On the bench: Odyssey Audio Monoblock Amplifiers
I’m not even sure what to call these Frankenstein-like monsters. Klaus Bunge, at Odyssey Audio, made me some uber-amps. They look like Khartago, his “entry-level” amps. The guts look like Kismet, his “reference grade” amps. Call ’em Kismet-in-Khartago, if you like, but me, I’m sticking with the theme — these are my Trojan Horses.
From Odyssey, with love
Confused? Yeah, thought so.
Here’s the deal — Klaus, the head wizard in charge over at Odyssey, has a series of amplifier products, a product line which include Khartago and Kismet. But apparently, that’s not really that important. Sure, you can order right off the menu. But where’s the fun in that? Klaus builds his products to-order — so that means, you get choices, if you want them. Like the fancy cases? Okay, no problem. You got ’em! Can’t afford the fancy cases? Okay, no problem. They’re history! They’re just cases — and looks are important but … you know what’s really interesting? You can get just about anything you want inside them.
So, I got his top of the line amplifiers — in his least expensive cases. Why? Well, like you, I’m trying to maximize value. The entry-level casework for the Khartago is actually really robust and “just fine” — unlike a lot of what you can find at the “entry-level”. A plain anodized black aluminum faceplate is the only serious concession to aesthetics — and it’s enough to level up the entire package to where I needed and wanted it to be. But for me, it was all the bits and bobs — I wanted “the works. So, with all the options, the amps retail for about $4,500 for the pair. That includes all the upgrades to the power supply, to the wiring, to the outputs, to the logic boards, to the capacitors … it’s as tweaked as Klaus can make it, he says — and he’s managed to shoehorn the entire design into his smallest, most affordable, cases. Just barely, but it’s all in there.
And yes, these are mine. Mine, all mine. Bwaaaa-hahahahahhahah!
Why do I have them? Simple — I’m planning to use these as my mid-tier solid-state reference. I get a lot of gear that’s on the power-hungry side of the scale, but also way more affordable than the big $17k Plinius SA-Reference I use — so much so that using that amp is just kind of absurd. Anyway, I figured something in the sub $5k price point would not be an unreasonable thing to have in the stable.
I’ve got them sitting on TerraStone plinths from edenSound, including some Terrastone carpet-footers, with some Grungebuster Dots from Herbie’s Audio Lab wedged between them. The amps themselves are sitting on some Rollerblock Jr halves that I have on loan from Symposium. My Wyred4Sound STP SE sits in as preamp and the source is a Berkeley Alpha Designs Series 2 DAC and Alpha USB converter. I’m currently running them with Red Dawn LS cables on loan from Nordost. Power cables are the Nordost Blue Heaven LS, wired into a Nordost QB8. Speakers are, today, the big eFicion F300 — but I’m going to go grab a couple of other interesting guys off the shelf shortly.
Yes, there’s sound! Har har har. No, really, these amps work a treat. There’s 200+wpc from each amp making very pretty music. They’ve got about 100 or so hours on them, if that, and no, they’re nowhere near being broken in — I’m just guessing here, but I think I’ve got another 200+ hours or more to go.
That said, they’ve got a really rich, robust tone to them and a lot of gain. You want painfully loud? Hook a pair of these to some Tekton Pendragon loudspeakers, mount them to some kind of truckbed, and you’d have a zombie-killing Thunder Truck, with enough power to shatter those troublesome undead right back into the Downbelow at 100 paces.
That’d be awesome.
Comparing them to my loaner First Watt J2 is kind of absurd. So, naturally, I started with that. With almost 10x the power output, the Odysseys are far closer to the big Plinius at this point, with a fuller, richer, warmer presentation — when that latter amp is running in Class A. Which is really interesting as the Odysseys are not Class A. Lean? Ha! Cold? If you mean “to the touch”, then yes — almost — but sonically, no way.
As of now, what I’m noticing most is a lack of deep bass — a clear break-in “issue” with most amps. This puts them a hair behind the J2 and a good ways behind the Plinius. Detail is very good at this point, too. And I’m still a couple of months away from “ready for prime time”!
Consider yourself teased.