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A 2nd opinion on the L2 linestage

Contributing reader: Dan S.
Affiliations: None except to good music and integrity; and no financial interests where I won't count the obscene amounts I spent over the last 30 years on my 'audiophile' addiction
Sources: Custom Audio Consulting turntable and 20'000+ records, DS 1 Master optical cartridge and phono stage; APL Hifi and Jay's Audio CDT2 MkII digital transports, Soundaware D300Ref, APL Hifi Pure PCM DAC with TDA 1514A and Russian 1578 tube buffer, iFi Pro iDSD DAC with Mutec Ref 10 master clock and custom external power supply (both D/A converters read their own SD cards with playlists originating from CD, A/D vinyl and downloads mostly via their HDMI inputs), 9'000+ CD, Qobuz/TIdal/Spotify streaming, no computer in the room
Preamplifiers: David Berning ZOTL, Townshend Allegri+ passive, Thomas Mayer 10Y differential
Power amplifiers: Custom-made David Berning ZOTL with VT-52 outputs plus nearly 50 other mostly SET amps which can be brought in at the right time
Loudspeakers: Voxativ 9.87 system, Cube Audio Nenuphar
Cables: Black Cat loom and Townshend Fractal interconnects
Power delivery: Solar AC with battery backup, Vibex Granada/Alhambra with separate supply for analog/digital components, Troy ground conditioner, Kemp Electronics Maximus P16 field conditioner
Equipment support: 2 x Rogoz Audio, Halcyionics Accurion active decoupling platform for turntable
Room: Dedicated acoustically treated 4.8 x 7.5m ground-floor space

Review component retail: €16'995 with ElectroHarmonix 300B Gold

Publisher's intro. My own review was a wrap. But rather than return the loaner to the US, I'd sent it to a friend in Switzerland. That's because I'd told him, just in case he needed knowing, what he ought to consider next for his own system. Though Dan trusts my opinion, nobody should buy on blind faith alone especially not in this class. Having previously acquired a LIO from Vinnie, the two already knew each other. Dan's request to home trial this review sample was thus granted. With a Voxativ 9.87 Pi and alternate Cube Audio Nenuphar speaker set which I'd reviewed as well as a Jay's Audio transport, Soundaware D300Ref, Denafrips Terminator, Vibex conditioners and possibly other stuff, Dan's system and mine overlapped quite a bit. But tastes still differ, never mind that Dan already owned a few very good preamps which he loved on his main Berning Siegfried amplifier. How much better could it really get to justify changes?

After confirming receipt, Dan also copied us on this later that day: "After one hour I can confirm that everything works fine. Soundwise… well, for now I'll just say that Srajan, you were right." Whether that meant my review or subsequent personal recommendation we still didn't know.

By then Vinnie was in the Schaumburg Hotel & Convention center to formally launch his new Stiletto 15 loudspeakers at Axpona 2019. One could now assemble a front-to-back Vinnie Rossi system, just add digital/analog source and wires. The brand was going places and raising its profile. Here Dan takes over to share his experiences of the L2 direct-heated preamplifier without the optional phono or DAC modules installed.

It could be confusing.

"The most important part of any stereo system is the preamplifier."

"The best preamplifier is no preamplifier."