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This review first appeared in the June 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Reimyo KAP-777 in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Combak Corp. - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacuła
CD player
: Ancient Audio Lektor Air
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, Miyajima Laboratory Waza
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III with Regenerator power supply version II
Power amplifier: Tenor Audio 175S, Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom version
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro
Interconnects: CD-preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp-power amp Wireworld Platinum Eclipse
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2
Audio stand: Base
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD player, Pro Audio Bono platform under CD player
Review component retails: In Poland 115.000zł

The KAP-777 is the first solid-state power amplifier from the house of Combak/Harmonix and its upscale Reimyo brand. That’s unexpected. For as long as I can remember, Mr. Kiuchi was always an unflinching proponent of valves and K2. His phenomenal tube PAT-777 power amp and CAT-777 preamp now in MkII version were masters of a specific level of related knowledge, abilities and technologies.

As regards K2, Mr. Kiuchi co-owns the XRCD patent, has produced many albums with it and like Phase Tech is one of the very few to use the K2 processor in his CD player. A transistor amp surely was the last thing anyone would have associated with Reimyo and its front man. Something thus must have occurred, some type of need arisen to birth the KAP-777. What precipitated that I’m of course not sure. But when our Polish importer called to inform me that Kiuchi-San had launched a transistor muscle amp, I was certain it had to be different.

The materials I received for our news section shortly afterwards seemed to confirm it. They talked of a "single Mosfet" output stage. This initially suggested single-ended operation with a polar capacitor and as such, a SET (single-ended transistor). It simply didn’t specifically say single-ended, just single transistor. [Thorens’ 200-watt hybrid monos with valve voltage gain also run single transistors, albeit in a circlotronic circuit with floating power supplies to imply one output device per phase halfEd.]
Naturally a single-ended transistor amp wouldn't be the first of its kind. There are the various Zen iterations by Nelson Pass and their production versions under Pass Laboratories and FirstWatt. Gamut has offered such topologies for some time now (for example in their D200) but in contrast to the Pass amps adds very high output power. Lately a kilowatt variation on the theme—albeit very costly—has been offered by Constellation Audio, the electronics spin-off from Oz turntable manufacturer Continuum Audio Labs.

The standard for solid-state amplifiers tends to be push/pull to generate high(er) power with low THD. Inherent in that approach are zero-crossing distortion and inaccuracies in the matching of the phase-split signal halves. The solution to that is a single-ended circuit. Due to operational inefficiency of its always-on bias, that runs hot. Due to the single output device, it tends to be low power. This can be overcome by paralleling output devices but once again then relies on very tight parts tolerances which still don’t guarantee perfect matching. That’s why ‘singular’ (rather than paralleled) single-ended mode is considered the most noble and uncompromised solution. As the Constellation Audio Hercules demonstrates with a wrinkle (balanced bridged circuitry of multiple complete single-ended amplifiers) this can be synonymous with high output power.

Mentioning this other company had purpose. Though operating out of California, it’s in fact a constellation of star contributors who are mostly but not exclusively from the US. There’s John Curl for analog circuitry, Keith Allsop for digital circuitry, Neal Feay for industrial design. Many more experts in particular disciplines work on the team as well as investors. And such a purpose-driven brain trust assembly is certainly a most attractive business model. It could indeed be the future for the high end. It’s also being practiced by the Japanese Combak Corporation and their amplifier under review. Completely independent from the US initiative, Mr. Kiuchi long ago assembled his own team and institutionalised it. All of his products were designed this way – except that he didn’t brag about it.

He simply calls it High Tech Fusion. That term stands for a formalized program of technical collaboration between four leaders in audio and recording technologies who share their respective know-how to—in today’s instance—create a ne-plus-ultra power amplifier. The individuals involved were Mr. T. Kuwaoka, chairman of the company and creator of the K2 technology; Mr. Michael Edinger, sound engineer; and Kazuo Kiuchi and T. Iseki, inventors of the Harmonix resonance control technology. Vitally the project was headed by the vision of just one man. Kiuchi-San thus had the decisive final word.