Absolutely. I have a pair of the Midi Grands and am amazed by the level of clarity and cohesiveness. I am driving them with the Tenor 75 Wp amplifiers and the match is miraculous. :)
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Thanks Jtinn. Can you be more specific on the sound of the Ceramiques 1.0's? I'm also considering the SF Amati Homage, Proac Response 4's, and Proac Response 3.8's. Anybody have insight on the above speakers? BTW Jtinn, I read your system profile and wow do you have the setup!!
I am looking for an easier to drive speaker than the Avalon Eclipse with much (hopefully even more) of this speakers 3D and musicality. The Avalon Eclipse required some powerful tube amps to really come alive IMO. I'd like to be able to use Cary 805C type amplifier. For me the musical truth is in the midrange (it must have soul which the Avalon's did). I also think the highs have to be quite open as to not distract from the midrange.
Jordan, all I can say is the midrange clarity is so addictive. It is very fast, accurate and full of natural body. The Cary should be a wonderful match with the speaker. I think you will find that the Ceramiques also have the ability to disappear and leave an incredibly realistic soundstage. The bass is fantastic, deep, articulate and textured.
I can vouch for Kharma 1.0 also. I have owned a pair close to a year now and am still amazed at the purity of them.I am using Thor Audio 30 watt monos and T1000 linestage.I would not call them bright sounding at all.If anything they may be slightly ( only slightly) on the darker side.I listen to mostly Piano Jazz etc. and find they excell in this area. If you need major bass dynamics and listen to hard driving music I don't think these are the right speaker for you,but if you just enjoy natural sounding music that is not pumped up with extra bass or screatching highs,I think you'll love em! To me they sound very sophistacated. Good Luck
The Ceramique 1.0 is among the most coherent multi-way speakers I've heard. Somebody did a really, really fine job on the crossover. They may not be the last word in upper treble detail, but with the right amplification they are almost buttery smooth and still quite dynamic. I believe that Paul Marks of Thor uses this speaker or one of its siblings when evaluating his electronics, and that's a pretty good endorsement. I'd say that very few 30-watt amps can drive them well, but the little Thor sure can.
I got to listen to the 1.0's in the same system as a pair of Watt/Puppies (6.0 I think), and the Wilsons had better bass slam and overall dynamic impact, along with a more extended top end. But the 1.0's sounded more relaxing and had "bloom" - they get the midrange right, and that's where it really matters. Note that they like a very dynamic amp (like the Thor); otherwise they can sound a little subdued.
From what I'm hearing from you guys, it sounds like the Ceramiques are similar in sound to the Avalon Eclipse? The midrange of the Eclipse was very addictive.
It also seems as if the the Kharma's are close competitors of the other 3 speakers I'm considering (SF Amati Homage, Proac Response 4.0 or 3.8). Each is reported to do the midrange well. Can anyone compare the sound of the Kharma's to these other speakers? Thank you,
Also, aside from the Cary 805C, what other tube amps will mate well with the Kharma, or for that matter, the Amati's and Proacs? I probably cannot afford the Tenor's, especially after buying a speaker in this price range, but I am expecting to pay in the <$7,000 range (used) for a quality tube power amp to power one of the above speakers.
Thanks for the help, guys! And Thorman, I had never heard of Thor Audio prior to reading your response. They look like quality amps. My Manley's also used Svetlana EL34's and really brought my Avalon Eclipse to life. Unfortunately, it took a 100+ watts of Triode power to really open the Avalon ups IMHO. I'd like to use less power, but also be satisfied listening to orchestral, blues, jazz, folk, and the occasional rock (no heavy metal for me please!).
Thanks again for the help!
While the midrange may be very transparent in both speakers, the Kharma's are much more coherant. There is a more natural and lifelike sound with the Kharma's.
All of the speakers you mention are quite good. I just feel that the Kharma's are more like listening to the real thing. They are faster and more open with greater resolution and detail.
The Tenor's are the best. :) But, if you can find a Lamm ML1, Joule Electra, Audio Aero Capitole, Manley Snapper, or Atma-sphere MA1 MK II.2, they will all work extremely well.
You really do not need much power to drive the Kharma's.
Won't be able to afford the Tenors unless someone is willing to sell for $7000 in mint condition. Any takers? LOL
You mentioned Joule Electra and I was wondering if you mean the OTL's (eg VZN-100 mono's) or the transformer coupled Stargate Mono's? OTL design intrigues me, but I don't want to miss the midrange magic or get too much on the lean side by doing so. I'm not familiar with the sound of OTL amps. Can you comment?
You might also consider for your short audition list a Berning ZH270 tube OTL, which lists new for $4500, then budget several hundred dollars for NOS Cryo'd tubes (it takes 10 tubes). I have compared this (w/ stock tubes) to the Tenors on a pair of Kharma Exquisites - it drove them easily and sounded great -- it was just missing that last measure of completeness and total coherence that the Tenors bring to the party like no other amp can. It also has a volume control and a switch to select between two inputs, so you can bypass a pre-amp if you wish.
The Kharma's are excellent speakers, as others have noted above. The Amati Hmages have a seductive midrange but the high and low extremes are lacking; IMO, quite unacceptable in a $22,000 speaker.
I also highly recommend the Lumen White Whiteflames though I think they are more expensive than the Kharmas. The Whiteflames have ceramic drivers throughout, and use a revolutionary cabinet design. Rather than being heavily braced like most speakers, it is relatively open on the inside and actually channels the unwanted resonances out a port in the back. They are about the most coherent, balanced and tonally accurate speakers I've heard, and have incredibly tight bass. All in all, highly musical.
The 1.0 Ceramique could not possibly be termed bright.If it is termed anything other than neutral it may be a touch on the smooth or dark side ( very slightly )which to me is fine. I would say they are the most pleasing speakers I have every heard or owned.
I "think" the speaker review that the previous gentleman was reffering to, was the 2.0 Ceramique which was supposedly addressed in the 2.1 revision. I do agree that these are not the speaker to buy for Rock Music ,because they are just to clean sounding and refuse to do anything else but sound clean and natural.Any music that should sound clean and natural will sound wonderful with Kharma Ceramiques. Speaker placement with all Ceramiques is very,very "critcal". If you listen to music such as Pat Barber,Diane Krall,Jascintha,Nat King Cole,Cassandra Wilson, Piano Jazz etc... "it don't get any better"
As you can tell I love my Kharma 1.0
Jayme, I have read this review (several times in fact) prior to purchasing the Kharma Ceramiques 1.0. It made me somewhat (quite a bit) nervous because it seemed to imply that the speaker fell decidedly on the analytical side, though still an excellent speaker. After owning and loving the Avalon Eclipse (very coherent and musical and to me, better suited than even the Eidolon), I could not stand the idea of spending this much money and not having more of the magic of the Eclipses.
But alas... my desire (need?) to venture beyond (and hopefully above) what I had experienced in the past, along with some excellent advice/feedback from Jtinn and Thorman as well as others, drove me to purchase the Kharma Ceramiques 1.0's. I received them this week and couldn't be happier!!!
First off: as I am building my system from scratch (again, why do I do this???), I am only able to get music by playing the Kharma's with a 60w integrated amp, a $100 DVD player, $30 ic's, and home terminated 50c/foot speaker cable at this time. I couldn't wait to listen so this was my only option. The first time I played a disc I knew I had made the right decision.
Instead of highlighting all the nasties in my system (and there are plenty) and the software, the Kharma's let me first hear the music. I was about knocked over by Diana Krall's voice and piano (the first disc I played). I played disc after disc enjoying the music. The midrange was incredibly clear (particularly given the associated comps) and MUSICAL!! It was like having the Avalon Eclipses back from my brother, but without the power requirements the Avalon's require to really sing, with greater potential for low-end and seemingly greater potential for the highs as well.
The next EXTREMELY important test for my enjoyment is how does it do Dylan. His recordings are not usually very good, but if a system can communicate the emotion of Dylan and basically just make me smile and tap my foot, I know I've found a winner. And a winner I've found.
To be fair, I could not listen for nearly as long as I could with my previous system, which had on the order of $17k worth of supporting equipment powering the Avalon Eclipses, without having my ears really close down. So obviously, there is quite a bit of glare, hash, etc coming from the cheap comps and cables.
Yesterday, I changed out my 50c/foot speaker cable and replaced it with Synergistic Designer Reference .5's. Whoaaa!! Significant hash gone, dynamics and bass much better, can listen now for longer (though still not long by past standards).
Next step is a good pair of tube amps, either Joule OTL's, Atmasphere OTL's, VTL, Manley, Cary. Then I'll look at a direct to amp CD player such as Wadia, Audio Aero, or Resolution ref. Lastly, I'll dial in my cables.
I suppose my point in writing this long and possibly confusing reply is that my impressions of the "potential" of the Kharma's is much different than the review in TAS. I'll write more as I upgrade the rest of my system over the next couple of months.
I am wondering why you did not listen to the Avalon Ceramiques also as long as you owned the Eclipse and loved them so much? I also own the Avalon Arcus and the Avalon Ceramiques are on my short list for my next speaker if I ever change. The Avalon Ceramiques have all ceramique drivers not like the Kharmas.
Germanboxers: As a fellow audioguy also going through an entire re-build, my best wishes go out to you. Unlike many, I believe you have gone the "right" way, i.e. buy the speakers that most spoke to you and build the system around them. I haven't made my speaker decision yet.
I feel as nervous as when I was deciding about popping the question to my wife! Oh well, at least divorce is cheaper in audio: no damn attorneys (w/all due apologies to those in the legal profession)! I have also not spent sleepless nights wondering what my ex-speakers were up to...