A few years ago we walked around at the X-FI fair in Veldhoven, Netherlands, and somewhere in the late afternoon we entered the room, hired by ‘Very Fine Solutions’. Owner Frank Vermeylen greeted us enthusiastically and introduced us to Russell Kauffman, founder and designer of the now much appreciated Russell K loudspeaker brand. It was an honor and a pleasure to have a chat with ‘the man himself’ and to get to know him as a friendly and amiable man. Colleagues Jaap and Yung had also talked to him shortly at High End Munich. Today we watch a special version of the original Red 50: The Russell K Black 50!
At the fair we of course talked about loudspeakers and we noticed that Mr. Kauffman talked very calm and serene about his philosophy. That philosophy initially even caused some ‘unrest’ in the audioworld because he is one of the few loudspeaker designers who does not fill his cabinets with damping material. He chooses to make the cabinet itself part of the sound. A daring idea, to say the least, that actually goes against all logic. Or doesn’t it?
Founded in 2013, Russell K now has two monitors and two floorstanders in its range. A modest collection but one in which everyone can find what they’re looking for. Together with his team, Kauffman has enough know-how to look at things from a different perspective. He’s worked for many years at a number of established companies including Bowers and Wilkins, Wharfedale and Morel. Through a lot of experimentation, he discovered that an undamped sound box produces an extremely natural sound, and after several tests, he decided to continue along this path. The rest is history.
Construction and appearance
As mentioned above, the Black 50 is a special version of the Red 50 and its competitive price offers a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the Russell K brand. The black coating is particularly scratch-resistant and impervious to fingerprints. A very durable version that doesn’t look bad at all. Especially from the front perspective, this small monitor looks both stylish and cool. The silver bolts are like diamonds and the graceful name of the designer contrasts nicely with the black. This gem has been put together with care, that may be clear. The importer told us that the three other models will soon be available in this version as well.
The Black 50 is a small monitor (31×20.5x20cm) that has the same components as the ‘regular’ Red 50. A 25 mm soft dome tweeter and a 12.5 cm impregnated paper mid-bass driver. The baffle is completely undamped and consists at the front of a 19mm MDF board and for the rest of the slightly thinner 16mm version. The cabinet is reinforced by a perforated board just above the driver. At the back we see a small bass port and some very fine speaker connections. Above it is ‘Precision Audio Loudspeaker System’ and in retrospect this appears to be an apt description. Sensitivity is on average with 87db at 8ohm which in reality ensures a very easy control. But… this monitor, however, is not as easy as you might think when it comes to combining it with amps.