CAF 2014: Odyssey Audio and GIK Acoustics destroy myths, conquer all

Odyssey

Klaus Bunge is about as subtle as an avalanche. He wears his opinions on a sleeve large enough to wrap around a tree trunk, and his laugh, which he lets loose like a canon-shot, will shock and stun. If you’re a fan of the Dresden Files, add some silver and an eyepatch and this is Oðin. If none of that makes sense, substitute the word “imposing” and you’re at least on the right track. His no-nonsense attitude and zero-tolerance policy for audio BS have made him wildly popular and something of an audio folk hero; his scheduled hour-long talk on audio’s high-end lasted two, and not only was well-attended, but attendees were peppering him with questions up to and past the close. Perhaps we should just say “he’s not shy”.

Klaus has been making high-quality, low-cost audiophile gear for a gazillion years, where “gazillion” = “as long as I can remember”. The value equation balances very favorably for him, as his brand Odyssey Audio, is one of the very few Made-in-the-USA destinations that caters to the budget-conscious audiophile. No, his offerings aren’t cheap. $1,000 for a pair of speakers and another $1,000 for an integrated amplifier is a stretch for just about everybody. That’s a lot of dough. But for that second step, for those moving past the “Entry Level”, Odyssey carves out a special retreat in the midst of the Happy Isles. And once there, there’s precious little reason to leave.

His low-cost, high-end system consisted of a $1,000 Cyclops integrated amplifier and a pair of $1,000 Epiphony stand-mount loudspeakers. Klaus actually sells them together as a system, including Groneburg speaker cables and interconnects, for $1,800. Yep. $1,800. And for that money, this system was enough. I mean that — most folks, seeking high-end sound, would not only be quite content to rest their laurels here, but they’d be thrilled with what that would get them. And that was jus the beginning.

There was a bit of a secret, not quite hidden, in this room. Okay, GIK Acoustics room treatments were kinda all over the place. The walls, the corners … all carefully arranged with bass traps and acoustic panels. If the old bromide is even a little true, that the room is the most important element in any room, then this room may have started way ahead. Clever, clever.

Moving next door took you to Klaus’ “reference demo”, again, with a healthy dose of help from friendly GIK, this all-in commitment hit a still-modest $6,700. That investment netted you a pair of Khartago mono block amplifiers, a Candela tube-hybrid pre, a pair of Kismet floor standing loudspeakers with Scanspeak beryllium tweeters and Scanspeak mid/woofers and all the necessary cables from Groneburg. Just add source, and you were off.

As a writer and sometime reviewer, this kind of room is a treasure trove of easy superlatives. Detail, air, and 3-D dimensionality, paired with speed, slam and intimacy … yeah, all that and more. Nestled into a room with absorption and diffusion, the sound here was laugh-out-loud good. I’m still shaking my head. And given the number of orders Klaus has attributed to this demo, and the ones that came in from this same demo at Newport, I think that saying “it was a big hit” wouldn’t quite cover the success. This was great stuff.

These last two shows, Odyssey Audio has consistently demonstrated the best value for a no-compromise audio experience, and warrants my unqualified and hearty recommendation. Ska-doosh.

Last note — prices on all the “little bits” that go into audio components have gone up considerably in the last 10 years, but Odyssey prices have not. That is, unfortunately, about to change (if just a little). Coming in September, all individual components will see an incremental uptick of $100 (so, mono amps would cost $200 more) to help cover those costs. Whatever. This sound is a bargain in today’s high-end.

Odyssey 2

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Odyssey 3

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Klaus love it when I tell him to pimp it up for the camera
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Genius at play: Odyssey Audio’s Klaus Bunge and Schroeder Tonearms’ Frank Schroeder