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This review first appeared in the November 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Lavardin/Lecontoure system in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Lavardin/Lecontoure - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacuła
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air 
Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, Miyajima Laboratory Waza
Preamp: Ayon Audio Polaris III with ReGenerator II power supply
Power amp: Tenor Audio 175S and Soulution 710
Integrated amp: Leben CS300XS custom
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600 Ω
Interconnects: CD-preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp-power amp Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, speaker cable Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cords: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300 (all equipment)
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip
audio stand: Base under all components, Pro Audio Bono under CD
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, turntables change continuously
Review component retail in Poland: Stabile 210 48.000PLN/pr; C62 20.600PLN, AP150 25.600PLN, CMA317 16.200 PLN, CML83 5.280PLN, CMR250 1.600PLN - total system price 117.280PLN

If I were a Frenchman*… yabudibidibi. That would be très beau! They’ve got all the best things after all. Just ask any of them. In French of course since they don't care much about other languages. And why would they? If you didn’t already know it, they’ll tell you that the best of architecture, music and cuisine is –French, bien sur. Everyone knows that, oui? The French also believe themselves to be descendants of the Roman empire and inheritors of the ancient Greeks’ wisdom. They simply can’t help it. They’re the best of the best. And when you’re best, you can do most things in your very own way, then claim it’s the one and only right way. You can find such confidence in audio too. Companies like Focal/JMlab, Triangle, Cabasse, HD Micromega and YBA are just a bit different regardless of your opinion about them otherwise. French firms simply have their own way of doing things. They don't care about what the rest of the world does, what audio magazines write and so forth. The system under review today is a great example. My first encounter with Lavardin Technologies happened not very long ago even though they’ve been to market since 1996. They are one of the few manufacturers who seem perfectly satisfied with limited production and sales. When they make a good product, they simply stop messing with it. Such companies very rarely add new models to their portfolios. Lavardin’s model IT is a case in point. Some time ago I tested it for Audio. Launched at the very beginning of Lavardin's existence, it has undergone only minor cosmetic changes since. One of those came about in 2003 as a new knob color. The one in 2005 was more significant. The input circuitry saw certain changes and they added a tape out. These modifications were called 2K5.

* Apologies for any of the inherent insults that arise from invoking this (or any other) stereotype about people. My intro is merely a writer's ruse meant to set up a convincing context for 'different' as it applies to today's audio system.

The review system today includes the Lavardin Model C62 preamp and Model AP150 stereo power amp. JMlab often relies on this particular combo for presentations of their Utopia line models. Anybody familiar with those speakers realizes that they are not easy to drive – huge multi-way designs with complex impedance curves. The French amplifier seems quite small compared to those giants. Nobody expects it to successfully drive them. The guys from Focal of course know what they are doing and obviously want the best possible electronics to demo their speakers.

This amp is in fact the IT integrated minus the preamp stage. There are even plugged holes in the back panel which in the IT serve as additional inputs. Nominal max power seems less than impressive at 55W into 8Ω and 150 into 4. The point is, these French amps don't act like most solid-statesmen. Clipping starts much later and they also seem to enjoy deeper energy reserves than technical specs would promise.

The C62 companion is a minimalist preamp with six line inputs. Both machines are based on Lavardin’s concept of memory distortion. Transistors maintain a trace of the current that has passed before. Subsequent electron flow is continuously affected by the pattern of what preceded it. It's a well-accepted fact. Lavardin’s engineers simply claim that these distortions affect the sound significantly and what's more, that they have eliminated memory distortion. Before you start laughing aloud over more strange notions from yet another French company, think about the quite similar situation with phono cartridges and the special demagnetizing circuits built for them. Gryphon Audio offers such a demagnetizer for the entire system. The general idea is quite similar to what Lavardin has developed.

You might remember that two years ago prepared a special Audio Show 2008 issue where we highlighted a complete system by Kiuchi San of Japan. It consisted of Reimyo electronics, Bravo speakers and Harmonix cables. I learned then that a complete system can offer more than just the sum total of its parts. When all constituents come from the same designer he can guarantee an outcome that remains most unpredictable when a customer only buys a single component and combines it with someone else’s products. Since that review I now gladly accept every opportunity to evaluate complete systems. Apart from today's pre/amp combo I also received Lecontoure speakers—from Lavardin's sister company—and Lavardin cables.

What's more, I even received French racks for the electronics. A few days prior I’d taken receipt of a Pro Audio Bono platform for under my Ancient Audio Air player. Was it mere coincidence that both products were made of plywood and had almost identical thickness? I doubt it.

Sound: Discs used for this test - Die perfekte Räumlichkeit, Stereoplay 10/10, sampler; Anja Garbarek, Briefly Shaking, EMI, 8608022, Copy Control Disc; Clifford Brown, Clifford Brown With Strings, Verve, 558 078-2, Verve Master Edition, CD; Clifford Brown, Clifford Brown With Strings, Verve/Universal Music Japan, UCCU-9525, gold-CD; e.s.t., Leucocyte, ACT Music+Vision, ACT 9018-1, 2 x 180 g LP; Eva Cassidy, Imagine, Hot Records, G2-10075, CD; Jean Michel Jarre, Oxygene, Dreyfus Disques/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 613, gold-CD; Kate Bush, Aerial, EMI, 3439602, 2 x CCD; Kings of Leon, Only By The Night, RCA/BMJ Japan, BVCP-40058, CD; Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch, 524055-2, CD+DVD; Lisa Ekdahl, Give Me That Slow Knowing Smile, RCA/Sony Music, 46663-2, Opendisc; Lisa Ekdahl, When Did You Leave Heaven, BMG Sweden AB, 43175 2, CD; Peter Gabriel, So, Virgin, SAPGCD5, SACD/CD; Tomasz Stańko Quartet, Lontano, ECM Records, ECM 1980, CD; Tomasz Stańko Quintet, Dark Eyes, ECM 2115, CD; Tord Gustafson Trio, Changing Places, ECM/Universal Music Japan, UCCE-9185, SHM-CD.