05
Oct
11

Listening to the Kondo M-77 and Gaku Oh

After anxiously waiting some weeks for the Kondo M-77 preamp and Gaku Oh 300B monoblock power
amps to arrive, they have finally reached our shores and what can we say! They are definitely everything we had hoped for, and more!

Initial impression from looking at the external packing tells you that this gear must
be expensive, as each component comes in a huge and very heavy wooden crate!
Inside, each component is lovingly wrapped in a special paper so typical of the
Japanese (in the best sense!). The Kondo Gaku Oh amps look gorgeous with their
lacquered copper top plates, potted transformer caps and highly refined
machined faceplates. They look more classic and timeless retro than high tech
bling, and well they should be as Kondo gear are all about timeless value that
transcend fashion, technology or popular opinion. I believe that any Kondo
component will be as relevant and as highly prized many years down the road as
they are today.

What then contributes to Kondo’s universal appeal and status over and above any other
brand, and leading many to claim it as THE reference standard amongst cost-no-object tube amplification?

Part of the answer lay in the fact that they are probably one of only 2 manufacturers in
the world who build their products from the ground up using hand-wound pure
silver output transformers, hand-made pure silver signal capacitors, custom
resistors, and proprietary pure silver signal cables throughout the entire design.

Even the RCA connectors and speakers terminals are custom-made for Kondo as nothing that is
‘standard’ is good enough for their products! Everything about the product
shows evidence of typical Japanese perfectionism, and everything that is put
into it is for the simple purpose of making it the best sounding product possible!

Another unique feature of any Kondo product is the beauty of their circuit layout and
wiring. Yes, it is indeed beautiful to look at, the way their technicians have
painstakingly laid out the individual components and wires to make it look more
like art than an electrical circuit! Even the soldering work is done to
perfection, every joint being shiny, even and extremely consistent. Folks, if
you’ve ever done any soldering work on your own, you’ll know how difficult it
is get it done to this level of quality as shown in the pics below. High art indeed!

And now for the sound, and what a sound it is! For me they have transcended typical
descriptive terms like dynamic, natural, neutral, musical or life-like, though
they are all these things and more!  If I
need to choose a word to describe the Kondo sound, it would have to be
“beautiful”, as the music that comes out of any speaker connected to these amps
is truly beautiful to listen to!  You can
just sit and let wave after wave of joyous sound wash over you, in a manner that
is replicated by no other brand in the world today!

For those of you who feel that I’m just gushing praises about a product that I happen to
represent, you may just be right. But all this praise is honest and heart-felt
as I have never experienced such enjoyable sound in my main system before,
regardless of combination. It is like a bit of pure magic is produced when the
music starts playing! What price would you pay for this to happen in your own
home, day after day?

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