DATE: April,1999

It's Saturday morning about 10:00 a.m. on April 3, 1999, and scattered thunder storms are trying to interrupt my listening pleasure. My Zen amp #147 is cooking right along with Sting's version of "Little Wing" on wax. I waited about 1 month to write this review so I would have a clearer understanding of what my girlfriend, Raquel, and I liked so much about this little darling. To state is as briefly as possible - ambiance, resolution, detail, fluidity, harmonic correctness,....WOW!

I was first skeptical because I enjoyed my modified Audio Note Kit Four so much. With reduced negative feedback, new N.O.S. tubes, and better coupling capacitors, this kit amp had beaten most others I have heard in the multi-thousand dollar range. To my very content surprise, the Zen amp blew me away after about 3 hours of constant, loud listening. CDs sounded more like LPs, and LPs sounded even more detailed. My girlfriend, whom I use as a judge of new equipment, was instantly impressed after about 5 minutes! She uttered all the comments I had only been thinking to myself about the Zen amp. She then asked me how much it cost, and, upon hearing my reply, told me to buy a second one to form mono-blocks.

To sum up, I must say that I like the amp best with as little in the signal path as possible. Driven directly from my Forte' DA converter, with only a (1M) pair of my new Alpha-Core TQIs (fantastic), the amp sounds incredibly detailed and fluid. With my new Grado Sonata phono cartridge (still breaking-in) and my Sota Comet, the amp sounds amazing! Listening to Luscious Jackson on CD and then wax leads me to conclude that the LP offers superior micro-dynamics and low-level resolution. It sounds that good - even considering I run the phono into a PS Audio 5.6 preamp (not the best phono section), with the line stage and tone controls bypassed. My MB Quart D-40s never sounded better, and will sound even nicer with the new Alpha-Core silver speaker wire I am going to purchase in the near future.

I would like to thank Steve and everyone at High Fidelity Engineering Co. for making such a phenomenal product. I highly recommend it for serious music lovers, and think even "sound pressure-philes" will find it pretty satisfying. I would give this amp a 5-star rating.


David Wilkerson and Raquel Gregory




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