La Assoluta

Marcus

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Oct 5, 2012
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The sunny side of the Alps
My main concern at that time (approx. 10 y.a.) was dust and was not even aware of possible sonic gains that ionization could bring.
 

Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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Yesterday Jorn Janczak, CEO of Tidal Audio, visited me to listen to the Tidal Camira dac and his LA loudspeakers driven by my Kondo amps. We live (approximately) a two hour drive from each other; so I visit the Tidal company in Cologne regularly and now and then Jorn finds time in his busy schedule to pay me a visit.

It was the first time for Jorn to hear the Tidal components in combination with the Tripoint Emperor mk ii and the partly (not yet fully Elite) refurbished Tripoint Empress filters.

Furthermore I have added to the LA system four specially made platforms of ebony wood (two for my Kondo poweramps which are both 5 cm thick and rest on Halcyonic devices and two for the Tripoint Empress filters with a thickness of 15 cm; the Empress filters as well as the Ebony blocks rest on special footers made by Miguel). I was very lucky to secure a substantial number of ebony wood blocks of 60 cm by 6 cm by 6 cm that had been stored for around fifteen years by a flute maker that recently passed away.

I played for Jorn various of my (mostly classical ) files - in the 16/44.1, 24/96, dxd and dsd 256 format - and thereafter he choose some familiar music with help of the Roon/Tidal streaming service. Lastly he connected my Zanden 2000p cd-transport to the Camira dac and we listened to some cd’s he brought along.

Although he is not a ‘tube man’ - why else would Tidal have their own various solid state amplifiers? - Jorn was quite impressed. Our relationship is such that we always give each other our straightforward (audio) opinion, albeit in a polite way; in the past he always made - in a sort of gentle/funny way - clear to me that he (much) preferred the Tidal amps to my Kondo amplification. Yesterday he said to me that my LA system sounded better than ever before and that he really liked it. I suppose these words can be considered as a (real) compliment to Miguel and Rene for their hard and good work at my place.

The new top of the line Tidal demo room in Cologne is nearing its completion. So possibly at the end of this year or early 2018 I will visit the Tidal factory and I am going to listen to the LA’s, the Camira dac with Tidal solid state amplification and Tidal cables in this new demonstration room. Looking forward to this visit and I am curious to find out how Jorn’s set up will compare to mine.
 
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Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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A major modification in my La Assoluta set up that I have not yet commented on is the following: I replaced my Kondo Gakuoh se 300b amps with the Kondo Kagura se 211 amps. Furthermore I replaced my (fantastic) Kondo m1000 mk i preamp (including phonostage) with the Kondo g-1000 linestage. The reason for the latter change is the fact that the Kagura and G-1000 bring the best out of each other.

The breaking in of both the g-1000 linestage and the Kagura poweramps took (quite) a long time. I am nearly at 1000 hours with the latter and only now I am getting the feeling that the Kagura’s are really showing what they are capable of.

Will post my musical findings of this combo in combination with my LA’s and Tripoint Emperor mk ii later. But I can already conclude the following: the real quality of the Kagura amps will only show if the stock Kondo tubes are replaced by higher quality (nos) tubes (9 per mono amp). The same applies to the stock fuses (two per mono amp).

Those who have experienced the Kagura amps with their stock Kondo tubes and stock fuses - for example on various audio shows - have not heard the real quality and finesse of these wonderful amps.
 

Jazzhead

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Aug 26, 2012
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Congrats Rudolf !! If I remember correctly , you weren't entirely convinced about the Kagura . So I wonder , what prompted the change . I am sure the higher power is beneficial to the LA . Enjoy the fruits and look forward to reading more on both the new amps and the Anacondas .
 

Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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Congrats Rudolf !! If I remember correctly , you weren't entirely convinced about the Kagura . So I wonder , what prompted the change . I am sure the higher power is beneficial to the LA . Enjoy the fruits and look forward to reading more on both the new amps and the Anacondas .
You are right on both accounts, Arshad.

Although the LA’s are (pretty) efficient loudspeakers with an easy impedance curve (no drops below 4 ohms) it is not hornlike efficiency. Furthermore I had the impression that the (big) woofers in my LA’s needed more control than my Gakuoh amps could deliver. I really love my LA’s and never liked horns so I wanted to try a stronger poweramp. The Kagura’s with their (nominal) 50 watts are clearly stronger than the (nominal) 20 watts Gakuoh se amps.

In addition I love - inter alia - the finesse, refinement and unmechanicalness of the Kondo’s. I have not heard any amp that can compete with the Kondo amps in this regard (please note: I am not saying those amps do not exist, I am just saying that I have not experienced such amps).

After doing my homework, including reading the various reviews very carefully as well as talking and corresponding with various persons that are familiar with the g-1000 as well as the Kagura’s, and after experiencing this combo myself in Paris I had the (strong) impression they would prove an excellent match with my LA’s. But I was not sure so I kept for the time being my m-1000 mk i and Gakuoh se amps.

Only after extensive listening, experimenting with real high quality nos tubes and getting Miguels feedback (Miguel experienced various world class (pre)amp combinations including the (absolute) top Zanden and Engstrom lines) I made my final decision.

Hope this explains my move.
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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Congratulations, Audiocrack, on the new amplifiers!

(I would like to hear them on the Genesis!)
 
May 30, 2010
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Audiocrack,

You now own a few of the top SE amplifiers that could make me envious - particularly as we can see naked pictures of them in the net, also showing the fantastic built quality. IMHO your move does not need a big explanation - you just got some of the best! Congratulations!
 

Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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Audiocrack,

You now own a few of the top SE amplifiers that could make me envious - particularly as we can see naked pictures of them in the net, also showing the fantastic built quality. IMHO your move does not need a big explanation - you just got some of the best! Congratulations!
Thanks for your kind words, Microstrip, appreciated.

Btw, is it possible for you to supply us with a link to the pictures you are referring to? Not sure I have seen these pictures although you are maybe referring to the photo’s on the Kondo/Audio Note Japan website.

And yes, although the Kondo prices are crazy the built quality of the Kagura’s (as well as of the g-1000) is impeccable casu quo very impressive indeed. For example, yesterday we adjusted the bias when I replaced the last Kondo Kagura stock tubes - the (Chinese built) 211 valves - by a matched quad (vintage) 211 tubes dating from the year 1942. This rebiassing is far from an easy task because you need to lift these 62kg ‘beasts’, put them on their side, remove the bottom plate (quite a lot of tiny bottom plate screws need to be removed and replaced again) and a very long screwdriver/pin is needed to reach the bias control. However, according to the specialist that helped me out in this regard even the bias control is of very high quality.
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
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A major modification in my La Assoluta set up that I have not yet commented on is the following: I replaced my Kondo Gakuoh se 300b amps with the Kondo Kagura se 211 amps. Furthermore I replaced my (fantastic) Kondo m1000 mk i preamp (including phonostage) with the Kondo g-1000 linestage. The reason for the latter change is the fact that the Kagura and G-1000 bring the best out of each other.

The breaking in of both the g-1000 linestage and the Kagura poweramps took (quite) a long time. I am nearly at 1000 hours with the latter and only now I am getting the feeling that the Kagura’s are really showing what they are capable of.

Will post my musical findings of this combo in combination with my LA’s and Tripoint Emperor mk ii later. But I can already conclude the following: the real quality of the Kagura amps will only show if the stock Kondo tubes are replaced by higher quality (nos) tubes (9 per mono amp). The same applies to the stock fuses (two per mono amp).

Those who have experienced the Kagura amps with their stock Kondo tubes and stock fuses - for example on various audio shows - have not heard the real quality and finesse of these wonderful amps.
Amazing! Fantastic! Congrats!
 
May 30, 2010
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Portugal
Thanks for your kind words, Microstrip, appreciated.

Btw, is it possible for you to supply us with a link to the pictures you are referring to? Not sure I have seen these pictures although you are maybe referring to the photo’s on the Kondo/Audio Note Japan website.

And yes, although the Kondo prices are crazy the built quality of the Kagura’s (as well as of the g-1000) is impeccable casu quo very impressive indeed. For example, yesterday we adjusted the bias when I replaced the last Kondo Kagura stock tubes - the (Chinese built) 211 valves - by a matched quad (vintage) 211 tubes dating from the year 1942. This rebiassing is far from an easy task because you need to lift these 62kg ‘beasts’, put them on their side, remove the bottom plate (quite a lot of tiny bottom plate screws need to be removed and replaced again) and a very long screwdriver/pin is needed to reach the bias control. However, according to the specialist that helped me out in this regard even the bias control is of very high quality.
Yes, I was referring to the pictures in the Kondo site. Impeccable built quality. BTW, Do you know how many hours are the 211 tubes expected to last?
 

Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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Yes, I was referring to the pictures in the Kondo site. Impeccable built quality. BTW, Do you know how many hours are the 211 tubes expected to last?
As regards your question, I am not sure. Nothing is said about ‘tube life’ in the Kondo manual (the manuals of both the Kagura’s and the G-1000 linestage are rather flimsy in all honesty).

The voltage to which the 211 valves are exposed is very high: 1250 volts. So I suppose this will shorten their lifespan.

Finding top of the line nos tubes is rather difficult. Top notch 211 tubes are particular hard to find, let alone two matched pairs or a matched quod. The same applies to the gz 34 rectifiers being used: each Kagura amp needs four of them. Employing 8 metal base gz34 valves at the moment but collecting such a quantity was quite difficult.

As regards the 2x2 211 tubes: currently I am employing four RCA 211 valves that were manufacturored in 1942. As spare 211 valves I have a quod United Electronics and General Electric 211 tubes available. Hopefully that is sufficient for many, many years of (playing) fun although I do realize that the GE 211 valves are considered to be of (considerable) les quality than the UE and RCA 211 tubes.
 

Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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Amazing! Fantastic! Congrats!
Thanks much Lloyd. Once everything has completely settled and two of Miguel’s Emperor grounding cables have become available to ground my La Assoluta loudspeakers, maybe you would like to cross the Channel and have a listen again?
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
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Thanks much Lloyd. Once everything has completely settled and two of Miguel’s Emperor grounding cables have become available to ground my La Assoluta loudspeakers, maybe you would like to cross the Channel and have a listen again?
I thought this day would never come! You have been working so incredibly hard on your LA, i could see you were still planning ahead for more and more...and more refinements. Congrats on no doubt reaching yet another remarkable milestone. Absolutely, we'd love to make the trip again...would be particularly great to see you and your family again. Just let us know offline when you think might work.
 

Audiocrack

Active Member
Aug 10, 2012
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I thought this day would never come! You have been working so incredibly hard on your LA, i could see you were still planning ahead for more and more...and more refinements. Congrats on no doubt reaching yet another remarkable milestone. Absolutely, we'd love to make the trip again...would be particularly great to see you and your family again. Just let us know offline when you think might work.
Will do, Lloyd.
 

Audiocrack

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Aug 10, 2012
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Breaking in the Kondo G-1000 and particularly the Kondo Kagura’s was a rather unpleasant experience. Not only because it took an awful lot of time - the Kagura amps apparently need approximately (a little less of) 1000 hours to fully settle in - but also because these power amps sounded quite often during long periods of time pretty horrible: nasty tonality, no solidity, an awful low end, no soundstage depth, etc. During this long and unpleasant breaking in process I now and then got (somewhat) desperate in the sense that you really start wondering whether these ‘damn’ devices will ever start behaving themselves.

In addition, due to the very high voltage to which the 2 x 2 211 tubes are being exposed and using 9 valves per amp - 4 x gz34 rectifiers, 2 x 6sn7, 1 x 12au7 and 2 x 211 amps - I could not play the Kagura amps (more or less) continuously. In stead I played them in shifts of around 5 hours, turned them off for about 1,5-2 hours and started playing them again for about 5 hours, etc. I am really relieved that this burning in period lies behind me.

As regards the Kagura’s: I initially played them with the stock Kondo tubes. After around 400-500 hours burning in I started to replace the stock tubes with high quality nos valves. And only a week ago I finally replaced the four stock 211 tubes with nos 211 valves. Btw, the Kagura amps do not employ automatic biassing, apparently because the Kondo factory is of the opinion that such a feature degrades the sound quality (the Kondo Gakuoh single ended amps also require (re)biassing by hand). This rebiassing process demands the following: removing the (62 kg) Kagura amps from their platforms, putting these amps on their side, removing the two bottom plates (each of them with 6 footers (in all honesty I had not seen more than four footers on any bottom plate before): in this case four footers on all the sides and two more or less in the middle, apparently to support the heavy transformers), connecting the Kagura’s to the loudspeakers, putting the amps on power and adjusting the bias manually with long pins. While doing so you realize all the time the 1250 voltage that is being employed. When this (re)biassing process had ended I was (again) quite relieved and as a simple customer you start wondering: is it not possible for the Kondo factory to make audio life in this regard somewhat easier?

Anyway, before you start thinking that this lucky ‘bastard’ is only complaining about (in stead of enjoying) his Kondo g-1000/Kagura combination: that is not my intention at all. I just want to make clear what is needed in order to get these devices perform at their best by using top quality nos tubes and how much time they need to settle.

Additionally I replaced the four stock fuses in the two Kagura amps - btw, each amp is employing two powercords (one for the power and one for the heater) and two fuses - as well as in the G-1000 linestage and I am using four Tidal pc’s.

Lastly, my Kagura amps are one of the first i-versions that the Kondo factory has produced. If I am informed correctly, the i-version differs (somewhat) from the ‘regular’ or Japanese version that was manufacturored in the past and the i-version sounds in the view of Kondo factory (in an important way) better than these older versions of the Kagura, inter alia due to its selected matching capacitors. I have not compared the two versions so I cannot comment on the differences between these two based on my own experiences.
 
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LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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Absolutely brutal...not just the hours, but the fact that you actually have to listen to those hours...AND you cannot just put it on infinite repeat and go to bed...because they are amps, you end up playing music all night. When i burned in the CJ GAT...i just let it run on infinite repeat all night with the amp off. I dont know if it was 'full burn in'...but it should sure did help each time i did turn on the system to listen.

Maintenance in this hobby is varied from torturous to [almost] maintenance free. But even an audiophile's maintenance free is usually torturous by most other people's standards.

Well done once again for your commitment!