June
2019

Country of Origin

USA

L2 redux

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref,  AURALiC Vega, Jay's Audio CDT 2 MkII & DAC-2 SE
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, SIT-3, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; SAG AIO; Gold Note PA-1175 MkII x 2 [on review]
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Kroma Audio Mimí; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence; Fram Midi 150; sound|kaos Vox 3f [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000 and Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands 
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: $16'995

The Vinnie Rossi flagship L2 DHT linestage is an extraordinary achievement and a world's-first implementation. Its direct-heated triodes are neither diluted by driver tubes, fattened up by additional gain tubes nor dulled, phase-shifted, bandwidth limited or slowed down by output transformers or coupling caps. And, my feature review concluding in a Lunar Eclipse award already told that story. My Swiss friend Dan who bought the review sample followed up with some very interesting tube alternates. That's because the L2's bias voltage toggles between 2.5, 4 and 5 volts to take an uncommonly expansive view on having very many glowing affairs. 

When Vinnie subsequently added this silver finish option for his flagship L2 models, my dislike of black hifi could follow Dan's carefully considered example. I could get my own unit. By then Anthony Kershaw's review for Audiophilia had bowed to add data points also with the optional phono module and DAC. By winning their Star Component distinction, for the L2 Signature preamplifier that was two reviews, two awards already. Michael Lavorgna's fully loaded-up unit accompanied by the matching amps for Twittering Machines became the next sighting and contained similar enthusiasm.

Actual ownership in casa 6moons thus long-term use well past typical review etiquette should generate many further data points from very specific hardware combinations and rolling tubes. As Dan put it weeks after his original writeup, " I tried dozens of different tubes by now. The unique L2 advantage is that one can micro fine-tune the sound character of the loudspeaker/amplifier interaction." That's a most salient point since options here go far beyond sticking to just one type of tube. Or as Dan described it:

"A: If one needs a bit more resolution, more clarity, less "velvet and honey", go PX4, SV811, 183/483 (5V 45) or TAK 300B (last being borderline between A and C).
B: If one needs a bit more soul and sexiness, 300B is the soul-ution (TAK, Elrog, Sophia Electric).
C: If one is already balanced but longs for a bit more meat on the bones and presence, 2A3 and 6A3 are clear winners for me, with the JJ 40 coming out on top.

"The L2 ⇒ Berning VT52 amplifier ⇒ Nenuphar widebander combo in my room is really magical. The best sound you and I heard together back in the old room was less than 75% of what I'm hearing now. I purposely didn't mention speed as an individual character point for the Vinnie Rossi because the OTL amp supersedes any such influence, being OTL-ightspeed itself."

Tube rolling is an obvious key attraction of L2 Signature Preamplifier ownership rather than short-term review or loaner dalliances. In my original writeup, I could only contrast stock ElectroHarmonix 300B and Vinnie's personal pair of Japanese Tatatsuki 300B. With this open-ended Redux feature, neither time is of the essence nor that anecdotal evidence come from just this writer. It's my intention then to use this space as a kind of diary to which I'll add bits and pieces as they occur. This will give prospective buyers and current users more information to work with. As such, anyone who already has formed clear-cut opinions and observations to share is most welcome to contribute their findings. Just send me an email. Oh – and Vinnie kitted out my unit with 6.3mm and XLR4 headphone jacks to replace the two rear-panel trigger ports. Headfi commentary will thus feature as well.

… to be continued…