DATE: AUG 1998

When i first opened the box and saw this jewel for the first time, i could not for the life of me understand what all the fuss was about. I mean the reviews were all over the top over a 10 watt total amp. I'm a guitar player who has used tubes for 25+ years, but have never owned a tube stereo. A couple of months back, i ran into a 60 watt per side stereo tube amp (6L6 outputs). For grins, i hooked it to a cd player (consumer grade Sony) and to a pair of Voice of the Theaters. I was shocked, real bass, real music. A couple of weeks on the web was even more eyeopening, at what was availiable and at what prices.

Then i found the review page for this little Zen amp. People were not talking about specs, they were talking about being there with the players interacting with the music, not how quiet, signal to noise blah, blah blah. They were having a communion with music. So what the heck, if 1/2 the hype was true, i'd still be ahead.

My current system was pro level JBL, 1000 watts per side tri-amp. it was clean, it slammed, it had a lot of detail. It was also dismantled and moved out of the room shortly after the Zen was fired up. This little amp is ruthless and beautiful beyond words. Ruthless in the fact that what goes in comes out only louder (new inter-connects, speaker cable both OFC were built the next day), for the first time looking for a CD transport and DAC. Music that i've been listening to for years is all brand new once again. I missed work because if forgot to sleep that night. I've since hooked it up to my recording studio (all HD and DAT) and have to remaster some Demos. it goes on and on. Never in my life has one piece of hardware had such a big impact.

Classical music now really has emotion, the dark and brooding pieces are now really scary. Solo grand piano is now a piano sitting in front of me. Drums and cymbals are so detailed, i swear i can hear the drummers stick swinging thru the air. Upright bass and tympani actually sound like they are there. It makes a lousy guitar amp, way too clean and unforgiving, but that's not really the app for this little jewel. The sonic clues about the room where the recording was made is amazing, sometimes, depending on the engineer, you feel like you are there sitting with the group. Try this amp in a dark room, it's truly an experience.

Everyone that has heard this amp has had their jaw dropped. I just tell them to bring their favorite CDs and a good bottle of wine. The Zen has been toasted many times already and it just keeps sounding better and better the more it's played.

All i can say is thanx, Steve. You've proved to me, specs mean nothing. The Music is the only thing that matters and that's all the ZEN does, it makes the music magic.

Byron Gregory

 

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