no idea that the Z10 existed and was a non electrostatic version of the Z10E. It's a bit cheaper as well and might be worth saving for because I 100% fell in love with your Z10E amp. I ruled it out because I had no need for estats but this changes things...

If you're going to be at the meet in May, I'm planning on going, and who knows what I'll bring with me. I just bought the Abyss 1266 Phi TC and am saving up for a Holo May but might as well add the Z10 to the wallet draining list. :sob:
Hi.

I would not be certain of whether or not you would be interested to purchase a used unit, for the Z10 amplifier.

However, in the case that you would be interested to do that, I would like to inform you of the fact that somebody has posted a sale listing, within this forum, for a Z10 unit, that has been modified, by Linear Tube Audio, to possess the power supply within an external unit.

Here is a link for that sale listing: https://www.head-fi.org/classifieds/lta-z-10-integrated-amp.4310/.
 
May 13, 2021 at 5:30 AM Post #59 of 67

headinclouds

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I am absolutely happy with my LTA Z10e which I have owned since September 2019 and it is my first choice for most things. I also have access to a very good 20W class A transistor amplifier, a 15W SET with usual transformer output and my KG Blue Hawaii.

I recently built large speakers using 8” Hemp Acoustics FR units. This was a revelation in naturalness and listening pleasure. Efficient full range works so well with the LTA amp. I am now working on an even better FR speaker.

I would like to add something that I have not seen mentioned. It might be thought that the tube life on these LTA Berning amplifiers is about 10,000 hours. This may be true for the output stage which is run under the high voltage, low current of the Berning patent. I believe that all other previous stages are run in normal modes and will have more usual tube life. I point this out because one of the 7062 tubes in mine recently failed. A matched pair replacement would be required.
 
Jul 31, 2021 at 1:13 PM Post #60 of 67

dukeskd

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I am absolutely happy with my LTA Z10e which I have owned since September 2019 and it is my first choice for most things. I also have access to a very good 20W class A transistor amplifier, a 15W SET with usual transformer output and my KG Blue Hawaii.

I recently built large speakers using 8” Hemp Acoustics FR units. This was a revelation in naturalness and listening pleasure. Efficient full range works so well with the LTA amp. I am now working on an even better FR speaker.

I would like to add something that I have not seen mentioned. It might be thought that the tube life on these LTA Berning amplifiers is about 10,000 hours. This may be true for the output stage which is run under the high voltage, low current of the Berning patent. I believe that all other previous stages are run in normal modes and will have more usual tube life. I point this out because one of the 7062 tubes in mine recently failed. A matched pair replacement would be required.
So how does the Z10e compare to the BH?
 

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