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  • Easter 2015, Audio Evidence meets Audio Note Japan!
  • Kondo Factory Visit
  • IMPORTANT NOTICE - THE WORLD'S BEST SPEAKERS
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Hong Kong Tube Audio Show 2005

 
We were delighted to welcome Kondo and Masaki San and the team from Audio Note Japan to the Hong Kong show. A really unusually pleasant big room was filled with the sound of music, care of the KSL ONGAKU 211 amplifier and a KSL-1000 pre-amplifier. CDs were spun by a 47Lab PiTracer. Kondo cabling DAC and IO-j cartridge, and a DPS turntable with Ikeda tonearm completed the electronics line up.

For the first time at a show Wilson Watt 7s speakers (provided kindly by Ken Chan at the Sound Chamber) were the loudspeaker of choice mated with Kondo electronics.

If the comments from the people attending were genuine we achieve the best sound of the show by a large margin!

Some pictures below record the attendance at the show by the ANJ International team (who are the international marketing people for Kondo) and the Audio Note Japan team, including Kondo San and Masaki San themselves.

Super CDs and Small Speakers

 

I would like to speak on two separate topics in this article :-

The first topic is how important it is to purchase good quality CD pressings. Everyone who seriously collects LPs has in mind the quality of the pressing, for example, first pressings, by particular record labels, were better than later ones; they were and still are more collectable and also more desirable sonically. The theory, as I understand it, is that as the pressings continue, the master tape deteriorates and the sound becomes less like the original.

For some reason, not much is said or written about superior quality, collectable, compact discs.

These thoughts come to mind because I recently inadvertently stumbled across a record shop called Sam The Record Man. The shop name seems inherently a good one for a purveyor of recorded music and in fact I had heard of Sam from someone and so I was interested to explore. I came across Sam after a decent dinner in Times Square and so was in a fairly sanguine mood, which is a good mood for browsing through music collections.

Sam proved to be a dapper, articulate man, who quickly moved into salesman mode and he is good! $5,000 later, I was the proud owner of four Japanese first pressings compact discs. This, to my accompanying partner and her children, seemed an extraordinary outlay, and produced several quick intakes of breath!

Sam explained that the Japanese first pressings were collectable because they sounded sonically superior.

I had succumbed to the following discs: The Best of Vienna Boy's Choir, Bill Evans; a Horowitz in Moscow; and an extremely expensive Cliff Richard; I think that the Cliff Richard CD actually had a price tag of HK$2,900, and therefore required some considerable thought before I paid the bill.

In any event, the real purpose of relating all of this is to say that I was charmed and also a little surprised at the real excellence of the recordings in question. Played on a 47Lab PiTracer, and using Mactone valve amplification, with Lowther speakers, I must say that the reproduction was quite stunning.

In the old days, all one could get from a compact disc, was a rather small, mean, unpleasant sound; now this is not necessarily true, at least not with the right equipment and the right pressing. These pieces of music were thoroughly engaging. When I played Bill Evans, from an "ordinary" Bill Evans pressing, the difference was frightening!

If anybody from any record company is reading this, my plea is, can't you please improve on the pressings and have ��ordinary�� CDs sounding more like these first edition pressings from Japan.

Now onto the subject of speakers; a subject that I have been going on about for a few months now. I am still searching for something that is totally satisfying. In earlier articles, I have expressed my general enthusiasm for horn speakers. However, the difficulty with horn speakers, of course, is that they tend to be physically large. With the desire to set up a system in my bedroom, I rediscovered the virtues of small speakers, and the result has been very satisfactory. I used a pair of 16 years old ProAc EBT (extended bass tablets). I placed them at the head of the bed, on a pair of Foundation speaker stands. The electronics are entirely 47Lab, a Flatfish, the Gemini DAC, and the Progression amplifier. Whether I am lying in bed (a great place to listen to music) or seated at the end of the bed, the musical output sounds splendid!

In fact, so enamoured was I by the result of that I decided to replace (at least for the moment) my Lowther horn speaker in the living room with a pair of 47Lab "Lens" speakers. This small and new speaker from 47Lab uses one driver in a small box enclosure. On this occasion, I linked them up with Mactone electronics, namely the new 330 pre-amp and a MA-300B power amplifier. Again, the result was shockingly good! There I sat with the lights down, believing in the musical illusion thoroughly, but finding it hard to believe that the illusion was being produced by this diminutive 47Lab speaker!

Obviously I am not alone in admiring the virtue of small loudspeakers. In particular, I recall the owner of Acoustic Energy (I cannot immediately remember his name, for which I apologize) and Mr Kimura of 47 Laboratory both enthusiastically explaining why they prefer small speakers to large.

In essence, both felt that the small speakers were better at conveying the meaning of the music while large loudspeakers were just that loud.

The moral of the tale is don't feel you necessarily have to get large speaker to get a good listening result, play around with small ones. This has the advantage of a fairly modest outlay in expenditure and if you get it wrong it is not going to be the end of the world!

Kondo - Magazine Reviews

 


Fi magazine had this to say about the KEGON
(stereo-amplifier):

"Against a backdrop of deeper quiet and morefully articulated pianissimos, musical lines and instrumental contributions stand forth with exceptional clarity. The players in large string choirs are reproduced with a wealth of inner detail With the KEGON, you simply hear more strings in each choir - more of the transient bowing sounds and small variations in intonation that are cues to the numbers of players at play. On large-scale orchestral recordings, where numbers count, the KEGON's abundance of detail adds to the colour and excitement of these colourful and exciting pieces. I got a glimpse of heaven. A product that breaks through to a new level of playback realism".

This ONGAKU has been reviewed by Dick Olsher, Alvin Gold, Jonathan Kettle, Mike Kuller, Lynn Olsen and many others - the only non-perfect aspect of the ONGAKU that any of them could find was that they couldn't afford it! Listen..."Vocal definition was frighteningly realistic�Khad me spellbound in disbelief being confronted with the master tape�KEverything in the performance was exposed" - Jonathan Kettle

THE GAKUON

Ken Kessler, Hi-Fi News and Record Review, May 1993:
"Taken back? Transfixed? Thrilled? Hey, the last time I had Goosebumps this big from music was at a concert, not in front of a hi-fi the lone audiophile who acquires this amplifier in 1993 is one fortunate son of a gun the sweetest, warmest, most holographic amplifier I've ever heard."

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