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The Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe preamplifier is Lamm Industries least expensive component. They produce a 4 chassis $42,000 preamplifier, and $139,000 mono block tube power amplifiers. No, that was not a misprint. Founder Vladamir Lamm seems hell bent on pushing the envelope on the state of the art, and he apparently refuses to compromise on parts quality, circuit development, and overall musicality. The company has been in business for 17 years and that to me indicates that the Lamm sound is has stood the test of time, as I promise you mediocre sounding, expensive, and unmusical sounding gear would be a door shutting proposal. While certainly not inexpensive at $5990, the LL2.1 is a very fairly priced preamp. And one can only know this if you have sampled the competition. It did the "Where is the preamp" trick similar to the Manley 300B, but in its own distinct way.
For this particular review, the operative word is refined. To me that sums up the sound of this component. I never found myself listening to it with furrowed brow, in reviewer mode. I found myself listening just to enjoy the music. Its overall transparency and superb sound staging really leave little to quibble about. Interestingly, the lack of remote was a non issue for me. The precision volume knobs for each channel made it is a cinch "set it and forget it" for each particular CD. There were plenty of detents to find the sweet spot. I also had a bunch of cables here that I will be reviewing in the coming months and the Lamm let me hear the differences between these cables as I gave them each a quick preliminary audition. The Lamm also nicely responded to important tweaks like isolation devices, and power cords. But I sure you the core sound of the LL2.1 is world class without any aftermarket expenditures. But such things can be used to extract the very last bits.
If refined is the operative word for this review, there are a few I could have picked as my second choices. The LL2.1 is rich sounding, it is elegant, and it stays out of the way of the music, probably what Vladamir Lamm had in mind. It is quiet, dependable, and comes with a 5 year warranty when purchased through an authorized dealer. Lamm says they have a rigorous process for selecting their tubes, and all are tested for microphony and quality. I should note, on two occasions I did hear evidence of a microphonic tube. I happen to know that the review sample has crossed the country and has been in a few reviewers’ systems. I alerted Lamm and they offered to replace the tube, but the microphony did not appear again, however, I am pretty sure the tube in question will have to be replaced soon. That aside, the unit worked flawlessly.
If you are auditioning preamplifiers in the $5000-$6000 range, and you can live without a remote control, the LL2.1 should absolutely be on your list. I would love to have heard it with Lamm amplifiers, but alas, I don't have that kind of spare change. But it sounded wonderful with my Audio Research amp, and there is nothing in the design or any weird specifications that would preclude it performing with any number of other manufacturers gear. I loved the retro look, and the purist approach. Lastly, the build quality is superb, as befits a component of this caliber. Highly recommended, without reservation.
Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe Preamplifier Specifications:
- MSRP: $5990
- Manufacturers Website: www.Lammindustries.com
- Inputs: 3 Single-ended gold plated single-ended RCA connectors
- Input Impedance: 50 KOhms + 10%.
- Outputs: 2 Single-ended gold plated single-ended RCA connectors.
- Corrected Output Impedance typically 250 Ohms.
- Dimensions: 4.5 inches high x 19 inches wide x 13.875 deep .
- Unit weight: 20 Lbs (9.1 Kg).
Reviewers Associated Equipment System 1:
- CD Player: Naim CD5x with Flatcap 2X
- Preamp: Audio Research SP16
- Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
- Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
- Cables: Kimber/QED/Acoustic Zen (AC)/Transparent (AC)
- Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands.
Reviewers Associated Equipment 2:
- CD Player: Marantz 5003
- Music Server: Squeezebox 3
- DAC:CIA VDA-2 with XPS
- Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
- Amplifier: Revox A722
- Speaker: Spendor S5e, Spendor S5R
- Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio(AC), Pangea Audio
- Accessories: Atacama Stands