The Driving Force. Since 1974
Zapco was there at the start of car audio scene. In fact one might say Zapco started the car sound scene, with the first true high fidelity car amplifier in 1974. It all started several years earlier with a man who worked sound systems for concerts and who wanted a better amplifier for his automobile travels around the country to different concert venues. The problem of car stereo those days was Noise.
He took a simple, straightforward amplifier design that would give him the sound he wanted and he solved the noise problems by removing the power supply from the amplifier. By mounting the power supply in its own chassis, he was able to give the amplifier section a clean, noise free source of high voltage AC current to amplify the music. The result was an odd looking but extremely good sounding three piece car stereo amplifier. After building amplifiers by request for a few years, in his family’s barn in California farm country, he and some friends decided to take the Zapco amps to the world, and the first Zapco Model 150 was born.
Zapco was officially incorporated in 1974. In the 80’s Zapco took another step forward by being the first car audio company to use optical isolators in car audio amplifiers. With optical isolators between the power supply and the amplifier section, to eliminate the noise, Zapco could now begin to put the amplifiers and power supplies in the same chassis. The result was the Zapco Z-220, which has been followed by a long series of amazingly “live” sounding amplifiers. Along the way Zapco was the first to use complimentary wound transfomers, SMT components, reversed phase inputs so you could run a stereo amp in mono, and tri-wound transformers to allow amps to handle far more current than ever before. These are just some of the Zapco innovations that you will now find in almost all top quality car audio amps today.
These Innovations amplifiers put Zapco at the very top of the Car Audio Competition scene and by 2004 Zapco equipped cars took over 35% of all awards at the IASCA
world finals. Yes, Zapco became the dominant competition car audio amplifier. In 2004 Zapco took another bold step by developing the first full function car audio DSP (the DSP-6) and a full line of car audio amplifiers with full DSPs built in. Since 2011 we have been experimenting with our amplifiers and with other home and car amps to see what Zapco could do to take car audio to the next level and bring car sound a big step closer to live sound. The Z-Series competition amplifiers not only epitomizes Zapco’s traditional no-compromise approach to designing and building amplifiers for maximum performance, they helped define our dedication to sonic purity and decade spanning reliability.
In 2012 Zapco introduced the Z-Series competition SQ amplifiers that received rave reviews and went straight the winners stage in audio competitions. It was called the best sounding Zapco amplifier ever, and was even compared to McIntosh and Bryston home amps. But more than just introducing the line, we also committed the making every amplifier we made better than the last one, so we immediately went to work to see how we could make the Z-Series even better.
In 2014 we introduced the Z-Series LX amplifiers with improvements in the power supply, audiophile internal components, and improved hardware. A pure SQ amp with no processing. In the last audiophile amp tests the LX ranked at the very top, above the esoteric brands from the US and Europe.
In 2016 we developed the Z-Series SP amplifiers to bring LX sound quality to a full featured amp that could pound out music full-on, all day long, without worries about thermal shut-off. The SP does all that with innovative engineering for better heat transfer and better specs… like over 105dB signal to noise ratio.
For 2018 we have two new Z-Series innovations. First is the Z-Series AP amplifiers, that will take the LX sound to a whole new level. With new op-amps, custom caps, matched components, and more, the AP amps will even surpass most of the audiophile home products. In fact, we think it is the best sounding amp you can buy. Period!
This year also sees the HDSP-V. After more than 2 years of research and development, the HDSP-Z16V and HDSP-Z8V arrive. They have on-board HD player, and the most advanced digital processing available. The HD player will handle up to 24bit 192kHz files and includes a dash remote to control the player. The V-GUI can be controlled wirelessly by PC or smart device. For Inputs there are speaker level and RCA analog, coax and optical digital, and three digital i2S ports for streaming or any other i2S source. For the full-on, insanely committed audiophile, there will even be an 8-channel super version operating at 192kHz. The modular construction of the V-Series processors meant that as soon a new technology comes available your V-Series can be upgraded in a heartbeat, so obsolescence is no longer an issue. And finally, since even the best home processors don’t approach these units… we will have a home version of the HDSP-V.
At Zapco, we’ve been doing the same thing in the same place for almost 40 years, constantly searching out innovative ways to bring better sound to the automotive environment. Why do we do it? Nothing else can grab your soul and bring tears to your eyes like music. Music will make you tap your feet, and dance for joy. Of all the arts, music has the most powerful and immediate effect on your body and your mind. Reproducing music in all its glory, and it’s subtleness, and its detail deserves nothing less than our best efforts. Because Sound Matters.