Kyron Audio’s Kronos speakers are something worth marvelling
A local loudspeaker manufacturer has developed a high-end loudspeaker that redefines Australian sound. Paul Skelton explains.
Until recently, the Victorian town of Bacchus Marsh was quite possibly best known as the apparent birthplace of Dancing With The Stars judge Helen Richey (Don’t worry, I have no idea who that is either). Located 50km west of Melbourne, for outsiders, the town was little more than a stopover point between Melbourne and Ballarat.
But in 2011 that changed. Now the town is home to an ultra-high end dipole loudspeaker manufacturer, Kyron Audio, and its award-winning Gaia and new Kronos loudspeaker systems.
According to the company’s founders, Lee Gray and Leon Suter, Kyron Audio is dedicated to extreme fidelity reproduction of recorded music, striving to eliminate the resonance, distortion, noise and compression that are often marketed as saleable qualities.
Ultimately, the company’s primary goal is to create products that are devoid of any sonic signatures. And to achieve this, it has dedicated itself to the dipole loudspeaker form factor and building speakers without an enclosure.
“For so long it has been taught that without an enclosure, there will be no bass. What is not widely documented however is the number of compromises made to fidelity when an enclosure is added to a sound source. The simple test of talking into cupped hands will demonstrate both the amplifying effect and the change in tonality that a resonant chamber has on a sound source,” Leon says.
“But a dipole speaker is so much more than just a speaker without a box. The term ‘dipole’ refers to the way sound disperses from the loudspeakers. The dipole dispersion pattern is also known as figure-8 because it resembles a numeric figure eight when viewed from above. This has several advantages, including the ability to couple with low room modes far less than a conventional speaker as it is only energising the room directly in a front-to-back direction.”
For Leon, dipole speakers offer a greater level of accuracy, in particular for acoustic audio.
“Once you’ve listened to dipole speakers for a long time, as we have, then it’s very hard not to hear the sound a box normally makes. So, for us, a box is simply another resonance and energy source that we can get rid of.
“This is one of the main benefits of a dipole speaker, as well as the benefit of having a top-to-bottom power response that is even throughout the room. With dipoles you don’t have omnidirectional bass and directional highs creating an imbalance in the room.”
In October 2013, Kyron Audio launched its second loudspeaker model – the Kronos loudspeaker system, which shares its name with one of the original Titans from Greek mythology.
A direct descendent of the company’s flagship Gaia system, and without as hefty a price tag, the Kronos features the same lack of colouration that Gaia is well-known for. The sound quality of the two models is almost indistinguishable.
The Kronos employs customised and hand assembled woofer drivers, mounted on the back of the motors to reduce vibration and improve dynamics. A low distortion, high excursion midrange driver has been used, as well as ring radiator tweeters.
“Ring radiators have a curious off-axis response – they’re not as wide as a normal dome tweeter, which actually ties-in quite nicely with the dipole midrange, which rolls off completely to the side,” Leon says.
“The phase from the tweeter also doesn’t cancel itself out at the very high frequencies. We’ve measured right up to 40kHz on these tweeters.”
Additionally, the Kronos includes DEQX powered signal processing capabilities, which is responsible for linear-phase crossovers, time alignment, frequency response correction, phase correction and room correction. Being able to correct the frequency and phase of the output ensures that what you hear is as close as possible to what was recorded. The signal then travels through Kyron Audio’s proprietary dipole correction electronics that allow the woofers to be used without a box.
The Kronos system is powered by six channels of extremely low distortion power amplifiers, capable of producing a total of more than 2,500W of power. The amplifiers are directly connected to the speaker drivers, with only speaker cable in between. This gives the amplifiers complete and exacting control over the movement of the speakers, allowing precise starting and stopping of the signal.
The system also includes a transparent remote control preamplifier to facilitate connection of source components.
“Kronos was conceived last December. It is quite heavily based on Gaia and it was really a case of getting that baffle shape right and getting the pole construction more to where we wanted it, both aesthetically and from a construction standpoint as well.
“The only thing we had to relinquish was a little bit of the bottom octave – it doesn’t go right down to 20Hz at flat out volume; however, it does go down to about 35Hz flat out and it can go down to 20Hz if you’re happy with slightly less volume.
“We have included subwoofer outputs as well. There won’t be many people who need that option, but we thought it should be there just in case.”
To ensure the performance of every Kronos system sold, each part of the multi-layered structure is aligned perfectly to create a stable and silent platform for the speaker drivers to operate from. And the structural backbone of the Kronos is made up of five different materials, including aircraft grade aluminium, stainless steel and engineered plastics. The spine is assembled as a constrained damped composite, ensuring it is solid and inert, and the only sounds generated are those of the drivers.
“The spine is designed to be completely inert. And we assemble everything by hand to ensure that everything is perfectly aligned when we assemble it,” Leon says.
“Essentially we want the Kronos to be as good as the Gaia system in every respect, just a little more affordable.”