Zanden 9600 Monoblock Power Amp

The Japanese know a thing or two about tube-based amplifiers, as demonstrated by Zanden Audio Systems, which recently released its new flagship monoblock, the 9600. This beauty joins a stable of phono and linestage preamps, a DAC, several other power amps, and a CD transport, offering everything you need for 2-channel bliss except for the speakers and cables—and a turntable if you're into vinyl.

The 9600 uses two KR845 tubes, said to be among the most linear vacuum tubes available with the tonality of the 300B and the power of the KT88. A unique 3-stage push-pull circuit with a transformer between the second and third stages achieves optimum performance from the 845s, producing a nominal class-A power output of 60 watts into 2, 4, or 8Ω with a frequency response from 10Hz to 50kHz (-3dB).

Balanced and unbalanced inputs are provided, along with a stepped attenuator on the back panel. As with most tube-based amps, the 9600 offers separate outputs for different speaker loads. Interestingly, one of the outputs is labeled 0Ω, which seems an impossibility to me—how can any amp drive a 0Ω load without blowing up? Of course, I doubt anyone would even try, especially since this amp costs $51,975/pair.

Update: Reader hendrikj points out that the 0Ω terminal is the "negative" side of the speaker connection—one conductor of the speaker cable is connected to that terminal and the other conductor is connected to the 2, 4, or 8Ω terminal, depending on the impedance of the speaker. I should have thought of that, but labeling it "0Ω" is very confusing, and I thought the negative terminal was simply not in that closeup shot. Thanks, hendrikj!

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