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Tubed-up Future-Fi: the LittleZoe integrated amplifier

  • Tubes. They might have given way to transistors for amplifiers dropped into consumer electronics but many audiophiles still swear by them as better communicators of music’s soul. Theirs is talk of even order harmonic distortion and/or a sense of (so-called) lushness or warmth*. *Just like vinyl playback, not all tube amplifiers sound warm.

    One drawback for the future-facing audiophile is a tube amplifier’s outward appearance. Many designs favour a more traditional outward appearance – a nod to a bygone age that lives only in niche-ville.

    For Future-Fi-ers seeking a dose of glass-n-gas comes the LittleZoe integrated. A ‘Class AB1’ push pull amplifier whose PR team came knocking via email yesterday:

    “Is there a possibility to send you a press release and some pictures for the launch of our innovative tube amp www.littlezoe.eu, which will launch in HIGH END Munich 2018?”

    Sure.

    What came back was a little light on with specifics:

    “The long-awaited amplifier LittleZoe launches in world-renowned Hi-Fi Expo HIGH-END Munich 2018. The amp will be presented at the Newcomers area of the exhibition from 10 to 13th of May. Apart from its ultra-modern design, this distinctive amp stands out in the crowd thanks to two innovations it brings to the high fi world:

    — Unconventional chassis architecture for ultimate performance

    — Solid body form produced by new age material resin using revolutionary technologies

    Based on an original concept, LittleZoe shapes the sound character of a state of the art amplifier. For more information visit the website www.littlezoe.eu and the social media.”

    I wondered aloud if LittleZoe was the name of the amplifier or the company that makes it. Or both.

    Perusing their website we learn that the LittleZoe’s fibered-resin uni-body, created in layers, has been designed to limit the deleterious influence of vibrations – especially problematic for tubes. You’ll often hear tube amp enthusiasts talking about microphonics – they want as little as possible.

    “The material has the effect of stone. Any resonances vanish to the mass leaving the tubes unaffected by all other components.”

    Furthermore, LittleZoe’s ‘huge’ transformers have been decoupled via isolators, their (vibrational) energy going to ground.

    As for the tubes themselves, the LittleZoe runs a quad of EL34 with the option to be ‘re-tuned’ for 6550 (according to taste). Output power rating clocks in at 45wpc into 8 Ohms. On input tubes we note 2x ECC82 and 2x ECC81. RCA inputs number 4.

    We aren’t told LittleZoe’s country of origin. (Greece?) Or her retail price. Only that all will be revealed in Munich in May and that shipping will begin in September.

    But hey – VU meters!

    Further information: LittleZoe

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John is the editor of Darko.Audio, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

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