Kora Triode Preamplifier Preamplifiers

5/5 (5 Reviews)

Product Description

French Tube Preamplifier

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Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Ofer Shchori a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: October 14, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Head to head with these two monster preamps I find the Eclipse preamp suprior in almost every aspect. Its most important quality is the pure musical pleasure it gives; it makes you forget audiophile crap and simply enjoy the music in a new and exciting way.

I was looking for a preamp for quite a long time, about 6 months. I've tried the KRC-HR for a few months and then the Audio Research Ref 1 for about two weeks. The Krell is transparent, extremely detailed and with hell-bottom bass. But it does'nt pull you into the music - it's somewhat cold and unrelaxed (I like the KRC-3 better!). The Ref 1 was more to my like. Being a tube preamp it is of course very different from the Krell. I has the tube magic. The only problem I found is its has a "white" sound - an extra warmth with a lack of focus. I realzied the sound I was looking for is a combination of these two worlds - solid state and tube. I bought the hybrid Eclipse preamp after a long search. I took my chances on the Eclipse without an audition test - I was counting on the reviews I read and on the famous good taste of the French.. and the gamble proofed to be a true winner. The Eclipse is very nuteral and very detailed. It has just a prefect bass - lush and focused, not a little bit exaggerated. It is transparent and creates a wide and deep stage. It sounds amazingly lifelike; it excells with vocals, acoustic guitars and bow instruments. It also has an excellent phonostage (MM and MC inputs) and a very high quality headphones circuit.

My conclusion is that the Eclispe is a wonderfull preamp.
I give it 6 stars for value-for-money. It gets better and better with every piece of equipment you improve in your system.
Great customer support from Kora electronics!

Clearaudio Reference table and cartridge
Krell KPS20i cd
Kora Eclipse preamp
Bel Canto Evo 200.2 monoblocks
Wilson Audio Watt\Puppies 6.0 speakers
Transparent Ultra and Reference cables
NBS signiture power coords

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $3000.00

Purchased At:   Kora

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Stephen a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: May 23, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This review is a copy of a review I posted at AA after demoing this preamp. Since then I've purchased and lived with the updated model (the Equinoxe) for about 5 weeks and my experience in this time is even better than what I describe in the review. I now have the Kora paired with a Coda 10.5 amp which has amazing impact and dynamics while maintaining a silky delicacy. The combo, though not well known gear, is simply, musically, amazing; and I can't recommend looking into Kora and Coda gear highly enough.

Why Kora?

I came to this preamplifier quite by accident. I' ve been taking moderate upgrade steps from some very low end gear uo thru Rotel seperate's with Paradigm speakers and Music Metre cabling. I had reached a point where I felt pretty satisfied. The sound I was hearing in my home was better than I'd ever heard and I'd rediscovered and deepened my love for listening to music. After a little while I started to feel less satisfied. I attributed a lot of it to frequenting AA and AR and looking at manufacturer's and dealer's website's. Everyday I'd read about this amp or that speaker and how they would provide ever greater levels of sonic bliss. I tried to resist the feeling that something was wrong. Then on a whim I went and auditioned some B&W 805's and Dynaudio Contour 1.8MKII's. Yikes! There WAS something missing. A sense of air and 3 dimensional reality. My system was providing me with great imaging and neutrality but it was missing some life. This began a speaker quest that is still in progress. One stop on my speaker listening rounds found me listening to Vandersteen 2CE sig's through about 40k of ARC gear. What I felt I can't describe. I can only say that for about 3 hours afterwards the feeling (like a line of energy from my navel to my heart) was still with me. The dealer gave me an Audible Illusions M3 preamp to take home and demo. I lloved what it did to the sound but I wasn't into the dual volume knobs.

This began some research into and auditioning of tubed preamps. Through this sight I was turned onto the Rogue Audio 66 and went to audition it first. I listened to it through my amp (Rotel 991 - 200W) and some Contour 1.8MKII's in direct comparison to my preamp (Rotel 995) and with my CD player (Rotel 971). I loved what the Rogue did for the texture of the music but I felt it suffered dynamicaly and didn't compare favorably in the bass slam/impact department. The dealer put a CJ PV10 in the system and the bass impact and slam returned but it sounded a little spitty. I attributed this to not being fully warmed up. The dealer then tried to sell me a new CJ PV14L. It retails for $2000 which is only $200 less than I'd spent on my whole system ($2,200 vs list $3,300). A little more research led me to the Blue Circle BC21.

I found a local dealer who had these and I went to hear it a week ago. This dealer (Sound Asylum in Venice, CA) was awesome. He didn't even want me to listen to it in the shop because it would tell me nothing about how it would sound in my system. So he boxed it up and gave it to me to take home. Well I don't know if it just doesn't like my amp or if it had a bad tube or tubes, or if I was doing something wrong but it was echoing and buzzing. I tried grounding it to the amp and a cheat plug but it wouldn't behave. I called the dealer and he had me come over to give me a Kora Triode so I could see if it was a system/power problem or the Blue Circle itself. I hooked the Kora up, plugged it in, turned it on, and all was quiet. I wound up sitting there for 3 hours popping in various cd's and reveling in the sound. I brought the BC21 back that afternoon and have had the Kora playing virtually non-stop until this afternoon.


I know that there are people here who don't think too highly of Rotel and Paradigm but I firmly believe that both provide exceptional value and a true taste of high end sound. I have spent many hours absorbed in the music with this gear and if I'd stopped audtioning (and stayed away from the board's) I could have been happy with it for many years. That said, the Kora Triode has, in one week, taken my enjoyment to a whole new level. I doubt the unit was fully broken in when I brought it home because the sound got sweeter and sweeter as the week went on. It played music for probably 110 of the 168 hours possible and it was powered on the whole time.

Let's start with the bass. I can't get over how rich, textured and tuneful it was, while remaining (to my ears) tight, defined and accurate. The bass became a 3 dimensional foundation to the music. It held the space for the mids and highs to sing and float and breathe and dance. I really can't think of words that do justice to the difference in the tonal quality and texture of the bass with the Triode in line. The added bonus was that for all of the aesthetic pleasure I was hearing, more inner detail was being resolved so that the nuances of the bass playing were brought forth to enhance my experience even more. I listen to a lot of world music/percussion and everything above applies equaly to drums.

The mids. I'm into singer's. I can appreciate vocal talent but to really be into an artist I have to like 3 things about a singer. Their voice, how much they seem to mean what they're singing, and the lyrics. Some of my fave's are (male) Cat Steven's, Karl Wallinger, Peter Gabriel, Thom Yorke, Leonard Cohen, Robbie Robertson, the deep voiced singer from the band Gomez, Tom Waits and (female) Natalie Merchant, Sheila Chandra, Sarah MacLachlan, Loreena McKennitt, and the singer from VAS. The Kora presented all of them (and more) with feeling, grip and a sweetness that made me feel like they were here in my room with me. The Kora brought out the emotional intangibles to the extent that they felt quite tangible (does that make any sense?). The slightest breaths and growls at the ends of words could be heard. It was like I could hear what the singer was feeling.

The highs were just the icing on the cake. A lot of the music I like has a fair amount of bells, zils, cymbal,s etc. I didn't realize how much smooth, articulate and airy highs could impact the listening experience. I would hear these ringing beauties float through the music take hold of me and pull me into this mysterious space where I felt like I was inside of the recording. Again words escape me but the best I can do is to say that the quality of the highs added the 3rd dimension for me.

In addition to the amount of feeling the Kora provided it revealed more detail than the 995, had better almost magical imaging and a soundstage that enveloped me. Last night I sat in the sweetest part of the sweet spot and listened to some Pink Floyd CD's with the lights out. These are recordings that (for me) have been in heavy rotation for 20+ years. I was hearing/feeling subtle details that I'd truly never heard before whcih includes countless hours of headphone listening in various altered states. It was actually more intoxicating than when I used to listen to them while intoxictaed. It was magical. There is no music that I am more familiar with and the Kora drew me more deeply into it than I can ever remember.

Finally, I put the 995 back into my system today and it's been playing for the last 6 hours. I don't mean to speak badly of it because I believe that it's a high value product but the magic just isn't there. It is not an encompassing experience. It reveals a lot of musical nuance but it doesn't have the texture, depth or 3 dimensionality of the Kora. A better way to say it is that it doesn't have the presence of the Kora.

There is no doubt that one of these baby's (the Triode or the replacement Equinoxe) will be in my sytem shortly. I'm not even sure that I need to replace my speakers (although I would like to move to soft domes) because the Kora Triode revealed how truly wonderful they are....they have amazing bass extension and impact for their size. If you're in the market for a preamp I highly recommend that you give Kora a serious listen (the Triode is discontinued but the Equinoxe is supposed to be the same thing with slight upgrades in parts and major upgrades in looks). With the Kora dealer/ditributor shakeup the Triode/Equinoxe have to be among the greatest bargains in audio.

My gear;

Coda 10.5 Class A/AB 100W amp - 1st 25 Watts Class A
Kora Equinoxe Triode preamp
Rotel RCD 971 soon to be transport only to feed...
Kora Hermes tubed 96/24 DAC
Paradigm Studio 20's biwired with a double run of Music MEtre Signature II speaker cable

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $750.00

Purchased At:   Demo

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by John Chleapas a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: March 18, 2001

Bottom Line:   
The Kora Triode is a real bargain in a used "tube" preamplfier. I got lucky when I was looking for a tube preamplifier with a headphone jack for my hearing impaired Dad. With our "new" (used) JBL L300 horn speakers the sound is now so very good that my Dad does not even use the headphone jack on the preamp. I found a sweet deal when I bought a near mint one used at "AudioGon" for only $550.00. I have also seen new ones for ~$1100.00. It came with the original box and manual that shows this unit was assembled in France in 11/97 for the Audio Store "HiFi Farm." You can expect to pay on average around 750.00 to $900.00 used for a nice clean example. The Phono stage is S.S. (soild state) but this is not necessarily such a bad thing in my opinion. I have played a lot of vinyl and the phono stage on the Kora is very accurate, and detailed in its sound reproduction. The Kora uses (4) 6922 tubes. I found the sound perhaps a bit less "warm and fuzzy" than the CJ PV-3, and the highly modified Pas 3x preamps that he had been using. The Kora sounds wonderful to my ears mated with a tube amplifier. I would not mind finding a second one for use in my own stereo set up down the road in my apartment. If you ever have the chance to go audition one used do it. The "Triode" has been DC'd by Kora in lieu of a new and more expensive model. The equipment used in my review with the Kora Triode was;
Conrad Johnson Premier 4, 100wpc using (8) EL34 output tubes
McIntosh Mr65-b FM stereo tube tuner
B&O 4004 linear turntable
JBL L300 "Mid range horn" speakers (Buy these if you can ever find them for a good price! They are the best speakers I have ever heard bar none. They are "big" speakers and weigh in at 130lbs each. At 93+ dB efficiency they can play VERY loudly and clearly on amplifier putting out as little as 10 watts per channel. Their sound is unbelieveable with tubes! The vocals with these "horns" are very lifelike.)
Magnavox CD player

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $550.00

Purchased At:   AudioGon

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Patrick a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: December 8, 1999

Bottom Line:   
After extensive break-in, the Kora sounds wonderfully musical. It takes awhile for the bass to develop and for the top end to smooth out and extend: about 40 - 50 hours of playing time. The Kora breathed new life into vocal performances (I am almost embarrassed to admit it, but I am an avid Hank Thompson fan) and gave a well-rounded tonality and well-focused soundstage. I used the Kora Triode with the Melos MAT-180 tube amp and a pair of psb Stratus Silvers. Gosh, I just didn't want to get up off my chair! I actually found myself listening to ENTIRE cd's, instead of just one or two "reference" selections from them, as before. This is nothing short of a profound audio experience for someone like me.

Without the French, let's face it, we would have lost the Revolutionary War. Without the French-made Kora, I would have lost out on how detailed, rich and musical digital sources can be.

For about $1000, used, the Kora Triode is an exceptional value. At its retail price of $2000, it is still a very good value.

Theta Data basic II transport
Modified MSB Link DAC
Kora triode pre-amp
Melos Mat-180 amp
psb Stratus Silver loudspeakers
MillerSound speaker cable and interconnect
Virtual Mode power cords and a.c. line filters

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1998

Overall Rating:5
Submitted by Lee Wixted a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: June 26, 1999

Bottom Line:   
A great product from a French Tube Audio Manufacturer. I put my Audible Illusions Mod 3 into my back room when I listened to this smaller one piece wonder. Right out of the box this one sounded better than the Mod 3. Much more bass, more musical on top of all they great things I liked about the AI Mod 3. Steve Davis called it a "Giant Killer", comparing it to much more expensive units. I say it is just Damn Good! Give it a listen and you will see. It mates well with the Clayton Audio M 70 Mono's, DH labs, Von Schweikert's.....

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Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile

Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

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