Part 3: Lamm ML3 amplifiers – Review of the Stereophile Review


8. The bass thing again

Then he says “…the solid-state’s fast, lean low-end attack, which is needed for the correct reproduction of amplified bass”.

Says who? God? [this first 2/3 of the review is really more a canon on how solid-state design must always be triumphant, a very public affirmation of Mr. Fremer’s [and seemingly J.A.’s] faith in solid-state sound forever, more a religious treatise than a review – people’s ears and musical health be damned]. I wonder if the fact that amplified bass guitars often use tube-based guitar amps bothers Mr. Fremer late at night or weakens his belief system the least little bit. Do you ever get the sense we are reading something out of Stereo Review from the mid 70s?

Again we are back to the bass. The ‘fast lean attack’. Which is all that most solid-state amps really can do, right? They attack the notes. Throw watts at this frequency and throw watts at that. The subtle variations in those attacks, at each harmonic? Oh, well, at least they attacked the note really well. The very best solid-state amps are very fast and very high-resolution, so they can kind of work by using a whole bunch of little attacks for each the note [with problems similar to that found with digital audio in that there seems to be a fundamental impedance mismatch with the analog harmonics being produced].

Ironically, the recent trend for solid-state amps seems to be that they should be smoother and notes should be more round sounding, [like their idea of tube amp sound, I guess], but they so far have been sacrificing resolution and harmonics in the process – resulting in a clumsy, low-resolution, and often atonal sound [piling on the irony: they sound a lot like old, old, legacy (think 60s and 70s) tube amp designs].

I, personally want the entire note myself; like an Oreo cookie, I want the cookie part [top and bottom, attack and decay] AND its wonderful chewy, creamy, tasty center. And I want to be able to savor the taste every single delicious crumb and sugar molecule [this is why I like being an audiophile better than eating, a couple of chews and the Oreo is GONE already].

In this system the Alexandria XLF’s absorb energy in the bass region more than other very large expensive speakers we have played with [but they are better than the X2]. It ain’t much, but enough to sort of dull the low frequencies a little. This is only a problem if this is what the listener is primarily interested in hearing [aka obsessed with]. To compensate for this weakness in the speakers [or any other component] one should use dynamics preserving vibration control [as opposed to vibration dampening tweaks that smooth out the system sound] like HRS under everything in the system [Mr. Fremer is using some HRS, not sure where it is in the system, nor if he has ever used their Nimbus, which have a giant effect on when one is pushing a system to its limits] and cables and power cords that preserve as much of the dynamics as possible.

Look, this is an expensive system. One usually has to spend a little more time and money to optimize around the specific characteristics of the system in order to tailor it to one’s own personal preferences. This is something system OWNERS almost always do and system REVIEWERS almost never do. The vast majority of reviews toss a superior or break-through component or speaker or cable into their system and then pretend to evaluate it, using associated equipment in the system left over from previous and up-coming reviews – NO MATTER HOW INAPPROPRIATE THE GEAR IS in a system with such a superior component. This review is way, WAY better than most in this regard.

Mr. Fremer seems to be all about the [percussive-like] attack, and the overall dynamic extremes, liking things on the lean side in terms of harmonics and decay. This is doable, as described above [although I cannot currently think of a way to artificially dampen the decay more than is natural without harming other parts of the sound]. And then, after this is optimized, and over time, a person gets to enjoy things in the music that they had not immediately focused on. They get to enjoy all the tons and tons of intra- and inter-note dynamic shades that is not in-your-face but is actually in-the-music [it looks like Mr. Fremer is calling this ‘texture’ in this review. A good name for it].

The preternatural focus on, what seems to me to be the first 1/10 second of a note versus, say, the first 1/3 of a second is to my way of thinking very limited. Slam your fingers down on a piano keyboard. The first 1/10 of a second is more or less fairly well reproduced on most systems with speakers of decent efficiency and reasonable to average amplification/cabling/source. As a wild-eyed guess I’d say they were within 5-10% of real. The next part of the note though, where it reaches its maximum volume, very few systems get within, [what do you say, JL?] maybe 50%? And this is one of the areas where tubes kick solid-state amps butt, getting much closer to the truth when we actually use the ears to listen [as opposed to circa 1960-2013 measurements. There are models we can come up with to explain this, but that is something for late at night BSing. Stay tuned :-)].

9. Nicey Nice

The next paragraph has a nice compliment about the “naturalness of its [the amps] portrayal of instrumental attacks put it as close to … as I’ve heard from any amplifier” as well as pointing out again the “rich harmonic palette expected from tubes”.

10. BO-ring

He goes on the usual boring-ass reviewer-ish ‘first I listened to this and then I listened to that’ boring-ass part of the review that seems to be a boring-ass requirement for reviews these days. YMMV.

11. Finally to the actual review

Agree that the Wilson Alexandria XLF speakers baffle-free presentation is quite good and up there with the best of the baffled competition [Marten, Kharma, Magico, etc.] but still not in the same class as, of course, horns.

Agree that the amps are SUPERNATURALLY quiet.

Look, the amps are not about the immediate attack of a note. Not about the ‘rich harmonics’. They are about the BALANCE. They do everything really really well. That’s it. You do not have to sacrifice Sue [harmonic truth] to save Charlie [soundstaging]. Or whatever other trade-off one is usually forced to make.

Solid-state amps do the square-wave like notes thing better. The big Audio Note are richer harmonically [more colorful] and more midi- and macro-dynamic. The big VTL have more weight and slam. But this is the first amp that kind of just does what an amp is supposed to do. This amp does have the highest resolution [and texture] of any amp we have heard – but one can convince oneself that this is again, part of being well-balanced – of being the closest thing to straight-wire with gain.

11. Comparison to a similarly-priced solid-state amp

The next part of the review involves the JA-recorded music of a concert in a church; a concert that Mr. Fremer also attended.

He then goes on to describe the sound as played through the dCS digital stack. The weaknesses in the sound as described is as expected, given the current state of digital recording and playback [hey, but it *is* getting better].

He then goes on to describe the same music through the darTZeel NHB-458 amps. He describes the pluses and minuses of the sound on the darTZeel versus the ML3 in what seems to me to be the old secular insightful Mike Fremer manner. I want to highlight one part of this comparison though, because it comes into play again in his conclusions [we’re almost there! :-)].

This is that “… the double bass was more like I heard live, with greater control and authority, a tighter physical presence, and better delineation of the instrument for the reverberant space”.

First, notice again how Mr. Fremer focuses on the strength and magnitude of the dynamics when talking about ‘how things sound live’. There are other things to music than dynamics [although, let’s admit, Impressive(tm) dynamics from a double-bass is awesomely cool and one of the first things we learn to enjoy when we have speakers with bass].

Second, when you take a track like this, something that has a good bass track, around at shows [when they used to let you play you own music tracks at shows – now it is mostly laptop junk], you get to hear the bass sound strong and POWERful on one system and weak and washed out on another and tuneful and dry and everything in-between.

So… what does the recording REALLY sound like? One wonders.

Many times stronger more powerful dynamics just means that the available power available to an amp is going to support the loudest notes, short-changing the ambient quieter notes. Many cables do this. Most conditioners do this. But, you know, its funny but a lot of people LIKE this effect; it can be really enjoyable. I enjoy it. Sometimes. I would hate to be saddled with it all the time though. I like it maybe, oh, 1 or 2% of the time or so. Good reason to go to shows is to hear this effect :-).

But back to this review [I keep getting side-tracked! Argh.]

[to be continued…]

Part 4: Lamm ML3 amplifiers – Review of the Stereophile Review


12. (or 11b.) Mr. Fremer didn’t try hard enough to personalize the system to his particular tastes

Supposing you are like Mr. Fremer and are in the situation where you think there should be / want there to be a stronger more physical presence to your double bass notes on this track. Sounds reasonable. Well, you say to yourself [because you spend a lot of time alone in your listening room, saying things to yourself is now second nature], ‘it behooves me to try and optimize the system so that it will do this bass thing. The system should do what I want, darn it [and hopefully I won’t muck up something else in the process!]’. Because you got all this obviously nice gear, you must have some amount of money lying around [not that you are likely to ever, EVER admit it to anyone else, especially your dealer and significant others ;-)] and so, you say, lets try a few different powercords on the amps. Lets make sure each component in the chain is optimized – both vis-a-vis powercords and vibration control [tube amps are much more susceptible to attenuation of the bass response, and dynamics in general, due to deleterious vibrations than most solid-state gear because tubes themselves are so susceptible. And something about the Lamm chassis also make Lamm amps more susceptible than most tube amps we have played with as well. Just think of it as having to buy special tires for your new Porsche, except these ‘tires’ won’t wear out every 6 months].

13. The other expensive tube amp that Stereophile has reviewed… in 2004. The WAVAC.

So, anyway, Mr. Fremer says some nice things then … oh wait, he first talks about the $350K WAVAC SH-833. 2004 was a long time ago. I do not understand the phrase ‘pants-down performance!’ in this context. But moving on… Relying on the 5W [supposed power required by the Alexandria speakers] obtained from an analog meter on any amp is fraught with peril, but the ML3 does drive the XLFs quite, quite loud in our experience as well – so we reached the same conclusions here. They lost me at ‘excessive warmth from the WAVACs’… but hey, it was 2004, we are all a lot smarter now. [We find the WAVACs to be a little on the cool side of neutral but with the warmth ultimately being quite susceptible to upstream electronics – so their level of warmth is kind of however warm you want them to be].

Then, skipping the part where Mr. Fremer attempts to remember the linearity of the WAVACs, 10 years ago, on no doubt inferior speakers [hey, not criticizing, we all have to do the miracle memory thing from time to time (its not like we can go back in time or… record what the system sounded like so we can replay it for future years and generations… or can we?)], he says:

14. Summing up. The Nice stuff.

“…though not as linear or well-controlled as the darTZeels, but it was close enough to call it a trade-off…”

And this is my point. Even in the mist of a riot of solid-state zealotry [yes, zealotry. To put this kind of over-the-top pro-solid-state ideology in physical print like this means there are some powerful anti-tube feelings here] there is sentiment that these amps perform as good as solid-state amps in this area where typically solid-state amps perform best – i.e. just amplifying input in a predictable, linear manner. I think then that at some level Mr. Fremer agrees that these amps are indeed this new kind of amp that does just what amps are supposed to do, no more, no less. And tube amps got here first [ha ha! 🙂 We’ll address the other issues Mr. Fremer has been harping on: leading edge dynamics and overall dynamic solidity, which we talked about above – later in our conclusions below].

So Mr. Fremer then concludes, after the traditional nicey nicey words [are you like me and always skip to the last paragraph? Thank goodness for the ‘summing up with caveats’ review tradition we have in this industry – otherwise we would all have to read the entire text of these review thingies], he says:

“… gulf between solid-state and tube amplification remains…” This is his religious fervor talking again. The gulf that is important in this context is the gulf between amps and musical truth. Not between various failed attempts and other failed attempts. The majority of this review has Mr. Fremer stomping his feet ‘Noooooo! solid-state still rules!’, and so seriously, one has to think that he was somehow threatened by the ML3’s shrinking of this gulf to this extent.

15. Summing up. The solid-state hard-line theology. And the point.

Then “if you want weight and articulation on bottom, especially if you listen to a lot of electronic and/or amplified music, you’ll probably…[want] solid-state”.

What a weird thing to say.

First, I am the only one I know in the audiophile community who listens to a lot of electronic music [about 1/3 of my several 1000 CDs. Neli doesn’t like it (nor hate it) so we do not listen to it as much as other music]. In some sense Radiohead and Sigur Ros are mostly electronic music with voices. And we listen to a ton of this kind of stuff.

There are a lot of parts to electronic music that an audiophile can be attracted to:

A lot of it consists of multi-layered soundscapes. The layers are composed of sounds and arranged in complex and/or entertaining ways for your listening pleasure. The layers are organized by frequency, location, magnitude, by everything you can think of. The ML3, in my fervent opinion, is truly the best amp for this kind of music.

Then there is techno [and its hundreds of offshoots]. A lot of rapid bass beats with guitar-like keyboardish sounds sprinkled in. Seriously, one needs a speaker with a basshorn or a cheap club-like speaker like the Genelecs or something. Everything else is too slow: certainly the XLFs, and even the Coltrane Supreme speakers, which has the best, most articulate bass of any cabinet speaker [obvious to people without an agenda], but still doesn’t have that club-like techno heart-thumping chest-punishing beat [at least not at the volume we are willing to play them at!].

By amplified music… does that mean Rock and Roll? I guess it means everything except classical and acoustical new age and world music. Most of our collection is rock. Most of what we have played on the ML3 is rock. It feels a little sacrilegious: Vladimir and Elina Lamm listen to something like 99% classical and 1% jazz. But rock sounds way better on these amps than expected. I am always surprised. Maybe my expectations are low. One expects amps like the big VTL or hugemongous Boulder amps would be required to wail away on the speakers [ROXannne….], that this kind of machismo amp is required to kick their [the speakers] butts into high gear. But nope, the ML3 rocks out with the best of them [Noooo… not Twilight Zone theme time… Perhaps the beginning to the 2001 theme…?].

And as far as “articulation on the bottom” goes… Besides the leading edge of the loudest notes that occur during a musical passage in the lower regions, solid-state does a particular BAD job at bass articulation. Seriously, look beyond the edge, Luke…

14. Well then…

So, what Mr. Fremer is really saying, as he has said throughout the review, and omitting the anti-tube bias, is that the ML3s did everything better [or as good as] than any other amp except for the sharp leading edge on some notes, primarily the bass notes, nor did it have the same solidity and weight in the bass, that he prefers when his system plays back amplified music.

And what I am saying is that, omitting the anti-anti-tube bias, is that the process for optimizing the sound of a tube amp is different than that for a solid-state amp, and that with a few adjustments and tweaks here and there, mostly to do with protecting the tubes from harmful vibrations, the ML3 can get as close or closer to ‘real sounding’, in those specific areas that Mr. Fremer is concerned with, as any current solid-state amp on these speakers. Using a Lamm preamp instead of the darTZeel preamp will almost certainly increase the solidity and palpability of the midrange and lower registers, and most of all the dynamic response [especially when using the Lamm LL1 Signature which is the matching preamp for the ML3 (and about 1/3 the price of the darTZeel preamp)].

Mikey was so close!

The Lamm ML3 Signature amplifiers are a breakthrough product breaking significant new ground for linearity and balance [even-handedness across the frequency, harmonic, time and dynamic spectrums] and textural resolution [the entire Oreo cookie] against a background of extreme quietness. This is the audiophile’s ultimate amplifier to geek out with, it is probably the closest we need to get to straight-wire-with-gain, and it is extremely Enjoyable to listen to.

In this new Golden Age there have been and will be other break-throughs. It is important to differentiate good products from break-through products so reviewers just don’t start labeling everything everywhere as ‘break-through’ products. This we will do in an upcoming post, and we will compare break-through amps, cables, etc. which help the listener hear ever deeper into the depth of musical compositions.

Welcome to the new [golden] age everybody.

15. P.S.

Mr. Fremer talked a bit about how the listener is actually connecting to the Music [yay!]. But the impression I was left with was that there was always this lurking fear in the background that ‘Oh my, I am enjoying this passage too much… therefore the sound must not be real or accurate anymore [Awooga… Awooga… its a Tone Control. Its a TONE CONTROLLLL!]’.

In a large sense the measurements-first, ‘the reproduction must be as accurate as possible’ approach, preferring to err always on the side of sterility, is really kind of navel watching at its finest. Comparing this to painted portraiture, a portrait capturing some of the inner life and strength of, say, George Washington, is preferable to a photograph taken by an old smartphone, which, although potentially more accurate, and you can see that it is The Man with the long curly white hair – it does little to reveal much about their personality and character, which, after all, is why we care to even bother looking at [listening to!] them at all. We really want, most of us, to connect to them as people/music.

I am not talking Picasso or Gauguin-like interpretive art here … even though I do think impressionistic systems have their place, and in some ways may be preferable, when one starts wanting to explore some of the deeper, spectacular meta-verses of the Human-Music interface [although, seriously, the uber high resolution texture of the music heard through the ML3 opens up a LOT of doors / stargates. At least it did for me.]

16. P.P.S.

Yep, it is too darn expensive. All the break-through products I know of are [unless one includes the old EMM Labs CDSA]. Until the middle-class stops shrinking and ‘discretionary middle-class income’ ceases being an oxymoron, we are probably stuck with these high prices for awhile [and while we are all waiting manufacturers will hopefully build a few more of these kick-ass take-no-prisoners betchya-never-woulda-thunk-it toys to bring us all closer to the Music].

We still would like to have this Wilson Alexandria XLF / Lamm ML3 Signature system here sometime, as our primary system. Last I heard this is the system that Wilson himself listens to. The older Alexandria X2 might do as well – the used ones have been going for an amazingly reasonable price. But getting 700 lbs up our 45 steps here…? Been there, done that, REALLY don’t want to do it again. When all is said and done we still need to sell this house and move somewhere a little bit more crazy-audiophile friendly.

The Lamm ML3 Experience

[Another post from the Spintricity Archives from about 3 years ago.]

‘The Lamm ML3 Experience ‘

We were lucky enough to have a guest in our home for a week or so this October, followed by several days at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. This rather prestigious guest was the Lamm ML3 Signature amplifiers.

For technical details, I refer the reader to the Lamm Industries’ website. Suffice it to say here that the ML3 is Lamm’s flagship 4-box amplifier (two boxes per channel, one of which is a power supply) that sells for $139,290.00.

This review is more of a thinking piece than most magazine reviews. Let’s face it, a amplifier at this price point, from a company with extremely good price/performance on all of their other products [not a clunker in the bunch], is bound to sound pretty good, right? Not only that, it is bound to sound good in ways that are hard to explain in terms that we normally use to describe most other components.

Perhaps we’ll write a follow-up review with all the “Wow!”s and “This song you never heard of before sounded like THIS”es. But for now, we are going to look at just what amplifiers were supposed to have been doing all along – and how the ML3 is actually very close to finally accomplishing this.

To try and explain the depths to which we listened to and analyzed the ML3, I present a little background on how we analyze the sound of components here [a categorization that has been refined quite a bit recently, both because of the ML3, and also the Audio Note Kegon Balanced amplifiers, the EMM Labs TSD1/DAC2, and Nordost ODIN cables – all of which are break-through designs. Designs that make previous designs look clumsy and haphazard].

Audio Amplification

Definition: Taking a small signal and making it large enough to drive a wide variety of loudspeakers.

Evolution: Amps. Amps. Amps. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Decades. More decades. Sweat. Frustration. Compromises. Theories. Contrivances. Hyperbole. Failure.

Failure because the listening experience was unsatisfactory. Unpleasant, Unconvincing.

The goal was redefined. Improved. It was not enough anymore [for some] to just be able to drive a speaker. Not enough [for a few] just to minimize a marketing-driven chimera… Total Harmonic Distortion.

Now: 1. Contribute nothing to the signal but gain. 2. Control speaker so well that the sound produced is an exact facsimile of the signal entering the amplifier [that the speaker-amplifier subsystem work well together is the most important part of high-end audio system design].

Looked at another way – it is all about transforming information from one domain to another. Transforming information present in a small electrical signal on a wire into sound waves that carry the same information. It is all about preserving information, the information present in a small electrical signal that is specific to sound reproduction.

Information theory is a dense subject – and it is unlikely that many audio amplifier designers take information theory into account when they design their amplifiers.

But as listeners we all do indeed understand which information is absent, and which has been mangled, if only subconsciously. Or emotionally.

Types of musical information [this is a work in progress]:

Dynamic information. 1st order. Magnitude of a note. Is the loudness we hear what it is supposed to be. 2nd order. Rise and fall of the loudness. Is the way the notes gets louder, and then decays into nothingness what it is supposed to be. 3rd order. Are the associated harmonic frequencies of the note also rising and falling correctly. 4th order. Notes interaction with other notes. Is the way the notes interact with other notes, occurring during or immediately before/after a note, behave correctly.

Timing information. 1st order. Are note leading edges occurring when they are supposed to. Do we hear a beat. 2nd order. Are all parts of the notes, crests, decay, end and various subparts of the notes occurring when they are supposed to. 3rd order. Are notes occurring when they are supposed to at all volumes, all frequencies, all levels of musical complexity.

Harmonic information. 1st order. Are the basic tones at the correct frequency? Does it ‘sound right’. Are the under and over tones present and correct? 2nd order. Are the various subtle changes to the tone, from natural instruments, present and correct?. 3rd order. Are the tones correct at all volumes, all frequencies, all complexities?

Types of flaws

The reverse side, the dark side perhaps, of analyzing what we are hearing is to understand and classify the many ways that the result of the information transformation from the electrical domain to the acoustical domain [i.e. the sound we are hearing] differs from perfection. To talk about how a component differs from perfection, rather than how great it sounds. To talk about flaws. This is only useful if the number of flaws is small – there is only one way to do something right, and unaccountably many to do them wrong [sometimes I think the internet isn’t big enough to describe all the flaws in some systems, and I’m certainly too lazy to try… ergo the Flaw Categorization scheme below].

Usually people just measure frequency response: how the 1st order of dynamic information differs from what it should be for a given frequency. There is a heckuva lot more to enjoyable sound reproduction than this.

Types of flaws: Dynamic, Timing or Harmonic.

Magnitude of flaw. How large, how egregious, is the flaw.

Linearity/Proportionality: Is a flaw in the correct proportion to the flaw elsewhere in the musical stream. Elsewhere in the frequency spectrum. Elsewhere in the dynamic spectrum (louder/ softer). Elsewhere in the complexity spectrum [when lots of notes are happening at once]

Non-linear flaws call attention to themselves much more than linear flaws. They make the music sound strange. Not real.

Emotional responses

Suffice it to say here that, when listening analytically or otherwise, emotional responses complete the feedback loop. If something doesn’t sound ‘good’, that means we are reacting emotionally [negatively] to it. That there are flaws afoot. If one cares to, and the system is not completely useless, one can listen more deeply and find out WHY the sound is flawed.


The point of presenting this way of analyzing what we are hearing [More on this way of looking at and listening to audio in a future article] in a review of the ML3 is to show to the extreme depth to which the ML3 is performing as the prefect amplifier. Able to transform an electrical signal into something that, in this case the Marten Coltrane Supreme loudspeakers, can reproduce as sound waves that bring us back to our roots – what we expect [hope and pray!] an amplifier to sound like.

That is, when we analyze the sound of a component here at Audio Federation, we listen very deeply into the music, listening to the various orders of dynamic, timing and harmonic information, then try to characterize how this information has been mutilated [flaws], and finally to our emotional responses.

The ML3

And the point is that, vis-a-vis the ML3, the flaws are exceedingly small; much, much smaller in comparison with other amplifiers, and the flaws that exist are very linear.

In fact, the flaws are so small and well-distributed, that it is unclear to me whether the flaws should be attributed to something else, and are in fact an intrinsic part of our media, cables, sources or speakers.

For one example, let’s look at dynamics. Specifically the flaws in dynamics as heard on our system here and at RMAF. To my ears, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order information was preserved so well it was a transfixing experience. This is a credit to the entire reproduction chain – but specifically the amps, because this kind of ‘correctness’ is very rare and it hasn’t smacked us in the face like this before [but see our forthcoming Nordost ODIN power cord review – we are starting to hear shades of this correctness elsewhere.].

But the 1st order dynamics, magnitude, is still not correct. No amplifier speaker combination can yet reproduce the real dynamics of a hitting of a single key on a piano, for example [one can quibble about whether a live electric guitar is by definition always correct later. Much, much later. :-)]. But given the linearity of the dynamic response of the system across various media, and given what we know about cables’ effect on dynamics [re: ODIN], how some digital players tweak dynamics in a non-linear fashion [see previous shootouts on the Audio Federation blog], and of course the speakers, which like all speakers are not 100% efficient, the amps appear to be completely linear, and are reproducing in exact correct proportion the magnitude of the signal they are given – EVEN IN THE REAL WORLD OF PLAYING REAL MUSIC.

This is the point I am trying to make. What an amplifier does is extremely simple. But it is dealing with a very subtle and complex signal – music – and the ways it can mess this up are extremely numerous and complex. The ML3 doesn’t mess up in the ways that amplifiers usually mess up. I am arguing that the ML3 is, like the Coltrane Supremes and the ODIN before it – the first, truly competent, amplifier.

Designing systems around these components is different than around other components. Their own flaws are not only so very small [given the real-world limitation of physical laws and the conventional implementation of these audio components], but they are also NOT designed to compensate for inherent flaws elsewhere in the system or media.

These ‘competent components’, these perfectionists, just reproduce the sound they are given. With much, much better success than most other components. They don’t play ‘games’ with the sound. Now a system of all perfect components may not be for you. Maybe just one or two will be preferred. Some people seem to find the media itself, whether digital or analog, to still be missing something and want an extra zing. Others just prefer the sound to be ‘better than real’ and want some extra zoom. For most people, a system filled with perfect components might only be a start – followed by tweaks of special cables and components to tailor the system to fit their personal, and doubtlessly idiosyncratic and unique, taste, exactly.

Or should I say… perfectly.