Capital Audio Fest 2019
As I mentioned in my Friday Highlights for the 2019 Capital Audiofest Odyssey Audio had an absolutely beautiful room. I’m not just talking about the sound, which was indeed beautiful, but the room itself–it was dark, romantic and literally candlelit. I kept checking the back row to see if any couples were making out–if Colleen had come with me, I would have definitely pulled the old yawn-stretch-out-and-put-my-arm-around-her move. I’m only obsessing over this because as a former exhibitor I kept asking myself, “Why didn’t we ever do a room like this? This is awesome! I’m going to steal some of those candles before I head home!”
This was my first time visiting an Odyssey Audio room at a high-end audio show. Many from Part-Time Audiophile have covered Klaus Bunge’s rooms before in the same way–the sultry atmosphere, as well as the incredible value of his amplifiers and speakers. Here at CAF Klaus was showing his Liquid speakers ($5900/pair), Candela preamp ($1600) and Stratos monoblocks ($2700/pair). That’s right–around $10K for speakers, preamp and monoblock power amplifiers. I’m shocked to type those prices–I would have guessed from the sound that this system, which also included Magnan cables, Symphonic Line CD player and a VPIturntable, that this was a big, costly set-up. I’m not sure how Klaus Bunge does it.
Remember how I mentioned Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat in the McGary Audio/Salk Sound room, and how I had never heard this audiophile standard before? Well, in the Odyssey Audio room Klaus played a live track, folk music performed in front of a live audience, a delicate and detailed sound that gave me goose bumps, the widest soundstage I’ve heard at the show…and it slowly dawned on me that I was listening to The Weavers’ 1963 Reunion at Carnegie Hall, another audiophile treasure. Now I have to run out and buy this too. It sounded incredible.
Klaus was dealing with some trade show bugs in the Odyssey Audio room at kept apologizing for this and that. I found that amusing since I was so mesmerized by the sound in his room, that incredible warmth and clarity and that immense soundstage width. I can’t wait to visit the Odyssey Audio room at the next high-end audio show–and I’ll be sure to bring Colleen and a nice Italian red this time.
Marc Phillips, Part Time Audiophile
Walking into the magically lit Odyssey Audio room at AXPONA I thought I might finally be having one of those wonderful acid flashbacks they promised us back in the day.Odyssey Audio Owner Klaus Bunge was playing his MOFI Santana Abraxis Ultra Disc One-Step 45 RPM record on the Odyssey Audio speakers, preamp, and amps. The stereo imaging and the perfection of the bells and cymbals hanging in blackest space…. Remember auditory hallucinations? Me either. But that’s how good that record sounds on Klaus’ Odyssey Audio speakers, preamp, and amps. This was his $6,900 system. That’s right. Sixty-nine hundred, not thousand, dollars.
I think there might have been another six grand in VPI Turntable awesomeness connected to that Odyssey Candela preamp of his. And if you’ve never heard of Odyssey Audio, good because I’m waiting for Klaus to finish my Khartago Amp before I start blabbing to everyone about how good his equipment sounds. I’m afraid he’s gonna get busy. Google Odyssey Audio a few days after I have happily unpacked my amp.
Jim Kaplan, Record Collector News
I’m a fan of Klaus Bunge and his brand, Odyssey Audio. Klaus has been killing it in the high-end of late, bringing together modestly priced systems that perform in all manner of immodest ways.
Shown here at RMAF was one of his signature soup-to-nuts systems. Package price? $6,900 for the set.
- Kismet Beryllium Reference floor-standing loudspeakers: $4,200/pair
- Khartago Monoblock Amplifiers ($1,995/pair)
- Candela Tube Preamplifier ($1,600)
- Fell set of Groneberg Cables
So, yes, let me cut to the chase and say that this was one of Klaus’ best rooms. Not sure that’s actually saying very much, however — all of his demo rooms are among the best on offer in any setting. Boom.
Word of advice, then — if you’re considering investing in a high-end system, go find Klaus first. Might save you a ton of money. Side note — be prepared to ask “what he can do” with the gear, too. No, I’m not talking about discounts (this stuff is crazy-priced already), I’m talking about upgrades. He’s got a warehouse full of bespoke little bits. Ask him about “taking it up a notch”. Just make sure you have a beer handy — that might be a long conversation.
Scot Hull, Audio Traveler
Capitol Audio Fest 2016
The best hug I received at CAF came from Gary Gill, when I arrived. The second best hug came from the towering and lovable Klaus Bunge of Odyssey Audio. Klaus has such an unpretentious demeanor and down-to-earth (but worldly) grin: with Klaus, I could hang and talk and listen to his gear all day. Every time I visit an Odyssey room, the amplifiers, DACs, and speakers let the music present itself in a highly detailed—but warm and human-centered—way, just like Klaus himself.
In fact, I think the “embracing” nature of the Odyssey sound may cause its less obvious accuracy and neutrality to sneak in under our audiophile radar. To me, it feels like Odyssey is not getting the media credit and attention it deserves: Klaus’s stuff rocks real music, real hard, and it feels like Bunge is giving it away for free.
The room was crowded but the sound was, as usual, big and natural.
This is the gear I listened to: Candela tube preamplifier ($1600), Khartago Mono amplifiers ($1995/pair), the new Suspiro phono stage ($1250), Kismet loudspeakers ($4200/pair), and last but massively not least, the giant Massive Rocks Furniture equipment rack.
Herb Reichert, Stereophile
Capital Audio Fest 2019
Entering the darkest room of the show, I “marco-polo” my way over to Klaus. We talk a bit and he offers to give me center seat, and fire up a few records that we’ve heard before last year in this same room. It’s odd that sense memory for stuff like this remains intact, but it does. We place a Alan Parson’s record on the VPI Avenger and what happens next is pure magic, but more on that later. First, let’s talk about what is new for this year.
Odyssey Audio has been a darling of the industry for many years now for offering so much of the audiophile pie at value prices and from under one roof. Electronics are built from shared circuit designs, but dolled up with Klaus’ own choice of components and chassis. Speaker designs are all Klaus however. Showing for the first time ever at Capital Audiofest, Klaus’ new Liquid floor-standing speaker. Designed from his two-way tower speaker, which remains in the Odyssey product line. By adding a second woofer and more cabinet space, Klaus’ new speaker delivers an extra octave in the lower regions.
Everything I’ve loved about Klaus’ speaker designs prior to this new floor-stander is now more in your face and coming from farther away than before. Yes, there is more bass reinforcement from the added cabinet space and drivers, but now with the lower drivers taking over its fair share of the bass region, the upper drivers are now free to dance with more ease and precision. Sound-stage space and depth of the landscape are now clearer and fade away into the distance with surprising amounts of high frequency decay. Cymbals and other bell-ish sounds I heard don’t spill-off over a distant edge, they ride off into what seems like an infinite horizon. Bass is still signature Odyssey, but under more control at volume, and deeper.
Eric Franklin Shook, Part Time Audiophile
Capital Audio Fest 2019
Odyssey Audio – Audio Equipment For The Budget Conscious
I almost feel like I’m doing Odyssey Audio a disservice with the above title, but it’s actually a point that owner Klaus Bunge makes a big deal of.
And why shouldn’t he, you ask? I’ll tell you why – a lot of us Audiophiles are just kind of a little bit on the snobbish and egotistical side. Meaning, as well as something sounding good it also has to be expensive. And heavy. And not too accessible to the masses. And…
So I wandered into the Odyssey Audio room on the Friday afternoon to the scene of a certain amount of chaos. Granted, Klaus made it look like just another day at the office, but I gather he wasn’t happy with the bass quality from the Liquid speakers and he was in the midst of man-handling the heavy bastards off (then back on to) a pair of what looked to be Mapleshade butcher block stands, with Mapleshade heavy footers.
In the middle of this heroic escapade, I gather the VPI Power Supply for the Avenger Reference croaked-it, and I watched with some sympathy as the VPI guy carried it off for repair.
Odyssey Suspiro PhonoAfter adjusting his truss and playing a CD for few seconds via the Symphonic Line CD player, I heard Klaus announce to the small gathering: “that’s better”. His profound proclamation over, we went off on a quasi-psychedelic journey with the lights out, candles lit, lava lamps doing what they do, and some music appropriate for the occasion, which I appear not to have made a note of.
I’ve heard various Odyssey gear over the years and have always liked what I’ve heard. I lived with a borrowed pair of upgraded Stratos Extreme Monoblocks for a while and they sounded very good. I know that Klaus is able to bias his amps in a way that nudges their sound towards the particular bias of their owner, that said, whenever I’ve heard an Odyssey powered system it has always sounded pleasingly to the warm side of neutral, almost like the classic tube sound yet with most of the positive attributes of solid-state intact.
And that’s what I heard from this iteration of Odyssey’s budget system. Big, bold, powerful, and effortlessly dynamic. The Liquids ($5900) fill the room with sound and present themselves via the Candela ($1600) / Stratos ($2700) with the warmth and illumination of a good 300b yet with the drive and impact of the top echelon of solid-state. I can’t attest to this system’s prowess on the detail and imaging front as I wasn’t ideally seated and there were too many other things going on in the room at the time. So I said a quick hello to Klaus and left the room planning to return the following day to see where things were at, but never made it.
My lasting impression is that the Liquid is a speaker I could live with long-term, the Stratos are amps I know pretty well and like a great deal, and the rest of the system (Candela Pre / Suspiro Phono) would need more evaluation in a better environment. But overall this group of components did sound very, very nice, and utterly musical.
So yes, were I looking for a system in this price range I can’t imagine not being thrilled with Odyssey’s ‘budget system’, albeit a system without a source component.
Capitol Audio Fest 2015
The Final Day
I don’t know why it happens but at every audio show I always end up in the Odyssey room last—as in the last hour of the last day and I am beyond punchy and cranky. I think it is because Klaus Bunge is big, warm, and smiling. He creates a welcoming environment that is exactly what I need. I need permission not to think and the sounds in the Odyssey room always promote that. Most importantly, I know the sound will be like Klaus: big, warm, spacious, and never stressed. It is especially not stressful because Klaus specializes in making complete high-end systems that cost less than some audiophiles power conditioners. He also has an LSD lightshow to take my eyes off the gear and put them back into my mind.
Today Mr. Bunge was playing the Odyssey Kismet Liquid Loudspeakers ($5900/pair), powered by the Candela preamplifier ($1600) and the Khartago Mono amplifiers ($1995/pair) which, when combined with the dancing lights and dreamy darkness, made me a very happy and satisfied reviewer. Total system price: $8900. (Bunge’s Odyssey systems always sound like they should cost several times what he is charging via direct sale.)
Herb Reichert, Stereophile
The Final Day
…It has to be admitted that Odyssey was making some great sounds in their room at RMAF. Klaus Bunge was showing off the Kismet Reference Monitor standmounts ($2500/pair including stands), which use a Scanspeak beryllium-dome tweeter, driving the speakers with the two-chassis Odyssey Reference Line amplifier ($3500), which combines a tubed input stage with solid-state output. I listened to that old audiophile classic, Radka Toneef singing Jim Webb’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” and the tangibility and solidity of the imaging was to be marveled at, given that wide-baffle speakers tend not to throw a stable, well-defined soundstage.
John Atkinson, Stereophile
The $1,500 Odyssey system ($595 for the speakers, $295 for the pre, $795 for the amp, with proprietor Klaus Bunge throwing in Gronenberg interconnect and speaker cable and you providing the source) was the Best Ultra-Affordable Sound of the Show.
How can you make any money on this stuff?”, I asked Klaus with pray-tell confusion over the shocking pricing. “My build cost is about 2/3s of the sell price”, he countered. At $295 for the preamp, that doesn’t leave a whole lotta of profit for the man but the customer will smile all the way to the bank and back to the sound room.
Klaus is also working on a digital amplifier shown above next to his mug. While Germans on a whole subscribe to pricey notions of superiority, Aryan and motorcar and otherwise, Herr Bunge angles in different waters. If someone asked me for a reco in the sane realms, I’d pull this Odyssey Audio system out of my hat and feel assured that nothing could ever come back to haunt me. Helloluja, Klaus!
Srajan Ebaen 6moons.com
6731 West 79th Street Indianapolis, IN 46278, U.S.A.