AKSA 55 N+, AKSA GK-1B, AKSonic Speakers - The story so far

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SuperMart

Hugh Dean recently loaned me his GK-1B EL pre-amp for a few days and now that I am over the withdrawal symptoms - I reluctantly returned it last weekend - I thought my impressions might be of interest especially to those of you with AKSA amps and non-AKSA pre-amps. In a nutshell I did tell Hugh that I thought he should be required by law to supply a GK-1 with every AKSA sold. For the record, Hugh built my 55N+ for me and also supplied the AKSonics with pre-cut and veneered panels in "knock-down" form. I am awaiting one of the first GK-1 fully built pre-amps. I live near Hugh and I'm a very happy customer. These comments are solely intended to help others who are unable to audition AKSA products. Many before me have written at length about them individually but perhaps not in this latest configuration?

My front end - Empirical Audio modded Sony 7700 transport and EA modded P3A-had, I felt, become too good for my amp and speakers - locally made ME Sound 850 power amp and  ME 24 pre-amp and Whatmough Monitors Trio speakers. First into the system was the AKSA 55n+. The improvement was substantial and immediately apparent. Despite the difference in power output -120 watts RMS versus the 55 watt AKSA it was the AKSA that exhibited far greater control,attack and bass grip.Even at low gain settings it seemed to be itching to play the music - you couldn't kill it with a brick.Now the front end had an amp that could let it have it's head and transients almost frightened me.This amp has everything in spades. All the comments that others have made about AKSA amps were easy to agree with and I mentally gave every one a tick.
Next into the system were the AKSonics and whilst I had audtioned them at Hugh's place I was still a little bit worried about whether they would do the job.After all, they do look a bit lightweight in the photos don't they? Mine are finished in Australian Blackwood and I spent a lot of time researching the various ways of finishing the veneer. I figured I was going to be staring at them at them for a long time so I wanted them to look good but in an oiled  natural style. Eventually decided on Danish Oil - 5  or 6 coats with wet and dry inbetween and finally steel wool. The oil is pretty much fail-safe and I'm pleased with the final finish.Make sure you keep the room well ventilated when applying the oil though - I didn't and felt quite nauseous after the first coat. My old system has a Whatmough Typhoon Subwoofer and I kept this in the system when I first hooked up the AKSonics. Right off the bat the combination sounded good and after a week or so there was improvement as the woofer cones seemed to free up.Using my old pre-amp I was suprised at the overall improvement in mid-bass which seemed in turn to translate into an overall improved bass response from mid to low. The AKSonics are faster than my old speakers and I would attribute this at least in part to the fact that theTrios have two bass-mid drivers and I guess they can't stop and start as quickly as the Vifa driver on its own? Just my theory. I love the airy highs, imaging and effortless sound of the AKSonics and I feel they are excellent "windows" to my upstream equipment.

All in all I was very happy with the sound of my new system. The character had changed from a somewhat clinical and cold sound to one that really made music. Crikey I was even tapping my toes all the time and I was finding excuses to stay up late and play music - even down low it was still resolving and involving. I sent an email to Hugh telling him exactly this and that I was frightened to touch anything in case I lost this super sound. And that's when this Fagin of the audio world suggested I might like to sample his GK-1 for "a few days". In it went and at first I thought well, it's not that different. Then those glowing tubes warmed up and gradually I realised that a number of changes had taken place.In no particular order I noticed that it started and stopped on a sixpence.If a piece of music started with the crack of a percussive wood block then crack it did - like a rifle shot.The already low noise floor dropped down to basement level and more detail emerged as a direct result.Wait, now the bass is deeper. Hang on - the sub is not hooked up because Hugh's demo. unit only has one pre-out yet the bass articulation is excellent. If truth be told I think I will have the sub in the system when I get my fully spec'd GK-1 because it seems to marry so well with the AKSonics.I'm an ex-mobile DJ operator so I do enjoy a bit of welly at the bass end of things.Every aspect of the musical presentation took on an enhanced more musical result.It was sweeter yet not soft.Looking at the glowing tubes made me think that I was listening to a rounded- off sound yet the extra muscle in the bass defied that assumption.It became more apparent to me when I returned the GK-1 to Hugh and reconnected my old pre-amp.The heart of the AKSA 55 N+ was beating away yet some magic had gone. Last night, quite unprompted, my wife said "That thing did make a difference, didn't it?". Well, it certainly did.

AKSA

AKSA 55 N+, AKSA GK-1B, AKSonic Speakers - The story so far
« Reply #1 on: 4 Aug 2004, 11:31 am »
Martin,

Many thanks for the measured, accurate and insightful critique of the AKSA.   I particularly enjoy talking with you about audio, because you like the music, and place it higher than all this rhapsodizing about the equipment, which is clearly important, but must remain secondary to the musical performance and so should be utterly transparent.

I agree you scarcely notice the GK1 - until it's taken out of the system.  Then it becomes clear that it adds something organic, almost human.

I will treasure your comment about being 'Fagin of the audio world'!  Wonderful!!

The AKSonics, which I did not design and thus can rave about without false modesty, are an astonishing speaker, because with just a 6.5" woofer they manage to sound like an 8", yet with the speed of a full range.  But for me it's the imaging, which follows you around the room, something the MTMs find extremely difficult to imitate.

Thank you again for your post;  it's very valuable for people looking closely at the market.

Cheers,

Hugh

lonewolfny42

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AKSA 55 N+, AKSA GK-1B, AKSonic Speakers - The story so far
« Reply #2 on: 15 Aug 2004, 08:10 am »
SuperMart,
    Interesting review... especially this quote
Quote
All in all I was very happy with the sound of my new system. The character had changed from a somewhat clinical and cold sound to one that really made music. Crikey I was even tapping my toes all the time and I was finding excuses to stay up late and play music - even down low it was still resolving and involving
[/list:u]Thats what I'm hearing now with the AKSA 100N+.... 8)

Inscrutable

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AKSA 55 N+, AKSA GK-1B, AKSonic Speakers - The story so far
« Reply #3 on: 15 Aug 2004, 09:14 am »
Quote
Crikey I was even tapping my toes all the time and I was finding excuses to stay up late and play music - even down low it was still resolving and involving.
Exactly what I'm looking for.  I really like my setup now, but it is so much better with some serious volume, and I won't be able to have that in the interim townhouse.

Inscrutable

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AKSA 55 N+, AKSA GK-1B, AKSonic Speakers - The story so far
« Reply #4 on: 15 Aug 2004, 09:15 am »
Quote
Crikey I was even tapping my toes all the time and I was finding excuses to stay up late and play music - even down low it was still resolving and involving.
Exactly what I'm looking for.  I really like my setup now, but it is so much better with some serious volume, and I won't be able to have that in the interim townhouse.  Like I've said before - If your toes ain't tappin', it ain't happenin'   :wink:

SuperMart

AKSA 55 N+, AKSA GK-1B, AKSonic Speakers - The story so far
« Reply #5 on: 15 Aug 2004, 09:54 am »
Lonewolf,

Great - I didn't think it was just me. And it's not a seven day wonder either except in your case - how will you cope with the cold turkey when you send it on? Hugh has unleashed a heartbreaking experience on the American people. One day happy, next day send it to someone else.Try some electronic music if you haven't already - then you'll really cry. The AKSA is like a great guest conductor bringing out the best in a technically competent symphony orchestra. All the basics are in place but it needs drive, control and compassion to make real music. Even Hugh himself is suprised by the effect of the Nirvana Plus - as he said to me as we listened "You wouldn't think an amplifier would make that much difference."

Inscrutable - it's actually a challenge to get my AKSA to play quietly at lower levels.Everytime a transient comes along it's as if someone says "Oh, you'll need some headroom for this - here it is". It's an endearing quality and is probably easily explained technically but it does mean you can get your kicks "on the quiet" so to speak.

lonewolfny42

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AKSA 55 N+, AKSA GK-1B, AKSonic Speakers - The story so far
« Reply #6 on: 15 Aug 2004, 01:10 pm »
Quote from: SuperMart
Lonewolf,

Great - I didn't think it was just me. And it's not a seven day wonder either except in your case - how will you cope with the cold turkey when you send it on? Hugh has unleashed a heartbreaking experience on the American people. One day happy, next day send it to someone else.Try some electronic music if you haven't already - then you'll really cry. The AKSA is like a great guest conductor bringing out the best in a technically competent symphony orchestra. All the basics are in place but it n ...
Martin,
    Aren't you glad its not just you... :lol: [/list:u]
      I'll give the electronic music a shot , right now its ZZ Top. Very real, very natural.[/list:u]
        Cold turkey.....mmmmm..... :lol: ...John Lennon will help.[/list:u]
          Remember....its about the music !!! :guitar: [/list:u]
            Those on the audition list are in for a real treat !!!! :thankyou: [/list:u]
              And it sounds good soft or loud....but I tend to turn it up..... :lol: [/list:u]