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Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe Preamplifier Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
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Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe Preamplifier Review

ImageLamm Industries was founded just over 17 years ago. They are currently located in Brooklyn, New York, one of my old stomping grounds. The lead designer and namesake Vladmir Lamm has a legendary, uncompromising vision. Mr. Lamm has quite a reputation as a very technical designer, but also as a music lover. Lamm offers a family of tubed and hybrid preamplifiers and amplifiers that are all well reviewed, and lusted after by audiophiles world wide lucky enough to afford them. Lamm is known for using very expensive parts, creating unique, clean circuit paths, and for dispensing with anything that could possibly interfere with the purity of the signal.

As a matter of fact, calling Vladamir Lamm a purist would be entirely accurate. His preamplifiers have no remote controls, fancy faceplates, or any feature that he would deem unnecessary and possibly detrimental to sonic performance. You can probably sum up the Lamm design ethos as an unrelenting drive to eliminate distortion from the signal chain that will interfere with musical enjoyment, and finding the simplest, most reliable circuit topology to accomplish this feat.  Much of the information about their circuits, design philosophy, and theories on human hearing can be found on their website.
For this review, I took delivery of the Lamm LL2.1 amplifier in its Deluxe version, priced at $5990. There is a standard version available for $300 less.  The deluxe version power supply energy storage is about twice that of the standard version and high quality polystyrene caps parallel the all film capacitors in critical paths.  Besides that, the two versions are identical. On paper, without even an audition, it seems to me the extra $300 is a no brainer.
Design Update:
The LL2.1 is an update of the LL2 preamplifier. According to Lamm, the improvements and changes have been made are the addition of a trigger switch to power on and off Lamm amplifiers, newer, higher quality knobs, a slight schematic update, various updated parts, and most interestingly, a introduction of the attenuation for gain reduction by 15 dB.  This to me is a potentially very useful feature especially for use with a very high sensitivity amplifier, like the Manley MAHI mono blocks I reviewed last year. I had a hard time finding a comfortable volume setting with my Audio Research preamp with the Manley monos. A flick of this switch and I would have been in heaven.

Some basics about the design. It is an all tube design, with rectification done by a 6X4/6202 tube and amplification duties are handled by 12AU7A (first stage), and 6DJ8 (second stage) tubes for each channel. The component offers single ended connections only, as I’m guessing Lamm considers the extra circuitry needed to create a true balanced design adds more, and undesirable complexity.
The front panel is very retro cool. There are a total of seven toggle switches that power on, switch inputs, select gain, and mute. The two big knobs on the front control volume separately for each channel. I guess this is a de facto balance control as well.  The back panel has two main out puts, and three inputs, for Line 1, and Line 2, and most interestingly, a “Direct” input, which, again, staying in form with an obsession with sonic purity, routes the signal more directly to the volume control and gain stages. A Tape input and Record out are also included.
Set Up:
The LL2.1 was as plug and play as it gets. I set it up on my Symposium RollerBlocks for resonance control, made the connections, then powered up. Lamm strongly recommends powering up the LL2.1 first before any other component with the Mute switch engaged. There is a soft start feature that allows the circuitry to stabilize for about 60 seconds, and then you are ready to go. They also recommend powering off the preamplifier last, when all other components have been shut down. They also say the LL2.1 sounds its best after a 45 minute warm up.


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