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Engstrom Sound from Sweden - the Pinnacle of Scandinavian School



  • No doubt, Lars preamp sound more like a solid state than a solid state. and the funny thing is it makes K15 sound like tube relatively.
    it renders the music so raw, so true. make me miss K15 actually in AE system.
  • marvel,

    Are you running a full suite of Lars (pre/power) at home?

    I have some hard core Kondo friends would like to try something new. I wonder what will be the flavor like. I am particularly interested in the common observation of many here that a 300B tube amp sounds like solid state. That is quite interesting. How can it be?

    Kondo electronics sounds attractive but it has run its course in my friend system. He is a playboy like you.

    Drop me a few lines if you had already running a Lars suite.
  • Longinus,

    I am still waiting for the Lars preamp Monica, this has been almost a year since PT told me about the Monica preamp shocking a lot in the Munich show last year. Now the 2015 Munich show is just a few weeks away.

    Is it worth waiting? From the verbal description of my son after listening the whole Lars amp in PT's home around 8 months ago to the actual audition of the final product in AE showroom in the past few weeks, I am truly convinced Monica is worth waiting. Coupling with Lars type2, the double push pull design really shocked me when I listened to MOnica on the easiness of slamming out the transient and taking back the control without loosening on the bass harmonics propagation...

    K15 definitely is a top notch preamp that I truly love but with Monica, I really cannot find a reason why I have to divorce this couple as I can only use 'chopstick' to describle this pair, just one, you can't see its magic!! I will wait for the new surprise from Robert Koda so that I can own the best of the best in amplifications!!

    You and your friend are welcome to pay a visit to my humble system when I have installed the Vertere system plus the Monica...

  • Longinus, I am not a tube expert and cannot tell the difference between 300b and 300b XL, latter of which is deployed in Lar2 Type2. But what does it mean using XL or normal, I really have no clue. Choice of tube is one, I believe the circuitry design dictates the true characteristics of the amplification. Lars also officially caution their users that they take their own risk of changing the tubes. That tells a lot on their design taking the deployment of tube one but not the only one key factor to produce the 'right' sound.

  • Marvel,

    Had you already set up a suite of Lars?
  • Longinus,

    Yes indeed over the last weekend Monica has been delivered and is in the burning in stage. Notwithstanding this, it mates perfectly well with type 2 and integrate harmoniously with the rest of my system. When it is fully burnt in, I may have to adjust the position of the speaker because it throws a bigger and a slightly more forward soundstage than K15.

    Monica plus type2 not just reveals the perfect circuitry design of Lars but also represents the pinnacle of the amplification stage, regardless of one is in the tube camp or solid state camp. It is a combo of its own class that has to be understood and appreciated as a combo rather than evaluated in isolation.

    More to report....

  • Marvel

    My friend who is very fond of Cuban music (he spent his childhood there) find his kondo amp is too slow in transient. He thinks such amp is more for soulful vocal jazz type. Any music that requires speed,he is not thoroughly satisfied. Maybe solid state is what he really needs but he stubbornly keeps himself in the tube camp for the time being. That is why I enquire about Lars.

    We wanted to audition Zanden Chouku but thor were not available. We wanted to audition Lars awhile back but the preamp monica was just arrived and PT needed more time for it to dial in as changes of amp requires New setting of subwoofer parameters. He said he regretfully allowed one audition when the sub parameters were not right.

    Now he said he is ok. We will go there to audition soon. Thanks for sharing
  • Marvel

    I would like to follow up with my visit AE today to audition the Lars suite. I and my friend who is very fond of Cuban and Brazilian music also brought the Kondo Ongaku to compare. We understand a simple amp-to-amp swap without a corresponding preamp change is not entirely an apple-to-apple comparison. But at least it would give us some idea of the differences.

    We are somewhat lucky because "Jarvis" was installed yesterday. On the other hand, we have no idea of the sound before the installation. Anyway, our target is the Lars suite.

    To cut a long story short, my friend and I were completely blown away today. The whole band just breathes in the room. The mood, the sweat, the swing, the PRAT are all there in a colourful and coherent manner never thought possible in audio playback - these are the words of my friends who is a music guy more than an audiophile. Not only he can follow the bouncing notes of the lowest octave, we both can even feel the person behind the double bass is under "what kind of mood". The musically is lively like real music. It is not achieved by "colouring" the mid range to compromise speed. We don't feel any "coldness" of the Lars of we label Kondo is on the warm side of tonality.

    PT also played a cut of classical music conducted by Karajan with mass violins and organ together. It is angelic in lyricism, kaleidoscopic in tonal colour, diligent in phrasing, lightning in transients, and embryonic in harmonic development.

    I did not visit AE as many times as many old comrades here. But today is a day to be remembered. It is a very special feeling as though I am listening to real concert one after another. We were totally engulfed by the energy and the prevailing mood in the recording. It is absolutely crazy. It is much more than a pictorial experience.

    In the end, we did not test any amp. We were blown away.

    The english texts are actually written by my friend, Brian Lo. My English is not as good as him. We report what we experienced in the context honest to ourselves. We have no idea what is Jarvis exactly. But the Lars is top tube electronics for certainty.
  • Longinus,

    Yes,indeed, I also have to find from a dictionary on the word 'embryonic' and how it could link up to describe the harmonic development. A very good piece of review!

    Whilst my own system cannot really come close to AE showroom, I do echo quite a lot of what you/ your friend have written especially on lightning transient and my own experience is that when you have warmed up the Lars sufficiently, you can actually experience the variations of the transient on the leading edges of each musical phrase. There is no warmth or coldness on the tonaity nor there is any 'thickness' or 'thinness' across the frequeny span. I might have mentioned before, the Vertere HB interconnect just bring the MOnica and Type 2 much closer making them an integral part of each other!

  • 今早去聽過安裝了Jarvis後的AE, 重播高解象許冠傑演唱會其中一段由許冠傑, 許冠文,和徐小鳳一同唱留下眼淚前的一段, 真是栩栩如生, 各個人的神情唯肖唯妙地在台上輕鬆地流露於歌聲裡, 冇嘢講.
  • 其實我不知道Jarvis做了些什麼, 也不知道他放了在那, 總言之能量好充足而又平均, 非常十分極度開揚, 有一種引力帶到我去了1987的紅館, 就連觀眾的情緒起承轉合也一同感受到, 有時更好似看到一樣的感覺.
  • 火四哥,我非常同意。今早和家父也到訪了,聽了1/4個許氏87演唱會,感覺尤如現場。不過我們要求將超低的音量減少較為合適,PT話剛剛和昨天的訪客相反。可能播大型交響樂團要較大一些超低音量,總體來說,真的十分之像真,特別是氣紛。
  • The issue is not the subwoofer volume. We raised the crossover frequency of the sub by 10hz. Sub volume is ok around at +1, and some may like +2. But anything above +2, we start hearing the room, makes no sense. The elevation of crossover freq by 10hz reinforces the attack and punch with more weight. It has nothing to do with raising the subwoofer volume.

    Jarvis is phenomenal and fully in charge at AE. How do I know? Before I went there under yellow rain condition, I told PT NOT TO SWITCH ON THE AMP AND PREAMP. Because tube electronics usually sound fuzzy and lack stability at the bottom end in particular in the first 30mins to 1hour.

    But I didn't feel that way after the Lars were switched on. In the first 5 minutes, I was listening to some big bang jazz with big swing. I also listened to teh social club brazilian music with very jumpy bass notes. There was a slight leaness at some bass notes but that was immediately rectified by raising X-over frequency.

    It is a very clean and lively presentation. The Sam Hui 87 concert is real lively, very engaging with the right atmosphere. Of course, as time went by, the amps started performing even more. But what I expereinced is an ultra stable sound field in front me, with so many lives moving around inside it.

    Later on, we took the X over down to the original state to make sure we are not deceiving ourselves by the recordings that I am most familiar with such as Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, Dave Brubeck Take Five and Bill Evans Trio etc. They are all truly as though we were teleported back in time.

    I didn't really want to test symphony because I feel that it is too taxing for the 300BXL even though Lars is no ordinary 300 amp and the fact that the ROOM probably cannot accommodate the energy from the mid range horn.
  • Monica has been serving in my system for more than 3 months and I feel I am obliged to write something about it. In the AE community, it does not receive as much popularity as Takumi and Trinity due to its relatively new in joining the family (since May 14 in Munich and another 9 months of further refinement before it finally was delivered as a finished product). It is designed in true differential balanced circuitry with push pull amplication latter of which is quite a new concept to me. With my limited knowledge, I only come across power amp with push pull amplification. It is also because of this reason which triggered me to place an order of Monica in May14.

    The long waiting time is well paid off as the final product has already undergone several evolutionary changes compared with the ‘prototype’ in May14 which has already delivered a shocking experience to many attending the Munich show including master Chik and PT.

    If one describes Takumi K15 is a highly compatible preamp able to mate with the majority of the power amps out there, let’s forget about the words ‘compatible’ and ‘mate’ because it leads to the visual image of 2 entities working together. Monica and Type 2 are born as ‘one piece’ whereby at any volume, one is handsomely rewarded with surfing in the same wide dynamic range only constrained by the skill of the performers and the dynamic spread of the original recording. The orchestration from Monica commands a full control on all parallel tracks of performance by various artists. It can deliver a holistic and organic musical soundstage but at the same time allow one to lend his focus on any specific track of musical development which he wants to ‘ear’ on.

    In terms on tonality variations, I won’t deny that Takumi K15 has a slight edge over Monica but one thing I have never experienced in any other preamp/amp pair is even at low volume, Monica can simply ‘plug-in’ to Type 2 given the enormous presence of transients at ease without grinding out the minute dynamic contrasts. This obviously cannot be possible without the Vertere HB interconnect running between Monica and Type2.

    At the time of this writing, I am listening to Milstein playing Mendelssohn violin concerto at low volume but it does not diminish any of my musical enjoyment as it just put me away a few rows from the concert hall but yet all the different groups of performers are so vividly layered and spread proportionately out. I have used Trinity preamp which is solid state and extremely precise. Monica belongs to this camp and ‘eyes close’ you won’t think if it is a tube preamp or it is a SS preamp as it just delivers live like music, nothing more, nothing less!!


    (NB the design of Monica is to have the volume control in the power supply compartment while the control compartment connects up all the input and output cables, PT told me this is a very extraordinary design, may be he can chip in to explain on the technical rationale behind)
  • 有冇聽過銀牛版的Monica?
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