Karan KA I 180 sound signature?

Trying out new amps at the moment, to suit Spendor S8e.
A while ago I was after a Karan to match up with Dynaudio, wondered if it would be a good match for the Spendors?

I have noticed that quicker/more powerful SS amps seem to suit, does the Karan fall into this category?

I can imagine anything too dark sounding would not work.

My default was going to be Croft 25r/7r (would imagine a very different sound), but not sure I can live with the looks.

Not easy to describe in the usual audiophool terminology, instead I’ll say it sounds like the best amp you ever heard at first - you will be immensely impressed, you will buy it and love it.

…then, eventually you realise everything you ever play through it sounds like a Karan amp to an absolutely overwhelming extent - to the exclusion of every other musical nuance.

Everyone loves them at first, everyone sells them eventually. Great but odd amp. Very hard to nail down why.

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I do wonder why they seem to get moved on, if they are really so good.
I have on loan a Job 225 and Pass B1 Buffer, which to my mind seems to give a pretty neutral presentation - had to think today when listening how could it sound any better? Improving the source would probably do more.

With a bit of luck will try out a Croft 25r pre, but wouldn’t be surprised if it proves too much of a good thing with the Spendor’s.

I will never forget, at one of Papa’s bake-offs when the Karan was trounced by Guy’s Marantz PM4 :blush: Obviously I now own a PM4.


The ones I have heard I am not impressed with. Much more impressed with Lavaradin IT.

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Anything that gets trounced by a PM4 must be really shit. :+1:


When I was mulling over amps on here a while back @unclepuncle recommended Karan to me. Having heard a very expensive pair of Karan monos not so long ago, I politely asked that he dial back on the obviousness next time he was obviously trolling me.

I wonder where he is these days. I hope he is ok.

Your trolling is getting more subtle day by day Jim. :joy:


Yep - it’s award winning :grin:

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Somehow I have contrived never to hear a Lavardin amp. Doesn’t take much to best the Karan once you get past the superficially impressive first acquaintance to be fair…


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I’m more than happy with my KAi180. Overall the amp has a warm side of neutral character. Smooth but with plenty of detail. I suspect that won’t suit Spendors but can’t be sure as I haven’t heard any for ages. It has immense bass grip compared with other amps I have used. It is also a very non fatiguing amp to listen to over long periods. Build quality is also excellent.

Unclepuncle has borrowed mine a few times to try with his ever changing speakers.

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good to get opinions from all, just weighing up options that come in on budget. The S/S Job 225 with a croft pre or other valve might be the better plan.

Just driven for four hours to deliver some speakers to a buyer, wife thinks I’m a complete loser. Did meet a nice fellow loser who had some nice kit to chat about though.

Better than getting clad up in Lycra like some on a Sunday morning.

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I actually had a customer visit me this week with a Karan 180 to listen to some Direkts. At the levels it needed to play at to generate sensible SPLs it sounded very smooth & comfortable so that was a combination I could recommend. Into a less sensitive speaker I think it starts to become ungainly. All muscle, brawn & elbows with less swing or finesse. That said, I’d still prefer it to one of the Krell or ATC type expensive integrateds.

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Nothing wrong with getting all done up in lycra on a Sunday morning. You don’t have to go out on a bicycle.


I will have to disagree with you there Paul. Specifically regarding my pre/power. The longer I have had it the more I like it. The Modwright pre/power I had previously was more open but the grip and focus of the Karan with my Gershman swung it for me and I never thought I would part with the Modwright. Not better maybe just different. I do occasionally miss a valve pre but the Karan KAS180 power amp if feckin superb.


I’ve also got a 180 power amp (MK2) and think that it is a great sounding amp.
It has driven Wilson Benesch ACT’s, Kudos 10/20’s, DM70’s, SP100R2’s and WLM La Scala’s with ease and great sound.
Of this list only the WLM’s were preferable with my Almarro amp.

4 hours ! wow that is good service!

Two hours each way, I was too paranoid to trust a primate courier

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