Joule Electra LA-150 MK3 vs MK2?


Apparently there is a MK3 version of the highly regarded LA-150 now and I can't seem to find any info on it. Can anyone tell me how it differs from the MK2? Thanks in advance, John.
jman
Suggest you contact the source. Call Jud Barber at Joule Electra and ask him. He's a really nice guy and would be happy to answer your questions.
In case anyone were interested, these is no mkiii...it was a typo.
Hello Jman,
You probably mean new "Marianne Electra Memorial Edition Preamp" which is coming as a new flagship - it will be shown at CES 2009. At that time. I am told the info will appear on the web site. A few people who auditioned prototype were literally "shocked"
All The Best
Rafael
Marianne Electra Memorial Edition Preamp will be presented in Joule-Electra & Merlin Music Systems Room at
Consumer Electronics Show, 2009 January 8-11, at the Venetian Tower Hotel, Room 29-217

Come to listem - there is a chance it will not be complete waste of your time but rather interesting discovery....

Thank you
Just a update to confirm that Jud is sending out a Memorial Edition preamp for us (Merlin) to use at CES in the Joule/Merlin/Cardas room. Though I am bummed that Jud himself will not be coming to the show, I am looking forward to hearing the preamp, from what Jud has told me there is some interesting stuff inside!
I'm there.
Hello Clio09,
Please post your impressions of this preamp and of entire set up.
Thanks in advance
Rafael
I have visited the Merlin room at RMAF each time I've attended. Usually on multiple occasions. Having previously owned an LA-100 MkIII I'm familiar with the Joule sound and quality of the product.

Bobby P's room is always among my favorites at the show. The combination of Joule amps/preamp and Merlin speakers is quite synergistic and results in some incredibly pleasing sound (as further evidenced by other posts here). Bobby P is always a gracious host as well.

I'm quite excited about hearing the new preamp. Since I live in Las Vegas maybe Bobby and Bill will let me borrow it overnight to hear in my system. Of course they'd be welcome to come over for cocktails and to enjoy some music as well. What do you say guys?
Well Clio, it will just be the usual recent crew at CES this year for Merlin (Bobby and me - Rich Brkich)... Billy hasn't been to a show for a number of years (family obligations and since I'm available he can stay home and be at the plant to get some work done while Bobby is gone! :-)

Anyway, we will have both preamps there (Juds new one and the LAP-150MK2 we have been using at shows for the past few years). Any loan would have to have Jud's explicit permission as well as Bobby's (since he is basically in charge of the show suite and I'm just the help :-) ). We will have to play it by ear. Just gotta hope that all the gear gets there and the GES gorilla's don't trash it (we had some gear busted last years when it was returned from the show).

Bobby and I look forward to seeing you at the show!
Update: The preamp (LA-300 Marianne Barber Memorial Line Stage Preamp - Its not called the LA-150MK3) is up and playing in our (merlin/Joule/Cardas) show suite.... sounding very very good so far just only after a half hour of play.
I iunderstand the LA300ME retails for $14,800. Is it that much better than the LA150MK2 to justify that price?
Signaturesound

Thanks for the updates regarding the LA 300. Are you utilizing the new Cardas Clear IC and Speaker cables in your suite, and if so, how do think they compare to the Golden Reference cables? Thank you for your comments.
$14,800, ouch.

FYI, I posted my impressions of the Joule Electra Marianne Electra Memorial Edition preamplifier here.

Best,

iSanchez

Hi Isanchez! I was going also to write review. Your review reflect that I also feel - this preamp is the best in REALISTIC reproduction of recorded music. Immidiacy, presence and exquisitite details.
Thank you for your review !

All The Best
Rafael

Hi Rafael,

I'm glad you also got this preamp and that your experience with it is similar to mine. Please let us know more of your impressions later.

Best,

iSanchez

Yes, we are using the Clear speaker cables and some of the Clear interconnects in the show system (we didn't have enough Clear interconnects to wire the whole system). It is as it names implies, very clear and pure sounding cable. Pretty amazing micro and macro dynamics. The Cardas Clear speaker cable is just downright goofy good. In comparison to the Golden Ref, its more dynamic, quieter, and more extended at the frequency extremes. With all this clarity, you would think the cable may be all "HiFi" and no music, but it's tone, pitch, decay, body are all there and very pure. With only one Clear (at this time) interconect in the system (Cardas may get us more from them tomorrow), it is a bit harder to get the same beam on the interconnects, but I am hearing very similar things to what the speaker cable did when we swapped in the one interconnect.

BTW, yes $14.8K is ALLOT of green for the new Joule LA-300 preamp, but there are allot of very expensive parts in it.
Hello Signaturesound,

Thank you for the report from CES - please keep uis informed.
Its good to hear abour clear cable but since its Amp/Preamp discussion forum - tell us about LA-300ME. I did not buy so many (expensive or cheap) resistors, so many capaictors, half a pound of power supplies , three ounces of paint etc etc - I buy performance first of all - and here your observations would be most valid not the price per resistor - if I may suggest....

Thank you in advance
Rafael
As to value per dollar, that comparison is best left to other who can compare it with other $10K+ preamps. The best I cn do right now is discuss it in comparison to the LA-150MK11. I have to keep this short given I need to get the room going here today.

- Much better bass... the bass has outstanding resolution, weight, definition.
- Dynamics.. Again better. The LA-300 does appear more quiet to me so macro and micro dynamics are very well represented
- Top end sounds more extended... a very natural, liquid and open extension.
- Tone - The quieter nature of this preamp means that midrange tonality is better developed in its bloom and decay. Most importantly the tone sounds right.. with the correct amount of body and texture with outstanding resolution (would not be a Joule - Electra preamp otherwise IMHO)
- Soundstage/imaging... always a strength of Joule preamps IMO and this preamp does it in a excellent manner. The blacker background does result in better ability to define the images in the stage.

Gotta run. Have a good day everyone
Hello Signaturesound, Clio09 - now after, CES - what is yours impression of Joule-Electra LA-300ME preamp?
Thank you in advance
Rafael
Rafael, I sent you a private email.
Hi All,

There is a little report of the Merlin/Joule Electra room here.

I'm not sure if this room was using the new LA-300ME preamp.

Best,

iSanchez

That is the room. I agree the sound was more authoritative at CES vs. RMAF. Whether it was the speakers, LA-300, room or a combination of those (the amps and CDP were the same ones used at RMAF) components is the real question.

Perhaps for different reasons, I also hear a very authoritative sound, "resolving every bit of musical detail in an easygoing way", in my system, which is quite different from the system in the Merlin/Joule Electra room.

Best,

iSanchez
Isanchez, nice system. I'm not surprised you are getting the sound you describe from your system. I am sure the Joule is contributing to it. There are noticeable differences between the LA-300 versus both versions of the LA-150 and LA-100 MkIII.

BTW - I met Dr. Feickert at CES and spent quite a bit of time with him. He demonstrated his software and I was impressed enough with it that I'll be ordering a copy in the next few months along with his tonearm.


Bass, oh bass...

- we always pay attention to it. While I reported here that my most important impression of LA-300ME was its realistic music presentation which grabbed me and did not let go until I "wrote the check" - of course I noted separate "audiophile" characteristics. OK, let me comment on the bass.

First of all, previous preamp LA-150 MkII was characterized by its excellent bass. Harry Pearson, in his Golden Ear Award 2007 description wrote:

"...The LA-150, in its new edition, has bottom-octave response - and this includes the dynamics as well - that you seldom get in any line stage....you almost never, in any price range, get the explosive transient dynamics you get here..."

Sure, LA-300ME bass was much better then LA-150 MkII. In all aspects. Instrument's timbre particularly these dominated by low order harmonics were depicted with wonderful warmth , richness, sense of 3D body and presence. The sound had tremendous TREMENDOUS WEIGHT AND POWER in the bottom octaves. I never experienced in any preamplifier before - and I owned REX by BAT, CAT preamps and auditioned countless others - so POWERFUL SLAM this preamp has. The low frequencies reverberations were going thru out my chest, the listening chair I was in also vibrated - so DEEP and CRYSTAL CLEAN it was.
I was feeling the FURY of symphonic music CRESHENDO like I was there, sorry - THERE... Also, full body, rich and warm - the bottom end was extremely articulate, with exquisite rendering of texture and clarity of pitch....so I bought it...

All The Best
Rafael
Hello Rafael,

Congrats on the new preamp. I totally agree with you regarding the bass. It is so powerful, fast and clean that it really renders large orchestras with an uncanny level or realism.

Please keep us posted as you discover more.

Best,

iSanchez

Hello iSanchez,

I started to write review and I am forced to use words and re-used words (re-gifting) and its very difficult when your primary response is totally emotional (i.e. music grabs you and you cannot stop listening - most of us know this feeling).

You are correct we started to talk about bass (which is foundation for all music) and in the last post you mentioned orchestra - and this is much more then bass alone. The LA300ME recreation of an orchestra 's sheer size and scale was unmatched by any other component in my experience (may be except Elrod Signature Speaker Cable..). The soundstage has a "see-thru" clarity that made even quit instruments at the back vividly palpable. The instrument placement is done with stunning precision (razor-sharp) and air between them was "seen" or "felt" . In big orchestral climax, the LA300ME was totally effortless and yet composed. Despite this staggering dynamics the presentation has no hyped details or transients. This is more or less accurate description of orchestral presentation of this preamp. It has unprecedented resolution of fine detail yet - you do not hear these details - you hear or you feel the flow of music, you are surrounded by music be it orchestral or solo cello and you can't stop listening - you discover and rediscover your familiar discs again. Oh, boy!...and yes, the magnificent bass, powerful and crystal clear - its not something you would expect from tube preamp

All The Best
Rafael
Hello Rafael,

You assessments are stop on. It doesn't cease to amaze me how a single component takes a whole system and ... puff! ... the whole system disappears and only the music is left.

Best,

iSanchez

I meant to say spot on!

Best,

iSanchez
Dob... sorry for not getting back here sooner. I have been very busy trying to catch up with customer business since returning from the show, not to mention fighting a bad cold (more like bronchitis my Doc says).

To keep things short and sweet... my impressions of the LA-300ME remain the same. Superb sound-staging, dynamics, clarity, and musicality (i.e Resolution without brightness or texture). It gets the tone aspects of performance so right and then proceeds to offer the rest of these (audiophile) performance characteristics in a way that I think it is going to re-define what really good preamp can do.
I recently upgraded from the LA-150 MkII to the LA-150ME. The LA-150ME was only briefly available, and has since been replaced by the LA-300. Regardless, the LA-150ME is a clear improvement over the LA-150 MkII, which was already one of the most natural sounding preamps I've ever heard. The sound of the LA-150ME just sounds truer to the ideal of real music. Textural details of acoustic instruments are more detailed and realistic. I'm planning to upgrade my unit to the LA-300, as soon as Jud has the time.
Hello iSanchez,

I am writing review about this magic preamp but truth to be told you put all in one sentence:

"It doesn't cease to amaze me how a single component takes a whole system and ... puff! ... the whole system disappears and only the music is left."

How right you are - its all about music not components here

All The Best
Rafael
Hello Psag,

Congratulations on your new preamp! Real music is what it's all about. Like Signaturesound said it: "it is going to re-define what really good preamp can do".

I had a little incident (in a good way) with this preamp. The other day, I was playing "Sunday at the Savoy" (from "88 Basie Street") louder than usual and some of the bass notes really charged the room to the point that everything started shaking and one of the crystals from the dining room chandelier fell down and hit the dinning table. That's how powerful, and yet controlled, music is after I added this preamp to my system.

For the record, I don't have a subwoofer connected to my stereo system and my Maggies 3.6 can only go down to 34hz.

Best,

iSanchez
iSanchez, Its interesting how this preamp can enhance what we call "slam", something I previously attributed mainly to the amplification stage. Fortunately this preamp is able to balance it with natural yet detailed sound. No doubt the internal Elrod wiring is important in balancing these qualities.
Ouch, I think someone hit me in the eye with their pom pom
01-19-09: Psag
iSanchez, Its interesting how this preamp can enhance what we call "slam", something I previously attributed mainly to the amplification stage. Fortunately this preamp is able to balance it with natural yet detailed sound. No doubt the internal Elrod wiring is important in balancing these qualities.

I was wondering the same thing. The fact that David Elrod developed the wiring just for this preamp says to what extent Jud Barber wanted this preamp to be very, very special.
Hello Psag and iSanchez - as much as LA-300ME bass is magnificent and my Spectron monoblocks are not shy in that area - I happened to auditioned a few times David Elrod not new interconnects or power cords but speaker cables, specifically Gold (I can't afford to buy it) These added bass in very, very impressive manner - so I agree with you that addition of Elrod Gold hook-up into LA-300ME was signaificant development.

Chao - I am going back to my listening room....

All The Best
Rafael
Hello Rafael,

I have to admit that this kind of sound is very addictive.

BTW, I have an Elrod Statement Silver power cord arriving in the next few weeks. It is supposed to be a great match to this preamp. I'll post my impression once I get it.

Best,

iSanchez
Hello ISanchez: Simon Thacher of MCV Consulting who work with Jud Barber told me that new J-E phono stage is coming. Also based on LAX-300ME technology and suppose to be paired with it. Similar power supply etc.

Regarding Elrod power cord, I use older EPS-3 Signature with my Joule-Electra preamp. I expect that new Silver or Gold are much better but I concentrated on the speaker cables to match my Spectron amplifier which Simon aslo voiced when he was with Spectron Audio

All The Best
Rafael
Hey guys - I want to ask a touchy question without starting a flame war. Just an honest question. I have a Supratek Chardonnay (well known here on Audiogon) that was only 2.3k. If I moved up to this pre for 14.8k can anyone who has heard both tell me what I get? Similarly, I use older Pass Amplification that used was in the 2k range, and their current models are 10 - 40k... I know there is a price/performance curve that isn't linear, and I've heard truly amazing things about Joule gear, so what do I get for the 12k difference?
Hello Lightminer,

I did auditioned Supratek but not in my system. Still from this experience, I would suggest that Jud Barber new LA-300ME is in totally different class - most strikingly for me is its removal of any artificuality between you and the music. I expressed it in my review (along with many other audiophile attributes) and I believe iSanchez expressed exactly the same reaction as I have ( see his review too). May be its because we are musicians and we appreciate realism more ten anything else. In this (real music representation) I never heard in any other preamp (closest is REX by BAT ($21k) in my opinion)

All The Best
Rafael
I'll check out the reviews. I'll also see if I can audition them as well just out of curiosity - it will be many years before I can lay down that kind of money for audio equipment. But who knows...
Hello Rafael,

Thanks for the insight.

Hello Lightminer,

I don't have a Supratek, but I've had the Joule Electra Marianne Memorial Edition preamp for a few months now. This is a fantastic preamp by any measure and I have already written about it in these forums and in the reviews section here in Audiogon.

Your question made me curious about what my system would sound like without the preamp. I connected the Benchmark DAC1 straight to the mono-blocks and listened. Unfortunately, I had to get up and leave within 20 seconds. That's how much I could stand listening to my system without this preamp. It was as if the life was sucked out of the music. The sound became very dry. Soundstage organization was all over the map. Voices sounded congested, as if singing with a sore throat. Bass impact and definition was gone. I could not feel the bass in the next room as is the case with the Joule Electra preamp.

I then plugged the Joule Electra preamp again and life came back to the music. What I learned with this ephemeral experiment was that it is very easy to live with the Joule Electra's presentation of the music, and that it is very difficult to listen to anything else but live music.

I can see that you also have the Maggies 3.6. At least in my system, this preamp brought a lot of depth, slam, texture and definition to the bass. What is interesting is that this is something that is more associated with amps, not preamps. I have a Velodyne HGS 15 subwoofer that I just use as a side table. I connected this sub a few days after I got this preamp and, at least with Jazz and Classical, there was just a bit more bass, but this came at the expense of pitch definition. So the sub went back to be what it's being doing for a while: being a nice, glossy side table.

Best,

iSanchez
" ...What is interesting is that this is something that is more associated with amps, not preamps"

Hello iSanchez,

Are you suggesting that the sonic improvment you observed and described are due more from Jouole-Electra LA-300ME preamp or your Spectron Musician III Mk2 amplifiers?

Thank you very much

Rafael
"Your question made me curious about what my system would sound like without the preamp. I connected the Benchmark DAC1 straight to the mono-blocks and listened. Unfortunately, I had to get up and leave within 20 seconds."

This implies that the Joule Electra Marianne Memorial Edition preamp might be performing something like equalization. Perhaps you simply prefer this equalization to a more truthful presentation.

I don't mean to offend but maybe this isn't what others may prefer.
Hello Rafael,

"Are you suggesting that the sonic improvment you observed and described are due more from Jouole-Electra LA-300ME preamp or your Spectron Musician III Mk2 amplifiers?"

That is correct. This kind of bass depth, weight, pitch, definition etc., was not there until the Joule Electra preamp was inserted in my system.

A friend out ours, who plays in a quartet, heard his own recording in my system and his jaw literally dropped. He said he's never heard such a clean, articulate and pitch-correct sound from an audio system. This is from a musician who has a few recordings already and who travels to many countries performing. Most of what he said is also because of the Joule Electra preamp.

Best,

iSanchez
Hello iSanchez,

This is exactly what I hear with LA-300ME. Equally as you, I own two Spectron monoblocks with Bybees. Addition of 2nd amplifier was improvement and I thought "can't be better" - but yes it can.

You are more brave then I am - I was afraid to state that for my ears addition of (rather expensive) preamplifier improved bass and slam much more noticeable then 7000 watts (seven thousand watts!) of Spectron peak power.

Its good amplifier, I own them - monos and not planning to sell yet. However, MUSIC , real MUSIC, nothing between you and MUSIC (and bass and shmass and whatever) - only this preamp did it for me - personally speaking.

Never before I have had such experience (besides live concerts, of course).

Very interesting that my speakers are very different from your - B&W802N , and yours are planar Maggies 3.6 - still MUSIC is MUSIC is MUSIC....is MUSIC !!!!!!!!!!

All The Best
Rafael
"This implies that the Joule Electra Marianne Memorial Edition preamp might be performing something like equalization. Perhaps you simply prefer this equalization to a more truthful presentation."

There is no question that adding any component to a particular system will change the sound, so that will be the case for any audio system. One can also ask these questions: Are the new speakers equalizing or simply passing through the signal? Does the signal need to be corrected, re-timed perhaps? I don't know.

Also, there have been many others who connect a DAC or phono preamp directly to amplifiers and they report that the straight connection to the amps lacks life, etc.

I'm very familiar with equalizers. I'm also very familiar with recording studios. I also know very well what live music sounds like. This preamp simply sounds like live music, which in my opinion is the truthful presentation. BTW, I'm not the only one hearing live music with this preamp. So maybe this preamp is de-equalizing?

I've heard systems costing 100K - 150K that don't sound like live music, but they sound great in the hi-fi sense. Some may just prefer this to live music and they are very happy with it.

Best,

iSanchez
Hello Rafael,

So far, everybody (mostly classical professional musicians) who has listen to my system says the same thing: it's like the musicians are here!!!

Best,

iSanchez