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Krakow Sonic Society meeting #77:
1. Power amplifier Reimyo KAP-777

Price: 115 000 zł
Manufacturer: Combak Corporation
Contact: Kazuo Kiuchi
Country of origin: Japan

2. Create Audio Luxury Series 300B tubes

Price: 500 USD for a matched pair
Manufacturer: Synergy Hi-Fi
Contact: Dr Ningsheng Liu
Country of origin: China
Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photographs: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

The seventy seventh meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society is devoted to two products – the new amplifier from the Japanese company Reimyo and also new tubes from the Chinese company Create Audio. I underline their “being new” because in both cases we got devices from the first production run. And it is not a coincidence, that we will describe them both together. Because the meeting about the Reimyo KAP-777 is the addition to the regular test (in the same, “Japanese” edition of “High Fidelity”). It is the third step of the test. I will just briefly remind, that the first one was the comparison of the KAP in my system with the power amp Soulution 710, and the second one, replacing my Ayon Polaris III with the preamplifier Reimyo CAT-777 MkII. Those tests were methodologically correct, because I always test the devices that way, but they had one shortcoming: they did not tell anything about how the KAP-777 will behave in a system, where it replaces a 300B amp. And that is its raison d'être.

Enter the Create Audio tubes. I do not know if you remember, but I testes 300B tubes from that company already (HERE). Those tubes, belonging to the Golden Jazz Series turned out to be splendid – I bought them for testing and comparison purposes, and Janusz bought them, one of the KSS hosts.
Some time one of my readers from New Zealand asked, if I heard something about the new tubes from that company – it turned out, that the Golden Jazz Series is no longer in sale. Because I did not know anything about any new products, I wrote immediately to Mr. Ningsheng Liu, the representative of the company, and got the following response:
“Indeed, we just changed the 300B tubes we offer. The main reason for that was the exhaustion of our order at Shuguang – this company manufactures the tubes for us according to our specifications. The company told us, that they have no stock of needed materials to continue the production of the tubes exactly as we ordered. So we thought about a new tube. We used different materials – I am thinking mostly about the anode – but with identical parameters as the previous one”.
And it is true – when we look at the tubes, we can see they are different – previously they had a mesh anode, and those, called Luxury Series 300B a solid one, looking like carbon. Is it really so? I am not 100% sure, but it looks like that.

And how does this relate to Reimyo? Well: I decided to pair the KAP with one of the best tube amplifiers I know, the monoblocks Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono, in combination with the player Ancient Audio Lektor Grand SE, which uses the Create Audio Golden Jazz Series 300B tubes. Those were exchanged for the new version. And I would like to start with that comparison.


Discs used for the session:

  • Monteverdi, Teatro d’Amore, Virgin, 23614024, CD.
  • Ben Webster, My Romance, Ultra Disc, UP-SACD 8934-2, SACD/CD.
  • Kankawa, Organist, T-TOC Records, MCDR-T1735, CD-RIIα.
  • Muddy Waters, Folk Singer, JVC, VICJ-044-4118, XRCD24.
  • Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch, 524055-2, CD+DVD.
  • Miss Teddi King, All The Kings’ Songs, Coral/Universal Music Japan, UCCU-9693, SHM-CD.
  • Peggy Lee, Lee Mink Jazz, Capitol/Toshiba-EMI, TOCJ-9327, CD.
  • Manuel de Falla, The Three Cornered Hat, Decca/Lasting Impression Music, LIM XR24 014, XRCD24.


Create Audio Luxury Series 300B

The new tubes are 100USD more costly (per pair) than the previous ones. The increase in price was caused mainly by the shocking material costs, which are reflected in all Chinese products. So it is not the case, that those tubes should be more expensive than the old ones. From what I understood, they were designed to replace the dropped Golden Jazz series, and just reflect the prices on the world markets.
As it turns out, the tubes differ from each other a lot. This is not a change that would suggest a different manufacturer, the sound DNA is easy to discern, and they are closer together than to other tubes. Even more, one of the listeners told, that the differences between them were smaller than between the Ancient Audio and Reimyo amplifiers. So we listened first to the new tubes and then went over to the mesh Golden Jazz Series 300B. Below you can see the opinions of the listeners.

Ryszard B.
I have a problem with this comparison. Using soccer terminology, I would say, that we have a tie, with slight advantage to the new tubes. In my opinion those new tubes are better mostly in differentiation of harmonics and in the richness of timbres. But it is the same class, no doubt about that. And that means, that the new tubes should be indicated as the better ones. They are very musical, I like them very much, they introduce something to music, that makes us want to listen more and more intensively. But like I said, the sound of those two kinds of tubes is very similar, so the differences are not big. At least for me.

Ryszard S.
Yes, those tubes have a very similar sound, at least at first glance. But when we listen carefully, and it was audible better and better with each disc we listened to, their character is different to such extent, that we can talk about preference. I agree, those are tubes cut from the same matter, as the mesh ones, what makes them similar, but they play the individual subranges differently – within the same aesthetics. Both tubes sound in a very noble way, but today – and it is always down to individual preferences – I had a taste in detail and contour. With the new tubes the sound is fatter, more massive, better saturated, thick. There is a bit of syrup in them. I do not know what I would choose. Penderecki traveled with three pianos, and chose the one he will be playing in the last possible moment. It is similar with those tubes – those are splendid tubes, with a slightly different character, but the same basis – it would be best to interchange them depending on one’s mood. I liked it very much.

Like I say – those tubes are more in the same class than comparable amplifiers. But you can find differences. For me the most important ones were about the midrange and treble. The mesh tube has a better worked out, better resolved treble. The new tubes are more “closed”. But the midrange is reference in the latter – I have never heard such good vocals before.

For me with the new tubes the vocal was a bit more matte and not as readable as with the old ones. The bass in the older tubes was more even, stronger and better resolved. More colorful and dynamic. We could hear clearly, that the new tubes sound better in the midrange, because although the sound was less readable as with the older ones, it was fluent and smooth. However I disagree to some extent with the interpretation of what you told earlier – the intensity of the sound with the new tubes is so big, that they seem exaggerated, they are too much “boosted”.

As you know I listened to those tubes earlier, for about one and a half month, because I was burning them in for Wojtek. As long as I had the new tubes plugged in, I did not see special differences between the two versions. Maybe some small ones, but nothing, that would make me change them. Everything changed three days ago, when I went back to my old tubes.
I will start at the beginning. For me listening to music is something different, than what we usually do during our KSS meetings. Listening to something, I always think if I could live with that sound, or not. And changes have no meaning, unless they make me desire a change.
And those tubes sounded for me the same, for a long time. It was a few days ago, that I called Wojtek and told him, that I do not see significant differences. But the return to the old tubes showed, that the differences are there, and they are fundamental, bringing a new quality to the sound. And because I always think about products in terms of living with the sound, I may say, that the difference between the tubes is incredible.
The old tubes seem a bit chaotic to me now. The new ones sound with a coherent, well composed, more natural sound. But – for me – they have a very weak bass. With the mesh tubes it reaches far more down, it more contoured and stronger. And with low powers from the 300B this is a very important ability. With the new tubes it sometimes booms. I exaggerate, but this is how I see it. But the rest of the sound spectrum is for me unanimously better in the new tubes. No doubt about that. I’ll say even more – it is twice as good, and when you live with them, the differences become fundamental. In the new ones there is saturation, depth and naturalness. I have the impression of a biological sound, voice. This is a definite step forward.
And one more thing, something what – for me – disqualifies the old tubes (now, in comparison) – weak focusing. Now I hear that, although earlier, they were compared with many splendid tubes and were better anyway. But the new tubes are even better than that. Everything has shape, focus and is well ordered. Now I hear it as if in the mesh tubes everything would come apart. With new tubes everything is physical, nothing is ever lost. And the vocals are so beautiful in the new ones, fleshy and convex. Yes, those will be my new tubes.


I do not need to add much to what was written above. The most important information is, that it is a sound from the same “suit”. Another important thing is, that the tubes differ. The older, mesh tube has a sound with better drawn sound spectrum extremes. Also its bass is unbeatable – I never heard such a rhythmical, full bass from a 300B tube. Also the buildup of the treble, the amount of information, its readability are better in the mesh tube. The thing is that … the coherence of the midrange, its fullness, depth, focus, lack of nervousness in the new tubes result in us not willing to stop listening. Yes, the old tubes were splendid, but – as usual – when we hear something better, this loses meaning and does not weigh as much as before. This is the reason, that for most of us, the new tubes sounded better. Not in all aspects, but we indicated them as those, we could live with. Good work!!! Those are among the best tubes on the market, regardless their price.

Reimyo KAP-777 vs Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono

And so we can continue with the most important part of our meeting – the comparison of two, incredibly expensive power amplifiers – the solid state KAP and the tube Grand. As usual it was not a comparison in identical conditions for both units. The system, in which we listened to them, was composed from the beginning to the end as a coherent, complete unit, for Ancient Audio electronics. Even more – the power amps from that company were designed to work with the variable output of their players and do not like preamplifiers. On the other hand the Reimyo was designed to work with the CAT-777 preamplifier.

For my defense I can say, that this is the most resolving system I know, and changes are heard very strongly. Secondly, earlier we compared the Reimyo power amplifier PAT-777, which defended itself perfectly.

Ryszard S.
I will start optimistically – usually even expensive products do not fare well in this system. And we listened to lots of devices here. And here – nice resolution and control, everything combines really well. What differentiates the Reimyo from the AA is that the first is less energetic and – in the context of power difference – has surprisingly smaller bass.
With the Reimyo I liked very much the Peggy Lee disc, her vocal. I was also very interested in the recording from de Falla – symphonic music sounds really nice with the Japanese amplifier. But less well recorded discs went down completely with them – the Ancient extracted energy and directness from them, and the KAP-777 played them flat – like the bad disc from Webster.

Ryszard B.
For me the tube sounded with quick transients, in a very dynamic way. In contrast the transistor in a very smooth, laid back way. And without distortion, which I heard from the tube at higher volume levels. I think, that the Reimyo is better leveled timbre wise, and from the tube I hear a slightly underlined midrange, and thus I lack some homogeneity there.
Different discs behaved differently – Peggy Lee sounded better with the Reimyo and Waters from Folk Singer better with the Ancient. I think, that what is better and what worse will depend on individual taste more than on evaluation – this is the same quality level.

I will start from the end – Waters sounded with the tube as if the orchestra would still have the booze on the table, and with the Reimyo, as if they would already have drunk that. With the Japanese amplifier the energy of the recordings was much smaller, as if it would evaporate. This is why I was so surprised with Peggy Lee, her vocal – she sounded brilliant with Reimyo.
But I think, that the real advantage of the KAP was with classical music – if I would listen to that kind of music, then I would listen with the Reimyo, and not the tube. The disc The Three Cornered Hat sounded brilliant with it, especially the strong, orchestral elements. But I must say, that I am a bit disappointed with the Reimyo – I was fixed on a breakthrough, and here we have only a very good amplifier.

I will say shortly – as a listener I liked the Ancient Audio amplifier better. It is better for me, because it shows “more” music. And yes – the Reimyo played the classical pieces better. And much better sounded the Laurie Anderson disc. With Reimyo I thought, that the upper part of the sound spectrum, a part of the midrange, were stronger, with the shrill Hammonds from the disc Kankawa it was a bit too bright.

With the first piece played on the Reimyo I thought – a tragedy. I think, that its sound, its treble is a bit cut – the tube shows the “plankton” better. In the beginning its sound seemed too heavy for me. But the longer I listened, the better I got acquainted with that sound, the more I liked it. It shows dynamics better. After the whole listening session I think, that it is a similar class, but a different character.

I would not exchange it for my amplifier, for that matter. I will agree with Tomek on that – the first impression, just when switching over from the tube, is dramatic. It was heard best in the aspect of room acoustics, for example on the Waters disc, where Reimyo shows much less. Microdynamics is simply better from the tube. The details of the instruments are differentiated better. And we cannot hear at all, that the Reimyo is so strong – on the tube the decays were longer, stronger and better differentiated. Also the bass seemed stronger. In this system the tube gave stronger bass!
And the saturation of the sound was unbeatable for me. With the exception of the Peggy Lee disc I like everything better on the tube.


Comparing the amplifiers called out stronger emotions and caused more polarization of opinions than in case of the tubes. But some aspects were common for the above statements. In favor of the Ancient Audio we can quote:

  • higher energy,
  • stronger bass (yes!),
  • better directness of the sound,
  • better resolution. And for Reimyo:
  • smoother sound,
  • better leveling of the sound spectrum,
  • much better handling of classical music,
  • unrivalled reproduction of the Peggy Lee disc.
That is it for the start. I will now try to arrange those observations and interpret them.

An important observation we could start with, is that the Ancient and Reimyo have a similar class of sound. In spite of what you can read in the above, nobody tried to discredit the transistor, but it was just compared to the best tube amp we know, attributing assets and flaws to one or the other side. This tells a lot.
On the other hand most listeners seemed a bit disappointed with the fact, that the Reimyo did not kill the Ancient – and that was expected. Such an expensive product, from such a renowned manufacturer induced excessive expectations. So - there is not breakthrough.
But there could be none! Although the KAP should replace the PAT, so the solid state should replace the tube, we see, that some things cannot be surpassed, and each of the technologies has its own set of assets and faults, which are different.
This comparison showed nicely, that the tube has some characteristics, that no transistor is able to emulate. The most important one is the microdynamics. Due to that, the sound of the AA seemed more energetic, more palpable and showed better the acoustical elements of the interiors. Drive is stronger and more suggestive due to that. Also bass can seem stronger. SET tubes, for example the 300B, have one immanent characteristic – when the instruments or voices recorded from close, the microphone close to the sound source, then the amplifier underlines that, simulating a big sound. On the other hand, when the microphones were further away, like in classical music, then the volume is diminished. And all those elements were audible here.
On the other hand Reimyo, the splendid transistor amplifier, was much more even and HAD incomparably higher power, which it used. As you can remember, everyone agreed, that classical music sounded better with it. And this is because tubes, including the Ancient, are weak amplifiers, and are physically not capable to generate such a big current, which would show the complex, incredibly dynamic sound of symphonic recordings. Here the KAP proves itself very well – it is very leveled and shows exactly what is on the disc. The bass is a problem, because the Japanese amplifier plays it slightly softer, than other amplifiers, but this can be heard mostly with small ensembles and small rooms. And again – when we talk about microdynamics, microresolution then the tube is unrivalled there.
There is no clear winner here. Exchanging the tube by a transistor will not be fully successful, when we expect exactly the same set of assets. But when we search for the same class of sound – then it will.


Dr Ningsheng Liu


WWW Synergy Hi-Fi
Europena distributor: Synergy Hi-Fi European


Combak Corporation
4-20, Ikego 2-chome, Zushi-shi, Kanagawa 249-0003,

tel.: 046-872-1119 | fax: 046-872-1125


WWW: Combak Corporation

Distribution in Poland: Moje Audio

Powstańców Śląskich 118
53-333 Wrocław

tel./fax: (71) 336 52 67
tel. kom.: 606 276 001 | 790 425 142



Previous meetings of the Krakow Sonic Society:
#75: What sampling frequency? How many bits?
#74: Acoustic Revive RST-38 and RAF-48 – anti-vibration platform
#73: Kazuo Kiuchi (Combak Corporation) in Krakow
#72: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 vs. Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
#71: Capacitors in loudspeaker cross-over
#70: Blue Note on XRCD24 Audio Wave
#69: Power in the walls
#68: McIntosh – MCD7000+MA250 vs. MCD301+MA275
#67: Tara Labs The Zero
#64: HQCD + Blu-spec CD
#63: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-D6300
#62: System RCM
#61: KT88 tubes
#60: Power cable Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100
#59: Power amplifiers - Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono Vs. Reimyo PAT-777
#58: Cables over the top
#55: Racks, part 1
#54: Power, part 2 (Furutech power cables)
#53: K2HD discs
#52: SACD player Accuphase DP-700
#51: Isolators (anti-vibration platforms)
#50: Power, part 1 (power plugs)
#49: Accuphase – digital (r)evolution
#40: Digital vs analog or 25 years of the silver disc
#35: CD players – Accuphase vs. Ancient Audio
#34: Jazz in The Pawnshop. Vol. 1
#33: Power amplifier Ancient Audio Silver Grand pre-premiere
#32: Power amplifiers Nagra MPA vs Ancient Audio Silver Grand (prototype)
#31: SONUS FABER Minima Amator vs Electa Amator vs Guarnieri Homage
#30: Loudspeakers Eryk S. Concept Nuvo in Krakow

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"High Fidelity OnLine" is an internet magazine, published since may 2004, devoted to high quality reproduction of sound and picture. It is a monthly magazine, but the articles are uploaded twice a month - in the beginning of the month and in the middle. The news column is updated on on-going basis, if possible. The main sections are: "Tests", "Events" (interviews, reportages, and similar), "Hyde Park" (user tests, opinions) and "Who asks..." (readers questions and HFOL answers). Articles from earlier issues can be read in the "Archive". Have a nice read!

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