Konus Audio and Living Voice combine to remarkable effect…
It ain’t high-end – but it IS highly musical!
By Roy Gregory
This started out as a bit of fun: In fact – a lot of fun! Happily swimming in the immersive musicality of the little Konus Audio Vinyle 3000-MC and Integrale 2000 stereo amplifier driving the Living Voice Auditorium R25A loudspeakers, I suddenly remembered a neat little trick from my retail days. Back then, we loved the little Musical Fidelity A1, even if it was somewhat dynamically and bandwidth limited. The apocryphal story told at the time was that Tim de Paravicini was musing one day when an interesting idea for a circuit popped into his mind. At first he got quite excited, but on further reflection he realised that it wouldn’t work – so he sold it to Anthony Michaelson! Thus was born the A1…
The challenge with the A1 was always to maximise its musical strengths and minimise its weaknesses. And we soon discovered that those limitations could be easily (and cost-effectively) overcome by simply adding a second A1 and vertically bi-amping a suitable pair of speakers – the small, simple, two-way Arcam Alpha 2 being a favourite choice. It might seem an unlikely solution, but it was also demonstrably musical and a surprisingly successful seller. The Integrale 2000 is a far more capable amp than the A1 ever was, but how much could its entertaining performance be further improved by adding a second unit and bi-amping the speakers?
Of course, that proposition is more easily voiced than executed, requiring specific bi-amp cables (or adaptors) and two pairs of identical speaker cables. But experiments with a mix and match cable-loom (one that far out-priced the amps and speakers put together) demonstrated the potential in emphatic style and the search was on for a more price-appropriate cable solution. Along the way, what started as a simple bit of idle curiosity became an object lesson in building a system, an object lesson in just how far you can take the musical performance of even modest components – as long as you get the fundamentals right.
But let’s start at what most people consider to be the beginning – the equipment comprising the system. I have already reviewed both the Vinyle 3000-MC, the Integrale 2000 (https://gy8.eu/review/and-now-for-something-completely-different/) and the R25A (https://gy8.eu/review/living-voice-auditorium-r25a-loudspeaker/) so there’s no need to spend time on their more intimate details here. What you need to know is that the Konus Audio Amp is as minimalist as it gets: roughly the size of a fancy box (or box of fancy) chocolates, it’s only concession to operational nicety is to provide a choice of two line-level inputs: So, no balanced connections, no digital inputs, no multiple outputs and (shock, horror) no remote control. The volume control doesn’t even have any indication of the level set. What you do get is a surprisingly feisty and rhythmically coherent 30-Watt output. Combine that with the 94dB sensitivity and easy drive characteristics of the Living Voice speakers and you have the proverbial marriage made in heaven. The speakers deliver enough bass to satisfy, not so much that they get into trouble in the average front room – and not so much that it get’s the driving amp into trouble either. Meanwhile, the temporal integrity and grip of the Konus amp gets all that musical energy heading in the right direction and with a sense of purpose. All good stuff.
Using two integrated amps to run a single pair of speakers in bi-amp mode is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is take the left channel signal from your source and feed it to both channels of one integrated, while the right channel gets fed to both channels of the other. Assuming that we’re talking single-ended RCA connections here, you can achieve that by using an RCA plug to two RCA socket adaptor, with a pair of interconnects for each channel. In theory, you can save some coin by running an RCA socket to two RCA plug adaptor at the amplifier end – meaning that you only need a single interconnect – but that depends on the distance between the input sockets on the amp. In the case of the Integrale 2000, with its resolutely dual mono layout, they’re on opposite sides of the rear panel, so even with such a small amplifier, that’s a non-starter. Of course, if you are serious you can get Y-cables made up, which run from one plug to two, which is definitely the best (although least versatile) solution. I’d try it with adaptors first. The benefits are going to easily outweigh the degradation involved with the extra set of contacts.