Vol. 25, No. 12' 2002
vacuum-tube Lamm LP2 (www.lammindustries.com), a single
black box featuring switchable moving-magnet (MM) and
moving-coil (MC) inputs, is also meant to be heard more
than to be seen. The Deluxe edition ($6,690), with
added damping and high-capacity capacitor bank, weighs
more than 40 lbs (22 lbs for the $6,290 standard
version). Vladimir Lamm's high-current, pure-class
A, zero-feedback design uses two pairs of small, high-transconductance,
low-noise, post-WWII Western Electric 417A/5842 tubes
originally intended for RF preamplification. The
RIAA EQ is passive. The Deluxe power supply uses a
6X4 full-wave rectifier tube, a choke-regulated filter,
and 150 Joules of energy storage (125 Joules in the
standard edition). Selectable MC step-up is via a
10x Jensen transformer with a 40 Ohm input impedance.
The MM input is 47 kOhms in parallel with 200 pF.
High-quality components are used throughout, with the
Deluxe edition bypassing some caps with polystyrene, and
the build quality is superb.
On/Off switch is located inconveniently in the rear, the
LP2 is designed to be left on all the time, should you so
desire. I turned it off when not in use, giving it
a half hour to warm up each time I listened. Each
unit is burned-in at the factory for 72 hours. The
documentation is the most complete and detailed I've seen
for a high-end audio product, with unusually complete
instructions and full sets of useful specs and graphs.
Every expensive high-end product should include such
Deluxe was super-quiet in both MM (38dB gain) and MC
(58dB) modes. Backgrounds were pitch-black, out of
which emerged the subtlest of low-level details and
graceful musical textures. In fact, the LP2
competed texturally with the Boulder 2008, and bested the
Manley Steelhead in that regard, The Manley --
still my reference, and I'm still in love with it -- can
sometimes sound a bit mechanical on top.
Exact positively sang through the LP2, as did a
high-output Adcom Crosscoil (rebuilt by the Garrott
Bros.) into the MM input. But the MM input is more
of a utility; few buyers at this price point will be
running MM. The 40 ohm input immpedance proved a
good compromise for most MC cartridges, even for the 3
Ohm Lyras (the multi-tap Manley transformer stops at 25
Ohms). There was nary a trace of transformer
signature to be heard through the MC input; the overall
sound was warm, relaxed, and expansive, though free of
such cliched tube signatures as bloom, overly ripe bass,
or softened transients.
comparisons with the Groove, which is not exactly birhgt
on top itself, indicated that the Lamm's top end was ever
so slightly diminished, but not at the expense of
transient speed and definition. It reminded me of
some of the recent Dynavector cartridges, which many
readers rave about to me, but which I find slightly
reticent. The Lamm's output impedance was a
somewhat high 3.5 kOhms, so I went back to John
Atkinson's measurements of the Hovland HP-100's input
impedance (see Stereophile, November 2000). This
was a 100 kOhms across most of the band and down to a
still-high 86 kOhms at 20 kHz, so I don't think the
slight lack of top-end presence was an impedance
extension, control, and definition were startlingly good.
Not since the Boulder 2008 have I heard the standup bass
on the LP of Alison Krauss's New Favorite sound so
well-defined. (The Alesis MasterLink was so helpful
in making these instantaneous comparisons!) Subtle
dynamic scaling was on a par with the Boulder and notably
superior to the Connoisseur, which, while maintaining a
superb musical grip, seemed to jump more than it flowed,
dynamically and rhythmically. The Lamm had great
control of the proceedings, but also knew when to let go.
textures, reeds, and female voices were positively
thrilling, and the size and weight of the entire picture
-- especially stage depth extending well behind and in front of the speakers -- was particularly impressive.
Add that to snap-you-back-in-your-seat dynamics and
authoritative decay, and the Lamm became one of a handful
of the finest phono sections I've ever heard.
Classic Records' 45rpm reissue of the Reiner/CSO edition
of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (RCA
Living Stereo LSC-2201) never sounded better.
We are pleased with Mike
Fremer's review of our new phono preamplifier model LP2.
Incidentally, this is our first phono stage model and
Mike Fremer's is the first review in print of this
product. We believe Mr. Fremer had captured the
essence of the LP2 quite well; the review concludes with
"...the Lamm became one of a handful of the finest
phono sections I've ever heard." We hope
that this acknowledgement will be a door-opener to those
who have not yet had an opportunity to audition the LP2.
In the review, Mr. Fremer
mentions that the "Lamm's output impedance was a
somewhat high 3.5 KOhms,..." We'd like to
briefly comment on this. The phono preamplifier is
the most delicate part of the audio chain as it deals
with very small signals. Consequently, the
minimization of a number of amplification stages is
of paramount importance for improving the signal/noise
ratio as well as for assuring the most natural sound
reproduction. Finding the proper solution to
it is relatively tricky and ambiguous. Employing
the high transconductance triodes has enabled
us to create a single amplification stage with
sufficiently low output impedance. In addition, because
of the high current design such a stage ensures
tremendous loading capability which, in turn, made it
possible to omit the output buffer.
In case of the LP2, the
single-triode output stage has the output impedance
of about 3.5 KOhms, and that is more than
enough for proper matching with any line stage that has
an input impedance of at least 30-35 KOhms.
Our thanks to everyone who
made this review possible.
President, Director of Engineering
LAMM INDUSTRIES, INC.