I thought it might be useful and fun to list a few recommended systems here at Lotus and some of our most popular combiations with our customers. Save the very last these are all arrangements that we have sold or tested and they all work really well together in a balanced and cohesive fashion. There is obviously a huge price difference between first and last but the point is these all make stunning music and are all so fundamentally right that you don’t sit there wanting for more or being distracted by niggles. You obviously get more and more as you move up the ladder but I personally could live with any of these.
Whilst there are various options on brands I must also stress that none of these systems will sound that much different from one another in overall general character; they all fit into the Lotus philosophy. Natural, unforced, dynamic, alive, 3 dimensional, open, spacious, neutral. It’s very hard to use words but these are the sorts of adjectives we always come back to. These rigs will boogie, toe tap and rock your socks off when required but will also make the hairs on your neck come alive when you play real instruments and music of great beauty. They will all help you forget the equipment and focus on buying more music instead.
It’s also worth pointing out that all these systems (and any other system for that matter) can all be enhanced quite dramatically by the addition of good hifi furniture, stillpoints isolation equipment and Entreq grounding equipment. It’s not mandatory by any means but if you do like enhancements then we usually advocate that you explore them at a later date and have their benefits to look forward to some way down the line.
Finally, the sound of each system can also be finely biased in a very controlled way to this or that direction across the three main “flavours” of sound. So that’s warm vs. cool, smooth vs. articulate, bright vs. dark. Using Entreq, Stillpoints, Vacuum tubes and tweaking the support system and overall cable choice we are able to carefully tune the system to the customers personal liking and their room. The complete range of adjustments however will still fall inside the Lotus sound, one that is neutral, natural and faithful to what’s really on the disc. Let’s just say that we very rarely come across customers who we can’t please. We don’t build a really forward and agressive sound here or one that is very veilied and soporific but for the other 95% of people I am sure you will be end up as very happy bunnies.
N.B. Prices correct at the time of writing. Costs of mains leads, mains equipment and support/isolation products not included.
MELCO N1A Streamer/Server, £2,100
EXOGAL COMET Dac, £3,000
ALLNIC T1500 Amplifier, £5,500
AVALON IDEA Loudspeakers, £8,500
TQ BLACK CABLES & USB, £734
In my opening system the recently revised MkII Melco N1A performs server duties and sonically is pretty much on a par with the outgoing £3500 N1Zh; that’s progress for you in the fast moving world of streaming. The Melco has a very low noise floor, a very high level of resolution and sounds fluid and natural in a way that would have seemed almost impossible just a few years ago in the world of hard disk based music. The N1A feeds the superb Exogal Comet DAC which gives a gloriously open and inviting presentation that also very much flies in the face of the most common criticisms of digital music.
Although all the components here are first rate and frighteningly competitive in their own areas of the marketplace, perhaps the real standout piece is the Allnic T1500 300B Integrated amp. We have placed many of these over the years and the intimacy and sense of space and ambience you get with this amp is fairly breathtaking. This is an Allnic Triode amp as well so whilst it will ultimately excel more on jazz/vocals/folk/soloists etc. it has dynamics and decent bass as well.
Ideally we’d have a £4-£5000 speaker in here and this system would come out at a more palatable £15,000 but the sad truth is that I have yet to find a speaker in that price range that I’d be happy to stick on my website and it’s certainly not through lack of trying. Speakers are the hardest component to get right and change the sound of the system the most but hopefully I will find a golden chalice very soon.
So on then end of this rig then we have the wonderful Avalon IDEA which incidentally have just been upgraded by the factory with new drivers (not that the IDEA ever needed upgrading or fiddling with) so now they are even more alive with a smidge more bandwidth and overall energy. A very compact and room friendly speaker that completely disappears and gives you a wonderfully natural and dynamic recreation of the music.
One interesting derivation to mention here is to swap the T1500 out for the more powerful Allnic T2000 push pull integrated (now up to 100WPC in KT150 Anniversary form). What you would lose in midrange tactility and boundless imaging, you would gain in dynamics and control. Choose this option then to weight the system toward Classical, Rock and Pop although bear in mind that the T2000 does have a nifty triode mode you can employ when you want to play all your intimate music.
This is a fabulous system. All the components have a similar ethos, a natural “at-ease” rendition of the whole song that is replete with inner life. Listen to this for a couple of hours and you’ll be scratching your head as to why people ever spend more.