In my opinion, the best value for the highest possible audio quality available today is the Vinnie Rossi LIO combined with the Harbeth Super HL5 Plus speakers.
However, not everyone can afford the cost of that system. Because the LIO can be purchased one function at a time (purchasing modules as you can afford them) you can take your time accumulating a serious and breathtaking audio system. I don’t know of any other component that allows that kind of cost flexibility where you don’t lose money when you upgrade.
In addition, you can begin with a lower cost Harbeth speaker option, the P3ESR, and end up with an excellent cost versus value audio system. Some of you might even find that the P3ESR is a final speaker and that you’re totally satisfied with. However, I would continue to save my money until I could afford to move up to the “top of the mountain”, the Super HL5 Plus speakers. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t have to give up incredible high-quality audio (if I owned a pair of P3ESR) while I’m saving for the HL5+ speakers.
To get into a LIO Harbeth system, the first purchase you need to make is what I call “the base” LIO. It consists of the revolutionary PURE-DC-4EVR Ultracapacitor power supply, DuPont Corian® front & side panels, knobs and 1/8″ aluminum top in the colors of your choice, remote control handset, outputs module (1 pair SE not volume controlled and 2 pair SE volume controlled) and an external power adapter. Performance Modules must be added to “the base” to make your LIO a functional component.
The cost for “the base” is $2,495. This is not a wasted expense, and there are several factors that make this $2,495 investment a really serious value compared to putting together a traditional audio system:
1.You no longer need $1,500 to $3,500 worth of power cables, power conditioner, and interconnects. Instead of spending your hard earned money on wire that only corrects deficiencies and does not improve quality, you instead purchase a super high-quality flexible component system chassis that will benefit you in a number of ways that cables and wire simply cannot do. The price of this audio foundation tool is $2,495.
Many of the best in this industry consider the cost of expensive audiophile cables “snake oil”. In my opinion, I agree, but you still need good wire and good connectors. By buying the expensive stuff first, I eventually discovered that spending beyond $1,500 to $3,500 on cables for a total audio system is a serious waste of money.
In the end, cables ARE truly a waste of money. Change your components and you will need different cables to correct new deficiencies those components create. Eliminate the mismatching between and amongst components and you no longer need to waste money on wire and can instead invest your money in tangible audio infrastructure that does lead to true and lasting value. That’s what Vinnie Rossi’s LIO represents – tangible infrastructure that allows for the highest audio quality. You are trading the cost of what many consider “snake oil” cables for a practical, lasting, and guaranteed improvement in sound quality that is functional and that contains one of the finest power supplies available in the industry today.
2. The ultra capacitor power supply in the LIO is one of the finest power supplies that anyone has offered to date. It will yield less distortion and cleaner power and result in a blacker background than traditional audio components. It takes your system totally off the grid and you no longer need an expensive high-quality AC power conditioner. This unique solution equates to better sound quality where details float more easily to the surface. The great benefit of this patent pending power supply is that all of the modules that you add to the LIO base are powered by this incredible feature. No longer do you have one or more components dragging high quality down. Instead, they all play at an equally high level.
3. You only need to purchase this single chassis once. All of the modules that you thereafter purchase no longer need another chassis or another power supply – you’re done. This saves a considerable amount of money compared to the traditional separate component approach. Start adding modules and you’ll begin to appreciate the lower price per audio function since you’re no longer paying for unnecessary and expensive enclosures and power supplies. At this lower price, you are not compromising on receiving the highest possible audio quality. In fact, because of the ultra capacitor power supply (that is shared), these modules play at an even higher quality level than if they were powered by a traditional power supply design.
4. The system matching perfection that occurs from this one chassis one power supply approach using multiple modules ends up providing an overall higher sound quality than you can achieve using multiple stand alone components. There are no long lengths of wires and multiple signal degrading connectors in between components to disturb your audio signal. Typical components and wiring have considerable impedance mis-matching issues and many other problems that plague most everyone setting up a serious high quality audio system. With the LIO, you avoid all of those issues and problems. The entire LIO concept has been designed by the same electrical engineer, Vinnie Rossi, and it is based upon many years of prior experience from his Red Wine Audio days.
ASSEMBLING THE LIO HARBETH P3ESR SYSTEM
If you already have an entry level audio system that you would like to upgrade to the LIO Harbeth system, you can retain any part of that system and purchase your LIO step by step as you can afford to do so. You can gradually sell off your other components as you begin to max out your LIO. This provides a nice path to be able to financially work your way into a complete LIO system and one where you can rid yourself of all your old audio components once you’ve made the upgrade. If you have a pair of speakers, keep them and use them while you work on optimizing your LIO. Then, when you can afford it, purchase a pair of Harbeth speakers in your price range. The synergy you will end up with (even with the little P3 ESR Harbeth speakers) is magical!
The Vinnie Rossi LIO basic chassis with power supply and remote – “the base”
Purchase the resistor attenuator $395
You now have a remote controlled preamplifier that can be used with an existing power amplifier, DAC, or phono stage for playing vinyl.
Purchase the mosfet power amplifier module $895
You now have an integrated amplifier that includes your preamplifier (volume control), your power amplifier, and a an external remote control wand.
Purchase the DAC module $895
You now have an integrated amplifier as in STEP 2 above plus a DAC. This allows you to connect your computer or other digital audio server (via USB, S/PIDF.
Purchase the Harbeth P3ESR Speakers
$2,295 In Rosewood
TOTAL COST FOR THIS ENTRY LEVEL SYSTEM
LIO “base” $2,195
Resistor Volume Control $395
Mosfet Power Amp $895
LIO Subtotal Cost $4,380
Harbeth P3ESR Speakers $2,295
Total = $6,675
Less Your 15% LIO Purchase Credit $657
Your Net Cost If Purchased During The Intro Sale = $6,018
(Shipping Cost = Free + No PayPal Fee)
Purchase the AVC/Slage Transformer Volume Control
Purchase the Phono Stage Module
Purchase the Cartridge Remote Module
Upgrade Your Harbeth P3ESR Speakers to the Harbeth Super HL5 Plus Speakers
And if you have a larger budget, purchase the Vinnie Rossi VR120 power amplifier to go with the LIO and a pair of Harbeth 40.2 speakers.