Paris, Texas

Nothing on TV? Watch a DVD with HiFi quality sound using the T+A K2Blu Blue Ray DVD and CD player with FM and AM Radio for complete entertainment. This unit will power five speakers (4ohm) with it’s 150w amplifier.

Price £4’755

Combined with our AudioPro T60 speakers, the sound was amazing and added to the realism of the film.

Kondo Overture review

We have recently replaced the Dan D’Agostino MLife solid state amplifier with the Kondo Overture valve which is half the price of the MLife and a noticeable improvement in sound quality has ensued. Maxonic speakers work well with low power valve amps.

Music can be played at a low volume yet the detail and music presentation is crystal clear.

Kondo make the finest valve amps, The Ongaku amp (£100k) are used by the Living Voice speaker company in it’s demo’s in Munich. These speakers are made in the UK in Northampton and sell for over £700k !

Living voice and Kondo

Blues Audio Music Room.

Below is a review of the Overture amp and Kondo Phono stage.

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There’s a lot of things Japanese that I’m fascinated with.

Japanese, whiskies, Japanese art, Japanese films, Japanese culture in general – especially their cult-like devotion to vinyl records, and their practically religious reverence for American jazz music from the 1950s, and 1960s – both vices I share. Having developed a predilection for high-efficiency Japanese horn speaker systems over the years, I’ve come away with a constantly renewed respect for this particular path of recorded-music worship. I guess that’s why I’m fascinated most of all with sub-40 watt Japanese tube amplifiers, and preamplifiers – some in particular are the rare offerings of Kondo Audio Note, a company started by Hiroyasu Kondo in 1976 within Tokyo’s Saiwai Ward.

Few circuit designs get listeners as close to the recorded event as those based around valves in my opinion, and after low-power tube amps were relegated to the history pile of hifi in the early ‘70s (watts are cheap), it was a dedicated group of Japanese audiophiles, and engineers like Kondo who laboured to bring back traditional single-ended triode (SET) valve-amplifier designs which had enjoyed a vaunted run from the ’20s to the ‘60s (along with  push-pull valve designs which after the adoption of negative feedback in circuits allowed PP amps to deliver more power) before being unceremoniously swept aside by most for the convenience of solid state circuit pathways.

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Overture II tube compliment.

Usually spoken about in hushed reverence by valve acolytes, Kondo circuit design execution is more art form than technical achievement in my mind. In Munich last year I encountered Kondo’s musical prowess firsthand through the KSL M-77 Ongaku-Pre in the Living Voice demo room, and the Kagura 211 power amplifiers paired with the G-1000 preamplifier, Ginga turntable, and IO-M cartridge in the Kondo demo room. I was so impressed there that I lingered far longer than my schedule allowed for to listen. The relatively new Kondo Overture II integrated amplifier (32 watts/channel, Class-A, push-pull circuit design) was on display near the Kaguras, but sadly, only in static form. It was as gorgeous as a plain metal box could be, and the solidity, and attention to the most minute details of construction were apparent, which at $30,000 USD (current exchange rate), can be more the exception, than the rule.

It was this experience in Munich that cemented my desire to hear a Kondo-based system in my home, and fast-forwarding to October, Lawrence Lin of Excel Stereo in Toronto contacted me about just such a review opportunity. An Overture II arrived within weeks, soon followed by the GE-1 Phono Amplifier, Operia SPc-2.5 speakers cables, KSL-VcII interconnects, ACc-Persimmon, and ACz-Avocado power cables. Having what amounted to a holistic Kondo system in my home, and seeing first hand the meticulous workmanship of their point-to-point wiring, thick solid-copper chassis plates, and painstaking attention to detail right down to the screws used to affix the top, and bottom casework covers, left me deeply impressed with the level of commitment to design integrity the company imbues its products with.

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Operia SPc-2.5 speaker cables by Kondo.

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A mix of Electro-Harmonix, and Svetlana Electron Devices valves from the Overture II.

But it was, ultimately, the Kondo gear’s fidelity to musical reproduction that had the greatest affect upon me. I started with adding only the Overture II to my current system, the inclusion of which instantly brought about a smoothness, along with a subtle ripening to tonality, and timbre that I had rarely experienced personally (I kept thinking about the difference between the first sip of a fine wine, and how much better the second sip is once your palette has adjusted). Next was the music between the lower-octaves, and their definition, and here I was reminded of the variance between approximation of piano or standup bass notes, and the actual, live playing of these instruments. 

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Full copper plane construction.

The amp features four EL34 pentode output valves, two 12AY7, and two 12BH7 valves for the line/input stage. Input valves are Electro-Harmonix, and output valves were branded Svetlana Electron Devices. All are from Russia. Through the Overture II instruments took on a more human presence to their playing – a forcefulness if you will – but not only that, a competence to the playing that I had not been able to recognize previously.  Recorded jazz quartets, quintets, and solo performances took on each artists intent during listening sessions, imbuing every CD I played with a palpable emotional connection that left me spent after the first hours-long sit down with the amp.

I then substituted in the ACz-Avocado power cable over the plain-Jane stock cables I use initially with reviews, and was greeted with an even more transparent window onto personal renderings of songs. Peter Gabriel’s Passion – Music for The Last Temptation Of Christ, (CD Geffen GEFD 24206) is an album long used by audiophiles for critical listening. In the best systems it becomes a deep, layered soundstage where a visceral, living, breathing entity writhes with aural complexity. In lesser systems in tends to dry, crisp, and flat in it’s presentation. Passion’s  opening cut “The Feeling Begins” features an intricate percussive interplay between Manny Elias’ surdo bass drum play, and Hossam Ramzy on tablas, and duff drums. Through the Overture II with the ACz power cord in place the tension created between Elias, and Ramzy can be felt as the tempo inexorably builds to a crescendo, and comes crashing down into silence.

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The delicate point-to-point wired electron pathways which grace the underside of the integrated amplifier’s exposed chassis.

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Helping to keep things silky smooth, discreet, and quiet: ALPS volume attenuator.

It is this silence, or blackness, I’d like to touch on next.

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The Overture II is one of the quietest amps I’ve ever experienced, as I could have my ear next to the tweeters on my speakers and hear nothing. Not all great tube amplifiers are capable of this feat, and to me this is crucial because the silence between notes being played conveys a huge amount of spatial information which translates into an accuracy, and realism of placement to performers within the recorded space. It is the accuracy of this information which to me allows for the most lifelike playback from a component. The weight to the keystrokes of the 1860 concert grand piano from Maison Pleyel which Edna Stern plays on Hélene De Montgeroult (CD Orchid Classics ORC1000063) cannot, in my estimation, be overstated. Every felted-hammer strike of the strings conveys an assertion by Stern that she is making this piano hers on these recordings, not Montgeroult’s, and it is the bloom, and decay of the notes into the mute background that gives the determination of the size, and placement of the instrument within the recorded frame of reference at the Philharmone de Paris.

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Mixing in the KSL-VcII interconnects during listening showcased the attack on leading notes in the 12 Etudes included on the disc. The startling momentum of Stern’s depictions made the Overture II a rival in speed to the solid state CH Precision L1 preamplifier/M1 power amplifier combination I reviewed in early 2017 ($32,975/$51,000 USD respectively), albeit with more refinement to the solidity, and texture of notes. The final addition of the Operia SPc-2.5 speakers cables during an extended session with One Flight Up by Dexter Gordon (CD Blue Note RVG Edition 724359650524) produced noticeable frequency extension in those most upper octaves, and those most low. The SPc seemed to extend the boundaries of the recorded space, subsequently infusing more bloom, saturation, and decay of notes into the silent ether of background.  Art Taylor’s cymbal, and high hat work took on more desert-air shimmer, Gordon’s tenor sax became further imbued with tonal colour, and Donald Byrd’s brassy trumpet work took on swagger – in my mind I could clearly see every change in embouchure. The bass licks that Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen lays down throughout “Tanya,” and “Coppin’ the Haven” took on a playfulness, with a more definitive texture to his slaps, and fretwork.

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Turning my focus next to the addition of the GE-1 phono amplifier, I ran the KSL-VcII interconnects from it to the Overture II, and ran a step-up transformer into the GE-1 (34dB gain, and similarly equipped with Electro-Harmonix tubes, here it is a trio of 12AY7 dual-triodes) from my current long-term review turntable, and moving-coil cartridge. The GE-1 is a moving-magnet phono stage, capable of switching between two separate cartridge inputs, with an adjustable input impedance selector, which I set to 50K Ohms. Like the Overture II it is constructed to the strictest standards, possesses a solidity, and heft to its casework, and the same attention to circuit detail throughout. Aesthetically, it is a very pleasing match to the Overture II, sonically it provides the same emotional connection to music that had me wearing a path into my living-room rugs between my sofa, and sound system as I swapped out CDs.

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Internal valve layout of the GE-1 Phono Amplifier.

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GE-1 by Kondo.

The first thing I noticed going from digital to analog playback was almost no change in the palpability of each recorded performance – a nod to system synergy in my opinion. The corporeal impact, and sound stage of playback continued to shift from recording to recording as it should, as well, the lifelike scale of performers, and instruments maintained appropriate dimensions, and weight.

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Analog front end of the Thales TTT-Slim II, with Easy Tonearm, EMT JSD VM cartridge, and A23 EMT SUT.

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With Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers Keystone 3 (LP Pure Audiophile PA-008 (2)) spinning on the turntable, I lowered the cart into the run-in groove, and was fully immersed in the venue of this 1982 performance recorded live at Keystone Korner in San Francisco. Half-speed mastered by legend Stan Ricker, and plated, and pressed at RTI, this translucent red 180-gram pressing is dead quiet, and I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the GE-1’s paucity of background noise, and that of the Overture II.  Blakey’s almost spiritual – and absolutely effortless – crash, and ride cymbal work on the opening of “Waterfalls” left no doubt who was on drums, or who led this sextet. Known to continuously tighten his kit if it doesn’t sound right, I’ve heard few of his performances that seem to present such taut skins as through the GE-1 here. The power, and liquidity to Branford Marsalis alto sax work was only matched by the now obvious call-and-reply between his brother Wynton on trumpet in “A La Mode,” obvious because the Kondo phono stage revealed what had previously seemed merely energetic, was actually symbiotic.

Corruption-LP

Switching gears to new wave, I found my 2009 reissue of 1983’s Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order (LP Rhino Records R125308) had taken on an anxiousness to the propulsive opening track “Age of Consent.” Where before I merely felt compelled to bob my head to Stephen Morris’ incessant percussive intro, it now was tinged with apprehension, and lead singer Bernard Sumner seemed ill at ease vocalizing “I’m not the kind that needs to tell you/Just what you, want me to.” Regardless of what I played through this Japanese-amplified combination I was alternately left with tears running down my face, or spontaneously clapping, and jumping up-and-down on my sofa. Few manufacturers are capable of invoking so much emotional response from me through playback of recorded events, but Kondo Audio Note did this every time I allowed the electrons to flow from source to transducer through their exquisite circuit topology, and in fact, despite their price point, both components had me contemplating a call to my bank manager regarding a loan to acquire the review pair.

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Beyond my reach, but worth every penny.

In the end, they are simply beyond my financial means, but should you have the ability to procure such bespoke arbitrators of electronic signal reproduction, and consider yourself among those who value tone, timbre, and natural flow to music above all else, I implore you to seek out the Overture II, and the GE-1.

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Kondo Overture Integrated Amplifier

Room correction

Blues Audio are the sole UK distributor for “phiTon resonaTors” made in Switzerland.

Three metal resonators (£500 each) is all that is needed to transform your listening experience and end wall sound reflections. Alternative room treatments involve large panels attached to walls and ceilings. Our option is £1’500 we charge for our standard solution and this includes a 30 day money back guarantee and postage. We also include a complimentary room analysis, worked out by Corrado himself. Correct speaker placement makes a significant improvement to musical presentation.

The resonators were created by Audio engineer Corrado Faccioni a gentleman of worldwide repute who in the UK works with Ronny Scott in his Soho jazz club as well as his worldwide commitments. Pictured below is Corfac to the left with Lionel Loueke and his modified guitar. Lionel plays with Herbie Hancock.

More information can be found here www.corfac2.com Sound waves are either harmonic sine waves or unharmonic which cause distortion. Unharmonic mechanical or electrical effects is a distortion that degrades audio performance. The phiTon resonaTors reduce these negative effects to a minimum , and reveal a new clarity to music.

Wayne Shorter, Grammy 2019 Jazz award winner uses a modified type of Phi Iron resonator in his Saxophone (£600) and we supply guitar and violin resonators that breathe new life into musical instruments. Chick Corea jazz pianist is also a fan.

For audio use, we recommend a minimum of three resonators, one on each speaker and the other resonator can be placed in front or behind the listerors chair. These resonators can also be positioned on top of any audio equipment for optimum effect.

Lounge Room

T+A turntable, Lumin X1 streamer with L1 music library. Thivan valve amps from Vietnam and Avalon Idea speakers. Every component rest on Cornish made granite blocks and tables.

TV Speakers

Enhance the sound of your TV with AudioPro speakers.

Competing with Bose and Sonus, these Swedish designed speakers are well made and offer HiFi sound with a patent bass response.

The speakers have a built in Class D amp and can stream music as well as adding sound value to TV. A sub woofer can be added if required

The music room

The music room is designated for our ultimate, no expense spared, master sound. With a retail price of over £200k. Vinyl or streamed music can be enjoyed to the limit.

Maxonic T150 field coil speakers from Japan 35kg brass drivers with built in horn and super tweeter, and open baffle (open at the back) The Maxonics use electromagnets fed direct current by the two exciter boxes pictured on the floor to the inside of each speaker. Only Maxonic and two German manufacturers (Voxativ from Berlin and Wolf Von longan) use field coil technology today. Field coil speakers were invented in the 1920’s and have recently had a resurgence in high end audio. Field coil speakers are more expensive to produce, Maxonics can be heard here at Blues Audio in Cornwall, Brook Audio in Yorkshire, Winters Audio in Norfolk and Select Audio in Cumbria.

Conventional speakers are less expensive to make and are in essence a similar design with closed damped box with woofers and tweeter driven by a less powerful permanent magnet. Field could speakers give an energised sound, uncanny nuances, powerful bass and superb vocals.

The CSPort LFT turntable from Japan is from a newly formed Japanese company north of Tokyo. The 22kg stainless steel platter is rotated by a silent air pump and four strand kevlar belt. A linear track arm is used for ultimate performance and again uses air suspension. The CSPort IEM 1 antistatic device demagnetises and removes static from records as they are played.

The new Kondo Overture 2 Integrated amp and CSPort phono stage wit Artesenia rack, Niagra 7000 power conditioner and Transparent Reference XL speaker cables finalise the system.

phi Ton resonators are used for room correction and granite slabs made locally give foundation to the speakers.

Lumin X1 Review

Bristol Hi-Fi Show News

Quadraspire played the Kane gang on a modest turntable and amp with the ubiquitous Kudos speakers. Four small disc containing bamboo and a variety of alloys got my feet tapping when they were placed beneath the turntable. These cost £800 for four and really improved the listening experience.

The best Audio systems are relaxing to listen to and can be enjoyed for hours. Mid range and vocals are pin sharp and holistic with nuances and fine detail portrayed when present. Bass is accurate and drums sound as they should in real life. Not overblown and boomy, just controlled and natural.

We have three ranges of audio systems to hear.

TV and Audio is AudioPro from Sweden costing £350 to £600

The Second system used Thivan valve amplifiers from Vietnam. These are a comparative HiFi steal at £10k and they sound amazing with the Lumin Streamer and music library (20k worth of music supplied) Avalon Idea speakers at £11.5k and a T&D record player with built in phonostage.

The HiFi room has Maxonic speakers with CSPort turntable and D’Agostino amps and Transparent cables.

This is our ultimate system and the best HiFi I have heard anywhere.

These systems have to be heard to be fully appreciated.

No obligation and we install new equipment and give a good part exchange deal on your existing components.

Stephen Reay

Blues Audio Ltd

Avid Audio