My first impression of K160 was complete absence of an amplifier in the chain at Divin Lab. I like the understated aesthetic with excellent craftsmanship.
Goebel Divin Majestic is an excellent speaker but harnessing the true potential of it is difficult because of the presence of two 18” woofers per channel. Zanden Chouku (長空) delivers single ended 40 watt Class A power with finesse but inadequate damping to control the bass of Divin Majestic. Zanden Kaun (火雲) with 100 watt (first 40 watt is class A, rest is class AB) has the flare, power and tremendous drive. Yet I always feel Divin could be more disciplined better in the bass compartment. Considering it is a tube amp, I have absolutely no complaints at all.
Takumi K160 could well be the perfect solution: fast, smooth, powerful, stable with excellent control of bass. Transient responses are snappy. Imaging is palpable. Tonality is neutral. Tone is pure. Every single note has a distinct imaging regardless of instrument and vocal. When the Goebel Divin partners with Takumi K160, every recording tells a story, particularly those symphonic scores selected for demonstrations by PT. Marvel had brought some very good records there as well.
Zanden KAUN 火雲 is such an explosive tube amp championed by a novel double push pull circuit. My comprehension of its character is: power/energy stems from the ground (力從地起) with tremendous drivability. In the case of K160, I couldn’t tell the source of energy whereabouts. It just comes up from somewhere in the air without any hint of its origin when the music calls for it. At the micro level, energy springs from every single note, rendering so much depth.
The purity of K160 is phenomenal with solid texture (trust me, you can’t find another SOLID solid state amp out there), I told PT after the first time listening to the Nathan Milstein video clip - the system is invisible beyond the usual description of transparency.
During the whole audition of the K160, I didn’t say a word because I was completely captivated by emotions.
P.S. I want to ask PT a technical question - Is transformer a major factor in determining the level of distortion in an amplifier?
I’d like to share a few thoughts after the initial audition of the mighty K-160.
As a proud Robert Koda owner (K15ex+K70) for more than 2 years, I’m pretty familiar with the house sound which is rich, full of color and a touch on the warm side. As a comparison, trinity is more neutral; Angstrom is faster and has more air, however the sheer balance of musicality and Hi-Fi elements that the Robert Koda combo provides has always been more than satisfying every time I sit down and play music. Therefore when I heard Robert was working on a new power amp, I was exited in the meantime curious about in what aspects the new flagship can improve over the already-sublime K70 in terms of performance.
After the audition, I was literally speechless. I’ve never ever experienced soundstage/positioning and dynamics in any setup like this before. What struck me is not only the soundstage, but also the unlimited dynamics being delivered in the presentation, it was almost explosive with the four 18-inch subwoofers of the Divin speakers but in a natural way.
All I can say is, the performance of the divin lab has far surpassed that of the Sheung Wan show room which I was pretty familiar with(before tuning by Sterling). I’m not sure how much of this sort of extreme performance was contributed by Sterling, what I’m sure of is that the K-160 drives the humongous Divin speakers like a piece of cake, a benign puppy, there’s not even a single drop of sweat.
Looking forward to the next listening session and, remotely likely, a home-demo
放低火雲的「棘」，今天匠心帶來是一種和諧、平衡、溫暖的感覺。試聽咗幾首靜態嘅曲目，展示咗匠心無限嘅細節後，我地將餘下嘅時間，都放在一些比較大形嘅音樂上，當中Ennio Morricone 嘅 The Mission 喺兩年前同一地方用全套Trinity 播放，至今都令我歷歷在目，我會用浩瀚、氣勢、權威來形容那時的表現。今天聽匠心嘅演繹，這份霸氣、張力不比當時低，但畫面嘅描述能力就遠勝從前 ，令人對大自然有一種敬畏之餘，更令人彷似在廣闊嘅草原上，一路步向晨曦，多了一份溫暖、希望、感動！
Beethoven once said, “I love trees more than a man.” That set the philosophical foundation of him creating a new kind of symphonic rhetoric in the Pastoral. It is an universe in which lulling repetition rather than teleological development defining the discourse of the Pastoral Symphony with 5 movements.
The fourth movement is about Storms that are unpredictable and powerful by nature. The conflation of piccolo, timpani, and trombone generates new textural effects radiating electric currents. Although the storm rages violently, Karl Böhm keeps the music moving along impulsively without losing the symphonic strength of Beethoven's musical argument. Just as suddenly as the storm arrives, this lacerating music subsides, and gives way, without a break, to the most deliriously music in the final movement: “Shepherd Songs.” The transition from the prowess of the 4th to the 5th movement requires tremendous transient resolution of the amplifiers alongside natural rendering of tonal colours to accurately convey the symphonic intention of Karl Bohm. The lightning collapse of symphonic energy into temporal silence is fascinating as I can visually comprehend the unison state of the orchestra at split second. Unlike the German/Swiss camp demonstrating clarity with a big spotlight on top of the stage, the purity of tone by Takumi K160 chimes by glowing with an inner light. There are tremendous amount of tonal shades from each note coming from whatever instruments.
The Takumi K160 orchestrates the Gobel Divin as though it is Karl Bohm conducting the majestic score - portraying the state of mind when one is wandering the nature.
On the other hand, Otto Klemperer has a very clear and assertive vision of pastoral life. The Pastoral movement number 4 under his baton is weightily structured in big and bold outlines, which is exemplified by Takumi K160 resolution capability. He plans everything very deliberately. Beethoven’s merrymaking peasants, as portrayed by Klemperer, are those very determined types without nostalgic glancing back. Klemperer, as always, divides his violins left and right, to open up the texture. The Shepherd’s Hymn is a real Ode to Joy, both euphoric and strong. There is no noticeable slowing for the Coda. The symphony’s spell is finally broken with a peremptory ‘Amen’ from the full orchestra. This Coda section truly stresses the amplifier’s holistic abilities on all parameters. And Robert’s Takumi K160 completely disappears in the chain as though it is Otto Klemperer directing the score. In fact, the whole system in Divin lab completely disappear. I wonder what will Stirling Trayle say next time.
To compare, Karl Bohm is more spontaneous focusing more on the state of mind rather than portraying the picturesque reality. I am still amazed by how different the various interpretations of a classical work can be. Pastoral under Bruno Walter is too ponderous to me. On the other extreme, the version by Karajan was too fast throughout.
Without researching into the Pastoral, I would not be able to tell the differences between Takumi K160 and other amps. I will most likely comment that this amplifier has higher resolution than another one; the sound stage is seemingly wider and deeper; and the speed is faster than before. Aren’t these comments apply to everything? At the extreme level of performance at Divin Lab, I must study more before sharing my thoughts. I have to say the Takumi allows me to easily distinguish the conducting style of different legendary batons by detailed facts.
This is the 2nd note of my thoughts on the Takumi K160. Do not under-estimate the rest of components in the chain in delivering the true state of art. They include Zanden JINPU phono stage, Zanden Chukoh preamp, Tripoint Troy ELITE NG, Wadax Atlantis Reference DAC, Hartvig Statement analog turntable, Thales Statement Arm, Destiny cartridge by Miyajima Lab, Skogrand Stravinsky Power/Interconnect/Speaker cable, Argento FMR EE power/ground/interconnects, SRA craze 3 rack and Virginia amp stand etc. At this level, even the Argento FMR EE ground cable makes a tremendous improvement on the Zanden JINPU phono.
writing my final note on Robert Koda’s Takumi K160 with a heavy heart. What is happening now in Hong Kong is unprecedented
in history. At this time of my writing, the
“fate” of my home is unknown.
Situation changes by hours. The
ponderous atmosphere drove me to the universe of Beethoven. The first movement of the 5th Symphony – Fate (命運) –
resembles the prevailing situation in Hong Kong. I had chosen the Carlos Kleiber’s version
(SACD, Esoteric) for serious evaluation playing through the Wadax Atlantis Reference
this is one of the most glorious accounts of the Fifth Symphony ever conducted and
recorded, the orchestral playing is rich and glowing, superbly articulated and
dynamically acute. The first movement is taken quickly with tension and elegance.
The exposition of the finale was proudly
plotted: brass broad and imposing, strings racing and exultant. Differences amongst Carlos Kleiber, Klemperer
and Karajan are primarily of emphasis. Klemperer
and Karajan direct the span of the finale, a shade more certainly, a shade less
fervently than Carlos.
Goebel Divin Majestic speakers under the command of Takumi K160 (fed by Argento
FMR EE power cords and Skogrand Stravinsky Interconnect XLR from the Zanden Chuokoh
preamp), I could comprehend some marginal quickening of pace in the coda in the
first movement. There was also a sense
of urgency - a byproduct of the extraordinary tension the performance generated
earlier on. And the great trombone-led passage
conducted by Carols was the most powerful amongst other great conductors. The tonality of the trombone requires
tremendous resolution and control of the amplifier to shimmer with adequate
body. The horns were superb throughout, especially thrilling in the first
movement motto and in the Scherzo. Under his baton, the golden and serene sound of Vienna Philharmonic, was now blazing white with heat at the crescendo.
compare, the Zanden Kaun mono amplifiers quickly directed my focus/attention to
the molten intensity of the finale. My hands were sweating more. The
transition of the serene tonality of the Vienna Philharmonic to a blasting flame
was relatively hushed in comparison to Takumi K160. Robert, on the other hand, demonstrates
the ability of the Vienna Philharmonic to color and shade the rarest pianissimo,
both before and after the crescendo. To
recap, even the melancholic second movement communicates a sense of balletic vitality. This clearly manifests the extreme lyrical resolution of the
Takumi. Credit must also be given to the
Tripoint Elite NG to recreate all those magical moments of inter-temporal silence between notes and all those special cues amongst different instrumental groups.
the infallible line of its famous opening, crackling with excitement, to its
celebratory ending, Carlos Kleiber’s interpretation of Symphony No 5
under the control of Takumi K160 sweeps the field. The joyous energy of the music of the last movement
championed my spirit in the infinite space of hope for the betterment of Hong Kong.
are no upper limits preset when one strives for excellence in arts. Hopefully,
we have someone in each generation exemplify such merit. In my humble opinion,
the Takumi K160 has reached the pinnacle of amplification arts.
Robert Koch, my sincerely thank you for your