Kora hermes-dac DACs

hermes-dac

User Reviews (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7  
Terry Pate   AudioPhile [Jul 06, 2008]
Strength:

3d image, vocals are the best I have ever heard, very musical. A joy to listen to.

Weakness:

Very sensitive to load, connecting to an electronic crossover for subs killed the sound. On my system the 2v output sounds much better than the 5v.

I bought the Kora Hermes because of reviews here and elsewhere on the web. I have never been too impressed with tube equipment as it has always seemed too soft and never as extended as good transistor sound. The Hermes dac is an amaizing unit. Mine came with AI gold pin tubes made in Yougoslovia, they were ok but not great. I installed some nos Siemens 6922 tubes and things got a lot better. All the glowing remarks in the other reviews are true. I still don't think it is as extended or as quick as my MSB Gold LInk, but my gosh do the vocals sound real.

Similar Products Used: MSB Link lll, MSB Gold link with Power base
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
pangl   AudioPhile [Jun 25, 2006]
Strength:

Superbly musical and analog sound. You just cannot focus in listening to equipment anymore once you have this in your system!

Weakness:

(1) No XLR outs. An unit sounding this good just need to have XLR out.

(2) The tube socket is actually like 8 pins sticking out from the main broad. Each pin socket has a little clip inside that ensure good contact with the tube's pin. The problem? In my unit, those clips don't stay in the pin socket! So whenever I am changing tubes, I need to absolutely make sure no such clip got popped out and lost. If you are being careless and lose one of them, oh well, expect no contact between the tube and the pin socket, and therefore, no sound.

(3) No Toslink nor AT&T Glass in - I could understand lack of Toslink, but no AT&T Glass for a DAC of this caliber?

After being addicted to the Kora Galaxy Reference stereoblock (the reference version of the stereoblock version of the Stereophile Class A rated Cosmos monoblocks), I am basically hooked by products made by this little known company from France.

The Hermes I (original) 24/192 is superbly constructed and way heavier than you'd expect from an typical DAC would be. It has 3 S/PDIF inputs (one of them shared with an AES/EBU) and an pair of RCA out. It also has a toggle to allow higher output (I like the higher output better, more punchy sound).

My unit actually has the Hovland Musicaps upgrade, plus some AudioSource (sp???) silver wires replacing original wires. The sound is so musical, you'd just sit there and listen to music all night long.

I have owned my share of DACs (see list below). This is absolutely the very best I have owned, bar none. Of course, there is always DCS Delius et al, or the Accuphase separates, and I am not sure how much better they would sound compare to this.

And if I have to pick a successor to this DAC, I could tell you: None. If I have to pick a successor to my Pioneer DV-AX10 + Kora Hermes combo, here's one for you to consider: TRL's modded Sony DVP-N900 with battery mod ($1600 mod + $500 for the stock player). Man, talk about DAC nirvana! (I read a post in Audiogon where one member claimed this TRL modded Sony sounds better than his $18000 Meridian reference player).

Similar Products Used: This is the list of DACS I have owned and/or auditioned (in reference setups where I spent hours listening, not casually walk into a showroom kind of experience, marked with *). Kora Hermers betters them all in terms of how much I enjoy the sound.

1) Perpetual 1A + 3A*
2) EVS Millennium DAC 1 and DAC 2
3) Bel Canto 1.1 and 2
4) Mark Levinson 36 and 360* (I wonder how an 360S would sound!)
5) Wadia 25 and 27ix*
6) Sonic Frontiers Processor 3 (this comes 2nd compare to the Hermes)
7) Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 Mk II and SFD-2 Mk III*
8) Odeon Birdland 24/192
9) Musical Fidelity A24
10) Classe DAC1
11) MSB Goldlink II, Goldlink III, Full Nelson II, stock II and stock III
12) California AudioLab 24/96 DAC
13) Monarchy Model 33
14) Theta GEN Va*
15) PS Audio Ultralink* (what a piece of crap IMHO)
16) Audio Note DAC 2*
17) Meridian 563 (I can't remember the # exactly, it's the 24 bit version)
18) Audio Research DAC 2*

Probably there is a few I can't remember, but hey, that means they are irrelevant! :-)


OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Brian Trhlin   AudioPhile [Sep 19, 2003]
Strength:

The most lifelike presentation of Red Book in my experience. And I like the front panel, it does dress up my rack and Audio Magic substitutes blue LEDs - nice touch.

Weakness:

The enclosed documentation is weak and not very informative, especially as relates to the technical and design aspects of the unit. I would have liked BAL analog outputs.

I have gone through a few DACS over the years starting with PS Audio, Theta, VAC and a couple of SF units. The most expensive I have owned was the SF T-3(Iris)/P-3 combo. But the hands-down best of the lot is the Hermes. It may be attributed to the upsampling because most of my recent DACs were tubed. But talk about soundstage width and depth - it goes well beyond the speakers and the walls of the room! Music is absolutely three-dimensional, holographic and palpable. You are pulled into the performance. It so real you are almost embarrassed to talk to someone else in the room during a vocal least you disturb the performance. That's high end! Holly Cole and Jennifer Warren voices finger-walk right up your spine and its tough to stop grinning. My system consists of a Sony SCD-777ES which I use as a transport for Red Book. I go out via KK KCG Dig to a Monarchy re-clock unit for jitter reduction and conversion to BAL DIG. The balanced digital signal is sent to the Hermes via LAT pure silver dig. Analog is SE via Audio Quest Lapis X3 to the SF Line 3 which is BAL out via Monster 6M M1000i to SF Pwr 3 Monos via Monster 2.2 to Legacy Focus 20/20s. This is a killer combo. It's dead quiet. No hum, no hiss, nothing! You can't tell there is a tube in the circuit until you listen - and then - WOW. My system is on three dedicated circuits and source components are fed by a PS Audio Power Plant so that may cut down on line noise. I have owned systems that cost three-to-four times more than this one and they not have this level of realism and satisfaction. Friends jaws regularly drop during listening sessions. My Hermes has the Audio Magic upgrade and NOS tubes. I have listened to the ML 31.5/30.5 at length and it seems to lack the "you are there" presence and lifelike presentation the Hermes delivers. It's a matter of taste but I prefer to be closer to the performance and ML DACs are too reticient for me. Overall the Hermes is an impressive achievement at its going price either used or new.

Similar Products Used: Listed in review.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dean Yamasaki   AudioPhile [Jun 12, 2002]
Strength:

Not harsh or bright, but very detailed and dynamic while being smooth and refined. The case is well designed for tuberolling. The chassis comes apart quite easily and the screw holes line up perfectly upon reassembly. No jiggling or shifting needed.N

Weakness:

The only attrbute I would list as a weakness is the slightly cheap look the plastic chrome faceplate imparts, but this is purely a personal judgement. Close up it reminds me of the plastic chrome bumpers of the model cars I built as a kid. But when situated in my equipment rack with other gear and viewed from my seating position it actually looks classy..

I bought my Kora about five months ago hoping it would be an improvement over the Bel Canto DAC 1.1 I was using st the time, and I'm now a very happy listener. The Bel Canto was very good, but my evolving tastes lead me in the direction of a more tubelike sound and the Hermes has come through in powerful fashion. The Kora takes the soundstaging strengths of the Bel Canto and just expands on it, in width, depth and realism. The Kora leaps far ahead of the Bel Canto when it comes to the natural rendition of acoustic instruments and the delicacy and breadth of the female voice. Just an overall more refined sound and experience. In the last three months I have experimented with different NOS 6922/6DJ8 tubes in the Hermes. My Kora came with Phillips tubes which were pretty good, then after a month of using them I tried NOS Siemens CCas and Mullards. These two tubes are very opposite in their presentation, with the SIemens being very revealing and lifelike, while the Mullards offer a smoother, fuller, warmer sound. I prefer the Mullards in the Kora, but I believe that has to do with my tastes in reproduction and associated equipment. I've only used two DACs in my system, so my experience is very limited, but I would still not hesitate to recommend the Kora to anyone looking for one with a natural, dynamic yet refined sound. I think it's a real winner and offers world class sound.i

Similar Products Used: Bel Canto DAC 1.1e
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Scubadaddy123   AudioPhile [Jun 05, 2002]
Strength:

Increased width & depth of the soundstage.

Weakness:

Mfg. packaging leaves much to be desired.

I've owned many DACs....Classe DAC1, Audio Research DAC-2 & DAC-3, Bel Canto 1.1, Perpetual Technologies P1-A/P3-A just to name a few. By a good stretch, the Kora Hermes not only extends the width of the soundstage, it increases the depth of the soundstage. Everyone talks about digital CSs sounding 'tinny'. This DAC provides the most musical transformation of CDs that I have ever experienced. It is without question the best DAC I've ever owned. One important note. Upgrading the tubes (2 - 6DJ8s) is the single most important 'tweak' you can do. I use Siemens CCAs from the 60s and the sound is truly outstanding! No question a must for the true budget minded audiophile! And for the record Joe @ JC Audio is both knowledgeble & easy to work with! And Jerry @ Audio Magic performs quality upgrades for this piece that should be explored!!!!! Enjoy!

Similar Products Used: Classe DAC1, Audio Research DAC-2 & DAC-3, Bel Canto 1.1, Perpetual Technologies P1-A/P3-A
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Lloyd Guiberteau   Audiophile [Dec 22, 2001]
Strength:

Solid build, attractive, versatile, smooth

Weakness:

No toslink input - no digital out for recording

I have this unit mated with the Electrocompaniet EMC 1 CD player. It is a very good unit by itself and I debated on upgrading it to the 24/192 status but took a chance on the tubed Kora Hermes - it use to sell for 3500 or more and I got it brand new for 1500 with the 24/192 upgrade built in. It really has brought the playback of redbook CD's to a new level of naturalness, clarity and smoothness. No fatigue in listening. I use it with the XLR digital connection . The weakness of no toslink is only noted because some transports only have that connection - you can buy an adapter to convert a coaxial connection as this unit has three inputs. I am no longer looking for better Cd playback even though the Hermes just received an even further upgrade and sells new for 2600 now - still the best bargain in the digital domain. JC Audio was great.

Similar Products Used: Perpetual Technology, Levinson
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
david smith   an Audiophile [Jan 17, 1999]

the kora 'hermes' dac is the most anologue-sounding dac you will ever hear.i have been using it with my ar cd1 and the difference the addition made was nothing short of amazing. if you are, like myself, a classical music enthusiast and are entertaining the idea of adding an outboard dac you owe it to yourself to audition this unit.the rest of my system consists of ar vt100 amp, ar ls15 pre-amp and aliante model one speakers.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-7 of 7  

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