Why would you buy such a thing before listening to it? Would you buy a car, especially a brand you're not familiar with, without a test drive?
Try before you buy. Insist on it.
Try before you buy. Insist on it.
Beyond the dealers, I was hoping that there are others out there who have personal experience listening to both amps.
Brian, I couldn't agree more. However, arranging for in-home auditioning is not easy when you live in Canada and neither company has a local Canadian dealer. It would be a bit of a hassle with shipping and import costs to bring the Lamm over for auditioning. Similarly, another audio auditioning trip is out of the question.
Thom, with all due respect, I urge you to get on a plane and go listen to the stuff. You aren't doing yourself any favors by relying on others' opinions of expensive audio gear that ultimately is a matter of personal taste. Buying blind is not wise. Been there, done that. Haven't we all?
Whether or not the cost is of concern to you, I think it is irresponsible for a dealer to try to sell something at this level about which you have no idea as to its sound. It would be prudent for you to take your time and investigate all possible choices. Don't pressure yourself or allow yourself to be pressured to make a quick decision, especially if it is not based upon your own experience, judgment, and personal preferences. Be certain and confident of your choice, for long term enjoyment.
Brian, I have read your comments about the need to audition equipment and I want to offer you an alternative viewpoint, or at least a viewpoint of a consumer that you might not have experience with, which might help you better understand the viewpoint of a similar customer when you encounter one.
First of all, Thom seems like someone who has the money who wants to put together a system, not worry about whether it'll work well together, and start enjoying it. Not everyone enjoys experimentation, and not everyone wants to keep looking for something better after they had made the initial choice. If Thom was looking at an NSX, or Aston Martin, or other custom order cars, the answer would be no, he would not test drive the car before he buys it, at least not where I live. Does it matter that his personal preference (if given a chance to test drive all these cars) would have led him to a car that he didn't end up buying? I don't think so if he ends up loving the car that he bought. When something is umistakeably high quality, sometimes, different is better and sometimes, different is just different. I would like to think that a good system, like a good car, is a good system.
Kharma drivin by either Lamm or Tenors are obviously a combination that works. From reading various reviews on the amps themselves and comments from dealers, owners, and other people, you get a sense of their sonic differences which can guide you one way or another. I would think that only under special circumstances would someone be unhappy with a one combination or the other.
I actually think that it would be irresponsible for a dealer to not respect the fact that I want to buy something at this level about which I have no idea as to its sound. I expect my dealer to offer friendly advice, offer his personal truthful opinion, and take care of me. But if I've made up my mind, and my dealer has tried convincing me otherwise, I expect my dealer to then support my decision(you know a parent has to let his kid make mistakes on his own sometimes. All you can do is offer advice and tell him that you're there for him no matter what he decides to do).
Sorry to blab on but there is a saying that "time is money". Personally, I would love to fly to various places to audition, but I rather use the money on my gear instead and my time for something else. Some people love auditioning equipment, and I think it's fun as well, but I actually think that it's kind of work. When I go for a haircut my hair stylist would always present me with magazines with different hair style. I'll just tell her that I want my hair short and do what you want to do. Imagine my feelings if she nags me for another minute of my time. Ya it's good to know what you want but I tend to think that a professional (such as a dealer) would value a customer who trusts his professional advice.
What part of Canada are you in ? Could you make a 4-6 hour drive to hear both pieces ?
At the level you are at, I think you sincerely should try to see if a dealer would let you have both pieces in your home for an audition (maybe GT audio would) or at least make a day trip to listen to both pieces side by side with the Kharma's.
The ideal would be to have both amps in your system to do an A/B comparison -
Good luck in any event.
Howie, I have a lot more experience as an audiophile and music lover than as a dealer. I've been the former for thirty two years, the latter for two or three. Having been to many dealers across the country as well as in my own area (Chicago), I've seen and heard just about every approach and lots of esoteric gear. Not having any previous experience in retail, maybe I tend to be much more of an audiophile than a dealer. My good experiences with dealers have been with those who put love of music and audio first.
Please excuse the pitch but here goes. The customer has the privilege of auditioning something I sell in his home without obligation. If he chooses to skip that step and proceed with the purchase, that's also his privilege. If he auditions the piece in his home and buys something else, that's fine, at least he gave it a try and he can always come back and can expect the same respect, straightforward advice, and home auditioning privileges, as well as a fair deal. Conference calls aren't the right way to do things as far as I'm concerned because they don't respect people's privacy and personal decision making. Likewise, you can't necessarily rely on Internet discussion posts, especially on sites where you can't tell who's who and what their interests may be.
It's interesting to see this thread come back to life. There is no question, I would love to have the opportunity to hear both amps side by side with whatever Kharma speakers I may finally decide on. Even better, I would love to audition them both in my own room (once it is finished). Having auditioned equipment for sometime now, I realize how important synergy can be between the amp, speakers, and my source. I was amazed how different three SOTA amps could sound using the same pair of Kharma and emm labs gear. So, I agree now matter how great a review or unbiased opinion is, it will never equal listening for yourself with your own associated equipment in your own room. However, the reality is that it is not possible to listen to both amps with the Kharma speakers(either in Canada where I live, or even in the US) at any one dealer (as Cello would suggest). While I know certain dealers will offer the potential of a trial of the Lamm, it is still a hassle to ship the amp to Canada, and deal with customs for auditioning, never mind trying to arrange getting both to listen to. (I imagine you would have to pay taxes, duties, brokerage fees as if you were buying it to bring it across the border) And it still means committing to the other components in order to do your home auditioning (i.e. speakers and source). At this point, further trips for auditioning are really out of the question as well. (Cello, I am not sure where you were suggesting driving for 4 to 6 hours, but I am not aware of any US dealer that carries all 3 lines).
Nothwithstanding everything Brian say's which I understand (and would agree with), all I was hoping for someone to tell me their own experience in comparing the sonics of the Tenor hybrids vs. the Lamm M1.2 hybrid. I am more than familiar with the sound of the Tenor in combination with the Kharma, and yet, I am curious as to similarities and differences between the Lamm and Tenor. Given that the design is quite different between these two amps, I suspect that there may be large differences in how they sound. For example, the big differences in the number of tubes that each uses makes me wonder how these two differ (esp with respect to the mid and upper range). I am not that naive to realize that there may be undisclosed biases and conflicts of interest in any response. Interestingly, I have been told that Kharma uses 1) Tenor vs. 2) Lamm amps in voicing their speakers. Anyways, I am still curious to see if anyone is willing to answer my original question.
Finally, I realize that my approach is not ideal, that I may have made a differet decision if I had the opportunity to do a direct A/B comparison, but given the quality of both I am not sure I can make that big a mistake with either !
Thom y; as a well-known Tenor proponent (who also likes and has recommended Lamm) here's my 2 cents.
forgetting about which sounds 'best'.....the Lamm is likely going to have less chance of any future hassels. only one tube....compared to 5 with the Tenor....the Lamm is more like a solid state amp with a 'slight touch' of tubes. the Tenor is more like an OTL tube amp with a touch of solid state.
i prefer passive volume attenuation.....my opinion is that the Tenor has a little more 'life' and passive works better with Tenors.
logistically and aesthetically......do you want monoblocks? two power cords, two amp stands......a different look.
just a few things to think about.
good luck.....and keep us posted with your construction pics.
Thanks for speaking up.
I realize there is no best.
From my research so far, and reading between the lines on some Lamm reviews, I was afraid that it's one tube may not give me what I love in the Tenor (both hybrid and OTL). I have really found both of those amps outstanding in combo with the Kharma (ranging from the basic Ceramique model up to the Midi Exquisite) and with my type of music. (whether it be Radiohead, Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, U2, Modest Mouse, Beck, Coldplay, Beethoven or Mahler)
As I wait for my room to be finished, I continue to flip through the pictures of your room to inspire me, esp. with the blue lights glowing on your Tenors. Absolutely, your room is the best room (equipment wise and design wise) that I have ever seen. If I find myself in the Pacific Northwest, I may well call you up for a listen to that Doors album. Would also love to put on Lucinda Williams (World Without Tears) on your Rockport.
Brian. We sure could use more dealers like you here locally. Over where I live, there is only one dealer that allows me to take equipment home to try out on my system and they usually look and question me critically whenever I return something. I feel like I have to make up an excuse.
Back to the original question, I've done a lot of the same research as well. In my experience, those who prefer the Lamm usually do so using the ML2s/.1s as comparison. This could very well be a tube vs solid state thing of course. Don't know if it matters but one is a monoblock.
Lucinda and Jim (Morrison) will be waiting.....
three audiophiles just left my room after a 4 hour listening session......we did the old digital-analog comparison.
they had all been marveling about how great the digital was.....they had brought some of their own cd's. then we played some Lps.
after 2 Lps, two of the guys asked me "how could anyone even think that digital has a chance against vinyl? the comparison is laughable".
yes, it is.
Thom. Which Karma ceramique speakers are you going to buy?.
Do the Karma's rock enought to keep up with the alternative music you and I mainly listen to.
Have you bought the new Mark Lanegan or Interpol LP's - both are great!
I may have to listen to the karma's if I cannot find a suitable amp to drive mty Mahlers?.
have you heard ATC active 150's?. I am going to try and have a listen to them soon.
Mike with all due respect to your comparison, it is hardly fair. A $17K retail digital front end vs. (conservatively) $67500 retail analog front end. For the same $17k in an analog front end do you think the differences would be as "laughable". I have listened to analog front ends in that price range and its too much of a compromise to just touch on the "magic" of reference level analog.
As to the question at hand, I am growing tired of this same conversation- its literally been going on for 6 months- Thom_y is the most fickle audiophile(or potential audiophile) I have ever encountered. You really need to find time and listen and make up your mind, you may find you've been chasing the wrong dream all along. We can discuss this time and time again, and your still no closer to making a decision then you were in June, when you started asking these questions. I don't mean to seem as I am coming across as curt, but it is clear your not going to find the answer your looking for about these components in the forums. And even when you do listen you may get it(whatever it is you do buy) home and be very dissapointed and find you want something completely different. The voyage of putting together a rewarding system is nearly as much fun as enjoying music- and the first hand experience is priceless.
Tim, I both respect you and Mike,I have the Ah Noe
Tjoeb 4000 with upsampler cdp, and MMF5 turntable.
In this comparison, its not laughable, but still there
is no comparison.With the Sirius turntable 67k,I guess
anyone who already heard and read the review of this
TT can make the call.....To me vynil is the best.IM0
Tim even my Sony 9000es modified by Modwright,I
still prefer the vynil.The only problem, I dont have
enough space to store the records.
I haven't bought a record in perhaps 25 years and I'm not sure I ever want to go back to vinyl. Yet, it doesn't take a $67K Sirius III setup to show that vinyl is still better than the $17K emm labs. Unfortunately, I heard the difference at less than half the price of the emm labs. But, I think for a number of reasons I will stick with digital ... for now.
Tim, knowing Mike, if there was a $100,000 CDP that consistently produces sound that is in every way or even most ways better than the majority of his records played on his Sirius III table, do you think he would at least entertain the thought of getting it? Mike doesn't exactly shun away from CDs and SACDs. If the Rockport table is suppose to be the best of the best and the Meitner front end is suppose to be the best of the best, then I think it's a fair comparison.
Thom, I hope you can manage to make a decision and keep us updated on your progress. Tireguy is right in saying that you'll probably draw better conclusions by listening for yourself. I think if you're going to plunk down the money and really can't manage to hear as much as you can, then you should stick with what you know/what you're comfortable with. I for one know how hard it is to make a decision. Although that's not to say that I'm not annoying when I ask the same questions over and over again :D Sometimes I have to tell myself to stop thinking and worrying and just enjoy as hard as it might seem.
sorry guys. i didn't mean to hijack this thread.....it was more a 'this just happened' kinda thing.
clearly i love digital.....and choose digital about 60% to 70& of the time for many reasons.
my daughter is here with her boyfriend tonite and we were just listening.....Lps and digital....both were great....it was the music we were focused on.
Well, Tireguy I am finally listening to music in my new dedicated room. Thanks to all of you who put up with my stupid questions, indecision, and procrastination. Special thanks to Gary, Mike, Frank, Howard, and TIm for all their advice and support. After a year of planning, researching the design and equipment and 6 months of construction, our 3rd floor reno (including audio/video room) is almost finished. The audio equipment has almost all arrived this week.
For anyone curious, in the end I ended up going with the Lamm M1.2 references rather than the Tenor 150Hps, as I was scared off by the Tenor situation. I certainly loved the sound of the Tenor and the industrial design, but I felt somewhat more secure going with the Lamms. Nonetheless, I am happy to see this company is now restructuring and will hopefully continue to show what us Canadians can produce. So, now I am typing away on my PowerBook in front of my Kharma Midi Grands, Lamm M1.2's, and emmLabs CDSD and DCC2. I just need to wait for my Jena cables, equipment rack, and amp stands. Anyways, while some of the equipment still needs to burn in, I am quite happy with the end result so far.
I'm so excited for you. You seem to have known what you want and liked from the start and you're finally going to have a system in your home to enjoy your music! I just hope that all this effort and time spent will reward you for years to come. Hopefully you can swiftly have things dialed in to your tastes and be as happy with the system's sound as you were when you were auditioning the equipment. Congratulations!