He ain’t heavy – the Lavardin IS integrated amplifier

Equipment report
Categories:
Integrated amplifiers
|
Products:
Lavardin IS
He ain’t heavy – the Lavardin  IS integrated amplifier

There is a hint of chalky, dusty overlay to the IS sound. It’s nothing I’d want to describe as grain – Lavardin doesn’t really do grain – rather there is an almost subliminal flattening in ultimate levels of detail and colour. Despite the amp’s undisputed speed and agility, the subtlest of inflections are slightly glossed-over or averaged-out. This should be kept in context, mind you, and these comments must be taken in an absolute sense, compared to amps of considerably greater stature – and price. Against its peers, the Lavardin stands proud, and when it’s at its best it can make anything else it’s likely to go up against sound clumsy and gauche. ‘Mourning Grace’, from Patricia Barber’s Café Blue retains the ethereal feel of the vocals above the relentless bombast of the bass and percussion, something few other £2000 amps manage with any real, er, grace. Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel had that numinous quality which can sometimes be airbrushed out by amps which sound pretty and sweet, but lack the Lavardin’s depth and sophistication. Similarly, powerful but-blunt amps tend to fare badly with Arvo Pärt because he doesn’t trade in mass and volume, but delicacy and subtlety. For the money, I can’t think of an amp that does delicate or subtle better than the Lavardin IS.

Interestingly, a quick comparison with the (£3,000) IS Reference version shows that the slight tendency to flatten detail is much less apparent in the dearer amp and, given the extra funds, the IS Ref is definitely to be preferred. But at around the £2,000 mark, the IS has little serious competition. The lack of wrongness I alluded to at the beginning of this review, the honest-to-goodness rendering of the signal, irrespective of level, is the Lavardin’s single greatest attribute. It is beautiful when the music is beautiful, but it doesn’t invent that beauty by overlaying 

a saccharine sweetness or an airbrushed niceness, it just tells it as it is. 

Technical Specifications

Type: Stereo integrated amplifier 

Power Output: 45 watts RMS per 

channel, 8 Ohms

Max. 95 watts per channel, 2 Ohms

Inputs: 4 x line level

Factory option: phono input 

Input Sensitivity: Line level - 330mV

Total harmonic distortion: 0.005% at 

max. output 

Output: 1 pair loudspeakers

Factory option: line output

Dimensions (W x H x D): 430 x 80 x 340mm

Weight: 6.5 kg

Available finishes: Black

Remote Control: No

Price: £1999.00 

Phono input add £439.00

Manufacturer: Lavardin Technologies, 

France

Tel: +33 (0)247 497092

URL: www.lavardin.com 

UK Distributor: Midland Audio X-change

Tel: +44 (0)1562 731100

URL: www.midlandaudiox-change.co.uk