Capital Audiofest

Odyssey Audio – Audio Equipment For The Budget Conscious.

I almost feel like I’m doing Odyssey Audio a disservice with the above title, but it’s actually a point that owner Klaus Bunge makes a big deal of.

And why shouldn’t he, you ask? I’ll tell you why – a lot of us Audiophiles are just kind of a little bit on the snobbish and egotistical side. Meaning, as well as something sounding good it also has to be expensive. And heavy. And not too accessible to the masses. And…

So I wandered into the Odyssey Audio room on the Friday afternoon to the scene of a certain amount of chaos. Granted, Klaus made it look like just another day at the office, but I gather he wasn’t happy with the bass quality from the Liquid speakers and he was in the midst of man-handling the heavy bastards off (then back on to) a pair of what looked to be Mapleshade butcher block stands, with Mapleshade heavy footers.

In the middle of this heroic escapade I gather the VPI Power Supply for the Avenger Reference croaked-it, and I watched with some sympathy as the VPI guy carried it off for repair.

Odyssey Suspiro PhonoAfter adjusting his truss and playing a CD for few seconds via the Symphonic Line CD player, I heard Klaus announce to the small gathering: “that’s better”. His profound proclamation over, we went off on a quasi-psychedelic journey with the lights out, candles lit, lava lamps doing what they do and some music appropriate for the occasion, which I appear not to have made a note of.

I’ve heard various Odyssey gear over the years and have always liked what I’ve heard. I lived with a borrowed pair of upgraded Stratos Extreme Monoblocks for a while and they sounded very good. I know that Klaus is able to bias his amps in a way that nudges their sound towards the particular bias of their owner, that said, whenever I’ve heard an Odyssey powered system it has always sounded pleasingly to the warm side of neutral, almost like the classic tube sound yet with most of the positive attributes of solid-state intact.

And that’s what I heard from this iteration of Odyssey’s ‘budget system’. Big, bold, powerful and effortlessly dynamic. The Liquids ($5900) fill the room with sound and present themselves via the Candela ($1600) / Stratos ($2700) with the warmth and illumination of a good 300b yet with the drive and impact of the top echelon of solid state. I can’t attest to this system’s prowess on the detail and imaging front as I wasn’t ideally seated and there were too many other things going on in the room at the time. So I said a quick hello to Klaus and left the room planning to return the following day to see where things were at, but never made it.

My lasting impression is that the Liquid is a speaker I could live with long-term, the Stratos are amps I know pretty well and like a great deal, and the rest of the system (Candela Pre / Suspiro Phono) would need more evaluation in a better environment. But overall this group of components did sound very, very nice and utterly musical.

So yes, were I looking for a system in this price range I can’t imagine not being thrilled with Odyssey’s ‘budget system’, albeit a system without a source component.