Tempest preamplifier, Stratos amplifier – remember those names. According to Odyssey Designs’ Klaus Bunge, those are the ingredients for a $3000 system-complete. What makes this even more interesting is that the electronics are based on well-established Symphonic Line designs. The system has the potential for redefining value for the dollar. Stay tuned…
Symphonic Line electronics from German Acousticshave been just as far as one can get from the affordable area, but that’s about to change in a big way. Klaus Bunge, has a new company, located in Indianapolis. The real excitement has to do with Odyssey Design Group Tempest preamplifier, Stratos amplifier.
When I first looked at the preamp and power amp, my guess about the pricing, they’re at least in the $2000 – $3000 range. It turns out that the preamp and the power amp (150 Wpc) are $995 each, The sound of the system was extremely promising; the preamp and power amp strike me as being exceptional bargains.
Symphonic Line is a company to keep an eye out for. F. Klaus Bunge’s lineup of speakers and amplifiers seems to be a value leader, at least as far as hardware is concerned. I would be pressed to find a more substantial package of power supply, heat sink, or workmanship other than their fine amplifiers, preamps, and CD players display.
The metalwork is available in a variety of colors, including blue, red, and the more conventional standards. Symphonic Line’s room was musical and involving and the best part was each piece is under a grand.
Bound for Sound
But talk about savings. Symphonic Line, the German import long known for ultra-high price tags on ultra exotic equipment stunned everyone in attendance with their new Odyssey group of audio electronics built here in the United States. If the new preamp and power amplifier sound only half as good as they look, at $995 each they will go down as one of audio’s all time best buys.
You hate to make sonic assessments at a show (although we do it all the time), but if the Odyssey components perform at the same level at home as they did in Las Vegas, Symphonic Line ( Odyssey ) won’t be able to make enough to meet demand.
Can you imagine Symphonic Line as an entry-level system? I can’t either, but a determination by them to crack the middle of the market-wide open, and having the components built in Indiana, made it all possible.”
Klaus Bunge of Symphonic Line introduced some truly remarkable and cost-effective items for their Odyssey Design Group. How’s $1,000.00 for a preamp, another $1,000.00 for a (150Wpc) amp (the first 35 watts are pure class A)? The sound was excellent with outstanding ability to go way down into the nether regions. This certainly ranks high in the “best sound for least dollars category”.
I revealed the prices first to make the story more credible. When I tell you that all the machining …brushed aluminum casings … laser engraving, and that all the parts are tested to a minimum tolerance of one percent and that Wima caps are standard, would you not be thinking very high prices? Of course! I think Klaus Bunge has a lot of value on the table.
Elsewhere, an American company out of Indianapolis, Odyssey Design Group, has licensed technology from the German Symphonic Line – the combo of their $1,195.00 preamp and $1,295 power amp proved exceptionally dynamic and musical.
The Absolute Sound
Although the 130Wpc Odyssey Khartago solid-state stereo amp has been around for better than a decade, it was new to JV until amp-connoisseur Alon Wolf (of Magico) told him he used it in his shop and it was excellent. Wolf was right.
Although the Khartago doesn’t have all the articulation and transparency of the standard-setting Soulution 711 stereo amplifier, it has a surprisingly similar balance, no discernible grain, high resolution, and a deep, wide soundstage. Positively, the best budget amp JV has heard, not counting the Odyssey Khartago monoblocks, which have the same power rating as the Khartago but a stiffer power supply and wider bandwidth, giving them the same basic sound as the two-channel unit with slightly more resolution, dynamic oomph, top-end air, and channel separation. Like the Khartago stereo, this is a budget monoblock for the connoisseur.
The new Odyssey range is derived from imported predecessors but is now made in the US, with vastly more competitive pricing. I lifted a couple of pieces, and the weight-to-price ratio was impressive. Finish and build haven’t been skimped on – fast, focused bass and a lean treble.
Klaus Bunge is giving the entry-level audiophile a really nice set of gear. I think he succeeded, and more power to him…
Symphonic Line, the German – American firm, launched a series of electronics under the Odyssey Design Group name. The Project 2 line consists of the Tempest preamplifier, the Stratos power amp… all featuring killer styling and refreshingly low prices – each Odyssey component sells for $995.
A recent rave review in the IAR of an otherwise unfamiliar line of electronics known as Odyssey came to mind as we walked into the Odyssey room, and its lead character, Klaus Bunge, whom we affectionally dubbed “that crazy German” for the rest of the show. This room featured the Odyssey speakers and electronics.
The good size speakers were listed at about $2,900, while both amp and preamp were in the low $1,000+ range. The fabrication of the electronics was intended to be commensurate with other products costing in the $5,000 range. The thick chassis metalwork is painstakingly manipulated to ensure even saturation of the colors, with eight unusual colors available. The amp in question was brilliant red – and it looked GOOD.
There is no plastic in any of the units, and laser engraving is used rather than silk-screening to letter the controls and incorporate the logo. Everything is hand soldered. …Precise matching of components is performed to ensure uniformity of sound, furthermore, the upgrade of the stereo unit we saw to one half of a pair of monoblocks will be free. Klaus went on to considerate length, and I have no reason to question his commitment to unit quality and customer satisfaction.
The sound of this system was impressive, and I spent much time there, even neglecting Mr. Bunge’s long and enthusiastic lecture. It was a very satisfying musical experience. A homebrew recording of a performance of Beethoven’s 23rd sonata (the appasionata) wowed me with the impact of the heavy, percussive portions contrasted with the beautiful, silvery tones of the faster and more delicate portions of the first movement. There are lots of notes in this piece (the work that made me give up studying the piano) and I felt that the profusion of rapid runs was especially well delineated.
Continuing on, I was quite conscious of a realistic, even tonal balance on an orchestral version of the Chabrier warhorse “Espana”. Bass response on these speakers was impressive, and the system was unquestionably one of my favorites at this show at real-world price points. Readers would be well advised to keep the name “Odyssey” in mind.
The Class 1b Odyssey Stratos also rates a high recommendation, with points awarded for its bargain $1295 price. With its rich warmth, slightly liquid trebles, and slightly polite midranges, it sounds like a much more expensive solid-state amp (indeed, comparable to some Jeff Rowland amps, at many times the price).
The Stratos also nearly succeeds at overcoming the usual vices of solid-state sound, with only a hint of glare remaining in the sensitive midrange and upper midrange (this remaining glare was the principal cause of sonic demerits awarded).
It should be clear beyond any reasonable doubt that the Odyssey Audio Lorelei is a monster value in the sub $6,000 two-way category. It’s eminently capable of filling a large space to thunderous levels with a modest 30 watts; remains clearly in the service of synthesis rather than analysis and thus won’t be called a machine of ultimate exactitude like your proverbial Wilson or Thiel, but rather a poetic device in the Proac or Sonus Faber vein. I’m certain you can appreciate the redundancy of value attachments here – it’s merely a matter of orientation and need.
Effective HF shimmer and sparkle can be dialed in via toe-in positioning with more variability than common with many soft-dome tweeters. Full frontal nudity of head-on directivity adds zing and blister on struck strings as you’d find in Jesse Cook’s outstanding new Nomad [Narada World 72435-90797-2-1] which Jim Saxon recommended highly despite his general mistrust of my musical tastes. With this Flamenco crossover release, he bluntly nailed my metier. I cheerfully challenge him to mistrust away – again. Gracias, padrone.
In conclusion, for $2,700/pr and in this Lorelei, a prospective purchaser acquires a well-finished, nicely appointed loudspeaker with top-notch parts and a Humvee of a crossover. It offers broad off-axis dispersion to support wide lateral spreads; completely genre-defying bass extension unless you thought Platinum of yore or Phil Jones’ latter-day efforts under the 2000-Series umbrella of AAD; a rich rather than lean presentation with excellent speed but not the last word in penetrating see-throughness; and the kind of corporeal rather than mental moxy one tends to associate with paralleled pentodes. Like the Mesa Baron during its haydays, this design conveys power and scale, color and elan – and with it, a charming tendency to over- rather than understate, to enhance rather than dare failing to impress.
Impressive? Hellaciously so. If my HE2003 memories remain trustworthy after all these months, Klaus Bunge’s $4,500 system-sans-source could turn out to be the proverbial no-brainer dragon slayer, with the high-current 150wpc Stratos amp adding yet further control over this Harvard biker chick than my zero NFB SEP monos were designed to do. Saludos to Herren Gemein and Bunge – for the budget-conscious music lover, their latest collaboration opens yet another — straight as an arrow — pathway to enjoy a full dose of undiluted High-End without hawking off the family farm. And that’s far more impressive than drooling over the latest three-story monstrosity that remains flat to 18Hz at 120dB RMS and looks like Ming the Merciless. Look for dissenting or parallel opinions on Madame Lorelei somewhere on The SoundStage Network, possibly even with the new $1,000 pre/power combo for a complete Odyssey system on GoodSound!, my old haunt. Now that’s a review I’d be looking forward to myself – and I won’t even have to sweat writing it. Hey, life’s good all around!
6731 West 79th Street Indianapolis, IN 46278, U.S.A.