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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Odyssey Khartago Mono's Amplifier (SS) by Haoleb

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REVIEW: Odyssey Khartago Mono's Amplifier (SS)

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Model: Khartago Mono's
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $1,550 and up
Description: Mono Block version of Khartago Amplifier
Manufacturer URL: Odyssey
Manufacturer URL: Odyssey

Review by Haoleb on November 12, 2006 at 00:39:40
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Odyssey is a name that needs no introduction. At least by those who already know what it is :) I had actually heard about them for a while before I ventured into really checking out what Odyssey is about. That point was about 2 months ago. I had looked around the circle and Klaus's Site and while everyone can agree it isint the most comprehensive, things like the reviews, specs, prices and service kept my attention. At the time I had not seriously planned to purchase a new amplifier, and mono blocks did not even cross my mind. I was perfectly happy with the NAD C-370 I was using as a poweramp for nearly 5 years. Its not that there were things I found that I could fault it with, But I just thought there must be more.

Well two words. There is. Its been nearly 2 months since I first spoke with Klaus, and just about a month since I recieved my order. Khartago Mono's with cap and wiring upgrade. When I had originally talked with Klaus, (who if you dont know by now is the driving force behind odyssey and one of the most honest and respectful people I have come across) I had thought I wanted the Stratos stereo extreme, From the online user reviews of this amp I didnt see there is anyway I could go wrong. And im quite sure I wouldnt have, But Klaus convinced me that the Khartago mono's would be even better than the Stereo Stratos. Going from a stereo amp to mono amps "opens up the flood gates" as he put it.

Well fast forward a few weeks and two generous sized white Boxes arrived. When I got my first glimpse of these in person I was a bit surprised at how wide, and deep they are. Hardly a small amplifier by my standards. A hefty faceplate finishes off a very well thought out and crafted chassis, complete with custom nametags, and very nice RCA and Binding posts. Me being into all things electronic, I decided have a look under the bonnet as they say, The inside is just as well thought out, So far I had been nothing but impressed.

So far your probably thinking this is just another one of those reviews that go on and on about how everything is so great. Its not. I have had these almost a month and I can honestly say that its not just the new toy excitement. Or is that the "excitement guarantee" BOSE has.... Everything that I had expected to get from these has been fulfilled along with so much more I didnt expect. The speakers these are driving are Axiom M80's, A 4 ohm 6 driver speaker, They are efficient however do seem to like more that just sipping on the juice. Expecially when Im at the controls. Driving the Khartago's is a Bottlehead Foreplay tube preamp, with a few mods. And finally a Rega Planet 2000 for the source.

Upon first hearing them a few things came to mind, Rather than go into detail about nonsense about hearing more air on track X on Album Y lets just say that pretty much every aspect of the sound had been improved upon over my NAD amplfiier. So far they have been turned on continuously since I got them so I expect they have been pretty well broken in. Regardless of if you believe in such a concept or not, Im just going to base the listening tests on what I have heard most recently... Tonight... Right now.... The one most impressive thing about these that I have come to respect is the sheer power. Everything in the bottom end is simply more solid and defined. Alot more heft and authority. The Opening to Pink Floyd's "Learning to Fly" was something to behold in itself. I actually replayed the first couple seconds a few times over just to hear what I had been missing. I listen to all types of music. Nearly every genre is represented in my collection. One of my most demanding cd's is the soundtrack to the original pirates of the carribean movie. I have said it before, but this cd really seems to show off the strengths of the Khartago's. There is a constant rumble and Drive in the low end that has never sounded so clean to me. The Crescendo's never seem to sound anything other than effortless. Something else that showcased where the NAD was lacking. The nad isint a slouch of an amplifier at all, Its very highly rated and have gobs of power but it has been a no contest to see who the winner is between the two.

I previously didnt think that the NAD was really running out of steam, But Now I have come to realize where it was because of how different some things sound with the Odyssey's. The entire spectrum has been changed considerably. Everything is more focused and in place. Everything seems to have its own space and ease to it that I had never experienced. There isint enough time in a day to try and describe the outstanding difference there is. I dont have alot of high end amps to compare these to, As im not a person who is constantly trying new and different gear. My last amp served me well for 5 years, I think these will last quite a bit longer than that. When I originally hooked them up, My first impression was the difference was like cleaning the lens on a camera, along with bringing it into focus. Hardly an exxageration of what I have experienced. I highly reccomend that if your looking for a new amplifier that you give Klaus a call and check out his products.

Now for the bad... This shouldnt take long Wink.. The Blue LED's on the front can be a bit bright for at night when you want complete darkness. One thing I have noticed is that most blue LED's are of the super bright variety. As in. Too bright. There are some blue diffused one ive seen and used in the past. Perhaps these would be a good option since they arent as bright. On the Bright side though, They are a really nice shade of blue. Very Happy so they really arent a downside but I think some other people would be bothered by it.

I leave mine turned on all the time, And also plugged directly into the wall, via a DIY "audiophile grade" power strip no doubt. Going from having them plugged into my power conditioner to directly into the wall I noticed a wider soundstage... Wishful thinking perhaps though. The Khartago does get warm so you cant stack them like you can the stratos. But the smaller case is kind of nice I think. After all the upgrades I have gone though since I got started into audio, getting the Khartago's has been the biggest improvement I have experienced, With the exception of upgrading speakers. And even then, They are a very close second to speakers. The improvements were not in the least bit subtle. These are truly a high end, and high value product. Klaus is a great guy to deal with who really stands behind what he sells, The best way to decide if these are for you is just to give him a call. The level of service you get from Odyssey is definetly class A, From custom biasing, 20 year warranty, custom nameplates and the fact your not just another sale. I surely havent said anything here that hasnt been said already but you can just chalk me up under the Odyssey family for life list Very Happy

Product Weakness: Not really a weakness but blue led can be bright at times.
Product Strengths: All said and done, A very clean, fast, powerful and deatiled amplifier. As most people will tell you, Very smooth and pleasing to listen to.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Odyssey Khartago Mono's
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Bottlehead Foreplay. Modded
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Rega Planet 2000
Speakers: Axiom M80
Cables/Interconnects: Various Kinds.
Music Used (Genre/Selections): All types.
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Odyssey Khartago Mono's Amplifier (SS) - Haoleb 00:39:40 11/12/06 ( 9)