The unit we’re looking back at this week is the Lafigaro 339. At the time I bough it it was my very first OTL amp and I bought it after reading up on Skylab’s’s review of the Darkvoice 337. The Lafigaro 339 is a dual mono amplifier which means the left and right channel are completely separated. You’ll find two of everything in this amp, even volume controls, and that’s still something that worries a lot of people. I however find it extremely handy and I have no issues getting the Left and Right volume matched. On top of that it comes in very handy when one of your drivers plays less loud or when you have hearing issues on one side.
Anyway, the 339 is a lovely amplifier and I’m happy to see so many people discovered it since I reviewed it way back in 2012. Since then the 339 has seen some official upgrades and the actual internals look quite different now compared to my old version. Where mine had 6SJ7 & 6AS7 tube types, there now also is an option where you can select 6J5 as input tube. Al the tubes and options have been discussed in detail in the 339 thread on Head-fi, so if you’re planning on getting one of these amplifiers, do read up on on it first. Yuking in the mean time is also offering a very sexy looking black 339 version. Unfortunately the 339 price went up from $550 (what I paid) to $730 for the 6sJ7 version, and that’s without shipping included. That being said, the 339 – even at that price – is still very much worth the asking price, especially if you’ve got high impedance headphone laying around.
Do I still listen to the 339? Honestly, I very rarely do. But it’s not because I don’t like it anymore, it simply is because I don’t have the time anymore to listen to it. When I bought it, I wasn’t running Headfonia and I didn’t have to publish 3 articles a week so my “private” listening time since then has been seriously reduced. Nowadays I’m always listening to amplifiers I’ll be featuring on HFN, and the 339 finds itself in a corner of my office upstairs, gathering dust. I haven’t rolled tubes in it for at least over a year which is a shame as I have dozens of the nicest tubes for it. Some people tell me I should sell it but I still love it too much, even though I’m heavily neglecting it.
I still very much like how it sounds but our ears change and our taste evolves. Even though you can change the sound by tube rolling, the 339 will always be a warmer, smooth sounding amp. If I’d buy another OTL amplifier today, I would probably look for something a little less warm sounding but at the same time, the Sennheiser HD650 and Beyerdynamic DT990 sound extremely good on it as it is. I’m a bit disappointed now that it doesn’t have balanced inputs, but at the time I didn’t need that at all. I still don’t “need” it but it’s a nice to have so you can go fully balanced if you’d want to.
After writing this I do feel like I should listen to the LaFigaro 339 again asap. I just might do so tonight, HD650 on my head and Macallan in my hand. Can’t go wrong.