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Roksan K3 and Abrahamsen V2 UP

radiorog

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2013
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10,540
OK, so here goes, I popped round to Burnsie's place a couple of weeks ago and had a very enjoyable and rewarding listen/comparson of my amplifier and his. I would like to thank him once again for inviting me over and taking a good chunk out of his day for me to be able to do this.

I've been thinking for the last two weeks what to include in a write up, and have reached a point where i have decided its not going to ever be the perfect review, just my opinion, and a very inexperienced one at that, and hence I have not been able to draw huge conclusions, that I may have wanted to, but its all good, both amps rock!

Kit used was Burnsies Harbeth speakers, which I think may have been C7 ES-3, he can correct if wrong here, his Abrahamsen cd player, and his Linn streamer. He used 4mm van damme speaker cable, and some funky interconnects which I ccouldnt understand what they were as had unusual terminations! Oh yes, and my Roksan K3 amplifier.

First off we listened to streamed and cd music through his set up (Abrahamsen). It sounded brilliant, no doubt. Listened to lots of styles of music including The Long Pigs, Massive Attack (Angel), Fleetwood Mac (songbird), Stan Getz (Girl from Ipanema), plus many more that i cannae remember (Yes, this all went down in bonnie Scotland).

Tracks through the Abrahamsen all sounded great, bar none. The what sounds like hitting the metal rim of the drum at the start of MA's Angel, was clear and lifelike, with good dynamics. (Another enthusiast once pointed out that this was not always easy to reproduce in setups). All music sounded full bodied, good bass, nice midrange, no harshness whatsoever, and clear treble. Volume was on about 45/60 if I remember correctly, and the room (about 5mx8m?) was filled with good loud sound. Just enough to not p*** off the neighbours, hopefully. There was clearly no strain in the amp, and im sure if it went louder, it would just do that, go louder, with zero harshness.

I was dreading swapping over to the K3, genuinely, nervous! Id heard so much about this great amp that I was aware of the real prospect of being seriouly underwhelmed by my own amp in comparison. I needn't worry! Swapped over, the K3 sounded great, very similar initially/sonically to the Abe.. The warmth was there, detail, bass muscle, clarity, and I noticed immediately that the K3 had more volume at its disposal. The K3 only had to be at 1/3 of its volume to roughly match the Abe (at about 2/3). The music again sounded great, and I was very relieved and impressed with the K3 capabilities. I couldnt figure out if it sounded better or worse. But here is what I noticed:

The K3 sounded faster. It sounded like the music was very slightly sped up compared to the Abe, which, of course it couldn't have been. So what exactly was going on here, I can only speculate...any suggestions? Burnsie commented on this also I think before I had mentioned it, so we clearly both noticed this.

The Abe clearly had a bigger soundstage. The K3 sounded superb, but the Abe really did have total seperation of pretty much all instruments/vocals with large amounts of air between. (I think this may have something to do with music sounding "mellower"/a little slower. It was just easier to follow some finer details).

Certain details were more apparent in the Abe. The detail in the K3 was there, but with the seperation, instruments/vocals on the Abe were even more pronounced. In Stan Getz "girl from..." you could hear him licking his lips, as if you were listening to him mic'd up in the very room. It sounded very natural and real. It really was impressive. On the K3 you could hear him licking his lips, but just, nothing like the experience from the Abe.

There is a track on the Long Pigs album that has an organ in it, which on the Abe sounded beautiful, on the K3 it really wasnt the same full sound.

On the Macs songbird, both amps revealed the quiet guitar in the background, the Abe maybe slightly fuller, but the most noticeable difference here was the vocal which in the Abe sounded spot on, but on the K3 did come across as a tad shouty. But only slightly, this is not a major issue, its not like it makes you wince, but it might make you long for more, which the abe gave.

The abrahamsen though, for all its amazing qualities, revealed a funny slight tone to the music which I cannot put my finger on or at least explain what it was. It sounded to me, maybe a little "dirtier" than the K3. And it was this that had me thinking on occasion that the K3 sounded better. Was the Abe revealing the limitatons of the source or the speakers? I somehow doubt it was the speakers at issue. Or is there some componentry in the Abe that makes it sound maybe a little rougher? Please don't get me wrong, the Abe doesn't sound rough or dirty, there was just something there. It could have been my ears. I expect the K3 may have also had this sound to it, but it wasnt as revealing as the Abe. The Abe really did open up the sound.

The K3 I thought maybe had a very slight smoothness/cleanness to it, that I was trying to attribute to the MOSFET circuit, but this could have simply been the overall clarity and lack of distortion. The two amps really did sound very similar (close to identical) until you started to listen for the finer details/soundstaging.

In some parts of music there was more powerfull bass in the K3, not necesarily where you would expect though, but I did notice more upper bass I think in a track that wasnt there with the Abe. Burnsie commented on the bass of the K3 being very good, and very well controlled, which the Abe was also.

Unfortunately, I didnt get to hear any classical music with either setup, simply forgot, but I would like to hear how the Abe plays this style. I expect its very good. Also I didnt get to hear my speakers with the Abe but that could happen in the future as Burnsie has left an open invitation.

So, overall, the Abe DOES rock! Its a great piece of kit and opens up the music like an amp of your dreams! The K3 sounds very good as well, and slightly different. Tonally, I would say pretty much identical, but the soundstage was quite considerably a different affair (bigger) in the Abe, this gave the music more detail, and sounded smooth and uncluttered.

Is the clearer soundstaging due to the Abes huge(or is it low) damping factor, allowing for more detail to be actually heard?

Since being back to my setup at home, I have actually been appreciating my K3 even more, I liked it before, but it was great to see how amps can vary in sound and presentaion of the sound. In this case, it was really all about the presentation. But I see how good the Abe was, and how similar the K3 is to it. The K3 really is a great amp too.

So have I deceded to buy an Abrahamsen V2 UP just yet? Nope, not just yet, but its still a question in my mind, it clearly had its benefits, but I am unsure on that "dirty" tinge I heard. I would most likey expect this to be attributed to the source material though, maybe the matsering on some of the music, as it wasn't evident on all tracks. I would really like to hear more of the amp before I was to make a decision, because if it was simply the source, then this amp is truly stella, which it actually is anyway. So maybe its just a question of time, I don't know!

I hope this review was in some way enjoyable and useful, but please take my opinions as those of someone who does not know exactly what he is listening to, due to lack of experience, we are all on the same path here.

Thank you!
 

ID.

New member
Feb 22, 2010
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I didn't read it all, but can I assume that you concluded that they both sounded the same, so traded them in for a budget Sony/Marantz/Yamaha with a similar wattage?
 

Blacksabbath25

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2015
288
76
10,970
Good review I do not get the dirty sound that you heard with the speakers that I am using mine comes across clear and detailed but what your got to remember is the K3 costs £1299 the abrahamsen £899 and the abrahamsen will not clip or have any distortion Evan if you have the volume at 60 the abrahamsen is a powerhouse of an amp . I am sure the K3 is a very good amplifier but with the abrahamsen your getting an amplifier that would worth around £2500 which I can not afford so it's a bargain in its own right plus you can add a abrahamsen power amp if you wanted too or buy a abrahamsen pre amp and 2 power amplifiers and run a power amp on each speaker but I find at the moment the abrahamsen 2up does what I want it to do .
 

jonathanRD

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2011
175
50
18,670
An interesting and honest review - thanks radiorog. If you were demoing both before a purchase, which one would you choose and why? and is the K3 worth the extra £400?
 

Andrewjvt

New member
Jun 18, 2014
99
1
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I think the dirty thing was just revealing the source or recording more and a short tine with both amps is very hard to hear real differences.

The k3 sounds a lot better than k2 as all i got was distortion
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
220
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0
I'm not surprised at all with your experience. The Kandy can go toe to toe with a lot of amps. It does not have a large bank of capacitors but it has a regulated PSU, so what it does within its designed margins, it does very very well. It kicks ass and apologizes to no one.
 

Electro

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2011
43
2
18,545
iQ Speakers said:
I saw this last night when you post it. Just wanted to see the reation before commenting, Thought it was a superb review and from sombody that has not just bought into the product. Reading between the lines it would seem you rarther liked it! We have Electro to thank for bring it to our attention. What were your thought on build quality?
You're making me blush Colin, *blush* *biggrin* .

It gives me much pleasure and satisfaction to know that many people are now enjoying music so much more now they listen using Abrahamsen equipment, but the real star here is you Colin for making it all happen.*drinks*
 

iQ Speakers

New member
Feb 24, 2013
129
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0
I saw this last night when you posted it. Just wanted to see the reaction before commenting, Thought it was a superb review and from sombody that has not just bought into the product. Reading between the lines it would seem you rarther liked it! We have Electro to thank for bring it to our attention. What were your thought on build quality?
 

iQ Speakers

New member
Feb 24, 2013
129
1
0
Stop it, (it may all go prickly if we are not carful*biggrin*) don't forget Burnsie piped up and said ye I have one and they are pretty good! We all then interrogated him for his views!

Cheers for sharing. See the forum does produce positive things. It gets two like open minded individuals together to share learn and experience HiFi.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,636
83
19,770
Blacksabbath25 said:
Good review I do not get the dirty sound that you heard with the speakers that I am using mine comes across clear and detailed but what your got to remember is the K3 costs £1299 the abrahamsen £899 and the abrahamsen will not clip or have any distortion Evan if you have the volume at 60 the abrahamsen is a powerhouse of an amp . I am sure the K3 is a very good amplifier but with the abrahamsen your getting an amplifier that would worth around £2500 which I can not afford so it's a bargain in its own right plus you can add a abrahamsen power amp if you wanted too or buy a abrahamsen pre amp and 2 power amplifiers and run a power amp on each speaker but I find at the moment the abrahamsen 2up does what I want it to do .
That's true but...

It is only sold online and it doesn't have in-built phono stage for us vinylheads. Factor in a good phono stage, the quality of the Roksan, and it doesn't seem such a good deal.

Roksan make the amp - they have to make a profit. Roksan use Henley as a UK distributor - they need to make a profit. Henley sell it to high street retailers - they need...

Geddit?
 

radiorog

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2013
54
0
10,540
ID. said:
I didn't read it all, but can I assume that you concluded that they both sounded the same, so traded them in for a budget Sony/Marantz/Yamaha with a similar wattage?
You got it *good*
 

radiorog

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2013
54
0
10,540
jonathanRD said:
An interesting and honest review - thanks radiorog. If you were demoing both before a purchase, which one would you choose and why? and is the K3 worth the extra £400?
I'll get back to you on this.??
 

radiorog

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2013
54
0
10,540
Vladimir said:
I'm not surprised at all with your experience. The Kandy can go toe to toe with a lot of amps. It does not have a large bank of capacitors but it has a regulated PSU, so what it does within its designed margins, it does very very well. It kicks ass and apologizes to no one.
Yeah, it really is a good amp. I was slightly dreading hearingthe two side by side after reading some people's on this forum negative experiences, but it really does have a similar/the same sound (apart from soundstage) to the Abrahamsen. Burnsie said he thinks it sounded better than his old MF 3si which was nice to hear too.
 

radiorog

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2013
54
0
10,540
iQ Speakers said:
I saw this last night when you posted it. Just wanted to see the reaction before commenting, Thought it was a superb review and from sombody that has not just bought into the product. Reading between the lines it would seem you rarther liked it! We have Electro to thank for bring it to our attention. What were your thought on build quality?
Hi Colin, thank you :) , yeah, definitely liked it, its a great amp, very impressive.
 

Blacksabbath25

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2015
288
76
10,970
plastic penguin said:
Blacksabbath25 said:
Good review I do not get the dirty sound that you heard with the speakers that I am using mine comes across clear and detailed but what your got to remember is the K3 costs £1299 the abrahamsen £899 and the abrahamsen will not clip or have any distortion Evan if you have the volume at 60 the abrahamsen is a powerhouse of an amp . I am sure the K3 is a very good amplifier but with the abrahamsen your getting an amplifier that would worth around £2500 which I can not afford so it's a bargain in its own right plus you can add a abrahamsen power amp if you wanted too or buy a abrahamsen pre amp and 2 power amplifiers and run a power amp on each speaker but I find at the moment the abrahamsen 2up does what I want it to do .
That's true but...

It is only sold online and it doesn't have in-built phono stage for us vinylheads. Factor in a good phono stage, the quality of the Roksan, and it doesn't seem such a good deal.

Roksan make the amp - they have to make a profit. Roksan use Henley as a UK distributor - they need to make a profit. Henley sell it to high street retailers - they need...

Geddit?
yes that's the only drawback no phono stage but you can buy a separate phono stage and use one of the inputs if you did want to have a TT
 

radiorog

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2013
54
0
10,540
iQ Speakers said:
What were your thought on build quality?
Very good obviously.It seemed built like a tank from what I saw, and I put an ear to the casing to see how loud the transformer was, and it was silent, which did surprise me. Couldn't hear a thing *good*
 

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