Saturday, 23 May 2015

KOGA Audio Onycs Power Amp - The Right Highs (Part Une)



The Onycs is the fourth offering from KOGA Audio after Aimez, Pentha and D'Bomb made their debut in the past two months and caused quite a stir in local scene. As I already had high regards of KOGA's product, I also have high expectation of this Onycs although I do have some reservation of its being a Class D amp. This is also a prototype unit as the designer would like to do more tweaking before the KLIAV show in July.

BUILT AND SPEC

The unit is of similar size to Pentha which is half of a typical shoe box size but comes in a black matte colour instead of grey. It is still a 2 box design though with its PSU separated from the amplification.

Simplistic and minimalist are the virtue of KOGA Audio. In the rear, its equipped with a pair of speaker terminal suited for any standard banana plug, a pair of power inputs and a pair of pre amp input. Now, the front is of a unique design. It comes with an attenuation knob. It is somehow act as a volume pot as this power amp can also be directly connected to a fixed level source like a DAC, CD Player or even a phono amp. This attenuation allows volume control straight to the speakers.

The topography is as follows:
  • Freq response 20-20k,
  • THD <0.01%
  • Short circuit, and Thermal overload protection.
  • >90% efficiency
  • Differential inputs minimize common mode noise.
  • Adjustable gain
  • Quiescent current : 50mA
  • Maximum current : 7A


FIRST IMPRESSION
First to went in was ACDC Shook Me All Night Long on vinyl....and the first impression was... Loud... the Onycs can cope with the biamping with Musical Fidelity M6i. I was a expecting a high pitched delivery similar to when I first purchased Musical Fidelity M1 PWR Class D power amp. But no. It blended in with the system immediately. Drums on this track was forceful but the Onycs complimented it by delivering the shredding guitars with clarity and sharpness  that balances out the heavy drums.



THE SET UP

As this power amp can offer 3 different use, I have split my review into the following:
  1. Pre power mode with M6i acts as a pre and Onycs alone driving the D18
  2. Bi amp mode with Musical Fidelity M6i (Onycs connected to tweeter and M6i connected to woofer of ProAc D18)
  3. Stand alone mode connected directly to Musical Fidelity M6 DAC
All interconnects and speaker cable used are Siltech.

Turntable: Clearaudio Concept
Phono Stage: Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL
CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT

THE TRACKS

  1. Girl from Ipanema (Getz and Gilberto) - LP
  2. Legion of The Damned (Sil Khannaz) - LP
  3. Hotel California (Gypsy Kings) - LP
  4. Because We Believe (Andrea Bocelli) - CD
  5. Ode to My Family (The Cranberries) - CD
  6. You Were Always On My Mind (Willie Nelson) - CD


THE SESSION

During all the three mode sessions, the same tracks were used.


PRE POWER MODE
Girl from Ipanema started off quite mellow with a more touch on the low notes. But as the song progresses, especially when the female vocal kicks in the overall song sound more lively with the right balance from the high notes. And when the saxophone started blowing....ooooohhhh such pleasure. The Onycs provided the right amount of balance to the bass heavy song.



Legion of The Damned was delivered in its most beastly manner. Each of Lan's double pedal beat was clearly delivered in its hard hitting fashion. The Onycs can cope to deliver the fast speed of this track including the guitar riffs. The growling vocals of Jaie Joekhannaz was also very enveloping as the Onycs brought up a certain clarity to the usual 'buried' vocal mixing of such track. Overall, the Onycs coped well with fast paced track and deep growling vocals such as this. So, metal fans, dont feel left out as this amp can give you a different experience in high fidelity.

I decided on Gypsy Kings's rendition of Hotel California instead of The Eagles due to its variation in guitar strumming, solos and percussion and also the screeching vocals. I was expecting quite a high pitched presentation but it was completely the opposite. The overall presentation was more on the warm side with a tad inclination towards a more bold and mellow character. It was so different from the MF M1 PWR amp I experienced before.

Andrea's vocal on this track sounded livelier than usual as if it was Olympics all over again. His deep voice can be heard vibrating throughout the song. There is some lack of clarity in certain part of the track but the overall sound stage that the Onycs provide overcomes that short coming. Especially the ending part where the Andre close out the track with a bang of musical instrument backing up his vocal.

With a mellow track like Ode to My Family, the Onycs can really create the atmosphere of serene and enveloping feeling. Dolores's vocal was presented in a very emotional way that it reminds me of the time when this album first came out. It was such a powerful album and the Onycs brought me back to the time where Zombie was the song for new bands in Malaysia would try to jam too.

No KOGA review will be complete without playing one of the tracks from KOGA sampler CD - Willie Nelson's You Are Always On My Mind. Now, this is where Onycs excel fully. The well controlled sound stage I experienced from PE35 EMI filter was even further enhanced with Onycs. I could feel that the overall track was delivered to how Willie would like the track to be heard by his faithful listeners. His voice was well extended in the right intonation and the blend of the mellow drumming and and back ground  vocals just added colour to the overall already good presentation.





 VERDICT

For pre and power mode, the Onycs deliver quite a performance without the usual Class D character. It gives out a good control on soundstage while still provide a good quality highs, no ear pinching sharpness from some of the Class D amps I have heard. Given it also controls the low end in this mode, it could have a little bit more kick to the bass although it did a good job coping with fast paced metal songs. It suits best ballad, jazz, vocals, classical guitars and percussion music. It has enough power to fill up a decent sized hall with no issue.

Part Deux -  coming soon on Bi-Amp mode
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