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U R H I S T O R Y
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Let the show begin! Trevor DeMaat of Kharma USA starts opening the crates to begin setting up. As always, Kharma is displaying with Lamm Industries.SoundStage! WCES'2000.
Kharma's Exquisite Reference 1b loudspeakers ($64,599 per pair) feature a different tweeter, a larger woofer, and a modified crossover from the original model. They're shown here atop the new matching Kharma stands ($5499 per pair). The speakers are connected to Lamm Industries ML1 amplifiers using Kharma's fire-hose-like cable. The sound was terrifically impactful and displayed soundstaging that was behind-the-wall deep. Lamm has electronics in three other rooms too -- they shipped 41 boxes or crates to Las Vegas.SoundStage! WCES'2000.
ML2 amplifier -- winner of a 1999 Reviewer's Choice "Edge of the Art" Award from SoundStage! magazine (presented at CES'2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada).
Doug Schneider along with Elina Dobin and Vladimir Shushurin of Lamm Industries.
A tale of two very expensive and impressive products that share this year's Edge of the Art award. In March, Marc Mickelson found that the single-ended Lamm ML2 amplifiers "...very well may be the most complete-sounding amplifiers you can buy." In August, Jeff Fritz proclaimed the Wilson X-1 Grand SLAMM Series II speakers "...as faithful a bridge to the music as Ive heard." Both are inspired designs that take no sonic parameter for granted and spare little to no cost in their creation. Interestingly, Lamm's Vladimir Shushurin has commented that his ML2s drive the SLAMMs exceedingly well. One owner of his electronics uses two pairs to bi-amp the speakers. Although both products are out of financial reach of most consumers, they represent the pinnacle of audio performance. SoundStage! WCES'2000
SoundStage! magazine's Standout Room:
While the audio system in the AudioNut/Bybee room was used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the various Bybee products, it also made very fine music too -- with all kinds of music. Lamm M1.1 amps ($15,890 per pair) powered a pair of the Verity Parsifal Encore speakers ($12,520 per pair) via Silversmith speaker cables. The preamp was from Resolution Audio, the OM-2 ($12,000), which is a custom-built and fully balanced unit. The digital source was from dCS -- the Elgar/Purcell combination ($11,995 and $4995 respectively) for upsampling to 24 bits and 192kHz. Silversmith interconnects and a number of Bybee products finished off the system. The sound was sweet and very detailed at the same time, displayed great depth, and had us listening happily to the various repeated cuts for the Bybee demo -- which was its job. SoundStage! WCES'2000.
For the second CES in a row, the Shun Mook room had impressive sound, but this year the system was all analog -- no digital to be found. The Bella Voce Reference speakers ($11,000 per pair) were driven by Lamm ML2 mono amplifiers via Nordost SPM cabling. An ARC Reference One preamp and Reference Phono phono stage along with an Oracle turntable rounded out the system, which made leaving the room, blanketed in Shun Mook discs as it was, tough.SoundStage! WCES'2000.
Sounds of CES 2000:
[TAS] writers pick their...best exhibits of the Show
(The Absolute Sound, issue 123, April/May 2000)
"...A number of rooms were boasting especially fine sound this year... First, there was a warmth, liquidity, and non-fatiguing digital reproduction in three rooms that were using the latest Metronome CD drive and 24/96 digital-to-audio converters: Acarian Systems, Fanfare International, and Lamm Industries." Scot Markwell (p. 37)
"...and the main Nearfield room...sported sweet and dimensional sound using the Lamm ML2 18 wpc SET monoblocks, especially on LPs." Scot Markwell (p. 39)
"Every year I take pretty much the same recordings to CES: the Barber Violin Concerto with Stern and Bernstein on Sony Classical, the Webern Four Pieces for Violin and Piano with Stern and Rosen on Sony Classical, Came so Far on Music Maker (a collection of blues singers accompanying themselves on acoustic guitar and harp), a variety of vocal recordings on Mapleshade (Datevik, Sunny, the ARC Choir), pianist Valentina Lisitsa on Audiophon, the JVC XRCD of Count Basie's big band on 88 Basie Street, this year's Sinatra'57 on DCC, and other assorted odds and ends. I don't pick the the records because they're the best sounding ones in my collection -- although some of them are quite good. I pick them because I know them by heart and they tell me how well systems reproduce large ensembles and small ones.
Each year only a few systems reproduce these discs with the naturalness I hear on my own system at home (and which I know these discs are capable of). This year that small group included: ...the Shun Mook Bella Voce Signature loudspeakers powered by Lamm ML2s and ARC Reference electronics; and the Nearfield Acoustics PipeDreams powered by Lamm electronics." Jonathan Valin (p. 39)
One of Fred Kaplan's choices for the best sounding room:
"...the Kharma room, with the $65,000 Ceramique loudspeakers driven by Lamm's L1 preamp and ML2 monoblock amplifiers (actually, the ML1, E.D.). Warm, luscious, but also detailed and driving. A room for the sheer pleasure of listening to music." Fred Kaplan (p. 41)
"...the Neafield Acoustics display... Driven by the excellent Lamm ML2s, the relatively efficient PipeDreams rocked the house. After shaking some first-day jitters, the dynamics of the six-foot tall models, with one bass cylinder per side (each containing two 18" woofers), was staggering. It was the most impressive recreation of the space of the recording venue that I have yet heard at a trade show." Don Salzman (p.45)
The 2000 CES Report
(Stereophile, April, 2000)
"No show would be complete without a visit to the Shun Mook Audio room, which this year was billed as 'the only all-analog room at CES.' These guys take a lot of heat from flat-earthers for their Mpingo discs and other, allegedly mystical accessories, but somehow, each year, they turn a sow's-ear hotel room into a sonic silk purse while others make excuses for theirs. So in a room dotted with Mpingo discs, the Shun Mook Signature MC cartridge (Mpingo ebony body parts, 0.34mV output, boron cantilever, microridge stylus), fitted to a heavily modified Oracle turntable, and a pair of Shun Mook three-way Bella Voce loudspeakers, produced some of the best sound at the Alexis Park (with an Audio Research Reference phono stage and Reference 2 preamp and Lamm ML2 amplifiers). I requested an old Ruggiero Ricci London/Decca 'blueback' and fell into the music with an intensity rare under show conditions." Michael Fremer (p.44)
Mikey's CES Awards: (4) Best Analog Sound -- the Shun Mook room. Michael Fremer (p.44)
"Shun Mook was making merry with a Reference 2 and Reference phono stage...to drive Lamm ML2 amplifiers and their Bella Voce Reference speakers..." Jonathan Scull (p.56)
"Lamm Industries was making excellent sound yet again. The ML1s and M1.1s power amps could be heard feeding Kharma Exquisite Reference speakers, the M2.1s were on the subwoofers in the Nearfield Acoustics/PipeDreams room (along with ML2s on the rest of the PipeDreams array), plus the L1 preamplifier and Wadia digital and VPI analog front-ends. ML2s could also be heard in the Shun Mook room and finally, Lamms were driving Verify Parsifal speakers at the Bybee Technologies room." Jonathan Scull (p.56)
"I listened, with eyes closed, to John Rutter's Requiem (Reference Recordings RR-57CD) on a pair of Kharma Exquisite Referencd 1B speakers ($64,599), with optional Kharma stands ($5400). Kharma's president, Charles van Oosterum, explained that each three-way, ported, 8-ohm Exquisite was built of vertically layered panels with computed, irregularly shaped cutouts to minimize internal airborne resonance. Panels are milled of a deense polymer compound and assembled into a 552-lb (a quarter of a ton!) enclosure using a decoupling substance between each panel. Drivers consist of a 1" titanium-plus-titanium-oxide tweeter, a 7" concave ceramic midrange, and a 13" PolyKevlar, reflex-loaded woofer with proprietary coating, the port at the speaker's rear. The Exquisite is internally wired with silver-gold alloy cables, and at CES was hooked up with Kharma KLC Grand Reference-IB speaker cables, which contain 56 conductors of pure silver and gold ($8000/2m). The speaker displayed superb resolution, with a deep, broad soundstage and effortless dynamics." Larry Greenhill (p.67)
The Ultimate Audio
Sights & Sounds of 2000 CES
(Ultimate Audio, Spring, 2000 -- Vol. 4 No. 1)
Nearfield Acoustics' Pipedreams, now in the new zebra wood finish, attracted quite a crowd at the show. The four-piece speaker system was bi-amplified with a pair of 18-watt LAMM ML2 single-ended amplifiers on the top end and a pair of 200-watt LAMM M2.1 hybrid amplifiers driving frequencies below 60 Hz. Cables courtesy of Silversmith Audio (www.nearfieldacoustics.com, www.silversmithaudio.com).
Kharma was another manufacturer using LAMM electronics. Here [in this photo]: the ML1 90-watt monoblock push-pull tube amplifiers (plus LAMM L1 hybrid preamplifier, Metronome front-end and Kharma silver interconnect and speaker cables) were driving the brand-new $64,599 Exquisite Reference 1b loudspeakerss (shown with optional stand). The Ref. 1b features a new tweeter, larger woofer and redesigned crossover (www.kharma.com).
The mad monks from Shun Mook were happily showing an all-analog system, the only one in the show, so they claimed. They were using an Oracle Mk IV turntable, an Audio Research phono stage and preamp, and LAMM ML2 18 W Class A SE power amps (with 6C33C output tubes) and the Shun Mook Bella Voce speakers. The usual assortment of Cable Jackets and cables dangling in mid-air, not to mention various configurations of the Shun Mook discs, adorned the room, plus a violin mysteriously reposing on a stand behind everything else. They were playing RCA Shaded Dogs (!), and the sound was musical, natural and unstrained.
Click here for our CES'2000 Picture Gallery