Preamplifiers

Lamm LL2.1 Stereo Tube Preamplifier

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

I tested the LL2.1 with a McIntosh MCD500 SACD player, Lamm M2.2 monoblock power amplifiers, and Carver Amazing Mark IV ribbon speakers. Cables were Legenburg and Emotiva.

A lot of tube audio equipment tends to roll off at the top and bottom of the audible spectrum. Not so with Lamm products. The top is crystal clear, and it is obvious that you are getting everything that is on the CD or SACD with such instruments as a triangle, whose harmonics go way up there in frequency. And a triangle is not easy to hear in the middle of a powerful classical piece, not only because it plays softly, but also it will be buried if the preamp or power amplifier has midrange congestion (due to high IMD).

Neither was there any apparent loss of the deep bass. The huge drum that opens Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man (Telarc) made the light fixture in the right rear corner rattle (I have to fix that with some putty). This is probably my favorite recording of all time (I suspect you already know that because I use it so often in reviews). It was originally released as a CD more than 20 years ago, and then, just a few years ago, Telarc released it in SACD format because the original recording was done at 50 kHz sample rate, rather than 44.1 kHz, so there was something to be gained by releasing it in all its full glory.

On the same disc is Rodeo, and the crack of a whip occurs during one of the tracks. Its crispness, clarity, and detail made it obvious that the Lamm LL2.1 was not holding anything back.

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For voices, I chose Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come On Come On, which I listened to using the LL2.1 with great relish. When a musician is gifted, what a waste it is to play their recordings with less capable gear. The LL2.1 gave me everything I could ever hope for.

mary-chapin-carpenter-come-on-large

Tchaikovsky had breath-taking talent. He could have made a fortune writing musical scores for movies. Ah, what could have been! Anyway, one particular piece, the Serenade for Strings, is a tough one for any amplifier, as the violins span several octaves and has tremendous harmonic content. Any amplifier with midrange congestion would produce mush with such music, but the LL2.1 delivered every nuance for each instrument with a grace and ease that . . . well, what can I say, I expected it to perform this way, because it is a Lamm.

tchaikovsky-serenade-for-strings