I have a pair of both the Odyssey Monos and the Extreme Monos. I have not seen many posts on how the Extremes sound compared to the standard monos. I hope this is helpful. Please note this is not a side-by-side comparison as the amps are currently in two different systems, rather it is my impression of the differences having used the standard monos for about a year and listening to the Extremes during the first month and a half of break-in. At this time, I have not listened to the amps side-by-side.
My first impressions of the Extremes are that with my equipment, these amps are in a different league than the standard monos. The highs are sweeter, the soundstage more defined, taller and wider. Depth seems about the same. Both amps go way down low, the Extremes seem more controlled. These amps are very fast and very musical. The additional detail is amazing. To me the most startling thing is that the additional low-level detail is very clean and clear. It is as if some previous sounds just emerged as a new instrument or instruments, sometimes in the background sometimes right up front – for example, you know it is a clarinet, it sounds good, and you are surprised by how distinctive it is from the rest of the recording. It adds up to a deeper connection to the music than what I have experienced in the past.
The other night I had a chance to do some critical listening. I am not a polished audio reviewer by any measure, but I did make a few notes. Again, this was not a side-by-side comparison of the amps. These are my thoughts of the Extremes compared to my recollection of the standard monos:
The Beatles – Revolver
Bass was deeper and more controlled than I remembered. Soundstage was broader. Low-level details more defined - especially on Taxman and Yellow Submarine. I enjoyed this so much I decided to continue my Beatles experience.
Wow! Additional details really jumped out. It really made me appreciate the complexity of the production and the genius of George Martin. McCartney’s voice has a naturalness and emotional quality that I had not experienced before. Additionally, I heard instruments that I had not heard before (or not clearly enough to pinpoint the sound). This was very noticeable on side two.
Oscar Peterson and Stephane Grappelli – Skol
This is a live recording. I was surprised at the increased feeling of being there. The crowd seemed more alive around me. I remember with the standard monos thinking this was a great live recording, but I do not recall as much of a sense of presence. The crowd seemed warmer. In addition, the strings of Grappelli’s violin seemed livelier, almost dancing in the air. In general, the Extremes provide greater detail on the strings (as the notes are first hit and as they fade away) and a stronger connection to the music.
Patricia Barber – Nightclub
There are some demanding piano sequences on this album. This was never a problem for the monos and was not for the Extremes. The Extremes sounded more ‘in the room’ than I recall with the monos, as the notes retreated to nothing, there was tremendous depth and sense of space to the sound. The clarity is uncanny, very musical, and never clinical.
Led Zepplin – Houses of the Holy
My copy of this album has a fair amount of pops and crackles. Still, I was pleasantly surprised with the additional detail I was hearing. I picked up many nuances in Robert Plant’s vocals I had not heard before. The big difference was how much more these amps brought John Bonham’s drumming to center stage – a lot more clarity on subtle things like brushes and cymbals. In general, I heard more raw creativity on this album than I had before. (BTW – my neighbor came over while this was playing. Huge smile and many of the same observations.)
Grateful Dead – Terrapin Station
This is a good recording on vinyl. Some of the tracks are very busy and have a lot going on (from a number of sounds perspective). I was impressed at how musical this album sounded. I just got lost in the music.
Overall, in my system, these amps kick ass compared to the standard monos (which IMO really says something considering how good the standard monos are and the minimal $ difference). The Extremes provide a noticeable, sometimes startling improvement over the standard monos. When I ordered the Extremes, my original thought was to put the monos in another system primarily used for HT and not to spend the $ in that system. I do use this room for music as well, but my best equipment is in another set-up. However, I am getting an itch to send the Monos in for the upgrade.
Question - Is there interest on this forum for a more formal side-by-side review of the Odyssey Monoblocks vs. the Odyssey Extreme Monoblocks? My guess is that Klaus does not have many customers who have both and I have not run across a side-by-side comparison. I am very happy with the Extremes and have been very happy with the monos. I based my purchase of the Extremes on my perception of value with the monos and my faith in what I would get with the Extremes. Others may want additional information. Since I have both sets of amps, a side-by-side review would be relatively easy – I just need to move some equipment around. If there is interest in the review, I would be happy to do it. Comments and questions appreciated. Also, if this post should be in a different thread, let me know.
Klaus and all at Odyssey – Great job on the amps!!! Thanks!!!
Equipment used in the review:
Odyssey Extreme Monos
Rega P25 with a Lyra Lidean cartridge re-built by Van Den Hul
Various middle of the road – Straightwire and Bettercables
Dynaudio Confidence C1