Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2015 • Hot Product

David Berning’s eclectic and innovative designs have long had a cult following amongst those who value the transparency and resolution of OTL design but want real-world power delivery. Of course, part of that cult status rests in the fact that as inspired a designer as Berning is, he’s much less of a manufacturer, a factor that has severely limited supply -- until now.

Washington, DC-based dealer Urban Hi-Fi showed up in Denver with a fascinating and affordable slice of high-end exotica manufactured under the Linear Tube Audio brand and developed directly with and licensed from David Berning. The $1100 Micro ZOTL (top) is primarily a headphone amplifier, but with two line inputs and variable output it can also function as a remarkably effective line-level preamp. The natural partner would be the $5900 ZOTL 40, an EL34-based equivalent of the legendary ZH-230, built into an attractive, shoebox-style, square-section chassis. It will deliver 45 OTL watts per channel into 8 ohms and around 56 watts into 4 ohms. There’s also a 10-watt version of the amp designed for high-efficiency speakers (not shown). It uses a simplified power-supply topology and EL84 output tubes, and it costs $2400.

These products promise to deliver the legendary musical qualities of David Berning’s designs at previously unimaginable price points -- and in far more attractive form to boot. And the ZOTL 30 has the ability to drive real-world speakers, as long as they don’t present a horribly awkward load. Magnepans, anyone?

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