Lamm and Friends Think Big

Given the dramatic drop in the number of high-end audio exhibits at CES, only two companies chose to occupy the huge, high-ceilinged suites on the Venetian Hotel's 35th floor. The first, Lamm Industries, from the quiet little hamlet of Brooklyn, NY (where John Atkinson also lives), threw caution to the winds with a system whose total retail price was $649,440.

There was much to admire about this system. Although it was far from the most transparent system I've heard, its sound was warm and inviting on every selection played. A CD pressing of an analog recording of the Hot Club of San Francisco performing "Nature Boy" sounded lovely, and a CD of Stefano Grondone playing guitar similarly stood out. The system also nailed the meaty sound of violin in a CD version of Lou Harrison's Violin Concerto. Speed was quite good on this recording, and different percussion instruments correctly exhibited different (albeit warm) sonorities. I also thought depiction of depth and breadth of acoustic space was excellent.

There was no question, however, that the system rounded the leading edges of tones. Whether it did full justice to the lower voices and wealth of detail in two of John Atkinson's superb choral recordings was another story entirely.

Doing the honors were Lamm's ML3 Signature amplifiers ($139,690/pair), LL1.1 Signature line-level preamplifier ($45,590/pair), LP1 Signature phono preamp ($36,890/set), and LP2.1 phono preamplifier, deluxe ($9390); Kharma Exquisite Midi Grand Signature speakers ($191,000/pair); the Italian-made Aqua Acoustic La Diva CD transport ($9000) and Formula xHD DAC ($16,500); Sanus equipment racks and SRA amplifier stands ($4240 total), and TchernovCable Ultimate Series cabling ($74,750 total). Not auditioned were the TechDas Airforce 1 turntable ($110,000) with out-of-production SME arms and surprisingly low cost (compared to everything else, at least) Ortofon cartridges, along with their corresponding Lamm phono stages.

Handcrafted in Italy, the Aqua DAC uses a Pure R2R FPGA-based ladder without digital filters, an I2S link between DAC and transport, and a transformer-based, fully balanced audio output stage. It handles PCM up to 24-bit /768kHz and DSD up to 256 (quad DSD).

partain's picture

For a so-so system.
I actually believe that , within limits , a stereo put together on a generous budget by a relative pauper will outperform a system put together by a person who thinks more expensive is better. Or one assembled by a high-end dealer.

tonykaz's picture

Big fish need bigger baits,

Why the hell do they insist on putting all that pricy gear on the dirty/dusty floor ? Nearly every high-end outfit does this sort of thing. Butttttt, they insist on elevating the speaker cables up off the floor.

Go figure

Tony in Michigan

RH's picture


RH's picture

It looks to me like the amplification is slightly elevated above the floor.

In fact, contrary to your statement that "nearly every" high end outfit does this thing, I can't remember the last time I saw a component, amplification or otherwise, sitting directly on the floor at a high end audio show. I was just going through some of the many video of audio shows on youtube and components are virtually always elevated in some way, usually on a shelf of some kind. Just look at the next "Blue-Bird" post about the show, at the amps on shelves on the floor. That's far more typical than just placing them directly on a floor.

(Not that I think it makes a sonic difference, but it seems most displaying equipment at these shows do).

tonykaz's picture

But, even if they have a nice plinth elevated by tip toes or some other elevated arrangement, it still looks odd in some sort of way. ( maybe even incongruous to the elevated Price being asked )

I've seen this sort of thing, time and again, especially by tweaky outfits that make super high priced gear.

I've been a Manufacturer that participates at Shows, I know the expensive of using Casino's Labor to assemble a Show Stand.

All I'm trying to suggest is that these beautiful pieces need to be displayed on a proper table, with a proper light so that a potential customer can have a nice look without having to get down on their hands and knees.

By the way, carpeted floors have static electricity and the various dust it attracts.

I'd fire any Sales Staff that throws my Company's Products out on the floor.

It's disrespectful and it makes me cringe !

Tony in Michigan

RH's picture

Ok. Doesn't strike me the same way. Amplifiers are typically big and heavy and most of the time the floor, on a shelf or otherwise, is a natural place for them. So it looks natural to me for them to be low to the floor. (There's also I guess the issue that if a speaker manufacturer is showing, they want the speakers emphasized over the amplifiers).

bilguana's picture

Many rooms, like ELAC's, have display electronics on a table with the tops removed in addition to the ones driving their loudspeakers.

We ran out of Lamm room when the played a horrific cover of "Come Together" (the KEF room did the same). The poor choice of music is a problem in most of the rooms at CES. They play music with a soloist, usually female whether with a good or agonizing voice, and no more than three instruments - rarely anything more complex or challenging.