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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Odyssey Kismet monoblocs Amplifier (SS) by Marc Bratton

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REVIEW: Odyssey Kismet monoblocs Amplifier (SS)

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Model: Kismet monoblocs
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $6000 for monobloc pair; $2500 for stereo amp
Description: Odyssey's flagship amplifier
Manufacturer URL: Odyssey

Review by Marc Bratton on July 18, 2010 at 21:40:34
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for the Kismet monoblocs

Got these used for less than half of what they were new a year ago, or I wouldn't be playing in this sandbox. So, they're already broken in.
I've had Odyssey Stratos monoblocs for 3 years, and have been very pleased with their sound. At first listen, the Kismets obviously come from the same family. That same clean, open, relaxed sound is there. It didn't take too long to hear that the Kismets better the Stratos on every front. To wit:1.)Treble:The Stratos treble, while grain free, was just sort of 'there'. A bit clinical. Definitely not tube territory. Well the Kismet's treble IS in tube territory. It is more extended, silkier, much more liquid, relaxed. Best treble I've ever heard from a SS amp.(2.)Mids:More vivid, open, colorful (not 'colored')then the Stratos mids, which sound a bit veiled by comparison. (3.)Bass:Even deepier, bouncier, more supple and organic than the Stratos. Just sounds like it's coming up to you from Hades. More integrated into the flow of the music. (4.)Soundstaging:Even in my soundstage challenged venue, the contrast was readily apparent. Wider, deeper, more layered. The images just have an absolutely solid, bolted to the floor quality the Stratos couldn't quite muster. In this regard, monoblocs in general seem to do this better than equivalent stereo amps;the Kismets bettered the Stratos monoblocs a similar amount. 5.)Noise floor. Never any probs with the Stratos, but the Kismet is just blacker, and DEAD quiet, which allows all kinds of subtle cues to emerge in a very natural and beguiling manner. What this amp sounds like is that Klaus took the basic Stratos circuit lay out and over worked every single component and signal path for maximally low noise floor, and coloration, while retaining the soul of the music. He has succeeded, probably beyond even his expectations.

I think what I'm trying to convey is that the Kismets are just more transparent and natural sounding than the already excellent Stratos, in a big way. They revealed that my turntable and preamp are capable of far more than I'd heard up to this point. Paired with my Quicksilver preamp, and with a natural sounding recording, they just put to bed this whole stupid tube/SS debate. There is nothing left but the music, and the venue.
I am humbled, and elated. These are the best amps I've heard in my system, tube, or SS. I'm done. They stay forever.

Product Weakness: Heavy, expensive, hard to manuever. You'll probably have to replace the famous Odyssey blue LED's at some point.
Product Strengths: Most natural sounding amps I've heard in my system. Drop dead gorgeous build quality. Seemingly just endless amounts of power.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Kismet monoblocs
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Quicksilver full function
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Teres 200/Morch UP4/V15VxMR/Jico stylus
Speakers: Magnepan MG12/QR's
Cables/Interconnects: Cardas TwinLink
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Orchestral, chamber music, rock
Room Size (LxWxH): see my x system x
Room Comments/Treatments: see my system
Time Period/Length of Audition: 1 month. Long enough.
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Brickwall PWR2AUD on front end
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Odyssey Kismet monoblocs Amplifier (SS) - Marc Bratton 21:40:34 07/18/10 ( 8)