Back when you could conceivably do such a thing, walking the halls of any audio show of size can be a bit exhausting. After three days and over one hundred rooms navigating the crowds and the noise (Good sound loud or not so good loud) can give your ears a fatigue that makes one long for silence sometimes. For this reason, I tend to schedule a trip to the Zesto Audio room for the final day of a show. George and Carolyn Counnas always have a room of impeccable sound quality that, for me, is an audio oasis where my ears can recover. I had been hoping for the chance to have their gear in house.
Imagine my delight when the Zesto Audio Andros 1.2 tube Phonostage preamplifier arrived for review. The Andros 1.2 is crafted with the same graceful aesthetic as the rest of the Zesto line-up which is to say four glorious ECC83S gold pin tubes set in a reflective case that shows the glass off like jewellery.
After installing the valves with the included white glove, I adjusted the settings on the back to match my Ortofon Cadenza Bronze moving coil cartridge. The switches and dials for the settings are well labelled. MM and MC connections and setting are each located in specific zones making setup straightforward. I used the single ended output from the moving coil area utilizing AudioQuest Water cables. Input cables were from VPI from my VPI Prime Signature turntable.
Zesto Audio’s very well written user manual is specific about turning on the Andros 1.2 before the rest of your audio system and giving it five minutes of warm-up first. Each Andros 1.2 arrives with a factory burn in of 50 hours and will reach optimal performance at 100 hours. My experience concurs with these recommendations as the output reaches peak fullness around the 100-hour mark. The manual gives some recommendations for tube rolling. I used the supplied valves for my listening.
I had recently watched the movie Rocketman about the life of Elton John. Inspired by this I started listening to Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy’s ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ [Mercury]. Jumping out at me was the attack on the piano keys; precise but not strident. Tonality was pure and uncoloured. The drum kit is centred with excellent decay of the strike. Compared to my reference Simaudio Moon 610LP phono pre the Zesto Andros 1.2 offered up slightly more colour. A bit more body reminding me of my Cary SLI-80 integrated; it has ‘tube sound’ but does not distort or dominate the performance. The difference in character was quite enjoyable.