Joule Electra LA-450ME

Category: Preamps

The Joule Electra LA-450ME is in my home! I'm really glad that I made such great a decision to change the preamp, lucky me.

After 2 weeks of burning-in, the sound has changed mostly in the lower register, becoming “softer” and “inside” the music. I have used the expression “softer” only because with the new unit it was hard and sharp on the edges, not vibrant, thus hard to determine the instrument playing. Mids and highs were not changed that much, but altogether everything has become impressive, emotional, natural, real and also magical.

The main point is that music is now the key of the system!

The JE LA-450ME replaced VTL 7.5 and I cannot say that the VTL was doing anything wrong, but the JE is just more powerful and natural, in fact everything moved toward real in terms of dynamic, timbre ie natural reach sound. It is difficult to explain the feeling and emotions over the usual technical reports and reviews. Here I would rather talk about playing as it simply is not possible to divide sound on our audiophile terms. The feeling is the same as when listening to live performance, where you are not able to say anything about the technical point of sound. High frequencies simply disappeared and joined the mids where they add micro-dynamic and natural timbre. Same happened with low frequencies adding to mids powerful deep sound. OK heights and lows did not really disappear when needed, but are so much more natural - hard to believe.

Whatever I’m going to listen to, I always find music in front of everything. Some good recordings, and I have some that are excellent, unique samples recorded by a friend that are not compressed and mixed: Sabir Mateen, Trewor Wats, Chad Taylor, The Necks and many other – they are to be heard! All these pieces are so powerful, so real, that I find myself starting to believe that the impossible is possible. So, whatever is recorded you will hear, but always in a very natural way.

The other day I listened to live diatonic button accordion, the instrument with the soul, and shortly after that on my system, where I found the same soul sound, except that live dynamic.

The rest of my system is Magneplanar MG 20.1 speakers and Spectron Musician III Mk II fully upgraded monobloks. MG owners know how hard is to bring to life planar speakers, so Spectrons are first steps and JE showed to me how much of sound is still inside MGs. All this experience led me to think of adding a second pair of Spectrons, and to convert passive speakers to active. Such an approach would bring the whole system to its ultimate where that missing hint of dynamic, to recognize this sound as real, will be surly added.
Guma15, congrats on your LA-450ME preamp. It is hard to put in analytical/objective terms when a piece of gear just sounds more "organic/musical" and lets you just relax and enjoy the music. Good job at trying to convey this experience.

Since you do not have your system listed here on the GON, I don't know if you have your 20.1's on Myesound stands, if you don't, you owe it to yourself to get a pair. Take a look at my review regarding of what happened with my 20's when I did. You don't know how good your 20.1's really sound until you do. Finally, yes, you should get rid of the Magnapan passive X-over and biamp with an active X-over to get everything out of your 20.1's. You would be amazed at how much more performance is latent in your speakers with these two last tweaks.
I have no doubt that a good measure of the sound improvement in the 450 is due to the Mundorf and Vcap upgrades. The stock caps in Joule are a weak link. Modding out the caps in my LA 100 MK. III transformed the sound!
"I have no doubt that a good measure of the sound improvement in the 450 is due to the Mundorf and Vcap upgrades "

There is MUCH MORE in Marianne-Electra series preamp (300, 450 ans OPS-4) then capacitors !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scientifically its called MAGIC !!!!!

450ME is in essense two LA-300ME under one roof and "300" just now got Harry Pearson of TAS "2010 HP Editor Choice Award" for being "most romantic" ...yet without euphonic coloration.

Congrats Guma
Teajay, as you already guess, any kind of 'technical' description of such extraordinary audio gear as Joule Electra LA-450ME is, newer occupying my minds by simple reason: music with all naturally is there and only this count.
My MG 20.1 are already supported by Myesound similar designed stands this is why I started with last major upgrading to have active bi-amping with 4 Spectron monoblocks. Let’s hear the results.

Sns, Rafael already return with what I completely agree. Capacitors are of course important but do not forget also to other top of the art elements used and most of all to the Jud design which give us music.

Best regards
To Add to original review:

I haven’t had the opportunity to hear for myself other JE products which have received only the best comments, particularly the LE-300ME which has fascinated its owners.

How much better is the LA-450ME? I can’t say, but I do know the difference between RCA and XLR and at least for me - it is huge, with a balanced system sound it becomes more ‘balanced’ not only as type of construction.

After more than one month in the system, the overall sound with the LE-450ME has changed and has become really unique and hard to compare to anything, so firm, detailed, energetic, correct, real… That is no any doubt that we are talking about a state of the art product.

Low frequencies are very powerful, firm, detailed, with real sound vibrations which are transferred from speakers to the listener’s body. When a bas guitar string is plucked you can hear that most deep string vibration – which gives me the shivers! A piano playing in lower registers is strong, naturally big and at the same time soft when recorded from a distance. All instruments which are ‘working’ in lower registers can be clearly separated from each other, and most of all, every instrument is playing with its own size, timbre, details and dynamics. These powerful low tones give us a real live picture of the concert as there is no mixing of low, mid or upper frequencies - everything is clean and well separated.

Mid frequencies have such clear natural details and tones that you can hear every single instrument detail without any effort. For example, the saxophone sound vibrates as it should and you will clearly hear when the player presses the valves and when the valves hit the pad cups but again in such a natural way that it is hard to distinguish from live sound. Drums membranes are there, sticks hitting them are there and the sound!! The violin, yes, your hair will be up-streamed. I must comment also the voices, chorus. Opera voices are like explosions with such great dynamics, reach timbre and clarity.

High frequencies are not as we know them from other sound systems’ hi-end gear. There is absolutely no ‘screaming’ at all. They are always fluid and natural. There is no instrument or orchestra attack at any level to disturb the high frequency pleasures - phenomenal.
When listening to classical music pieces where everything comes together and loud, when you already begin to expect that something will go wrong – nothing happens to the sound, the music just goes on and on, without a single limitation in their performance.
And for the end, the natural melodical sound brings everything to the level of live sound where everything has its body and soul.

There indeed is a lot more that can be said about sound but it is hard to find more superlatives to describe the extraordinary Joule Electra LA-450ME.

I’m sure that you will go on listening for on and on, as you will not believe yourself that you are actually hearing what you are - so good everything is! You will ask yourself - is this possible?

Altogether, this is something to make you a proud owner, not only for the Joule Electra LA-450ME, but also of your whole audio system - period.

Grado – The Statement
ESE Lab – Nibiru phono
Custom turntable and arm (to be upgraded to ESE Lab DD turntable)
Joule Electra – LA-450ME
Spectron – Musician III Mk II, fully upgraded monoblocks (two more to come to have 4 monoblocks in total good for bi-amping)
Magnepan – MG 20.1 with Mye stands, Magnepan designed active XLR crossover is available
Combak – Remyo CDP-777
Elrod – 5 pcs old Statement and one Signature Gold (from wall socked) (target is to add more new Elrods)
Acoustic Zen – Absolute PC, XLR IC and speaker cables (bi-wiring)
Spectron - Remote Sense RS Signature Loudspeaker cables are on the way to replace AZ Absolute
Quantum – QX4 and QB8
PS Audio – PS300
Yeil M&C – Magnetic levitation devices
Very interesting stuff!! I have had a number of preamps, the LA300ME being one! Right now I have the Atmasphere MP1 Mk3.1

Both the above mentioned preamps are amazing in their own ways. I find myself wondering how the LA450 would compare to my old LA300 and even the Atma!! I have been in contact with Joule and am considering trying the LA450. Any feedback you folks can give me on the comparison of these units would be appreciated.
Update.....bought an MBL6010D and waiting for it to get here! I will be directly comparing it to the Atma!
I have owned LA-300ME for about two years and I love this preamplifier. It takes me deep into the music.

Still, I wanted "the best" and about a months ago, I got LA-450ME. I expected improvement, obviously, but I was STUNNED, literally stunned by its performance. I have no words to describe the sound but let me illustrate my experience.

I love operas and each Saturday, as many know, there is FM transmission from Metropolitan Opera in New York.

I have very good tuner - modded Magnum Dynalab MD100T but its not the best in the world. Still with this tuner, LA-450ME, pair of Spectron monoblocks and Sasha speakers I literally saw performers 20 feet from my chair. I admit I did not see them very well with my eyes (temporary loss of vision I can only conclude) but they were here with me. I swear!!!

I don;t know what else can I say...

My hat off to Jud Barber (and Simon Thacher)

I've been looking around for a high-end tubed preamp for a while now. It's down to 2 candidates: JE LA-450ME and Zanden 3000.

I'd appreciate any comments/experience on these 2 from you fellows.

Thank you in advance.

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