09
Feb
12

The Kondo Souga Power Amplifier

For a manufacturer with such a legendary reputation as Kondo Labs of Japan, introducing a new model will naturally generate lots of curiosity and interest amongst die-hard audiophiles. This was exactly what happened when the Souga 2A3 single-ended power amplifier was released.

There was a lot of speculation as to how much better and in what way, it would be over the KSL-Neiro, the model it replaced. Basically similar in circuit design to its predecessor, the main difference is the inclusion of pure silver output transformers and also an improvement of a number of other minor components internally. The chassis has also been beefed up with a much more solid and rigid feel to the product and it uses more proprietary components. Everything from the RCA connectors, to the speaker terminals and even the feet under the amp looks purpose-built for Kondo!

The sonic difference however, is by no means small! It actually sounds like a completely different animal from before. While the KSL-Neiro was ultra-sweet and refined, there was a trace of politeness to the sound, and speed and dynamics were also not its strong suit. When pushed hard, the Neiro behaved exactly like any good 8 watt amp would under stressful loads.

The Souga on the other hand, is surprisingly dynamic and fast (for a tube amp!) and sounds a lot more powerful in the sense that the volume can be cranked up higher without it losing its composure. The superior bass control is also another quality that I noticed almost immediately. Gone is the slightly soft and soggy bass when playing difficult bass passages.

The amazing thing about this and all other Kondo products is that it manages to improve in all those areas without compromising its traditional refinement, seductive musicality and magical midrange. Once you hear the sound it produces, you know that it is something very special!

All these new qualities add up to an amp that can boogie to a much wider range of music and also drive comfortably a wider range of loudspeakers. My verdict (and I have listened to both amps extensively) is that the new Souga is a most worthy successor to the KSL-Neiro and is well worth it’s not inexpensive price tag!

The Kondo Souga amplifier is now on demo in our main sound room with the matching M-77 tube preamp. Anyone who wants to hear what can be achieved with a truly top class tube pre and power combination MUST come for an audition!

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