Presentation of LAMM in Athens, Greece by MF Audio
January, 2002

The first Club Meeting of the New Year was held on Sunday 13 January 2002 @ MF-Audio’s Show Room

Parsifal Encore speakers by Verity, driven by LAMM ML1 (valve) & Μ1.1 (hybrid)
Metronome Technologie CD2V signature CDplayer
LAMM L1 preamplifier
Nirvana SX RCA (CD – pre) & SL XLR (pre-amps) interconnects
Nirvana SL Speaker cables
Power cables: Nirvana digital pc (CD player) & Nirvana analogue pc (rest)

MF Audio is a small new company. It operates from the home of its owner, where the small living room doubles as the show room. This is a good idea since many Hellenic audiophiles’ living rooms are of this or slightly larger proportions. This way, they can listen to a system in a room more closely resembling their own, furnished in a ‘normal’ way with no special room treatment. Quite early the place was crowded… Mihalis Fouassis (in white), trying to explain something to Angy…… and the system was lying in front of us in a very provocative style…I arrived early with our technical expert PD.

I wanted to start the listening session immediately before the “crowd” arrived, but a heated discussion with
Mr. Fouassis about hi-end’s problems in the world and particularly in Greece, kept postponing the beginning of the audition. I began suspecting that MF was doing it on purpose to augment my appetite for the Hi-End symposium that was to follow (Music-Food-Drink). We decided to mainly listen to “ordinary recordings ” and not ‘audiophile’ ones in order to have a different look at the capabilities of the system than the one we had at the Hi-End show. We started the audition with the ML1 90 watts. The sound was great. The speakers disappeared in the small room leaving a coherent soundstage in all three dimensions. I have to say that it is not often that you hear depth layering which in my opinion is one of the most difficult things to achieve. The midrange was very natural with no trace of grain or electronic haze. The lows were right as they should be with no overhang, going as low as anyone would reasonably want them to, clear and full of their harmonics as they are in real life. Highs were smooth, clear and harmonically right. Overall the sound was emotionally involving, captivating and making you want to listen to more and more music. I wasn’t “impressed”, I was happy.

Full valve & Hybrids were shifting trying to confuse us which is the best…Some people believe these beauties are not expensive if you consider the sound they offerI already hear all of you skeptics wondering if I found nothing wrong with the system. The only thing I can tell you is that maybe it is better than life. Maybe it makes life more beautiful than it is. But that is fine with me, and you should not forget that no matter how good the front end was, it was still a valve player costing half the price of the pre, fourth the price of the speakers and fifth! the price of the Amps.

The room was crowded by now since sixteen half crazy audiophiles and music lovers plus MF and his son were in the room, many of them constantly talking, some slowly, some shouting with glazed eyes, some trying to listen to the system. It was time to make a change of amps in order to try to understand the differences between them. We tried with partial success to pacify the excited crowd while the change was taking place. And then, we listened.

We told them it is not proper to be in front of the rack but they wouldn’t listen, they were moved by the sound, specially Angy it seems…… although George had other problems, trying to convert drms to Euro to pay his Club fees, he had a coin dropped on the floor… this tinny sound was excellent somebody commented!!For another time it was proven to me that to be really certain about anything in the performance of audio equipment you have to make quick AB comparisons. During the last Hi-End show in Athens, I heard both ML1 and M1.1 amps during different visits to MF Audio’s room but their was considerable time lag between the auditions. In the limited time I had, I could not tell when I entered the room if I was listening to the valve or the hybrid amp. Now that I have been familiarized somewhat with the system and the change was very quick, I was astonished by the real and immediately appreciated differences between the amps.

Since the room was crowded and this is not any kind of formal test, I do not want to be absolute in anything, but my immediate ‘gut’ reaction was to think that, yes, the extra money the valve amp costs is definitely a worthwhile investment. The sound of the valve amp was more involving with better micro dynamics and inner detail. The leading edges of notes seemed more real. The total lack of mechanical sound was breathtaking, the bass ‘as it is in real life’. We changed back to the valve amps to be certain of our findings.

Somebody told them that tasting these cookies will make them write a better review… they always do that in the end Mrs. Fouassis was the Grand Chef during this eveningI remained captive of the ML 1.I plan to return shortly to MF Audio for another more extended session with my recordings that I know very well. By the above I don’t want to diminish in any way the excellence of the M1.1. It is just that it happened that I was so taken with the ML1. There was another point of view (PD, SM):

The hybrid is more neutral with deeper and more defined bass. It is exposing the deficiencies of the recordings, and that is why it seems slightly mechanical compared to the ML1 which masks with it’s ‘oh so beautiful’ sound the harshness of the recording.

What is the truth? God knows the truth. The audiophile who takes both amps home for let’s say two months and listens to them day and night with very familiar recordings using different sources, cables and two or three speakers, HE knows the truth. There was a time when professional writers used to do that. Now it is happening less and less.

The speakers proved once more that you don’t need very large enclosures to have great sound and that you can have hi-end sound in a gorgeous smallish package, admittedly at a price. The CD player proved that digital has gone a long way and that you can have great sound at a reasonable price, a fact that a few years ago seemed impossible.

Music Program Highlights (only CD’s):

High Hills Soundtrack (Antilles 314510855-2)
Reservoir Dogs (Soundrack) (MCA MCD 10541)
Belafonte at Carnegie Hall (Classic compact LSOCD 6006 2CD’s)
Tanita Tikaram “Ancient heart” (WEA 2292-43877-2)
BBC Radio Classics (IMP)
Telemann + Vivaldi (BIS-CD-271)
Alexia “In a Jazz mood” (BMG-RCA 74321-451042)
Ella Fitzgerald “Clap hands here comes Charlie” (Verve 835646-2)

Anyway, I keep forgetting that I have limited space. I have to tell you that we also had a great home cooked dinner. Mrs. Fouassis was very kind and hospitable and so was her daughter and son. I can’t remember a time when we felt more at home at a place we visited for the first time. All the food was unbelievingly good and the dessert of the most extraordinary quality. In the kitchen there were a few of us of the heavier kind long after the others had finished. A modern view was discussed. It proposes that the heavier you are the better sound you have in your house. Your body acts as an absorber and diffuser, more so concerning your own ears, which are closer to your mass “o kalofagomenos akui kalitera”. Psychological matters are also involved. We were sorry we had to go! We promised to return shortly to listen to the system, make better and deeper (ha ha …) judgments, listen to the great MAGNUM Dynalab tuners and eat the great turta. See you later!

Thank you, MF Audio!