Three K's Comparison

Cluze

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As I noted in a recent NUD post, I now have three different K brand koa concerts under my care; a Kamaka HF-2A (the centennial anniversary edition), a KoAloha silver series (the 25th anniversary edition), and Kanile'a K-1 C.

Since I have them all, I would be remiss in my duties to *not* try to compare them. As this post is going up around the holidays, I threw something together playing the Christmas classic "Silent Night" from the excellent book "Christmas Classics for Solo Ukulele" by Gary Stewart. Sorry for the sloppy playing, but I wanted to get this posted, so I kind of threw it together in a few spare moments here and there. (Also, my ukulele collection is much better than my playing warrants...)

The instruments all now have fluorocarbon strings; the Kamaka is sporting Fremont blackline mediums, the KoAloha has the original stock KoAloha strings, and the Kanile'a has Worth brown mediums.

To make the comparison sort-of blind, I did not label each instrument in the video I am about to link, they are simply A, B, and C. If you want to know which one is which, they are listed in the description on YouTube. (I'll also post it further down in this thread eventually, but not right away, so you can just scroll down later.) There are also timestamps in the YouTube description if you want to jump around.

After I play through a verse with each, I also mixed them so that you get one uke in the left channel and a different uke in the right channel.

Also note that the differences are, in my opinion, somewhat subtle. This isn't helped by the fact that YouTube does compress the audio, so some fidelity is lost.
Still, I strongly suggest a decent pair of headphones for this comparison.



Direct link to YouTube video: https://youtu.be/e0UE-qDVznM

I will eventually try to make another comparison like this with a different style piece, but that will have to wait until I can spare some time.

I recorded these with a pair of Audio Technica AT2020 condenser microphones connected to my computer via a Focusrite Scarlett 4I4. Editing was down via the Reaper digital audio workstation.
 
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First a round of applause! You created an important video which shows all the K brands are very very good and it is hard to say which one is better. The effort you put in and your playing are perfect! Thank you!
Here is my vote:
A: Koaloha
B: Kanilea
C: Kamaka
 
First a round of applause! You created an important video which shows all the K brands are very very good and it is hard to say which one is better. The effort you put in and your playing are perfect! Thank you!
Here is my vote:
A: Koaloha
B: Kanilea
C: Kamaka

Thanks! I won't yet say here which was which, but which did you like best, A, B, or C?
 
Thanks! I won't yet say here which was which, but which did you like best, A, B, or C?
You can DM me the answer :) I won’t share. It was a toss up between B and C but they are all good enough to buy.
 
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Thank you I enjoyed the stereo examples and listened through the sound bar of my TV. The harshness of fluorocarbon made comparison difficult but I liked C the best which I think was Kanile'a. A and B sounded very similar and my guess is A Kamaka and B KoAloha.
 
A & B had a slight "klang" that I did not like. B is a little more balanced than A to my ears using two decent PC speakers. C rang out a little clearer with a little more brightness and was the one I preferred.
 
i liked C the best. I'm going to say it was the Kanile'a, as the tone was more complex which is how my Kanile'a sounds. But they all have different strings so that changes how they'll sound. I would guess that A is the Koaloha, and B the Kamaka. But I could be entirely wrong, lol.
 
Great audio! B and C were more pleasant to my ear with C barely edging out B. No clue which brand is which.
 
Thanks for a cool comparison. I checked and I got them all wrong. Every single one I guessed was wrong. Now I’m sure my ears are shot.

Actually I think this is a great demonstration of how good all three K makers of ukuleles are. I believe they all have improved and continue to improve their instruments. So in the end they all sounded wonderful.

Nice playing! I’m totally impressed how are you were able to keep the same timing on all of recordings for the split channel audios.
 
Ok, if you don't want to know which one is which, stop reading, and scroll back up.
























Here is the "answer key" for the audio samples. Ukulele A was the Kanile'a, Ukulele B was the Kamaka, and Ukulele C was the KoAloha. My preference, as blind as I could be since I recorded them, is the reverse order, with C (the KoAloha) sounding the best and A (the Kanile'a) the "worst." But again, the worst still sounded great. The differences between them, with similar strings, is pretty small.
 
First a round of applause! You created an important video which shows all the K brands are very very good and it is hard to say which one is better. The effort you put in and your playing are perfect! Thank you!
Here is my vote:
A: Koaloha
B: Kanilea
C: Kamaka


A: KoAloha
B: Kamaka
C: Kanile'a
 
Ok, if you don't want to know which one is which, stop reading, and scroll back up.

I actually played my Kamaka concert just to check my answer before posting. I also played my KoAloha and Kanile'a sopranos; I don't own these in concert sizes. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give away the answers; but I'll say that, if you own a Kamaka concert (of recent build), you should be able to pick out the Kamaka fairly easily.
 
Also, Thank You! for taking the time and effort to post this. I love blind sound comparisons.
 
I actually played my Kamaka concert just to check my answer before posting. I also played my KoAloha and Kanile'a sopranos; I don't own these in concert sizes. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give away the answers; but I'll say that, if you own a Kamaka concert (of recent build), you should be able to pick out the Kamaka fairly easily.

I do agree that if you are a Kamaka fan, they have a certain sound... :)
 
Thanks for the solution and I am not surprised that I liked C best and it was KoAloha, as in the concert size I always had a preference for them and my own favourite uke is a concert KoAloha. The strength of Kanile'a in my opinion is in their tenors.
 
Thank you for doing this. I really like when people do these comparisons.
The only one that I got correct was the Kamaka.
 
Thanks for this! Like many others, I liked C best by a small margin, although I thought it was Kamaka. Actually, I wasn't sure if B or C was the Kamaka. I have to disagree with clear about the Fremont blacks on the Kamaka sounding like it has Kamaka strings. The fluorocarbons sound different enough from the nylons to throw me off--I think I might be better able to pick out a Kamaka with stock strings.
 
Great comparison! I'll just quickly post my thoughts and guesses here before checking the answer. I think A is quite clearly KoAloha with it's brighter tone but B and C are closer to each other. For my ears and through my headphones via the Youtube sound compression, I think C sounds the fullest which would suggest it's the Kanile'a. B is definitely warmer and darker than A in tone but slightly more muffled which would suggest both Kamaka and Fremont Blacklines, or at least that has been my perception of both the instrument and the strings in the past. I could very well have B and C backwards, however.
 
Well what do you know, I at least got B right but was completely thrown by the Kanile'a and KoAloha. I'm really surprised that A wasn't KoAloha since it was easily the brightest sounding for me. I feel very confused right now.

I'm also surprised that I got B right since I don't have that much experience listening to a Kamaka with fluorocarbons as I have nylons on mine. Still, I guess I could discern the typical tone for both the uke and the strings. Or maybe I just got lucky.

I have to say that I prefer C most and A the least as well, which is very weird since I prefer my own Kanile'a to my KoAloha in person. For me, Kanile'a has the warmest and fullest sound whereas KoAloha is typically brighter and punchier (while still having lots of depth in the sound of course). I can't really say if Kamaka is somewhere in the middle or if it just has its own unique characteristic.
 
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