Lamm ML3 Signature amplifiers (pair).
Lamm LL1 Signature line-level preamplifier (pair).
Lamm LP1 Signature phono preamplifier (set) (preamp + two power supplies).
Rest of system: Verity Audio Lohengrin II S speakers NeoDio NR32D “Origine”, Tech DAS Airforce 1 turntable, Tech DAS TDC-01 MC cartridge, Graham Elite tonearm and Phantom tonearm.
Lamm M1.2 Reference amplifiers (pair).
Lamm L2 Reference line-level preamplifier (preamp and power supply).
Lamm LP2.1 phono preamplifier, deluxe.
Rest of system: Wilson Audio Alexia speakers, Tech DAS AirForce 2 turntable, Graham Elite tonearm, ZYX UNIverse II cartridge and Omega cartridge.
Lamm Industries did their usual two-room presentation. The first held a Tech DAS AirForce 1 turntable ($100,000) with a Graham Elite tonearm ($14,000) and Tech DAS TDC 01 MC cartridge ($11,000), Neodio’s stunning Origine digital player ($42,175), Lamm’s own three-chassis LP1 Signature phono stage ($33,790), four-chassis LL1 Signatureline stage ($42,790) and four-chassis ML3 Signature amplifiers ($139,490 per pair). This was completed with VerityAudio Lohengrin IIS speakers ($120,000 per pair), Kanso Audio racking ($16,226) and approximately $75,000 worth ofKubala-Sosna Elation cabling. The sound, as might be expected, was generally excellent in terms of space, dynamics and resolution, though I heard more than a whiff of a recessed quality to vocals with my own CDs. This struck me as highly unusual, as I am acquainted at great length with Lamm electronics and also know the Origine quite well and I have never heard this from them before.
Room two greeted me with yet another pair of Wilson Audio Alexias, this time in the company of an older CEC TL-1X belt-drive CD transport feeding the new Tech DAS D-7 Supreme DAC ($8600), a Tech DAS turntable that was not functioning, and Lamm’s new LP2.1 Deluxe phono stage ($8690, sadly unheard), two-chassis L2 Reference line stage and M1.2 Reference monoblocks ($26,990 per pair). As in the other room, Kanso Audio stands ($9641) and Kubala-Sosna cables, this time the Emotion series ($47,200), completed the ensemble.
Having spent literally years with the combination of the M1.2s and Wilson Sashas, I had a very good basis for considering this system, and the results were superb. The title track from Under A Violet Moon by Blackmore’s Night and “Tiny Dancer” from a remastered Japanese CD of Elton John’s Madman Across the Water were sonically seamless and absolutely captivating. This system was marvelous.
As impressively as the Wilson Alexia reverberated at the hands of McGrath [in another Wilson room], it sounded more ingratiating to me in the Lamm Industries room. There, the Lamm M1.2 Reference hybrid amplifiers ($26,990 for the mono pair) imparted a sprightlier air, suggesting that the Alexia is a bit of a chameleon depending upon the electronics. As one of two transistor amps (okay, half transistor in this case) at the CES that I would like to audition at home (the other being theATI AT6002, $3600), the Lamm M1.2 seems like good value. The Lamm/Wilson room merits an award for Most Lyrical Wilson Sound at the CES, and that includes at least three other systems I heard in which the Alexia appeared.
The complete Lamm system on the 35th floor, whose total retail cost, including $216,070 for the Lamm components, $120,000 for the Verity Audio Lohengrin II S speakers, and $100,000 for the Tech DAS Airforce 1 turntable, along with Kubala-Sosna cabling, was a mere $670,071. But my brief was to cover amplification and shown only in passive display was Lamm Industries’ new LP2.1 class-A, dual-monophonic tube phono preamp ($8590 regular, $8890 deluxe.)
The LP2.1 (above) offers two separate units for MM and MC cartridges. No loop feedback is employed. The regular version weighs 22 lbs; the deluxe, whose power supply stores more energy, whose film capacitors in the signal path are bypassed by “highest quality” polystyrene caps, and whose “massive” custom damping panel reduces mechanical vibrations, weighs 41.5 lbs.
Vladimir Lamm likes to show his electronics with both Verity Audio and Wilson Audio loudspeakers. He’s been doing it for years. It is a feather in both speaker manufacturers’ hats. This year he showed off his main system comprised of the LP1 Signature phono stage ($33,790), LL1 Signature linestage ($42,790), and ML3 Signature mmonoblocks ($139,490/pair) with the Verity Audio Lohengrin II S loudspeakers ($120,000/pair). The turntable was the TtechDAS Air Force 1. Toss is $82,600 of Kubala Sosna Elations cables and he walked away with the most expensive system at CES.
Lamm scaled back his second room this year pairing an L2 Reference linestage ($15,890) with M1.2 Reference hybrid monoblocks ($26,990/pair) driving the Wilson Alexias ($48,500/pair). The good news for the rest of us is that Lamm introduced a brand new phono stage — the LP2.1 — clocking in at $8,690. I suspect it is more than just a slice of the ultra high-end.
Was there a better pairing than the LAMM ML3s with the super efficient (95 dB) Verity Audio Lohengrin speakers? New for the Lohengrins was the addition of a platform under the speaker that according to Julian allows the speaker to sound its best regardless of the floor it sits upon.
Much talked about, seldom heard Airforce 1 turntable. This belt driven attack on the SOTA features an air bearing main platter with vacuum hold down. End users can select between an aircraft grade extra super duralumin, non-magnetic hard processed stainless steel or black methacrylate upper platter. In addition, the turntable uses an adjustable full-air suspension system that allows the user to tune the suspension to minimize vibrations.
World premier of the $11,000 Tech Das TDC-01 moving coil cartridge reported built for Tech Das by Y. Matsudaira. Also being shown for the first time is the $14,000 Graham Elite tonearm. Sporting three new patents, the Elite is like Bob’s other designs a unipivot design along with contact-free anti-skating and magnetic stabilization taken to the next level. Great control and resolution was the hallmark of the analog front-end.
Tech DAS TDC-01 moving coil cartridge with a rather robust 0.45 mV output voltage. This low internal impedance cartridge (1.4 ohms) employs a super duralumin + DLC coating and semi-line contact (3 x 30 micrometers) stylus.
These Wilson Alexias are beginning to speak to me so to speak. (Unfortunately it’s saying buy me!) Again much, much better sound better than at early shows and in the LAMM room sounded very relaxed along with great staging and instruments floating in air. My main issue was a little loss of low level information and spatiality (as with almost all of the rooms at CES.)
The newly released Air Force 2 turntable from Tech DAS (unfortunately, a connector for the power supply had been damaged in shipping and thus the table was inoperative.) Retailing for roughly half the price of it’s bigger brother at $55,000, the new table still uses an air bear platter and vacuum clamping; among the areas where the two tables differ is that the AF2 uses a cast instead machined plinth and a slightly less sophisticated suspension.
After privately wondering whether the Wilson Alexia was a flawed speaker, after much ballyhooed amp after much over-hyped amp after yet another amp failed to bring out the bass beyond a few little blumpety blumps, the good old relatively inexpensive Lamm m1.2 hybrid amp finally made the speakers sound like what one would think the big brother to the Sasha should sound like. High resolution, dynamic, some bass slam, wide-band… it was all there.
We have a friend customer who has the ML3 amps on these the latest Verity Lohengrin II speakers [with Jorma cables instead of Kubala-Sosna and Audio Aero La Source front end, all on RixRax equipment racks with Harmonic Resolution Systems M3x isolation bases under everything]. His goal was [more or less] a sound that was always musical and never aggressive, otherwise with as high a resolution and as much accuracy as possible. That system succeeded wonderfully for him. He could spend 2 or 3 times as much and get something better [IMHO] but, heck, this is pretty gawd darn expensive already.
As I sat in this room and heard how much of the wonderfulness of the ML3 amps was not getting through to my ears, I still thought our friend bought the right thing… for him. But for me? I want to hear that amp. I know it to have wonderfully detailed and subtle harmonic and dynamic transitions that add so much [for me] to the music. And more.
But the speakers, and to some degree the cables, and perhaps even the unfamiliar Kanso equipment rack, were softening up the sound enough that I did not feel as engaged here as I did in previous years, or even as much as I did in the Lamm M1.2 amp on the Wilson Alexia speakers room next door.
[Vladimir Lamm swapped back and forth between the LP2.1 phono stage (which debuted this show. yes we have photos on the inside of the chassis to be posted on Ultimist) and the more expensive LP1 Signature phono stage, several times by using the two tonearms on the TechDAS at the same time [say what? this was fun]. With two very slightly different cartridges it was a little bit of a Fuji apples to Braeburn apples comparison, but the short and quick is that if you didn’t hear them back to back (the more expensive LP1 being smoother, less grainy, and just more of that good old analog wonderfulness) you would think you were already listening to the LP1 when it was in fact the less expensive LP2.1 all along (the original LP2 has been a giant killer among phono stages here at the Fed, at least until you get up into the $20-$30K range of the competition).]
Vladimir Lamm slowly and deliberately introduces new versions of his existing products. The LP2 Deluxe phono stage had been in production for more than ten years when the new LP2.1 Deluxe ($8690) replaced it. While the two units look identically unadorned the LP2.1...uses the 6C3P and 6C45P-E tubes that Lamm introduced in his reference phono stage, the three-chassis LP1Signature. It also uses circuits introduced in Lamm’s ML2.2 and ML3 amplifiers, along with a new material for its circuit boards. Gain is slightly greater than that for the LP2, 60dB for the moving-coil input and 40dB for the moving-magnet.
Lamm Industries demoed its LP2.1 phono preamplifier, and the $8960 dual-monaural vacuum-tube design has classic Lamm styling cues. Compared to the outgoing LP2, the LP2.1 significantly reduces output impedance, has a low-noise power transformer, and uses new tubes: the 6C3P and the 6C34P-E. A variety of other internal parts have also been improved upon.
Vladimir Lamm introduced at CES 2014 the new LP2.1 phono preamplifier, a pure Class A vacuum tube based phono preamplifier operating pure “Class A” with no loop feedback. The one box design features a full wave vacuum rectifier. Includes MM and MC inputs. Tube complement includes two 6C3P, two 6C45P-E and one 6X4 rectifier. Price is $8590 (regular) and $8,890 for the deluxe version with upgraded parts. Now that’s a Lamm “for the rest of us”.
At CES 2014 in the larger Lamm Industries room, Vladimir switched between their new LP2.1 phono preamplifier and their also relatively new LP1 Signature preamplifier. The system was the Lamm ML3 amplifiers on the Verity Lohengrin speakers.
This is the transcript of what I write earlier in the CES 2013 show report:
“Vladimir Lamm swapped back and forth between the LP2.1 phono stage (which debuted this show. photos on the inside of the chassis are posted below and will also be posted on Ultimist) and the more expensive LP1 Signature phono stage, several times by using the two tonearms on the TechDAS at the same time [say what? this was fun]. With two very slightly different cartridges it was a little bit of a Fuji apples to Braeburn apples comparison, but the short and quick is that if you didn’t hear them back to back (the more expensive LP1 being smoother, less grainy, and just more of that good old analog wonderfulness) you would think you were already listening to the LP1 when it was in fact the less expensive LP2.1 all along (the original LP2 has been a giant killer among phono stages here at the Fed, at least until you get up into the $20-$30K range of the competition)”
As I have continued to reflect on what we heard, the LP2.1 still seems like an amazing value, albeit the LP1 Signature an obvious choice if you have the money to spend.
As most of the multifarious competition continues to charge more and more outrageous prices for mediocre performance, new high value phono preamplifiers take their place. And all the while, the predictably high value Lamm LP2, now LP2.1, from a well-known, well-reviewed brand, just keeps on providing excellent music for your audiophile dollar, with the LP1 Signature continuing this tradition up into the stratosphere of phono preamplifier performance space.
Below are some photos of the static display of the open chassis LP2.1. As usual, I couldn’t decide which was best, so I included several.