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Review from
Fi: The Magazine of Music and Sound

(page 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 I’ve 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, it’s 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 superb—fast, 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 I’ve 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, there’s not even any glass in the pane. After listening to and through the Klynes, other preamps—especially 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 I’ve auditioned at length equaled the Klynes’ see-right-through-’em-as-if-they’re-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; that’s exactly what the Klyne Models Seven do best.

In all the other areas—imaging, soundstaging, dynamics, etc.—the Klynes were very good to excellent, competitive with the best solid-state preamps I’ve heard; but they didn’t stand apart from the other leaders of the pack, so I won’t 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.


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