LTA microZOTL or Backert Labs Rhumba Extreme 1.3?

Hi everyone,

It’s that time..where I got the baaad itch to upgrade. Currently using EAR Yoshino 868PL into Pass Labs XA30.8 amp.

I love the EAR preamp..absolutely nothing wrong with it. Just wondering about the LTA or the Backert Labs preamp and how they are, if anyone has experience with both (long shot, thought I’ll ask)?

Should I somehow let go of the itch and stick with my EAR preamp? Not looking to change my Pass Labs amp.


Thanks in advance.


Keep using the EAR preamp! You like its flavor. That's all that matters! Changing to the other two preamps is a sideways move. 

From what I’ve read I’d guess the LTA and Backert might sound a little less rich and add more upper-end detail — a little more white wine or Rosé and a little less red wine. But that’s just a guess. Member Terry London reviewed both the LTA and Backert (not sure if it was the Extreme model) I think for Stereo Times and slightly preferred the LTA, but it was pretty close as I recall and doubt you could go wrong with either if they deliver sound qualities and/or improvements you might be looking for. Then again, you’ve obviously got a great preamp so read the reviews and make sure you’re not actually going backwards from where you are. FWIW, and best of luck.

I agree with @jasonbourne52.  The EAR 868 is well regarded.  The preamps you listed are likely a lateral move.  If you want to take it up a notch, consider Audio Research REF 5SE... supposedly ARC pre's pair well with PASS amps. 

I own the Micro ZOTL preamp and the Backert Rhythm 1.3. I do prefer the LTA Pre over the Rhumba but the Rhythm crushes them both. The LTA is very good, but if you've got the coin go for the Rhythm.

I agree with @jasonbourne52.  The EAR 868 is well regarded.  The preamps you listed are likely a lateral move. 

No, they’re absolutely not a lateral move.  They’re a “different” move, but whether that’s better or worse depends on what the OP is looking for sonically.  That’s the absolute key.