[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
September 2008

Integrated amp for Merlins

September 25, 2008


I have a question about a good amp to use with Merlin TSM speakers. I have read in several of your reviews that you like the TSM minimonitors. I have the TSM-MMe's. I know Bobby Palkovic voiced his speakers for use with tubes, but in one article you said he liked the Audio Analogue Puccini 70Wpc integrated amp as it was very tube-like. Bobby has told me that as well.

I am over my tube days and solidly in the solid-state camp except for my Blue Circle BC21.1 preamp. I am getting a Plinus 8200 Mk II, and with all I've read, the 8200 is very tube-like, so I assumed it would be a good match with the TSMs. Bobby is not enthusiastic about the 8200.

Do you have any thoughts on this? I was hoping that with the power of the Plinius, I would get more music and a better soundstage with classical or jazz at nominal power levels. There's nothing like good chamber music when you are sitting right there in the first row.

Thanks in advance. I like your reviews a lot.

Glenn Sherwood

Yes, the Audio Analogue Puccini SE Remote is a rather tube-like integrated amp and probably a great match for the Merlin TSM-MMe speakers. It doesn't have a ton of power, but certainly enough to drive the speakers to loud levels. I have no experience with Plinius electronics, so I can't help you there. Others integrateds to consider? Gilbert Yeung's DAR integrated is a hybrid, while the Conrad-Johnson CA200 is fully solid state (and the most expensive of the models I've mentioned). Both offer tube warmth and naturalness. I'm sure Audio Analogue has a new version of the Puccini available, and it would be worth considering as well....Marc Mickelson

Lamm questions

September 22, 2008


I'm eyeing on buying Lamm M1.2 or M2.2 amps and have a few questions about them. Here in Philippines, not many people have them, so it's hard to find out much about them.

First of all, I'd like to know whether these amps are fussy or choosy of cables and preamps. I know some products are super choosy of certain cables, and certain preamps must be used to make them sound good. Are these Lamm amps like that? How important is a dedicated 20-amp line for these amps? As for preamps, can any work with the Lamm amps and get fairly good results?

Nelson Somo

The Lamm M1.2 Reference and M2.2 hybrid amps are not very finicky of ancillary equipment, including preamps and cables. I've gotten excellent results with many preamps, including tube and solid-state units, and a wide variety of cables. Probably the best preamps I've used with the M1.2s, which I own, are Lamm's L2 and the Audio Research Reference 3. If you need balanced inputs and outputs (and remote control), the Reference 3 can accommodate, while the L2 has only balanced outputs (and no remote control). In terms of cables, I have especially liked Siltech, Shunyata Research and AudioQuest interconnects and speaker cables with Lamm products. They are rather different in sound, though all seem to bring out the qualities of the amps and preamps well. Dedicated lines are not necessary for use with Lamm amps, though when installed with care I'm sure they will improve the sound of your entire system....Marc Mickelson

First HDCD/SACD hybrid?

September 17, 2008


Regarding your claim of the recently released Reference Recordings' hybrid SACD Tutti! being the first HDCD/SACD release, I have to point out that First Impression Music (FIM) has released a number of such discs. In addition, the hybrid SACD version of Dave Brubeck's Time Out also featured an HDCD-encoded CD layer despite not being labeled as such on the packaging or the disc.

Just want to point that out. Happy listening!

Danny Tse

I included the word "perhaps" when I talked about Tutti! being the first SACD/HDCD release, but it obviously doesn't cover my entire rear end here. Thank you for pointing out that other such releases do exist....Marc Mickelson

Luxman to Belles

September 10, 2008


As a long-term reader, I am wondering when you might review the new Belles 350A Reference or MB-01 monoblocks. The Luxman B-1000f review was really great, and as a longtime owner of Luxman equipment, I can tell you that my Belles 350A Reference monoblocks have similar control of the bass and power to spare, just like Luxman amps. My son now has my old Luxman equipment and some rock'n'roll speakers you surely remember -- AR 9 LSes.

Hunter Mattocks

We actually have published a review of the 350A Reference stereo amp, although if Dave Belles has a new version of that amp out, we haven’t covered it. I am an admirer of his equipment, and I talked with him a while back about reviewing his MB-01 monoblocks. Perhaps that will still happen at some point in the future....Marc Mickelson

Best preamp with Lamm amps?

September 4, 2008


I greatly enjoyed your thorough and insightful review of the Lamm ML3 amplifier. SoundStage! is, I believe, unique among Internet publications in its reviews of equipment truly at the edge of the audio art. Given that this is exactly where the ML3 resides, I was curious about which preamplifier enabled you to get the most from this amplifier.

Dr. Lawrence Lee

As I mentioned in my review, I used three preamps with the ML3 Signature amps: Aurum Acoustics CDP, Audio Research Reference 3, and Luxman C-1000f. I think there was too little gain with the Luxman preamp, because it sounded dull and lifeless with the Lamm amps and wonderful with the Luxman B-1000f amps, whose gain is almost 33dB -- very high. The Reference 3 sounded good with the ML3 Signatures, but its slight warmth tended to thicken the amps' world-class midrange. By far, the best preamp I used with the Lamm amps was the Aurum Acoustics CDP, which really let me hear what the amps could do. In case you're wondering, I connected amps and preamp via XLR inputs and outputs. Neither product is truly balanced, however....Marc Mickelson

Tri-Planar review coming?

September 2, 2008


I noticed in your review of the Lamm ML3 Signature amps that you are using a Tri-Planar Mk VII U2 tonearm alongside a Graham Phantom with your TW-Raven AC turntable. Since you mentioned that you used both 'arms with Dynavector cartridges at one point, I'm wondering if a review or comparison of these arms is forthcoming.

This is of interest to me because I presently have a Raven AC (with one motor) with the Tri-Planar Mk VII U2, and I'm considering purchase of the new Graham Phantom 2 tonearm. I have heard that the Phantom is the preferred choice for the TW-Acustic 'table. Or a better way of saying it is that the Phantom is supposed to be a quicker more resolving 'arm than the Tri-Planar.

Anyway, any thoughts on how these 'arms compare would be greatly appreciated, as your front-end is very similar to mine. I also own a CAT Ultimate preamp and JL2 Signature Mk 2 amp, with a Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge.

Andrew Oliviero

You have a good eye! Yes, the next review of mine that's posted will be on the Tri-Planar Mk VII U2 tonearm, and I will be comparing it to the Graham Phantom B-44, so stay tuned....Marc Mickelson


[SoundStage!]All Contents
Copyright SoundStage!
All Rights Reserved