Ongaku - Is it worth the money!!

Bling23

Well-Known Member
Aug 3, 2020
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Ireland
Hi all,

Anyone out there with direct experience with the Ongaku past or present owners I would be very keen to hear your thoughts on the amp. I see a lot of chat on here that Ongaku needs a really good ( and expensive ) pre to sound its best. This is very hard to swallow given the price of the Ongaku to start with and beggars belief it that is the case given the price tag of this integrated amp. For context my current amp is an Audio Note Tonemeister Phono 300b valve amp. I play records and stream with an Audio note TT3 turntable using the phone in the Meishu and AN MM cart. Thank you all in advance.
Sean
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With all of your concerns and the availability of other top notch, great sounding gear for less money, why are you even considering this purchase?

And as you know, other opinions are somewhat useless (system, room, hearing dependant, etc.) given that your opinion is, in the end, the only one that matters.
 
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With all of your concerns and the availability of other top notch, great sounding gear for less money, why are you even considering this purchase?
I would be very keen to hear what actual owners think in relation to this. Have you owned an Ongaku and if so what have you compared it with. Thanks
 
As a former owner of the Audio Note Meishu Phono Tonmeister Silver and a current owner of Shindo and an Audio Note Jinro, I can offer my opinion...which is in fact completely worth what you are paying for it! LOL

I find the Jinro to be a far more nuanced and satisfying amplifier than the Tonmeister. Is it synergy (I have Devore speakers not Audio Note)? The additional SET power provided by the Jinro over the Tonmeister? Who knows...but the Jinro is an amazing amplifier. Many consider it as an entry level Audio Note (UK) Ongaku given it has a virtually identical circuit to the Ongaku. The Ongaku of course takes things to the esoteric with bleeding edge caps, resistors, all silver wire (I've read there is 26 pounds of pure silver wire in the Ongaku), etc. You've pictured the Kondo Ongaku which, to those who own it, seems to be their stopping point in hifi.

At the level you contemplate, seek out and listen. I dont want to hear the Ongaku simply because I dont want to want it! I'm content with my Jinro and my Shindo setups. They are different from one another and I find both far more musical, dynamic and satisfying than the Tonmeister in my setup, in my room with my preferences and biases. At the level of gear we are discussing, its all terrific and up to the end user but exceptional performance can be enjoyed with your Tonmeister or any other Audio Note (or Shindo) setup with proper attention paid to system matching.
 
As a former owner of the Audio Note Meishu Phono Tonmeister Silver and a current owner of Shindo and an Audio Note Jinro, I can offer my opinion...which is in fact completely worth what you are paying for it! LOL

I find the Jinro to be a far more nuanced and satisfying amplifier than the Tonmeister. Is it synergy (I have Devore speakers not Audio Note)? The additional SET power provided by the Jinro over the Tonmeister? Who knows...but the Jinro is an amazing amplifier. Many consider it as an entry level Audio Note (UK) Ongaku given it has a virtually identical circuit to the Ongaku. The Ongaku of course takes things to the esoteric with bleeding edge caps, resistors, all silver wire (I've read there is 26 pounds of pure silver wire in the Ongaku), etc. You've pictured the Kondo Ongaku which, to those who own it, seems to be their stopping point in hifi.

At the level you contemplate, seek out and listen. I dont want to hear the Ongaku simply because I dont want to want it! I'm content with my Jinro and my Shindo setups. They are different from one another and I find both far more musical, dynamic and satisfying than the Tonmeister in my setup, in my room with my preferences and biases. At the level of gear we are discussing, its all terrific and up to the end user but exceptional performance can be enjoyed with your Tonmeister or any other Audio Note (or Shindo) setup with proper attention paid to system matching.
Thanks for this reply very much appreciated and great first hand info. I will take a close look at Jinro as to be honest Ongaku is out of my price league unless I got a great used deal which is highly unlikely. I was also baffled as to why an integrated amp costing this much required a pre that cost nearly the same. This just makes no sense the Ongaku is meant to be legendary and is priced accordingly why the need to try to make it better ? Adding an expensive pre to it is not like say adding some feet isolation for instance.?
Can I ask you what Jinro you have as far as I know this is a power amp and you must add a pre to it . Thanks for the reply Sean
 
After shelling out for the Ongaku one would hope you’ve reached Nirvana

The most sincere advice I can offer is that people should stop conflating price with merit. There are so many industry add-on margins in high-profile equipment, despite the ex-factory price being modest. In this case, it might be that the integrated amp uses a basic and lossy volume control whereas the separate pre might not.
 
The most sincere advice I can offer is that people should stop conflating price with merit. There are so many industry add-on margins in high-profile equipment, despite the ex-factory price being modest. In this case, it might be that the integrated amp uses a basic and lossy volume control whereas the separate pre might not.
Sure I understand these things but this amp has cult like status and a price tag to match. Never not once have I read the the volume control is not on a level suitable for this amp, but I do get where you are coming from.
 
Thanks for this reply very much appreciated and great first hand info. I will take a close look at Jinro as to be honest Ongaku is out of my price league unless I got a great used deal which is highly unlikely. I was also baffled as to why an integrated amp costing this much required a pre that cost nearly the same. This just makes no sense the Ongaku is meant to be legendary and is priced accordingly why the need to try to make it better ? Adding an expensive pre to it is not like say adding some feet isolation for instance.?
Can I ask you what Jinro you have as far as I know this is a power amp and you must add a pre to it . Thanks for the reply Sean
"This just makes no sense the Ongaku is meant to be legendary and is priced accordingly why the need to try to make it better ?"

Why do audiphiles do anything? LOL. Is a preamp necessary with the Jinro or the Ongaku? NO. Do some utilize one? YES. Some do it because the synergy does something they like, others do it because they have a pre with a phono stage and the Ongaku/Tomei/Jinro do not have the option for an inboard phono stage. I tried my Jinro with an Audio Note M5 (I have not tried it with my Shindo pre) and while it sounded "different" to my ears it seemed to soften things slightly. In my opinion, a pre isn't necessary nor (in my use case) desirable.

The Jinro I have is the integrated version with source sector and a stepped volume attenuator. The amp only version is called the Jinro Shochu.
 
"This just makes no sense the Ongaku is meant to be legendary and is priced accordingly why the need to try to make it better ?"

Why do audiphiles do anything? LOL. Is a preamp necessary with the Jinro or the Ongaku? NO. Do some utilize one? YES. Some do it because the synergy does something they like, others do it because they have a pre with a phono stage and the Ongaku/Tomei/Jinro do not have the option for an inboard phono stage. I tried my Jinro with an Audio Note M5 (I have not tried it with my Shindo pre) and while it sounded "different" to my ears it seemed to soften things slightly. In my opinion, a pre isn't necessary nor (in my use case) desirable.

The Jinro I have is the integrated version with source sector and a stepped volume attenuator. The amp only version is called the Jinro Shochu.
Yes Agee why do we do anything… but come on when you get to the level on Ongaku you should be in Nirvana I’d have hoped
 
Yes Agee why do we do anything… but come on when you get to the level on Ongaku you should be in Nirvana I’d have hoped
I don't believe there is a need for a preamp with the Jinro or Ongaku.

I am aware of someone who uses a highly regarded vacuum tube pre with his. Again, he uses the pre for the high quality phono stage and he enjoys the effect that his preamp has on his digital source. He also rationalizes the remote control volume of his pre. Not saying he's right or wrong but its his money, his choice. Its your money, your choice.

You really should seek out the opportunity to travel and listen to the Jinro, Tomei or Ongaku. You may find your sweetspot among these three similar but wildly different cost propositions. The Jinro in my opinion is wonderful, however, I'm sure there are Ongaku owners who think the Jinro sounds broken to them. No one is wrong.

Me? I like the sound of my digital source as is into my Jinro. A preamp is unnecessary in my opinion.
 
After shelling out for the Ongaku one would hope you’ve reached Nirvana

I preferred the Absolare in push pull mode to the Ongaku on the Diesis.

Looking at your profile you are 44, which is young in audio. Instead of spending so much for an amp which might not be the best especially on your speakers, why don't you spend some time learning other similar set ups? Listen to some other Kondos and some other SETs. The two best Kondo set ups I heard had all Kondo (top of the line phonos land pres like M1000, or G10/G1000 + Gakuon and Ongaku), with excellent high efficiency Sigma MAAT Vector and Bionor speakers.

There are many other SETs based systems. There is a whole SET amps thread on the forum where you can learn about other users with similar amps and/or Kondo, and listen to their systems and synergistic speakers. Also learn about analog and recordings while you are at it. Kondo keeps coming up on sale from time to time, so instead of thinking with an itch, take your time and enjoy.
 
I preferred the Absolare in push pull mode to the Ongaku on the Diesis.

Looking at your profile you are 44, which is young in audio. Instead of spending so much for an amp which might not be the best especially on your speakers, why don't you spend some time learning other similar set ups? Listen to some other Kondos and some other SETs. The two best Kondo set ups I heard had all Kondo (top of the line phonos land pres like M1000, or G10/G1000 + Gakuon and Ongaku), with excellent high efficiency Sigma MAAT Vector and Bionor speakers.

There are many other SETs based systems. There is a whole SET amps thread on the forum where you can learn about other users with similar amps and/or Kondo, and listen to their systems and synergistic speakers. Also learn about analog and recordings while you are at it. Kondo keeps coming up on sale from time to time, so instead of thinking with an itch, take your time and enjoy.
Thank you good advise I'll check out this thread and learn a bit more , appreciate the help
 
I don't believe there is a need for a preamp with the Jinro or Ongaku.

I am aware of someone who uses a highly regarded vacuum tube pre with his. Again, he uses the pre for the high quality phono stage and he enjoys the effect that his preamp has on his digital source. He also rationalizes the remote control volume of his pre. Not saying he's right or wrong but its his money, his choice. Its your money, your choice.

You really should seek out the opportunity to travel and listen to the Jinro, Tomei or Ongaku. You may find your sweetspot among these three similar but wildly different cost propositions. The Jinro in my opinion is wonderful, however, I'm sure there are Ongaku owners who think the Jinro sounds broken to them. No one is wrong.

Me? I like the sound of my digital source as is into my Jinro. A preamp is unnecessary in my opinion.
The Jinro looks a very interesting prospect and could be a more natural step for me from the Meishu , thanks for input
 
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Thank you good advise I'll check out this thread and learn a bit more , appreciate the help

I think you have such a strong itch you will buy. To learn more just take a deep breath for now and let it go and learn other things
 
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I think you have such a strong itch you will buy. To learn more just take a deep breath for now and let it go and learn other things
I think I’ll learn about Jinro first maybe, I’m getting 1/2 decent sound from Meishu to most it’s on a good level but you know yourself you always wonder …
 
Hi all ok I have an update here. I have been in touch with Kondo and they have advised the Ongaku was in fact designed as a power amplifier and using a preamplifier is their recommendation so there you go .... The Overture is their true integrated amp.
 
Hi all ok I have an update here. I have been in touch with Kondo and they have advised the Ongaku was in fact designed as a power amplifier and using a preamplifier is their recommendation so there you go .... The Overture is their true integrated amp.
The Overture is a marvelous integrated amp. Is it $$$$$ "better" than f ex the AN UK integrated I do not know. But unlikely. What I do know is that Kondo gives you a high degree of pride of ownership if that matters to you, it is as exotic as they come. The prices on Kondo gear are insane, but they are not alone in that department...

JP
 
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The Overture is a marvelous integrated amp. Is it $$$$$ "better" than f ex the AN UK integrated I do not know. But unlikely. What I do know is that Kondo gives you a high degree of pride of ownership if that matters to you, it is as exotic as they come. The prices on Kondo gear are insane, but they are not alone in that department...

JP
JP I think your probably nail on the head here .
 

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