Stereophile - Aug 2005
Lavardin Technologies IT Integrated Amplifier
By: Sam Tellig, Sam's Corner
"Atone for your Shopping Sins"
I received a mailing the other day from Portero. If you have luxury items to
sell, you can find them at www.portero.com.
If you live in (or even near) Manhattan, Scarsdale, New York, or Greenwich,
Connecticut, they've most likely already found you.
"Remember last spring's wild shopping spree when you melted your Platinum
Card? Half those clothes probably haven't seen the light of day in a while.
The stores won't take them back, but we will."
High-hat folk may want to avoid eBay - so low-brow, so common, so hoi
polloi. Now they can have Portero manage the online auction of clothes,
brand-name figurines, home entertainment and pro audio gear, handbags (I
must tell my wife, Marina), vintage dolls and bears, and other items-even
old comic books.
"We'll take away all of the hassle, lighten your load, and get you more cash
to spend on your new passions."
So much for atonement.
I want to get rid of things without buying new stuff. Too many books, LPs,
CDs, and DVDs, not to mention a gaggle of hi-fi gear and a veritable
graveyard of audio accessories. If I weren't so lazy, I'd hold a gigantic
My friend Dima, too, is on a simplicity kick. "I want to become a monk," he
declared the other day. He's looking to practice minimalism by
simplifying his hi-fi system. No unnecessary components. No complexity.
As few features and as few watts as possible.
I know the urge. It's one reason I'm attracted to little flea-powered
single-ended triode tube amps and to European hi-fi. The less you have, the
more you can enjoy it.
Dima owns a pair of Triangle loudspeakers from France - nothing extravagant
there. If he really wants to become a monk, I have a suggestion for an
amplifier, also from Frogland...
The Lavardin Technologies Model IT
They laughed when I
recommended the Lavardin IS Reference integrated amplifier, back in
March. I received a dozen or so e-mails asking how I could recommend such a
thing - 30Wpc for $3595 ($3995 with phono). What kind of value is that? I
couldn't be serious.
I was pretty certain that none of these audiophiles had actually heard the
Lavardin IS, because the first units were just starting to become available
in the US. Some audiophiles love to hold opinions - usually negative - on
products they haven't heard.
But I was serious. All the Lavardin IS Reference offers is superbly
transparent sound - the kind of sound audiophiles kill for and pay tens of
thousands of dollars to get. The IS Reference illustrated Tellig's Law:
you can have great sound for a modest amount of money; you just can't have a
lot of it.
Je ris mon mauvais rire (webmaster's translation - "I laugh my evil
laugh"). I laugh my evil laugh.
Like the IS Reference, Lavardin's IT integrated amp offers no frills,
no features, no convenience, no styling, and as little power as possible.
Just the ticket, perhaps, for someone who wants to escape the audiophile rat
Lavardin Technologies was founded in 1996, and the IT was their first
product, launched in 1997. The amp has been in production for nearly nine
years with only minor changes. I met up with the IT several years ago when a
sample was making the rounds among potential importers. I loved it and tried
to talk Roy Hall, aka Music Hall, into importing it.
"Tough sell," Roy declared.
That's probably true. But it doesn't seem to bother Walter Swanbon, of
Fidelis AV. Walter thinks there's a niche for Lavardin gear among customers
who are turned off by big, powerful, expensive, and often mediocre-sounding
amplifiers. We'll see if Walter's right. We'll see if Dima opts for the IS
or the IT.
Compared to the IS Reference, the IT is a powerhouse, rated at 50Wpc into 8
ohms with 20 amps of current vs 12 amps for the IS Reference. It sells for
$6595 (no phono option) and is fit for a Russian Orthodox monk, which is
what Dima would like to become.
Regardez (webmaster's translation - "Look"). Here's what you
don't get: No remote control. (An optional remote is said to be on the way.)
No balance control. No tape monitor loop. No preamp outputs, and thus no
provision for biamping or powered subwoofering. No provision for multiple
pairs of speakers; only a single pair of speaker binding posts.
"You paid $6595 for that? You must be out of your mind."
The frills and features are missing not out of Gallic perversity but from
Lavardin's conviction that they would compromise the purity of sound: more
switches, more internal wiring, more parts. I do regret the lack of preamp
outputs, but that's it. The rest I can do without.
Lavardin Technologies has a story.