what is the REAL deal with DK

I know there has been a lot on this manufacturer, but I just discovered them myself(today). I have never read so many positives while at the same time read so many negatives on any on amp(or any product for that matter). At the same time they are getting huge pats on the back from two different magazines? Could some owners of the Dk vs1 mk 2 offer there opinions that still own them, I maybe looking for an intergrated hybrid that has some power and this is the only one that seems to fit the bill in my price range. So...why the extreme positive and negative?!
Extreme positive comes from owners.

Extreme negative is in response to a poor initial marketing campaign marked by hype, guerilla marketing in these threads, and some shading of the truth regarding specs of the amp. IMO, of course.

Also, a significant sell-off of the DK VsI MkII, which may have been as much a result of someone in effect yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater, didn't help matters.

DK Design is now owned by the Larry Staples Audio Group (LSA Group), and the ship is being righted with honest marketing, great customer support, and a line-up of improved products beyond what many consider to be an excellent integrated amp in the VsI MKII.

That's as real as I can deal on DK.
I did read about the weird marketing of this company....it still seems to me that although the magazines can be pretty biased with their reviews, an award as such given by two magazines seems pretty convincing of the sound? I'm just wondering if they PREFORM as I was led to believe by all the positive reviewers? I can say that I found very few that were negative based on the performance alone. Tvad, are you an owner or have you compared or heard them?
Tvad, are you an owner or have you compared or heard them?
No to all.
Thanks for your response...I will say that is one of the nicest looking amps I have ever seen. Has anyone heard the DK compared to the pathos integrated?
Well, a quick search of the threads on DK reveals...NOTHING!

What happened to the volumes of lively debate over the merits of this amp?

Why would Audiogon deep-six all that stuff?

Why does the government deny they are holding alien corpses in area 51?

Why won't Nessie reveal herself to her friends?

What state DOESN'T have a family of Bigfoot creatures in hiding?

Alas, some mysteries will remain cloaked in darkness FOREVER....................
I auditioned the DK II driving some sonus faber auditors locally and it was awesome. I almost bought the entire setup right there. It is right on the top of my list for my power needs. The owners of the shop see a lot of really nice equipment - and they have this in the middle of their show pieces. I have been out of the high end gear game for years and this amp has sparked my interest in high end audio again. That is how I found this site 3 weeks ago. I hope this helps -

I hope this helps.
Matt's a Jan '06 member. What a surprise. Deja Vu all over again.

Maybe Danny Keshin kept some names in reserve and he's coming back to haunt us. Say it ain't so.
Well, hell, I guess I will jump in on this one. I am not an ole' timer audiophile guy, but my ears know excellent sound when they hear it and the DK DELIVERS!(Like the Grateful Dead did on one of their better nights) I do own the DK since August and love what this baby does in combination with my other components(Reimer Wind River custom speakers, Consonance CD-120, DK supplied interconnects, reality speaker cables, and new since Christmas, the BrickWall conditioner. The amp has probably too much power and I have not passed the halfway line since I'de like to keep my ears from bleeding. The sound is crystal clear from every volume thus far. Watch out,this is one HEAVY mother. It took a lot out of me to hump it onto my rack but there it sits in all its glory. My more seasoned audiophile buddies are like "Holy s___, that sucker looks mean! Simply put, it sounds even better than it looks and it is so impressive. I can personally vouch for Larry Staples, the new owner of DK as being one of the most honest,honorable, up-front square deal business people I've ever come across. The support is the best, and no, I do not work for him nor do I have any association other than being the proud owner of this product. Yeah, he purchased the DK business in July, but with intentions of delivering a superior amp along with his speaker line. You call them and you WILL get service, done!I think they should advertise more but hey, it's not "my" business. I have not yet began the "tube rolling' bit yet but I will in the near future and to me that's another plus. Solid state amp and tube pre-amp -best of both worlds. Good luck there, and if I were you, I would jump on one of these baby's and take it for a ride. enjoy the music.. Frank
I've had some mails from Larry,regarding questions I had on non DK related matters.
His input has helped me immensly.I really think this is a man you can trust and whose products you can buy with confidence.
I own a DK VS-1 MKII, but am currently using an Almarro A205A MKII as my 2 channel driver. I have heard the DK MKIII and the Signature model at recent CES/THEshow. At home compared to my mid-line Nakamichi receiver it is sonically superior in all aspects. At my local high end audio store when compared to any tube amplifier with a MSRP of equal or greater value it does not compare as well. Changing the 6922 input tubes to better quality and a decent power cord with a properly matched power conditioner helps (of course) but in my opinion is required as a minimum for use. Today we tried the DK VS-1 on some Soundlab speakers which are known to be an extremly dificult load for transistor amps and actually the DK did pretty good, not like a Wolcott of course, but acceptable for a transistor amp. My recent listen to MKIII and Signature models I actually prefer my own VS-1, but keep in mind there are/were many problems at THEShow to get best sound out of demoe'd components. At CES/SHOW, IF audio memory serves correctly there are several small popular integrated amps that are good, maybe even better than the DK but do not have phono input or quite the rated power. I have found I personally prefer the "quality" of the single-ended triode type amps versus the typical transistor amp, thus my opinion is somewhat biased in that direction. Closing-up I think the DK price-point is correct, possibly good value considering the phono-stage. Used DK in the $1500-$2000 range a better choice. Helps this helps, just my opinon, Mike
It is simply the best integrated amplifier on the market period. I have been a serious audiophile for 15 years and this component virtually does it all. I would say that it is in the same leage with many expensive separates and I know some people who replaced Audio Research and Krell separates. I highly recommend that you audition one.
The DK MKII is an awesome amp, I had a great time at a fellow Agoners house checking out the DK..it is a great piece.
i sold some nice seperates and auditioned other amps (mac and classe) and ended up buying the dk mkII amp to drive my totem mani 2's. when people hear the amp, they like the sound. they did have some wierd marketing tactics early on and alot of people didn't like it. imo, most of the rants were childish which most audiophiles should have ignored. the only way to judge a piece of equipment is to listen to it, not worry about how other people think about the advertising.
Echo TVAD's initial comments. I did an in home demo of the MKII and it is a nice sounding int-amp, and for the used price is a major steal. I found it had plenty of power, had a good sound staging, and had great dynamics and bass. It was a bit congested in the mids and highs. Could have been the tubes I suppose.
Matt - Do you know Daniel Khesin? Just wondering.
Does anybody have feedback on the Lsa/DK Sig amp demo'd in Vegas.Just wondering how the sound compares to the DKmk2.I must add that i heard the MK2 with my Reimer Tetons and thought it sounded great(tubes do seem to make a huge difference).The feedback i have gotten so far is that the new amp semms to do everything a little better? Sorry,hope i did'nt hijack the thread.Thanks Kevin
Still wondering why the two magazines gave the dk such impressive praise? I guess what everybody is saying is that the marketing got in the way of an outstanding product? I have a Cayin ta-30 integrated and was looking for some more power along with the mixture of the tubes with solid state. Just trying to figure out if it would be that dramatic of an upgrade?
Frankie u, When you get the chance to tube roll if you can try the Amperex PQ's.They work great with this amp in my setup at least.I ended up getting the pinchwaist's and they are even better.My friend brought over some Siemen Cca's and they give you a very nice sound but a tad to dark for me but that would be personal preference.I don't know but I sold my ML ref-32 and Plinius 100mk-3 as to me the DK is just more musical and realistic.Good luck on your tube hunt.Regards,Bob
I am still surprised that there are DK bashers out there. And what was wrong with DK's marketing prior to LSA Group purchase? To my knowledge, DK is the only company that gave out 3 brand-new amps to regular audiogon members who have been on Audiogon since the beginning and then asked them to write a completely unbiased review that is not driven by advertising dollars. To me this sounds like a company that means business and is willing to prove it. Lets see Krell do something like this. And do you think the reviews on the Krell will be nearly as good as the reviews on the DK, given that they are completely unbiased?
(I have only listened to solid state amps before).
I listen to classical music.

I listened 1/2 hour in store with theta cd player
and 3 different bookshelf speakers. I think it sounds pleasant, not accurate...I guess thats how tubes sound.

If I would buy it it would be for its appearance. It has a power meter nice light and substantial build.
Still wondering why the two magazines gave the dk such impressive praise?

Ever heard of advertising dollars? I see that DK buys a cover page on Stereophile. I don't know what mags you're refferring to, but money talks volumes.

jmcgrogan2, the mags were positive-feedback and soundstage I believe, and the reviews were not just reviews they one editors choice and so forth.
>>It is simply the best integrated amplifier on the market period<<

Funny stuff!!!
I bought my DK Integrated before the hype started on Audiogon and have lived with it in my system for just over 1 year. In stock form it is a very nice sounding amp. If you get into tube rolling it really can make it a great amp. I sent mine to Parts Connexion about 2 months ago and had a full modification of the amp. I am extremely satisified with the results. I am in the process of working on a review that I will post on Audiogon. I am not affiliated with DK or Parts Connexion other than being a very satisfied user. I replaced my Krell KSA 100s & Krell KRC preamp and wouldn't go back. Hope this helps.
charlie101, if you don't agree that it is the best integrated than what is? I am really trying to find out. I would like it to be a hybrid, if not it has to be a tube integrated with some slam or a ss with it's normal attributes along with a nice midrange and upper end for less than 3000$?????
First, I was responding to the outrageous statement that the DK is the "best integrated on the market period". That is so funny it needed to be addressed. The writer must not be familiar with the integrated market I suppose. Some integrateds that will embarrass that amp are:
deHavilland IOS 845
Cary 300sei
Graaf Venticinque
BAT VK-300x
VAC Phi Beta
VAC Phi Kappa 32
Jadis DA30
Jadis DA50S
Jadis DA60

Now you did not stipulate $3000 in your original post. However, if you patiently look around for a used piece from Jadis, VAC, BAT, etc. you will eventually find something much better than the DK.

Good luck.
It seems the Amperex PQ pinched waists' are the HOT tube for this baby. Any of you guys know where I can get them? Thanks fellahs! Frank
Charlie101, thanks for your input and I will look into those you listed, do any of them happen to be hybrids?

Sean is looking for an amp that has some slam along with a nice midrange. On your list, the Cary, BAT, and Jadis have no slam whatsoever, although they do have a nice midrange. During demanding passages, these amps will simply fall appart and warp the bass next to the DK. I have not heard the Graaf or the deHavilland. In any case, I have no idea where you come up with the idea that those amps will embarass the DK. I have done several side by side comparisons, and I am particularly offended by your reference to the Cary 300sei - it neither has the midrange OR the low frequency performance of the DK. It just doesn't compare.

Also, and this is not a subjective statement, but a factual statement, the DK will embarass virtually all those amps when it comes to build quality and parts quality. Lets open up a Cary and the DK and inspect the parts inside. That will put the argument to rest.

I think the VAC is the only contender that will sound better then the DK, in that it has an addictive midrange presentation but still with lots of kick in the bass for a tube amp - as it should be since it costs $20K.
Kman, The DK Signature is more refined and more textured. It is a significant upgrade from the MKII.
charlie 101, if you are going to compare amps to the dk, why don't you compare apples to apples. most of the amps you listed cost up to twice what the dk cost. a lot of those amps you listed have quite a bit less power than the dk. if i would put the cary 300 into my system with my mani 2's, it would sound like ^&$#. the dk would embarass the cary with my speakers. you would need to get very effecient speakers for this amp. also, i can list dozens of amps that would blow your list away. some might cost $2500 a pair up to many times this amount. again, i love it when people stress their point when using words like 'embarass' instead of just saying 'imo, i liked the sound of xxxx, yyy over zzzz'.
What was wrong with DK’s marketing…......

Hmmm, let’s see. Well, there was the thread-of-the-day for about two months with brand new members frothing at the mouth saying things like “It is simply the best integrated amplifier on the market period”, who seemed to come and go only to leave DK threads, and then there was the dealer blitzkrieg of dozens of repetitive ads, along with the false “wanted” ads, and of course, there was the dealer in Nevada or somewhere at a schoolhouse address in a town of 250 people, who appeared to have been a figment of DK’s original owners mind, and so on and so forth.

Then of course there was the false claims that ended up resulting in the three member test. The only reason this test started was that the original owner went over the line as far as his BS claims, trying to defend the claim that the amp’s architecture was Class A (later Class A+ - how funny is that!). The membership grew tired of all the BS associated with DK and put him up to the test. It went reasonably well for DK, but the ultimate proof is that none of the members who participated ended up keeping the things.

As mentioned before, MK II’s sell for pathetic prices, which makes them excellent values. At one time, there was an attempt to claim that everyone (and it seemed like it was everyone) was selling the MkII for the MkIII. That got laughed down (read the threads), and we’re all waiting to see what the next step is.

By the way Sean, add the Levinson 383 to your list of integrateds that'll chew up a DK.
Audioari1 -
I just checked out your "answers" - OK, it's only my opinion, but it doesn't seem right to me that DK is apparently the only appropriate answer for everything. Or is it?
And only a $20k amp sounds better than a DK? - oh boy, the absurdity levels are reaching pretty tall heights again.
Oh well, something would be wrong if a DK thread didn't become a mockery of reality I suppose.
>>I am particularly offended by your reference to the Cary 300sei<<

Gee that's a shame. The only thing you should be offended about is your defense of the DK. Say shill with me.........

BTW the deHavilland, Graaf, and Jadis WILL crush your DK. You need to sharpen your listening skills.
Thanks for the info 84audio,I guess i will find out for myself,I ordered a DkSig yesterday from my dealer.Do you think tube rolling will still be as important as it was with the DK Mk11. I thought this unit took quite a few steps up with early Amperex white Pq's in it.I hope to find some at a decent price. Kevin
Audioari1, in my opinion, the BAT has at least as much slam as the DK.

And, truthfully, have you actually HEARD a Jadis D30, DA50S, DA60, or DA88S? Or, for that matter an Orchestra or Orchestra Reference? Please explain to me the bass, or anything else, falling apart in demanding passages?

Still, I'm not here to be a DK basher. I'm more of a neutral observer than most here and the highly polarized opinions. I think it's a fairly priced product that has more than underwhelmed me when I heard a bone stock unit with Von Schweikert VR4Jr, and more than overwhelmed me when I heard it (stock unit???) driving the same speakers at HE2005. In my opninon, the combination was among the best at the show.

At the show, Daniel Khesin came across as a real clown, but I have nothing but the highest respect for Lrsky (current owner Larry Staples), who I consider a friend, and the reason the threads have calmed down and am sure he will ratchet the class factor of the company up several notches.

Let's look at all of your comments individually:

1. You are implying with 100% confidence that DK forged all of those threads. Well there are lots of people in this thread claiming that the DK is an awesome amp and many of them have been members for along time and post on many other topics. Your argument does not hold up. Finally, how can you prove that threads and posts by new members are not valid. Sometimes, many new people go out and buy a product and post their experiences for the first time.
2. How do you know the wanted ads were false?
3. Whats wrong with dozens of repetitve ads?
4. How do you know that this dealer in Nevada was a creation of the owner of DK? What proof or evidence do you have?
5. The membership could have put DK to the test and DK could have politely declined. THere are dozens of other very well known manufacturers who make BS claims and yet I am sure they will decline to have their products officially reviewed by Audiogon members.
6. Clearly DK has succeded in this industry and you are most likely jelous of their success. As far as I know, the owner of DK sold the company to LSA Group and made a fortune. While you probably have a miserable job.
7. Most of the DK bashers have never heard the product and I suspect that some are competitors who lurk in these forums.
8. As much as you think that DK's marketing strategies were outrageous, they built up a network of 70 dealers and huge network of international distributors just shortly after opening doors. It usually takes other manufacturers many years to build up this kind of distirbution.
9. Fianlly, with the size and scope of DK's business, I seriously doubt that the owner of DK would be sitting here posting fake threads as this would not in any way impact the companies sales. Remember - this forum is for geeks and seriously disturbed audiophiles.

So with all of these considerations, the correct question is, whats right with DKs marketing? And how can other people learn from their success?
Hi Snofun3, With all due respect I don't know why your bashing the DK so fervently.Anyone that has come to my house thats into audio or not in the last 30+ years has not heard my system sound as good as it does now including myself.I have had numerous equipment from all Theta from the first to the 5b to AR all tube to Sim W-5 to my last which was the ML ref32 pre with a Plinius 100mk-3 and that all went after trying and getting the DK sig MK-2.So I guess it's all in the ear of the beholder or holders and there are probably better and worse but some of us understand that without ripping other peoples likes.Regard,Bob
Bobf - Check the responses again - not much in the way of DK bashing, but a fairly open exposure of a shill campaign which was DK's previous owner's stock-in-trade. Some here appear destined to resurrect it apparently.
Unfortunate that AGon deleted so many of the old threads, as they were a riot of absurdity.
True that I like the Levinson integrated more, but the DK's a good piece - it was just a shame that the shill campaign was so blatant - it completely took away from what positive attributes the DK has.

And oh, Audioari, sure, the outpouring of comments regarding the piece is because of the success of the marketing campaign. Enjoy the delusion.
Audioari1 writes:
So with all of these considerations, the correct question is, whats right with DKs marketing?
Let me guess - you are in either marketing or advertising.

In my opinion, even those of us on the sidelines with no dog in the fight, were disenchanted with the approach DK took.

Clearly DK has succeded in this industry and you are most likely jelous of their success. As far as I know, the owner of DK sold the company to LSA Group and made a fortune. While you probably have a miserable job.

That last comment is totally uncalled for.

If I were Larry Staples I'd change the name of that unit to "Acme" or something. The earlier DK lunacy has defamed what is actually a pretty good product by most accounts.

Guerilla marketing is for guerillas.
I haven't followed this topic and have never heard dk products. What I have gathered from this thread is that creating a "BUZZ" might not be the best way to market high fidelity audio equipment.
Sean, sure got "catty" out there quickly,huh? What's with you guys anyway? Sheeet, be nice! Back to your original question friend- As an owner I say again, The DK does a great job. That's all. TURN ON, TUNE IN, ENJOY THE MUSIC!
Hi Snofun3, I did read those old threads as I had gotten a mk-2 to try and wanted to see if anything was written on any of the sites.You are correct about how hideous and angry it got.Then again it seems to be the going thing these days.The only point I was trying to make is everyone likes something different and that doesn't make one product sound better than an other one.I have heard and owned some very expensive equipment over the long haul and find it refreshing to (albeit late) in the expense game.It's too bad that some people consider a person as a shill when they are excited about a product and are trying to be honest and helpfull.As I said before I don't believe there is a best in anything.Regards,Bob
If I were Larry Staples I'd change the name of that unit to "Acme" or something
Bingo. Despite the fact that they have an honorable gent a the helm, and have made genuine investments in the product line, the public continues to see DK as Jerry Lewis attempting to go serious. The only way to shake the previous mess is to re-brand the product. Just my opinion.

Cary Grant
We used an older DK integrated amp in our room at the show.
I was very suprised as to the performance of that unit. It just creamed a pair of nuforce amps. So much more musical. I understand the new DK integrated have been taken to a much higher level I would definetly try one if I was in the market.


Here is an excerpt from a review of the DK VS-1 Mk. 2:

"The VS-1 MK 2 looks cool, but how does it sound? A few years back, I had the pleasure of reviewing the Gryphon Callisto 2100, and thought it was the best integrated ever. Its $5700 price was way out of my range, or it would have been on my shelf. The VS-1 MK 2 does everything the 2100 did, and more. In terms of dynamics, it positively threatens to jump off the rack. It immediately reminded me of the Callisto in this regard, but goes it one better, portraying more depth and musical dimension. This leads me to its second distinction—soundstage and imaging. The VS-1 MK 2 is the best amplifier I have heard in this regard."

So what will you say now Charlie Charles? Who has more credibility, you or a professional reviewer? How do you say with such certainty that those other amps will crush the DK? Maybe you need to sharpen your listening skills?
If you all know that dk is being run by a reputable man now, what is the problem?
Probably people who feel it is more than it actually is. DK happens to be a normal, average, run of the mill audio manufacturer selling fair products at fair prices. No more and no less. No magic and no snakeoil. Good for them.
""I listened 1/2 hour in store with theta cd player
and 3 different bookshelf speakers. I think it sounds pleasant, not accurate...I guess thats how tubes sound.""

Does this mean that if you listen to a cello live its not going to be pleasant because the sound wasnt distorted by the tubes?