Aesthetix Io 2 vs. Lamm lp 2

Has anyone made a change from one to the other or have any experience with both. What were the basic tradeoffs going from one to the other from having owned or a-b ed the units. Please note this comparison is with the mark 2 Io and not the Sig. version, with the Sig at 9000 dollars not being a fair comparison. Thanks in advance
hi Don, i hope all is well with you.

a few years back i had the original Aesthetix Io, the Aesthetix Io Signature with 2 power supplies, and the Lamm LP2 Delux in my system at the same time.

i had owned the original Io for over two years and loved it. our mutual friend had the new Io Sig with dual power supplies and i really wanted to upgrade to the new version and try the dual power supplies. after two weeks with both the original Io and the Sig Io in my system i was ready to buy the Sig Io w/dual power supplies. the new Io had a lower noise floor, more refinement and greater dynamics than my original, much loved Io.

our mutual friend had been sent the Lamm LP2 to try out and decieded since i was better set up to do that comparison than he was at that time......that he would send it on to me......brand new and unplayed. i expected to much prefer the Aesthetix Io Sig with dual power supplies (approx $12k).


the Lamm was much quieter than either Io. the Lamm only has 57.5db of gain but is so quiet you can use ALL of it. the Aesthetix has 80db of gain but gets quite noisey as you use all of it. in comparison to the butter smooth and crystal clear Lamm both Io's had a greyness and slight grainyness to them. the Io's had a little more macro-dynamics and slightly greater sense of space and bloom.....but the Lamm had better micro-dynamics and sense of inner detail and refinement. the Io's were more tubey and the Lamm was more neutral and 'real' sounding. i felt closer to the event with the Lamm.

at the time i was using both the Koetsu RSP (.25mv) and the Clearaudio Insider Gold (.85mv) cartridges.....and my impressions were consistent on both cart's.

i loved the Io's and expected to prefer them to the Lamm......but the Lamm was better and i still have it. i highly recommend both Io's as great phono stages even though i prefer the Lamm.

two important notes regarding the Io's. first, there are many very satisfied Io users that have rolled tubes and dramatically (reportedly) lowered the noise floor and improved refinement. second, i am told that Jim White of Aesthetix discovered that he had some 'bad' 'stuff' in his circuts that was causing the 'noise' and reportedly fixed the 'noisey' gear. i have not personally heard these 'improved' Io's but credible (to me) listeners assure me of the validity of these claims.

i know you asked specifically about the Io Mk II and not the Signature but i assumed that if the Lamm was clearly better to my ears than the Signature you would want to know about it.

as always....YMMV.

best regards,
Mike's description above is all the more reason why I want so much to hear the Lamm LP2 and the Io Sig compared to my older Io std model. And I only have one P.S.

As Mike describes the differences between the Io's and the Lamm, I can fully understand the balancing act and tradeoffs to find a product with the 3-dimensionality, ambience, decays, etc., vs. achieving a lower noise floor, higher resolution and retaining the dynamic contrasts as well. I have been going through this same exercise with line stages that seem to be even more critical than phono stages. It really is tough to find it all in one unit. But it sounds like Mike has found one heck of a unit with the Lamm.

After reading Albert Porter's many posts on the Aesthetix gear and how he has taken his units to a whole new level with a lot of tube rolling, I contacted him a couple years ago to get some advice on what I could do to improve my Io. Changing out the stock Sovtek tubes to Telefunken's transformed the Io far more than the Io improved upon my previous phono stage, the BAT VK-P10. There is so much incredible volume of space around instruments with this tube change. The decays on the piano and percussion was a new experience for me. No matter how refined a product might be over the Io, if it lost a lot of this attribute, it would be tough for me to change. I gotta believe that this is more dramatic than the Io Sig over the Io or a change from 1 P.S. to 2.

I have read much here about noise and bad tube issues and other failing components in the Io, Callisto and Calypso but my Io and Callisto Sig have performed flawlessly with none of these problems. Evidently there was a bad batch of parts and bad set of tubes that have since been resolved.

Even with the tube changes in the Io, there was indeed a little more background noise with my Io over the BAT. The BAT gear has always impressed me in this regard. And yet the Io was significantly more resolving of details I had not heard before in the music.

It can be a pain and quite expensive to go through all the efforts to play with different tubes and deal with the issues of noise, microphonics, reliability, heat, etc., vs. a minimal-maintenance put-it-on-the-shelf-and-forget-it unit like the Lamm, but if your priority is more toward the space and decays vs. the resolution and lower-noise, the Io may be the perfect unit for you. The only way to know for sure is to try each out in your system.

I have not heard the Lamm although I do have an Io sig with volume controls and I recently added a 2nd power supply.

Taken all in I agree with most of the comments made.Just wanted to point out that the Io has been flawless in reliability to date.It is however a late production model. I have selected low noise telefunkens up front and the system is very quiet running direct with a Benz Ruby or Helikon. This is a function of your overall system sensitivity.

The Lamm may be quieter yet not as much gain or flexible in loading. Choices, choices...