Introducing the Komuro Amplifier Company (& First Listen)

If you are wondering — are we talking about the Komuro? — the answer is a resounding Yes! I would add, and hot damn!

For those unfamiliar with amplifier designer Noriyasu Komuro, I will point you to three articles from my 6moons days:

A brief bio – Nori Komuro
A Road Tour and a listen to Komuro’s 212e monoblock amplifiers
A Road Tour and a listen to Komuro’s VT52 amplifier

And here are a few favorite quotes about Komuro:

“This guy is one of the best audio designers alive and deserves to be known as such.” Don Garber of Fi

“Komuro is most likely the best tube circuit designer alive. His design goals are always clean, clear, wide-band, low dynamic distortion, direct-coupled, stable, durable, and oh yeah, did I mention clean and clear? Totally unflappable. Not wet, not dry, not warm, not cool, not big or small, not front or back … like clean, clear, running water! The absolute best there is with Snell, Spendor, KEF etc. I’ve had all his 845s and they are all the same — PP, SE, Class A or AB2 or ???? — like a spring-fed stream flowing past your house. You can see the colors of rainbow trout swimming between the rocks, all the way from your picture-window.” Herb Reichert

“Komuro’s amps are very special. I believe he is the greatest living tube amp designer and I’m not alone in this belief. His circuit is unique and brilliant. His amps are extremely stable and reliable without a single capacitor in the signal path. The amps are direct coupled from the input jack to the output transformer, nothing but wire and tubes for the signal to pass through. This gives them a transparency, directness, and immediacy that I haven’t heard in any other amp.” John DeVore, DeVore Fidelity

“On one hand, we can think it’s a shame that Komuro amplifiers exist well outside the mainstream. On the other hand, perhaps that’s exactly where they belong – in the homes of a discriminating and very contented few. Making music to dream by.” Me

Komuro and DeVore listening to Komuro and DeVore (c.2007)

Komuro is perhaps best known for his amplifiers that employ the 845 triode output tube, whether run single-ended or push pull, and back when Komuro was still making amplifiers, most were built to order. If you’ve ever tried to find one on the used market, you’ve found that they are nearly impossible to find. In addition to the 845, Komuro, ever the consummate tube expert and collector, has also built amplifiers around the 300B and 212e, the latter being a monster of triode standing over a foot tall and capable of outputting more than 50 single-ended watts.

When you talk to Komuro about tubes, about specific tubes like a 50 or a 10Y, he’ll look away momentarily, pause and reflect. And then he’ll speak about its particular beauty. As if during that momentary reflection he went into a vast warehouse, pulled this tube from its shelf and brushed it off to reveal its particular sonic signature. There’s a reverence for the beauty contained in those bottles. You can think of Nori Komuro as one of their caretakers. from Nori Komuro

DeVore and Komuro and the prototype Komuro Amplifier Company 300B in between

The Komuro Amplifier Company

I could not be happier to convey the news that new Komuro amplifiers are being built as I type and will be available in the near future. The Komuro Amplifier Company is owned and run by John DeVore of DeVore Fidelity fame, and if you took the time to read those 6moons Road Tours, you would have seen John DeVore in each one because John introduced me to Komuro in 2005.

Komuro and John have been friends since the early ’90s when they met at Don Garber’s hifi shop Fi on 30 Watts Street in NYC. One of Komuro’s 845 amps was used with a pair of John’s speakers at the 2001 New York Noise Show, so we are talking about a long personal history, one built on mutual respect.

Komuro Amplifier Co. is separate from DeVore Fidelity, but the amps will initially be built and serviced at the DeVore facility. While Komuro is not part of the company, he has been compensated for his designs and will earn a commission for every unit sold.

The Komuro Amplifier Company will have three models on offer:

Stereo single-ended 300B
Singled-ended 845 monoblocs
Push-pull 845 monoblocs

All will share:

  • Completely hardwired construction for shortest signal path with no circuit boards
  • Unique direct-coupled circuit with no capacitors or interstage transformers in the signal path. Nothing but wire and tubes from input jack to output transformer
  • Custom transformers and chokes
  • Chassis construction with birch plywood, stainless steel, and aluminum to isolate transformers, chokes, tubes, and signal path.

These hand made amplifiers will be manufactured in small batches. The first run will be available to order by early 2022. Prices are still being finalized but the projected retail price for the Stereo single-ended 300B model is the neighborhood of $20k including premium tubes.

For more information and pre-orders, contact info@komuroamps.com

Komuro Amplifier Company: First Listen

I had the distinct pleasure of spending the better part of last Sunday at the Monkeyhaus, aka the DeVore factory, for a first listen to a prototype Komuro Amplifier Company K300S 300B stereo amplifier. The rest of the system included the splendid EMT JPA66 preamp, and a pair of prototype DeVore Fidelity O/Bronze speakers. A home brew 3-arm ‘table played vinyl and shellacks, while a totaldac d1-tube MK2 and totaldac streamer took care of the bits.

Also in attendance was artist and Stereophile reviewer Herb Reichert, author and Stereophile reviewer Alex Halberstadt, and a number of Komuro’s friends.

Regular readers know that I own and use a pair of DeVore Fidelity O/96 speakers, and longer term readers also know I’ve owned the gibbon X, The Nines, and Super 8s. I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing the simply stunning O/Reference at shows and of greater importance in Barn. In addition, John has owned a Komuro single-ended 845 stereo amp for years, which I’ve heard on numerous occasions with any number of DeVore Fidelity speakers. To say that I am familiar with DeVore Fidelity speakers is not a stretch, and I believe having listened to three Komuro amplifiers puts me in a much smaller group.

When it comes to listening to music on the hifi, I’m a fan of everything. Tubes, solid state, switching, vinyl, CDs, streaming, tapes, horns, boxes, panels, jazz, alt, classical, noise, and more. Like I said, everything. I’m equally gluttonous when it comes to the quality of reproduction, so when it comes to my want list for hifi, I’d like it to do everything too. Big, small, bold, subtle, even more subtle, and engaging both physically and emotionally. The last thing I want is effete-fi, that can only truly shine on a diet of lute and feather music.

This DeVore / Komuro system offered everything. What’s more, everything was presented with that crystal clear clarity that Herb so eloquently spoke of, coupled with a grip on the O/Bronze that was more than firm, sounding like the Komuro 300B amp had possessed the DeVore speakers, and the specter of all of the musicians we listened to on 78, 33 1/3, and digital were made present in the Monkeyhaus, flying around that golden hued space without restraint, entering our ear/brain/body space with full emotive force.

from left: John DeVore, Alex Halberstadt, Gordon Douglas, Komuro, Herb Reichert

A few songs in, I was struck by a familiar quality, one I hadn’t heard in some time. And I realized I was hearing into that spring-fed stream that every Komuro amplifier I’ve heard has on tap. It’s a quality that is unique to Komuro, and now the Komuro Amplifier Company, and I am thrilled to know that this sound will once again be within reach.

Komuro Amplifier Company K300S stereo amplifier. photo credit: Komuro Amplifier Company

Company Website: Komuro Amplifier Company