Enter Mark Schneider of Linear Tube Audio. He licensed the rights to certain of Dave's designs after his team had hard-earned the wherewithal to build the unusual circuits and custom parts to their inventor's exacting specs. Now through-put limits thawed, priced dropped, availability increased, word spread farther. Zotl worshippers grew in numbers, sacrificing vintage valve gear on their new better altars. Rushing this well-known tale to its conclusion, we add a few years to get Mark's business up and running. Wrinkles iron out, the industrial design perfects.
Case work farms out to US firm Fern & Roby whose wood shop does furniture, whose machine shop does advanced hifi niceties like bronze turntable platters and 65lbs cast-iron plinths. Relative to misinformation in a Zero Fidelity factory-tour video, Fern & Roby's Christian explained that "the only firm we collaborate with on design and manufacturing are Linear Tube Audio. We do some CNC metal work for DeVore Fidelity but John does all of his own design work. We only help him translate that into engineered shop drawings. He has several talented woodworkers on his team at the Brooklyn Navy Yards to do his own cabinetry."
Push further to once the LTA portfolio contained numerous models with standalone pre and power amplifiers. The next step just had to be unification. Uniting separate states is American history after all. So take a tube gain stage repurposed from Berning's QuadZ, a tube-coupled balanced input stage (hence the XLR inputs), then add the existing Zotl10 MkII 10/12wpc into 8/4Ω EL84 class A/B push/pull output stage. Add a lo/hi-gain ¼" headfi jack for up to 5wpc into 50Ω. Add an optional phono stage w/wout stepup transformer. Add a minimalist display. Add an Apple remote. Hello Berning Volksamp for the 21st century. If you want one under his own brand, go here.
Mark surrounded by two collaborators | dip-switch central on the Z10's optional phono board.
When LTA sales & marketing director Nicholas Tolson asked whether I'd like to take that Z10 integrated for a spin, I asked for the keys right back. So here we are ready to vroom it. Before we do, a loaner sample simply must land in Eire. Otherwise I'd be just another guy who's heard of Berning amps but never actually listened to one in his own crib. And that just wouldn't do.
This unit has the optional phono model installed. Lack of variable pre-outs means a subwoofer must hook up speaker level.
Applying my lingering German accent, Zotl could become zee other tube logic. If so, expectations for classic tube sound would certainly be misplaced. That's what the concept predicts. That's what I'd already heard with Dan's Siegfried.
Progress is pivotal. From CNN that day:
"The world's largest offshore wind farm is taking shape off the east coast of Britain, a landmark project that demonstrates one way to combat climate change at scale. Located 120 kilometers off England's Yorkshire coast, Hornsea One will produce enough energy to supply 1 million UK homes with clean electricity when completed in 2020. The project spans an area bigger than the Maldives or Malta and is located farther out at sea than any other wind farm. It consists of 174 seven-megawatt wind turbines whose towers each are nearly 100m tall. As they turn, the blades cover an area bigger than the London Eye observation wheel. Just a single rotation of one of the turbines can power the average home for an entire day."
Being more efficient class AB than always-on never switching class A outputs and making just 10 watts to begin with, the Z10 does its part for greener listening. You just must cooperate with the right choice of speakers. But when it comes to headphones, even our ultra-inefficient HifiMan Susvara become a very immodest go-to option. Vava vroom.