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Marten Coltrane / Lamm Industries / Audio Note








SYSTEM ColtraneLamm-3
Audio Note players emphasize: EMOTIONAL, ENJOYABLE



We believe that by taking a holistic systems approach to assembling a high-end stereo system more musical satisfaction can be achieved, in less time, with less bother and with less money. To this end we offer our customers the option of purchasing one of a number of turnkey systems. Most of these systems are systems which you can hear in one of our listening rooms.

We value musicality and the ability for a system to communicate magic, sophistication, emotion, to suspend disbelief, and to be impressive over all other system attributes. Therefore our systems are designed to be truly musical, to provide that special pleasure that almost all of us love: Musical Enjoyment, and perhaps even a glimpse of the great Unknowable and flashes of the Noble Human Spirit. These systems will communicate the emotion, the artistic flair, the skill and story that the musicians are telling. They will caress, tickle, swoon, and exclaim, thrill and amaze. They will not distract your mind with harsh distortions, exaggerated flash, disharmonies, or plodding acyclical rhythms. But they just may grab your heart and soul and send them flying into the ether.



These are relatively expensive systems, retailing for approximately $60,000 - $180,000 (depending on the particular configuration and speaker selected). These systems offer a realistic, sophisticated presentation and sound like... music. They are very detailed, smooth, and engrossing. No grit, no bloat, no muddled sounds, no smoke, no cotton balls, no sugar-coating or artificial flavors, just good, honest music that says: you can have both accurate reproduction and an extremely enjoyable listening experience - at the same time!


The Coltrane speakers excel at reproducing music with accuracy, controlled dynamics, high resolution, touch-realistic imaging and even-handed treatment of all frequencies. They are not as good at presenting an overly impressive sound, nor a big open relaxed sound, nor an in-your-face front row type of sound.

A Note about the Coltrane Alto Speakers

The sonic signature of this speaker is very similar to its big brother, the Coltrane. Same ceramic midrange but with a smaller (down-firing) ceramic woofer and a ceramic tweeter instead of the diamond tweeter. The difference really lies in terms of scale - a smaller sound, smaller dynamics, less bass, and designed for smaller rooms.





The LAMM ML2.1 amplifiers are natural, harmonically rich, neutral sounding, imaging monsters. They have one of the most stringent of engineering tolerances, especially between matched pairs of these monoblock amplifiers.

What really seems to set them apart from the rest of the pack is the purity and naturalness of their harmonics. There isn't anything artificial-sounding here - no added sweetener making all music sound as if seen threw rose-colored glasses.

On the right speakers they also generate a very solid image. So solid that it is somewhat unnerving.

The bass is very present, but just a little less detailed and accurate on harder to drive speakers.

 Optimally, the very deep bass should probably be produced by a speaker in the 100dB or better efficiency range - which in reality entails self-powered (active) subwoofers or very large horns.


The LAMM L2 Reference linestage is a wonderfully neutral sounding linestage (a preamplifier without a phono stage). It doesn't wighten, or enhance, or smooth or explode or do any of the things most preamps do to the signal they amplify.

The power supply for the L2 comes in a separate box, as shown.


AUDIO NOTE U.K. CDT2 and CDT3 TRANSPORTS and 4.1x BALANCED DAC (digital to Analog Converter)

Audio Note CD playback system: The Audio Note U.K. digital is designed to be as simple as possible. No upsampling, oversampling, supersampling, just get the music, as undisturbed as possible, from the CD to the outputs.

The result, using this level of components, is a very intense, detailed yet very emotional and fluid sound that is engrossing and uplifting. Like most transports and DACs these days, it is usually best, sonically, to pair a transport and DAC together which are built by the same manufacturer. In this case, Audio Note.

[This pictures are of the CDT Two, but the CDT Three looks exactly the same except there is a 'Three' on the front instead of a 'Two'].







Nordost Frey interconnect Nordost Valhalla interconnect Shunyata Anaconda Helix power cord Jorma Design No. 1 speaker cable Harmonic Resolution System(HRS) MXR equipment rack
Nordost Frey speaker cable Stealth INDRA interconnect Shunyata Paython Helix power cable Rix Rax equipment rack Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) M3 Isolation Base
Nordost Valhalla speaker cable Nordost Valhalla power cord Shunyata Hydra M-8 Acoustic Dreams equipment rack Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) Nimbus and Nimbus Couplers

Nordost Valhalla speaker cable and interconnect (REAL, SOPHISTICATED): All of these cables let through the raw music, letting it flow directly to the speaker. In high quality systems like this, there is no need to fear such revealing cables - they will reveal nothing but how wonderful the music is. 

Nordost Valhalla digital interconnect (REAL, SOPHISTICATED): Almost exactly the same sound as the world-renowned interconnect.

Nordost Valhalla power cord (REAL, IMPRESSIVE): Very similar to the Valhalla sound, clean, fast, detailed, but with a slight leaness to the sound.

Nordost Frey speaker cable and interconnect (real, sophisticated): The Frey is slightly less sophisticated and detailed compared to the Valhalla - but not by much.

Jorma Design No. 1 (REAL): The Jorma Design is very close to the Valhalla, but with a little more body and less of a 'silvery sheen' that you would never know Valhalla had until you heard it right before the Jorma.

Shunyata Anaconda Helix Vx power cord (EMOTIONAL, ENJOYABLE): Filters out the garbage while letting through the massive amounts of current when and how the components need it. The system would be a pale shadow of itself without these power cords. The new Helix version seems to, amazingly enough for a power cord, be able to let through more of the character and meaning of the music than any other power cord we have tried, including the previous generations of Shunyata power cords.

Shunyata Python Helix Vx power cord (emotional, enjoyable): We expect these cables to be similar in character to the Anaconda - but a little less open and big sounding. We haven't yet heard them, but the previous two generations of Anaconda and Python were similar in this manner.

Shunyata Hydra M-8 power distributor (ENJOYABLE): This does much the same thing as the 'filled' Shunyata Vx power cords - the Hydra itself being filled with the same stuff.

Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) MXR equipment rack (REAL, IMPRESSIVE): The MXR is the best sounding rack for many reasons not the least of which is that the shelves are HRS M3 Isolation Bases. The racks are also not half bad looking either and the sides of the rack being somewhat solid help obscure the mess of cables coming out of the back of the components - and the often pedestrian looking sides of the equipment.

Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) M3 Isolation Base (REAL, IMPRESSIVE): The HRS Isolation Base is wonderful, it has so far improved the sound of everything we have put it under, some of them tremendously.

Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) Nimbus, Nimbus Couplers, and Nimbus Spacers (REAL, IMPRESSIVE): These typically are inserted between a component and its Isolation Base further improving the sonics by channeling away vibrations to the Isolation Base better than the component's feet do.

Rix Rax equipment rack: Very beautiful racks which are 100% custom built. Any type of wood or size is yours for the choosing. HRS M3 Isolation Bases can be put under your favorite components on a Rix Rax shelf in order to provide much of the same sonic benefits of having a HRS rack.

Acoustic Dreams equipment rack: This equipment rack also has some vibration control capability and is very portable. Most people find the 'art deco look' of these racks quite attractive here in our showrooms.








The Marten Coltrane / LAMM Industries system is one of our most seductive systems.

It is so indicative of the nature of this system that when we casually sit people down in front of it - within a minute or less they are... gone. I mean, they are still in the chair and everything, but they are no longer talking to us, or interested in talking to us - for awhile anyway.

It is not that the sound is overly warm or anything - Lamm amplifiers (and preamplifiers for that matter) are just do not do the warm kind of sound thing. Perhaps it is the shape of the notes that is so special. Are you nuts, you may ask, how can the shape of the notes be very much more than just something boring on graph paper?

Well, it is when the notes just erupt into being with the solidity of a friendly hug, the pure liquidity of ancient spring water and the life force of a child's smile. While they are alive, the notes undulate and pulse like Jell-O in outer space, free from gravity, shimmering and filled with colors and patterns reminiscent of the greatest works of art. Yeah. Something like that.

The sound is disturbingly solid, wonderfully soundstaged, beautifully imaged, amazingly dynamic, and just incredibly rich. Rich in terms of detail and harmonic color, yes, there is an amazing amount of detail revealed by... it is not so much massive amount of micro-dynamics, but something more like micro-flows and micro-tones.

But it is also incredibly rich in terms of body and life, there is a reason people like to look at beautiful art and landscapes and flowers and people. There is a feeling evoked by those activities. It is a good feeling. That maybe there is something right in this universe of ours. That, whatever the trials and tribulations of daily life, there is also something wonderful and amazing going on out there.

I guess a word about the bass is in order, because that is often the first thing people will wonder about in a small amp, big speaker combo like this. The bass is definitely present and accounted for, albeit with a less texture than the rest of the frequency range (well, duh, the rest is state-of-the-art). The amount of bass is


somewhat dependent on the power cord used on the amp, but even with the old Shunyata Anaconda Alpha, which was one of the cleaner sounding, more detailed, less bass, power cords we have tried, the bass was enough to rattle things upstairs.

This system, as one might expect with the relatively low wattage of the amplifier (18 watts) and the relatively difficult to drive speaker (89 dB), is probably best in rooms with medium to small volumes. We have it in our 15 foot by 30 foot room with 8 foot ceilings.  It definitely does not 'pressurize' this large of a room - however the sound does frequently call attention to itself, not requiring the listener to focus intellectually to appreciate the sound. We do not actually have to shout to talk over it - but we do have to yell with the volume at a little over 1/3 (a little after 10 o'clock) on the Lamm L2 preamplifier.

WITH AUDIO NOTE U.K. CDT2 or CDT3 transport and 4.1x Balanced DAC through a LAMM L2 Reference preamplifier.

The design of this particular system has as its goal the maximizing of engagement on the part of the listener. Drama, dynamics, romance, texture, size, har-f*cking-monics... everything one can think of to make the music wrench the listener's mind out of the picture and let their heart and soul take over.

The Coltrane speakers just render whatever music is given them in massive amounts of detail and resolution. In this case we are giving them output from the Lamm ML2.1 amplifiers... "Wahoo!" as Neli would say.

And all of these sources produce music that is a wonder to behold.

The front end we are using is the Audio Note U.K. transport and DAC. These particular models are the what we feel to be the best redbook (ordinary, average CDs) playback available when it comes to natural sounding yet romantic, richly harmonic digital with lots of detail - certainly in the under $40K price range anyway.

You are probably seeing where we are going with this. A richly harmonic, textured, dramatic player; a wonderfully natural sounding, naturally dynamic preamp; the amazing ML2.1 with its ability to communicate the difference between 1000 shades of F#, in glorious color; and on of the most accurate speakers on the planet to hear all this with? 

Exactly. This system is M-u-s-i-c. This system is dan-ger-ous.

It generates a very solid image. So solid that it is somewhat unnerving. During a casual listening session, perhaps chatting with a friend, one's autonomous self-defense system will all of a sudden kick into gear because somebody you did not invite just appeared in the room singing about how you can't get everything you want.

This is not an in-your-face presentation, and if you are looking for that, keep looking - this is an in-your-soul presentation. Also note that the same magic does not happen with the less expensive, more powerful Lamm ML1.1 amplifier, for some reason.

  Accessory Assignments  

Marten Coltrane Speaker: Nordost Valhalla or Nordost Frey or Jorma Design No. 1 speaker cables

Running the Valhalla between the Audio Note CDT2 or CDT3 transport and Audio Note 4.1x Balanced DAC, between the DAC and the Lamm L2 Reference preamplifier and the L2 and the Lamm ML2.1 amplifier lets the music through while adding little if anything of its own. Similarly with running the Valhalla speaker cable between the Lamm and Coltrane speakers. But the special attribute to note here is that the Valhalla is one of the fastest cables made (both interconnect and speaker), if not the fastest and very clean and somewhat lean - so it does not add its own color to the wonderful harmonics of the ML2.1 and the Audio Note front end. This combination lets through every nuance, each tiny aspect of every rhythm, each and every part of every note envelope, and lets it through NOW - when it is supposed to and how, as the music itself dictates. The result is clean, detailed, full of PRaT (foot tapping plus plus), and oh so smooth, by which is meant that the flow, the continuousness, the raison d'Ítre of the music is preserved and offered up to the speakers. And, in this case, these speakers can handle it.

LAMM Amplifier: The older Shunyata Anaconda Alpha or new Shunyata Anaconda Helix Vx or Python Helix Vx power cords, HRS M3 Isolation Base.

The big Shunyata power cords help eek out a little more dynamics from the system. We have used the Valhalla power cord as well, it has the same sonic signature as the other Valhalla cables, and it sounds more detailed and slightly more transparent, but is a little lean, and somewhat less macro dynamic. The 'Vx' power cords contribute to a little more open and luscious sounding system, the Alpha to a more powerful and quicker sounding system.

LAMM L2 Preamplifier: The older Shunyata Anaconda Alpha or new Shunyata Anaconda Helix Vx or Python Helix Vx or Nordost Valhalla power cords, HRS M3 Isolation Base.

Audio Note Transport: Shunyata Anaconda Helix Vx or Python Helix Vx or Nordost Valhalla power cords.
Audio Note DAC: Shunyata Anaconda Helix Vx or Python Helix Vx.

The Audio Note, like most digital, sounds smoother and less digital when using a 'filled' Shunyata power cord. Filled, that is, with substances that filter out power line anomalies that just seem to aggravate digital source equipment.

System: Stealth INDRA, Nordost Valhalla or Nordost Frey interconnects

The INDRA rocks. Very, very pure. As close to perfect as we have heard to date. Also very expensive. The Valhalla and Frey are excellent interconnects and let through the music just fine, thank you very much.

Equipment Rack: This setup needs a 4-shelf equipment rack. The transport is a top-loader, so it should go on the top shelf. The other components can go on any of the shelves - but it is usually good to put the two-box preamp's box with the controls up high enough so you don't have to bend over too much to change the volume.

A turntable setup is going to require an even larger equipment rack. The turntable itself sits on the top shelf of the rack. Then there is typically a need for another shelf to hold the phono preamplifier (unless your preamplifier has a built-in phono stage). Then there is often a power supply for the turntable that needs to go on a shelf as well, somewhere close to the turntable.

 So all this adds up to two 4-shelf equipment racks or a double-wide 4-shelf. One can also get away with a 3-shelf double wide if one is OK with putting some of the power supplies on the floor or squeezing them in next to other components - especially on the Rix Rax double-wide where there is a little available space in the middle between the components.

The MXR is the best sounding rack and has custom M3 Isolation Bases for many turntables, available to use as the top shelf.

The Rix Rax equipment rack is a very nice looking rack which can also handle the weight of the 225 lb Walker just fine; here at the Audio Federation both the Brinkmann and Walker have sat together on top of a Rix Rax Grand Hoodoo rack - the Brinkmann on top of a custom HRS M3 Isolation Base.

The Acoustic Dreams equipment rack also has a custom top shelf that can be ordered to suit extra large turntables like the Walker (we use one of these larger shelves here at the Audio Federation when we put the Walker on top of one of our Acoustic Dreams racks).

  Optional Accessories  

Shunyata Hydra M-8 power distributor: This does much the same thing as the 'filled' Shunyata Vx power cords - the Hydra itself is filled with the same stuff - so for those who wish to use a different power cord on their equipment, they could plug those power cords into the Hydra and get most of the same benefits.








Configuration 1


This is the reference configuration for this system design. It gets you 'the sound' at the best price.


Marten Coltrane loudspeakers
Lamm ML2.1 18 watt monoblock amplifiers
Audio Note CDT2.1 transport
Audio Note 4.1x Balanced DAC
Lamm L2 Reference linestage
A 1.0 meter pair and a 2.0 meter pair Valhalla RCA interconnect
A 1.0 meter pair  1.0 meter pair Valhalla digital interconnect
1.5 meter Valhalla bi-wire speaker cable
Two Shunyata Anaconda power cords (for the amps)
Three Shunyata Python power cords
Two HRS M3 Isolation Bases (for the amps)
Grand Hoodoo Rix Rax equipment rack
List Price

Configuration 2


This system has additional support for playing LPs on a Brinkmann Balance turntable. The price would be about $15K for a similar setup with the Walker Proscenium Gold Signature turntable.

Also, the Valhalla interconnect has been replaced by the INDRA, and the Valhalla speaker cable by the Jorma No. 1 (for slightly more body but slightly less detail, figuring that the turntable will supply more than enough detail at this point).

We are also going with an HRS rack in order to hear all of the micro-dynamics and to tighten up and get as much detail from the bass as much as possible.


Marten Coltrane loudspeakers
Lamm ML2.1 18 watt single-ended triode monoblock amplifiers
Audio Note CDT3 transport
Audio Note 4.1x Balanced DAC
Lamm L2 Reference linestage
Two 1.0 meter Stealth INDRA RCA interconnects
A 1.0 meter pair  1.0 meter pair Valhalla digital interconnect
1.5 meter Valhalla bi-wire Jorma Design No. 1 cable
5 Shunyata Anaconda power cords
Two HRS M3 Isolation Bases
HRS MXR Equipment Rack
Brinkmann Balance turntable and tonearm.
Lamm LP2 phono preamplifier
List Price


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