Kondo AudioNote Japan, Current KSL-M77 Tube Pre with Phono:
As New, factory Wooden Crated regularly $46,183 & Current model, Cost No Object Hand Crafted, Virtually all Silver Design with Matching All Silver Factory Power Audio Note Cord regularly $2,500 new demo's everything together with warranty regularly $46,183 offered at $33,995.
No low offers considered !
This is for someone wanting the best pre and step up transformer and able to afford this cost no object design.
Or Available Separately:
Kondo AudioNote Japan, All Silver Step Up SFz as new alone $10,667 for $7,495.
Kondo AudioNote Japan, KSL-M77 Pre with Phono $46,183 with factory Silver Power cord $38,688.
A True Cost No Object design made to challenge what is possible in a Tube Pre Amplifier with full phono section and outboard cost no object all Silver Step Up Transformer:
As new (not even broken in) Store demo with full warranty.Serial # M280202133 double factory boxed with outer wooden box (see pictures).
Strong power supply with low impedance is constructed with 2 power transformers, choke and audio grade capacitors.
CR type phono equalizer and zero feedback line amplifier reproduce acoustic field with natural and liveliness sound.
Special chassis design with 2 internal boxes each for left and
By arranging power supply parts independently for each channel,
influences such as magnetic flux leakage are highly eliminated.
- Strong, low impedance power supply is constructed by 2 power transformers, choke and audio grade capacitors.
- CR type phono equalizer and zero feedback line amplifier reproduce natural sound with good extensions.
- Best component placement, wiring and ground paths made by high quality handcrafting.
- Resistors switch type attenuator is adopted for high sound quality.
Comes with factory special Power Cable:
±0.5dB (30Hz ～ 20kHz)
16Hz ～ 120kHz (+0dB, +3dB, with 100kΩ load)
Input / Impedance
RCA 1pair / 50kΩ
RCA 4pairs(CD, LINE1, LINE2, LINE3) / 100kΩ
less than 10mVLINE
less than 0.2mV
6072 x8, 6X4 x1
406mm(W) 160mm(H) 287mm(D)
================ 6 Moons Says: ================== The Innards:
a lot of information here although in these days of instant Internet
access and cheap Chinese clones, it's no surprise that KSL Kondo (and
Living Voice for that matter) are reticent about the magic in their
craft. However, the issues involved go much deeper than that. The basic
ingredients of valve amplification are familiar to every audio designer:
circuit topologies, component materials and construction techniques of
capacitors, resistors, transformer windings and so on. These are just
the ingredients, the building blocks. But even if you bought an M77 and
took it apart, it would not yield up its secrets any more than a Samurai
sword would. Give me prawns and some batter and I will not come up with
the divine poem that the Nobu restaurant gets out of the shell fish.
does Masaki Ashizawa, chief designer at Kondo and now company president
of KSL Kondo, achieve these amazing heights? I want to suggest that it
has a lot to do with the way Japanese culture produces these
artist-artisans who have an extraordinary ability to focus on the
intricate properties and very essence of physical objects; on matter
itself; and then find a way of connecting it to what is transcendent in
the human experience.
a Zen focus and concentration which takes something simple and
transforms it into something both humble and ecstatic. In the West we
can be 'ends oriented' and use tools and matter to get the results we
want. For the Japanese artist, the process is sacred, the methods are
sacred and the act of creating something simple is considered the
noblest achievement man is capable of. This intense and spiritual
relationship with physical matter and its counterpoint in our souls can
seem bizarre to us. Have a quick look at the late Mr. Kondo talking
about silver. You'd think he had taken leave of his senses.
is a living thing, as if it has a gene which seems to contain DNA as
expressed a natural sound." Or what about his thoughts on sound:
believe that motion is sound. I am all the more convinced of my belief
when I listen to the swelling mass of sound in the middle of Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture
Especially so when listening to the same music performed by the great
maestro, Arturo Toscanini at his last concert of April 4, 1954. Which
sounds as if the particles of the sound were colliding with one another
and whirling in a thunderous march." Or -
want to produce a sound in which its individual particles may radiate
energy into the ambient space just like the sun and fuse into one."
Kondo may have been semi mystical in his relationship with physical
matter but as befits a professor of electrical engineering and molecular
mechanics, the engineering on KSL Kondo electronics is of the very
highest order. Kondo is not about peppering fairy sprays on components
in the hope something will happen. It is about rigorously looking for
many years at how best to achieve a certain sound and adopting the
technical solutions for getting there; investing in the equipment, in
highly trained staff and research time to achieve it. But above all, it
is about approaching the task with a dedication that borders on the
obsessive; a love of music that acts as spur; and great humility which
has been a characteristic of the Kondo aesthetic from the beginning.
research you can find out that the M77 mains transformer and chokes are
produced by Tango. But what you won't find out is what winding
technique they specify, what core material, how thick the leaves are and
so on. This is the kind of thing that Kondo-San focussed on so closely.
Or rather, he had an extraordinary ability to be able to find the
melody in a metal. I've been fairly disappointed in silver as a cable
material. To my ears it usually sounds brittle, metallic, grainy and
opaque. But in Kondo's hands, the same material becomes fluid and kind
and supple and generous and incredibly transparent. Of course the
techniques are important, surface treatment and dielectrics are issues.
I suspect that if you're serious about wanting to get near the
territory of Kondo, the only way is to follow Jonathan Carr of Lyra's
example, move to Tokyo and try to convince the masters to let you sit
and study at their feet for twenty years. I suppose what I'm saying is
that it simply isn't possible to copy a great master who has a profound
relationship with a 2000 year-old culture of approaching work. Think of
what it takes to become a Zen Buddhist monk. Think what it takes to make
a great wine or a great musical instrument. It's that kind of
commitment and dedication that is required if we are to achieve similar
Switch on, take off
Anyway, reader, I switched on. And over the next few days, I
listened to a lot of music. And music that previously hadn't quite made
sense -- hadn't worked -- suddenly made me feel emotionally alive, a
better listener, really in the zone
. With other material, it was
like those scenes where the drug addict straps up in an alley, injects
and his eyes suddenly blur with the deepest, most intense physical bliss
ever experienced by a human body. He hasn't got a clue, that guy, how
deep music can go.
I was focussing in on what was blurred and confused before but
not just from an audio point of view - from the point of music. Songs
that I didn't get suddenly became heart tugging and mind expanding.
Transparent is the wrong word - that implies a hi-fi quality but this
was a musical and artistic transparency as if layers of invisible
grunge and gunk have been scraped away. Each vibrant note is suddenly
here. Its like love; deep, rich and dense - you don't rationalize it,
you just fall into it.
The colors, textures, timbres, intimacies and associations are
richer, fuller and more meaningful. It's a 'more body' thing, a 'more
spirit' thing, a more 'mind' thing. This is the kind of sensation money
can't buy. It's Barry's love song. It's Frankie's timing. It's Brahms'
bravado, Beethoven's beliefs, Vivaldi's credo and Messiaen's morning
muse. Can I stop here? Right away I know I can't. Is it worth it? Forget
about it. I've got to push on for Gakuoh land.
There are so many aspects that are incredibly special about the
sound of this preamplifier. There's a lightness of touch to the bow
stroke on the Bach that has me shaking my head in wonder. How to
describe it? In some ways it's very simple. With the M77 in situ, that
amazing quality I first encountered at Definitive Audio is there. There
is a level of presence, tone richness and a particular
three-dimensionality to it.
the M77 with another preamp and the sound suddenly goes flat. We're
back in hifi land. Using my previous benchmark preamp on Vivaldi's Gloria
[L'Oiseau Lyre 455 727-2 on original instruments], Carolyn Watkinson's
contralto now goes from loud to soft in judders. It sort of leaps back
and forth. It's fairly pure when it's sustaining but as it lifts,
there's distortion in the vocalizations and almost a shuddering. The
violins are glassy and strident and bland in a way I'd never noticed
before. See how fast one comes to assume a certain quality of sound and
how rude the bump is when it's suddenly taken away? Above all though,
the indescribable gestalt
of the piece is gone. The musical meaning. The emotional quality that turns this into great art. Frankly, I can listen to this Gloria
on a radio and just walk right by it. Not interested. But put it
through the M77 and alchemy occurs. It becomes the kind of music that
you'd be proud to put in a rocket to send off for our alien cousins to
listen to. "Hey, guys, check this out". Hell, it becomes a good
candidate for the piece you want to use for the final credits of the
Universe. We get transported into a world of spiritual longings,
ecstasies and despairs that takes the inner emotional self on what I can
only describe as some kind of minor mystical transport. It can often
reveal, in the superficially banal, something simply earth-shattering.
The Kondo M77 is the only piece of audio equipment I've heard do this -
which is why it exists at the very pinnacle of Parnassus.
Voices soar, dive and swoop like swallows on a summer evening.
The texturing is superb, dense, rich, vibrant and effortlessly
communicative of the inner flow of the notes themselves. It's
It has previously seemed to me that there are two distinct
high end paradigms. The first is purely audiophile hifi, which involves
throwing a convincingly deep and wide soundstage, with instruments
appearing in the room; fast dynamics and coherence across the audible
spectrum; and room-filling scale to boot. It's a reasonably tall order
but it is
realisable without too much difficulty and if
well-chosen second hand components are used, it doesn't have to be
expensive. This could almost be called the listening to hifi
school. Not without enjoyment.
The second high end paradigm instead focuses on the quality of
the musical experience aiming to capture the artistic content of the
recorded musical performance. It may have to do this by losing some
bandwidth or some clarity or some dynamics - as long as the musical
intelligibility is preserved.
Now however, with my KSL Kondo/Living Voice system, I have
stumbled into a completely different world from the two examples
described above. One that I believe is entirely distinct and
otherworldly. Yes, it ticks all of the hifi boxes; it goes high, it goes
low, it's stable during complex passages, the sound is big, it has
depth, there is dynamic range and scale and so the list goes on. It's
got the lot. On any of these counts, the KSL/LV system is simply better
but what makes it transcendent
is that when all of these
performance parameters are blessed to this same exalted standard, then
the hifi truly removes itself and you cross the Rubicon into a world of
naked musical performance. I had no idea it was quite so beautiful.
How has this third way been achieved? It seems that this is the
result of being maniacally focussed, of having a soul and brilliant ear,
great discernment and confidence. A good number of people like this
become designers. While there are lots of good products at the lower end
of the market, ironically it seems to me that systems which deliver the
real musical goods are rare indeed when the prices shoot up into the
stratosphere. Audio jewelry rules here partly because there are a lot of
people who want the best
but have no idea what it is. They are
inevitably attracted like moths to a flame to fancy casework. However,
this approach is of little interest to those who really care about
the M77 a few things are obvious right away. Firstly, it doesn't have a
sonic signature as the term is usually understood. It doesn't
interpret, shape, sweeten or round the signal. It does however have two
telling characteristics that in some way flow from the same source. The
first is an incredible inner energy. Most audio systems sound like the
reproduction of an event; as if light was being bounced off something
and what we see is the reflection. With the M77, the energy of the sound
seems to materialize as if the light was emerging from the centre of
the note itself. We aren't seeing a reflection but the creation of a
sound. It takes a signal and it brings it forth into reality. This is a
fundamentally different way of making music and it is telling right
away. It's one of the things that stops me short every time I turn it
on. And I suspect that its somewhere in this domain that the M77s
emotional magic takes place. The second thing that's immediately
striking is the way the M77 deals with tone. It is simply more subtle
and realistic than I have ever heard before. The live sound has a
vibrancy and texture that I have only ever heard when playing the M77
into Living Voice OBX-RWs.
Many audio systems excel at simple music but fall flat the moment
things get complicated. How many systems almost wean the listener to a
diet of basic audiophile-approved nonsense music because that's the only
time they sound impressive? I know I've had periods of that. It happens
almost unconsciously. Not so with the M77. It's incredibly liberating, a
tour de force really. The harder the music, the better it does.
Massed strings are magnificent, it seems to thrive on complex
counterpoint and huge orchestral swells. The inner energy means that it
simply doesn't get things wrong. Every instrument is placed in an
accurate point in space or rather, in a musically meaningful time and
place within the rest of the orchestra.
More prosaically from a strictly reviewing point of view, the M77
has an uncanny way of telling you precisely what every other piece in
the chain is doing. This is bliss for those like myself who have to
describe sounds in words. "How is this power cord affecting things?" Now
I can hear without doubts about psychoacoustics - differences become
obvious, easily audible and describable
. This valve or that
cartridge or different microphone techniques - it all gets spectacularly
easy. One thing it won't do (thank god) is make bad components sound
good. No, it will tell you right away and having heard it in various
contexts in my system as well as others, I'm more than comfortable with
saying that if you hear an M77 sounding bad or indifferent, better look
elsewhere in the chain. As Srajan heard in Hong Kong, the 6x4 rectifier
wants to be changed on a regular basis as in this topology, it is worked
quite hard. Obviously and with all valve amplifiers, if the valves get
tired the component will sound listless and lacking in energy. For an
M77 in regular use, consider changing this rectifier twice a year. The
6072a valves will last a very long time, however.
But what is of much greater significance to me than all of
this is that the KSL Kondo M77 is a superlative maker of music. Music is
not just a combination of sounds, it is an expression of an artistic
vision, something to participate in and be moved by. We can talk about
the special aspects of 'the sound' for days on end but we will have
missed the point completely. I'm more and more uneasy about discussing
such specifics as it risks focusing down the wrong end of the telescope:
width, depth, bandwidth - what's happening? Yes these things do matter
but the questions we should be asking are, how is this music affecting
me, why am I being moved? Or, why am I not
being moved? We can be
profoundly moved or overwhelmed by a new piece of music we've heard
while stuck in a jam on the car radio and then we hear the same piece on
a super rig and we can be left scratching our heads. Why is that? How
much of it has to do with expectation, or with a demand for a musical
rush rather than meeting the performance where it needs to be met and on
its own terms?
I'm not suggesting for a second that the M77 will turn banal
melodies into masterpieces or that every piece of music I put on it has a
-like significance. But there is no question
about it, I have been changed by this box. My relationship to music is
shifting and the experiences I feel I've been through because of it are
considerably more profound and meaningful. And they happen much more
often. Why that is I'm still not sure but I do know it's not due to
non-musical factors such as pride of ownership, rarity or anything like
that. It is to do with the way it gives music.
Taking a break from writing, I sit back and listen to the Gloria
. I'm not synaesthetic
I do now experience tone in terms of color and I'm more than conscious
that this is not an effect I get live at concerts. Which started me
thinking. At a concert I'm going for an experience and part of that is
physically being there. More senses than hearing are involved when
sitting or standing next to others, picking up their vibes, watching the
spectacle, inhaling the smells and the ambience. When I am at home in
my listening room, I'm usually completely involved in the direct
aural/internal thing, just soaking up the music. So it's not surprising I
can be more of a pure music receptor
at home and pick up aspects of musical experiences even more profoundly than at live events. Sure - Vivaldi's Gloria
in Santa Cecilia in Rome was entirely unforgettable. Sacred music in
its actual context is quite something. But at the moment I'm close to
preferring my home sound to a concert at the Barbican, say. And for the
first time I'm finding that the home experience can be even more
rewarding and profound than a live concert can be. It's something to do
with being completely relaxed and 'disembodied', being able to become
just a being reacting to music and nothing else. The experience is
extraordinary. But substitute the M77 for what I had previously thought
of as a stunning preamp and I lose that aspect of things. Gone is the
emotional and spiritual intensity of the experience. We are back to a
What about Nina Simone's After Hours
It's late now, it's been dark a long time and the sound is barely above
a whisper but when on "Wild is the Wind" she sings "but when you kiss
me my life begins' - whoa, the hairs go up on the back of my neck. Her
sense of utter longing, of unobtainable devotion and loss and some
unnameable tragedy is somehow so shocking and profound and incredibly
moving. It's like she's living some ultimate love beyond what is
imaginable. It really is poetry.
a reviewer, I really want to avoid pissing on other people's parades.
Respecting different needs and budgets and sonic priorities is a good
place to start. But at the same time, this sometimes clashes with the
important requirement for a reviewer/music lover to be as clear as
possible about what they like, which also means sometimes explaining
what personally doesn't work for them. For example, there's a kind of
sound that doesn't work well with me. It's big, it's bold and above all,
it's painted in a few bright primary colors like those in a children's
playground. So at first it might sound really attractive and clear as
opposed to transparent. It's like the way fashion models are made up to
be photographed. When the picture comes out, the contrasts are
emphasized so the model has no nose, high cheek bones and arabesque
eyebrows. Looks great. Except that's in the photo. If you're standing by
the camera. it looks like a Noh mask. And the point is, all the
subtlety of the human face has been lost. The character. They all look
much alike. The subtle chiaroscuros of musculature and expression are
lost under a cake of makeup. It's the same with this kind of sound.
Everything comes over as simple, over-contrasted and 'clear' although
lacking in significant harmonics. This kind of sound is actually really
well suited for the sound you want at a nightclub. It's physical, it
whacks you around and it thrives on processed compression. But soon I
suspect most music lovers would find it tiring, obvious and banal. It's
from the school of fast food and instant gratification.
only reason for mentioning this is that the M77 is the polar opposite
of this kind of sound. It's not that it can't whack you around but that
it will only do so with that type of processed music. It will also sound
simple and clear and bold. But if the face isn't wearing a ton of
makeup, you'll find a far more beautiful person before you. You'll find a
sound where all the intimate delicacies come forward and give you a
much greater understanding of the person. You will find simply superb
gradations of chiaroscuro; the infinite varieties of sun and natural
light as opposed to the artificial high key tones of the studio.
Lets go back to emotions. Take Neil Young's "Ohio". On a car radio, it will usually come across as a nice song
for the MOR stations but give it to the M77 and an altogether different
experience emerges. From the urgent and insistent introductory guitar
notes, the pent-up anger, the sorrow, the denunciation and the need to
do something are way out in the open. "Four dead in O-hi-o". It's that
emphasis and insistence on the name of the State with each vowel given a
beat that makes the purity of anger and outrage so potent. The point
here is that through the M77, you cannot ignore this part of the song.
Hell, that song had a huge impact and was played mostly on people's
Dancettes. But there's a big difference now, like looking at a
Caravaggio or the Sistine Chapel in a picture book or looking at the
actual thing. The scale and emotional impact of the real experience is
incomparable. With the M77, it's like you are suddenly sitting in a
Chicago park with flares and flowers in your hair watching the police
charge. I remember it clearly even though I was eleven and on another
continent. And by the way, this is at low volume. Put it up and you walk
away shattered. It will change your day for sure.
you want to choose any particular audiophile criteria, you can tick all
the boxes and anything else (with the exception of the M1000) will
struggle to keep up. But as I write these words, I'm conscious that in
doing so I'm completely missing the point. I can almost hear that box
saying "please, that is not important. If you want to describe me, try
again." The last time I was up at Definitive Audio, I was saying
something and Kevin Scott suddenly said, "You've changed, Edward". Of
course I sort of coughed and denied it in the way one does when caught
off guard but inside something was saying "abso-bloodly-lutely I have".
And so it is. In non-trivial ways. Music is an important part of my life
and the way I experience it. By extension, the way I experience other
aspects of life has changed too. What I've found with the M77 is that it
quietly allows for, and encourages, a focussing of my inner energy much
more deeply into the core of what the artist is trying to communicate.
Each musical experience is far more profound and satisfying.
only analogy I can think of right now goes back again to that essence
of Japanese culture, the tea ceremony. In England we drink tons and tons
of tea and usually just slurp it in our favorite cup and off we go.
It's a perfectly sacred thing in its slash/bang secular way but think of
the Japanese experience.
tea ceremony involves a complex ritual and a spiritual process of
unfolding. Each item is placed in a particular place that is
proportionate to the others and both that relationship and the way in
which its placed creates an energy field, a way of calming and focusing
what is inside us. The off-center centrality of the bowl, the material
and the way the bowl is made, its texture and touch all take on
significance and trigger associations and memories. A deep sensual
perception and Zen-like focus. It's no surprise that this ritual takes
years to learn and is part of Zen Buddhism. The tea ceremony is an
intentionally transformative practice. It has its own aesthetic which is
characterized by "humility, restraint, simplicity, naturalism,
profundity, imperfection, and emphasizes simple, unadorned objects and
architectural space. In doing so it celebrates the mellow beauty that
time and care impart to materials". It culminates in
like "...when tea is made with water drawn from the depths of the mind
whose bottom is beyond measure, then that is what is called the tea
ceremony..." as Toyotomi Hideyoshi put it.
can think of no better analogy for the way the M77 operates. It seems
to allow some of those same spaces and inner energies to connect with
the music and at the same time organizes the emotional flow of the
musical experience so they seem to reach more deeply. How does it affect
me? I've found I relax more deeply and bits of me I didn't even know
existed are now coming out into the open and are ready to become an
almost active participant in the musical experience as it is unfolding.
It's something about being focused and at the same time relaxed into
each note or phrase, almost as I imagine meditation could be. I hunger
less and am paradoxically far more satisfied. The only reason I can
imagine this is happening must be because the M77 is focusing the
various energies in the musical piece in ways that somehow make more
emotional sense and reach deeper inside me.
Truth be told, the KSL M77 hasn't just changed me, it seems
to have altered the way I approach the study/listening room. I used to
resent the slight hum of traffic and other city noises that can
occasionally come through the window but now as I enter, I hear the
room's silence in a different way. The noises seem to set off how the
room itself has more peace than before. Its difficult to describe
exactly but the room is certainly a more pleasant and intelligent place
to be than it was previously. It's almost as though it's filled with the
residue of a great sound.
At the time of my first visit to Living Voice, it was obvious
that the conventional language reviewers use was going to be inadequate
to communicate what I was hearing. I was worried about how to approach
it. Soundstage, timbre and dynamics are still involved but they fail to
get to the essence. Over time, however, what actually happened was that
the M77 taught me to listen in a different way.
It doesn't make sense to listen to
a Kondo piece using the techniques we have all developed so far. Relax,
listen to the musical performance and you begin to notice the way the
energy fields in the music are the essence of each performer's art. You
can almost see an abstract version of this as the energy of each
instrument swells and falls in pulses flowing past us. To me, these
energy fields are the essence of music itself. It's the difference
between a musical performance full of expression and profound emotions
as opposed to one copied or done by rote.
about it - you won't capture the essence of what makes a great musical
performance if you break it down into its audiophile components. But if
one relaxes and brings to the center of spirit those energy fields, then
we are able to become participants in the essence of the musical
experience. Of course, if what you want is just to sit back and be
absolutely blown away by the quality of sound, that is going to happen,
too. Sonically the M77 is so good that you can appreciate is superlative
qualities even if you're riding on an open bus in a force ten gale. But
if you want more, if you want to get into the deepest part of what
makes music so powerful and moving, then ultimately, that is what the
M77 is all about.
By the way, my skipper friend and his mate? They were fine. Shoes and trousers torn off and just a few bruises....
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