THE LARS - 300B Hifi Tube Amplifier

The Lars type 2

Having evolved from the acclaimed prototype XLS, The Lars Type 2 amplifier represents the ultimate statement by designers Lars & Timo Engström.

To our knowledge, such an all-out effort has never been attempted at this scale. The Engströms’ mission was to create the finest amplifier in history, not just sonically, but also in aesthetic design and in long-term satisfaction. Of course, many others have had similar aspirations.

All you have to do is hear The Lars Type 2, and you know that you are in the presence of a very special music-reproducing instrument. Seeing it presents another sensory delight.

However, just now you are only reading about it. We would like to tell you why The Lars Type 2 stands alone. If you are interested, read more about The Lars in media, the details or the story.

The Lars type 1

THE LARS type 1 is an integrated and fully balanced 16WPC amplifier using 300B tubes, optimized for lowest distortion, best linearity and deep class A operation mode. Attenuator and input selector are relay controlled and are maneuvered from one of the amplifiers. The sound is open, detailed, transparent and fast.

The Lars type 2

Having evolved from the acclaimed prototype XLS, The Lars Type 2 amplifier represents the ultimate statement by designers Lars & Timo Engström.

To our knowledge, such an all-out effort has never been attempted at this scale. The Engströms’ mission was to create the finest amplifier in history, not just sonically, but also in aesthetic design and in long-term satisfaction. Of course, many others have had similar aspirations.

All you have to do is hear The Lars Type 2, and you know that you are in the presence of a very special music-reproducing instrument. Seeing it presents another sensory delight.

However, just now you are only reading about it. We would like to tell you why The Lars Type 2 stands alone. If you are interested, read more about The Lars in media, the details or the story.

The Lars
The Lars

News Release

The world premier of the new pre-amp at the High End Munich 2014

Engström & Engström invites you to room F219 and room F215, Atrium 4, 2nd floor.
In room F219 Engström & Engström will be showing THE LARS Type 2, together with Kaiser Acoustics, Total DAC and Bibacord.
In room F215 Engström & Engström will be presenting the world premier of the new pre-amp in THE LARS series complementing THE LARS Type 2, showing together with Vivid Audio, TechDAS and Jorma.

Sign up to our newletter to recieve the details on the new pre-amp and our Showreport.

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The Lars in Media

Engström & Engström's audio products have received exceptionally good reviews world wide. THE LARS is praised by high-end audio critics for its impressive dynamics, visual striking appearance and pure sound – a sound that touches your soul.

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Design Details

Beneath the genuine appearance, which is inspired by traditional Scandinavian design, and the graceful transparent mantel you’ll find handpicked and tailor made components from world leading manufacturers. The parts are carefully assembled piece by piece by Engström & Engström.

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The Story

By bringing two generations together Engström & Engström has created the most exclusive high-end products. Our amplifiers are the perfect match between Scandinavian furniture design and solid and reliable engineering. Let THE LARS bring your music to life.

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The Lars in Media

"THE LARS must be the most beautiful amplifier I've seen - or heard."

Paul Messenger in HiFi+, January 2010, issue 70

Download the review (Hi-res version)

"The amp had the least artificial, most natural treble performance I've ever heard from a domestic audio product of any sort. If the Lars were a speaker instead of an amplifier, it would make even the Quad ESL sound sick."

"To the few who can afford it, E & E's Lars Type 1 will bring extraordinary pleasure. It may very well be the best amp I've heard...."

"...the Lars Type 1 was convincingly, enchantingly musical....the single most rhythmically accomplished tube amp I've ever heard, bar none."

Art Dudley in Stereophile, June issue, 2009

Download the review

"theLars contributes to an extremely vibrant and natural feeling. The dynamics are powerful."

Sverker Billing, Bild och Ljud, November issue, 2009

Download the review (Swedish)

"Not even a hint of acoustic feedback to the tubes. Impressive!"

Peter Ellsinger, HIGHfidelity, July 2009

Download the review (Swedish)

"...possibly the most visually striking product Iʼve seen at the show..."

Wes Phillips, Stereophile CES coverage, January 9th 2009

Read the review

"ShowStopper"

Soundstage CES coverage

Read the review

 

Design Details

The Name

Enström & Engström’s The Lars Amplifier is named after its inventor and company founder Lars Engström. Lars was only twelve years old when he began constructing his first amplifiers. His talent for engineering nourished his ambition to create an amplifier that could produce perfectly pure sound. Now, almost 50 years and hundreds of circuit designs later, The Lars is the ultimate embodiment of his dream.

When asked what he’d like to do to improve The Lars , Lars indicated that he had worked all of his life to realize his design ambitions, and right now, he thought he had achieved everything he wanted in an amplifier. Of course, those of who know Lars’ relentless desire for perfection know that he will always be pursuing the edge of the art.

Something Old and Something New

During his exhaustive research, Lars Engström came to realize that not all old technology was obsolete. And not all new technology yielded musically satisfying results.

So his amplifier designs became an interesting blend of art and science. The trick was extracting the best of the old – the tried and true – and applying it to the latest thinking, but only when it resulted in a pure, musical result, rather than a technological triumph with boring sound.

Zero TIM and the sound of music

Influenced by the work of Dr. Matti Otala in Finland, Lars Engström was determined to eliminate the damaging effects (now known as TIM, Transient Inter Modulation distortion) of negative feedback.

Basically TIM is distortion that occurs when negative feedback is applied around a device or a circuit. The problem is that the feedback is always a tiny bit too late (or maybe a lot too late with overall global negative feedback). This a perfect example of modern design engineers embracing a technique that undoubtedly produces lower measured distortion on test signals, but plays havoc with constantly changing musical waveforms.

But prior to Otala’s ground breaking research, most engineers (and marketing departments) fully adopted negative feedback as a technique to reduce measured distortion. Sadly, many still do today.

Lars sought to design a circuit with a linear construction that amplified sound without changing it (as negative feedback always does). All the components in his designs are carefully selcted to support this linear process of amplification. Triodes, for example, are the most linear types of tubes. And tubes – those relics from a bygone era – are still the most linear amplification devices…

Materials

Only the very best is good enough for the Engström & Engström THE LARS amplifiers.

For example, its bespoke output transformer is a major contributor to the incredibly pure and dynamic sound of The Lars.

In order to avoid energy loss or other undesirable sonic influences, THE LARS uses foil capacitors exclusively. No electrolytic capacitors can be found, because none are permitted. This selection of foil capacitors is just one of countless examples of the prime components and materials that can be found throughout The Lars.

While there’s not room to mention them all, there are a few which, when combined with the other top devices and advanced design architecture, bring a new level of performance to music lovers worldwide…

An example is the special silver-plated wiring and custom silver solder that is employed throughout The Lars. Most silver-plated wire imparts a “bright” coloration to the sound. That wasn’t acceptable. We valued the resolution of such cabling, but not the coloration. After relentless development, the unique-to-E&E internal wire finally became a reality. The difference is easily heard and appreciated.

In a design that reaches for the highest level of performance, you would expect to find the highest-quality tubes. And you would be correct. But even that is not enough at Engstrom & Engstrom. Be sure to see Amplifier & Tube Break-In below.

Special C-core transformers are used for inter-stage coupling instead of capacitors. In summary, every detail and aspect of THE LARS is designed to produce the purest sound. In fact, that philosophy extends to amplifier break-in – see Amplifier & Tube Break-In below.

Amplifier & Tube Break-In

We are always amused when we hear, "Don’t even listen to the xyz amplifier for the first 500 hours. It has to break in."

Or, "Just leave your tube amp running for a couple hundred hours until the tubes break-in."

It must be said that, more often than not, there is an element of truth in these unfortunate statements. Circuit components, wire, transformers, tubes, etc., all benefit from a break-in period.

Where Engstrom & Engstrom differs is where and how the break-in process should occur.

Where - amplifier

We think it should be done at the factory, not in your home. When you receive your THE LARS amplifier, you can begin listening to the performance that you paid for right away. No need to go though hundreds of hours of break-in. We’ve done it for you.

How - amplifier

When your The Lars amplifier is completed, and it has gone through initial QC testing, it is moved to a special break-in area. Here it is subjected to hundreds of hours of on/off cycling, at random times. This is done so that the break-in is similar to what might be encountered in actual use.

A protracted running time is no real break in, not does it cycle critical parts that are needed in this process. So not only is your amplifier properly and fully broken-in, it has passed through numerous random length critical turn-on/warm-up/play/turn-off processes that any new electronic component needs to have to insure the highest reliability to the purchaser.

That’s one reason why we can confidently provide our purchasers with a Seven Year Parts (excluding vacuum tubes) and Labor Warranty, the longest in the audio industry for vacuum tube amplifiers.

Where - Tubes

We think it should be done at the factory, not in your home. We put vacuum tubes through a special break-in process. We have actually constructed a special vacuum-tube test/break-in facility, dedicated to breaking in and testing your tubes to be certain that they meet our standards.

If you buy more tubes from Engstrom & Enstrom, you can be certain that they will never be shipped until they are broken-in the proper way, insuring better sound and longer life.

How - Tubes

We never just turn them on and let them run. That thinking has been proven to be inadequate for serious vacuum-tube break-in. They go through a series of shorter cycles somewhere between a few minutes and a few hours (up to as long as four). This lengthy process ensures that the tubes have a much longer life, as well as get fully broken in. When you receive your THE LARS, all of the tubes have been fully broken in and tested. You can immediately begin to enjoy your music at a new higher level.

Lifestyle Design

The appearance of The Lars amplifiers, designed by Timo Engström, originates from his desire to match pure sound quality with an equally elegant form. Timo’s inspiration came from his appreciation of classic Swedish radio and TV furniture.

Timo’s design pays homage to the Swedish tradition of creating a form to serve the function. The Lars amplifier is perhaps the ultimate expression of the Form Follows Function design philosophy.

The Lars is available in ten different finish combinations. Choose between Palisander, Ebony, Maple, Walnut, and Black Lacquer - with metalwork plated in either chrome or gold.

The Mantle

Timo Engstrom says,

 

"The glass outer mantle serves three purposes:

  1. It symbolizes the ability of The Lars to provide a transparent quality to voices and instruments.
  2. It protects the tubes, while allowing them to be visible.
  3. It completes the esthetic impression by balancing the heavy base with an upward flowing lightness."

Pure sound

The purity of The Lars’ sound is obvious upon hearing the first few notes. But pure sound has benefits beyond those of "normal" hearing/listening pleasure.

Research has shown that slight impurities in the reproduced sound of music – what scientists call 'gray sound' – irritates the mind and causes stress and fatigue. Using less-than-linear amplification devices is where gray sound begins.

Less-than-linear amplification devices need negative feedback for stability. Even most designs built around linear devices will employ negative feedback. TIM (Transient Inter Modulation) distortion (a by-product of negative feedback) is a key element of gray sound.

There is zero negative feedback and therefore zero TIM distortion in THE LARS amplifiers. Gray sound has been completely eradicated. That’s why listeners instinctively know that there is a “rightness” to the sound of The Lars.

The Bad News

Ironically, the act of listening to music to relax can amplify the very stress we want to minimize. The culprit is gray sound.

The Good News

You will never get tired or fatigued from listening to your music with The Lars amplifier. Although we’ll admit that it is hard to use The Lars Type 2 for playing background music. Interesting little details emerge that’ll have you saying “What was that?”, and the next thing you know, you’re listening intently. But that’s not a bad thing, is it?

Inputs and connectors

The Lars Type 1 has four inputs, two balanced XLR connectors and two unbalanced RCA connectors. The level attenuator and input selector are relay controlled and are maneuvered from one of the two amplifiers.

The Lars Type 2 has two inputs, one balanced XLR connector and one unbalanced RCA connector. A switch on the back of the amplifier is used to select which input connector to use.

 

The Story

Lars Engstöm was only twelve years old when he constructed his first tube amplifiers. The passion for music nourished his ambition to one day be able to build an amplifier which could reproduce sound just as it is – in its own natural purity.

But the history of THE LARS didn’t start here. It began already in 1906, when the American Lee de Forest invented the Audion – a diode vacuum tube detector which could amplify weak electrical signals. About two years later De Forest used the Audion to develop a three-element device – later called a triode. His inventions made it possible to make transcontinental phone calls, to broadcast radio and to put sound on silent film on the cinemas.

In the 1930’s audio manufacteurs started to use pentodes instead of triodes. But in our opinion the amplifier didn’t get any better, only cheaper. The new technology with pentodes and later transistors made it possible for almost anyone to buy an amplifier. The development stagnated and the triodes seemed to be forgotten.

After a successful career as an international renowned engineer specialized in electronic signal and control systems Lars Engström decided to focus on his percerving dream – to build the best amplifier in world and he was certain that using triodes was the only way to succeed.

In the 1970’s the Finish audio engineer Dr. Matti Otala became world famous for his studies in Transient Intermodulation Distortion – a sound distortion problem he both detected and solved. Influenced by the work of Dr. Otala Lars Engström was determined to build a TIM-free amplifier which amplified the sound without changing it.

With his long experience in audio engineering improved with the latest research on sound reproduction Lars Engström felt confident that he was going to fulfill his goal. The components he chosed to use are selected from world-leading manufactures. And some of them are even special-made for THE LARS.

His nephew and the well-respected designer Timo Engström got the prestigious mission to create an exterior which not only protected the amplifiers pounding heart but also reflect THE LARS’ inner capacity. Inspired by classic Swedish radio and TV furniture design Timo Engström has given the amplifier a look which brings forth its uniqueness compared to other modern sound systems.

In 2009 Lars and Timo founded the family company Engström & Engström – an audio engineering bureau specialized in exclusive high-end products. One year after the launch the class A amplifier THE LARS has already become an internationally renowned amplifier, praised for its enchanting musicality, extreme precision and visually striking appearance.

Engström & Engström AB
Ankargripsgatan 3
SE-211 19 Malmö
Sweden

Lars Engström
CEO/Founder
lars at engstromengstrom dot com
+46 (0)733-42 96 76

Timo Engström
CBO/Founder
timo at engstromengstrom dot com
+46 (0)73-370 51 51