There is a real nice Thor T1000 ( upgraded mk2 ) with remote.These work real well with Lamm. Asking price is a bargian and they are bulit to last a lifetime and sound gorgeous.I know I own one!
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My friend uses the ARC Ref. 2 with his M2.2s, and that combo sounds great. (Albeit with the normal tube rushing noise.) Tube rolling will solve some, but not all, of the tube rushing issue.
The Lamm preamp has quite a bit less of this tube rushing noise, but does not have the features that the Ref. 2 has, such as a remote, or balanced inputs, or nearly the number of inputs. (Having only 3 SE inputs and no remote does limit the Lamm preamp, although sonically, it is tough to fault. Well, except for the dual volume controls! Personally, I am with you and I really want a remote, if only to control the volume.)
I use the Ayre K-1XE preamp with my M2.1s, which (obviously, being a solid state preamp), removes the tube rushing from the equation. It has a remote, albeit a very basic remote that only controls volume and muting. I like it a lot, (especially since my ears are particularly sensitive to tube rushing), and it has a very good phono section, something the ARC and Lamm don't offer. However, if you like the sounds of tubes, (and who doesn't? Well, besides me!), and don't mind the tube rushing noise, then you'll need to look elsewhere.
If you like ARC products, check out a used ARC Ref. 2 here on Audiogon. If you like it, great, you saved a bunch of money. If not, sell it and try something else. (Buying it used will allow you to try it relatively cheaply, even if you have to resell it eventually.)
My two cents worth anyway!
Good luck in your search.
After I posted my response, I took a look at your system. (BTW, hopefully only one response posted - I had a problem with the computer, and it may have posted multiple responses. If so, I'm sorry!) I noticed that you are running the Audio Aero Capitole II cdp (Nice choice btw! I was impressed when I heard one a few months back!).
My question is: Why do you need a preamp?
I assume you are running the cdp straight into the amps, correct? A another friend of mine runs his Capitole II straight into his Lamm M2.1s and loves it that way.
(This of course limits you to one input device though, correct? Or are you thinking of adding a second, or more, source? I'll tell you, nothing beats a good analog setup, not even a Capitole II! If this is the way you are considering going, you might want to consider the Aesthetix line. Either going with a Calypso (preamp) and a Rhea (phono stage) or a Janus, which combines the two into one chasis. I don't think the Janus is quite as good as the ARC equipment, but if you are looking to save a little cash and are adding a analog source, this might be the best way to go.
Anyway, thought you might be interested in my second thoughts.
Again, Good luck in your search!
I'm thinking about getting a linestage simply 'cos AA sounds better through a GOOD pre with its onboard attenuation set to 0dB than direct. Besides, I was thinking of upgrading a CDP too, and not having a linestage limits my future choice quite considerably.
But now my plan of getting ARC Ref 3 and ARC CD7 just fell apart.
Interesting regarding the AA sounding better through a preamp. My Resolution Audio Opus 21 is the exact same way.
(Although, I take advantage of the option to bypass the volume control completely by using the DIN output, rather than merely setting the attenuation to 0, on the RCA or XLR outputs.)
Why do you wish to upgrade from the AA, by the way?
Have you heard the ARC CD7, and is it really better than the AA?
(I find that hard to believe, given how great I thought the AA sounded.)
I have heard that some modded units sound slightly better, such as the APL moded units, but other than that, I have heard the AA is pretty much top of the heap. (Well, at least unit you start spending $20K, which is completely out of the question for me.)
Ah, so there are the $20K CDPs I mentioned in the post above!
Just as a thought: Have you considered trying out vinyl?
I have heard the AA (as I mentioned), and it is very, very good! No question, one of the best CDPs on the market.
However, that being said, it still does not equal the sound that a good analog setup can produce. I will not say it will be cheaper than the cost of the AA, (or the Reimyo or the EMM, for that matter!) but then again, it does, IMHO, sound better. (In fact, IMHO, it is much better, to the point that I rarely listen to CDs.)
If you are considering spending that kind of cash, you could get yourself a really good turntable, arm, cartridge and cleaning equipment, and have two different sources to choose from. (And since you are already wanting to get a preamp anyway, that cost won't figure too much into the costs. Just the cost of the phono stage, which is not too expensive. Alright, alright, it is expensive, but not TOO expensive!)
Just a thought.
(Or are you one of those lazy S.O.B.s, who doesn't like to get up to change record sides!
And be constantly cleaning records!
And cleaning the stylus!
And looking for the best vinyl version of your favorite LP!
Geez, remind me again, why am I recommending vinyl?
Oh yeah, it sounds better!)
I'm guessing I'm the one Kurt mentioned with the Capitole direct to the M2.1s. I haven't tried a good preamp in my system yet, so I can't give you an idea of whether it improves the Capitole. I'm pretty happy running direct, but I'm under the impression that a good preamp will improve things. I guess it doesn't matter though, since my Capitole doesn't have analog inputs, and I'm working towards adding a turntable. Gotta get a pream whether I like it or not...
For a long time, I said I'd never buy a Lamm preamp because of the dual volume knobs and lack of remote control. I consider this stuff to be a luxury, and a luxury doesn't reqire me to actually walk to the equipment to turn the volume up or down. After some thinking (and falling in love with the L2 in other systems) I've decided I can deal with it. I haven't really gotten over the idea of no remote for volume, I've gotten around it... When I'm seriously listening, I almost never change the volume. If I really need to, there's always the volume control on the Capitole. I don't see myself moving to anything other than the AA Prestige or the Meitner setup, so I'll probably always have a volume control.
And, I have to agree with Kurt about analog. I've heard the Meitner CDSD/DCC2, the Audio Aero Prestige, and the Brinkmann Balance turntalbe (Brinkmann arm, Lyra Titan cartridge, Lamm LP2 phono) in the same system at the same time. LP vs CD, it was no contest. The Brinkmann walked all over digital. LP vs SACD, it was close. I preferred the Brinkmann here again, but I can see someone with different taste preferring the Meitner there. The Prestige was fairly new, and I think not fully broken in yet. I've heard it sound better since then.
The other option I seriously consider is Reimyo CDP777 and EMM DCC2/CDSD. In both cases I will need a preamp though.
Not quite true. Remember the DCC2 has a preamp (not just volume control) and I am currently running my DCC2 direct into Lamm M1.2's. However, if you search you will find there have been threads arguing that an excelllent separate preamp may significantly improve the sound over the DCC2. I haven't had the courage to try and will live with the great sound I have now with the DCC2 and Lamm M1.2 combo. Should I get into vinyl, I may re-explore a dedicated preamp.
If you should decide to go for the emmlabs CDSD/DCC2, I would suggest you try going with the DCC2 built-in preamp to start with. You may like it. Afterwards, you can start to look at a separate dedicated and actually compare the sound in your wonderfully designed room. You can then decide whether it is worth investing a significant amount to upgrade the sound of going direct with the CDSD.
I am aware of the fact, that the DCC2 has an inbuild preamp. The problem with DCC2 (or AA Capitole for that matter) is that it sounds much better through an external preamp (preferebly tubed one) than direct. That was my experience, anyway.
So I would like to get a preamp first, and then look into the Meitner combo again.
Thanks for the sugestion. A close friend of mine has the Jeff Synergy II, so I think I will borrow it from him for a couple of days and listen for myself.
Glai -> I was considering CAT amps too ... to be honest, JL-2 Sig was on top of my wish list for quite a while. I think it still is one of the best, maybe even better than the Lamms I got, but it is a tubed design and as such generates A LOT of heat. It may create a serious problem where I live in the summer months, so I eventually went hybrid.
I've just heard the M1.2 few weeks ago, with Kharma 3.2 speakers.
The CD was the Ayre D1 X - all cables from Kharma.
preamp used was : Ayre K1X - Lamm L2 Deluxe - a new Golmund full digital
With the Ayre, the image was smaller - all others things were OK
With the Lamm too much "valve sound" - not precise and not transparent
With the Golmund, it was wonderful : image larger and wider, very natural sound... the dealer explain me that most digital preamp (they are few) gives a larger and wider image tha,nn other technology - and they keep all the musicality of the amp.
If your L2 sounded muddy and dark, I suspect the power supply tube needs replacement or adjustment. The voltage setting can deviate quite easily particularly with an old tube causing the sound to be off. Read your owner's manual for directions. When the L2 is working properly, it is quite neutral and transparent.
Elberoth2, for what it's worth, I was in your situation 6 months ago looking for a great preamp and the best I found was the Lamm L2. As you mentioned, it doesn't have a remote and worse, the power supply tube often needs replacement and/or adjustment. If you can get over these issues, it's a good choice. There is something very right about this combo, tonality, transparency, and speed. It's just about perfect but if there's a flaw, it's a little mechanical sounding, at least to my ears.
I have listened to the two of them at lemgth. If I had not heard the L2, I would have thought that the LL2 was their best line stage. To my ears, the L2 is just a bit more refined in the highs, more neutral and extended in the deep bass (the LL2 has just a slight bloat in the bass that makes it a little "warmer" sounding and in some cases perhaps more pleasant-sounding, particularly if you don't have true full-range speakers), and overall perhaps a little better at layering in a soundstage, i.e., a little better at presenting low-level detail spatial cues. While the L2 is solid state in its signal path, it sounds tonally like a tubed preamp, so I would not be deterred by that aspect.
I agree with Rcprince. I had the LL2 line stage and changed to the L2 linestage. The LL2 was very good with solid images and weight. It did have a slight emphasis on the bass making it sound on the warm side of neutral. In comparison the L2 is more refined with much greater retreivel of detail. This is detail that I did not know was missing until I heard the L2. The L2 is very neutral in my system and does not sound either warm or cold. Even though it is a hybrid it does sound more like a tube preamp than a SS. BTW, I am using with ML1's.
I never did hear the LL2. At the time, I wanted the best so I assumed the LL2 was not it. Based on Rcprince's description, it sounds like a pretty nice pre plus you can likely get further gains by tube rolling. You may also consider changing the 6922 in your amp as well, it responds quite nicely so tube choice is important.
FYI: I upgraded from my Ayre K-1XE, with its optional phono boards, to the VTL TL-6.5 line stage preamp with the Basis ASR Exclusive phono preamp. These work even better with my hybrid Lamm amps, (M2.1 monoblocks),than my Ayre did.
My friend's ARC REF. 5 preamp works really well with his Lamm M2.2 monoblock amps too.
I've had the Lamm M1.2's with Wilson Maxx 3. The ARC ref 3 and 5 sounded SHRILL! Stay away. I strongly recommend the Aesthetix Callisto Eclipse. Pricey but fantastic.
I clearly liked the Mac C500T better than than the Ref 3. The C 2300 sounded almost as good.
The luxman c800f was better than either Mac. The Aesthetix is perfect.
The ARC/Lamm combo will always be influenced by cabling, the room, and
associated equip. Not sure what those other contributing factors are, but
they play a major role in the sound. Having said that, there are a number of
Lamm hybrid users that I have successfully married ARC Preamps with
Lamm amps. Tricon_dave, here on AGon, is one such person. He was
using an ARC Ref 5SE with Lamm M1.2s. Perhaps you should reach out to
him for actual ARC/Lamm experience. So even though we each have
varying opinions, in the final analysis, your ears should become the final