I wish my LP12 were so well appointed. Nice system.
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A very good review and an interesting story. I have heard about the lumen white but not known anyone has heard them. You conveyed their image very well. The price is about 24,000 us, is that correct? What speakers did you replace? Do they need any burn in time? Thanks for the information and enjoy them. Diligence is usually paid out in the end.
I don't suppose I'll actually be hearing these speakers anytime that I can forsee, but they certainly do seem like an interesting and unique design. (One thing: I probably wouldn't be so quick to necessarily blame what you heard in some of those other auditions on the speakers alone, though your candor is appreciated.) Thanks for the nicely written account of your search, and enjoy them in good health for a long time to come.
Larry, that was a well written and thoughtful review. Thank you for contributing to Audiogon's member reviews.
I'd like to make a suggestion. I can see you are a discriminating listener, and you have wisely chosen tubes as your source equipment. I, too, owned both your Kora preamp and VAC Ren.(the 30/30). They are good pieces, but I would venture that they are now the weak links in your system.
I auditioned an Audio Valve Eklipse from Victor of Fanfare in NYC while I still had the Kora. Though it is not a recognized brand, this German linestage surpassed the Kora by a wide margin, and the build quality is typical German overbuild. Needless to say, I replaced the Kora in a heartbeat. Replacing the stock tubes with vintage Telefunken's only increased the gap. You mentioned your appreciation for rich midrange without harshness and loss of detail. That description fits the Audio Valve to a 'Tee'. The Kora is quite lean by comparison.
I loved my VAC until I gave a serious audition to Audio Research. I never realized how colored and unbalanced the VAC was until I heard the ARC VT100 mkII. I have since graduated to the VT200. Of course, ARC has created new models, but their tradition and sonic signature continue.
Both the Audio Valve and ARC are very reasonably priced, especially in relation to the cost of your speakers. You may want to audition both brands, if you are daring enough.
Thanks very much for your comments. I am in complete agreement that my preamp and amp are now the weak points of my system and am actively looking for replacements. While I had heard of Audio Valve I know very little about them. I will now try to arrange a demo, based on your recommendation. I am also considering an Audio Note M5 preamp, as well as the deHavilland linestage.
As for amps, I would like to demo some SETs to see how well they work with the Lumens. Because of the less-than-optimal impedance of the Lumens, I feel that a low-power SET will not adequately control the woofers. Thus, I am looking at higher output models inlcuding deHavilland Aries G845, the Art Audio Jota, and the Wavelength Cardinal X1. If I win the lottery, I will buy a Wavac. :)
Thanks again for your input.
I no longer pay much attention to reviews. In my earlier days, I did rely on reviews from all of the commonly recognized publications, and too often found myself in complete disagreement with the author. Whether the review was based on honest viewpoints or motivated by some hidden agenda (which is too often the case), I often wondered how i heard things so differently from the reviewer.
That's why auditioning is the only way to make a decision. I only suggested the models I mentioned because you and I had a common background with the Kora and VAC, as well as possibly common tastes in music and the way it should be heard. I am very partial to Audio Research because of the reputation of the company, their build quality, and of course, the company's way of voicing its products.
Best of luck. I wish I could hear the Lumens myself.
FYI Audio Valve is no longer imported by Victor Goldstein/Fanfare International. There is a new importer, whose info you can view on the Audio Valve website:
I feel that the Eklipse is one of the best sounding linestages for under $5k. It has gobs of resolution and remarkable high end and deep bass response, but it is sweet and mellow - not an ounce of grain or fatigue at all. It's also dead quiet, yet it has quite a bit of gain and a low output impedance which enables it to drive virtually any amplifier without complications. It also has balanced outputs and a remote.
Larry, thanks for the thoughtful review of the Lumen Whites.
As far as amplifiers for these speakers, the Ayon (formerly VAIC Audio) line of SET amplifiers are a perfect match. Althought they are SET, these amps use large VAIC Valve driver tubes and high-capacity transformers to reach the requirements of the Lumen Whites. I believe Acoustic Dreams also distributes them.
Final question for larry: how does your impression of the Lumen Whites compare with that of Michael Fremer in the Stereophile review?