Just In from CAF (Part II): VK Audio Room with Sparkler Audio CD Player, EleKit Amplification, AER Speakers, Mogami Cables

Some products I review touch my heart and affect how I see all other products that I review afterwards. VK Audio's made-in-Japan $1785 EleKit TU-8600R 300B single-ended tube amp kit was one of those. This amp uses Swedish-made Lundahl transformers (and super-premium parts) to deliver near-state-of-the-art performance at a price anyone with a soldering iron could afford. Because it made such a good pairing, this amp had a huge impact on my review of the $650/pair Klipsch RP-600M loudspeakers. Because it made such a good pairing, I called up John DeVore (DeVore Fidelity) and said, "Hey man, what's the matter with you? Why are you not promoting 300B amps with your O/93 Orangutans? They were made for 300Bs." Because it made such a great pairing, I can't listen to Zu Audio's Soul Supremes without the TU-8600R. Whenever I finish a review, the system I return to is the O/93s or RP600Ms with the 300B EleKit.

At CAF the TU-8600R changed my world-view again, because EleKit importer-distributor Victor Kung was driving his room with the made-in-Germany 650mm BD2 AER full-range drivers ($2500/each), mounted on custom see-thru plexiglass open-baffles ($2K/pair) with optional clear plexiglass horns ($1800/each) and Mogami 3103 speaker cables ($3.70/1'). Now I wish my listening room was bigger so I could review these German full-range speakers and the beautiful Sparkler Audio S503 CD player ($1690). This system delivered 100% exciting sound.

Anton's picture

Love those speakers, so reminiscent of the Ferguson Hill FH 001!

I'm working on a theory that we seek out the speakers we favor via how we tolerate specific flaws...maybe more so than we value certain other attributes.

I will forgive other sins in a crossoverless speaker because my own ears/brain tend to be bothered more by crossovers than by the gains made by using multidriver speakers. (I am generalizing, of course.)

Same for planar or open baffle...I must be prone to favor certain sound radiation patterns.

So, these speakers are on my "find and listen" list!

JRT's picture

A single driver loudspeaker does not have a crossover filter network, but that does not mean that it cannot benefit from application of a filter network to provide equalization such as for baffle edge diffraction step compensation, for taming a cone edge reflection, etc.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

'It means no worries, for the rest your days ........ It's a problem free philosophy .......... Hakuna Matata' :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Those speaker drivers very much look like the Cube Audio speaker drivers ....... Whizzer cones without any crossovers :-) ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Cube Audio speakers are more manageable in size :-) ..........

adeep42's picture

Herb your review moved me to order and build a TU-8600. First of all, I can't say enough good things about Victor Kung. He was hugely helpful to me and is surely a gentleman of the first order. His love of and enthusiasm of his products and music is wonderful.

I had always wanted to try a 300B SET amp. I just can't believe I've waited this long. I started out driving my DeVore Gibbon 3XLs. They never sounded better. Then after your and other's comments on Zu speakers, I ordered Omen II Dirty Weekends as an experiment. They're somewhat less refined than the DeVores, but they sure do boogie.

The above is in my second system in my office/bedroom. Now I prefer it to my big rig.



tonykaz's picture

I was just doing a final close-up of my Michigan Life as I read the thrilling story about the Kit Amp from Japan ( April 2019 ) .

I can remember having only a small few audio amplifier experiences like Mr.HR describes here.


I wonder how that little Amplifier hasn't made it into the Reviewer's Rotation for Loudspeaker Reviews?

I was considering "investing" in that cute little Amp, much like the loved one that got away: MV-45a w/cage. ( that I'm still hunting for )

My complex re-location pushed my Audio Hobby waaayyyyy back onto the back burners of my life. It's only just now that the little 300b is bounced back at me from this interesting Audio Show Coverage.

Low Power & Tubes seem to be Sirens for me, am I heading for the Rocks?

Tony in Venice

jeffhenning's picture

...or the setup, but I do loves me some old R-to-R. Is that a Tandberg or a Revox? Studer, maybe?

Reel to reel is the ultimate in analog recording/playback tech. Shame it's so dam expensive anymore!

Ortofan's picture

... Studer A67.

JRT's picture

Those 24 track 2 inch tape machines can also be configured as 16 or 8 track.

A few recording engineers continue to use tape saturation as means of dynamic range compression.

Not sure how that compares with more recent efforts in GPU powered DAW plugins that emulate the effects (ie modeling nonlinearities with Volterra series in Cuda).

jeffhenning's picture

Can you even get two inch reel tape anymore? It's got to be ridiculously expensive.

Given that you can now get a 1tB SSD for $130, I can't even imagine anyone would seriously consider this machine.

When the new Mac Pro's come out, I'll be getting a 16 core beast, load it with a bunch of SSD's, RAM, a Universal Audio Apollo X6 interface and more soft synths & plug-ins in Cubase than makes any sense.

That Studer is an awesome rig, but, for a lot less money and headaches, I can have something that is far superior.

I've been using DAW software for almost 30 years and, regardless of the maker, it keeps getting better. The fidelity and precision is undeniable. Not sure about everything else, but Cubase processes at 64 bit floating point. Pyramix is even crazier, but it doesn't really do MIDI.

Bottom line: You can now, for around $20-30K, have more recording tools than you could buy in the 90's for $20-30M.

Of course, that doesn't mean that your music will be any good. Talent is still required.

The days, though, of not having enough tracks or equipment have been gone for a long time. For a composer & engineer like me, that is awesome.