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RMAF 2015: Nola’s knockout KO2

Nola-ARC-191

If Carl Marchisotto wasn’t busy designing speakers and whipping them into shape, I could picture him in the corner of a boxing ring, towel around his neck, coaching a few especially talented boxers.

Instead, Marchisotto runs Accent Speaker Technology Ltd., where he lets his Nola speakers do the swinging. And they, like all the greats in the “sweet science,” mix jaw-dropping impact with delicate footwork, speed and agility.

He chose RMAF 2015 for his latest matchup, the aptly named KO2 versus an entire second floor of contenders at the Marriott Denver Tech Center. And as I passed through, it seemed the new speaker was scoring almost at will.

The KO2 ($12,000 a pair) was showing off, in fact, on Marchisotto’s usual training soundtrack of percussion-oriented tunes and piano music. You know how some systems seem to sound great, live even, when you’re still outside the door? The KO2 has that rare ability. And, at RMAF, the KO2’s lifelike transients, bass slam and overall tonal accuracy were pulling in a steady stream of audio fans.

Once inside the midsize room, these audiophiles found themselves relentlessly pursued by great sound — almost anywhere they moved, even corners — as the open-back cabinet design produced an impressive soundstage.

Several music fans were picking themselves up off the floor after hearing the precise “thwack” of rock drums from the KO2s, which then was followed with lightning horn jabs and a frisky, well-integrated bass line.

The KO2’s striking resolution was produced partly by eight new woven carbon fiber mid-range drivers. They featured edge-wound Kapton voice coils and cast-aluminum frames. All three crossover boards have been upgraded and the low-frequency chambers have been re-tuned.

Just outside the ring was an Audio Research CD8 disc player ($9,000), VAC 160 amp ($16,000) and various cables by Nordost (which also is the brand of wire used in critical areas internally).

One of the tracks being spun was by Patricia Barber, who I had just heard live recently. The KO2 accurately captured her muscular attack on the piano, while still doing full justice to her vocals. I asked Marchisotto if percussion and piano-heavy music was something he used a lot when “voicing” his speakers.

“What you hear there is a result of us getting everything in the speaker right, rather than trying to sound good in those frequencies,” he said, looking proudly at his creations.

Marchisotto, echoing a trend in the high-end game, builds his speakers in the USA — New York, to be specific. I was lucky the KO2s seemed to get better with each round, since at times I leaned close enough with my camera for them to land a punch. Fans of deep soundstaging and wide dynamic range should plan on scheduling a bout between the Nolas and their own current champs. I don’t expect the KO2s will suffer too many losses.

RMAF 2015 coverage brought to you by Noble Audio! Click for more ….

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About John Stancavage (185 Articles)

Contributing Editor for Part-Time Audiophile

4 Comments on RMAF 2015: Nola’s knockout KO2

  1. Gavin Hadley // October 25, 2015 at 10:49 PM //

    ..they seem rather small at least for $12K..

    • Does size equals quality…? There are small monitors at many times the price of the KO2 (which are actually rather large – the perspective in the picture with Carl in front of them is deceiving).

  2. His speakers are THE most overpriced speakers, I’ve ever seen. The margin must be 70-80%. His Alon line were way better and priced right….period

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