Difficult Choice

choosing a HI-FI from scrathc is a difficult exercise.
I'm asking for help.

I might get Lamm2.1 amps or Tenor 75i
i tried the hybrid amp from tenor and was very disappointed
I found it not as full and "real" than the 75i (kind of normal) but it was on the top "messy", lacking precision.
I was using a EMM Labs transport + Dac directly plugged in the amp + Kharma Grand Midi Ceramique
Very disappointing
I have to say that those EMM Labs did not impress me that much and I wonder if it is not better to use a preamp with them.

Kharma exquisite Midi seem to be a good choice even if it lacks some guts with the Tenor
A sub could be a solution but i did not try
I'm wondering if those VR9 Von S. are that much better than the Kharma
I'm interested to know as well what people think of
Sonus Faber Stradivari (do they work with SET)
Dynaudio Temptation (do they work with SET)
Pipedeams model 18
Audio Physics Caldera ?

More over, what preamp to use ?
There is a Audio Note on the offer but does it go well with
Lamm ?
What about the new ARC reference3 ?

Concerning the source, is the DCS suite that good ? I was not that impressed by the EMM Labs.

Thank you

I don't mean to be sarcastic, but it sounds like you're very, very picky with a lot of money at your disposal. Why don't you just go to the different major cities in the US and audition the various items for yourself? That might be a lot better than going off of our word for things because a lot of people are very impressed with the items that didn't impress you at all.

I am sorry, but is this your first system? What are you comparing all this gear with; your point of reference?
Your system seems to modeled on Mike Lavigne's original system.

All those are great pieces of equipment which can work well together. It seems to be your room and acoustics.

I am a little confused about what you are trying to accomplish and where do you stand now?
You mean to tell us that you are considering all this high $$ equipment and have never heard any of it? I mean you are talking about the ENTIRE system, not just a component or two.

And coming here asking opinions is a nice way to pass the time and get some entertainment value, but no way to smartly spend all that cash.

The chances of you putting together a satisfying system using any of the components you've listed based upon the advice you are likely to receive on Audiogon is virtually nil. You seem to have a strong knowledge of what you think sounds correct. My suggestion is to find a good dealer and take the time to work with them using long term at home auditions of equipment to slowly piece a system together. At the price level you are dealing with it makes sense for you to even consider traveling to various manufacturers factories for demonstrations and system matching advice.
I absolutely love the LAMM ML2.1s i think that they are amazing. as for the EMM gear I think it is good, but i would bet that you would much prefer the Reimyo CDP-777. In my opinion, the Reimyo is the best digital out there bar none.
Choosing a system even from scratch is a daunting task. Sorry. Possibly starting with the source of your choosing would be a good starting place. Then you could drag around your source as a common denominator.
Opinions are fine and well, just that... opinions. Sounds as if you have the scratch (very deep pockets) and some resources for auditioning excellent high end equipment. Maybe you should consider letting your ears be the guide, unless the point of this thread is really to just talk about cool gear. Enjoy!
I agree with the first three posters. With the money you're considering spending, you owe it to yourself to try the various pieces out for yourself--in your home. That's the best solution. As for the EMM Labs stuff--which I own--I'm curious if you made your judgement based on the context of the whole system, rather than taking just the EMM out of the equation and replacing it with something else. That's the only way to truly distinguish two components. FWIW, I don't agree that the Reimyo is better. I recently tried the CDP-777 in my system, and while very good and impeccably well built, I didn't think it possessed the dynamics or resolution of the EMM gear. It was pleasant and soft sounding, while the EMM was more revealing, more dynamic, and just as musical. But that's in my system. YMMV.
Hi David,

I have a pre-amp suggestion for you: c-j ACT2

Good Luck!*>)
Hey Hooper, I don't doubt that the EMM Labs stuff is great, but I also suspect that the Reimyo you listened to was not broken in or had some odd PC interface. Me, I had the 15 second audition and stone cold new out of the box, I sent my Accuphase DP-75V packing and reached for the checkbook.
Linkster, it's funny you mention your experience with the Accuphase DP-75V. I owned the DP-75V up until the time I bought my EMM Labs equipment. My experience was just as you described. As good as the DP-75V was in its day, that CDP is not even in the same league with the best digital front ends on the market today. IMO
Dear all,
I'm not in the US but in France.
So it is quite difficult to find a dealer with these gear. I would love to be able like you guys to check all the possibilities going around the shops.
There is one dealer that does Kharma and used to do Tenor (going to do Lamm soon as Tenor closed down). But dealers always try to promote what they sell and not is best for you.
So I heard Tenor and I repeat that I prefer the 75i that the hybrid. The speakers were Grand midi ceramique and the source the EMM Lab set plugged straight into the amp.
For the amount of money the whole thing represent, I was not impressed.
I would like to know more about brand that are not imported in France (De la Joule, VAC, Wavac, Audio Tekne, even Audio Note, CAT, and Lamm for now)
Actually, I'm ready to spend some cash on an audiophile system but if i can spare some bucks by buying demo or almost new I will (and there are some opportunities here)
I just hoped that people with a bigger know-how than me would be passionate enough to share their knowledge

Thanks to everyone who is answering trying to help me in setting up a brand new system from scratch.
Why not take a few days and come to NYC to audition a variety of equipment? Or a trip to Asia to do the same? Your sonic preferences as well as your music preferences will have much to do with what you ultimately choose in a system. You could very easily spend big money and end up with something that does not work for you. If you happen to have heard a particular sound or component that you liked, that would give people here some guidelines for making further recommendations.
All the best,
David_chouk, it would be more helpful if you can describe more of what you like to hear and what was lacking from systems you have heard.

here are my recommendations to audition:
jadis preamps and amps from France
acapella horns from Germany
jmlab grand utopia from France
technical audio devices (TAD) horns from Japan
reimyo cdp777 from Japan
zanden transport and dac from Japan
47 laboratory pitracer transport from Japan
meridian 800 series transports and processor from UK
b&w original nautilus (seashells) from UK
grand prix audio monaco equipment stand fom US
pagode master reference equipment stand from Germany

i am sure it would be a most pleasurable journey to hear these top gear. best of luck.
Tout ça n'est pas très clair!

I probably overstated my case. The Reimyo is absolutely state of the art. There's no doubt about it. If it weren't for the EMM, I'd likely own it. (It was broken in for about 1,000 hours, BTW, when I got it, so break-in wasn't an issue.) In my system, and with my sonic priorities, I preferred the EMM, but I've talked to several people who liked the Reimyo better. IMO, it's just a matter of taste. It's pretty hard to go wrong with either player. Both represent the absolute best of what digital has to offer.
Guys, what do you think of the DCS total suite and the Accuphase DP100 and DC101... don't you think they deserve to be contenders ... moreover the Reimyo does not play SACDs

I had the full dCS suite alongside the Meitner CDSD/DCC2 combo. The dCS was very, very good overall, providing excellent transparency and detail, but I thought it was a little brittle sounding and lean, and the bass wasn't as resolved as I thought it would be. The Meitner, on the other hand, was just as transparent (if not more so) and far more natural sounding. That's just my experience, of course, and many will probably differ. In addition, the dCS needs four boxes to accomplish what the Meitner does in two. That's not a small consideration for those of us who are space challenged. At any rate, both the Meitner and dCS are state of the art. The Reimyo is as well, but the sound isn't really to my taste. And it doesn't have SACD. I don't have much experience with Accuphase gear, other than some friends who have owned their digital gear have had mixed opinions about it.
Dear all,

what is your opinion on Martin Design speaker, which looks like a Kharma Midi Ceramique ?
And does anyone knows about Tidla speaker ? (those ones look like Eidolon Avalon Diamond)
When I say that they look like other speaker I'm not talking only about the outside buth the nside as well... and I'm not critisizing
Marten Design Coltrane are among the best and easily the most natural sounding cone speakers out there, yet they retail for only about 29000 US when compared to other reference speakers. The VR-9 are really good too and I hear the VR-11's are real monsters .... :) but considerably more expensive than Marten Design speakers ... gotta earn the money!
If you go with solid state amps (like the Halcro DM68 monos) you can drive a large variety of reference speakers out there ... there are so many different designs ... Martin Logan Statement E2's ... Dynaudio Evidence Master (the best cone speakers in the world) ... Acapella Spharon Excalibur (the best highs in the world) ... MBL 101D (among the top 2 onmis) ... German Physics Loreley (the other great omni) ... Wilson Audio Alexandria X-2 .... some really good choices, it only depends on personal tastes.

dCS is good, so is Emm Labs but I hear that vinyl is still better (I mean the best of vinyl), consider that as an option. If you go digital I would recommend trying out the Whest Audio DAP .10u, really impressive piece (you'll need 1 more powercord and a set of interconnects)or their PS.20 for vinyl with the same result there.

Consider some powerconditioning for the system ... Shunyata and Transparent Audio optimal choices as well as Walker Audio's new gear ...with Shunyata/Elrod/Electraglide/Revelation Audio Labs powercords. Critical if you want to hear what the audio gear is capable of.

And don't forget mechanical isolation ... this is critical. Consider SRA or Symposium here, those guys really know their stuff as well as Grand Prix Audio.

of course I forgot to mention the most important parameter ... the listening room ... what size, any treatments, what speakers sound best in it? .... etc

have fun
Similarly, & if you are still reading this thread:
*do check out Supravox (driver manufacturers) and arrange to listen to some of their speaker designs.
* Tidal (you mentioned above) are German and use hard ceramic drivers from Thiel & partner -- as do Martens, Avalon, Kharma, and a few others. They make good but very expensive and bulky speakers.
* electronics: don't forget YBA, a french manufacturer of outstanding amplification. BTW an YBA (called "passion") connected to the Stradivari (mentioned above) makes beautiful music.
* Jadis is also exquisite (and expensive).
* very many excellent hobbyists in France would surely give you ideas AND perhaps help you audition stuff before you buy...

Have fun!
Amperidian, Gregm
thank you for those answers.
I've just bought a pair of Lamm ML2.1 so ti reduces the choices of speakers
Now looking for a preamp, probably a L2 Ref by Lamm or a ARC Ref3
Digital : come down to Emm Labs, DCS total package, Zanden Signature2000/5000, Reymio 777 or even Goldmund Eidos 36 Universal
Now the speakers :
Here is what I saw on stereophile :
"The MAXX2s had sounded anemic and blah in the Lamm room at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show, and they'd overwhelmed the VTL room, where they sounded congested. But in the Audio Research space—wow! If I could get that sound at home, I'd have something. However, I'd been down that road before, with the Aerial 20T—a great speaker with plenty of bottom-end heft that packed an impressive wallop in a large Mirage Hotel suite, but that sounded neutered in my room when driven by the same Musical Fidelity electronics".
What do you people think ?
If I go for horns ? Acapella or avant garde ?
X2, Excalibur are too expensive...
the highly efficient avantgarde trio should be a better match to your lamm ml2.1 than acapella, although i like acapella more. the jbl k2 s9800 and tannoy westminster royal are also amazing and efficient.
I second szutinglee on his opinion. Acapella sounds amazing but you need higher efficiency (and higher price) Acapellas if you want to use the Lamm's to drive them.

Avantgardes are good too, probably a better match for your Lamm amps.

Wilson defintely not a good match for you amps, Halcro suits those speakers very well IMO.

Have you considered silverlines? ... some of their models boast up too 96db efficiency and could mate well with your amps too.

For preamps, don't overlook the VTL 7.5 ... worthy of an audition at least.

All digital sources you mentioned are top of the line. You left out Burmester CD 001, Audio Aero Prestige and APl 3910 which are below the ones you mentioned but not too far off.
Avantgarde or Acapella? Do you like horn sound? To me at least they sound very different than good cone speakers(Aerial,Avalon,Audio Physic,ProAc,Sonus Faber,Wilson,Kharma etc.)...
ProAc Response D80 or bigger D100 will work with your Lamm as well as most Kharma models. Wilson Watt/Puppy 7 and Maxx2 should also work. As a matter of fact Jonathan Valin said in TAS issue 153 that he was most impressed with Lamm exhibit with Maxx2. So, different opinion than from M.Framer. Some of the members here own same Lamm amps as you and some of the speakers mentioned above. Maybe they could help?
No doubt, the big Tannoys are exquisite; the Acapella not sensitive enough (the big ones are, but very expensive as mentioned). I too prefer Acapella to Avant garde (which are very good, in & of themselves. They're BIG, BTW).
Other than the brands mentioned, you might also consider the big Cabasse (not cheap, but good).

However, in all these cases you're looking at euro 15-20k+, easily.

Why NOT, if you live close or at Paris: look up hautparleursystemes.com and audition an open baffle design they have. It is (was) very good; you can upgrade the basic design to include a top-of-the-line ribbon tweet/supertweet and active bass.
This would mean biamping -- but the low frequency amp doesn't have to be another Lamm... by any stretch of the imagination.

The sound is (should be) invariably better than a full-range passive speaker.

Given the high level of your (excellent) system, purchasing a speaker to match seems to me financially crippling:)!

Oh yes, preamp. IF you can, forgo the pre for now. Use a transformer violume cotrol for now, and focus on speakers (IMO, etc).
Thank you all for your answers.
As I don't want to pay the full price here is the choice I have :
- Acapella High Campanile ion tweeter
- Avantgarde Trios, 225 Subs
- Kharma Exquisite Reference midi 1a
- Wilson Audio X-2 ALEXANDRIA (price is too high for me)

I'm not sure about the horn+sub..

What do you think?
Acapella Campanile, no doubt.
However, I've heard that the ion tweet needs to be replaced every 10 yrs or so -- this could be just rumour. Also note that these are big speakers. OTOH, despite their unusual styling, they seemed quite acceptable to certain women in the room I was auditioning (one commented on the "art deco-ish" styling)!
Well, IMO Kharma Exquisite Reference Midi 1A is more Human choice( and better one,too )...
Also, they are easier to sell on the second hand market( If you will upgrade in future.. ). Regarding preamp-Lamm L2 Reference is natural partner with your M1.2 but, if you need remote there are also few other options as well.
I would not rule out the EMM gear so quickly without using a pre-amp first....don't jump to such a conclusion as the DAC (I think u referring to the DAC6 not DCC2?) is not really designed to be directly plugged into a power amp. I do own Meitner gear (DCC2) and love it but your tastes may differ but at least try it in another setting. The DCC2 does have a pre-amp built in which I think is quite good, but u can also bypass it and use a separate pre-amp as well. But DAC direct into pwr amp...The dCS gear I've auditioned is also excellent and also better at direct into power amps...but just based as digital front end I personally prefer Meitner.
you should really try to listen to all these individual speakers before you settle on a choice ... I would surely chose the Acapellas over the Avantgarde's as long as the power is there to drive them ... their horns are better built to withstand the sonic signature of the horns themselves and offer a larger sweetspot.

... the Karmas are also among the best out there, VSA VR-11 or VR-9 should also be auditioned if you are considering this level of performance ...

but no matter what speaker you decide to get, none will approach the highs of the Acapellas ... I think most people out there will agree on that.
Dear all,
my biggest problem for me is quite simple : there is no show room with the right speakers, excpet the Karma Midi Exquisite
I have to admit that the accapela are a bit .. big and not easy to ship and to set up as I will not get help from any dealer.
VR9 are not available in France.. would love to hear them..
The CD/SACD player from DCS has a new mechanism I believe but I would love to hear the big Zanden
thank you all for your feedback