Las Vegas 2013: Kharma returns

You have to go back a bit in the literature, but if you do, you’ll find stacks and stacks of glowing reviews about Kharma loudspeakers. The brand is legendary — and for the last 5 years, completely unavailable to the US market. Until now?

Yes, folks, it looks like Kharma is coming back to the US — by way of Canada, to start. I really don’t have the details right on this, so my apologies, but my understanding is that US distribution is in the works and Kharma is looking for dealers. We’ll see how all that sorts out. In the meantime, we have some new bits to look at.

The Ceramique line is the one that got everyone all hot-and-bothered “back in the day”, mating Accuton’s ceramic drivers in various combinations. Some say that this was one of the finest sounding lines of loudspeakers ever made. I have no idea, myself, though I will say that I’m a big fan of what Accuton is doing these days with their newest work.

Which makes Kharma’s decision to retire that line something of a shock and disappointment.

But all is not lost. Obviously. Kharma has a new line of loudspeakers — the Elegance Collection. And on display was the top of that line, the DB9-S ($36k/pair). A beryllium tweeter mated to a new 7″ “Kharma Omega” composite driver, and paired with a pair of 9″ aluminum bass drivers. The speaker is a 3-way, 89dB sensitive, 4ohm nominal, with a 26Hz bottom-end.

What else? Two components, the P1000 preamp ($48k) and the MP1000 ($48k/pair). The P1000 is a smart-looking device — big and honkin’ studly — with a definite aesthetic choice that I quite like, and speaking personally, it’s something that at least attempts to look like it’s worth a BMW 3 Series. The MP1000, as an amp, matches the chic and does one better. A 400wpc amp into 8 ohms, the output doubles cleanly into 4. Even more interesting? The output impedance is zero-dot-zero, which makes it’s damping factor effectively … infinite. THD+N and IMD are both -120dB. Input impedance is a oddly low 10k ohms. The weight for each monoblock is 168lbs.

The sound in this room was clean — almost to a fault. Precise, accurate, detailed, and fast. Like, ESL fast. But … I found it hard to warm to it. That said, Peter Breuninger of media partner A/V Showrooms spent quite a bit of time trying to explain to me the differences in the room between Thursday and Saturday — the short of it is that he thinks the gear took a huge turn for the best, so he awarded it accordingly.


  1. Interesting that you found the sound “clean — almost to a fault”. As a CRM 3.2FE owner I found the sound of the newer range MUCH richer and warmer than the 3.2. In fact, my one criticism was that they didn’t sound as open as the outgoing range. I wonder is this a question of ancillaries/room etc., or do I just have cloth ears?

    In other news, I wasn’t aware at all the Kharma had not been available in the US for 5 years or so. That certainly explains the comparative lack of buzz in the US media. I’d been wondering.

    • I’m told — and I mean that — that they finally “blossomed” on Saturday. Apparently they were built new for the show and cold as ice when delivered to the room. Three days of light playing and they were barely warmed, much less “broken in”.

  2. Nice looking speakers and seem to have great fit and finish. Regarding the switch from ceramic to composite cone material, that’s not unique to Kharma by any stretch. I think many speaker mfrs have found that ceramic isn’t the best choice in cone material. No doubt they sound good but $36K seems a bit steep for their size and driver complement. I do however wish them luck. You can’t have too many speaker mfrs….heh heh.

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