In Barn for Review: Linear Tube Audio Aero DAC

A pair of NOS GE 12SN7GTA dual triodes came with the review sample LTA Aero DAC because they sit in the Class-A ZOTL Output Stage and when installed peek out from the top plate, unashamed.

I know some people are afraid of tubes, fearful that they will corrupt their preciously perfect signal which is as sensible, i.e. as silly with a dose of paranoia, as General Jack D. Ripper’s international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

The LTA Aero has three digital inputs that include USB, Toslink/Optical, and Coax all capable of handing PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz, which is plenty for me, while offering both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs. A switch around back allows for the use of either 6SN7 or 12SN7 tubes for those who enjoy rolling their own.

The front panel has two buttons—power and input selector—and little LEDs that light up to tell the incoming sample rate of the file/music in play. Inside, the LTA Aero houses a non-oversampling R2R ladder DAC and a direct-coupled topology which means there are no capacitors in the signal path. Pure.

I’m an unabashed fan of LTA, having reviewed and enjoyed their Z40+ integrated amp (review) back in 2022. Let’s see what they can do with digital!

Linear Tube Audio Aero DAC
Price: $3950
Company Website: LTA

Features and Benefits

  • Pure R2R Ladder DAC: No oversampling and no digital filters
  • Class-A ZOTL Output Stage: The first and only DAC in the world to use ZOTL technology
  • Zero Negative Feedback: No global or local feedback for timbral accuracy and enhanced transient response
  • Isolated Power Rails: Dedicated power supplies for each section for precise electrical isolation
  • Advanced Protection: Circuitry to protect downstream components from tube failures
  • Easy Tube Swapping: Fully visible tubes and simple toggle switch for using either 6SN7 or 12SN7 output tubes
  • Balanced XLR Outputs: Enhanced signal quality and crystal clear audio
  • Three Inputs: USB, Optical, and Coax inputs for flexible connectivity
  • Direct-Coupled Topology: No capacitors in the signal path
  • Plug & Play: No drivers needed for Windows or Mac
  • Advanced Power Regulation: Belleson-regulated, multi-stage choke filtration for clean power
  • Digital Galvanic Isolation: Blocks noise from music sources entering the DAC circuit
  • Made in the USA: Designed and built in our Takoma Park, MD workshop


  • Inputs: USB, RCA Coax, Toslink / Optical
  • Outputs: RCA (70 ohm), XLR (140 ohm)
  • Formats: Up to 24-bit / 192 kHz PCM
  • DAC: Analog Devices AD1865 R2R
  • Output Voltage: RCA: 2.2 Vrms | XLR: 4.4 Vrms
  • THD+N: RCA: 0.54% at 1.1 Vpeak | XLR: 0.061% at 2.2 Vpeak
  • Hum: RCA: -110dB at 1.1 Vpeak |XLR: -116dB at 2.2 Vpeak
  • Frequency Response: -0.3dB at 20Hz and -0.8dB at 20kHz
  • Tube Complement: 2 x 12SN7 (6SN7 tubes can also be used)
  • Power Consumption: 32W (Standby: 7W)
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 17 x 10 x 3″ (not including tubes)
  • Weight: Approx 15 lbs