Kharma CRM 3.2F vs. Avalon Eidolon and Diamond

Dear fellow audiogon'ers

I would like to hear from a person that have compared these masterpieces head to head. The CRM is getting fantastic reveiws ets. but the Eidolon/diamond really is something special. Please help me understand the similarities and differences of these designs.

Thanks in advance.
Just out of curiosity, is there any reason you are comparing the 3.2 to the Eidolon Diamond rather that say, the Kharma Midi-Grand instead. I say this not just because the 3.2 is $19,000 and the Eidolon Diamond $34,000 (so the Midi-Grand is more comparable price wise, albeit sans diamond tweeter, at $32,500), but mainly because the 3.2 is a just 2-way monitor (ceratinly not to knock it since is the best this man has ever heard) whereas the Midi-Grand is a three-way like the Eidolon.
You tell them Frank. At least compare apples to apples. Frank, did you end up getting the Midi's?
I have been listening to the Midis that were at CES for about two months and they are incredible -- paired with these Tenor amps and the Meitner digital gear, FOR MY TASTES, it's hard to believe it can get any better. The importer is sending me a new pair of Midi-Grands with the Enigma upgrade (I know, it sounds silly, a "mystery" upgrade). My friends and colleagues who have heard this upgrade have all said it is worth the price of admission - we shall see (or hear as the case may be).

How is your system these days?
As a dealer for Kharma, I will not tell you my thoughts on the Eidolons. What I will share are the experiences of a customer who had the Eidolon's without the diamond tweeter and the Kharma 3.2 CRM's. He was never happy with the Eidolons. He felt the crossover points were very noticable and there was an extremely noticable bloat problem. He also noted that the midrange sounded thin, dry and lean in comparison to his 3.2's. He felt the 3.2s had a bigger soundstage side to side as well as front to back and even though the 3.2's are only a two way, they had superior bass to that of the Eidolons.

The diamond tweeter is quite a wonderful upgrade, but it cannot solve the problems he heard.

Personally, I do not think comparing the Eidolon Diamonds to the 3.2s is fair to the Eidolons. The 3.2s are in a class by themselves.
Now that Focal is touting the newer berylium dome tweeters, does anyone think that Kharma will re-engineer their speakers for the newer generation of tweeters? Also I heard that Focal will soon stop selling raw drivers and concentrate solely on JM labs. BTW, as a Diamond owner (anfd former Eidolon owner)- let me say that the Diamond is a completely new product- very different than the Eidolon. Different tweeter, woofer, internal wiring, bracing, crossover. Don't assume that the Diamond is simply an Eidolon with a diamond tweeter upgrade. Read the review of the Eidolon in the Feb. issue of HFNRR (Martin Colloms). The Diamond is the finest real world speaker I have heard.
Frank, I am in audio envy! I did order the Meitner and really looking forward to getting that in and comparing to the AA Capitole II. I have been concentrating on a turntable as that is what I have been told to buy from my wife. I guess I can live with those kind of demands. Finding out that the choice is as difficult as the other gear. After researching and hearing a couple more I am getting the options narrowed down. So for now I am just imagining that the speakers and amps are here for now.
Bob, I will just tell you MY opinion on the AA versus the Metiner versus analog (so, to everyone else, please realize this is JUST my opinion based on my tastes, my prefernces, my room acoustics and my equipment synergy).

First, the AA is a wonderful sounding player and bettered my former $14,000 separates fairly handily. However, it was the MOST unreliable, frustrating, not ready for market, piece of gear I have EVER experienced. I finally got a new one a couple months ago and it seems fine. When it broke down for the bazillionth time (before I got the new one), I said to myself "Self, it may sound great but I cannot stand the hassles, so let's try something else!" (I actually said that out loud to myself!! -- problem is I ANSWERED MYSELF!!!) OK, I'm back now.

This is where Jonathan The Pusher Man Tinn comes in. JTinn Pusher Man took the chance to inject me with his Audio Herione in the form of the Meitner DAC 6, Phillips SACD-1000 (Meitnerized) and the Switchman II. Let me state that I am NOT affiliated with Chambers Audio or Meitner or EMM Labs. I also am not a member of any "Gear of the Month Club" and do not feel a need to "justify" my purchases and do not care if a component I have gets a bad review (as noted by my opinion of the Kharma Midi-Grands versus Mr. Fremer's -- whom I admire and respect). After all, it is only our opinion and I am virtually the only one who listens to my system.

With that disclaimer behind us, I will simply say that the Phillips, DAC 6 and Switchman combo took my system to a level I HONESTLY never thought I would ever hear in my home. Combined with the Midi-Grands, Tenor amps and various assorted accessories, the Meitner gear handily bettered, and in many cases trounced, every other digital gear I have ever heard (including my SFI T3/P3, the AA, the same new DCS stuff Stereophile just raved about, the best Accuphase, the Levinson and Wadia's [all of which I have heard in my system). That is not what surprised me or my buddies. What DID surprise us, however, is that it also trounced almost every vinyl playback we heard it compared to (and that includes, to a lesser degree, my SME 30, Manley Steelhead and Colbri). Yes, there are instances where my SME betters the Meitner stuff. But, on the average, I have found more CDs to sound more listenable through the Meitner than the same album on the SME (judged by CDs which I also have on LP). No, I am not saying analog is dead or not a fantastic medium - because it is. BUT, if anyone wants so stop by my home (please call first) and hear for yourself, what I am raving about, please do so. Four of my closest local audio sickos have come by and left shaking their heads after hearing what the Meitner does for digital. One of them who is a DIE HARD vinyl afficianado left again tonight saying "vinyl just isn't worth it after hearing that!"

Does this mean everyone should run out and sell their analog rigs? No, that is preposterous. However, I am at least considering it. But, if you are unable to do both to the level you want, I would not hesitate to advise anyone to go with the Meitner gear and forego the expense and hassle of analog, particularly if you like the newer stuff that cannot be had on vinyl!!

I still love vinyl, but with the Meitner gear, I no longer get tired of digital after an hour or so, I no longer feel the need to fire up an LP and I have NEVER heard such transparency, illumination of the musical event, layering, soundstaging, timbral accuracy, articulate and harmonically pure bass with violins, cymbals and pianos sound so lifelike (and with NO steeliness or stridency) as I have since the Meitner showed up (of course, the Midi's and Tenors have alot to do with those attributes as well).

If you do get the Meitner gear, GIVE IT TIME TO FULLY break in!!! It doesn't sound great out of the box, it gets better after 150 hours or so, gets a little wierd at about 250 and then KICKS SERIOUS AUDIO DERRIERE after 350-500!

In closing, if anyone disagrees with me, that is fine as that is your taste or preference -- but if you disagree without ever hearing what the Meitner can do, it will be your loss.
The problems that Jtinn's customer reports with the Eidolons do not make it so. With a list of problems so plainly at odds with the characteristics of my system, I would assume that his customer's room setup, a/c handling, vibration control, and/or system matching are at fault.
As to bass, I have just been listening to Eidolons (with Spectral monoblocks and Spectral dmc30-sl) through a number of power cords and marvelling at the deep, tight natural bass available ; we are now to believe that this is beaten out by a 2-way? Eidolons will not provide the floor-shaking bass of a large floorstander, but, sorry, I'm not prepared to believe that a 2-way will either.
As far as thinness, Eidolons tend to a transparent, holographic soundstage. If your preference is for a lush full sound, either mate the Eidolons with warm tubes or look elsewhere - according to your tastes. This does not constitute a fault.
To continue with my rant above, Eidolons together with the Spectral components mentioned (and good room control) give a huge seamless soundstage, extending far to the sides of the speakers and very deep and layered. Achieving this quality of imaging depends with certainty on the electronics and room, but the speaker is the final arbiter of whether it happens. Images are in the room with you, solid, and layered from just in front of the speakers on back as far as the recording permits. And they will command your rapt attention, since Eidolons are also musical.

I'm sorry that I can't compare Eidolons to Kharma 3.2's, which I haven't heard and may well be fine speakers, however I feel compelled to address some of the misinformation in the thread.
PS - Bob (and Flex, I am assuming you were not referring to me as I did not make any comments on the Eidolons), all of my comments about the Meitner gear was limited to its Redbook CD performance!! I only have about 5 SACDs (4 of which are some of the worst recorded ones) and have not yet heard what others are RAVING about with respect to its SACD performance. I will be buying more SACDs to see for myself.

As to the Eidolons, I have always liked them when I have heard them, but I prefer the Midi-Grands (but must admit I have not heard the Eidolons on the Tenors as the 75 watters aren't enough power to make them sing - although the new 300 watt hybrids would be an interesting match!).
People we are comparing a BMW to a Mercedes. Both are great and you will happy with both. Kharma and Avalon make some wonderful speakers. You really need to listen to them and see what you like best. If you prefer the Kharma that is fine and that does not mean the Avalon are bad speakers. Audiomgu the only way you will ever know what you like best if to listen to them and pick the one that YOU like best.

Some of the comments made here are really getting out of hand. A guy once told me all gear sounded the same so he always bought the cheapest gear. He had in fact listened to tons of gear and always went back to his original gear. I thought it was funny, as his gear didn't sound worth anything to me. But he was the person who liked it so that was all good to him. The point I'm trying to make is take some of the comments here with a grain of salt. You will always find someone who knows someone who likes this or that better. At the end of the day you will be the one listening to the gear and you have to like it.
There is no way a 2-way w/ a 7 inch woofer can outperform the bass of the Eidolon (extension, dynamics, definition). Anyone that tells you that sort of invalidates the rest of his criticisms of the design. BTW, doesn't the Kharma Midi-Grand share the same woofer with the Diamond or Eidolon.
Bryans- Great response. In this price range if you don't listen to both speakers you are a fool- plain and simple. Theories and assumptions mean nothing if you haven't listened yourself. I do find it interesting that those who posted who have heard both speakers prefer the Kharma's and those who haven't heard the Kharma's prefer what they have.... just something to think about. But in the end this hobby is suppose to be fun so get the speaker that brings the most happiness into your life- in particular at times like these.
Ok Tireguy, if you have ever seen the movie "Rudy" where the enitre Notre Dame stadium is chanting "RUDY, RUDY, RUDY, RUDY!!!" -- then just imagine that same chant "KHARMA KHARMA, TENOR, TENOR, MEITNER, MEITNER" Yes, that was JTINN under your bed at night chanting those words while you slept in his ever so subtle and subliminal kind of way!

I saw that Martin Colloms' review of Eidolons referred to by Linkster is now posted on the Avalon website. Audiomgu, if you're still pondering rather than listening, this is a worthwhile read, since it gives an intelligent and well-understood assessment of the speaker characteristics.
Then make sure to hear all of your contenders - they are probably all top-class.
I have a friend that I implicity trust, some of the best ears I know of. He has listened to the Accuton Diamond tweeter in the Eidolon during a demonstration atempting to sale it to one of the major recording studios (he owns several recording studios). His response, was, it sounds like a diamond...Hard. The best tweeters I have heard by far are the Raven 2.0 and the higher end Focals, including TAD.
D911: very interesting, I found them to be light and airy compared to the ceramic tweeter in the plain jane Eidolon. And even lighter and airier than the titanium tweeter on my
Radians. The plain jane Kharmas use a soft dome tweeter
(revelator?) and have as an option the diamond tweeter. I heard both the Kharma 2.1 and various Avalons and all perform well; personal tastes at this level is what matters.
I've heard Diamonds sounding hard and aggressive in the upper frequencies too and think it's probably related to room setup. The room I heard them demo'd in was too small and had too little sound treatment. From Shubertmaniac's comments, it seems clear that like the Eidolon, the Diamond needs careful room setup.
Flex: where did you here the Avalon Diamonds? I heard the
Diamonds at Overture in Delaware with an all Spectral
setup. It looks like the same room/setup as the plain jane
Eidolons; which sounded at one time terrible (see my
tirades with cfb about the Eidolons). Avalons, in particular the 3 ways, are very tricky to setup
properly.I have the Radians and I am still dialing them in after 5 months of use. The Radians use the MB Quart titanium tweeter, 3.5 inch kevlar/nomex midrange, two 9 inch kevlar/nomex woofers. Midrange is excellent, the bass fairly good and the lower to mid treble is very good, and the high treble is good but not nearly the best I have heard. My Accoustat's high end is sooooo much sweeter! But for an eight year old tweeter design, not bad, not great.
But I would not call it steely or hard, more like a dull sound; same goes with the ceramic, and the diamond not steely or hard, just less dull than the ceramic or titanium.
When I say the diamond was light and airy, this was relative to the plain jane Eidolon and the Radian. I might agree about a ribbon could be better( though the first time I heard the Apogee in 1984 with krell electronics at the original Bryn Mawr stereo store, I almost ran out the door, it was so awful sounding). Same goes with electrostatics.
I heard them at a north California dealership, which is a fine place but simply lacks the space that Overture has and will freely admit that their showroom space is too small. I've spent over 2 years dialing in my own pair of Eidolons in a difficult acoustic setup, so I'm very familiar with their properties. The Diamonds are less laid back, and more dynamic and resolving, so adequate space and setup are important.
Hello Fmpnd, may I ask that you list the Accuphase, Levinson, and Wadia's CDP models that you listened in your system. Thank you very much

I haven't followed this thread for a while but if Audiogo2000 is still following it, the front ends I had through my doors for audition were:

Accuphase DP85

Levinson 31.5 and 390S and

Wadia 860
Well this is what makes the world go round. The best tweet I have heard so far would have to be the Raven 2.0.

Best regards,
Although I live in the Netherlands I have no experience with the Kharma but I own Avalon Eidolons for 2.5 years.
The woofer of the Eidolons is very laid back, stiff, somewhat reticent : you need a big amplifier to diminish the reticent/dull character. I have a Spectral 250 power amplifier which is very open, fast but the authority is missing.
I tried a Pass 250.5 briefly and even this small Pass amplifier has more authority at low frequencies.
But the Pass gives a dryer ambiance and is less smooth and is somewhat static. I think that I prefer the Pass for big classical orchestras and the Spectral for vocal and jazz.
I heard that diamonds have the same woofer but with a stronger motor which is 2 dB more efficient. Total efficiency remains the same (87 dB/1 Watt) however.
Furthermore placement is critical: I prefer different distances to the backwall for classical and pop: if the distance is one inch to much the sound becomes too thin (midbas) for classical and if the distance is one inch less I get too much bas with pop music.
I own Eidolon for almost nine years since it was introduced to the market. It is highly sensitive to placement and room accoustic. I remembered, for once, changing my backdrop curtain - a slight more thicker fabric, and the sound got suck up so seriously. It is also that sensitive to placement, even up to a slight move. With proper placement and the best electronics components you can feed, it never sounds thin to me. I have enough bass, deep and extended. The mids and reproduction of human voices are spooky and neither sounded thin to me ( a strong evidence to rebut mediocre mid bass of a ported design). It is so highly sensitive provided if only you hit the right "sweet" spot in term of right combination of components, placement and room accoutic, you would never able to exploit its full potential performance. When it comes to this level of performance, I believe it is more of a personal taste and choice. So, sorry to say that, it is absurb for someone to put so much negative comments to these speakers without hearing one with better setup.
In response to Vincentkkho,

I did hear the Avalon Eidolons once 5 year ago at a dealer and they sounded very dynamic in combination with a Spectral 150S, Spectral DMC 20 and Mark Levinson CD player.
But I heard them at other demonstrations recently and they sounded undynamic to me. The recent demonstrations were set up in a hurry I guess without paying enough attention to placement and room treatment so offcourse you are right about hitting the right sweet spot.
At home my experience is that the more I play the more dynamic they sound. That is why think there is a certain stifness of the woofers. Maybe also the humidity/temperature/electric mains plays a role.
I saw an article on Internet comparing different speakers (horn speakers from Germany), Kharma, the Marten Design, Sound Lab, Avalons Eidolons and Wilson Speakers and they had the same conclusion about the relation between reticense/laid back character of the midbas and amplifier power for the Eidolons. They also said that they expected that the design of Diamond version (and the newer Vision) is an attempt to solve this problem.
Furthermore: If I remember it correctly the test of Martin Collems of HFNRR mentions a certain darkness/dullness.
I have changed one year ago from thick carpetry to parquetry to get a more lively/less dull sound and that helped a lot for the high frequencies but of course did nothing for the midbas.

If you have a Spectral/MIT/Avalons set you will have a nicely balanced combination: the ingredients of the combination are not neutral but the total sum is (dependent on the room and placement of course).
So what is your combination?

I bought the Eidolons because I had electrostacic loudspeakers for about 20 years and I wanted 3-D electrostatic sound without the huge dimensions and necessity to use class A OTLs (I had 200 Watt Fourier Pantherres OTLS) to power them.
But nothing is perfect in this life and the Eidolons certainly are not. Eg with the change from Martin Logans Monolith-3 to the Eidolons the quality of the bas (eg piano) improved a lot but the enjoyment of listening to Baroque music decreased somewhat. Electrostatic speakers with tube amplifiers are per definitions optimal for Baroque.
I have changed one year ago from thick carpetry to parquetry to get a more lively/less dull sound and that helped a lot for the high frequencies but of course did nothing for the midbas -----COEN

Sad to learn this. Mine is with ceramic tile flooring, curtain about 5 to 6 feet behind the speakers. Hope to put up some pictures when I have the time to do it.

Nothing is perfect, but you have to go for the sound you like the most. I used a pair of Quad ESL63Pro for slightly more than 10 years. Prior to that, I owned verious versions of LS3/5a and, till date, still keeping with me not less than 6 pairs of these speakers.

My combination is as follows,

Nottingham spacedeck TT - 2 units
Triplanar7 - 2 units
Graham 2.2 - 1 unit
Morech DP-6 - 1 unit
Whest2.2, ASR Basis Exclusive, TomEvan TheGroove, and 47LabPhonocube serve as phonostages to various cartridges.
Burmester 969 CD Transport with 970D/A converter.
Preamp -- CAT Ultimate and CAT Ultimate MkII
Amp -- McIntosh 275 two units run in mono, Sovtek KT88 with cola bottle shape, LPS tubes for 12AT7 and 12AX7.
Burmester 948 Powder Conditioner -1 unit
Nordost Thor - 1 unit
Nordost QuottroFil tonearm cable
Nordost QuottroFil interconnect - 2 pairs
Nordost Valhalla interconnect - 1 pair
Nordost Tyr - 1 pair
Nordost Valhalla Digital connect RCA --1 pc
Nordost Valhalla Digital connect XLR - 1 pc
Nordost powder cord - 2 pcs
MIT 350CVT Twin - 1 pair Pre to amp
Cardas speaker cable.

Gone before this - for amp -- Jadis 500, VTL300, VTLIchiban, AudioResearch VT100MkII, Hurricane ASL etc.

Happy listening!
In response to Vincentkko,

I recently found out why the sound of my set up is so dull and liveless.
I had a VPI TNT HRX with VPI furnature: a steel frame with a 3 inch thick slab of wood.
The last 2 year I had a Creativ Big Reference rack with sand filled thick wooden shelfs.
I thought: well I have a professional rack now and I don't need these tip toes, Walker Valid points, Harmonix feet and seismic sinks ("bandages") anymore: wrong!!!!
Both the VPI furnature for the TNT and the Creativ racks give a mellow, dark, not very involving sound with not enough presence and not enough dynamics it components are placed directly on the wooden shelf. So all racks with thick wooden (sandfilled) shelfs are under suspicion.
So the English with their target racks with thin shelves and cheap Ikea tables for their LINN Sondeks are not completely crazy.

The dynamics, 3-D sound came back if a combination of tiptoes, Walker Valid Points and Harmonix feet are placed under the components.
So it is true that the room and audio furnature are often more colored than the components. So I someome tells you the components of his set you still don't have a clue of how it sounds.
Conclusion: the Eidolons are a little reticent in the midbas and are somewhat soft sounding but not so much as I thought a week ago.

My dealer wants to sell me a Finite element rack which should be less dark sounding as a Creativ rack: I am not shure whether the tiptoes, Walker Valid points, Harmonix feet and seismic sinks ("bandages") become obsolete with the Finite element rack : I don't think it is possible to get rid of material resonance for 100%.
Theoretically there are 3 solutions for audio furnature considering that all materials resonate:
-finite element calculations with tuning forks inserted in
the shelves
-air - seismic sinks
-contraint layer damping - symposium platforms

I bought a proven combination because of the problems with my set/(audio furnature): Spectral 4000 CD player, Spectral 250 power amplifier, MIT oracle cabling and Eidolons. Preamp is still a CAT Ultimate so I have to decide to go back to tubes (CAT JL2 or ARC) or buy a Spectral 30SL preamp. I had tubes for the past 15-20 years or so I hesitate.
Question: What is the difference between the Ultimate I and II?

I do not have the time anymore to keep such a long list of components as you have in good shape so went back to the basis and keep it relatively simple.
I had a Graham 2.2 in the past on my TNT V but the new VPI player (TNT HRX) couldn't be fitted with the Graham arm at the time (when I bought my HRX) and that was a pity- I rate the 2.2 more highly than the JMW memorial arm which is also somewhat mellow.


I own maybe 15,000 Lps Eps consisting of 50's 60's recordings to 90s. Still continue to purchase Lp. I have many so called "junk record" sounded fabulously with my system. Come to this point in time, I do not ask for more. It takes me a long time to put my system together. Oops!I forgot to mention the Nordost Pulsar Point titanium and those sound tubes which I use to give the final touch for my setup.
Getting back to the original topic which was Kharma 3.2 vs Avalon Eidolon (How quickly we forget).

I have owned both. I bought a pair of Eidolons in 1999, kept them 5 years, loved them, but decided to try something else.

Among others, I bought a pair of Kharma CRM 3.2FE speakers and initially I thought them to be incredible. The sound was glorious, Instrument placement was perfect, Soundstage - wide, deep and holographic. Everything about the speaker seemed to be sheer perfection. . . . Until . . . I listened for extended periods . . . and then . . . Headaches . . .dizzyness. . . disorientation . . . The worst case of listener fatique I had ever experienced.

While this speaker does sound fantastic, I absolutely cannot listen to it.

I have experienced the same sensation with other speakers - up to and including the highly touted Wilson Watt/Puppy 7.

The problem seems to be the Focal inverted dome titanium tweeter that is common to several of the speakers I've had problems with. Many have said that the Wilsons cause listener fatigue. I had not heard this about the Kharmas.

I loved the Kharma speakers until I just couldn't listen to them any more.

I sold them and have bought another pair of Avalon Eidolons. Not only do they sound "as good as" the Kharmas, but I can listen to them for hours on end with no problems whatever.

For my money, the Avalons are perfect.
well. yoiu are 100% right. wilson audio watt puppy and kharmas share the same xover topology(i will not tell what but it is with recpect to manufacturers but it is completely diferent that most speakers have ) that makes sound very open detailed and "light" . but focal tweetes and accuton ceamic drivers maks some ringing in this xover topoly. with very good components(very expensive silver paper in oil caps, foil inductors)it can be reduced. but no manufactures will put 800eur costing caps to 30 000eur speakers. its just too expensive for them. avalon eidolon are more technical sounding (like jmlab utopia) with ordinary xovers also xover slopes is sharper. they sound more technical and not fatiquing.

Renaissance Audio Labs-
Speakers Designs -

My friend and I own the above mentioned speakers: Kharma 3.2 and Avalon Eidolon. Not saying that once I dropped my Kharma's to his place for listening, but, myself, spent substancial time listening to his system.
My system is Kharma/Tenor OTL/ Wavac, and my friends Eidolon/ CAT /ARC Ref3.
In view of above, the comparison is of no use, as CAT is not for Kharma, and Tenor is not the match for Avalon.
Eventually you evaluate the system vs system, and that will be more fair way to do so.
I did enjoyed the Avalons playing music. They are great speakers. They are big, able to deliver massive soundstage and will fit well into the large room,and will fill it with music.
Kharma are speakers that will give you midrange and dynamics, I never heard any other speaker will reproduce.
The comparison of BMW and Mercedes is the fine one, but, refining it further, I'd say, compare two seater convertible sports car with large sedan wichever brand you'd like.
You feel so great in two seater sports car, but you miss a bit of the space of a large car.
As we are close friends, we made a few steps to get into something common in the sound. I bought the CRM Sub to make sound more large scale, and my friend tuned his system to improve the dynamics, and midrange to match that of Tenor/Kharma combo.
What do I like is what I do have.
I like the bar, where I can be alone or with a few friends, getting finest drop of cognac, with Keith Jarrett playing intimately, just for you. This is Kharma as I see it.
If you like the large concert hall, where music is amplified and soundstage is big, this is Avalon for you.
There is no answer what is better. No one will convince Avalon owner, that Kharma is the better speaker overall.
This is matter of taste. My taste is Kharma, and I do think this is superior to Eidolons in overall texture.
My friend, I think, believe the same, although he never confessed.