Lamm 1.2 or Ayre MXR's

I'm thinking of up grading and think I've narrowed it down to these two . I've found demo pairs of both for about the same coin . I'm using a 6 year old Levinson amp now and have also thought about a newer version . For particulars see my system link .
With the Salons you will need all the power you can get, so between the two amps you've listed, I would recommend the Ayre MXR amps. (I just don't think that the 110 wpc Lamm M1.2 amps will be able to drive the Salons properly.)

However, if you really like the Lamm sound, (and I do, since I own the Lamm M2.1 monoblocks), I can highly recommend the Lamm M2.2 monoblocks. These 220 wpc amps will have the power to get the Salons to come to life. (IMHO, the Lamm M2.2 amps are tied for the best amps I have ever heard; the VAC Phi 300.1 amp being the other.)

PS I used to own the original Revel Studios. At first I used a Levinson No. 27 (100 wpc) amp to drive them, but it lacked the power to really get the bass to integrate properly. I upgraded to the Levinson No. 23 (200 wpc), and the sound was much better. However, it was when I went to the aforementioned Lamm M2.1 monoblocks that I got the absolute most out of the Studios.

Good Luck in your search!
I rarely listen above 90 db , so thats what , two watts ?
The Lamm's are Class A, so don't let the 110 watts fool you. I know they easily drive the Wilson Sasha, which can be a load on an amp given their impedence dip. With that said, I can't speak for the synergy between Lamm and Revel
Ayre MX-Rs: when?

October 5, 2010


When do you expect to publish your review of the Ayre MX-R amps? I was ready (after a great amount of thought and a slow build up of cash) to pull the trigger on Lamm M1.2s (to be used with my Audio Research Reference 5, Wilson Audio Sasha W/Ps, and Shunyata cables), but after I saw that you were going to review the MX-Rs, I decided to hold back. I'm generally not a fan of solid state and like the Lamm hybrid concept, but I've heard great things about the MX-Rs and knew a now-former Audio Research dealer who sold a few Reference 5/ MX-R combos. I await your comparison. A sneak preview would be great, and I would not reveal your thoughts to anyone. However, I can also appreciate if, like the rest of your readers, I have to wait for the public release.

R. Wade

My review of the Ayre MX-R amps is still more than a month away from being published, but I can tell you that the MX-R is a member of a select group of the very best amps I've heard regardless of technology. I hate it when equipment reviewers titillate instead of inform, anointing some new product as "the best" without adequate explanation, but I can't get around that with the MX-Rs at this point. To find out specifics, you'll have to wait for my review. I don't think you can go wrong with either the Lamm M1.2s or Ayre MX-Rs, but I'm sure one will be more right for you and your system than the other. -Marc Mickelson
For high-order crossover speakers, the original Salons are quite good - exceedingly good at current used prices - and have to be paired carefully with electronics. I ran my Salons with Rowland Model 6's (with batteries) and VAC Renaissance 140's for use with symphonic music with great success. It is a myth that they require a ton of power - as a really good speaker, they cast a very negative light on the global feedback used in almost all high-powered amps. My experience is that they definitely sound best with 100 to 150 watt amps, assuming you are not using them in a huge room for symphonic or pop music, or using them for home theater (an enormous waste of a very good speaker, by the way, but that's generally how Revel and their dealers pitched them).

Either of the amps you are looking at are fine. Because you have the Ayre preamp, it would presumably match up best with the Ayre amp. The Lamm puts off a lot of heat, but sounds very good for what is basically a solid-state amp and is plenty powerful assuming intelligent use of the speaker. I never ran mine with my darTZeel, but have a close friend who did so for several years and it was a superb match in every respect. Every set-up I heard using recent-vintage Madrigal amps sounded like shit on Salons, but I did hear them sounding good with 434 monos at one of my dealers.

Good luck.
The Salons may be over kill for ( home theater ) Raquel , but have you heard a Blueray music video played back thru your Fi . Its equal to or better than what i'm getting from my SACD's . And i bought into Blueray with an inexpensive spinner . Have a great evening . MAX
Salons are very impressive for home theater because of the 4th-order crossovers, multiple proprietary drivers, and copious deep bass (i.e., they go loud as hell, cleanly). I just think their best use is with high resolution, two-channel audio, particularly when used for symphonic music, especially what it costs at retail to obtain a speaker that can do symphonic.
I would definitely go with the lamms 1.2, if not M2.2
Tried and proven amps.
Do the Lamm's run hot ? I leave my equipment on 24 7 52 , so the last few decades i've tried to stay away from hot running gear . I loved my A.R.C. Ref 3 pre amp , but even turning off the gear between listing sessions I was still logging over 5000 hours per year . ( old retired fart ) . Meaning new tubes every 10 months , $550. per set , plus a 3 to 4 hundred hour run in time , 45 minute warm up time , and the air conditioner had to run more in the summer , that you could here slightly in the music room .
Yes, the Lamms run from very warm, (Lamm M2.2s), which will raise the room temperature a few degrees, to hot, (Lamm M1.2s), which will raise the temperature several degrees.

I put up with this because:

1. I live in a moderate climate, (coastal region of California), where the summer temperatures rarely climb into the 90's. (And I can live with temperatures into the low 80's, especially since that is an excellent reason for pouring myself a nice glass of wine or beer.)

But on those few really hot days, I run the air conditioner to cool off the room, then shut it down once my amps have warmed up, and I can get in a few hours of listening.

And in the winter, I just love my Lamm space heaters! ;-)

2. The sound is excellent from the Lamms, and very little can touch their sonics.

3. The Lamms add that touch of tube sound to the music, but with only having one tube in each amp, means tube rolling is easy and (relatively) cheap.

And as long as we are talking about the tubes, I should point out that while the stock tubes are okay, (Sovtek 6922's), getting a couple of nice NOS tubes will definitely upgrade the sonics. (I use the Amperex Pinched Waist 6922's, which are some of the best, and are of course expensive @ $400/pair), which give excellent results. But even going with my previous tubes, (Amperex Orange Globe 6DJ8's, which were fairly moderately priced @ $50/pair), gave very, very good results.

As far as running the amps 24/7, it really is not necessary for the Lamms, based upon my, and my friend's, experience. (I have two other friends who currently run the Lamm M2.2s, and I have another who also ran the M2.1s.) We have found that after half an hour or so of warmup, that the sound is very good. After a full hour or so, the sound is excellent, and does not change much more even with more extended warmup time. (But if you insist about running the amps 24/7, at least you'll know that replacing the tubes will not be too expensive, as there is only one in each monoblock.)

I've lived with the Lamm M2.1s for about five years now, and except for wanting to upgrade to their successor, the M2.2s, I have no desire to upgrade to anything else. (And neither do either of my friends, with the M2.2s, who have tried many amps over the years, but have stuck with Lamm for many years too.)

My two cents worth.
I would imagine that running the Class A-biased Lamm amp on a 24/7 basis would add an extra $50-$75/month to your electric bill - being Class A-biased, it's probably pulling 700-800 watts at all times. Another potential issue is maintaining bias, as some solid-state Class A-biased amps have to be periodically re-biased due to bias drift, and running them constantly may pose a maintenance issue. Don't get me wrong - I really respect the Lamm Class A-biased amp, but such designs could be more practical. I have owned a Class A-biased triode tube amp for ten years (VAC Renaissance 70/70 and 140/140 monoblocks), and can say that they get hot and use a shitload of electricity.

Not to stray off topic, but it could be that you burned through tubes in your ARC Ref 3 preamp precisely because you turned it off and on instead of just leaving it powered up 24/7. Contrary to popular belief, gear that uses small-signal tubes often experiences much better tube life if left on continuously as opposed to turning it on and off. The question I would have about the Ref 3 is whether the 6550 in the power supply would hold up if the preamp was left on continuously. Tubes in preamp power supplies sometimes pass a fair amount of current, and like output tubes in a tube amp, will last longer if the unit is turned on and off.
If you audition the MXR's turn them on an our or two before listening. They need to be warmed up to sound their best. Also, if you buy them replace all fuses, inside and out, with hi fi tuning fuses. It is a noticeable difference.
audiobeat now has the MX-R review posted and it includes a comparison with the Lamm 1.2. Sounds like you could be quite happy either way.
Here's a link to the MX-R review with Lamm M1.2 ref comparo:
Ayre Acoustics • MX-R Mono Amplifiers