Review: Kora Electronics Hermes DA converter

Category: Digital

The search for the new DAC began since my original DAC started acting up, and was sent to England to be fixed. It was one of the only 30 units made, by now defunct Welsh company DPA. The price, in 1994 was $10,000, and was touted by the UK Hi-FI reviewers as one of the best at the time. I felt if I couldn’t find the unit that would sound as good as my DPA 1024, I should find at least something that would sound at least close enough to remind me of a detail and palpability of DPA.

My music preference is mostly classical piano, but also Latin and World music. I choose four CD’s that were in heavy rotation in last few weeks: Richard Goode “Bach Partitas NOS. 1, 3 & 6; Arvo Part “De Profundis”; Ian Bostridge J S Bach Cantatas & Arias and Compay Segundo “Calle Salud.”

I prefer detail and transparency without listening fatigue. That’s the reason I like non-invasive soundstage developing right in between the speakers, or even a step behind. The worst thing about stereo is if music is right into my face, and if upon the listening the first thought is to turn the volume knob down – I am running away!

Kora Hermes was used piece that I bought from one of the reviewers that reviewed the original Hermes I in 1998. It’s been in my system for almost a month, and as mentioned earlier, replaced the flagship DPA 1024. The performance was better than I could have ever expected. With the Hermes I experienced biggest improvement in imaging and for the first time experienced the 3-D sound. Maybe because sound was brought just step closer than what I was used to but still, it wasn’t in my face. Instead soundstage expanded further behind the speakers and closer to the listening chair. The most noticeable trait was that person performing was “full size,” and not three feet tall. The detail and transparency were there, and yet I could have listened it for hours at the time without any fatigue. The greatest weakness of my system is bass. It wouldn’t be fair to single Kora Hermes out, because that could be attributed to my speakers or other components in the chain.

Will I keep Kora Hermes or DPA DAC, when it returns? That will yet to be seen once I compare them side-by-side. So far, Kora did so well that I am not sure anymore.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System
I have spent a few hours with this DAC on different occasions and I agree it is one of the least fatiguing I have heard. Your review confirms that it can compete well out if its class.
I should have also mentioned, that the original owner had tubes upgraded, from stock to NOS Tungsram 12AU7's (Ecc82), what made a substantial improvement.
I have one and after it plays a while it does something weird with the frequencies going out of whack!do not know if I should throw it out or save it...
If anything goes, it will be most likely PSU. Contact Kora with your problem.