British, traditional… …but also… not really. Kudos Audio is a brand with a twist. But before we explain what’s different about these loudspeakers, first a few words of history
Latham has invited us to get acquainted with a new speaker brand (in the Netherlands). Now we’ll be honest: new speakers we see all the time. There are plenty. Good new brands … not so much. So before we hoist ourselves into the party clothes, let’s see what we are dealing with.
Naim and Kudos?
Connoisseurs will know that Naim has been making its own speakers for a long time. But they started working with Focal a few years ago. And for Latham, that collaboration is partly delayed the of import of a new speaker brand. Yet Latham managed to get Kudos Audio in his product portfolio. Fortunately, because this brand has a lot of interesting models!
Kudos Audio has a few main lines: Titan Series, Cardea Series and X Series. Latham keeps it with the Titan Series for the time being. And that consists of the 505, 606, 707 and 808. The 505 is a monitor model. The rest are floorstanders.
What’s special about Kudos Audio is that every model can do its job both in passive and active mode. By active we mean that the entire crossover can be skipped. The filtering is done in the amplifier or an active filter. We have been able to listen to the 707 both active and passive. The difference can at least be heard very well.
The heart – or core – of the brand – and the design of the speakers – is Derek Gilligan. He was also present this day to explain a few things about the technology of the cabinet and the units.
We will point out a couple of things that are different (to us). One of them, is that the side panels are disconnected from the actual cabinet. These panels have no influence on the sound. Also: each panel has a different thickness. This causes the cabinet resonances to actually extinguish themselves. dCS does the same by sticking two panels of unequal thickness on top of each other. Smart
The units come from Seas. All of them. However, they are not standard units, but each unit is unique to the speaker. In fact, the woofer for mid / low in the 505 – about 10,000 euros per pair – is different from the 606 – about 12,000 euros per pair – and again different from the 707 – about 18,000 euros per pair – and 808 – about 30,000 euros per pair. The Seas K3 tweeter is shared. All models are two-way, except the 808, which is a 2.5-way.
The bass is done by an Isobaric system with fixed boundary loading. So it’s not a standard bass reflex system. The woofers are not connected in series, but rotated 180 degrees. So one woofer is also ‘out of phase’ to get in line, or to actutally play in phase.
This is different from NEAT-acoustics for example. Partly because of this Isobaric system, the low level detail must be rich, and the bass should be deep and tight. We will experience that later.
Gilligan believes in simplicity. In the end, this results in a much purer sound than complex loudspeakers with complex crossovers. We feel this philosophy. It’s one of the reasons we fall for a two-way monitor so often. But okay: that’s also a matter of taste.
Not entirely surprisingly all Kudos Audio speakers play on a NAIM-system. Initially the 505 on a NAIM SuperNait 3 and a ND5 streamer. And man: what a wonderful sound! Massive Attack, Angel plays with great conviction. The bass is tight and remarkably deep. And a lot of definition. This presentation is very stable … and this is just the beginning!
The 606 must add in scale. We are not directly convinced, but later on we know why: that is due to the fact that the speaker is not yet properly burned in. And the efficiency is 83 dB; significantly lower than the 505 at 86 or 87 dB. In short: let’s go to the demo of the 707. In this demo we will hear the difference between active and passive.
This is a very interesting demo, because we go from very good to very good. It seems like a complete room-mode disappears with the active system. It offers more insight, more space and more tranquility. Different ‘lines’ in the music are easier to follow, especially in the lower area. If you have the interest, the ears and the money, you can’t ignore the fact that active is better… a no-brainer for us.
Then the 808 on the Naim Statement with NAIM’s top streamer: the ND555. Yes: what can we say: load it in the car and take it home. This is definitely, absolutely top-notch. The crème de la crème. Scale, precision, dynamics, refinement. What else does a human being want?
Food for more
A lot of new speakers are being released. Even new brands. A lot of them are fine. But nothing more than that. Sometimes there is something special. Kudos Audio is definitely special. In short: we like to take a closer look at them. Expect more about these British reproducers soon.