Classically Synergistic Audio Systems

Audio Federation Dealership Magazine Music Guide Blog




There are remarkably few synergistic systems out there (more or less defined as speaker / amplifier pairings that work really, really well together - destined to become 'a Classic'). No matter how great a speaker is, if there aren't any amps out there that are able to show off how great it is, then the speaker will not ever sound great.

This is why speaker manufactures often try to tune their speaker to a particular amp - though more often than not they either switch amps mid-design or do not pick a superlative amp to start with, so they almost always fail to produce a Classic.




Classic Systems
Speaker Amplifier Preamplifier Source Interconnect Speaker Cable
The Kharma - Lamm System
Kharma Ceramique 1.0 pictured) or other of the easier to drive Kharma speakers like the Ceramique 3.2 or Mini Exquisite. Lamm ML2.1 or ML1.1 Lamm L2 (pictured) or LL2 (various) (various) (varies) Kharma KLC Supreme Reference-1A. 28 conductors of pure silver/gold in a substantial vibration isolation tubing.
This system has appeared in slightly different guises at many different audiophile shows. It is quite musical and seductive. Because the Ceramiques, and some Exquisites are fairly easily driven speakers, they can be paired with the most musical of amplifiers - which we have here with the Lamm amplifiers. 2006 Update: In the intervening years since the original system description, Karma has come out with some smaller speakers in their exquisite line that not only sound better than their Ceramique counterparts, but are also easy to drive and are very synergistic with the Lamm amplifiers.
The Kharma - Tenor System
Kharma Ceramique 1.0 pictured) or other of the easier to drive Kharma speakers like the Ceramique 3.2 or Mini Exquisite. Tenor WP75 or WI75 (Tenor integrated's preamp or various) (various) (various)


2006 Update: In the intervening years since this page was first created, the Tenor amplifier appeared on the scene and just as quickly left. They are in process of rebuilding the company and the amps can only be found on the the used market at this time. The sound of these speakers and this amplifier together is amazingly detailed and refined, with a high-energy presentation and a ease with microdynamics that is usually seen only in speakers with the highest of efficiencies.
The Avalon Eidolon - ARC Ref 300 System
Avalon Eidolon, Eidolon Diamond, and Eidolon Vision Audio Research Corporation
Reference 300
(various) (various) (various) (various)
This system first appeared in Fi Magazine (presented by Robert Harley). Based on this review, many people discovered the wonderful transparency of the Eidolons. The Eidolons are moderately difficult to drive speakers, liking lots of current. Another amplifier that drives these speakers well is the Accuphase A50V 50 watt pure Class A monoblocks. 2006 Update: Although Avalon continues to improve the Eidolon speakers and make them easier for amplifiers to control - their weak link is still finding an amplifier that can both handle the speaker load and which sound good in and of themselves. For those who cannot afford the heat and/or cost of some of the mega-sized amplifiers, the less expensive Ayre and small-sized Rowland class D amplifiers and its clones work pretty well, their flaws counter-balanced by their high wattage and masked by the dominant characteristics of the higher-quality speaker.
The Sound Lab - Wolcott System
Sound Labs (M1 or U1) Wolcott (various) (various) (various) (various)
This system has appeared at many trade shows. The Sound Labs are difficult to drive speakers, and the Wolcotts are one of the few tube amplifiers that can power them gracefully. 2006 Update: This is still true. Only alternatives to the Wolcott are using a large tube amp like the ARC Reference 300 or a powerful solid-state amp with tube gear upstream. We have liked the big Edge NL Reference 800 watt 'pyramids' and the big Innersound monoblocks - but always with at least some tube equipment upstream like the tubed output stage on an Audio Aero Capitole or Prestige CD player. Dry and lean sounding amps like the Parasound JC-1 will require even more tubey sounding gear upstream or the system will sound quite artificial and brittle.


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