LEVEL TUBE PREAMPLIFIER
courtesy Mario Rodriguez
LL2 is the first in the line of LAMM vacuum tube
preamplifiers. Unique topology and application of
the most advanced technological resources and
processes bring the LL2 very close to the
threshold of excellence in sound reproduction. A
main distinction of the LL2 from any other
comparable type of preamplifiers is its almost
inaudible sonic signature. When connected to an
appropriate type of power amplifiers, especially
LAMM amplifiers, it assures the recreation of a
three-dimensional soundstage without boundaries
LL2 features a topology that brings out the most
natural sound performance in the audio path, as
well as graceful and sophisticated design. It
employs a pure class A operation from input to
output; all stages are single-ended. The
preamplifier's audibly neutral power supply
features a full-wave vacuum rectifier.
This rectifier, together with a choke-containing
filter, allows to practically get rid of the hum
and buzz and, in the end, to ensure the verity of
dynamic range without coloration. Other features
include 3 inputs; 1 tape loop; 2 sets of outputs;
front panel muting switch; and protection
circuitry coupled with automatic mute at turn
preamplifier is carefully hand-crafted with
matched components of the highest quality, some
of which include military graded low noise DALE
metal film resistors; ALPS potentiometers;
ELECTROCUBE and ROEDERSTEIN film capacitors; high
frequency switching grade CORNELL DUBILIER
electrolytic capacitors; and specially selected
long life vacuum tubes. The LL2 features a
custom-designed power transformer.
LL2 is available in two versions: standard and deluxe, both of which utilize identical
chassis, PC-board and parts. In deluxe version, the power supply energy
storage is approximately twice that of the
standard version (four identical light-blue capacitors next the
choke; only two of these are installed in regular version -- see
first detail image insert).
Also, in deluxe version, all film
capacitors in critical paths are paralleled by
polystyrene capacitors of the highest available quality (yellow
capacitors on two images -- right and below).
LL2 works on all world AC line voltages without
press release that appeared in
AudioVideoNews.com in September'1999
is what the prominent audio critics have said about the LL2
involvement level of the LL2 is so intense, so deep, and so much like
music that my words end up getting in the way – which, of course,
makes writing a review a pretty difficult task.
…A final two points about
the bass excellence of the LL2. First,
regardless of volume level, bass through the LL2 has impact and power,
and completely pressurized the room.
Secondly, coupled with this power, the bass of the Lamm LL2 is
never slow, ripe or fat, so timing is always spot-on.
It is perhaps a tad more emphatic down low than other preamps,
but always on time.
…At the very top, the treble was simply the best I’ve heard.
Most preamps seem to be able to get the jump and leading edge of
cymbals right or the shimmer of brass right, but the LL2 gets both so
perfectly correct that it really made every other preamp I’ve heard
sound mechanical and, well, wrong.
…I often found myself reacting physically to sounds in the soundstage.
…the LL2 speaks to me more as a musical instrument than as a piece of
gear, which is the highest praise I can offer.
Warnke, soundstage.com (May, 2000)
making out surface features on a highly polished sphere.
Its smooth topology makes it impossible to identify
distinguishing marks. It will merely mirror whatever is in front of it. So it is
with the LL2 – a preamp of supreme neutrality.
the core of every great preamp exists a soulful heart that infuses music
with drama and dynamic tension. I have yet to hear a conventional
solid-state preamp that could do that convincingly. Many years ago, when
I lived in a state of audio sin, I owned a PS Audio solid-state preamp.
In hindsight, it is easy to say that it sounded dreadfully lifeless.
Dynamic shadings were squashed to the point where everything sounded
like it was in slow motion. Tube preamps, in my experience, have a much
easier time lighting a fire under the soundstage. The LL2 comes fully
loaded with a responsive 5-speed transmission and dynamite under the
hood. It'll take you to from 0 to 60 in a heartbeat. It allowed me to
put on a good performance and totally enjoy the emotional fireworks. The
sonic character did not change when the LL2 shifted into high gear.
Harmonic and inter-modulation distortion products rise with signal
level, and with many preamps the effect is to muddy the purity of
harmonic textures during dynamic passages. In contrast, the LL2 is
capable of generating high drive voltages with minimal distortion, and
its low output impedance guarantees compatibility with a wide range of
interconnects and power amplifiers.
preamps are well known for their ability to generate an expansive
soundstage, with palpable spatial outlines. The LL2 did not disappoint
in this regard, coaxing a soundstage of generous proportions from the
speakers. Layering of the depth perspective was nicely done.
Transparency, or the ability to clearly visualize the inner
recesses of the soundstage was another strong suit.
its price point, the LL2 line stage's level of performance is nothing
short of sensational. Its blend of tonal neutrality, speed, control, and
harmonic purity add up to a sure recipe for musical excellence. It is
capable of competing in the highest audiophile arena, while its slight
spatial reticence and textural softness are easy to live with. It should
readily integrate with a diverse range of systems. The LL2's ability to
drive a variety of amps and exotic cables allows it to comfortably slip
into an existing system without adverse complications.
Let me take this opportunity to raise my glass in a toast: to
Lamm Industries and Vladimir Shushurin for a job well done. Cheers!
Olsher, enjoythemusic.com (March, 2001)
want music without any additives, even when it doesn’t sound nice.
This is why I love the Lamm LL2 preamp. What I get with this preamp in
my system...is music, sometimes distorted, sometimes flat, sometimes
noisy, but always sounding like music, even when recorded poorly.
...The LL2 provided a "just the facts" presentation. While
that might sound underwhelming, it is the highest praise I can express.
…The texture and richness of instruments was extraordinarily
revealing, and while not always nice, it brought me closer to the
experience of real music. Not Technicolor, but actual colors and
textures were presented, spot on.
…Imaging was spectacular, and made the placing and re-placing of
speaker positions easy. The music was so "in the room," it
seemed like the speakers were unnecessary bits of furniture which had no
part in making music.
...The Lamm presented music on the upper end of things with bite but no
etching, hardness, or silvery cleanliness. Hard to criticize. The
midrange, where musical life can be glorious or boring, was magnificent.
Timbre was so excellent that it, rather than transients, created the
impression of a live event in my room. ..If we were to have Golden Ear
Awards or Recommended Component Lists, the Lamm LL2 would be one of my
Larry Cox, positive-feedback.com
LL2...allowed the music-making to sound
more human, and more like something was
happening in from of me, not
just being retold. I remember in
particular thinking that the staccato
notes at the beginning of the third
movement had a great deal more force --
I could feel them -- with the
Lamm LL2 in the system...The Lamm gave
the sounds of the notes more body, more
feel, and especially more movement.
...This may be a hard position to
defend, but I have the feeling that the
LL2's cleanness -- its lack of murk and
mud, while at the same time not
lacking in color, texture, or body --
had to do at least partly with its
speed, which is not a quality people
always associate with tube
electronics. I don't mean speed
in the rhythm-and-pacing sense,
although that performance aspect was
also superb in the Lamm, but rather the
thing's ability to respond to an input
signal, amplify it with great
faithfulness, then get the hell out of
…It was while
auditioning LPs through the LL2, with
the help of a Linn Linto phono preamp,
that I put my finger on another quality
that made this preamp -- and, I think,
the Lamm ML2.1 amplifier as well -- so
uniquely musical: Through them, each
note had a realistic sustain, followed
by a similarly realistic decay -- and
after that there was real space, real
noiseless nothing, until the attack
component of the next note. With
most electronics that space is filled
up with noise or overlong note decays,
which not only diminish the sense of
rhythm and pacing in recorded music,
but make the artistry of the performers
less dramatic and more homogenized by
filling in and smoothing over all of
the pores, so to speak. I've hear
other preamps that were as free of
overhang, of between-note distortion as
the Lamm LL2; but in virtually every
such instance, it seemed the notes
themselves had also been scrubbed clean
of much of their harmonic character.
…With the best qualities of
the Lamm [ML2.1] amplifiers now
apparently compounded by those of the
Lamm preamp, I heard a real gain in
expressiveness, and in my own feeling
of involvement with the music, as
compared with my reference.
...In terms of its musical and sonic
performance, the Lamm LL2 preamplifier
doesn't tower over the other
high-quality line-level preamplifiers
in quite the same way that the Lamm
ML2.1 power amplifier seems to tower
over its competition. On
the other hand, the LL2 is arguably a
much better value for money: In
relative terms, I've heard more
expensive preamps than this, but I've
never heard one that performs better;
in absolute terms, judged for its
musicality, the quality of its parts
and construction, and its sheer design
ingenuity, the Lamm LL2 is worth every
penny they're asking for it. To
say it more plainly: $4990 is not at
all unreasonable for a preamp this
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