I was skeptical about the abstract art posing as dipole loudspeakers that sat in front of me at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach on Thursday afternoon. But that skepticism was soon to be put to rest.
I had been invited for a private listening session on media day by Kyron Audio‘s Lee Gray, and I was looking forward to hearing their Kronos system in person to dispel any doubts I may have been harboring.
The room set-up featured the dedicated Kyron-powered, DSP-enabled Kronos system including the speakers, and the massive accompanying integrated amplifier/pre-amp featuring Hypex N-Core technology delivering close to 1,600 watts of dedicated power to the speaker’s five drive units ($110,000 USD). The Kronos is comprised of two 12-inch bass driver units, one seven-inch midrange driver, and two one-inch tweeters (firing forward, and back), the design is a dipole array, meaning the speaker is designed to deliver sound both from the front, and rear. According to Gray, like their flagship Gaia loudspeaker, Kyron designed the Kronos without an enclosure to eliminate any associated resonance or coloration.
Feeding this beast was the Döhmann Helix 1 turntable, a spinner that I’ve had a crush on since RMAF last year, and a ‘table that seems to have caught on because several rooms at Newport featured Mark Döhmann’s latest design, which at $40,000 USD without tonearm, is not for the meek analogaholic among us. Cartridge when I was there Thursday was the Lyra Delos ($1,995 USD) mated to a Schröder CB tonearm (Approx. $4,000 USD).
The Orpheus phono stage ($21,500 USD) was supplied by Bulgarian manufacturer Thrax, and revealed some serious dynamics from the Delos – along with one of the blackest backgrounds I’ve ever heard from an analog rig – far more than I would ever attribute to this cart with lesser phono pre-amps I’ve previously heard paired to it.
Lee, his Kyron cohort, and co-founder Leon Suter played a variety of LPs, and some digital files for me over the next 45 minutes, and one of the first things that struck me was the solidity of the stereo imaging, and the height of the sound stage. These dipoles presented everything with real grace, smoothness, power, and clarity. Bass was extended, with horns, drums, and vocalists placed with incredible spatial accuracy, and an amazing 3-D depth. Tonality was spot on, with plenty of air around instruments, and while shimmer, and decay on cymbals, and high hat weren’t to the Nth degree I enjoy from some tube circuit designs, it was probably more than enough for most audiophile purists. The amount of dependence on DSP to make this rig sound this good shouldn’t be overlooked, and I only say that because I’m old school in some ways, and enjoy speakers with cabinets that use resonance, and room boundaries to their advantage in reinforcing their impact, timbre, and spatial realism. Having said that, why not use technology to embrace new design concepts that allow for radical rethinking of traditional views on sound reproduction?
Why not indeed?