Review: Cairn Ko2 amp w/ nitro preamp Amplifier
im reviewing this amp and preamp together mostly because what will be said here would just be repeated. i originaly had the amp running with the preouts off of my 4808 cairn integrated, i immediatly noticed the soundstage improved greatly. the speakers to a greater degree than ever before disappeared. much more clarity.
the build quality of the KO2 is excelent. it has 4 seperate power supplies , 2 per channel for a total of 1000va. a switch for pure class "A" or class A,B. and a switch for auto on when it detects a signal. it has a vented top, i noticed it runs warm,but not hot. i would recomend you give it some breathing room. both the KO2 and the nitro have very thick aluminum face plates, and rest on three aluminum cone feet in a tripod arrangement.
when listening with the 4808 i was using the rca inputs of the amp. i then purchased the nitro preamp. It is a balanced preamp but oddley they make you order it with xlr inputs and outputs as an option. they call it multi solutions. you can add a dac, phono card and so on if youd like. i went with just with the xlr options only.
the nitro operates like 4808, but with improvements in several areas , first the display is much better , its bright blue with white info. when giving it a command with the remote it brightens so you can read it from across the room, then dims so not to be distracting. you can also turn the display off completely if you like.the right knob handles the power and volume. the left knob lets you navigate the menu of options, source selection and so on. it has a headphone preamp, and moniter loop. i have not tried the headphone amp yet.
i set up the combo with xlr balanced cables from signal cable. WOW! ive not heard alot of high dollar hi-fi, but i have heard some. this is the best ive heard. the sepperation of the instruments,the clarity. think of every adjective youve read in stereophile, this has it. i listen mostly to classic rock, bluegrass, some jazz. when i put neko case on the fog 3 cd player [i will be reviewing later] its was as she was singing ten feet in front of me. my speakers completely disappeared.
as you can tell , im very impressed with this cairn stuff. i will say at suggested retail i dont know how it would stand up to the competition. it is being changed up by cairn for a newer model, and i was able to get it at 50% off. at that price it blows everything ive heard away. i will also say that cairn is much better at making there product than they are at marketing it. and there website stinks. but they do have a few dealers in america, if get a chance give this stuff a listen. thanks for reading.
cairn fog 3 soft cd player
denon dp-500m turntable
polk lsi19 speakers
monster 3500 power supply
cairn 4808nf integrated
musical fidelity A5 integrated
krell 400xi integrated