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Thread: KR AUDIO VA 340

  1. #1
    Wammer flyfisher's Avatar
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    Initially I considered whether this should be placed under equipment reviews in Wigwam, but as many talented hi fi journalists from all over the world have written about this amplifier, plus it has also won many awards.

    I thought I would tell my story as to how I came to own one of these masterpieces.

    A few months ago knowing that I was going to be in Grantham for a business meeting, I decided to contact Polar Bear to suggest that as I was up in his part of the world, we have a long overdue curry.

    This gave me one problem, how to kill 2-3 hours until Polar Bear turned up. Then I recalled that I had seen some quite unusual valve amplifiers at AudioLincs, and they were based in Grantham.

    I called AudioLincs and explained that I was still on a quest to find out whether valve amplification could excel in ALL types of music.

    Up to this point my only valve experiences were with the Push Pull 48wpc of Art Audio Concerto, which had shown me how valve amplification was stunning with certain types of music, but less than optimal with more complicated forms of music.

    Jim at AudioLincs had an interesting VIVA 845 SET integrated, which had been taken in as a trade in, and I also asked to hear a KR Audio amplifier, as I had read so many good things about their valve production, and their own amplifiers.

    I was up front enough to tell Jim that I was really about to replace the Concerto with a solid state amplifier, and not to get too excited about a sale. This was not a problem for him.

    On the day, I found my way to Jim’s house, where I got my first sight of the VIVA 845, now I had gathered it was on the large side, but in the flesh it was HUGE, but beautiful, classic Italian design that reminded me of a V8 engine block, and once it had been playing for an hour or so, I could see a rippling heat haze coming off the beast.

    I was amazed that the VIVA 845 20w SET could produce so much slam and attack, when coupled with some speakers I had never heard of, Horning Agathons. We listened to a wide range of music, and I was impressed as it seemed that here was an amplifier that could rock.

    After extended listening to the VIVA, I felt my ears ringing a bit from the musical attack, and asked to hear what Jim had brought over from KR Audio. I then helped Jim in with a wooden case, and we unloaded a VA340.

    We then repeated almost the same musical repertoire with this amplifier, and for the first 20 minutes or so I sat there rather unmoved by the experience, and commented to Jim to that effect. “Just you wait until it properly warms up”.

    Well within no time at all the VA340 suddenly awoke, and I found myself tapping my feet to the music, and asking to turn up the volume, as I was really enjoying the music. The more we played the better it became, at which point Polar Bear dropped in and joined the audition.

    I had an idea of what the list price was for the VA340, which was an integrated 300B XLS hybrid valve amp with four RCA inputs and remote control for the volume and input selector. Jim told me that this was his demonstrator and made me a price, and when I explained that I had the Art Audio Concerto to sell, he offered me a very reasonable trade in on that too.

    I knew deep down that this was a very special piece of equipment, and Jim had put a very tempting offer on the table.

    It took a weekend to make the decision, then to pack up and send my Concerto to Jim.

    A few days later the VA340 arrived, and I set it up in my second system having been assured that it would work well with my Focal 1007bes. For the next week or so, I found myself constantly listening to this amplifier, it was just a pleasure even though I was only using a CA 740C CDP as the main source.

    Jim told me that the VA340 should be better than any SS amplification, and he offered to come over to my house, and we would try it in my principal system.

    Well the rest is history as they say, the VA340 was just so much more musical than the existing solid state pre/power amps, which were then taken down to the second system.

    Even though the solid state amplifiers were almost double the price of the VA340, I doubt very much whether they are nearly as good. The proof being that the second system now sounded almost two dimensional and lacking in musical life, by only swapping the two amplifiers around.

    Now the KR Audio VA340 sits on the bottom shelf of my Townsend seismic sink stand, where it looks as if the two products were made for each other. The structured look of VA340 is complimented by chrome sprung chassis of the Townsend stand.

    The other added bonus is that I never need to go tube rolling, as the VA340 has just two output valves, and these are KR Audio’s very own 300B XLS valves, so no need to play around there.

    I believe I have found a product that produces glorious music whether it from CD, the Tuner or Vinyl.

    It performs exactly[/b] as the dealer said it would. If only I had come across the VA340 last year!


    ]

    Flyfisher
    Trying to catch that elusive sound quality, once heard never forgotten.

  2. #2
    Deaf Wammer Tel's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Nice write up. I enjoyed reading that.

    I had wondered how that amp had 'appeared' on the scene!
    "We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap" Kurt Vonnegut

  3. #3
    Wammer flyfisher's Avatar
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    Tel wrote:
    Nice write up. I enjoyed reading that.

    I had wondered how that amp had 'appeared' on the scene!
    I know that you are a big valve fan yourself, and we have bought some valves together in the past, but I am amazed that although the KR Audio valves are quite well known to fellow wammers, I am not aware of many wammers owning their amplifiers.

    It is funny, that I went from that Bel Canto debacle on Ebay and then ended up with the VA340, never predicted that one in a million years, but boy did I make the right choice.

    In the words of the Ronseal advert, this baby does what the dealer promised it would!
    Flyfisher
    Trying to catch that elusive sound quality, once heard never forgotten.

  4. #4
    In the trade Wammer Purite Audio's Avatar
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    FF did you get a chance to listen to any of the 1610 amps ,I believe Jm uses the mono's in his own set-up they are pretty good too.

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.

  5. #5
    Moderator Polarbear's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Nice write up Roger.



    The KR was very very good especially through those Horning speakers and then an excellent curry afterwards,



    Regards



    PB

  6. #6
    Wammer flyfisher's Avatar
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    coopee wrote:
    FF did you get a chance to listen to any of the 1610 amps ,I believe Jm uses the mono's in his own set-up they are pretty good too.
    Coops

    I firstly need to put the Focal Micro Utopia Bes back with the Belles, although they do sound very good with VA 340.

    I am going to hear a pair of Horning Aristoteles at AudioLincs next month, as no doubt a medium sized floor stander of 93+db would be even better than the Micros.

    Jim would let me hear the 1610s if I wanted to. At the moment I am as happy as a pig in pooh!

    Regards

    FF
    Flyfisher
    Trying to catch that elusive sound quality, once heard never forgotten.

  7. #7
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    how much are the KR tubes and what are the other tubes in the amp?
    Horn OK Please!

  8. #8
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    A very nice amp that. I think you already know theres a lot more potential there with more suitable speakers than Focal.
    My Flickr Page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/philnmorgan/

    When a man steals your wife, there is no better revenge than to let him keep her. (David Bissonette)

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    In the trade Wammer Purite Audio's Avatar
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    Eunice mentioned that she might only be selling amps from now on and not suppling valves seperately, KR 'kronzillas ' are good Thomas used the 50 watt ,and we used the mono's in Munich last year , they are fast punchy and dynamic perhaps there is a little 'glare' if you listen to them for very long periods, I haven't really heard the smaller integrateds.

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.

  10. #10
    Wammer flyfisher's Avatar
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    anubisgrau wrote:
    how much are the KR tubes and what are the other tubes in the amp?
    I have no idea of the price of the tubes, they came with the amp, but I have a 6 month guarantee on them. Best to contact AudioLincs and ask Jim as he is the KR Audio importer into the UK of both their valves and amplifiers.

    There are no other valves other than the two output valves!

    This is what appeals to me,as I am still trying to sell offthe various tubes I have left from tube rolling for the Concerto.

    Withthe VA340, I just enjoy my music, and don't need to worry whether I amgetting the best out of the amplifier,by playing with the valves all the time.

    To some I am sure that spoils the fun?
    Flyfisher
    Trying to catch that elusive sound quality, once heard never forgotten.

  11. #11
    Wammer flyfisher's Avatar
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    Papa Lazarou wrote:
    A very nice amp that. I think you already know theres a lot more potential there with more suitable speakers than Focal.
    No you are wrong!

    The Focals actually sound very good with the VA340, and Jim at AudioLincs has used these with KR Audio amps before. By looking at another type of speaker, I might get even more from the amp, but when I bought these speakers, it was for a powerfull SS amplifier, and yet they work really well with a 20wpc SET.

    I have a modified pair of Micro Utopia Bes, and they are going no where other than chez moi. I have to say I could never live with the ARCS that you liked so much.

    I know you don't like focals, you have said it often enough

    Good luck with your search for new speakers.
    Flyfisher
    Trying to catch that elusive sound quality, once heard never forgotten.

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    Super Moderator Duvet's Avatar
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    Nice write up. I've often seen the Hornings on the Lincc website and wondered what they sound like. Heard the Viva's on a few occasions and never thought of them as fatiguing but never listened for a prolonged period. What's the tube life on the KRamp. then ? More importantly whats a replacement set cost .
    First pressings son !

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    I remember seeing the 300BXLS ones for around ballpark figure of £250-300 per pair when I was looking around last year. Still cheaper than Western Electrics

    JJ

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    Wammer flyfisher's Avatar
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    Duvet wrote:
    Nice write up. I've often seen the Hornings on the Lincc website and wondered what they sound like. Heard the Viva's on a few occasions and never thought of them as fatiguing but never listened for a prolonged period. What's the tube life on the KRamp. then ? More importantly whats a replacement set cost .
    Duvet

    Now I only heard Jim's trade in VIVA 845, I have never heard their other amps (300B). The VIVA is a real design statement, but it so HUGE, nothing can prepare you for the size, they don't give much detail on their web site.

    It would have been interesting to compare a VIVA integrated with 300B valves against the KR Audio VA 340. I suppose there is another real difference in that the VIVA is a pure valve amplifirewhilst the VA 340 is a Hybrid, whether that makes any significant differences.

    I have no idea about tube life or replacement cost, but Jim told me that this demonstrator probably had no more than 100 hours on them.

    Hey Ho fingers very crossed!!
    Flyfisher
    Trying to catch that elusive sound quality, once heard never forgotten.

  15. #15
    Wammer flyfisher's Avatar
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    jonjin wrote:
    I remember seeing the 300BXLS ones for around ballpark figure of £250-300 per pair when I was looking around last year. Still cheaper than Western Electrics

    JJ
    Thanks that's a relief.

    Shows what skonking value there is in both the valves and the amplifier.
    Flyfisher
    Trying to catch that elusive sound quality, once heard never forgotten.

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    flyfisher wrote:
    Papa Lazarou wrote:
    A very nice amp that. I think you already know theres a lot more potential there with more suitable speakers than Focal.
    No you are wrong!

    The Focals actually sound very good with the VA340, and Jim at AudioLincs has used these with KR Audio amps before. By looking at another type of speaker, I might get even more from the amp, but when I bought these speakers, it was for a powerfull SS amplifier, and yet they work really well with a 20wpc SET.

    I have a modified pair of Micro Utopia Bes, and they are going no where other than chez moi. I have to say I could never live with the ARCS that you liked so much.

    I know you don't like focals, you have said it often enough

    Good luck with your search for new speakers.

    it would still make sense to try this with another type of speaker in general, some horns or hybrids like horning. i havea fresh experience from yesterday as i went to hear a big wavac SETin a neighbouring town. the owner has a bit older jm lab altea (spelling?)and theyjust couldn'tcope with the amp soi decided to stop after 10 mins. we brought the amp to a friend with a pair of DIY-ed tannoy WRs and got completely steamrollered with wavac. the owner just couldn't believe what show he missed in his room all these years.

    problem with dynamic speakers (unless we talk some really stupid money) when paired with this kind of amps is you'll get nice, smooth sound but you'll miss all the tone and emotional excitement you can only get with really fast speakers - either fullrangers or compression drivers based....

    Horn OK Please!

  17. #17
    Wammer flyfisher's Avatar
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    anubisgrau wrote:
    flyfisher wrote:
    Papa Lazarou wrote:
    A very nice amp that. I think you already know theres a lot more potential there with more suitable speakers than Focal.
    No you are wrong!

    The Focals actually sound very good with the VA340, and Jim at AudioLincs has used these with KR Audio amps before. By looking at another type of speaker, I might get even more from the amp, but when I bought these speakers, it was for a powerfull SS amplifier, and yet they work really well with a 20wpc SET.

    I have a modified pair of Micro Utopia Bes, and they are going no where other than chez moi. I have to say I could never live with the ARCS that you liked so much.

    I know you don't like focals, you have said it often enough

    Good luck with your search for new speakers.

    it would still make sense to try this with another type of speaker in general, some horns or hybrids like horning. i havea fresh experience from yesterday as i went to hear a big wavac SETin a neighbouring town. the owner has a bit older jm lab altea (spelling?)and theyjust couldn'tcope with the amp soi decided to stop after 10 mins. we brought the amp to a friend with a pair of DIY-ed tannoy WRs and got completely steamrollered with wavac. the owner just couldn't believe what show he missed in his room all these years.

    problem with dynamic speakers (unless we talk some really stupid money) when paired with this kind of amps is you'll get nice, smooth sound but you'll miss all the tone and emotional excitement you can only get with really fast speakers - either fullrangers or compression drivers based....
    I was very impressed by the sound made by the larger Horning speakers and the slightly smaller ones will apprently do the same. Hybrid horns

    Great detail, soundstage but above all musical.
    Flyfisher
    Trying to catch that elusive sound quality, once heard never forgotten.

  18. #18
    Moderator Polarbear's Avatar
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    flyfisher wrote:
    anubisgrau wrote:
    flyfisher wrote:
    Papa Lazarou wrote:
    A very nice amp that. I think you already know theres a lot more potential there with more suitable speakers than Focal.
    No you are wrong!

    The Focals actually sound very good with the VA340, and Jim at AudioLincs has used these with KR Audio amps before. By looking at another type of speaker, I might get even more from the amp, but when I bought these speakers, it was for a powerfull SS amplifier, and yet they work really well with a 20wpc SET.

    I have a modified pair of Micro Utopia Bes, and they are going no where other than chez moi. I have to say I could never live with the ARCS that you liked so much.

    I know you don't like focals, you have said it often enough

    Good luck with your search for new speakers.

    it would still make sense to try this with another type of speaker in general, some horns or hybrids like horning. i havea fresh experience from yesterday as i went to hear a big wavac SETin a neighbouring town. the owner has a bit older jm lab altea (spelling?)and theyjust couldn'tcope with the amp soi decided to stop after 10 mins. we brought the amp to a friend with a pair of DIY-ed tannoy WRs and got completely steamrollered with wavac. the owner just couldn't believe what show he missed in his room all these years.

    problem with dynamic speakers (unless we talk some really stupid money) when paired with this kind of amps is you'll get nice, smooth sound but you'll miss all the tone and emotional excitement you can only get with really fast speakers - either fullrangers or compression drivers based....
    I was very impressed by the sound made by the larger Horning speakers and the slightly smaller ones will apprently do the same. Hybrid horns

    Great detail, soundstage but above all musical.




    Agreed, Jim had them set up very well and they were very musical.



    Regards



    PB

  19. #19
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    I've liked the Agathons for a long time - they sounded pretty darned good with some serious Bryston power as well!

  20. #20
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    Were you aware theres a link to this review from the kraudio.com website.
    Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.

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