By October 31st, Soo-In took off another lid. "I'm now back in San Jose with my family and just heard from Japan. We have finalized the power supply PCB with a new circuit we'd been working on for some time. This dramatically improved the residual noise floor. It means even more resolution (!), drive and control.
"I have attached the measured result of the new power supply. With this we believe to have everything perfected and are now ramping up production. It'll be done in about 3 weeks. We just measured the output impedance with the new power supply. It's 0.4Ω. The same circuit with the old 0.2Ω emitter resistors measured 1.68Ω so there's a decisive difference. The 13R's new JET bias circuit without emitter resistors vastly improved this aspect."
This disputes notions that only extreme separation will achieve ultimate performance and that putting dirty power and clean signal circuitry into the same—here very small—box is just asking for trouble. And perhaps it is; except when it's been answered. Bakoon clearly invested a lot of specialized engineering to pursue their goal of world's best compact amp. We recently also saw WestminsterLab claim that optimized mechanical engineering and deliberate compaction of an amplifier chassis actually improves its thermal performance and noise floor whilst maximally shortening the signal path for best sonics.
Now small isn't just chic but potentially outperforms large. I predict that's not a message which the big white hairy apes of Barsoom will take to kindly. For them the bigger-is-better mentality is genetically hardwired. Especially with their AMP-13R, Bakoon appeal to more mutant brains which have outgrown such thinking or at least question its ongoing relevance to investigate alternatives. And Bakoon aren't alone to rethink the location of a power transformer and double task it as footer. Brinkmann do the same with their Vollverstärker.
Two pairs of speakers, two AMP-13R to be able to switch the demo on the fly.
By November 13th, "we sent two hand-made AMP-13R with the latest power supply to Martin who might match them with the Libérations if our show room in Warsaw proves amenable. We have prepared almost everything and next week Ho-san will arrive in Korea to manage the first production run. With the packaging design I'm currently working on, we're looking at the last weekend of November for the first shipments."
Warsaw show coverage from SoundStage!: "… some speakers are so unique, they jump out at you. Looking vaguely avian, the SoundKaos Libération speaker runs three open-baffle drivers: an 18" woofer from Beyma of Spain along with two open-baffle midranges, one of which is fitted with a whizzer cone so that it can reproduce higher frequencies than the other. Complementing the top end is one ribbon tweeter right where the bird's beak would be (it looks a bit like an owl to me).
"The grilles, which come off, are made of a nicely finished bronze mesh. SoundKaos quote a believable 95dB sensitivity. The Libération retails for €17'000/pr in a choice of maple or walnut. As for how the pair sounded, let me say this: Jason Thorpe didn't want to leave this room and for the next hour he raved about a how rich and enjoyable these speakers sounded…"
Whilst the tiny Bakoon went unmentioned in this report, it obviously was intimately connected to the sound.
From our own show report by Marja & Henk: "As journalists, doing a show isn't just fun. It's exhausting, with long days on your feet facing crowds and awaiting photo ops without too many folks in the frame. Those are physical aspects. Mental aspects come from actual listening. After x number of rooms, the part of our brain which deals with hearing gets overwhelmed, loses sharpness and needs to reboot. The best way to reboot is a really good-sounding room.
"Of course all rooms advertise that but finding one which actually delivers is challenging. With a show the size of Warsaw, returning to one is mostly not feasible. Hence the endemic fatigue factor. But no doubt, Martin Gateley's soundkaos/Bakoon exhibit was one of those rare 'reboot' rooms…"
HifiPig too singled out this exhibit as one of their standout rooms.
From Dawid's show report: "This was a room I looked forward to. Martin Gateley of soundkaos showcased his unusual Libération floorstanders matched with Bakoon's compact AMP-13R fed via a Denafrips Terminator DAC connected to an unknown streamer via I²S. Interestingly the same Bakoon was married to Martin's far smaller Vox 3 boxes and the Swiss engineer could easily switch between the two. This hardware provided one of the most captivating and very best show experiences for me this year. The Vox 3 monitors reminded me of what my Boenicke W5 have been pulling off at my flat daily for years now but Martin's creations sounded even more organic, tangible and open likely due to all associated hardware." Clearly the puny amps had made quite the impression.
AMP-13R at Bakoon's Korean dealership.
Soo-In on December 11th: "I'm updating you that unfortunately, our packaging has hit a slight snafu (off color etc). We're now trying to finish everything off next week. In the meantime we're fixing software bugs and fine-tuning the auto voltage-sensing circuit. Perfection takes time."
Having just put to bed my review of Meze's flagship Empyrean headphone, I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold onto them until the AMP-13R trundled in. Given this planar's superlative showing with our AMP-12R, that was a combination I was most keen on. Sadly Meze needed them forwarded to Berlin's John Darko pronto. "That's a pity. The 13R is very much a step up from our previous amplifiers and dedicated headphone amplifiers." No matter. I still had Final's Sonorous X, D8000 and HifiMan's Susvara to make those rounds.
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