RMAF12: On my own audio Odyssey

Would it be a cliche to say that Klaus Bunge is our latter-day Ulysses, on a quest for heroic sound quality? Whatever. All I have to say is, well, anyone who names his audio company after a story made legendary by the poet Homer is just begging for some truly bad metaphors, haphazardly constructed by those that didn’t have the attention span to finish that liberal arts degree. For those of us who did finish, well, we really have no excuse whatsoever. Shame, shame.

So, let’s talk mythology.

If you’ve never met Klaus, let me tell you, he’s clearly big enough to play Ulysses — it’d be no stretch to imagine him with a big ass bow, or a spear and giant shield. His laugh is as big as he is, and his confidence goes a long way toward explaining his approach — build the best that you can and if “they” don’t like it then let Charybdis take them.

I should say that I am an owner of a pair of some truly spectacular amplifiers made and signed by Klaus himself in the Odyssey Audio workshop in Indianapolis. In fact, it’s a point of pride that everything they sell is made right there, by hand. Not to be jingoistic or anything, but you gotta give props to the designer who keeps his hands in the mix and maintains visibility and quality control — because it was his hand that “made it so”. Ironically, this also means that his pricing structure is a little odd — given how much hands-on goes on in the workshop, and the quality of the parts that are used, there is a serious question as to why everyone else’s prices are so damn high. So, before all the huffing and puffing begins as to how much different it is for a consumer-direct product vs a product that has to go through a reseller chain, all that is understood. And Odyssey prices are still low.

So, just in case you’re still not picking up what I’m laying down: if you want great gear and don’t want to pay through the nose, perhaps you ought to give Klaus a call, eh what what? A nudge is as good as a wink to a blind man!

Okay, all joking aside — I was so bummed about not being able to make it back to this room. I had it all set up, but. Yeah. With my unfortunately abbreviated show schedule, I just never made it back. [Sigh]. Next year….

Anyway, here’s where it became seriously handy to have Mal Kenny and his wife Kirsten’s feedback:

Klaus gets it. This stuff plays at the Rega price level, but the sound in this room was entirely different from what you’d expect out of a “budget” system. I think Klaus is one of the unsung mad geniuses … I just don’t see how you could go wrong steering someone to this gear … This is one of my default recommendations now. Just a great, great room.

Odyssey had the following gear on demo:

  • An old VPI turntable (15+ years old!)
  • Odyssey Suspiro phono stage ($1,200) — not on the website yet!
  • Odyssey Candela premplifier ($1,500)
  • Odyssey Stratos stereo amplifier ($1,400)
  • Odyssey’s Kismet Reference loudspeakers ($3500/pair) with Scanspeak Revelator drivers including a beryllium tweeter — not on the website yet!
  • Groneberg cables
  • GIK Scopus and Soffit bass traps, Q7D diffusors

A note about pricing — the Odyssey stuff can be ordered right off the website, but I can’t recommend enough taking the time to lob a call into Klaus himself. He can sort you, and your budget, out with a quickness — and he’s really easy, open, and knowledgeable. Don’t be afraid! And best of all, this is where/when Klaus can tell you what little-goody upgrades he can add into your piece of electronics to level-up their performance even more. My Khartago monoblocks, for example, actually aren’t — these cases are stuffed with the exact same electronics you’d get if you ordered his reference-level Kismet amps (and then had him trick them right the hell out). Yep, same top-shelf amps, different case. Interested in something like that? Gotta call.

Last note on this room — this is one of an embarrassingly few that invested in any show-room acoustic treatments, much less a full kit. I’m still baffled why acoustic treatments are such a mystery to setup teams, but whatever. Anyway, with the acoustic experts from GIK, the Odyssey room was allowed to actually do something other than muddy, confuse and distract. Kudos to Klaus for this, and congrats to GIK for pulling together a seriously great-sounding set of treatments.

Odyssey system — check out the GIK Q7D on the walls!
Odyssey Stratos stereo amp with “some mods”
VPI turntable of indeterminate vintage
Odyssey tubed Candela preamplifier
New Kismet Reference Monitors
Klaus ready to smite me for not hanging out — I swear, that was the plan for Day 2, but ….

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