Its small footprint belies the big performance of this flagship, all-in-one piece of audio equipment from maverick sound architect Vinnie Rossi, whose electronics have earned acclaim from those who know. Integrated amps, once relegated to inexpensive systems, have been gaining popularity among serious audiophiles, as top-tier manufacturers take on the challenge of building a single-chassis component that delivers 99 percent of the performance obtained from a massive stack of separates.
Rossi, long admired for no-compromise designs, joins his L2 Signature Preamplifier and L2 Signature Monoblock amps into one chassis, the L2i-SE. The preamp is a class-A vacuum-tube design that showcases a pair of 300B triode tubes, big glowing glass “bottles” known for delivering music with delicious detail and harmonic sophistication. The amplification stage features a dual-mono power supply and custom-wound transformers, for wide bandwidth and bass-frequency reproduction with visceral heft and weight.
Importantly, the L2i-SE is available with two optional modules that plug into slots on the rear. The L2 DAC provides digital-to-analog conversion for up to three devices, which means a streamer, CD drive or other digital source can be run straight into the L2i-SE without an outboard digital-to-analog converter. For record lovers, the L2 Phonostage module lets users plug their turntable(s) directly into the L2i-SE.
The elegant industrial design, enhanced by a brace of glowing vacuum tubes and exquisitely machined aluminum casework, is a jewel box. Made in the USA, with a 10-year warranty, the amp/preamp is $18,995, and the DAC and Phonostage modules are $3,495 each.