My Kismet in Khartago case story.

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simon wagstaff

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My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« on: 26 May 2017, 12:04 pm »
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.

Thanks Klaus!


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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #1 on: 26 May 2017, 12:34 pm »

I'm happy that you are finding the Odyssey amplifier worthy!  When I saw the measurements of the HK990  by JA, I would not say that they are indicative of a well designed amplifier (good but not great). There is plenty to criticize, regardless of what JA concluded (the devil is in the details, not the usual specs). Nor do I think anything of an amp that has won awards like "2013 amp of the year." I doubt that the Odyssey and HK would measure the same and frankly, we will probably never ever know.

But in the meantime, congrats and enjoy.


simon wagstaff

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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #2 on: 26 May 2017, 12:39 pm »
Thanks! It really is quite remarkable, the difference between them.

I am not here to bad mouth the HK, (and I am not saying you are) it was capable of inducing goosebumps with the Gallos, not with the Raidhos.

As always it likely comes down to system synergy. The HK will do just fine in my second system with a pair of Kef Q100 and sub.


As for the Kismet, I am a believer.


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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #3 on: 26 May 2017, 12:39 pm »
Nice write. The most troubling fault of Klaus is his honesty.
I was ready to sell my amp he made for me after listening to it for
a couple of months. Actually put it up to sell cause while it had great
sound the bass was what I would refer to as anemic. Luckily my speakers
have adjustment toggles and it helped (some). Well after I can't tell you how
Many hours all of a sudden the bass was in my face. Set the toggles back to normal
and like what I'm hearing. If your amp takes as long as mine did then one day (in the
not to near future) you will have an epiphany.


simon wagstaff

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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #4 on: 26 May 2017, 12:40 pm »
I have it crossed over at 90hz, perhaps my epiphany will come sooner.



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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #5 on: 26 May 2017, 03:26 pm »
Simon (and Don),

Thank you for the write up, Simon. It's informative and piques my curiosity.

I'm buying new speakers (Daedalus Apollos), so now I think I'll need/want to upgrade my amp. I have approached Klaus about his Kismets, but I have only once heard one of his amp models in an unfamiliar system.

I'll happily read any thoughts you have on your 'Kismet' experiences. How does using different cases affect sound? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different cases?

My toughest decision is whether to go SS or tube...dunno yet which direction I'll go.




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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #6 on: 26 May 2017, 03:40 pm »
Klaus/Odyssey has you covered.  SS on the amps (Khartago, Kismet or Stratus...not to mention mono vs. stereo and a variety of upgrades) with a Candela pre.  You can have the best of both worlds with one stop shopping!  :thumb:

simon wagstaff

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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #7 on: 26 May 2017, 08:21 pm »
I don't believe that there is any difference in sound between the various cases. The Kismet is Odyssey's best amp, they found a great market niche by putting it into an inexpensive case, rather than the fancy one that you can order if you like.

To me it's all about a good circuit design with the best parts available, and no money expended on fancy looks. Fine with me.

I have been waiting all day to take a listen to it, think I will head downstairs and fire it up, break it in some more.


simon wagstaff

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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #8 on: 31 May 2017, 01:42 pm »
I have about 50 hours on the amp now, not all of it listening. Prior to this amp I was sort of ready to give up on the Raidhos, and didn't understand what all the hype was about.

Not any more.

The difference is remarkable, and I understand what the all the hype about Odyssey amps is as well.

Happy camper, and I understand that things will keep improving.


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Re: My Kismet in Khartago case story.
« Reply #9 on: 5 Jun 2017, 10:44 pm »
Hi Simon - I sent you an email through AC .... take a look and let me know if you're interested.
KismetKing aka Ron