Kharma 3.2 Owners, your thoughts...

I currently own a pair of the Kharma 3.2 Enigma Reference Speakers and after playing them for over 600 hours, they still sound etched and non-organic sounding. I also have new Kharma Grand-reference speaker cables with over 300 hours in them.
My amps are Lamm ML2, 2 years old.
Will these babies ever sing?
What source and preamp do you use? I have never heard the 3.2 CRME sound etched and non-organic. It is the most lifelike sound I have come across. What is your room like?

The speakers are the greatest, the amps are some of the best available and the system is non tolerant of poor source equipment. Is the source up to the task?
Strange, that's top class gear. I've heard your equipment NEW & it didn't sound "etched". It must be something in the set-up; speaker placement, upward chain...
My other components are as follows:
Conrad Johnson Premier-16 Series-2 Preamp
Lamm LP2 Phono Preamp
Basis 2001 Turntable with Grahm 2.2 Arm and Ruby 2 Cartridge
Rega Jupiter Cd Player
Dedicated Lines, P300 Power conditioner on source equipment
Interconnects: Synergistic Looking Glass
My room, 12 X 18, speakers 5 feet apart, TV above Amps.
| Source TV |
| Equip Spkr Amps Spkr |
| |
| | | | | | |CHAIR C O U C H | |_________________________________ |
Certainly someone will come back and say that the rest of your equipment isnt up to snuff. I am one of the few that doesnt enjoy the "Kharma" sound. Build quality is amazing as is staging capabilities, but I always find the sound to be clinical or etched as you've described. Not to mention the limp bass! To me, it is the prototypical audiophile speaker..............GREAT on 10 min demos, poor in terms of long term listening satisfaction. Just my opinion and I am DEFINITELY in the minority here. By the way, my comments apply to the 1.0's, 3.2's and their 80k plus model (not the newest version).
Take the P300 out and listen again, this is killing an otherwise great system. Try it it won't cost you a dime

1. Abruce is absolutely correct. Take the P300 out! It is probably choking the system a bit and also leaning things out.

2. Supporting equipment is fine. If anything else is questionable, just in terms of not being up to the quality of the rest of the system, I would say it is the Rega and the IC's.

3. Are you firing the long way or the short way in your room?

4. How far into the room are the speakers?

5. What are the surfaces like in your room (floor, walls, etc.)?

I read what Dolphin said and do disagree with him based on what I have heard in every customers system I have setup. I do not doubt what Dolphin heard, just as I do not doubt what you are asserting, I just do not know what conditions and what components were in the systems that he heard.

If you would like me to call you, I would be happy to see if we can get the system sounding more like what you expected. You own one of the most spectacularly lifelike products I have ever heard. Do not give up quite yet.

Email me your number, and I will call you upon my return from the HES Show on Monday.
Another consideration.I heard that LAMMs don't like others;why don't you try full LAMM system with decent player and Purist Audio or Kharma interconnects.It looks like money is not your problem,unsatisfactory sound is.
Thanks for your suggestions, much appreiciated.
...Last night I put on the speaker grills. That seemed to soften up the sound a bit.

...I will definitely remove the sources from the P300. Any recommendations on what I should plug the Preamp, Phono Preamp and CD Player into. I only have 2 dedicated outlets for the source equipment. Will I still need power conditioning for the source eqpmnt with them going into a dedicated outlet?

...What should I do for surge protection? Sorry to ask these basic questions but I guess with my system at a higher level than I'm used to, I need to re-investigate my components.

...In terms of all Lamm equipment, I realy love being able to use the remote volume control which Lamm does not provide. Would it be plausable to use the Lamm L2 with the placette volume control?

...The room is 12 x 18 and the speakers are on the 18 foot wall, 3 feet out and 5 feet apart.
I agree with the above comments to try it without the P-300, I didn't care for it with my digital front ends, it imparted a choked, etched character to the sound. That notwithstanding, and although I didn't necesarily think they were etched even out of the box, my 3.2's didn't really start to sound like they can until after 2 months of playing 24/7. They take a while to breakin, and will continue to do so for some time. Not that they didn't sound good initially, but as time goes on you realize just how much better they get with breakin. For me, at about 2 mo's they really opened up, became more relaxed and the bass just bloomed. Give em time, and try the above suggestions.
3 feet out is possibly part of the problem. You are at the 1/4 null point of the 12 foot dimension. I would move them forward to 4 feet and spread them a little further apart, probably 6 feet. Side wall reflection is very important and because you are firing on the short wall you really need ample diffusion on the wall behind you--this last point is very important. If you can fire down the long wall that might be better. You can see how these thing affect you by going to our room simulator . These speakers aren't in there, but use something that has similar bass response. You'll see that the placement will change the bass response. By nulling out part of your bass you are tipping the higher frequencies out of balanced--thereby getting that etched sound. Room treatment and position I believe are the biggest culprits here.

Yes, you are absolutely correct in your evaluation of "Kharma" sound and I am quite surprised and please to hear your voice of sincerity. In Karma paranoia was purely artificially created 3-4 years ago by the US distributors and it was a well-orchestrated event that helped Kharma to get some memento in US. They dumped a huge amount of the speakers in the hands of the “specific people” at highly competitive prices and those “specific people” are the one who overwhelm Internet about their drooling. There are many reasons why “you are in minorities in your vision of Kharma’s Sound but do not worry. Whist their listing rooms, talk with them personally and you will get an unquestionable answer about the primitivism of their reference points.

Ironically the 3.2 was the only one Kharma loudspeaker that was more or less OK (with their 80k plus model as the worst among all Kharmas). Unfortunately it originally cost $6K-$7K and for that money or was pretty good (and particularly if one do not hear anything better). Since Kharma surrounded themselves with a eco of the internet droolers who at each corer began to post their photographs of the shinny Kharmas and the heavy golden chains over their necks they elevated the 3.2 price to $17K and it is shame. It was a wonderful speaker for the beginners but at their new price it is already not interesting.

Romy the Cat
Is this guy for real ?
I bet you still think the Soviets are behind the crappy weather I had this weekend ...

I love the Kharma line.. maybe its not for every one but to generalize on pretty much the whole line with a conspiracy theory ..well..a tad surprising..

Good luck anyway !

I have just ordered some Siemens 6922 tubes for the Conrad Johnson Preamp. I have been told that the sound of these tubes are vastly superior to the current Sovtek tubes and that part of the issue I'm having with the sound being a bit etched can be directly attributed to the Sovteks which have that reputation. I'm hoping that with a tube change and an eventual interconnect update that my problem will be solved. I will respond on the sound difference the tubes will make when they arrive in about a week.
My bet Henry is that as Rives notes above, the problem is the room. Tubes will certainly make a difference in a system but I don't believe that the etchiness is an issue of the pre-amp but of the acoustic properties in your room, most likely too much reflective energy which can definitely retard an organic cohesive soundfield. I have personally been around on this issue. Often the most overlooked component in the system is the room simply because beyond a certain point, there are no compromises left to make but a better room. You might need professional help at this junction. I have heard the Kharma's albiet briefly and they sure didn't sound etchy to me and using similar components to yours.
"In terms of all Lamm equipment, I realy love being able to use the remote volume control which Lamm does not provide. Would it be plausable to use the Lamm L2 with the placette volume control?"

I remember reading an interview with the designer of Lamm equiptment and he was asked about not using remotes in his design.There is a plausible reason and that is he found that it created interference.To the best of my recollection that is what he said.

As far as using Protection I would watchout whatever you do decide to use as it might have negative effects.Most amps are said to work best directly pluged into the walloutlet.I am having a problem in my area with fluctuating voltages.

There are things which might help in my case like Monsters AVS2000 unit,ExactPower or BPT's unit.

I am using a set of Modified NEARs which are pretty close in design to Kharma's.They use Inverted Domes also.Wish I had the $$ to get into Lamms and higher priced equiptment ,must be nice.Do not ruin it by adding a remote attenuator.

I have recently changed my tubes in the preamp from Sovtek to Siemens (NOS). The difference was not subtle. A lot of the etched sound which I complained about earlier was erased and replaced by a more rounded and earthier quality. I had heard that tube rolling could be a rewarding tweak but I was not prepared for the dramatic changes which it brought to my system. I guess it goes without saying but these speakers really reveal all of the problems in a system and a recording. I suppose that the Kharma 3.2's combined with the Lamm ML2's could be thought of as scientific instruments to be used to test weaknesses elsewhere in the chain. I still have some brightness on certain (supposedly excellent recordings) and additional research will have to be spent on finding these flaws. I suspect that room treatments will provide additional benefits.
Hi Henry,

Many of the above suggestions should help: improved digital source, cabling, removal of the PS300 (which can just be replaced with a good surge protector from Office Depot) and moving of the speakers (though along as they are not EXACTLY at distance evenly dividable into 12 or 18, you should be OK).

There are a couple of other things to look into will also improve the sound in a positive way (usually with little if any side effects if you are careful), and which may also fix your etched/brightness problems.

One is power cords. Many people have situations where the filled Shunyata cords: Black Mamba, Python, or Anaconda Vx filter out something coming in on the power mains that was causing irritation and that approaches like the PS Audio were just not capable of addressing.

The other is vibration control. Most tubed equipment, and especially the Lamm, respond very favorably to vibration control tweaks. We have had very good results with Acoustic Dreams amplifier stands (which are very reasonably priced) and so far have also had good results with HRS amplifier stands (which are more pricey), both with Lamm tubed equipment. Also pulsar points, HRS isolation plates, etc. There are also other fine solutions out there. The results can be astonishing and quite addictive - clearing up grunge you did not know was there (and hopefully the stuff that you do know is there!).

Hope this helps!
I believe the Kharma sound is etchy..have u given that why u r selling?
After six months and digging up this thread to say what you did what do you think?
I think u r incorrect
This is a small room which needs special acoustical treatment.
I think that you need a good stand for the source components (especially in this room).
Also, you don't quite mention what source you are using most of the time.
The Rega CD player is not at the level of the amp/speaker
part of the system.
This system is somewhat unbalanced.
Some people prefer the opposite - the highest value goes to the front end.
The pre-amp is always an issue.
In this system I would try a Wadia player (they have a built-in pre-amp) in order to simplify the system (less connections) and put more value on the front end.
Do NOT remove the P-300 from the equation.It is regenerating A/C,and used on source equipment is quite beneficial!
Some,here,ought to try "whole system" regeneration(in balanced mode)which is ear opening.Even with dedicated lines.
The overtly pricey power cords are not nearly as effective as adding something like an Exact Power EP-15a,along with the companian Ultra-Pure unit(optional).
Hi had Kharma 1.0 with Kharma speaker wire they give you a in your face sound. Upgraded to Magico Mini MK2 my room 13w by 19 3/4 Long Mini 2 just Much Much Better more open more musical Better depth better sounstage!
I've got also Kharma 3.2 FE - you could hear the "ceramic" sound sometimes...
Try Kubala Sosma Emotion wires (RCA & speakers & power) - and take an emmlabs CDSA as CD player with Lamm L2 ref or CAT SL1, or emmlabs CDSD + DCC2 (inclusing analog preamp)
Sound will be far better : Music !

You will have a great sound like Kharma 3.2 could have.

Now you can change for Magico V3 or Mini 2, but you will need a powerfull amp - forget the Lamm, even the ML1.1 - and take BAT 150SE, VTL 450 or CAT JL2 or JL3 amplifier.
Magico will be clearer (if it's your taste...), faster with more impact, without "ceramic" sound. But they are not better, just "different" sounding.
I have heard the "wonderful" 3.2's many times.I heard the 1.0's at EBM's home on many occassions.His problem was that he ran a 300 wpc solid state amp on them,in a rather small(but good) room.They simply overpowered the listener,which is no surprise,but really were quite good.Of course there was more of "that" ceramic sound,driven this way.His new Magico Minis are fabulous,and a much better match for both the amp,and room.Of course he is thrilled with the performance,but the 3.2 is a whole different story.It's just "different"!Think two GORGEOUS girls.Ya gonna complain if you end up with one?
As to "that" ceramic sound...whenever I heard the 3.2's driven by really good tube amplifcation(particularly the LAMM 2.1)they absolutely FLOORED me!!I brought all my reference LP's and some amazing CD's of John Zorn compositions,which were very well mastered on the Tzadic label,to the 3.2 audition,knowing they would be carefully driven by good matching equipment.
I TOTALLY forgot to concentrate on bass/mids/highs/etc!!They simply "flowed".Literally bathing me in the musical envelope!God,I loved THAT sensation.Really different from what I had been used to.
The Magicos are absolutely fabulous speakers,but completely different from the "correct"(to me,as this is only my opinion)way the 3.2's should be driven(with tubes,SET particularly).The Minis are just as valid,driven differently,from my experience.Different listening perspectives come into play,when I hear each.I'm fine with either ,but some folks are "locked" into one camp.Fine with me.
The Minis are powerful dynamically,and mate incredibly well with "really good" powerful SS amps(they DO exist,btw).If driven well,one gets a ton of the typical "audio" cliche impressions,which is a good thing,IMO.
The way the Minis are voiced(I've heard them alot,lately,and love them,as I love the 3.2's,which present the music differently to me)a good SS design gives a very dynamic presentation,and with this new carbon based driver,in the mk-II version,the SS amp crowd is rewarded with a beautiful,almost tube glow.Very nice tonality.I don't feel they are more revealing or open sounding than the 3.2 set-ups I have heard.
When I heard the 3.2's at their best,they were driven by the LAMM 2.1's and though not quite as dynamic as the Minis(not that far off though),they still had that absolutely lovely ambient envelope,along with surprisingly good bass response.I HATE the sub woofer,with the 3.2's btw(totally kills the magic),but that is only my silly opinion again.
GREAT speakers,"both" of them!I cannot possibly imagine the gorgeous sounding 3.2's being too "ceramic" sounding,if you choose matching componentry carefully.
This is where a really good dealer,or better yet,a very helpful audio club,with well intentioned,open minded friends come into play.
Best of luck.
I second Dolphin and Verybigamp about the fuzz around Kharma. I lived with a well broken 3.2 for a week but much prefered my existing Von Schweikert vr4 gen 3 hse that I bought for 4500 USD at that time. It never grabbed me emotionally or musically and the 'audiophile' tricks was simply not enough for me.In fact it sounded clinic and without a body with a Lamm 1.1. This is of course my humble opinion but go listen to a Audio Note, Proac, Verity or Gemme if you want an engaging, organic sound. Audiofederation should verify since he is a retailer for both Kharma and AN.(maybe should not for obvious reasons)
Hi I just brought 3.2 fe and also brought dartzeel cte 8550 and pathos CD player ,I try to listen not too good what the problem pls give me advise