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11-14-2004 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,545
Joined on 05-27-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 257
Reply to: 257
Preamplifiers: keys to mystery. (Lamm L1, L2)

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Preamplifiers: keys to mystery – or…. how a preamp might be not only a load-driving gadget.

Years after years the preamplifiers are being a “terra incognito” of audio people. I admit that preamps are a subject of my persistent curiosity. I was always mystified how came that such a simple functional entity of our audio systems could be so routinely-horribly implemented in Audio. I owned/seen/heard countless number of preamps and learned that all of them unfortunately were faulty in one-way or another.

The subject of this post will be my current relationship with my current preamp: Lamm L2. Just to pre-structure the reader’s understanding I have to make a disclosure: I (with very high probability) assure you that I do familiar with your  “reference” preamp. I have many of them and, please reading this post, do not behave like an unfortunate idiot Steven Rochlin (from the notorious “Enjoy his Music” sewer) who was trying a few years ago to “educate” me by begging me to “learn” from the Conrad-Johnson’s garbage. My interests in preamps are way beyond of the ”common audiophile wisdom” and certainly are way further than the “insight” of the typical Rochlin-like audio muhajadeen.

I have written in the “My playback” section about the paradoxically-mystifying effect of some of the Lamm’s preamplifiers. This is very complex topic: to share with other’s people why the L1 and L2 are differ form anything else.  The “L1’s and L2’s effects” unfortunately can not be learn within any other electronics and people who did not hear the below-mentioned effects have no idea of what I might be talk about. More then this: even people who are familiar with L1 and L2 (and I dealt with many of them) are mostly without understanding what is doing on while sound is going thorough thier preamps and, the most important: how the benefits of the L1, L2 might be utilized. Yes, it is not about the owning of a specific ingredient of a playback but about knowing how to use it. OK, if you are wiling to read further on then you have to bare with my deprecating attitude: I do not really ask any apologies for my low regards of many audio people as do not have a lot of respect to them – not necessarily because I am a jerk (this is only one and a very minor reason), but also because I am unfortunately too familiar with the wide-spread intellectual, spiritual, musical and interpretive primitivism of the people who “do audio”.

Nice introduction! Lets go on….

L1 and L2 are basically the same preamps. They certainly have constriction and design differences as well as quite different “the sounds” producing capacity. (Please distinct “Sound”, “sound” and “the sounds”) However, the main target of my article is not an analyses or a recognition the trivial audiophile differences (I would leave this duty to the bogus doodles writers – the damn industry reviewers) but my attempt to acknowledge-understand the source of something that I call “L2’s X-factor” – or the unique and exclusive listening benefit and the sonic contributions that L1 and L2 offer. (I will identify the effect of the  “X-factor” later on)

As I said before, I do not like my L2 but I do adore the “X-factor” benefits.  Unfortunately no one else offers X-factor-producing preamps and therefore I have to live with my L2. Now, after some very recent events, situation is changing and many L2 ‘s authority-challenging questions are popping up in my head.

Fist of all about my hate of L2. Probably hate is too aggressive word. I would say that I do not like it. It has a lot of bogusly implement hypercritic functionalities that are done with the typical psycho-republican mental objectives. In 2001 I remember I called L2 as “Lamm’s preamps of the W Bush era” and I was very closed: in many cases L2 is like our current president: a public misrepresentation of ignorance as humility (only God knows how good L2 might be if it were not implemented with the conservative hate).

L2 is very “strange” in it’s day-today operation: too few inputs, a cruel deterioration of sound when used “none-direct” lines, large crosstalk between the input lines of the same channel, first 45 minutes of a complete sonic disability until it warms up, none phase-invertible balance outputs (completely insulting!!!), high audio noise, extremely high musical noise (this is the main problem), dynamic compression, too high sensitively form the “quality” of electricity, extremely short tube life in power supply (3-4 month and I can hear it), too fragile input stage, sever worsening of Sound when the volume is down…and many others. However, with all its misery (that is still way LESS then any other preamps the I had) L2 still provides something that is place it in a totally different class and mane it very-very distinctive: the “X-factor” and THAT is quite successfully make L2 a SINGULAR WINING preamp.

Before I dive into the jungle of the “X-factor” let me to make a preface: I know about a typical audio preamps all that you know. This article is not a preamp’s kindergarten but a preamp academy.

Ok, now is time to explain the “X-factor”. L2 is not a “transparent preamp” but a signal processor that heavily intrudes into the stricture of Sound and heavily modifies it.  If you are looking for a signal’s objective, mathematically-identical input/output solution and if you pursue for an absolute transparency then look somewhere else (for instance the wonderful Placette Active). L2 is far from “audio transparency”, theory of signals neutrality and as far from the musical transparency as it theoretically possible. L2, no mater how absurd it sounds, converts the electrical transparency into subjective desirability and while it is doing this it introduces it’s own profound signatures. The main issue is that those signatures are not necessarily a musical poison but in many instances they are the useful remedy.

I am thinking about L2 for year and always mystified with it results. Pretend you have one single mono speaker and you drive your, for instance, 100K power amp by your front end (a typical setting in the unfortunately-high-impedance Hi-Fi). Pretend your front-end has a powerful output stage (most, and particular digital, front ends have horrible output stages), pretend your put stage has comparative to L2’s output impedance and pretend that the front end connected with the power amps via a short and very good quality no-length interconnect. After auditioning this scenario we have a certain “quality”. Then, you place L2 in the signal path and observe the sonic delta.   First of all, I have to remind that am talking about one channel (in stereo the delta even more staggering and more complexity will be added), Also be advised the listening takes place in context of a speaker with a superb integration between the channels. I made the similar experiments with a single-driver speaker and got the absolutely identical results.

So, here is comes…

L2 makes Sound incredibly civilized, cultured and sophisticated. Without L2, driven by just a “strong output stage”, Sound is very crude, rough, vulgar and uncultured (BTW, it is how most of YOURS system sounds, like it or not) The sounds, without L2 are popping up here and there without any dynamic references, without any relation to the sonic boundaries. Sound has little convince-ability and presented in very raw fashion. This all is practically non-acknowledgeable (unless you have a lot of listening and evaluative experience combines with the in-depth knowledge of WHAT should be paid attention while you are listing) but as soon you plug the L2 in the signal path the situation changes very radically. L2 totally reshapes Sound. The dynamics (I recognize 7 different dynamic characteristics of Sound) changes very dramatically. The total dynamic rage is slightly lees but instead of the anxious of the dynamic scrams this time Sound gets something else  – a dynamic intelligence!!!. This is not just an “ordinary compression” but totally different thing. The loud and soft sounds become to be more related to each other (not audio equalized but musically more related)! The tales of the decays become more allied to the amplitudes and to the frequencies of the attacks. The sharpness of the parabolas with which the tones roll to thier pitches with L2 more acoustically convincing and this sets everything up. You see, it dose not sound better or worth but this L2’s effect (“X-factor”) instantaneously removes even single shred of doubt that it might be “different”. Also, the damn L2 is the only know to me preamps that actually does to bass something completely fantastic: it slows bass down if it necessary and in a very “special” fashion and by means of it L2 sets a totally new rules for the game of sound reproduction within our unfortunately-ordinary low LF reverberation time listing rooms - here is where my methods of the active reconstruction of RT-60 kick in. (BTW, the ordinary audio damn-asses keep foolishly hunting for thier “fast bass”, good luck!) Also, and the the ironic part is that L2 sounds more long-tearm influential  and “musically enriched” even despite that L2 injects a large amount of “electronic noise” wherever is possible (or something that I call "the electrical residue") and makes Sound slightly more monochromic-grayish then I would wish.
 
Another stunning attribute of the L2 contribution (another entity of the “X-factor”) is the L2’s fantastic ability to maintain the vectors of directions within sound. Even in context of a one single string instrument playing in the middle of a stage you would instantaneously detect that L2 “works”. L2 somehow maintains the relation between a source-event and the event’s boundaries. I am not talking about the audio misunderstood Soundstage (even the cotemporary Morons-reviewers, after years of learning of mine and others comments about soundstage as an artificial property of sound reproduction made the bashing of the Soundstage as thier recent marketing chic, however they before and now still clueless and still they do not “get” that even a Soundstage, in certain context, might be used VERY effectively and what to do with Soundstage), but rather about the balances between what a single instrument dose and what is going on around the instrument. In the very same way how a good conductor arranges and tunes his orchestral tempo contingent upon the acoustic of a given Symphony Hall (along with considering the dozens of other parameters) the L2 rearranges the inner-performance’s spaces and distances depends of … I have no idea depends of what, but I hear that it does.

The total effect of these two qualities (that both manifest the “X-factor”): the dynamic wisdom and the ability to reconstruct vectors of space are not minor. To compare L2 vs. with any other preamp (or with no preamp) is similar to compare Sound organization between a High School Symphonic Orchestra vs. Sound of Boston Symphony of 1935: tonal cleverness, dynamic wisdom, balancing of each single expressive possibility - in another word – L2 converts a group of people with musical instruments to a team of musicians that are operating in complaints with the few thousands years of musical culture.

Let me stress it one more time: if you once hear what L2 dose (as I said: most of the people who even have those preamps are still clueless what is going on, I personally met only 4 peoples who had a comprehending of the L2’s benefits), then no mater how many objectively negative sonic characteristics you detect in the L1’s, L2’s you will find the total presentation of L1, L2 very indispensable (of course if you care about the cultural and musical benefits of audio results, if you do not have the barbarism demands of the audio-pterodactyls, and the playback installation can operate at the level where the L2 benefits will not be masked out by the errors of the other components). The L2 is way more actively-motivating then driving amp “direct” (presumably your output is potent), also, if you are a big admirer of the fashionable lately passive units, then you are also off the game – just get better system, better reference points and graduate the preamp kindergarten - the passive units are wasted attempts even at the First Evaluation Level (How to evaluate playback).It would be very interesting to learn what Lamm did with sound to archive the phenomenal and “influential” result of the “X-factor”.  I do not know if Lamm pursued “X-factor” deliberately and intentionally or it was just an accidental and just a tangential result. Lamm probably would suggest that it was purely intentional but some of the Lamm’s line-level products are no-X-factor-abled. Also, I witnessed a number of other deeds from Lamm were the purely unpremeditated accidents Lamm proposed as his deeply deliberate results (and wise versa). Go figure! Anyhow, I do not judge Lamm, his sense of self or his marketing effort but rather the epicenter of my attention is the benefits of the “X-factor”, was it consciousness for Lamm or not.

So, how L2 dose it? Dose it do some kinky phase overwriting/correction or any special power supplying? It would be easy to detect it by looking at the L2schismatic but I do not have it. To reconstruct the schismatic from the assembled unit would not be a complicated task but it dose not sound ethical and it is not the direction where I would like to proceed. No doubts that L2 preamp injects (deliberately or not) some hilly useful corrections-distortions into the signal.  The question is - which one.  The next question would be: if it is possible to inject the similar useful corrections-distortions without the introduction of the non-useful coloration and electronic signatures that L2 unfortunately possess in large quantities (at least in context of my ears and within the demands of my system)

Recently I spent a lot of mine thinking about it.  L1 and L2 are the fantastic envelop-pushing playgrounds that demonstrated what might be CONCEPTUALLY DONE WITH SOUND. Over the years, my objectives were changing as well as the capacities of my playback system were growing. Today I need more and I believe that I know what it should be (at least I know hoe it should sound) I question if it is possible to get the L2’s “X-factor” (perhaps with the higher X-factor’s amplitude) but without some negative residues that L2 injects into sound.  In addition to it I would like to impose to reproduce Sound some of my own visions, properties and priorities that I would avoid to divulge at this point.  I really am not interested to imitate the L2’s benefits but I do find the entire direction L2 leads being a superbly interesting and supremely valuable.

Pretty much my concept of the ultimate preamp would be: the L2’s “X-factor” but without any dynamic degradation, with an enormous dynamic range (a composite perception of all 7 dynamic characteristics), without the thermodynamic distortions and with no miserable solid stage signatures. It should have completely non-auditable ”The Beach Effect” Also, the ultimate preamp should have a totally new level (completely unachievable in any known to me preamps) something that I call “The Super Softness”  (however the “Super Softness” sound be presented along with a colossal transient capacity. Furthermore, the ultimate preamp should be able to maintain the certain spatial properties (look for my definition of “Audio Space” in the “Objectives” of the “My Playback” section) but in a totally different way then L2 dose it (L2 too much “try and present”, and it rather “depicture of the Space” instead of throwing  “Space” itself: L2 presents the efforts to accomplish a Result bit not the Result itself). Moreover the preamps should produce an effect of something, that I call “Overloading”. Nope, the “Overloading” did not come form the Object-Oriented Programming but rather it derives from my numerous experiments with overloading of phonostages. I do not mean the Overloading itself as a fact, but the recognized by myself specific sonic ingredients of Sound after Overloading was achieved. In another word, the preamp should do the necessary massage  - I know what it should do, but still to be completely without “The Beach Effect”.

I have a very good low-gain buffer that drives my amplifiers. The buffer itself has phenomenal sound (still the experiments are in progress) and within any audio dimension my buffer is marginally superior then L2 (the buffer was designed by a friend of mine around 6C19P, thanks Dima!!!). The buffer does very fine (way less “the Beach Effect” then anything I even heard!!!) but it has so far a low ability to facilitate the “X-factor”. I made a number of phase-related experiments with this buffer, compensating the phase shifts within the nodes and many other things. All of them were more or less beneficial but nether of them moved me into the direction neither of the “X-factor” nor to the other directions that I would consider advantageous. I put together some additional engendering recourse, have some interesting standing ideas and the most important has a very clear idea what I search as a result - and what would define the success of the project.  I officially opened a hunt - how to train my buffer as something, that would stand up, to the L2’s “X-factor” taking it further away, eliminate the L2 problems and to move my line-level aptitude to a performance level where I feel it should be (or at lease to comfort my sick ego)

Yes, sometimes a preamp is not only a preamp….

I will be there…, I hope
The caT




"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-10-2005 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,545
Joined on 05-27-2004

Post #: 2
Post ID: 1861
Reply to: 257
Are the secrets of Lamm X-factor resolved?

Who read the article above about the Lamm L1 and Lamm L2 preamps knows how high I prize the effect of spacious reengineering that Lamm preamps do. I call it the X-factor and was not familiar what it was and hot it was accomplished. Obviously it was done somehow by phase’s manipulation but what exactly it was I do not know up to the few days ago.

A few week ago learning how the pro audio spatial expanders work and familiarizing myself with third sound I detect that in the very-very minor and very precise depth of this affect the sound coming after the spatial expander very much reminds me what Lamm’s SS preamps did to sound. Even some problems that spatial expanders had were very typical for the L1/L2 preamps.

Briefly: a spatial expander is a mechanism of artificially creates spacious more sound. A spatial expander does not generate more realistic sound, but more pleasant sound. The spatial effects are accomplished by mixing into each channel an inverted crossfeed signal from the opposite channel to vary the presence of the mono signal. The effect widens the soundstage, create a separation between the instruments, “inverts” tones by injecting into them a small particulates of own out-of-phaseiness and has some other subjectively pleasing effects. The tradeoff is reduced focus and loss of bass, because bass signals tend to be monaural.

So, if you add to the spatial expander’s characteristics the L1-L2 this dally degrading transients capacity and dally incising dynamic compression due to the faulty designed powers supply (unless you are wiling to change the tubes in there weekly and I suggest above) then you have a have very clear depicture of the L1/L2. A couple days ago when I was contemplation it I had a conversation withy a guy that I know to whom I shared my views about the spatial expander and Lamm SS preamps. After listing me he said proposed that in such case the L1/L2 should perform better and be more transparent in bass region if it switched in mono. He, owning the L1 and L2 did report that it was his observation in past that mono music sounds better on Lamm’s preamp. It was very promising.  Today the same guy went to a listening room of another person who has cruelly L1 with mono switch bult-in and they made an experiment playing music and flipping the mono switch. The reported that bass become much better in mono setting… the way how it should be in case the spatial expander was used.

Well, it looks like the secret of the X-factor is resolved.  Unquestionably it was very good Lamm’s intention with L1 and L2 but unfortunately it was not implemented at the level of the serious listeners might demand. I wonder if would be possible to replicate that X factor  (sponsored by the spatial expander effect) only at the more demanding level?

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
09-28-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Amir
Iran Tehran
Posts 161
Joined on 02-11-2009

Post #: 3
Post ID: 11853
Reply to: 257
In analog domain
fiogf49gjkf0d
Is it possible to change phase response in analog domain very easily?
I think it's not easy and if it's possible it need complex circuit
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  »  New  HELP: I’m a line-level looser...  Further sonic humiliation....  Audio Discussions  Forum     22  115310  03-30-2005
  »  New  The ultimate buffer – light in the end of a tunnel..  A few minor corrections...  Audio Discussions  Forum     36  270289  04-28-2005
  »  New  Lamm L1 vs. L2 preamp..  L1/L2 & Police Breathalyzer...  Audio Discussions  Forum     5  51986  06-25-2005
  »  New  Reviewing preamps by imbeciles...  More toilet reading about preamps......  Audio For Dummies ™  Forum     1  32176  06-25-2006
  »  New  K-Stereo Ambience Recovery Processor..  Peter's UpperBass + K-Stereo Files....  Didital Things  Forum     29  188922  10-04-2007
  »  New  Lamm hybrids: M1.2 vs. Lamm M1.1..  Lamm hybrids: M1.2 vs. Lamm M1.1...  Audio Discussions  Forum     0  21564  12-12-2007
  »  New  All Active! A DSET and multi-way acoustic system...  Hahaha...  Audio Discussions  Forum     14  81455  01-31-2008
  »  New  The nature of "soundstage" in audio...  My goals beyond...  Playback Listening  Forum     22  112511  02-03-2008
  »  New  Lamm ML2.1 "No longer available"?..  My favorite song...  Audio Discussions  Forum     16  92665  04-09-2008
  »  New  Convergent Legend Preamp and the same Marc Mickelson..  Convergent Legend Preamp and the same Marc Mickelson...  Audio News Forum     0  19292  03-24-2009
  »  New  Lamm introduced LL1 Signature Preamp…..  An Oscar for the most retarded comment printed in audio...  Audio Discussions  Forum     19  100472  05-16-2009
  »  New  A quests for an ultimate preamp...  Balance Control...  Audio Discussions  Forum     5  40617  05-16-2009
  »  New  The open project: a lateral cross-injection...  If It "Works",...  Playback Listening  Forum     24  55653  03-27-2013
  »  New  Remote control, problems, money and stupid journalism..  Imperial expansion...  Audio Discussions  Forum     4  7233  04-09-2017
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