The differences are real and significant depending on your speakers. The late Lars Fredell wrote a very positive review of the Tenor in Ultimate Audio. He had previously driven his Verity Parsifals with the ML2s and had been a Lamm disciple for many years. He felt that the Tenors were much more dynamic on his Parsifals then the Lamms haad been.
Lars is the only one I know who had actually been able to hear both amps in a controlled environment. They have each sounded supurb in the CES rooms that I have heard them in.
The amplifiers are quite different, and although each is excellent, the performance will depend largely upon what speakers they are driving. The Tenors are OTLs putting out 75 w/ch into 8 ohms, while the Lamms are single ended transformer coupled, putting out 18 watts into 8 ohms.
I recall reading you are using kharma 3.2's if that is the case and you can afford the Tenor's its a no brainer to me! The Tenor/kharma synergy is something very special- I don't think I have ever heard better sound than that combonation. The 75's also have enough power to drive the 3.2's with aplomb, I don't see any done falls aside from the $$$. The lamm is a great product just not on the level of the Tenor's- but that's not surprising because nothing is.
You are correct in remembering that I've got the 3.2's with the Lamm ML2. The combination produces unbelievable detail and dimension but I was also hoping to get a lot more air and immediacy. My concern is that the Tenor's have the potential to blow out my speakers. Not because I blast my music, but possibly due to some amp anomaly. This is what someone in the industry told me. Is there any truth to that.
Its true the ceramic midrange is very fragile, that being said I don't see how the Tenor's would be any more or less prone to having a woofer failure. A small current surge or static charge could take out a ceramic driver, I would have to assume that those forces would effect any amplifier.
At this point you have a great amp, if you are happy I wouldn't do anything. If you are looking for that last bit of performance I feel the Tenor's are the next(and last) logical step.
Henry.. OTL's are directly conneted to your speaker. Thats why there is a greater chance for a "blow-out".
There are probably some safety measures in the amp or possibly some you cn add before your speakers.. but they will compromise the sonics.
I heard both amps you are looking at.
IMHO, you should look at the BAT VK-75SE. It's alot less $$$ with almost all the goodness.
Its not quite as fast as the Tenor, but its very close.. with lots of air. The Lamm has that SET magic, but is harder to match up to speakers.
To clairify my last statement about OTL's. The tube is directly connected to the speakers. So if a tube shorts, it can send lots of current to the speakers.
A transformer based amp, isolates this current along with other saftey features.
You are "hoping to get a lot more air and immediacy". The Kharmas are known for not having an over-abundance of air on top, and neitehr does the Lamm (though to a lesser extent). So you will have to 'work' to get as much air as this combination is capable of. When you say that you also want to increase 'immediacy', this may indicate that there may be something else in your system that is suboptimal, sucking away some of the performance that is possible with your amp/speaker combination. Have you tried various vibration isloation techniques with the ML2? Even though Vladimir designs the amps with specific attention to isloating the parts from mechanical vibration - they still benefit from further attention to this tube-component's curse.
As far as the Tenor/Kharma combination is concerned, Tireguy is correct in that this is certainly a very synergistic combination - on par with the Lamm/Kharma combination - but with a different 'flavor'. One of the immediately obvious differences is in the dynamics, both micro and macro: whereas the Lamm, correctly isolated, renders all of the dynamics in a flowing, almost joyous manner, the Tenors render them in an eager and youthful, exciting manner. I am not familiar enough with the Tenors to say how they wear over time with respect to their innate musicality and naturalness - but people I respect have been very, very happy with them. I have also never heard of a Tenor damaging a speaker, and having talked to the people at Tenor who are very competent and detail oriented engineers, I think you can go back to worrying about lightning strikes and rogue vacuum cleaners and those other, numerous, more common audiophile hazards... :-)
Mike (Lamm dealer)
Heard both the Tenor/3.2 and Lamm ML2/3.2 as well as the the ML2's on the Kharma Exquisites. The ML2's are by far the best of the Lamm amps, and by a wide margin. I owned the Tenor/3.2 combo, which I preferred to the ML2/3.2 combo. Both are very good, the differences I heard as follows:
Tenors are more dynamic, extended in the highs, transparent and open and have a more realistic bass. Better attack of notes, and a "you area there" sense. I found the soundstage, width and particularly depth more reasistic with the Tenors. Overall I found the Tenors more lifelike, to the extent that the Lamms sound somewhat polite and anemic by comparison.
Well, as a person who ultimately familiar with both amplifiers I sincerely suggest you to look in the Tenor direction. Compare to the Tenor Lamms SET has two major disadvantages that really put Lamms out of the game:
1) Absent on the contemporary market a loudspeaker that would qualify to be driver by ML2 and that would be able to utilize even on 50% the ML2s capacities. Trust me, when people drive their fanny 89-95 dB sensitive speakers with ML2 they just satisfier their egomania to own $30K amplifier and as a result, they do not take advantage what ML2 is capable to offers.
2) Absent among the majority of the people doing audio the individuals who were capable to form a noble enough demands in audio and, as a result, their incapacity to discriminate audio result. Pay attention, you are asking this question at the forum that has a Musical section. Go there, read the context of the posts and you will have a clear picture about the individuals and thinking you deal around. If you find that what you read there stimulates you then defiantly go for the Tenor.
I hope this will help,
Romy the Cat
Romy is not only ultimate, but seriously intimate.
You're far to obtuse to choose Lamm.
All speakers pale in comparison to Avantgarde.
This forum has a musical section, the content of which is musically infantile and not worthy of erudite Russion interest. It is laughable.
By your mere inquiry on this feeble site, you're doomed to make make untintelligent decisions because, well, you're unintelligent.
Due to above, Romy farts in your (our) general direction, and feels much better about himself.
I want to thank you all for your responses...much appreicated.
On safety ...
I listened extensively to Tenor/Kharma and Lamm/Kharma in a controlled environment. I chose Tenor despite my own conerns about OTL safety. It seems one of the output tubes in one of my Tenors was, unbeknownst to me, damaged in shipment. As a result, shortly after setting up my system, the damaged tube arced or something (blue flash, loud pop, very scary). No damage whatsoever resulted to my Kharmas. After getting replacement tubes, the sound is magic.
I second Txlef. I have gone through 8 amps
in the last couple years and stopped with the
Tenor 75's in combination with Verity Parsifals.
I have a grin everytime I turn them on. These
amps are used between 8 to 14hrs every day with
Does anyone have experience with the Tenors driving Quad 989's? Although the Quad is relatively efficient, does the impedance, rated "nominal 8 ohms", but I fear lower, create a potential problem for the Tenors?
Also, does anyone have an amp recommendation for the Quad?
Louis- Wait a few months and the Tenor Hybrids will be available- stunning to say the least. I am very seldom blown away by a product but the hybrid tenors were just amazing, I've never heard sound like I have from those amps. There is a HUGE number of people who have pre-ordered these so it may be hard to get your hands on one for some time, however when they are available you'll hear more of what I am reffering to. The OTL's are still great but if you have any other then an OTL friendly speaker(i.e. 90+dB and 8 ohms or higher) they wouldn't work optimally. The hybrids are a great solution to the other 95% of speakers out there.
I think you are on the money regarding the Tenor OTL's. If properly matched they can be stunning, but any deviation from the groove and the magic is gone. I actually heard the new hybrids in San Francisco last month in a show environment driving the Kharma, and they were impressive.Actually the entire system was impressive.
If they are stable and don't exhibit any solid state character, they are probably worth looking into. It is my understanding the outputs use transistors, which makes me question if the sound quality is really there.