Fi: The Magazine of Music and Sound
4 of 5)
When he studied the waveforms of various producers of sound (instruments
and voices), Stan Klyne noticed that something more was going on. Many
waveforms were not symmetrical, but asymmetrical, especially those from
female voices and brass instruments. Such asymmetry evidences a time (or
phase) component in the nature of the tones being observed. In other words,
correct harmonics, and hence correct tonality, come not only from properly
proportioned relative amplitudes of fundamentals and overtones, but from
correct phase (time) relationships among overtones and fundamentals. In
designing his circuits, Klyne explored the relationship between amplitude
and transient behavior in replication of harmonics (tonality) and he got
it right, or at least closer to right than Ive heard from other
gear. The result is a combination of articulation and tonality in human
voices that is remarkably, recognizably true. If you want to hear Ella
sound like Fitzgerald or Mick sound like Jagger, the Klynes deserve your
attentive audition. And the same is true for that combination of transient
action and sustained harmonics that defines the sounds of instruments,
especially those like piano or trumpet, where the transient/harmonic relationship
seems most complex (and the waveform, presumably, is most asymmetrical).
The correctness of the time-related and harmonic information, working
together, results in a reproduction of sounds from voices and instruments
that has an easy, effortless, natural realism. It is startling, not in
a whiz-bang hi-fi sense, but in its matter-of-fact truthfulness. In other
words, things just sound more like themselves in life and less like themselves
replayed through a sound system. Voices and instruments are more distinctly
individualized, and you can understand the words with less listener effort.
The Klyne phono stage and line stage share other important virtues. Given
the attention that was paid to accurately recreating both the amplitude
and transient behavior that results in correct, exceptionally natural
tonality, its no surprise that these components are also neutral.
Top to bottom, I detected no humps or dips in frequency response; I suspect
the Klynes would measure dead flat throughout the audible range and well
beyond. lor should it be a surprise that the transient response (considered
in the more traditional ways we tend to think about transient response)
is superbfast, but with no sense of exaggeration or hyper-detailing
at the front edge and no truncation or diminution of low-level information
as a sound fades away.
It makes sense, too, given the Klynes nice way with low-level details,
that these are among the quietest pieces of electronics Ive encountered.
Even with a very low output moving coil cartridge (the surpassingly fine
Transfiguration Temper), the noise floor of the system with the Klynes
in place is so low that one is dismayed when other good, but not as quiet,
units are substituted. Deep silence is a wonderful foundation for superb
music reproduction; the Klynes provide it.
Importantly, the Klyne Models Seven are remarkably free of grain. There
is no dust, smoke, haze, or fog clouding the window on sound. Hell, theres
not even any glass in the pane. After listening to and through the Klynes,
other preampsespecially a number of costly tube preamps seem
a bit smudgy, making it harder to see through the air to grasp the details
of the objects in the picture.
I should add here that one very experienced listener, whose acuity I respect
and who spent a fair amount of time with the Klynes, agreed with my description
of their sound, but found them dry and thin; he would prefer more juiciness
more intensity of tonal color, more atmosphere, a richer and more
romantic presentation. I disagree. Nothing Ive auditioned at length
equaled the Klynes see-right-through-em-as-if-theyre-not-even-in-the-system
invisibility. Over time I found that transparency and immediacy most addictive;
other components seemed as artificially sweet as saccharine after the
Klynes. I want romance to come from my music, but not from my music system.
The best thing a component can do is get the hell out of the way; thats
exactly what the Klyne Models Seven do best.
In all the other areasimaging, soundstaging, dynamics, etc.the
Klynes were very good to excellent, competitive with the best solid-state
preamps Ive heard; but they didnt stand apart from the other
leaders of the pack, so I wont comment at length. In these respects,
the Klynes are unlikely to surprise or disappoint you, but neither will
they amaze and delight a listener as can their harmonic and transient
correctness, their silence, and their grainfree invisibility.