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A Second Visit to the Home of the Infamous Encinitas Jim

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Acapella LaMusika Integrated Amplifier (approx. 55,000 euros or approximately $100,000 U.S. depending on options)

Acapella LaMusika Integrated Amplifier

Acapella LaMusika Integrated Amplifier

Acapella LaMusika Integrated Amplifier rear view

Acapella LaMusika Integrated Amplifier rear view

The Acapella Integrated was designed to minimize the effects of vibrations (both internal and external) on the electronics, minimize the length of circuit paths, and optimize the arrangement and sonic quality of parts with particular attention paid to time and phase accuracy. The design essentially dictates a rather dense architecture in a reasonably small package. The input is electrically isolated (ungrounded). Voltage gain is accomplished with one NOS Siemens E 182CC tube per channel. Current gain is provided by the output circuitry which uses MOS-FET’s. There is no negative feedback, either local or global and no capacitors in the signal path. Power connection is by a combination of high purity copper rails and 0.2 mm silver wire. The chassis is lightweight, comprised of copper and aluminium in a sandwich. All internal construction is painstakingly done by hand by a single technician. Many components are MIL-883-B spec and all components are designed for a long life. This amp requires an extended warm up period and really prefers to be left on all the time. It can be internally configured for either 110 or 220.

Marten Coltrane Supreme II ($450-500K)

Marten Coltrane Supreme II

Marten Coltrane Supreme II

Marten Coltrane Supreme II rear view

Marten Coltrane Supreme II rear view

My introduction to the original Marten Coltrane Supreme (introduced in 2006) speaker was at the Rocky Mountain Audiofest several years ago. At that time, the Supreme had two cabinets per side, one for the woofers and one for the other drivers, as well as a separate amplifier to drive the bass towers. In practice, these needed a large space and could be difficult to set up properly; however, the self powered bass did allow the possibility of using a lower power, very high quality tube amplifier on the other drivers. The Marten S-2 essentially resulted from a collaboration between Marten and the driver manufacturer, Accuton, to develop even better drivers, coupled by a desire by Marten to design a single cabinet per channel architecture that would more easily accommodate placement in most rooms. Tests run by Arian Jansen of Sonorus Audio LLC during my stay in Encinitas proved Marten largely successful in delivering a speaker that was accurate in both the phase and time domains.

The cabinet sides are made of 27mm thick carbon fibre laminate, layered with 45mm 5-layered wood. The carbon fibre is actually two layers sandwiched together with honeycomb Kevlar in between. The wooden fronts and backs of the speakers are made of four 70mm thick layers of solid wood and wood materials sandwiched together with deadening glue. The feet are Marten’s own design composed of stainless steel and carbon fibre. The binding posts and terminals are WBT Next Gen. The internal wiring is the new Jorma Design Statement. The drivers are all supplied by Accuton: on the front: i) one 20mm diamond tweeter, ii) one 51mm lower treble diamond tweeter, iii) one 5” ceramic midrange unit, iv) one 8” aluminium laminated sandwich mid bass driver, and v) six 8” aluminium laminated sandwich low bass drivers; on the rear: vi) six 11” sandwich passive drivers to extend bass below 40 Hz. These are not particularly efficient speakers, nor are they ideal for lower powered tube amplifiers.

8 Responses to A Second Visit to the Home of the Infamous Encinitas Jim

  1. Wayne says:

    Why is Jim referred to as infamous? That adjective is typically used to describe someone notorious or disreputable. From both articles, seems like Jim is a good guy (with some serious high-end gear) so just wondering in what way he is infamous?

  2. Brian Walsh says:

    Small clarification. The turntable system is a Kuzma Stabi XL4 turntable with Kuzma Air Line and 4Point tonearms.

    Note to Wayne: You are correct, Jim is a very good guy and a serious music lover who enjoys the pursuit.

  3. Rudolf de Vries says:

    I found two comments particular intriguing so is it possible to elaborate somewhat more on these aspects:
    – The CS-2 is in contrast to the CS-1 not suitable for low powered tube amps. Does this eg imply that your Audio Note UK amps will not be a goid match for the CS-2? What minimum power would you recommend for the CS-2.
    – The anomaly you described with regard to the CS-2. Could you please comment on this point in somewhat more detail?

    Thanks and best regards

  4. Sam Lucero says:

    Hi Fred,

    I’m happy you eluded the Houston heat and humidity with a visit to San Diego.
    Jim had mentioned to me that you were friends. He is certainly a magnanimous host!
    Speaking of which, allow me to say, Thank You, for hosting me upon my Texas Tour of Audiophile Homes 🙂

    Best regards,

  5. fred crowder says:


    There are several dsadvantages to listening to equipment at someone else’s home, including but not limited to lack of familiarity with the room acoustics and inability to use your own equipment in the listening sessions. I wish that I had been able to try my Balanced Kegons on the CS-2. While I never thought that they would be the answer on the Triolons (93 db efficiency, complex impedance, 4 SEAS woofers per speaker), they have been an excellent match. Likewise the 60 watt per channel Berning 845/ 211 was superb. The manufacturer clearly prefers that the speakers be driven by higher powered amps. I certainly would not try using anything with less power than the Kegons. With respect to the frequency related anomalies, ideally, dynamic range should not be frequency dependent. I can remember hearing a Levinson HQD system at a CES in Chicago. Seated at a proper distance from the rather large, multi-driver system, I thought that they were stunning at times; however, the 24″ Hartley woofers always seemed to get loud faster than the double Quads which called attention to the low frequencies. At any given volume, you could adjust the sensitivity of the system to get a coherent match; however, as the volume changed, you began to hear discontinuities among the drivers. In retrospect, part of what I was hearing may well have been related to the room rather than the speakers. In any event, certain frequencies played at certain volumes called attention to themselves. For the most part, it worked in service of the music.

  6. Rudolf de Vries says:

    Thank you very much for your quick reply.

  7. Josef says:

    Hi fred,

    could you please explain why the marten m2 mono amp sound so bad? Anything wrong with this amps?

    Best regards,


  8. Fred Crowder says:

    The Marten amps under the right circumstances can sound very good, but they need a very lengthy warm up period (at least a week of being left on 24 hours a day with signal running through them) and they are very sensitive to the power cord used. We assumed that the top of the line Jorma Prime would be a nice match, but later found out that the half price Jorma Origo was the right choice. With these two changes, the Marten amps were very good particularly on the Marten Momento ($165K) speakers. I still prefer either the Acapella or Berning 211 amps on the Marten Supreme 2 speakers which are so highly resolving that they show flaws in lesser amps.

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