Just got my Kismet in Khartago case amp yesterday, after a bit of a wait. Definitely worth the wait!
I had been running a pair of Gallo Ref 3.5 with a HK 990 integrated amp, and was actually very happy. The Gallos threw a very wide soundstage, with the usual height limitations, and perhaps just a touch of lack of detail, but capable of generating goosebumps, and delivering audio pleasure. I have a pair of Infinity subwoofers so the room correction and sub crossover was important to me. I used a Denon AVR 100 for surround duties and the processor loop of the HK was ideal, with pass through for both fronts and two subs.
Then I saw an auction out of South Africa for a pair of Raidho C1's. $3100 was the starting bid, I thought for sure somebody would outbid me. But they did not, so I was the proud owner of the C1s. They arrived in good shape and I was able to sell my Gallos for about what I paid for the C1's so all was good.
But, the Raidhos just didn't sound that good with the HK. I tried using my AVA U70 tube amp, but the gain would not fit in with the rest of my system, even when I bought one of those buffers to increase gain by 6 db. I thought I might fix the gain thing by updating my front end, and a Marantz AV7702MkII became available on close out for 900 bucks, so I went for that to replace the Denon and the HK and put the U70 into the loop.
Nope. So I put the HK through the processor loop as the power amp and things improved. Still not that excited about the Raidhos.
Then a few weeks after getting the C1 Raidho announced an upgrade program to take my C1 to C1.2 for about 2600 euros. That seemed like something to do, and I would get a db or two more of efficiency so maybe that would help. Raidho replaced all the drivers, crossover, back panel and wiring and even buffed out my cabinet. Very nice.
Still not that thrilled with the Raidhos. They sounded nice enough, just no goosebumps, no audio excitement. I am thinking I made a mistake, missing my Gallos. Thinking about selling the Raidhos and going in a different direction. Martin Logan maybe?
Clearly some sort of issue with the amp. The HK 990 is actually very well thought of, was awarded amp of the year in 2013 in Europe. But something, somewhere is not doing it.
I met Klaus at an audio show in DC, and was impressed by the sound in his room. Impressed with the reputation and provenance of the amps. Always something I thought might be good to have. So I called up Klaus and we talked amps for a little bit, I think he was surprised at my disappointment in the Raidhos. Certainly a Kismet in Khartago case was what I needed, so we put together an order, with all the trimmings.
Amp arrived yesterday. I set it up with the test tones, and let it run for about 6 hours. Genesis Nursery Cryme was what I had listened to the night before, and it was in the tray, so a good place to start.
I must say I am most impressed and happy! Soundstage is now much wider, with individual instruments thrown way to the side, microdynamics are most impressive, the trite old phrase "hearing things I had never heard before" certainly applies here. Soundstage also now has a depth to it I hadn't heard before, and transparency is up big time. Soundstage is still not quite as wide as the Gallos, but it is certainly taller and deeper.
I now know what the fuss is about with Raidho. I am certainly one who believes that amps that measure the same do not sound the same, and that is certainly the case here, but I am still surprised at just how much different, and better the Kismet sounds vs. the HK. They are similar sized amps and I think a valid comparison.
So it's only the first day and Klaus assures me that the Kismet sounds like crap right out of the box and will take a few months at least to break in. If what I am hearing now is crap, then I am most eagerly looking forward to the break in.