Vladimir Lamm is among the most intriguing names in the high-end audio industry along with Manuel Huber. His history, work and knowledge extend beyond many audio designers and his heritage goes back few decades.
His recognized products have won him manny accolades and awards during the years and Lamm “house” sound carries something very distinguished. In his circuits he implements a model of human hearing mechanism! This is something he developed and heavily researched back in the Soviet Union where he had practically unlimited funds and audio gear on disposal. During his research he continually worked in brining the most close illusion of the real music possible. This was not only researched and experimented with the electronics, but also with psychoacoustics. During the testing he had a complete orchestra to test, trial and error as well compared with the real instruments and players.
These days Vladimir Lamm is among few rare people, who doesn’t follow the listening part of the development for his products. Wait! No listening? Too far out!? Well, Vladimir follows his path and exact procedure while designing his gear. Its true, that skilled, matured and knowledgeable audio designers can predict the sound outcome by the circuit design choices as well as with selection of material, but still! This sounds quite controversy.
Similar to the cooking. Master chefs in many restaurants don’t taste their food while preparing it as they know exactly how the sum of ingredients works jointly. They trust in their intuition. For many this might be to esoteric and exotic to digest yet I’ve witnessed many times and discussed the topic with few of the top audio designers. Its a path not many are willing to take. As Vladimir is not only designing the needed primal circuits, but also implements his “human listening mechanism” this all elevates and ignite something that calls even for a philosophical debate.
I’ve used to own LL2.1 preamplifier few years back and still recall best memories of the enormous listening time spent. It was among the fastest, musically involving and captivating tube preamplifiers around. Most importantly it was in the absence of the typical tubish sound. LL2.1 worked more in the realms of the best solid state preamplifiers enriched by the harmonic richness of the tubes. These two paradigms might comes as contradictory as the harmonic structure does have a little to do with the tubes initially. When implemented right they are transparent sound carries. The secret lives as a treasure somewhere else. Deep in the design of the circuit and within the choices being made.
The dual monaural phono preamplifier model LP1 Signature is the ultimate statement of perfection in High End audio. Just like the ML3 Signature and LL1 Signature, the LP1 Signature is one of the best creations of its designer's professional career.
The LP1 Signature has been designed to complement the ML3 amplifier and the LL1 preamplifier. It completes the Signature Series triad and, in combination with the other two Signature components, represents a "match made in heaven". However, the LP1 Signature will perform its magic in any system provided it is of sufficient quality.
The experience of listening to the LP1 is a unique one. It is, at once, intimate and expansive—as if being transported to a space that belongs to just the listener and the music as they merge with one another. With no electrical artifice to impede communication, a greater understanding of the music is immediately possible. Thus enabled, the listener can enjoy each and every musical element locked in the LP’s grooves with newfound depth, profundity and insight.
The LP1 Signature features a topology that brings out the most natural sound performance in the audio path. The main distinction of the LP1 Signature from any other comparable type of preamplifiers is its almost inaudible sonic signature. When connected to the appropriate type of electronics, and especially LAMM amplifiers and preamplifiers, it assures the extraordinary transparency of perceived sound and recreation of a three dimensional soundstage in the home, recording studio, etc. without boundaries and limitations.
The LP1 Signature is a vacuum tube preamplifier that employs a high current pure class A operation from input to output. No loop feedback is employed. Other features include:
Audibly neutral power supplies (one for each channel) featuring full-wave vacuum rectifiers, choke contained filters, vacuum tube high-voltage regulators, and solid-state low-voltage analogue non-switching regulators used as the heater supplies. Three separate inputs for MM and MC (two inputs) cartridges. All amplification stages utilize high transconductance super low noise high-current vacuum triodes
Very accurate RIAA EQ network
Each preamplifier is carefully handcrafted of the finest materials and hand selected top quality parts like military-grade DALE metal-film resistors, RCD wire-wound resistors, BOURNS multi-turn potentiometers; ELECTROCUBE, CORNELL DUBILIER and ROEDERSTEIN film capacitors; high frequency switching grade CORNELL DUBILIER electrolytic capacitors; HAMMOND chokes; gold-plated NEUTRIC connectors; and military-grade low-noise long-life vacuum tubes.
A custom-designed massive damping panel installed in the preamplifier unit significantly reduces all types of mechanical vibrations which, in turn, leads to a more extended, coherent and natural bass reproduction.
The LP1 Signature features a custom-designed super-low noise power transformer.
Music reproduction is an art of itself. Its a complex pursue of grand illusion and we leave it to the expertise of a few dedicated people and companies in high-end audio industry. This special task brings an utmost search for transparency and the quest for the endless reflection of the original music. We’re are highly sensible beings and our perception of the sound is still a thing of a grand mystery. Year by year this complexity reveals step by step and the truth is humbling. We know so little and we move so slow in this regards. That’s why each real high-end audio gemstone is as precious as it gets.
I own quite few rare gems on vinyl, that I only take out for special occasions. Having LP1 Signature under the review certainly deserved the justice. Among all the gear coming in and out these was really a highlight on the analog side.
Exploring the familiar and cherished musical landscape of the precious ones for sure sparkle the adjusted mind set with the anticipation and big expectations. Since nowadays pricing of the rare vinyl goes up to a few hundred or even thousands dollars for hard to get copies or first prints people limit their play.
The truth might not be the most pleasant thing and a reasonable conjunction of sane, practical and investment worthy. You pay disproportionately for incremental improvements and the little red devil popping up with some version of futuristic law of diminishing returns is always on the duty. Still, the magical mystery of music being unfolded for many goes beyond reasoning. Its a matter of pure injection of musical bliss and a dose of heavenly nectar. You can count me in on many fronts.
This for sure help with the melding of some audiophile scientific minds. The echoing nuisance is simply ignored by the people in search after the essence of the music. And I’ more then sure that Vladimir is speaking for these souls.
Vinyl, and analog front ends are well known for quite few of their stand out attributes. Three dimensionality portrait is surely among the top tiers. While pin-point imaging, soundstage depth are more connected to the digital part of positive anchor points, LP-1 Signature surprisingly embraced exactly these impromptu. LP-1 dared to lurk into the best sides of the digital and convey it to the analogue side. That’s quite an achievement and something needed to be addressed with the respect and in a big way.
When everything is set right the analog rig in the upper echelon league convey the dark “matter” of the background most profoundly. Its something, that push forward the holographic portraying of the instruments and vocals beyond whats ordinary associated with the vinyl playback. Here, on this plane, you quickly distinguish between entry level, mediocre and high-end phono preamplifiers. It simply a matter of the given audible facts and even untrained ear can spot the difference at once.
I’ve only come across few phono preamplifiers that can handle the speed and attacks with the absence of crashed balance and with the lightning pace the real music is known for. Tom Evans Master Groove connected to Jan Alerts embarks for some F1, crazy energy transfer on the solid side of the things. Thrax Audio Orpheus is another profound example on the tube side, but more on it in the upcoming review. Lamm LP-1 Signature explores the Vladimir Lamm vision and refined vinyl playback of the finest musical cue.
Now back to the music. Where and how its connected deeply with the source via LP-1 Signature?
One of the gems I’ve pulled out for this test and review is Zia Mohiuddin Dagar playing the Rudra Veena, recorded by Georges Kisselhoff and released on the French label Alvares. I have to thank Kavi Alexander for this rare find. In this analog recording the harmonic richness and complexity of overtones is never easy to reproduce as it resolves in a rare juxtaposition of the tone structure complexity and majestic interplay. It takes a serious efforts in making this record come to life. One also needs a bit more in depth understanding of the eastern music. Not proclaiming myself as an expert. Still, I’ve traveled the needed path of my musical educational back and forth to reach a certain point I’m satisfied with and that gives me a needed “comfort” of understanding. Vladimir philosophy comes to a grand practice with this recording. The natural, lush, dark and evolving pace is remarkably outlined. Overtones, micro dynamics and non usual tonality embarks at a fullest scale. Music being reproduced was special and most involving. I was trapped with the flamboyant and exotic presentation.
With the recreation of the actual acoustical space and all the utmost important attributes of the live recording there are certain level of anchor points needed to be matched in order to pursue palpable musical illusion. Lamm LP-1 Signature is certainly among few of the top tiers when it comes to the grand level of these anchor points being projected. Getting all the needed micro level information from the black grooves and transferring them via smallest scale signal demands a different endeavor as your typical phono stage preamplifier. Here is where the big boys differentiate from the rookies. Micro dynamics, translated into the sum of smallest nuances of micro delays, reverberations and focus points comes vividly painted only at this degree of analog high-tech. This is what makes the vinyl listening utmost involving and what creates an emotional packed listening journey of a higher degree. Many of current “state of the art” phono preamplifiers aims high and wave with their specifications and expected extreme performance. Sadly and as a fact most are lacking the needed bandwidth and transparency in doing it so. As I’ve stated many times; its quite easy to kill the noise floor and bring it down to the impressive level. Its completely other thing to let the musical flow left intact and preserver the musical potency.
Lamm LP-1 Signature phono preamplifier shines with the translucent ability in shifting from the pianissimo to forte fortissimo in exact same way! Bold in its nature, fast as it gets, retrieves the minute shifts of both micro and macro dynamics expertly. Peaks and attacks of the sudden dynamic changes are being portrayed with the sense of authority and rich tonality. And this is not obvious only with classical music, but extended all over the musical genres.
Let me explore the unique vinyl gems further with LP-1 Signature. Baroque Tedesco from 1993 was released by The EAR Enhanced Acoustic Recordings label from Stefano Bertoncello. Recorded on Revox G 36 tube tape recorder custom modified by Tim De Paravicini and with stocks on N.O.S. tubes on hand. This record was an exploration and antithesis of multi/over miked contemporary techniques, that more then often (and still do) quiet oftenly creates the unmusical recordings. The EAR team followed the heritage and and in the line of the footsteps of the pioneers like Kenneth Wilkinson, Christopher Parker, J.F. Pontefract, David Hancock captured music proudly different. And the result is marvelous. This very hard to find record is more then worthy of owning. Baroque Tedesco is a part of my reference testing arsenal being both pure musical enjoyment as great tool of trade.
Reproducing it right and at fullest it’s a nut cracker. In its own way it profoundly challenges andy cartridge, tonearm, turntable and phono preamplifier to show its best. Not a lot to discuss. System or component under the “stress” is either able to provide the sensual, enriched and realistic experience or it fails utterly. Again here the simplicity reveals in inherited complexity of overtones and marvelous acoustical landscape.
Leopold Stokowski & RCA Viktor Symphony Orchestra - Franz Liszt/ Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 In C-Sharp Minor. With this recording from the 1961 again any vinyl reproduction is challenged. There is no way goring around and when phono preamplifier is not able to comprehend the signal being feed from the cartridge the goring phenomena appears. Lamm LP-1 was non reserved with this album as with Andrei Gavrilov performance of the Rachmaninov - Piano Concertos 2 & 3. The share energy of Andrei playing needs a bramastra like impact to engage fullest. My listening note was highlighted with the red marker. This means a stand out and a satisfying victory act :).
Getting the vinyl setup on the level of the upper league is not an easy task. Too many people are taking the vinyl rig to simplistic and due to the casual dealings the results are at best of the mediocre results. I’ve been in many demo rooms and crazy expensive home ultra high-end audio setups. Most of these Über expensive setups fronted with most exotic or highly acclaimed turntables and phone preamplifiers failed tremendously. Sadly only very, very few were able to perform on the satisfying level, deserved to be called high-end. When all set right, vinyl setup can (and must) perform on quite astonishing level. Its still cannot compete with the analog master tapes or first copies on the reel to reel. Yet, it certainly can offer an grand view into and the utmost satisfying and elongated musical experience. You can called it a close but lithesome.
When paired with my Takeda San cartridge Lamm LP1 Signature phono preamplifier showed impressive coherence over a wide bandwidth revealing the smallest nuances of parts and parcels of the grand sound illusion. These was a captivating match engaging me easily into the into the critical listenings.
This phono preamplifier exhibit Vladimir Lamm school of sound even at the first note strike with immaculate insights into the black grooves. This is no beginner analog device and it deserves the perfect matching equipment to ensure the illuminating results.
At this level of performance you cannot enclose the electronics into one box and expect a squee. Lamm LP1 Signature comes in three and for the obvious reasons. This level of sophistication demands a dedicated space and be aware. In no way you should ever dream about stacking them on the top of each other! You’ll need the separate audio rack or larger shelfs to accommodate it.
Lamm LP1 Signature phono preamplifier carries the common sound virtue, embodied in all of Vladimir Lamm creations. The one and only reason is a unique topology described at the start of the the article. Lamm embraces the liquid, musical language as a fact.
After every listening the music being reproduced via Lamm LP1 Signature phono preamplifier simply just lingers with the positive affection. Unique Lamm DNA signature is deeply embossed in these impressions and they’re inviting you for a repeated listening. Over and over again…
Lamm LP1 Signature phono preamplifier brings me into the same mood I’ve encountered when owning the LL2.1 preamplifier. Its a contemplating state of mind, music perpetuum mobile and similar projection of impressive sound dispersion and refined, unaltered series of individual notes I’ve encounter way back. But this time with Lp-1 Signature on even more immersive and impressive level.
It was not an blurry loupe view or indefinite spectrogram vies. Rather then being hidden in the endless labyrinth of noise smear, LP-1 signature is pertaining to the musical source and in absence of the diffractiveness usually associated even with the topmost phono preamplifiers. LP-1 stands out!
Aesthetics of the Lamm components are often discussable, but I’ve found them mesmerizing, and understated design with timeless appeal and 2001: A Space Odyssey like monolithic aura. I would dare to say, that they carry Vladimir’s language. He’s a man of few words, but when he speaks out its profound, bold and of substance. So do hisis products reveal for themselves.
Yes, I do like much Vladimir Lamm work and his unique character. He’s pacing with the music from an eon back and this clearly reflects with the sound orientation of his high-end audio products. For sure its not everyones view. Yet, Vladimir created an unique direction of the sound reproduction where electronics are clearly suybordante to the music and for a true music lover it will be hard not to be affected by the Mr. Lamm creations.
Lamm LP1 Signature phono preamplifier is no where cheap or affordable. Well, compared to some of the exotic phono preamplifier pricing it actually is. Anyone investing or contemplating of going with LP1 Signature should take this into the consideration. Vladimir Lamm is not into the half way of doing things and Lamm LP-1 Signature phono preamplifier represent a man ardent vision at it fullest.
Text: Matej Isak
Price: USD 35.000
Price: USD 35.000
LAMM INDUSTRIES INC.
2513 East 21 Street
Brooklyn, NY 11235