Received my LIO the other day.
Overall, very smooth mid range. Never had it so sweet with LFP-V 70.2 & Isabella, even with Mullard CV2492 in the Isabella which I found works great for my ears. The bass is thinner than the LFP-V but I'm attributing that to the JJ tubes in the LIO, I'll swap those out later. I assume 100 hour requisite break in?
First off my set up:
CD player - Esoteric X-01
Turntable - Rega P7/RB700 tonearm/Exact 2 Cartridge
and to be fair, I need to compare with what I know, my Whest .20 phonostage I've had for about 6 or 7 years now.
DAC - NAD 1050/Schiit Bifrost/ProJect/ a few others (that's why I didn't go for the DAC module, but i think i may do that soon.
and get rid of some of my other ones.
Speakers - DALI Epicon 8, 3 way, 500watt max, 5 ohm (go figure)
RVC/Tubestage, Phonoamp (I have MM cartridge so no remote loading), Mosfet amp.
Some very surface observations. The clicking between ultra capacitor banks is a tad louder than I care for if playing at low volume, you know like when the wife is nearby, you hear it switching over, or when there's a pause in the music and it just coincides with the switch over, but when volume is up loud, no problem. Same with changing volume, again, just something that is noticeable.
When you turn off the amp, and turn it back on again, you're starting at 0. I think it would be great to retain the level where you left off, you know like your TV or Isabella. Once you set a volume you like, and I like it loud, you're there when you fire it up again.
The mosfet amp is rated 64/45/25 and my speakers are behemoths recommended 50watt minimum, (I think I'm getting 40watts) so what a thrill that they actually drive the speakers incredibly well. They of course can't get to the volume I occasionally prefer, and I do have to turn up the volume, to about 35 before I'm getting the level I consider acceptable low. I can crank all the way to 63, and my speakers are singing. Vinnie, stop wincing
, I know it may be a bit too early to push LIO before break in, but hey, I only pushed for a few seconds, had to. As I said, I enjoy music on the louder side. I promise not to do that again till after the requisite break in.
Another observation I will make is that I did enjoy the gain switch on the Isabella, when I really wanted ear splitting volume, boom, there it was. With LIO, I can't quite get there
. Even when I turned off the mosfet and connected the 70.2's to the external var output. The volume really wasn't much different than the mosfet, why would that be? But as for sonic quality, I can say with certainty that the mosfet has it over the 70.2's. On CD, Patti Smith Radio Ethiopia, really old, and Annie Lennox, Nostalgia, really new
. The vocal depth on the LIO mosfet is incredible. Cuts right through you. I switched back to LFP-V system, same CD's, I love the sound of both systems, but the LIO has a distinct flavor, more subtle, a bit more laid back, richer, and less harsh, more forward on the mid range. The low end is subtler too, again, I prefer more bass and that can be remedied with tube rolling.
For LP comparison, I played Coltrane Standards and Lee Morgan's Sidewinder, through the phonostage module as well as the Whest .20. The big difference, and it was really significant, was the mid range. Wow, every lick of the reed came through like never before, piano was so upfront yet very musical, really great sound, so I assume after break in it will improve. So there you have it, $600 phonostage module against $2,600 phonostage, plus very expensive cables of course.
And that's the last thing, I have crazy expensive interconnects and power cords, Acoustic Zen, Nordost, Shunyata, that I will eventually unload to pay for this nasty habit. I think I'm having cable separation anxiety. I will keep one pair of interconnects for the separate LIO power amp proposed. Any news on that component yet? (ok, I hear all the low power aficionados rolling their eyes
, I get that, I've experienced low wattage Pass Labs, but for what I'm after in this setup, it's quality plus quantity, I guess I want it all).
Well that's it for now. Great work on the part of the LIO team, the bar is raised, let's see what the future of modular has to offer.