DATE: March 12,1999

Steve,

After 3 weeks of travel and a stop at the German customs the Zen Amp arrived in good condition. Nowthat it's been a few weeks within my system I would like to give you a feedback. The problem with the German voltage of 230 Volt and the US-voltage SE84B I overcame by buying a step-down converter which has cost me 20$.

*Amp was purchased prior to the new World voltage models - editor.

So I had no problem to integrate the Zen Amp into my system which actually consists of an older - but modified - Marantz CD 62, a German made Raphael Ortophonic VII tube preamp (all tubes are 6922), and 2-way floorstanding speakers with Scan-Speak chassis and a SPL of 89 dB. The cables are all DIY style solid core. Speaker cable are from cat. 5 network cables.

Together with the tube preamp the Zen Amp is replacing a Thule integrated amp (solid state), a 1400.00$ value. The first and for me most impressing thing I've found with the Zen Amp is the very deep and tight bass. Thule's bass is nothing against it. After some years with my speakers I'm now surprised by the bass the 7 inch woofers can produce. In the midrange I had expected the Zen Amp superior, and it is, very much detailed and also with this glorious warmth of tubes. The trebles are crystal clear, and by changing the preamp's Sovtek 6922 in the line stage to Philips JAN 6922 - which are well known for their performance in the trebles - I was able to discover that the Zen Amp is really passing the input fidelity through.

Regarding the volume I can reach with my speakers it is fairly high when I have the bias switch in the high gain position. Toggling the bias switch into the lower gain position the increasing distortions are limiting the total volume. So I'm now thinking about building 2-way horn systems with a target SPL of 93 or 94 dB. I've found some ideas already on the web. 20 years after running my last tube powered equipment, an old Grundig chest style integrated system, I've found again what I've missed all over the years. Thanks for that!

Steve, this little amp is from excellent fidelity! And it really cries for excellent produced music. Patricia Barber's 'Modern Cool' (Premonition Records 1998) is perfectly demonstrating all the strengths of the Zen Amp. Highly recommended for all Zen Amp owners.

Cheers,

Ralf Suertenich

 

 

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