Gryphon Colosseum vs. Karan M2000 monoblocks

I've been on the search for desert island amplification to partner with my Sonus Faber Futuras for a while now. The contenders has been narrowed down to either the Gryphon Colosseum (Stereo) or the new Karan M2000 monoblocks. The price offered are more or less the same.

Preamp will probably be Gryphon Mirage or Pandora if going for the Colosseum, or the KA L Ref.MK3 if going for the Karan M2000. I'm also considering a tube preamp as an alternative - especially the Conrad Johnson GAT.

I would truly appreciate ANY feedback regarding these poweramps and brands. If anyone has experience with both, that would be most valuable.

Source will be Brinkmann Bardo/10.5 tonearm/Pi cartridge for analog playback. Digital playback is yet to be decided, but I'm using an Audio Aero Prestige SE at the moment.

My room is approx. 6x5 square meters. I'm mostly listening to small scale rock/pop/acoustic, classical and electronical music. The system will be used for music mainly, but also film.


I run with GAT/Colosseum combination and i would not trade it for anything at the moment. i have not heard lots of stuff...never heard Lamm, FM Acoustics. I have heard the reference gear of Krell, ARC, Dartzeel (108 not the new $100K monos), Tidal, Zanden (not amp), Shindo (not amp), MBL, Boulder (not pre), ML.

Here is how i look at it. the CJ GAT delivers the CJ purity of tonality without any golden glow this time. Having lived with ACT 2 for years (and PV14L before that)...i know the golden hue and the slightly overly tight treble of CJ...and the GAT delivers the tonality, with the golden hue carved away to leave pure tone.

It also is far more extended than the ACT 2 (which is saying something)...and far, far, far better in treble than i ever imagined.

The Colosseum is SS Class A...thru 2,560 continuous watts into 0.5ohm load...and always in Class A. So in other words, it instantly deliver dynamics at any level...and as a result the music becomes effortless.

However, what i never fully appreciated was that, for example, on well recorded violin, when they really drive the bow against the string, you instantly hear a tremendously powerful, deep swell of ringing that comes from really driving the violin is beautiful, fulsome and very much what you hear in violin solo live.

I have never heard an amp before that got this quite right. Maybe its the Class A or maybe its something else.

But i really enjoy that. it makes music soar. Because this ability to drive microdynamics to an extreme level...creates the inner beauty of a note...while its extraordinary power allows it to keep all the complexity of an orchestra properly organized. so you can listen to the microdynamic single-note tone of any intstrument you want to...or just sit back and listen to the ensemble.

I feel like if you've got a good signal, the GAT is going to send as much of it thru to the Gryphon Colosseum as possible...and then the Gryphon will effortlessly drive it with a purity of tonality that is the equal of the GAT.

because i got both demo/second hand from different parts of the world...i did not have the luxury of auditioning the CJ ART amps or the Gryphon Mirage/Pandora. All i know, i have had CJ pre in my system since 2000, and never felt the urge to go with any of the other pres i'd ever heard.
hope that helps. good luck.
The Pandora will not be introduced before 2012
That won't be a problem as long as Mirage is just as good ;o)
This may help your decision: Gryphon strives for maximum detail and transparency while Karan amplifiers are in the Pass/ Classé / Plinius / McIntosh camp: plenty of musicality, smooth sound and just enough detail to sound really nice but not overcooked.
Seeing that you own an Audio Aero Prestige SACD and Sonus Faber speakers, my bet is that you will enjoy more the Karan amplifiers.
Good luck!
Hi Casouza,

Thanks...good to know. I have not had the chance to hear Karans before, but certainly read good things about them. As to Gryphon and SF, i moved from CJ tube amp to Gryphon Antileon many years ago, and found the Gryphon matched the tube magic of the CJ, but provided substantially more authority, weight, snap and clarity (and obviously dynamics and bass).

From a 'general' standpoint, i have found that Class A SS amps (old Forte 4, Gryphon, Boulder 2060 and also Pass XA and Karan?) often provide the SS solidity many of us enjoy while delivering a treble & mid that feels quite tonally pure.

Likely a personal choice of 2 Class A SS amps.

Have you ever compared Karan to other amps?...would be interested in learnign more about your experiences with them. thanks.
The Colosseum is SS Class A...thru 2,560 continuous watts into 0.5ohm load...and always in Class A. So in other words, it instantly deliver dynamics at any level...and as a result the music becomes effortless.

Lloydelee21, your 2nd sentence is total B.S. The class-A nature of the Gryphon has no relationship to it delivering on dynamics instantly.
Do you mean to say that class-AB, class-D power amps do not deliver instantly on dynamics???
@Casouza: Thanks, I believe you're quite right regarding in which camp Karan belongs. I'm in a quite confusing situation right now to be honest, trapped inbetween extremes. I've heard Spectral + Magico recently, which I believe to be something very different to Karan + Sonus Faber. Both combos are extraordinary in their own right. The BIG question is what I want to live with in the long run. Fresh lemon juice or Hot delicate chocolate, that's the question :o)

@Bombaywally: I don't believe that's what Lloydelee21 is implying at all...
Hi Bombay,

No, Sidekick is right...that is not what i was implying. What i was (trying) to say is

the Class A amp is blowing full steam Class A at all times, and does not transition to Class B at any stage as you increase in dynamic range or volume.

Whenever i reduce the Class A bias on my Gryphon to a point where it is Class A/B, i can usually tell as i crank the does not have the magic anymore...which means to me something is happening as it transitions upwards into Class B.

Whereas, when it is full CLass A, i always seem to keep the magic, no matter how soft or how loud. i have always assumed this is because when it is the Class A bit which i enjoy.

Plus, all the SS amps i have enjoyed (Boulder 2060, Gryphon Antileon, Colosseum, Forte 4, older Krells)...are full-on non-stop Class A, i have always assumed it was because they are full Class A all the time and thus are "instantly" delivering Class A sound all the time.

Sidekick, when comparing amplifiers + speakers, remember to factor-in the source.
Magico does most of their demos with reel-to-reel master tapes, which gives them a HUGE head start (better, cleaner, more musical than CD or LP).

I have not compared Spectral + Magico to Karam + Sonus Faber, so I can not honestly say which one sounds better to my ears, however, I suggest that you pay attention to the source components and try to level the field by bringing your own recordings when auditioning.
Have fun!
@Casouza: Thanks. You're right ofcourse. I'm trying to do as much serious evaluation in my own system as practically possible. I've heard Magico V3 and Q3 with ARC(CD5) + Devialet as well as MBL(CD...) + Spectral(amps) btw.

My Sonus Faber Futuras arrived yesterday. They play beautifully from the first note. Extremely balanced and transparent while managing to obtain that critical flow and musicality. And yes, after fifteen years of using stand mount speakers, I've definately missed out on the lower frequencies, which not only gives the music foundation and solidity, but increased dimensionality as well.

Happy as a Clown right now. I'm also evaluating a new amplifier brand from Italy called "Absoluta" after a recommendation from my dealer (who believe these products to be the best match he's heard with Sonus Fabers, including rivals(high-end separates) from Krell, Vitus, McIntosh and Soulution among others. Hybrid preamp and transistor monoblocks. The short version is that I'm very, very impressed so far.

Hi Sidekick,

Interesting amps...let us know what you think. Certainly look cool! Which ones are you using at the moment?

Remember that Franco Serblin was often known to use Berning (boutique company) OTL amps (output transformless or something) with his Homage series speakers (G, Amati, Strad)...and i know someone who uses their mono Z models with Wilson Alexandrias and swears by them. Berning goes from low power to their big 270-watt monos.

While the Futura was designed by new ownership, and i suspect will do better big Krell (like much of the rest of the SF does as well imho), you might go this route to see what happens (ie, clean, muscular tubes).

Enjoy the speakers!!! Surely one of the greats today.
Hi Lloyd,

I'm using the Talia preamp + Janus monoblocks. which are their "top offerings"(list price is about 20.000€ I believe). The design is, well...almost over the top :o) I don't care much for the wooden look. The all black or white versions look great though. The preamp is a hybrid with a great phono built in. The monoblocks are wonderfully compact and powerful. So far, they manage to create a very effortless sound with the Futuras. Solid state authority partnered with a hint of tube warmth and great dimensionality. I can't say I miss anything really... Makes me wish for even more of the tube-like qualities to be honest... Very interesting products indeed. I've got cables from Goldenote on loan for evaluation as well.

Yes, Berning is indeed an interesting option. They're quite boutique though, even though there's a Swedish importer. I've never seen or heard them though.

I'm playing with the idea of bridging the Futuras... Maybe an "older" Krell for the bass units, partnered with a delicate modern tube amp for the midrange and tweeter... Hmm...:o)

The Futuras looks utterly amazing btw. The Memento, even though gorgeous in their own right are not on the same level standing side by side with the Futuras I have to say...

Sonically, I need more time for evaluation and break-in of the speakers. But, so far it's clear that the Futuras are more neutral, natural, balanced, extended and transparent than the earlier Amatis (or the Mementos). The bass is also much better (tight, articulated and controlled) I believe. It doesn't cause any problems what so ever in my medium sized room about 1m(3ft) from the back wall, which has been a slight worry.
Hi Sidekick,

100% agree with your last paragraph...100%. I have heard all the Guaraneris...original, the one that came after and the new Memento, as well.

This Futura is far and away my favorite of the 3 Amatis. Far and away.

As for using 2 sets of amps...i imagine perfectly done that could be amazing...but in addition to the complexity (at one particular volume level)...i wonder what would happen as you reduce and increase the volume...would the amps be able to react to the load requirements in the same way and continue to give you similar sound throughout the volume spectrum? i have never done it...just curious.

I believe(in my room partnered with Audio Aero Prestige, Absolutas and Goldenote cabling) I'm close to a level of performance I could live happy with for a long time. A majority of my earlier problems (a hard, edgy and lean performance) which I believed to be related to the room or bad cable matching are gone. I must say that I'm very surprised by this. The Futuras are brand new out of the box with 10 hours on them. I haven't even played around with the positioning. I just placed them exactly where the Mementos stood yesterday when they arrived. Plain and simple. The Futuras seems much more forgiving when it comes to placement and room integration compared to the Mementos. Everything snapped into place from the start more less. Even so, I'm sure there's improvement to be made.

Well, biamping with different poweramps might be a challenge. It's an interesting thought though, don't you think? :o)
Hi Sidekick,

Its great when many of the challenge are solved in a single moment. on a much smaller scale, i had 3 kinds of buzzing in my system when i dropped the new amp in. Frustrating. I had been waiting for the new SE-XLR cable to arrive for the new amp, and decided to leave it as is for a couple of days.

When the cable arrived, i re-arranged the new amp and the rest of my equipment to make it more tidy, and also neatened up all the other cables.

And 2 of the buzzes disappeared, and the third is vastly reduced unless i want to play at deafening levels!

And of course the amp is better too. Enjoy the Futuras!!!!!
Just to revive this old discussion... Was it Gryphon or Karan amps eventually?

I am contemplating the same stuff too...
Hi Hamburger,

Have you heard either? Pls post your impressions if you can. i know the colosseum well, and also the Antileon. unfortunately, have not heard Karan.

I am always curious to listen to other amps (like the new D'Agostino monos). My limited experience in amps includes ARC, Krell, MBL monos, Boulder 2060, ML33H, D'Agostino monos, CJ, (as well as older Aragon, Forte)...Gryphon is my personal favorite after finding it delivers the signal from source/pre with extension and detail, and endless reserves of power. If there is any flavor to Gryphon, it has a natural tonality such that violin strings, etc take on a natural burnished quality in the mids and the requisite pierce in the treble. My fav amp.

Good luck and pls post any impressions!
Hi Lloydelee21,
I have heard both but in very different set ups and rooms, so I can't describe side-by-side differences. But if you ask me to pick one, I will go with the Gryphon too. It sounded more live than the Karan to me, at least in the set ups I heard.

I would support that vote. Obviously that is not based on comparing Gryphon to Karan...but i have compared heard ML33H, Krell Evo 402/600/900 monos, Boulder 2060, ARC Ref 210, Dartzeel, Tidal over the years. Gryphon is the one that remains my personal favorite. If you go for it, pls post! Good luck!
After owning the Gryphon Antileon Signature stereo amp for 5 years and later acquiring the KARAN KAM1200 monos, my vote goes to the KARAN. I will take more power over class A in the correct environment. Correct power solution and grounding scheme will change your perspective of class A versus high powered A/B amps. Higher power gives me much more control and openess.
Himiguel has a good point which i have heard from many people who start going towards the kilobuck power level. That is in particular i think why many have said the Bryston 16BSST2 monos are incredible value for money amps that play in the SOTA arena...the first generation of Bryston where more than a few have said it has a 'sweet' touch in the treble...combined with 1000watts of power which make for effortless delivery of nuance, transparency and again a sweet(er) treble.
I bought the new Karan KAS 600 after comparing with MBL monos, Pass X250.5, Accoustic Arts Amp III on my MBL 111F. The amp is simply astonishing in delivering lots of sheer power. The amp is never fatiguing against the 83db of my MBLs, the sound is never harsh even when the volume reaches very high levels. The Karan is an amp which prefers musicality over extreme details.
I paired it with a tube preamp (built in Italy) and is the best power-amp I ever heard in my experience.

My 2 cents,
-- Ale
Congrats!!! Enjoy!
@ Lloydelee21

Thanks for the congrats!
If you are based close to London it should not be difficult to listen the Karan amps.

As far class A vs. class A/B is concerned, Karan amps are said to be in class A,
with a proprietary circuitry. They say it's a form of "dynamic" class A, i.e., the
output transistors are maintained in class A by analyzing the input signal.

-- Ale

Sounds very interesting! When i get some time, i will try to go listen. Enjoy!
Sonics notwithstanding, there is entirely too much controversy associated with Karan especially in terms of distribution, so it would be off my list.
Have you been the Karan distributor for US?
What's the current situation in US?

Just as a curiosity, since I'm from Italy and in EU there are no problems
at all concerning Karan distribution.

It would be a pity if such a nice Amp is not accessible in the US market.
Milan (Karan) is a very nice guy: you should definitely contact him
concerning such distribution problems.

-- Ale

Congratulations, and welcome to the family :)

The 2000 monos will be the backbone of my system for many years to come, I'm sure.
I had a chat with Milan. He confirmed that as for now the only distributor in
North America is someone from Canada who is not distributing widely the product, in particular in US. Actually, Milan is looking for a new distributor for the US market.


Wow! Congrats! What preamp are you using? and speakers?

-- Ale

My thread is still alive :D

I'm using an Audio Aero La Fontaine CD/Pre directly to the Karan monos at the moment, but I'm planning to add an Aesthetix Callisto Eclipse preamp very soon. Speakers are Sonus Faber Futuras. Cabling is Kubala Sosna Elations + Nordost & Goldenote (power).

I believe I've reached a beautifully balanced combination of hifi & music. The Kubala Sosna Elations were added quite recently. These are amazingly natural "sounding" cables.
Hi Sidekick - nice system as i have noted before. However, what is Goldnote?

Will be curious to know if you prefer AA La Fontaine with Callisto or without. As good as the La F is by all accounts...that Callisto is quite a special piece from what i've read. I suspect you'll keep it. Pls keep us posted and enjoy!
Thanx :)

Goldenote is an Italian brand, most famous for their electronics I believe. I'm using their power cables for my front end at the moment. I haven't evaluated these much, but I find the Goldenote interconnects to be extremely transparent, open and neutral - for good and bad. The Goldenote interconnects were a perfect match with the Absoluta electronics (which I've evaluated earlier), which are on the warm side of the spectrum, but didn't work with Karan in my room and system, which I believe are much more transparent and honest to the source compared to Absoluta.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to try the Callisto. My guess is that AA La Fontaine will be the most transparent option, with much less obstacles in the signal path. But, transparency isn't everything, where the Callisto could hopefully add to the natural/organic qualities of my system with greater soundstage, body, weight and dynamics. Time will tell!

Thanks for the reply...very nice system indeed!

My system is:

Speakers: MBL 111F
CD Player: EmmLabs CDSA/SE
Preamp: MBi (Tube Preamp made in Italy)
Power Amp: Karan KAS 600
ICs: AudioQuest Sky + Acapella "La Musika" MKII
Speaker Cables: XLO Signature 5.2
Power Cables: AudioQuest NRG5 (PowerAmp), Transparent Reference (Pre), WhiteGold Infinito II (CD Player).

I like very much the combination of the SS Karan with a Tube Preamp.
So, I think you should like the addition of the Callisto.
Let us know!

-- Ale
I finally ordered an Aesthetix Callisto Eclipse (w. one power supply + remote control system) yesterday. Can't wait to get it, hopefully someday next week.

I hade the Karan KA S400 on loan before deciding in favour of the KA M2000 monoblocks. The KA S600 seems like a great choice!

I'll let you know how things progress :) Thanks for the interest.
Hi Sidekick_i,

Any news on the Preamp side?
How did you find the match between the Karan and the Aesthetix?

In these days I'm also trying different preamps with different results. In particular, I had a Spectral 30SS-G2 for a whole week. The Spectral is a very nice Pre but it did not match with the Karan. The sound was sort-of compressed on the mid-high frequencies and instead of presenting the flow as a unique event it was like listening to each instruments in isolation.

Nowadays, I'm trying with a Viva Preamp. This is completely in another league. It preserves the details as the Spectral does but now the music as a soul!
There is a sense of unity in the music message that I was lacking with the Spectral, plus a wonderful reachness in harmonic content.
This Viva preamp is the best I ever listened in my set-up. As a general remark, the Karan matches very well with tubes least in my experience.

-- Ale

The Aesthetix + Karan works beautifully. They seem to bring out the best of each other :)