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My Takumi K-10 Arrived

edited January 2011
I am so pleased and honoured to grab the world first Takumi K-10 pre-amplier. It has been running and warming up in my place for more than a week. K-10 is the last piece of my puzzle for converting myself from the Prince of Swan (Shindo Laboratory) to the Prince of Takumi (Robert Koda). K-10 replaces my Shindo Giscours pre-amplier and now I am running K-10 with K-70 and Cessaro Affesinate I SE. Unfortunately, I was out town intermittently in the last two weeks and was not able to do serious audition on K-10. Yet, I can still tell you that K-10 impresses me a lot for its speed, control and details. K-10 has a characteristics of luring people to go into the world of music. Even I turned on with low volume and hear the music as "background voice", I still feel the lovely and natural sound from my system. I will share later in this forum more details on my audition after the Chinese New Year.

I also take this opportunity to wish everybody a prosperous Year of Rabbit.


  • Oh my God! You are the 001 guy! Are you doing full balance operation?
  • I have tremendous expectation for it. Can you share more?
  • To the new prince,

    How would you rate the control capability of the preamp versus your old guard?
  • Jeff, I used XLR to RCA IC for my previous Shindo amp and I am still using it for my Takumi dual. Thus, I am not running a balance mode at this moment. There is a selector at the back of K-10 for balance/RCA. I am setting it to RCA now. I am sourcing an IC and hope I can run ful balance operation later.

    Voy, K-10 won't let you down. Of course I will share more and what I can do it I will post my detailed report sooner.

    Raymond, in terms of control, I give Takumi 9 out of 10 while it is 7 out of 10 for my previous Giscours. K-10 match very much with K-70 (needless to say). They are Batman and Robin to deliver the most for control. It it not yet in full marks as I heard from PT that K-10 and K-70 can be linked by voltage mode later.
  • Hey Azzuri,

    To begin with, Thank you for your confidence of AE product once again. This K10 produces very nice music with the Cessaro Spker ! I am sure after I have listened to your system.
  • Azurri!!!!!!!!!!!

    What a surprise! I really envy you ! Please share more on this preamp...may I bring a box of cookie to visit you during the Chinese New Year !

  • Prince of Takumi,

    You descirbed the partnership of K10/K70 is similar to Batman and Robin. Which device is batman? That will help me a lot to visualize the sound.

    What is your opinion of its performance on vocal and string instruments? Had you tried any symphony yet?
  • This community is divided into three groups: wavac/tidal/Robert Koda in the amplification domain. Of the three, I knew Robert Koda the least. Is there any chance I can audition the whole chain by Robert Koda? It is a bold statement to use the Chinese word "匠" as the model name. It has to be better than exceptional. It has to be free of any constraints. It must deliver strength at ease. It must control the situation without hurry.

    If PT can arrange me to visit any of your clients, I am elated to join.
  • To the Prince of Takumi,

    You mentioned you will later on deliver a detailed report. It sounds like you have become a serious guy. I hope you can follow the spirit of Mr.Zanden to write something that carries the beef. It takes time to be inspirational but I have seen you system quietly morphed into a big system now. Please at least do some proper room treatment before evaluation.

    Other than that, I am sure you are someone who aims for perfection. The K10 is already sitting on top of the SRA.

    Can you run us through a few more quick notes with concrete examples?

    We need more upandcoming chaps to speak here.

    Come on!
  • My original idea is to come up with a report after some time of serious listening. However, it seems that the snowball is getting bigger and bigger now. Being the owner of K-10 001, I have the obligation to share more and quicker on my first hand experience to all the guru here. Thus, instead of delivering a report some time later, I decide to keep on writing/responding and continue to do more listening in parallel. Admittedly, I may not be able to write up to the level with Mr Zendan. Yet, I still hope you still find it interesting to read my stuff.

    I am not going to give an analysis-style report nor assign score on any aspect. My focus is on the impression and thoughts on my K10/K70/Affascinate trio as a whole and with comparison to my previous Shindo system. After all, music is right-brain stuff. We better focus on feeling and passion brought by the system. And most importantly there is no right or wrong on the preference on the path and choice of pursuing music.

    I have been a Shindo advocate for quite some years and I am very used to its distinguished sound. Now, K-10 and K-70 transform the world of my music. Before K-10 was introduced, there was still a strong presence of Shindo character in my system. After K-10 replaces Giscours, the immediate and obvious feeling is that the music become bright and everything is crystal clear with details. I would compare Giscours and K-10 as two lighting sources with the former being a traditional incandescent light bulb and the latter a LED. With the light bulb, I can see things clearly but I don't have the "bright" feeling as every light bulb inevitably contains certain yellowish coloration. On the other hand, K-10 lights up the music like a LED. It allows people to see thing, i.e. enjoy the music, clearly with natural colour. I can easily feel the speed and rhythm of music with K-10. The music is so lively and real. If we consider Shindo as a very good oil painting, K-10/K-70 is a HQ picture for people to explore the details, for people to feel, for people to go into the world of music.

    Using photography as another analogy, tube amplifiers, particularly Shindo which has a strong character, is like taking portrait with soft lens. People love the outcome from soft lens as it gives a more beautiful image especially on ladies. It is hard to resist the temptation of the sweet and luring vocal by tube amplifiers. In the contrary, K-10/K-70 is like the portrait in National Geographic magazine. You will never find a portrait in the magazine using soft lens. Yet all the images give you the real and natural feeling with impact. One can never forget the haunting green eye Afghanistan girl in the magazine cover. K-10/K-70 just attracts the hearts of the people in the same way.

    Paganini 24 caprices is one of the first few records I played with K-10. It is a work for solo violin and is also a demanding piece in terms techniques for violinists. At the same time, it is a demanding piece for hi-fi replay as well. It is a magic mirror for differentiating good and not up to standard gear. There are lots of things to listen with this record - the quality of sound, the timbre, the dynamics, the residue and overtone, the contact of the bow and the strings of the violin, etc. The sound of violin by K-10 is vivid, coherent and beautiful. Rich details like violinist playing with the bow and the string are reproduced. More importantly, every note is given out in a very controlled manner but at the same time the flow of music is smooth as stream. There is definitely not any uneasy or goose bump feeling when it goes to the high pitch note. Beside strings, I also listen to quite a number of live vocal performances which I will give my thoughts a bit later. Jazz, cello, piano, opera, symphony, Chinese music are on my queue for serious listening. Yet, K-10 does not let me down for all my initial quick listening on all types of music.

    K-10 and K-70 are so matched in character and thus I quote the Batman example solely for demonstrating the partnering relationship. On second thought, Batman and Robin are not the appropriate choice as Robin is actually the "assistant" of Batman. The example just introduces confusion and maybe that's why Wchow asked which one is Batman or Robin. Being a soccer fans, perhaps I'd better describe the relationship as a football coach and the footballers. To win a soccer match (reproduce beautiful music), the team must have skilful players (power amplifier and speakers) but more importantly a veteran coach (pre-amplifier) who knows the strength and weakness of the players, look at everything in a top-down holistic manner, control the pace of the match, draw out the best tactics. The coach is the brain of a soccer team and so is the pre-amplifier in a hi-fi system. Azzurri is the nickname for my most favourite Italian national football team which plays "cross defence" and "holding ball" tactics. Previously , with Giscours and K-70, it sounds to me just like asking Azzurri to play traditional England football - double central back, long pass, strong tower forward, header. The "England style" soccer team can still win the match with good players but it is not "natural" and "matched" at all. Now with K-10, Azzurri is playing back its soccer in its own style.

    My K-10 is sitting on SRA but it is not the tailor-made one. The SRA is meant for my vinyl turntable which is put aside at the moment. It is difficult to remove a gear from SRA and I think I will place an order with AE for the SRA for K-10 soon. My listening area is diamond-shaped living room and there are glass door and wall at the back and on the right hand side. It is not a good listening area in terms of room acoustics. AE helps to treat my room and the room acoustics has already improved a lot. Yet there are still countless areas that I can address. I warmly welcome anyone who wants to visit me and listen to my system. The most important thing is that I can learn from you for giving me advices on perfecting the room acoustics, the setting of speakers, etc. Please help putting money into my pocket.
  • Azzurri,

    That's pretty cool! What you wrote is a clear reflection of your passion on the Robert's work. It's interesting that you single out the reproduction of violin impresses you right out of the box.

    Can you further elaborate on vocal, cello and recordings with more bass content? Yes, what about piano?

    Using photo at the National Geographic as analogy suggests realism. Transparency should comprise the shades/shadow in addition to bright spots. Is this what you meant?

    Good work. Look forward to future pieces. I kind of expect you may want to write a short piece on vocal, followed by piano/cello and the move on to orchestral works, and concluding by rock and pop music.

    Then that's a very thorough review.
  • Definitely I will continue to share my thoughts will all of you including the audition on various music. The only thing is that I will be out of town during the Chinese New Year. I think I will only be able to post another one next week.

    Voy, for analogy with National Geographic portraits, I am talking about it gives real and natural images to readers without any MSG or colouration (soft lens). And yes, you are right that Transparency should comprise the shades/shadow in addition to bright spots.
  • Thanks for Jlam's help to rush me the '0002' before the Chinese New Year....K10 is singing in my system in a family union with K70. What a coincidence with the 'New Year Eve' for the Chinese New Yaar! According to the instruction, it requires a few days to settle in so I think what I am sharing below would only be a mixture of my excitment and an early impression of it.

    Yet...the performance of K10 in the first few hours is....astonishing!! I have not read through the review by Azzurri before K10 was delivered so this saves me from imposing Azzurri's experience into my impression towards the performance of this preamp. The unit is 27kg in weight with a compact size chasis.
  • I used all LPs for the listening and the first one was by Kabi Karetei piano sonata on Mozart pieces...the piano under K10 is tuneful and full of variations on the tempo with endless harmonics at the end of each key...the kind of musical articulation by the K10/K70 integrates seamlessly with the performance of Kabi leading me into the music without pondering too much on comparing K10 with Syren or Tidal Preos. I have been listening more Syren recently and K10 resembles Syren on the speed and attack on the piano percussion. Anyway, I was more attracted by silky smoothness of the music flow than trying to recall and compare K10 with the other 2 preamps...
  • The next one is my double favourite because I used both the LP and CD as my reference in many auditioning so when listening to this LP, I can easily tell what I am listening....vocal depicted by K10/K70 is full of emotions and moods with breathes seemingly coming out from Joan Baez, not to mention the live like environment with lots of audience clapping their hands and singing lightly at the background. Scale and size fo the soundstage far exceeded the physical size of my listening room. Once again, my thanks to the room tuning made by PT, Master Chik. Due to the first few hours, vocal may sound a bit tight but I am pretty sure when the burn in time is over, the voice will get more mellow carrying more weight.

    One thing that strikes me by the K10 is its remarkable extension and resolution on the treble compartment, I can hear much reverbration sound in the Bullring in Bilbao, Spain.
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