Lithos Kontras - First Impressions

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Krish
Stammgast
#1 erstellt: 19. Dez 2008, 09:59
I had a bit of time on my hand after a meeting yesterday and I happened to be in the area, so I called up Rajiv and asked if I could pop over for an audition. He was kind enough to agree, inspite of the short notice.

I also happened to be carrying a few of my CDs, which was just as well.

This piece will be more about my impressions based on the music that I heard, rather than a critical review.

So hear goes…

Equipment
CDP – NAD C 542
Pre – NAD C 160
Pwr – NAD C 272
Speaker Cables – Sommer SC Di- phase
Interconnects – Sommer SC Albedo Mk III

Music
River – The Joni Letters by Herbie Hancock
Oriental Bass – Renaud Garcia-Fons
First Touch – Dominic Miller
Exit, Stage Left – Rush
Signs – Badmarsh and Shri
Best of - Tuck & Patti
Hindustan – David Berger & the Sultans of Swing
Hell Freezes Over – Eagles


Build Quality
The Kontras look and feel like a million bucks. The cabinets are very solid and also very inert as you would expect

Overall Impression
The word that immediately comes to mind is Even. No frequency is over emphasised, yet it all hangs together rather well. The details are there if you pay attention, but it is not the first thing that you notice. To me this says a lot about the speaker. It’s all about the music.Which also happens to be detailed.

Works across the Genres
I listen to all kinds of music and for me it’s extremely important that the components of a Hi Fi system do justice to all kinds of music from Rock to classical and everything in between.

The Kontras did just that, whether it’s Neil Pert’s manic drum solo on YYZ from Exit stage Left or the incredible Patti Andress vocal performance on Better than Anything , these speakers played back with verve and vigour whatever I threw at them.

Imaging and Soundstage
The Kontras throw a wide sound stage.

No recording demonstrated that as well as the wonderful Hindustan by David Berger. All the different members of the bands were placed well. Additionally the speakers also managed to create the intimate, smoky atmosphere that this recording aims to recreate.

Having said, if one really had to pick a nit, these speakers don’t really go that last inch to holographically etch in detail each musician in space.

Perhaps the other pieces of equipment in the chain could be at fault.

The NAD, while known to create a sound stage, just fall a little short.


The sound of the Double Bass
I have always felt that the music from an accoustic bass is a thing of beauty.
Renaud Garcia- Fons playing the Contra Bass on the number Oriental Bass blew my socks off. I could actually sense the enormity of the instrument right in front of me. I could also sense his fingers slide across the stings.

What a treat!

Where’s the Thump?
The other area in which I had a bit of an issue, is the bass.

It falls short a tad of being really tight. Let me explain.

We played the familiar Hotel California from Hell Freezes Over.

Now on my speakers ( Linn Kelidhs Sealed Box Floorstanders) the drum sound like a sharp Thwack. On the Kontras the Thwak was audible, but not as sharp.

According to Rajiv the room may have been the culprit. The dimensions are very proportionate, like a square box.
The room is treated, but there is definitely a boom (around 60 K according to Rajiv ) which was the only minor blemish in the otherwise perfect acoustic complexion.

In Sum
I am so glad that I was able to hear the Kontras and meet with Rajiv, who is such a wonderful gent.I have asked him to join us in the forum and he has promised that he will, as soon as I can get across a url that leads him to the English site.
I’m definitely going to be heading back with more of my music for more sessions and I think that you should too.
The Kontas to warrant a serious listen.

Audition in Bangalore
Unfortunately Rajiv says that there are no Kontra owners in B’lore and he does not have a dealer in your town as yet.

Maybe if one of you chaps takes the responsibility, Rajiv can be persuaded to ship a pair for a special audition.
Think about it.


Cheers,
K


[Beitrag von Krish am 19. Dez 2008, 11:30 bearbeitet]
Shahrukh
Inventar
#2 erstellt: 19. Dez 2008, 12:28
Nice, neat review Krish. Where did u audition it? Bandra or Kandivli?
Krish
Stammgast
#3 erstellt: 19. Dez 2008, 13:21

Shahrukh schrieb:
Nice, neat review Krish. Where did u audition it? Bandra or Kandivli?


Vandre.
bombaywalla
Stammgast
#4 erstellt: 19. Dez 2008, 16:52
Nice listening report, Krish!
As you have already written - before we can squarely blame the speaker, we'll have to look seriously at that NAD equipment & also the square room to see if they are the reasons the shortcomings you wrote about. I have a very strong hunch that the NAD will not allow "holographically etch in detail each musician in space" - NAD just isn't built to do such things.
The light bass could also be due to another reason - height of woofer from the floor. Maybe that needs tweaking? If the woofer cabinet is ported yet the bass is light doesn't make sense!
Overall it seems that this speaker is a big step in the correct direction. If you could ascertain this much w/ such modest equipment then it says a lot about the speaker.
square_wave
Inventar
#5 erstellt: 20. Dez 2008, 12:49
Thanks guys for the review.
Agree with Bombaywalla about the Nad. Rajiv needs to install something better to audition these flagship speakers.
Are these speakers voiced with the Nad ?

Krish, How would you rate these speakers compared to some other 1 lakh speakers you have heard ?
Krish
Stammgast
#6 erstellt: 22. Dez 2008, 07:35

bombaywalla schrieb:
Nice listening report, Krish!
As you have already written - before we can squarely blame the speaker, we'll have to look seriously at that NAD equipment & also the square room to see if they are the reasons the shortcomings you wrote about. I have a very strong hunch that the NAD will not allow "holographically etch in detail each musician in space" - NAD just isn't built to do such things.
The light bass could also be due to another reason - height of woofer from the floor. Maybe that needs tweaking? If the woofer cabinet is ported yet the bass is light doesn't make sense!
Overall it seems that this speaker is a big step in the correct direction. If you could ascertain this much w/ such modest equipment then it says a lot about the speaker.


This is Bombay right, so you work with what is available.Now the listening room is actually the garage in a building and it's a square box.

Like I said the room is treated extensively, however the speakers are placed in the middle of the room with the sofas against the back wall.This according to Rajiv could also have been part of the problem.



square_wave schrieb:
Thanks guys for the review.
Agree with Bombaywalla about the Nad. Rajiv needs to install something better to audition these flagship speakers.
Are these speakers voiced with the Nad ?

Krish, How would you rate these speakers compared to some other 1 lakh speakers you have heard ?


Hey Square,

I haven't really heard too many speakers in that price bracket so I do not have a ready frame of reference.

On the NAD thing, to be honest, and I was saying this to Manek, at least I was amazed as to how good the humble NAD pre/pwr combo sounded.Really.

Having said that I sure that they will sound waaaaay better with something like Bryston ( another brand that Rajiv favours ).

I spoke to Manek a little after his audition of the Kontras and asked him if he could think of any negetives and he could not.

So the Nits that I had to pick in every which sense are really that Nits.This speaker does almost everything right and very little wrong.

All in all, if you have a lakh of rupees to spend on a pair of speakers, you should definitely give the Kontras a listen.

In fact, even if you don't you should still try and listen to them.

You are in store for a treat.
Manek
Inventar
#7 erstellt: 22. Dez 2008, 08:25
As krish said, I too was amazed at how good a nad can sound ! It was a ear opener both ways, speaker and amp.

And I am sure if the same spkr and amp were in a larger room it would sound far better...and that's saying a Lot about the nad as well. Maybe nad aint so bad after all ? :-)

Btw a friend of mine did hear this 272 power amp in the far east mated with a tube pre and was amazed as well ! So there may be something here....

Manek
Krish
Stammgast
#8 erstellt: 22. Dez 2008, 08:39

Manek schrieb:
As krish said, I too was amazed at how good a nad can sound ! It was a ear opener both ways, speaker and amp.

And I am sure if the same spkr and amp were in a larger room it would sound far better...and that's saying a Lot about the nad as well. Maybe nad aint so bad after all ? :-)

Btw a friend of mine did hear this 272 power amp in the far east mated with a tube pre and was amazed as well ! So there may be something here....

Manek


Kya NAD BAD nahin
abhi.pani
Inventar
#9 erstellt: 22. Dez 2008, 09:52
Thanks a ton Krish for the review. It was short but enough to give an overall impression of the speaker.


Like I said the room is treated extensively, however the speakers are placed in the middle of the room with the sofas against the back wall.This according to Rajiv could also have been part of the problem.


Thats indeed a serious problem, if you are right against the rear wall, its really difficult to get clean, tight bass without overhang. It can be minimized by treatment but eliminating is.... ..I havent seen that happen as yet.

So, Krish, I repeat my question that I have asked Manek in the other Thread, what is the room size that you think the Kontra can work in ? Do you think it would work in a average living room of 160-200 sqft ? A bigger room is always welcome but if thats not available then, should one stay away from this speaker ?
Krish
Stammgast
#10 erstellt: 22. Dez 2008, 11:19

abhi.pani schrieb:

So, Krish, I repeat my question that I have asked Manek in the other Thread, what is the room size that you think the Kontra can work in ? Do you think it would work in a average living room of 160-200 sqft ? A bigger room is always welcome but if thats not available then, should one stay away from this speaker ?


Obviously the Kontras demand room to strut their stuff.

But I cannot see why they will not work well enough within the dimensions of the room that you have specified.

But having said that, you would do well to pick up the phone and have a chat with Rajiv.

...and if you can listen to them.

Cheers
K
Krish
Stammgast
#11 erstellt: 29. Dez 2008, 08:38
Listen without prejudice Further encounters with the Lithos Kontras.

Hi, had the opportunity to listen to the Kontras over two sessions at the demo room and in a home enviornment.Here are my impressions based on that.

I also made it a point to audition the Kontras with Western Classical Music.

Here is a partial list of the CDs I used.

Mitsuko Uchida - Steinway Legends
Alfred Brendal - Steinway Legends
2L Sampler
The Klemperer Legacy - Beethoven; Symphonies 1 & 6
Trilok Gurtu and the Arke String Quartet - Arkeology
Micheal Hedges - Beyond Boundries
Miles from India
Sanjay Divecha - Full Circle
Ginger Baker Trio Going Home

Tonality
This is clearly an area of strength for the Kontras.

From the sightly bitter sweet sound of a violin to the immense tone of a Steinway grand or the shrieks and wails of the amplified guitar these speakers can do them all.

Integration
Is spot on, there is no lag in the bass freqencies

Bass
The bass is well intergrated and sufficiently fullbodied.
My earlier comments were coloured by my experience with my sealed box Linns
Again I thought that these speakers did a very good job of reproducing the tonal quality of different percussion instruments from the slightly metallic tone of a miridagam to a congo really well

Quite and Loud
Another area of strength. Will rock with Rush, Swing with David Berger and be contemplative with Alfred Brendel.The Kontas are not partial to any particular genre they will do 'em all.


Separation
I'm referring here to the ability of the speakers to clearly delineate different instuments being played at different levels especially with Symphonies.

Voices
For those of you familiar with Al Stewart will know that he sounds like a BBC newsreader of yore.

What stuck me was how clear and well enunciated each word in the song sounded.

Sound Stage & Imaging
The Kontras do manage a soundstage, however it is held firm between the speakers. It does not project the sound stage ahead of the speakers.This might be bother those looking for a deep and wide soundstage around the speakers.

In sum
Again I was amazed by what these speakers could do with modest amplification; the NAD pre/pwr in the demo room and the NAD C372 in the other case.The CDP at both places was also NAD.

It might be interesting to do a shootout with other speakers in a similar price range and see how the Kontras fare.
square_wave
Inventar
#12 erstellt: 29. Dez 2008, 10:02
Thanks again for the nice write up.
Pin point imaging is never a forte of Nad. This will improve with better equipment.The power amp is quite decent. The preamp could be the culprit. Especially the one inside the 372. From my experience with Nad, the sound improves massively once the pre is bypassed with some decent valve or SS preamp.
I have noticed that the width and height of the soundstage can be greatly affected by the setup. The height of the tweeters in relation to the ear and how much free space you have around your speakers.
Was the setup optimal ?
Krish
Stammgast
#13 erstellt: 29. Dez 2008, 18:38

square_wave schrieb:
Thanks again for the nice write up.
Pin point imaging is never a forte of Nad. This will improve with better equipment.The power amp is quite decent. The preamp could be the culprit. Especially the one inside the 372. From my experience with Nad, the sound improves massively once the pre is bypassed with some decent valve or SS preamp.
I have noticed that the width and height of the soundstage can be greatly affected by the setup. The height of the tweeters in relation to the ear and how much free space you have around your speakers.
Was the setup optimal ?


The Kontras sounded better in the home enviornment than they did at the demo room.

Caveat: And just before we start jumping on Rajiv/Lithos, let's please bear in mind that it's not exactly easy for setups like Rajiv/Lithos and Viren/Lyrita to invest massive amounts of money.For Rajiv, like Viren ( and i hope that Viren does not mind the comparision ) this is not just a business proposition, but also a labour of love.Rajiv has set up that demo room in Bandra so that more and more people can audition his products, without having to hike all the way to far Kandivili.

So the setup is what it is - NAD + Lithos Kontras.Can it get better, I'm sure that it can, but one must commend this modest setup for what it does.

To come back to your question SQ, the Kontra owner has placed his speakers/equipment in a larger room, also he and rajiv ( ithink) have spent a lot of time figuring out how best to treat the room.This shows.The speakers really sound tight in this room.

Hope this answers your Qs.
Arj
Inventar
#14 erstellt: 29. Dez 2008, 18:50
Krish, how would this compare in line with your Linn speakers ?

I am just trying to get a reference point...
Krish
Stammgast
#15 erstellt: 30. Dez 2008, 06:56

Arj schrieb:
Krish, how would this compare in line with your Linn speakers ?

I am just trying to get a reference point...


Now lemme see.

Bass
Like I've said previously, the bass in my speakers is very tight.That's perhaps because they are sealed box

Works across generes
The Linns like the Kontras are happy with whatever you throw at them.

Evenness
I should think that the Kontras are more even across the spectrum.My linns perhaps tend to make the misrange a liitle more voluptuous.

Soundstage
Even in my less than perfect room, my speakers tend to project a soundstage beyond the speakers.

The Kelidhs are an alltime great speaker,unfortunately they have been discontinued and replaced with the Ninkas which are not so good

Cheers
K
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