kw550 takes a deeper breath
My beloved kw550, after more than 10 years of service, blew some transistors in a heart wrenching pyrotechnic display.
Along with the quote for repair and a upgrade to the kw550, John gave some sound advice on why the load might be the cause of the demise of the amp. The upgrade guarantees the amp for a year and turns it into ‘something special’.
I was using KEF reference 4’s with Chord Odyssey 4’s with bare wire connection onto the speaker terminals. Upon investigation using Johns advice, I found the Chords were arcing at the load end and at the amp end, as was evidenced in the discolouration of the sheaths and the ends of the cable.
The load had become simply a bit too much as the 30 + year old Kefs could do with a refresh of electrolytics and the cable was causing a mismatch. John had already used the Chord cable before and also had found it too bright and found evidence of it arcing across the silver plated strands. The characteristics of this was the sound had turned incredibly bright, so the bedecked Gibson guitar Stereophonics were absolutely impossible to listen to. The kw550 was also running hot.
The sound characteristic of the kw550 previously was it could get a bit shouty very quickly. The Kefs required current to sing but that meant the amp was getting a little too loud. The sound and scale was breathtaking but quite quickly, the kw550 just used to run out of breath and composure.
Whilst waiting for the repair, I borrowed a YBA amplifier from a friend and changed the cables to the recommended Supra 3.4’s and banana plugged the system. I also purchased an IFI SPDIF reclocker with Johns advice.
The kw550 came back from repair and first impressions were impressive. What is evident straight out of the box is that it drives the Kefs at a much lower volume. The sound and scale is back and the amp seems much more composed. It simply has a larger set of lungs to drive the Kefs.
The £5k YBA was ‘polite’ in comparison. Queens of the Stone Age meets the teletubbies. With the JS kw550, Josh Homme has raided your fridge for your beer and has ordered takeaway which, by the way, your paying for. QOTSA are in the room with you. The YBA becomes muddled very easily, losing its way through the passages of music. Everything is just tame sounding and lacking scale and presence.
The JS kw550 positions everything just right and there is no evidence of shoutiness, even when the volume is turned up. It also knows where the bottle opener is.
The previous kw550 would have pinned you to the back wall but it was much harsher, louder and less composed. A worthwhile upgrade.
Very happy with the upgrade, the service and the advice. John is a treasure and its no wonder he is incredibly busy. In confidence for Johns ability and value for money in the JS kw550 upgrade, I will look to upgrade the Tri Vista 21 with him in the New Year. Repeat business speaks volumes.