Tuesday, October 19, 2010
LFD Zero LE III integrated amplifier
Since I've definitely upped the ante in my system with the Cardas Audio cabling and the Trenner & Friedl ART monitors, it's time to start thinking about my next upgrade. Basically, all I have left is the CD player and the amplifier, since I'm probably going to hold onto the Rega P3-24 turntable, the Zu Audio DL-103 cartridge and the Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE phono preamp for a few more years at least. (I am, however, starting to fall in love with that Funk Firm turntable, so who knows what I'll do in the coming year.)
I'm using a Denon DVD player as a CD player right now. I sold my nearly $6000 Naim CDX2 last year because I thought I was going to transfer my CD collection to a McIntosh music server, but that didn't quite pan out as expected. Since I've been focusing mostly on LPs this year, and because my brother and I have been building music servers, I just haven't thought about buying a decent CD player yet to replace the extraordinary Naim. Up until recently I thought I would just buy another Naim, because they are my favorite players by far. But I may just get something reasonable like the Oppo BDP-83SE universal player for $800 and be done with it. If I want something better, I'll just send the Oppo to Dan Wright at ModWright Instruments and let him stick some tubes in it. I just don't want to spend big bucks on digital these days.
The amp, however, is a different story. I thought I would get a Naim NAIT XS but with all of the Cardas cabling in my system, it may or may not be the best choice. Up until a few years ago, you could only use Naim amps with Naim-approved cabling. The latest generation of Naim gear works with most cable brands, but in my experience Naim stuff works best with other Naim stuff, so I may have to think this through. Still, the NAIT XS, which is basically the SuperNAIT without the DAC, is a hell of a piece, and it's only about $2500...a real bargain. In fact, the only real competition is the LFD Zero LE III integrated which has retailed between $2495 and $2995 over the last few years, depending upon the exchange rates. It doesn't have the features of the Naim, but I like the sound quality just a tad better.
The LE III is perhaps my favorite sounding integrated of all time. I was able to review one for TONEAudio and I didn't want to give it back! So I think that's the plan for now...stay tuned!