Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL MZ3 Headphone Amp/Preamp/Amp arrives

Versatility seems to be so much more than a buzzword these days in the world of high fidelity.

The rise of the all-in-one digital server/streamer/DAC/integrated amplifier/headamp has become the prime cut of meat for many companies where separates used to provide the bulk of their protein intake.

That’s not to say separate components are not still bread and butter or popular in this hobby, but as more and more new music lovers (nee audiophiles) connect with this oft-time confusing pursuit of sonic excellence, the allure of starting out with something that does-it-all (or close to it) in a one-box design is hard to deny. Especially for younger people who are apartment dwellers tight on space (or cash) in the urban jungle. Same could be said for those long-time audio enthusiasts who have sold the house and are downsizing to a condo for convenience.

The purists can still have their separates, but for the rest of the masses who don’t want to spend more than a few thousand dollars to have the heart of their sound system sorted, there’s companies like Linear Tube Audio, whose bespoke, hand-built designs are one of the finest examples I’ve come across of old-school hi-fi circuit-design ethos blended with the best of high-tech meets modern-musical demands.

Enter their MicroZOTL MZ3. It’s a preamplifier, a headphone amplifier and a one-watt two-channel speaker amplifier all rolled into one. It comes with a separate, linear power supply, stepped attenuator, LED display, ceramic circuit boards, point-to-point wiring, OHNO OCC wiring, hand-selected premium tube compliment (12AT7 input tubes, 12SN7 output tubes) a home-theatre mode, quarter-inch headphone jack (0.5A, 60Hz output impedance) and a 10Hz~20kHz frequency response to name just a few of the listed specifications.

The MZ3 review unit’s fit and finish is flawless (chassis design courtesy of a collaboration with hip, Virgina-based audio and furniture wunderkind Fern & Roby Audio), with both a traditional and modern design mix to its aesthetic and obvious long-term R&D in both the circuit, chassis and power-supply designs.

I’ll be putting this unit through its paces with several DACs and headphones, look for a full review in the near future.

COMPANY INFO
Linear Tube Audio
7316 Carroll Ave. Takoma Park, MD, 20912
hifi@lineartubeaudio.com
1-301-448-1364

COMMENTS
roscoe's picture

rafe,
try to hear the MZ3 through some speakers as well.
you'll be blown away.

Rafe Arnott's picture
If I can get my hands on something higher than 95dB I will, right now I've not got one-watt friendly speakers in house.
DelsFan's picture

It is possible you have (or have access to) the Focal Utopias and the HiFiMan HE-1000s. But I "know" you have the new Meze Empyreans in for review - I'll be really interested in hearing how the MZ3 does with any/all of these TOTL headphones. Many of the MZ3 reviewers seem to say, "I can't believe the liveliness or transparency or... whatever." This from people who have actually heard $50K and $100K+ systems and know what the "high-end" is all about. It seems one could buy this amplifier for headphone use, unheard, and just never look back. Many of us will be quite interested in reading your impressions. Also, is it "powerful" enough to power each of the aforementioned $3K and $4K headphones?

Rafe Arnott's picture
I will be using the MZ3 with the Meze Empyreans so you will be able to read my thoughts on it in the upcoming review. It's got what I would describe as more than adequate "grunt" to drive the Sennheiser HD 820 (300 Ohm) so take that for what it's worth.
Simply Nobody's picture

May be Rafe could also review the new Benchmark HPA4 headphone-amp/pre-amp (appox. $3,000) and compare it with other such devices :-) ........

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