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Engstrom Sound from Sweden - the Pinnacle of Scandinavian School



  • edited February 2015
    The Monica Zetterlund pre/phono by Lars of Sweden landed at AE. No one other than Marcus Wong listened to the prototype before since August 2014. What I received is no longer prototyoe. It houses a phono stage inside as well. Unlike Japanese top tube preamp offerings, It is a true balance differential design. Two chassis. Volume control is unconventionally in the same chassis with the power supply. Amplification circuits are housed separately in an independent chassis.
  • Very tidy works on the circuit board.
  • Lars are extraordinary electronics. It works wonder with Cessaro. Around the world, the Lars in my opinion were always partnered wrongly with low efficiency speakers. The strength of it is thus undermined tremendously. It showed its real color by driving Cessaro Lizst last year. Now that the preamp has landed, a double "push pull" concept is now realised with type 2 mono amplifiers. According to Lars, the Monica preamp also utilises a push pull circuit.

    The Sweden school of thought is interesting and enlightening at the same time. Lars is a rare gem. I shall spend the next week understanding it more.
  • That is very cool. The Monica apps on iPad/iPhone to remote control the Monica preamp.
  • That is the idea of Timo - the industrial designer for Lars electronics. He asked the question, "why the most pure and ultra end electronics designed by his Uncle can't merge with killer apps for ultimate convenience?"
  • 有冇人聽過Lars Monica 夾 Zanden 長空?
  • Fire4,

    I was listening to Monica on last Sat. I went to listen to Vertere reference arm before the Chinese New Year and the perfectly dark background of LP playback is still lingering in my mind. As far as I can observe, the only element that has been changed in this audition is the preamp.

    K15 is already a masterpiece with superb performance, how can Monica go beyond this point and reach another height?
  • Many in this forum would readily agree with me that K15 is a top notch preamp and at this level, it is not easy to find another piece which could totally outperform K15. My short audition of Monica on last Sat also cannot lead me to a clear 'verdict' on which preamp is a better one. Both of them are having an ultra level of resolution on tonality, spatial cue, freshness and liveliness...etc. In replacement of a slightest film of smoothness on musical flow by K15, Monica does offer a wider spectrum of dynamic surge making the musical tempo much more lively and 'jumpy'.

    I wonder if Monica is pairing with Lars type 2 forming a dual push pull amplication, the synergistic effect would add an edge to this pair. This is similar to my earlier trial of using K15 and K70G2 in my system comparing with type 2, I did feel that the K15/K70G2 combo has more flare and dynamite!!
  • With Zanden Chuoku, both K15 and Monica do not have any advantage over the other in terms of power amp mating. Despite it is a tube preamp, Monica does exhibit every single characterisics of a SS preamp in providing a lightning speed of transient, background darkness is not the 'dead' type. Eyes closed, I wonder how many may think Monica is SS preamp. Eventhough I know it is a tube preamp, I did ask PT during the audition session a stupid question: is it a tube preamp?

  • At this level, I think the ultimate comparison should be a preamp+power amp combo rather than preamp to preamp....K15+next generation power amp by Robert vs Monica+type2 vs Zanden Chuoku preamp+power vs Trinity pre+power....all I can say is 'wow'....
  • Marvel bro,

    That sounds like a transparency competition here. Do you agree? Because of higherr transparency, the window is opened for more dynamic contrast.

    If the tube based Monica sounds like a solid state linestage, would you say Robert's k15 sounds like tube preamp?
  • Voy,

    We discussed exactly on the same comment that Monica sounds like a SS premap while K15 has a slice of tube fragrance on each musical dots.

    Indeed, I agree entirely with you that it is a competition of transparency among these top notch preamps...

    I am longing to pair Monica with Type2 to achieve the double push pull capability...
  • Marvel,

    Having said that I am now "trinitized", I have to say the Lars Monica pairing with the almighty Zanden Chouku dirving the Cessaro reach the same destination through differnt means. I see convergency here. Do you agree?
  • Longinus,

    No doubt this is a common goal between the 2 camps to converge into a truer playback of the original recording. I have sold my Tidal Agoria for the Cessaro and missed the opportunity to get fully 'trinitised' although I am using Trinity phono, PC and DAC.

    When the Monica is finally delivered, a full set of push pull amplification will be serving in my system, do find time to come and contrast with your full Trinity suite.
  • Marvel,

    The Lars Monica is a very special preamp. I have never experienced a tube preamp that has no traces of tube. At the same time, it does not sound anything close to solid state at all. It really does the job of really able to "differeniate" the "character" of each recording. That is a new expereince. During the days of the Tidal Prescenio, which by all means is a very top preamp still in my mind, the traces of solid state are still there. The Lars Monica, yes, maybe like the direction and orientation of trinity. What a new experiences to me?

    I wonder how will a compete suite perform. But with the almight Zanden Chouku at AE, this is not easy for PT to run a head to head demo. Would synergy outperform? I don't know. But Zanden Chouku is the most extreme tube amplifier ever.
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