Show report: CES Las Vegas 2017

System two room 307
Lamm: M1.2 Reference Monoblocks (2 pairs), L2.1 Reference Preamplifier, LP2.1 Phono Preamplifier Deluxe. Rest of system: Exquisite Midi Grand speakers, Model 401 turntable.

Full system breakdown

System one room 305
Lamm: ML3 Signature Monoblocks. ML2.2 Monoblocks, M2.2 Monoblocks, LL1.1 Signature Preamplifier, LP1 Signature phono preamplifier, Lamm LP2.1 phono preamplifier deluxe. Rest of system: Kharma Enigma Veyron EV2 speakers, EMT Model 927F turntable.

Full system breakdown

Stereophile.comJason Victor Serinus

“simply convey the feeling of real music as played on real instruments by real musicians”

When Charles van Oosterum founded Kharma International in the Netherlands 35 years ago, he began with the company’s Ceramique line, which used ceramic drivers. Kharma’s ceramic-driver Enigma was their first big speaker to fill a ballroom. Now, over a third of a century later, with ceramic drivers replaced by Kharma Composite drivers with carbon fiber, the Kharma Enigma Veyron 2 ($437,500/pair), the smaller (!) sibling of the Enigma Veyron 1, has made its US debut at CES. (I should have covered this speaker at its Munich High End debut but, mea culpa, I somehow missed it.)

The company’s new Omega-F driver technology, utilized herein, claims to eliminate eddy-current distortion caused by iron-based-magnet motor systems. Instead, it uses a patented cluster of neodymium magnets, which creates a static magnetic field that needs no focusing by iron. As a result, the company claims “better transients, less coloration and more refined complex sound structures.” The driver also uses carbon-fiber technology for its cones, and a carbon voice-coil. Driver connectors are of the same silver alloy used for Kharma crossover cables and external cables.

The Veyron 2’s cabinet is constructed out of CNC-milled bulletwood plates. In addition, the speaker boasts a triple diamond tweeter, and a special integrated diamond stand with diamond cones on a diamond plate. As I type these words, I can’t get this out of my head. Who could?

Also in the system, in addition to Lamm electronics, were Tchernov Audio cables. Tchernov Audio was founded 20 years ago in Russia, and makes it headquarters in Berlin. Its driving force is Piotr Tchernov, a former major Focal distributor who grew dissatisfied with the sound of the cables then on the market.

Made in Russia, Tchernov cable claims an “extremely innovative conductor dielectric technology” that has earned seven Russian patents. In use were the Ultimate speaker cables (approx. $2500-3000/1m pair) and interconnects (approx. $1250-1500/1m pair). The company, which stresses “value for the money,” is seeking US distribution.

This system’s presentation was completely different than that of the YG Acoustics/Audionet/Kubala-Sosna setup. On some of the same music, I heard more beauty and warmth, but nowhere near the bass. Highs may been more lively, but bass was, to be polite, shallow and light. Similarly, while image height was fabulous, speed lagged far behind.

When I listened to the CD layer of my SACD of soprano Carolyn Sampson, accompanied by pianist Joseph Middleton, the sound lacked focus. The voice seemed almost hollow and had a bright edge, and reverb seemed exaggerated. Just as troubling, the artists were set so far back that I felt distanced from the music. Nor was the experience helped by some clueless industry people who were chatting at a volume more appropriate to a casino. An enigma, to be sure.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/kharmas-enigma-veyron-2#OwhUJycAK1t7Yw3C.97

HiFiplus.comChris Martens' Best of CES 2017: Traditional two channel audio

“simply convey the feeling of real music as played on real instruments by real musicians”

…and now for two special mentions.

Kharma Enigma Veyron EV2 loudspeakers, Lamm electronics, Garrard/SME turntable & EMMLabs CD/SACD player/DAC

One of the most expensive but also most musically evocative systems at CES consisted of Kharma’s Enigma Veyron EV2 loudspeakers ($437,500/pair), Lamm’s new L2.1 Reference line-stage preamplifier ($22,790), two pairs of Lamm M1.2 Reference monoblock amplifiers ($55,180 in total), a deluxe Lamm LP2.1 phono preamplifier ($9,190), a vintage Garrard Model 401 turntable in a custom base ($7,500), a discontinued SME Model 2012-R tonearm ($3,500), an Ortofon Cadenza Black phono cartridge ($2,729), and—for digital playback—an EMMLabs XDS1 V2 integrated CD player and DAC ($25,000).  Tying all these elements were some $54,490-worth of Tchernov Cables, plus $6,520-worth of Sanus and BDR racks. Add all these prices together and you get a total system price of $601,899, which is sobering to say the least. Yet for Bill Gates types among us, such a system could make sense. The beauty of the thing, really, is that it sidesteps assessment of layer upon layer of traditional audio performance parameters to simply convey the feel real music as played on real instruments by real musicians. And isn’t that really what’s at the heart of this hi-fi business in the first place?

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/chris-martens-best-of-ces-2017-traditional-two-channel-audio/?page=3

The Absolute SoundJonathan Valin at CES 2017 - Loudspeakers $20k and Up

“...on a Prestige mono LP of Ben Webster’s tenor sax, which was reproduced with gorgeous timbre and considerable realism.”

I’m going to start on the 35th floor, where Kharma was showing its beautiful, four-way, seven-driver (one 1″ diamond tweeter, two 2″ diamond mid/tweets, two 7″ Omega-F carbon-fiber midranges, and two 11″ Omega-F carbon-fiber woofers in a D’Appolito array), $437k Enigma Veyron EV-2 floorstander with ported, CNC-milled, “bullet-wood” enclosure, I heard this same speaker sound fabulous in Breda just two weeks before the show, driven by Kharma’s own electronics; here it was being driven by Lamm Industries ML2.2 monoblock amplifiers, LL1.1 Signature linestage preamp, and LP1 Signature phonostage, and sourced by EMM Labs digital and a refurbished EMT 927F turntable with SME 3012-R tonearm and Ortofon A95 cartridge. All cabling was from TchernovCable. The sound was lovely in timbre, very spacious, and fuller in the power range than what I heard in The Netherlands, but also darker in balance, less finely detailed, considerably lower in energy, and lacking the very deepest bass compared to the sound with Kharma’s own gear. While Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances [Reference] had gorgeous string tone and tremendous stage width and depth (signal virtues of the Veyrons), the bass was also a little too full with some slight vagueness in imaging (which could have been room effects). All in all, this was a beautiful but relatively low-res, low-energy presentation vis-à-vis Breda.

Still on the 35th floor and right next door, Kharma was showing its $225k, five-driver (one 1″ diamond tweeter, two 7″ carbon-fiber Omega-F midranges, and two 11″ Omega-F carbon-fiber woofers in a D’Appolito array), three-and-a-halfway Exquisite Midi Grand floorstander with ported, CNC-milled, bullet-wood enclosure. Driven by Lamm Industries wonderful ML3 SET monoblocks, LL1 linestage, and LP1 phonostage, and sourced (once again) by EMM Labs digital and EMT/SME/Ortofon analog (cabling was from TchernovCable), the Exquisite Midi Grands had terrific impact on piano and tighter bass than the Veyrons. Though not quite as liquid or refined in the treble as the more expensive Kharmas, the Midis were still pretty damn beautiful-sounding, reproducing the winds and brass on the “Liberty Fanfare” from Winds of War and Peace [Wilson] with dark, rich tone color and excellent grip and impact on that big bass drum. For whatever reason, the Midis had better image focus than the Veyrons, though their stage was not quite as big as that of the other Kharma system. They were better defined in the low end, for sure. This was a superior presentation, and the system sounded even more lifelike on the third day of the show, on a Prestige mono LP of Ben Webster’s tenor sax, which was reproduced with gorgeous timbre and considerable realism.

Best of Show (price no object)

Well, that depends on the music and the instrument(s). For solo voice, the Wilson Audio Alexx with D’Agostino electronics and dCS digital. For piano, the Magico M3 with Constellation electronics and source For guitar, the Wilson Audio Alexx again with Nagra electronics and tape player. For saxophone, the Kharma Exquisite Midi Grand with Lamm electronics and EMT/SME/Ortofon. For exceptionally realistic imaging, the Rockport Atria II with Nagra electronics and AMG/DS Audio DS 002 source. For overall soundstaging and three-dimensionality, the MBL 101 E MkII with MBL electronics. For musicality and easy listening, the YG Acoustics Hailey with Nagra electronics and Brinkmann turntable/cartridge. Take your pick. There isn’t a loser in the bunch.

AVShowrooms.comPeter Breuninger VIDEO REPORT

Follow these links for the article: Award article

TheAudioBeat.comHOT PRODUCT

The new Lamm Industries L2.1 preamp (top and bottom shelves, $22,790) replaces one of the company’s longest-running products — the original L2, which Marc Mickelson reviewed nearly 16 years ago.

Like the model it replaces, the LP2.1 is a dual-mono, hybrid, zero-feedback design with a separate power supply that features tube rectification and choke filtering. It has two stepped volume controls and uses five tubes: two 12AX3s, one 12AX7, one 5651A and one 6C19P. The LP2.1 uses new PC boards with gold traces and new capacitors….

. . . but the greatest change in sonic terms comes in the form of new transistors, which help the LP2.1 sound “Fast, fast, fast,” according to Vladimir Lamm, designer of all Lamm Industries equipment.

Here he explains some of the design points and changes of his new L2.1 preamp.

HiFiplus.comAlan Sircom

LAMM doesn’t subscribe to the new product of the month club, so when it announces a new $22,790 L2.1 Reference line level preamplifier, it’s all the more of an event. This new two-box hybrid design is an evolution of the longstanding and popular L2, using as it does a choke-regulated valve power supply driving a MOSFET (running at very high voltage).

As ever, LAMM makes a wonderfully harmonic sound, playing through Kharma’s outstanding Enigma Veyron EV-2.

The Absolute SoundJulie Mullins. ELECTRONICS $15K AND UP

Lamm L2.1 Reference preampVladimir Lamm’s ultra-high-end electronics have paired beautifully with Kharma loudspeakers at prior shows, and this time Lamm Industries debuted a newly updated L2.1 Reference line-level preamp and separate power supply ($22,790 for both chassis) in a chain of Lamm electronics in front of Kharma’s latest flagship Veyron EV2 speakers ($437,500). Cables in this room were from the TchernovCable Ultimate series. The new L2.1 (and L2.1 PS) linestage has been completely redesigned to lower the noise floor, and the power supply now uses larger capacitors. Right and left channel signals are fully separated, including the volume controls, which are costly 40-stepped attenuators made in Japan. Lamm’s Signature tube electronics also delivered fantastic sound in a second room driving Kharma’s Exquisite Midi Grand speakers ($200k) in a demo that got better and better as the show went on.

Read the full review here.

Analogplanet.comMike Fremer

The big Lamm amps driving these big Kharma speakers in a big room sounded great. See the snippet here.

Hometheater.co.ilVIDEO REPORT