Linear Tube Audio Aero DAC

I would be extremely interested in how this sounds once released. Small write-up below from PTA below which can be found here:

I was on the hunt for the new Linear Tube Audio Aero DAC ($3,600) on CAF Day One and spoke with founder Mark Schneider. Mark explained that they really hadn’t intended on designing a DAC, but fate, technology, and a key supporting cast presented itself. With a steep learning curve, outside help, and alignment of the universe the Aero DAC was born. This R2R ladder DAC uses the ZOTL output stage, zero negative feedback, and isolated power rails. I’ll report more on how this reasonably priced tube DAC sounds in the Day 2 show report once I track it down.


128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

Just recently I replaced my Tubadour dac with a solid-state dac.Comparing them directly there was a little more detail but I could have remained happy with the Tubadour. I kept the Denafrips simply because already having tubed pre and amp it was one less pair of tubes to fuss over. The front end will remain stable and it is a  feeling of relief, if that makes sense.After needing to replace my transport I was motivated to try a new dac.The Jays transport was huge upgrade, more so than the dac.

I like LTA products and will be interested in how owners feel about the dac.

I had the opportunity to hear the prototype of this DAC in my system months ago. I was very impressed by how analog-sounding it was, so very musical. I'm told it's been tweaked and improved since then. I can't describe it as a tube DAC since the Berning ZOTL output stage is so incredibly clear and transparent. The lack of traditional output transformers in this tube stage means crystal clear sound. Anyone who has heard an LTA amp knows what I mean. I am high on the list to buy this DAC so I will report further once I get my hands on it.

@roxy54  "

It's funny that they chose to name it Audio Aero as that name was previously the name of a French company that many audiophiles will still remember. I wonder if it's even legal."


Since the name of the company is Linear Tube Audio I don't see a problem calling the model Aero


I tend to believe the choice to (tube or not) in your DAC can also depend on what you are using for your preamplifier and amplifier.  

In my case with a tube preamplifier and mono tube amplifiers in my primary system, also having a tube in the direct signal path within my dac was a bit much.

Now, however, if I had a solid state preamplifier and/or solid state amplifier both, I'd potentially lean back towards a having a tube in the signal path of my dac.  

Currently I split the difference and went with a dac that has a different design - with a single tube in the power supply part of the dac rather that directly in the signal path.  The design offers the ability to switch the tube on/off too which prouduces a different type of sound in each mode.  

I agree with @decooney that it depends on your preamp and amp… for me adding the last piece (tube DAC) absolutely sent my system over the top good. Since my preamp and amp were already Audio Research tube equipment the synergy with an Audio Research tube DAC was simply spectacular.

When you are dealing with different companies “house sound” you can have a problem of consecutive subtraction (this is the way I look at it… it may not be an accurate reflection of the world). Let’s say your DAC is a bit forward and lacking in bass, and you match it with a preamp that is warm (a positive combo), meaning it is a bit soft on top and accentuates the midrange, and finally you combine with a amp with great treble and bass. The combination may sound good tonally, but the amp cannot amplify bass that did not come from the DAC, and the amp isn’t getting the treble and bass the preamp didn’t send. so each piece of equipment is acting like a filter.

OK, it is more complicated than that… but this still points to why mixing and matching components is so hard. However, if you find a company that has the house sound you love… then each of their components will be “tuned” the same… no loss or shifting of characteristics between components. A straight path to the signal.

This explains why dropping the Audio Research DAC in between my Audio Reseach preamp and amp was so very synergistic and was not for @decooney.

When many of us old farts got into high end audio there was synergy in getting the very best amp (for me Threshold ((Pass))) and the best preamp (for me Audio Research)… and a phono stage. So, this started the… best of class choosing. It goes on today… but I bet very often to the detriment of the audiophile. Today, companies like Audio Research, Boulder, dCS, Conrad Johnson, and others have a design teams with very specific goals. Note I did not mention Pass… they make spectacular amps. My feeling… and maybe it is is just me… but still do not produce preamps to the level of their amps.


So, I think my thought is, if you can find a company that has the house sound you love, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by getting all your components from them and then climbing the ladder.