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Sunday 8 March 2015

Chester Acoustica Show March 2015: Kudos Titan T808 and Naim: Heavily Revised

A room to look forward to.  In the past 2 years Kudos have showcased their then new Super 20 and X3 models in this room and its often been the most enjoyable room at the show - often outperforming many of the more expensive systems, at least in musical terms, if not in absolute resolution.  Last year a turntable was in use, in addition to a Linn Klimax DS/1 for streaming.

This year was an all Naim streaming system fronted by an NDS with 555PS DR,552 pre-amp with Supercap and a 300 / 300PS DR power amp.  Files were being fed from a Naim NS01 server.  Chord cables in use, but not the Sarum tuned array in this case - Signature Reference cables for the speakers.
Kudos Titan T808

Naimness on Hutterness
Given such great sounds from Kudos in the past, we were looking forward to hearing their new top of the range efforts.  Mated with a pretty high end set of Naim black boxes would suggest that this system should produce good results.


See below for the listening notes from Saturday, which were, quiet frankly, disappointing (Derek from Kudos has a different word for it, which I shalln't use on a family safe blog).  On Saturday there was talk about all the Naim electronics being straight out of the box.  Having expected a set of fully run-in electronics, Friday night had seen unpacking of brand new kit.  Now there are believers and non-believers when it comes to burn-in or run-in with electronics.  I tend to think that it is very manufacturer (and maybe even product) specific.  Cyrus claim it takes a few weeks for their amps to sound their best, and experience with my Naimist mate's system suggests that it could be even longer for Naim.  As Richard (the Naimist) is also the owner of a pair of Kudos Super 20s, it was decided, given the poor performance of the Kudos room on Saturday (see below) and the story about the Naim boxes, that we'd revisit on Sunday.

Well, a more clear example of the need for Naim electronics to settle in, I've never heard before.  On Sunday this was like a completely different system.  The flatness had gone, the dynamics are back. The music has life and it flows.  The system is kicking with out any aggressive edges (and yes, this is still Naim we're talking about), bass goes seriously deep but is gripped and controlled.  Sparkle is back with the (we find out today, Beryllium) tweeters and vocals are expressive and full of nuances.

We stay in the room for a while, go back to the Statement room, check out Arcam and the UnitQute 2 / Focal 905s, then head back to the Kudos Titan room.  We stay for a long time.  A Hugh Masakela song about diamond mining is absolutely stunning.  The emotion in the music being completely engrossing - dynamics, subtleties, detail, structure, rhythm, timing, layers upon layers and fantastic storytelling.

By far, this is the best I've ever heard anything being produced by a Naim system.  I could very much live with this system, and that's something I've never said about Naim.  I wonder if they will survive being partnered with Focal speakers all the time - they are doing their electronics a severe disservice. Congratulations to Kudos for the T808, and well worth a listen.

There must be something about isobaric loaded speakers.  Linn Akubarik and now T808s use this approach and feature high on my list of best listens.


And yet... This system just didn't grab the attention.  London Grammar was very clear, imaging excellent in width and depth whilst been stable, bass is reasonably deep but not subsonic, well controlled but not really kicking.  Previous Kudos speakers such as the Super 10 and Super 20 (I haven't heard the previous Titan T88) have been notable for the detail from their tweeters, combined with smoothness and sweetness, but here there is lots of detail, but not that sparkly and not so smooth.  The sound was all just kind of OK.  A shame.

I suggest to my Naimist buddy that it was due to the lack of KDS/1, as a wind up, which was met with the expected comtempt.  Later, in the corridor, we bump into a friend who had heard the T808s on the end of a Linn Klimax Exakt system a couple of weeks ago at the Bristol show, where they were performing very well, and much better than they are here in Chester.

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