We saw Vinnie Rossi’s L2 mono blocks poke their head out of the R&D shell at AXPONA this year, but the full dual mono rig with new matching L2 preamplifier was on display at RMAF. Paired once again with the well-loved Harbeth series of loudspeakers, the big 40.2 anniversary editions ($18k) were up to bat when I entered the room.
The new pre starts at $15k and along with the signature monos (also $15k/pair) is very much a statement piece from Vinnie. The new aesthetics are a little more sleek without being overstated.
The sound from the full setup in the big tower of the Marriot Tech Center was also very much a statement. Almost a near field execution, the usually diverse playlist that Mr. Rossi mans himself is never boring and alway enlightening. Perhaps one of the coolest bits about the stop is that Vinnie always remembers what genre of music I prefer, and little musical anecdotes that we’ve discussed over the years. He’s not afraid to play the classics if queried, but given his own direction listeners often find themselves on a pretty fantastic journey, whether Coolio is the demo track or not.
I have to admit, Vinnie is more than partially responsible for my current obsession with the Harbeth lineup of studio-monitors-turned-hifi. The 40.2 especially. The new monos only added more pull to that scenario with 75 watts (into 8 ohms) of A/AB MOSFET amplification and a half inch thick solid aluminum casework. For the L2 (from the VR website):
“L2 Signature Preamplifier Features:
Vinnie Rossi’s latest Class-A, ultra wide bandwidth directly heated triode (DHT) preamplifier design, compatible with: 2A3, 45, 300B, PX4, 101D, 205D, and SV811 DHT families with one-switch filament voltage selection.
Dual shielded power supplies with in-rush current limiting.
Dual-mono layout using multiple patented Belleson super regulators for ultra-quiet linear voltage regulation of the L&R triode B+, L&R triode filaments, and power to the (optional) L2 DAC and L2 Phonostage modules.
Discrete, 64-step resistor ladder volume control using Pickering England silent signal relays.
True active balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) inputs and outputs.
Dual 12V Trigger output jacks with on/off control switch on front panel.
Internal, “DHT bypass mode” switches (Replaces DHT stage with a Class A JFET stage).
Internal front panel display & LED brightness controls.
Yamamoto solid Teflon UX-4 tube sockets.
Solid, precision CNC machined aluminum chassis and “bank vault,” ball bearing control knobs.
Mesh tube covers for added noise shielding and tube protection, with matching mesh ventilation on top panel.
Included tubes: EH300B Gold-Grid (matched pair).
Full-function aluminum remote control handset.”
The slide guitar-infused Plowin’ Mule track by Doug MacLeod posted almost ghost-like focus for each instrument in the music field. It was certainly hard to tell where the speakers were placed, and if pressed to gander a guess, I would have implied a location much further back, behind the somewhat close, actual placement of the 40.2s. A fun party trick? An expensive hollowed gesture to scare trick-or-treaters? I say nay. Raw craftsmanship from two brands that gel together for power when needed and grace unyielding. Best imaging and focus of the show for me.
Both the L2 Signature Pre and Monos are now ready to order direct via the company site. As heard, the L2 pre was optioned with both the L2 Dual AKM AK4977EQ-equipped DAC (+$3,495) and L2 MM/MC phonostage (+3,495).