Which amp to use with Linear Tube Audio pre?

I really love my LTA Microzotl 2. Its bit clunky in a NAD 3020 sort of way but the sound always pleases.

I'd like to pair it with an amplifier that doesn't step on what it does, have used it with a Prima Luna Premium amp section and Musical concepts modded Hafler, both subtracted from what I can hear using it as a 1w amplifier direct. Am tempted to go for a Pass XA25 in my 12x12 listening room as that has good reviews driving Magnepan whereas the LTA amp sections do not.

Wondering if LTA pre owners have other recommendations?


@b2colchagoff  I ended up buying a solid stateTopping Pre90, took me several months to reach a conclusion which I liked better between the MZ2 and the Pre90. The MZ2 has that tube ease in playing music, is neutral and faster on transients than the CJ PV10a, Prima Luna Integrated Premium pre tube sections I have had. But in the end it lost out to the Pre90 for background detail, dynamics and solid, clean low bass. It's possible that If I had the better MZ3 or LTA's bespoke preamp that the outcome may have differed

On the wattage end, using the Orchard Audio GAN monoblocks is a no contest compared to what I've owned in the past used with Maganepan 1.7 (Bryston B60, Prima Luna Premium, Musical Concepts modded Hafler DH200). It controls the speaker, and has no need to play loudly to get clarity. I do think that there are better class D options like Boxem and Apollon which are more sophisticated in their input section, may eventually switch. The 1 watt from the MZ2 as amp is musical but with Maggies you are giving up base and the reviews I've read for LTA amp sections usually highlight that as a criticism for driving Magnepans.


I do think that the MZ2 cries out to be used as an integrated amp with high effciency speakers like Zu, Omega Alnico,  where 1 watt can be powerful

Aegir was interesting, very warm and full sound. But sounded syrupy and compressed compare to using the MZ2 as amp,  definitely stepped on details the MZ2 was providing


it took a while, but I get what you were saying here now. I’ve been doing a lot more listening with the MZ3 as an integrated. I still use the Aegir sometimes, but feed it with a SS hpa for background music or TV or just days I’m not up for burning tubes. The last time I put the Aegir between the MZ3 and my speakers was after listening a while to the MZ3 by itself. And it hit me. Maybe I wasn’t listening to the same things before and was focused on other differences. I can’t unhear it now. Probably not going to use that combo anymore. 

@davide256 ,


Interested in where you ended up.

I have mz2 in near field with and high efficient Decware speakers - love the 3d space it creates.  I also have Maggie .7s in my living room with a great processor/preamp - but was wondering if there was some way to bring some of that tube magic to the Maggies without muddying things up.  Thinking of getting an LTA power amp for the Maggies.

They recommend the ZOTL40, but there's some good prices on the ultralinears that have less power.

My questions:
  - you said the MZ2 could drive your Maggies 90% of the time with 1 watt?  Your feeling if a 20 watt LTA amp would be enough to over the rest?
  - You also said you like the sound of the Schiit Sys + Orchard over the MZ2 as a pre.  Do you think the MZ2 is muddying things, or it's just not a good match with the Orchard?

Any thoughts / experience is greatly appreciated.

mmm, the Orchard Audio GaN monoblocks are working very nicely with my Magnepans. But the law of unintended consequences has kicked in. My MZ2 used as pre isn't as clean and clear with the GaN monoblocks as a simple passive Schiit SYS pre. So its relegated back to a headphone amplifier only for the moment

Using my LTA Microzotl preamp with an Odyssey Kismet stereo amp. Sounds amazing.

Aegir was interesting, very warm and full sound. But sounded syrupy and compressed compare to using the MZ2 as amp

This is exactly why I recommended Bryston as it’s transparent and less likely to stomp on the good things the MZ2 brings to the table. Also, if it’s in the budget, AGD GaN amps are garnering universal praise, and they just launched a stereo amp.

I have been playing with the LTA Mirozotl preamp paired with the McGary SA-1E amplifier and it's an excellent combination.

hmm, latest review in TAS on the Orchard Audio Class D GaN mono blocks intrigued me,  submitted an order.

Aegir was interesting, very warm and full sound. But sounded syrupy and compressed compare to using the MZ2 as amp,  definitely stepped on details the MZ2 was providing and could be tripped into protect with loud orchestra. Decided against a small class A amp, will start saving for the DVA 225s + active RCA to XLR adaptor

Pulled the trigger on Aegir order, will report back on results when it has broken in

@cat_doorman thanks for mentioning the Aegir. At $800 its worth trying as an inexpensive test to see if a low wattage class A amp would work.

I have my mz2 running into a pair of quicksilver mid monos and the combo sounds great.  No sure how they’ll work with Maggie’s.  Also using my MZ2 straight into my Audio Note AN/E speakers.  Great sound, a little underpowered. 

I have my mz2 running into a pair of quicksilver mid monos and the combo sounds great.  No sure how they’ll work with Maggie’s.  Also using my MZ2 straight into my Audio Note AN/E speakers.  Great sound, a little underpowered. 

It’s so easy to forget how much our ears can adjust for loudness. Once you’ve acclimated to a quiet room music at 70dBC can seem plenty loud, but turn it down to 70 from 90 and at first it sounds wrong and imbalanced. Even though I find myself listening at low levels quite often, I still didn’t immediately get how you could use a 1W amplifier with Maggies. There was a thread here a while back where someone was upgrading to an XA25 from the Schiit Aegir. It’s what sold me on trying out Class A with the Aegir instead of waiting to save up for the XA25. Might be a less expensive intermediate step. I wonder how the newer class D might do for you or even GaN Class D. Curious to hear where you end up.

i am amazed by what the xa25 can do with my 1.7i’s in my 17x19 well damped room

nominally pass rates it as 25/8, 50/4 but read the atkinson test results in herb’s review in s’phile... it actually puts out 130 wpc into 4 ohms at <1% thd! ... now in golf that is called pro-level major league sand-bagging!!!! 😂

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@cat_doorman what I hear using MZ2 straight in is a less compressed sound, the ambiance and little sound cues that persuade of a lifelike reproduction. yeah sustained bass gets muddy and loud treble transients can clip but thats 10% if the time vs the other 90% that sounds more life like.

Anyone using Class D with their LTA pre product? Skeptical about class D but I keep seeing posts by Magnepan owners happy with the newer class D amplifiers.

The Hafler I have puts out about 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms, the more power argument pushes in the direction of a 400 watt amplifier in order to make a significant transient reserve difference.

@dekay The AVA DVA M225's look interesting. If I could verify that they stay in class A at 4 ohms up to 50 watts that would on paper rival the Pass XA25 plus have more reserve power.

In a Sterophile review of an earlier version of the ZOTL40 (push/pull) amp the reviewer mated it with Magnepan .7.

Looks like the newer version (ZOTL40 REFERENCE+) is $1K more @ ($6,800).

Interesting that you were able to drive the 1.7's with the 1-watt power section of the  Microzotl 2.

I had wondered if it would work with my vintage wide range single drivers and it looks as if it would with my 8 ohm Elac S517's  and 16 ohm Stephens Trusonic 80FR's.

You might check out the inexpensive SS Van Alstine power amp that he decribes as being single ended, or an "upgraded" DNA amp (used) if you can find one.


Bryston has a good rep driving Maggies and are transparent enough that they likely won’t mess with the LTA goodness. 

Long time magnepan owner. Using the MZ2 as an amp sounds great about 95% of the time, exceptions are loud massed orchestra/percussion, deepest bass where more current is needed. Pretty certain that while the Hafler  has over 100 watts per channel, the transition from class A to class B adds distortion I  hear as grainy harmonics with massed orchestra.

I’ve read more than a few places that the XA25 makes an excellent pairing. I might step up to that eventually, too. At least for an SS option. I’ve been using a Schiit Aegir sometimes, but prefer the Primaluna DPHP. What speakers are you using? I seem to get better bass response with either power amp than straight from the MZ3 with Zu Soul Supremes. Into 16ohms the MZ3 is only rated for 1/4W, but it gets loud enough even if it is turned way up. I don’t think it’s a volume difference I’m hearing when I use a power amp. I’m curious what you’re missing, since I’m having the opposite experience. It’s great on it’s own, but a little help makes it even better. (Of course my pessimistic side thinks that once you point it out I won’t be able to ignore it anymore.) I’ve also been considering SET amps, since it seems crazy to run the DPHP if I’m not even using 1W the vast majority of the time. So it might just be preference.

The LTA preamps are a perfect match with their amps. The owner of LTA (Mark Schneider) uses Maggie’s at home with ZOTL40 and pre. Plenty of power.

I own an LTA MZ3, and use it as a preamp.

My previous system had Magnepan 1.7i.  The amp was Sanders Magtech.  I don't think it will subtract from your LTA.