I visited Jarek in Krakow and heard the Lektor Prime and the less expensive Lektor V. There was no comparison between the two. I bought a Lektor Prime two and a half years ago and have been very happy. I have not heard the Lektor Grand SE or his new Lektor Air. Most recently, Jarek built for me a 300b amplifier to match the CDP. Jarek makes great electronics . . . and they look great, too.
I have the Lektor V in my second system for about one and a half years. If I needed to describe it in a few words: lively, joyful and very involving indeed; a fleet-footed dancer, but one with a sense of drama and the ability to hit hard when the music dictates it. Volume control in the analog domain and a pair of analog rca inputs also make it a quite exquisite preamp for a small system. One point of criticism: I have seen better build quality. For sheer musical pleasure, it clearly held the comparably priced Ayon CD2 that I had also tried at a distance.
So much for the little brother.
As Gsm18439 pointed out, the Prime is in a different league altogether, but at the time I bought my Lektor V, the Prime would have broken the bank. Over the coming holidays however, I will have the opportunity to audition a Prime at home (figures have not been mentioned yet, but the dealer has been whetting my thirst with indications of a "good deal" on an upgrade). I'll loop it into the first system as well and see whether it can scare the AMR CD-77, then.
The build quality on the Lektor Prime is excellent. Karelfd is correct in his comments about its functionality. The ability to control everything using a single remote is great. One thing is strange; the volume control is only via the remote.
Mike, I'm in trouble. I have had the Ancient Audio Lektor Prime on audition for one week now, and I want to keep it! The trench between Lektor V and Prime is blatant and actually wider than I recalled from hearing the Prime at the dealer's many months ago. In fact, upon first hearing it in the second system, it was clear I would want to evaluate its merits in the main system and be prepared for a clash of Titans, that are not dissimilar in overall sonic character btw. I soon found out the Prime has a clear cut preference for balanced output. Quite audibly, so anyone interested in this machine should make sure the amp caters for that, or some of the cdp's potential will remain uncovered. Unfortunately - from a wallet's perspective - the dealer brought some Argento Serenity XLR and loudspeaker cable to the audition as well. Hence, I could feed the Prime's signal in balanced mode directly into the Tidal Intra amp. Btw, I found a trace of "uneasiness" in the combination of Virtual Dynamics Revelation with Argento Serenity cables, very difficult to put in words but the overall character seemed somehow "off-ish", anyone experimenting with mixed cable looms will have encountered that sort of thing. So, in went the Serenity speaker cable, and I'll take my comments from there. Where there had been some opaqueness in comparison with the AMR CD-77 in my first trial with unbalanced ic's, the player was now "there" with a liquid, organic richness that was at the same time clear and detailed, joyful yet graceful. Hi hats and plucking of strings on Carla Bley's "The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu" for instance sounded extremely live-like with perfect timing; on John Patitucci's "Line by Line" in the vibrant first track "The Root" there is a multitude of little noises and twist, lots of things going on in those four minutes and the Prime showed them all with ease embedded in a beautiful musical flow with a convincing soundstage. Patricia Barber's "Modern Cool" features atmospherically dense tracks and the Prime conjured that up with all drama and - it had to come - emotion. Yes sir, this is one of those machines that does music as opposed to sound (first and foremost quality of really good gear imho). Yet, that record also showed some of the sometimes subtle but present differences with the AMR CD-77 (played in unbalanced mode through the Tidal Preos preamp). In direct comparison, with the Prime the finger snaps were somewhat "castanetty", also Mrs. Barber's voice had a hue more seductiveness with the AMR. That the AMR excelled with voices was confirmed listening to Christina Pluhar singing on "Monteverdi - Teatro d'Amore" or David Sylvian's mesmerizing voice on a number of beautifully fragile tracks as well as the more robust work with Robert Fripp. Another area where AMR had the edge was bass. Don't get me wrong, the Prime is very good at it, it has slam to offer, it can sound really "earthy" but without a trace of thickness or smearing. But AMR just seems to go deeper and is more visceral. I should mention the Prime's open design, some cd's are unfortunately so excentric - something I noticed for the first time and a real shame - that you can hear them spin in pauses between tracks, so perhaps you will not want to sit directly next to the cdp (you don't have to, the remote controls the volume and track choice), the machine itself is perfectly silent, though.
Excellent, irresistible performance, comfortably beyond most of the better-known stuff I've heard. Still, if I were forced to choose just one cdp, it would be AMR. Given that both machines are in the same price league, should the choice be obvious to everyone, then? Absolutely not. Because at its comparable price, you get the Prime's ability to feed directly into the amp. Second best solution, I hear someone say, not with this machine! The integrated amplification stage is so good, you don't need anything else in the way. In fact, I should revisit all threads on cdp's with variable output and post how good the Prime really is in that respect. On top, it features one additional input to make use of the preamp section with an additional source, if needed. If you intend to keep the system simple, therefore, pair this cdp with as good a balanced amp as you can afford (on the savings for a preamp, an interconnect and a power cord). Something like an Electrocompaniet SW 400, Einstein TLTD or, of course, Ancient Audio's own Single Six blocks - depending on your speakers' needs - keeps leaping to my mind, but the Prime will accompany even the greatest. For my own system, I will reactivate the Kharma Matrix MP150 mono blocks (phew, happy I didn't sell those) and will purchase the Argento Serenity XLR and speaker. As I said, I'm in trouble, ... but I must and will have this machine.
Karel.Do I understand corectly that you preffer AMR over Lector Prime but you must have Lector regardless?Thanks for this article,it was fun to read.
I am still not sure if I preffer Meridian 808 or Lector Prime.I like both of them.Meridian was more truthfull to the source but Lector Prime was more musical.There is one more very strong contender Reimyo CDP-777 which I have not listened yet.Read some articles about it and it seems like very good machine without tubes in the way and still sounding organic and musical without sacrificing high resolution.
Guy who wants to sell me this Reimyo wrote:From what you say, I think you will not be disappointed. Reimyio is VERY organic sounding, it has that natural warmth to the instruments and human voices that most digital gear lacks.
For the past week I have been comparing the Reimyo to dCS Scarlatti full stack (I have a Scarlatti DAC for sale, BTW) which retails for sth close to 60.000 EURO.
I can tell you that I MUCH prefere the sound of Reimyo to the Scarlatti ... the only asspect of sound that the dCS does better is sheer resolution. But the Reimyo sounds much more natural and fluid, much more musical and true to life. With Reimyo you do not want to stop listening, you put the CD to listen to the single track ... and end up listening the the whole CD !
And then someone else wrote:As always with high-end, it is all about careful matching. I would imagine someone would choose the AMR over the Reimyo if their system was overly warm the upper midrange and lower treble leanness of the AMR would balance it out. The Reimyo is very well balanced and should fit into most systems beautifully. I dont think you would be making a mistake by buying the Reimyo. I am pretty confident you will love it.
And also one comparasion:I actually heard the AMR against the Lector at a dealership in Chicago (Essential Audio). Each of the players had its own strengths with the Lector being more organic, rich and harmonically dense while the AMR had a much bigger soundstage (it was huge compared to the Lector) and tighter bass, but was also dry and sort of thin sounding (I didn't expect it from a tube based player). In my opinion the Reimyo falls somewhere inbetween: it is just as lush and tonally dense as the Lector, but it's also more open, dynamic and detailed, similar to the AMR, but with none of the AMR's dryness. This makes it sound very natural and lifelike.
Then this guy from Stereotimes Frank Peraino wrote in his review:The CD-77's bandwidth and spectral balance is unmatched by any player Ive heard. From top to bottom it doesnt bloat, editorialize, romanticize, emphasize or de-emphasize any single band throughout the frequency spectrum. Ive always maintained that a reviewer should never paint him/herself into a corner by declaring any component to be the absolute best. My reason for this philosophy is simple - Ive not heard every component and my perspective may change if and when something better comes along to reveal the limitations of a previous reference. Thank God for that disclaimer. The Reimyo CD-777 has remained my reference for almost five years due, in large part, to its even-handedness. While it may lean slightly toward the rich side of neutral, the Reimyo was seemingly equally adept from top to bottom. The AMR CD-77, however, revealed areas where the Reimyo falls short of providing a truly balanced attack.
The low frequency performance of the CD-77 was stunning in every aspect. From the upper bass down to 40Hz and below, the CD-77's low-end is articulate, tonally accurate, and impactful with foundation shaking extension. Subtle nuances are easily heard. Mid-bass is tight and punchy with outstanding transient attack and harmonic decay. This infuses the music with rhythmic drive yet does so without imposing on the musics crucial midrange. If you think tubed players cant do bass, think again. The tubed CD-77 bettered the solid-state Reimyo in every area youd think transistors would have the edge. Big Horizon by David Wilcox [1994 A&M Records 31452] was one case in point. On track #1 New World and track #9 Strong Chemistry, the CD-77 reproduced the electric bass lines with such clarity and balance that the Reimyos presentation sounded ripe and bloated by comparison. Wilcoxs close-miked acoustic guitar can sound almost like a bass through many lesser players. Through the CD-77 you never get them confused. The AMRs low-bass extension bettered the Reimyos digging deeper with greater authority with the proper source material. Victor Wootens subterranean electric bass on Sojourn of Arjuna from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones Left of Cool [Warner Bros. 9-46896-2] provided the sonic fireworks. While there may be CD players that produce more bass, Ive not heard any with better bass.
It took a while to realize just how good the midrange of the AMR was. Why? This is where the Reimyo truly excels. Yet when the dust settled, the AMR came out on top. While not quite as rich as the Reimyos, the CD-77's midrange is just as musically satisfying and more tonally correct. Id say it was more neutral but this can imply a relative leanness. The AMR again revealed how the Reimyos midrange errs on the fuller, richer side of neutral. It is precisely this quality that makes the Reimyo such an engaging player in my book and why its been my reference for so long. My reference took an uppercut to the chin, however, on the late Chris Jones fabulous CD, Roadhouses & Automobiles, [Stockfish SFR 357.6027.2]. This album highlights the artists folk/blues vocals and lyrics and his beautiful acoustic guitar work. On track #6 Fender Bender, Jones and bassist, Grischka Zepf, engage in an up-tempo instrumental played, for the most part, in unison. The AMR allowed me to more easily differentiate the two guitars. The CD-77's quicker transient attacks and tonal purity markedly improved my appreciation and enjoyment of this fine disc. This effect was partially attributable to the AMRs superior bass performance that allowed the midrange to sing without competition from the lower frequencies.
You are discussing CDPs that live in the rarified atmosphere of being among the best. I have not heard the competitors to the Lektor Prime that the two of you mention, but I am thrilled with my Lektor Prime. It feeds into a custom-made upgrade of the Ancient Audio 300b Integra amplifier (with Shungang Black Bottle tubes) and a pair of Zu Definition 2 speakers. The sound is organic, lush, and huge (as apposed to loud) with a lot of tone. I have compared live performances with CDs recorded by the same groups and two sound amazingly alike. For example, just last Saturday, I heard the Tallis Scholars in concert and then listened to their CDs as soon as I got home.
The look of the Ancient Audio equipment is stunning, understated, unique, and customizable; important to me since I am a slave to aesthetics, and my system is in plain view in my living room. I agree that having a volume control (actually a two-input pre-amplifier) within the Lektor Prime is a plus; maybe this does not work well in other CDPs, but it does here. It keeps the look minimalistic without sacrificing sound.
I have not heard the Lektor Prime paired with a production level Single Six in my system. When I visited Jarek to audition his two CDPs, this amplifier was under development. But if you like the sound of 300b tubes, maybe Jarek will make a 300b amplifier for you like he did for me. I have paired the Lektor Prime with two other amplifiers - the Yamamoto A-08s and a locally made DejaVu 45/2a3 SET. It was good, but not as good as the Ancient Audio 300b amplifier that I am currently using - perhaps because they are both made by the same designer.
Thanks a lot guys! Now this is what I call an informative thread.
Mike, yes my favourite remains AMR CD-77 and yes I will purchase the Lektor Prime as an upgrade to my Lektor V and make it the heart of a killer second system, imho of course (even if it hurts; anyway, I have given all my family who wanted to know if they can do me a special pleasure for Christmas pictures of the Prime and an envelope ...) Gsm18439 you nailed it precisely: two specimens of a rare breed!
Mike, I was very puzzled to see the qualification "thin" in one sentence with AMR CD-77; in all honesty, that is one thing I cannot reconstruct. Further on you spoke about "comparative leanness" in connection with "neutral", and I am back with you. Indeed, I think we all will have witnessed tonal shifts that may sometimes - and very suddenly - cross a line where the descriptions become pejorative. System dependence, imho, I'd like to mention the differences that cable looms made when auditioning the Lektor Prime (sigh, yes I must have those Argento Serenity cables as well, oh never mind, drink a succulent Duvel beer instead of Bollinger Champagne in the coming 12 months, huh). I think I can relate to your experience with dCS Scarlatti that, admittedly, I only heard at a show. I know people on other threads would stone us for that, but there you are. I'd be stoned for narrating experiences with Burmester and Accuphase as well, without doubt very good machines, but lacking that unique musical spark. Gsm18439's statement revisited here: AMR and AA are just a different breed. Btw thanks for mentioning that Chris Jones album. I love Stockfish productions, but didn't know this one.
Gsm18439, nice coincidence you have Zu speakers too, I have the Druids IV and keep being amazed over their adaptability in a system that went through many changes. Your description of driving them with custom made AA 300B's is mouth-watering.
Enjoy the music guys, with the gear we're discussing I'm sure you will!
any other new developments?
Yes, two; and both were huge. A year ago, I upgraded my Zu Def 2s to the Def 4s. The word upgrade is a bit of a misnomer since these are totally different speakers that just happen to look the same and have a similar price tag. The Def 4s are superior in almost every respect; there are threads that discuss them in depth. Deeper, tighter bass. Better off-axis imaging. Increased efficiency and dynamics. Greater tone. Etc. There is a good review on Audiobeat. Then last spring, I sourced a pair of Takatsuki 300b tubes from Japan. While I have never heard the Westen Electric 300b, the Takatsuki are phenomenal; the review in 6Moons that was reprinted from HiFidelity of Poland was spot-on as was the review in Dagogo and Part-time Audiophile and threads on Audiogon. Unfortunately, they are also very expensive.