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22 Sep 2007: Konstantinos Daras


By Tony Pothitos

What can you expect from Kostas Daras?

... a young individual who normally sits quietly in a corner and once in while without revealing his real extravert inertia comes forward to bring a pair of wires or two, to say something which he has never said with words. What are those words? Simply, LISTEN TO THIS! LEARN!
So when you drive half way around South Africa to find his home, (where else would such an introvert be but in the hiding), you expect to see something totally different than what most of us saw. A normal human being!

So normal and so refreshingly good that he doesn’t belong in our absolute nut house of over the top abnormally egoistic virile group of sadistic machine freaks and music lovers! ME included!

But as the night progressed, and in his choice of music which he chose for us, the real Kostas came out, where we tossed and turned from the drum Improvisation, by Jim Keltner, a CD which I have heard and learnt off by heart from being an IASCA judge for years in the past.

I know this track so well; I can play it with spoons on a kitchen table. Or I thought so until the MG 2,7 Qr’s proved me wrong. But we will get to that later, for now let me continue about Costa proving to be an uncanny in every good sense of the word audiophile.

Daras-Sep-2007-pic-1 Not only did he put on a drum disc for his first song, playing on a speaker that does not fame itself on bass, but then flew us from Carl Orff, to Frank Zappa withing15 minutes! I mean this guy is the 2nd worst DJ in the world, the first being myself. He played so many types of music that it was not weird to me at all. Which means it must have upset other people (I am not insinuating Max Goodman, of course not!) who hates Frank Zappa, to the point of calling it torture! Not to mention the Greek music!

I mean what kind of nut would play music like that to a bunch of audiophiles but me. Maybe the kind of nut that loves his hobby, enjoys his music and doesn’t give a hoot if anyone likes it or not!

Which suddenly makes Mr. Daras an outcast in our group of the aforementioned egoistical bees!

Down to the music... And to the machines producing it.

Personally I loved 3 things about the system which are really 4 if you include the speakers. I thought the Kuzma Stabi is perfect for his taste of listening and table (Voyd ‘Valdi’) and secondly his Sony CDR W66, which I have personally owned, and never heard it play like that before. After that, the Gamut D200 MK3 which drove the speakers to a comfortable and even loud sound pressure level, even good enough for me, who loves to hear loud sometimes.

I do have to mention the downfalls, being the Benz micro MC2 which was more used than some of the 1950 trolleys in down town Athens! And the fact that RPG’s were needed so much that I was trying to hear the music with the effect of a diffuser and with the curtain closed to imagine the depth it missed and filling effect that a woofer gives, but ribbons do not, unless the room is conditioned just for listening.(that was a run on sentence but it is 446 am, so please give me a break)
Let us start from the song list and go down. From there you will understand what I mean.

Daras-Sep-2007-pic-2As we said before, Jim Keltner in a CD drum improvisation, where the drums were always the improvisation until I heard it on Costa’s system. Although the drums were not thumping or deep enough, or even big enough to reproduce the 18 inch drum, the metal acoustics of the improvisation was so good, that nowhere have I heard it better.

What did I expect, I expected it to be really bad, but in its totality it was coherent with what Costa hears and wants to hear, without intrusions of big bass wallowing his stomach muscles as I would. Which is totally wrong on my behalf of course.

The timing seemed slow off the Sony, at start, but kept up with the fastest drum beating later on, and the silence was dramatic and beautiful, the essence of stereo could be so fully enjoyed that it was a pleasure in every aspect of listening to it from where I was sitting at least. They symbols were so clear, with perfect height against the drum on the floor it was a dream in itself, with tempo to carry over to the next century.

Song number 2. Carl Orff, and our favorite Carmina Burana revealed the speakers lack of RPG’s, and or positioning of the speakers. The lack of depth, body, and staging was evident, or maybe it could have been the CD recording. It was totally off compared to what I know it to play, and it showed that it was not a system set up for orchestral works of large sizes. In general the speaker setup was perfect for voice and for a few instruments, but the space allocated to the speakers, and the asymmetric right and left spaces cannot accommodate pieces as such.

Tune 3 was Gary Karr, O holly night, a beautiful display of voice and love encompassing our ears, a true delight, with devastating character, no harshness and with curtains closed much better! (sorry for those who could not hear the difference, it might have been your seating arrangement).

Esther Ofarims, una matica de ruba, a true gospel (not literally) was next, with a voice that brought inner peace, impeccable speed, but a lack of depth and presence while the drums were hit by hand. The big sound was not there, but the voice didn’t need anything else to prove, that was all you needed to hear!

Frank Zappa on CD reminded me of my love for Fender and for screeching guitars, but on this system nothing of that sort happened. The Gamut did a wonderful job here and although others call this type of music harsh, I thought it was wonderful and it was FUN! You could not hear the amp playing, but I didn’t care. What I cared about was the affect of me wanting to bring out a bottle of Jim Beam and wiggle my romp and shake my head.

Daras-Sep-2007-pic-3The TT was turned on and the spinner was going to show how incredible these speakers can be! The choice was perfect for me, PINK FLOYD, On the run, from Dark side of the moon. Then Time, which was astonishingly clear and precise, with timing to match and the LP just sang itself to heaven. But that was cut short since the needle needs a needle doctor ASAP and the voices in the songs were unnaturally unnatural! But as someone said, if you have not heard this song before, it was like walking though an alley or labyrinth where you knew nothing of where you would be in the next few seconds. It was a moving piece of music and the setup brought forward in its own way. If it were not for the needle, I am sure it would have sounded 100% better, and it already sounded good until the metal got too soft.

Here is where the diffusers would have done some amazing work, since channel separation existed, but depth was flowing back and forth with a female voice which was nothing less than beauty to my soul. Although there was a certain colorless metallic, although not harsh at all, but surgical cut within everything that was hard strung. Others like it or not, it depends on what stage you are in, during your listening period of your life, I remember listening to harshness and loving it. Now I have to agree with Kostas but even go further and allow some color to come through the pre which was not up to par with the amp.

Music Program Highlights

  • Jim Keltner 'Improvisation' (CD)
  • Carl Orff 'Introduction Furtune' (CD)
  • Garry Karr 'O Holly Night' (CD)
  • Esther Ofarims 'Una Matica de Ruba' (CD)
  • Frank Zappa 'Ship A Hoy' (CD)
  • Pink Floyd 'On the Run' (LP)
  • Pink Floyd 'Time' (LP)
  • George Benson 'This Masqugrade' (LP)
  • Marinela - Xatzis 'Eisai Pantou kai pouthena' (CD)
  • Panos Gavalas 'Gkyke mou Tyranne' (CD)
  • Mary Linda - Manolis Xiotis 'Apagogi' (LP)
  • Laurindo Almeida 'Misirlou' (CD)

System Description

  • Magnepan MG 2.7 QR speakers, driven by Gamut D200 Mk3 amplifier and Magnum MP 330 (+phono) preamplifier
  • Analogue source: Voyd 'Valdi' t/t and a Benz Micro MC2 cartridge on a Kuzma 'Stabi arm.
  • Digital source: Sony CDR W66 CD player.
  • Wiring: Custom Copper for interconnects and speaker cables.
  • Power cables/Electr. install.: custom silver for all.

Then I made the drastic mistake of going to sit at the back of the crowd and from song 8 to 12 I could make out the music, even couldn’t help myself to sing along with it, but I am in no position to tell you how it was speaking in high fidelity terms.

But I can tell you about the food, the extremely subtle and gentle parents, the amazing drawings on the walls which were done by Costa himself and his outstanding partner which was and is, his other half. It was glorious to see someone so much in love with his partner and it was even better to see parents which were so nice, no words can even come close to describing their hospitality.


Thank you Kostas. You are a true lover of music and you are not afraid to play it with your own taste of music, you showed us your taste and you welcomed us into your home. Thank you. I cannot say it enough times, but that is the way I feel. I could only wish others could write and not only me, because I am sure they would say the same.


Konstantinos Daras' Member Page

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