The Special Philosophy behind Zikra Audio

The best sound quality at any price. This has been the goal of Zikra Audio right from the beginning. Today, the company sells tube amplifiers and turntables to hi-fi purists around the world.

For more than 35 years, Zikra Audio's founder and owner Michael Zingenberg has hand-built power amplifiers based on tube technology. The goal has always been the ultimate. The best sound quality at any price.

The means have been hard work, knowledge, will, no compromises, purpose. But the intention is the infinite human joy of the naked, undiluted musical reproduction. Not boring perfection – but the ultimate listening pleasure.

Amplifiers and turntables

Zikra Audio today develops and manufactures exclusive high-fidelity equipment for sound purists from all over the world. It started with tube power amplifiers back in 1986. They are available today as mono blocks or as a stereo amplifier. And a tube-based preamplifier has been added.
Michael Zingenberg grinds the chassis so that it has a mirror-bright and shiny surface. It is a trademark for all Zikra Audio products that they are made of stainless steel.
But the soft and genuine tube sound goes perfectly with analogue gramophones. That is why Zikra Audio also produces custom-built turntables and can supply a high-quality transformer for MC pickups.

All are of course unique products assembled by hand. Furthermore, they are products with a long lifespan. The earliest models from Zikra Audio are still playing – and even sold on the second-hand high-end market.

The beautiful sound of tubes

But why build tube amplifiers instead of the more "modern" transistor-based amplifiers?

Tube amplifiers are renowned for delivering a warm and smooth reproduction. It’s a relaxing pleasure listening to them. This is due, among other things, to the fact that they have a harmonic way of distorting – unlike transistor-based amplifiers. In addition, they have a wider frequency range, so that all overtones and undertones are included, and the reproduction is extremely dynamic.

Time is an important factor

But time plays an important role too, Michael Zingenberg believes.

“I think time is an important factor. The amplifier has to give the music signal all the time it needs to unfold. Many traditional amplifiers play well as long as there are only one or a few instruments, but with a large orchestra or many voices the reproduction comes under pressure. There is simply not enough time to process this complex signal. Zikra Audio's tube amplifiers give all parts of the music time enough. Therefore, the sound reproduction never becomes strained – all the details get the needed space of time. With our amplifiers, you can almost hear every single clap when an audience applauds,” he says.

Always single ended tubes

Amplifier tubes in general can be either push-pull or single ended. Push-pull means that some tubes take care of pushing the speaker cone, while others pull. But that method does not deliver the same high sound quality as single ended tubes, where all tubes both push and pull. That is why all amplifiers from Zikra Audio have been equipped with single-ended tubes.

"I think time is an important factor. The amplifier has to give the music signal all the time it needs."

Tube amplifiers have low output power, especially with single ended tubes. Therefore, the amplifiers must be connected to speakers with a high sensitivity, for example horn speakers. In the latest line-up from Zikra Audio, slightly more powerful models have been added, which can manage traditional speakers too.

"You cannot make a powerful amplifier that plays clean and nice. Therefore, our amplifiers have a maximum output power of 25 watts,” explains Zikra Audio CEO Michael Zingenberg.

Despite – or rather: because of – the modest output, the sound reproduction has a convincing effect. You not only get a warm and honest reproduction, but also dynamics and great sound, where every single detail can be pointed out, and where you can place soloists and singers precisely in the soundscape.

Although the Zikra Audio amplifiers have all the virtues of tube technology, they do not sound precisely like most tube amplifiers. There is much more punch than you normally experience.

Furthermore, the reproduction is extremely transparent, and the softness is not soft in a laid-back sense. On the contrary: All details appear sharp and precise despite the warm music reproduction. There is just no filter between the technology and your ears. You will experience well-produced concert recordings as if you were actually present during the concert.

Thousands of hours of development work

Triodes are always used in the construction from start to finish. The philosophy is that only this type of tubes is able to provide the right sound colour and fading, so that the music sounds real and alive.

The constant search for the best components and solutions has cost thousands of hours of development work. Everything is tested and listened to. The prototypes are often sent out to experts in the industry to get feedback.

Today, for example, even the critical output transformers in the amplifiers are built specifically to Zikra Audio's specifications. And as another example, the Audio Note 2W Niobium resistor is selected based on blind testing and durability. Nothing is left to chance.

No printed circuit boards are used. Everything is hard wired with high quality silver cables. Components are glued onto small copper plates, and all cables are laid in cords. This uncompromising approach has secured Zikra Audio a solid reputation among hi-fi purists around the world.

How to build the important power supply

Furthermore, Michael Zingenberg has a very clear idea of how the important power supply should be built.

It is always oversized, so that it actually could manage much larger constructions. There is an excess of power and control. This surplus of forces extends the lifespan of the power supply, but is also a major reason for the extremely high sound quality.

For the same reason, Michael Zingenberg has chosen to use tubes to rectify the current (from AC to DC which the tubes require).

Hand-polished stainless steel

The chassis for the amplifiers is made of hand-polished, non-magnetic stainless steel. Michael Zingenberg, who is trained as a blacksmith, hand-polishes the plates himself for every single product. There may therefore be cosmetic differences from one product to another. Each amplifier has its own unique personality.

Welcome to Zikra Audio's world of uncompromising hand-built hi-fi technology – created for musical enjoyment.