I have recently acquired a pair of (2000 vintage, I think) Lamm ML2s and would like to share impressions and development strategies with other ML2 owners, including former owners, and perhaps I may learn from any pertinent experience.
In addition to changing amps, from Wright-Sound WPA3.5 2A3 SETs to the Lamms, I have just moved into a new (to me) house with 8’ ceilings instead of the sloping (10 - 20’) ceilings at my former residence. The ”new” listening room is on a wood-framed floor while the old one was on a slab. Also, while I had pretty much solved my grounding problems at the old place (3/4” copper rod driven just outside the system wall, for phono), I am just getting into this again here and now. In other words, my recent audition of the ML2s was compromised, to say the least. But, still, I got some impressions from the ML2s.
I had finally reached the point where I had done about all I could with the Wrights. I had gotten the room pretty well pressurized, etc., but I was growing annoyed and disappointed with the limited frequency range and dynamics, and so I began looking around to see what I could find as a next step.
And so, under these clouds and with highest hopes, the Lamm ML2s entered the picture.
I am pretty sure the amps could do with new tubes, but here goes with 1st impressions, with CD source instead of my usual phono:
For one thing, the amps did everything better and better as time passed, up to the 1 hour mark, when I ended the session. From the first the amps did not sound like the coveted straight-wire-with-gain, but rather they seem to somehow rearrange the mosh they are fed and turn it into a more realistic musical sound. I suspect some sort of feedback is involved in this, and maybe even some mysterious form of group/phase delay, although there was no overt trace of echo effects or smearing, at all, which might cause me to suspect this.
But the thing these amps did the best during my first, compromised session was the way they create an artfully correct(ed) version of time and space, in which the musical notes and pressures assumed their correct-as-in-living-music attitudes and relationships. There is roughness when appropriate, which is very rare, and overall sounds happen just about the way they should, neither forced nor held back by the ML2s
And the background to all the sound was not “black” but simply the part that is not music, just as one finds with live music, which effect so charms me that I am excited about hearing it again.
Something I have observed with solid state versus tubes in general, and SETs in particular, is that notes through SS amps seem to implode, while notes though tubes seem to explode. And now that I think back, I am not sure that notes from the Lamms do either.
One sound I remember well as a reference is that of a band playing outdoors, where the sound almost seems to contradict itself if one tries to describe it, the way it is at once ragged and smooth, so immediate and vital, yet it just dies away so quickly it’s as if it went into a vacuum. Likewise, the frequency range is all there, obviously, yet where are the “highs” or “lows” the audiophile craves? I think I want to hear some marching band music through the ML2s.
I should also mention that the “sound stage” was plenty “deep” and “wide” from the get go, but it was oddly short in terms of height, and it “grew” in height over the one hour session. The “space” the amps put the music in is more about music than space, which I like, but the space is “there”, and it sounded/felt as if it just went on and on like the rest of the world; very odd.
My own sonic priorities are pitch, timbre weight and scale of acoustic instruments and voices; then dynamics; then immediacy; then sound effects (soundstage, etc.); then “details”, which I simply cannot abide out of proportion. I actually like all these things, but if the first things are wrong, I cannot sustain interest for long.
The ML2s started out with some SS congestion but cleared up considerably by the end of my first session. I did not get good bass or proper lower-mid weight, but this is so room/speaker dependent that I don’t think it’s worth discussing at this point. I found myself pulling my speakers farther and farther out into the room, off the short wall, and I may eventually try them along the long wall, firing across the short axis of the living/listening room and into the dining room. I certainly have not gotten the room pressure level right yet.