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Days after the previous page first published, Eryk sent the following e-mail: "A new feature will be added to the present Ketsu models - 6mm steel bases 27cm wide for better speaker stability, painted in matte black and supported on their own spikes. You simply attach each plate under the loudspeaker via bolts which fit into the present spike receptacles. I wanted to send these to you with the speakers but the plates weren't ready in time. Their weight is approx. 4,5kg/each. Also, by March to April, the Ketsu S should be available in an Extreme version, which means just one change - the broadband sound coverage will be generated from one true high-end driver, a 60mm diameter 1-gram aluminum foil cone which, within tight +/-1.5dB linearity, achieves 30kHz at -3dB for really extreme results. The speaker's remaining technical data stay as is. Visually, only the aluminum broadband dress plate will change. Lastly, the 2008 retail prices will be slightly higher: 4,250 euros for the Superb, 4,900/pr for the Extreme."

The Ketsu S is a formidable speaker of great linearity, evenness and a penchant for sorting out the minuscule stuff. As first set up -- with the upper port foam plugs installed and run off AMR's AM-77 somewhat underdamped hybrid integrated -- the upper bass showed an amplitude prominence. The tactile sense of aliveness evident on other amps later was traded for warmer, softer outlines and less separation between notes. Swapping in my mono-bridged FirstWatt F4s fed from ModWright's LS-36.5 preamp and Ancient Audio Lektor Prime CDP cleared out this vagueness. Blood thinned and muscle tone built. Just exactly how well those small sidefiring woofers have been integrated with the equally paralleled widebanders up front became apparent when the speaker was fed a high-current diet. Then it reminded me very much of the DeVore Fidelity Nines (which at late November 07 exchange rates traded within $200). There was equivalent speed, fine articulation, coherence and a commitment to exactitude and finesse over ultimate scale and impact.

The 18-watt JAS Audio Bravo 2.3 6C33C integrated had no issue with SPLs. Articulation and pitch definition especially in the nether regions softened up but a firm grip really loosened overall. Reducing feedback to minimum further relaxed control and additionally energized the treble to introduce a bit of top-end coarseness and glintiness. Unplugging the bullet tweeters helped. Still, this wasn't a good match. Red Wine Audio's Signature 30.2 however was extremely happy. That combo played warmer, denser and heavier than the more lit up, ultra depth-throwing F4s but filled out the size 10 bass shoes of the Ketsu just as fully, something my Melody I2A3 valve amp wasn't fully up to.

Toed in completely to only show their narrow faces in the seat, the Ketsu S had not only great center fill but extended the same solidity of image heft well behind its back and often to the outsides well into the room corners. Mini monitor staging in other words. Though clearly endowed with very awake reflexes, the Ketsu avoids dancing on the transient edge as the Esoteric MG-20s did. Even very lively fiddling such as violin wizard Nedim Nalbantoglu does in great form once again on Yeni Dünya [Park Muzik] doesn't overdraw the metallic elements to brush over the resonant follow-up. The Ketsu really excels at delineating various bow pressures, whether the bow is drawn on edge or flat, how much flageolet harmonics are invoked together with the fundamental. One can step inside the tones and see them canting, blooming, depressing for a hooded effect, quivering, exploding - side effects all of very high
resolution to appreciate subtleties that go quite beyond the concert hall - unless one sat first row center. The Ketsu S has a modicum of self warmth but less so than the big 10-inchers of my Zus and WLMs. Driven from the F4 current-gain amps, one emphasizes the speakers' leaner/faster traits for enhanced ambient data yet stays well clear from overloading the nervous system with hyper realism. Driven from Vinnie Rossi's T-amp, one introduces additional warmth quite beyond the speakers' own. Meanwhile that amp's sealed lead acid batteries' ultra-low impedance delivers current which banishes the opaqueness that fire-place warmth could otherwise suggest and entail.

I would expect similar results from good 40-watt + KT88 push/pull valve amps, albeit with less than 'fully loaded' bass and reduced articulation. While lacking the frontal-assault impact of big driver displacement, the Ketsu S bass, once properly served, even handles severe synthesized bass bombs. Enough sub info survives below 40Hz for proper grounding if clearly not pant flap or room pressurization. Spinning Mercan Dede's newest 800 ( titled in reference to Rumi's 800th anniversary next year), the Ketsu S delivered plenty of growl and basement presence to never call up real need for subwoofer augmentation.

Angelique Kidjo's DjinDjin [EMI] had all the rollicking wallop her happy music needs to make you twitch to dance. If I call it civilized, it will suggest a lack of bad-self grit. That would be true because the Ketsu doesn't lose composure nor pounds and hammers like the big artillery does. But it wouldn't be true if you invoked genteel British politeness. For that the small drivers have too much jump. This brackets the general neighborhood the Ketsu S calls home.

For even greater jump -- immediacy or suchness -- you'd need Rethm Saadhanas. Their blood is still thinner to boil hotter. If you dig on Rap and HipHop and Massive Attack, you do want
subwoofers, not because such music goes much lower but because subs move a lot more air to pummel your gut where this speaker won't. Civilized. Because of its transient speed, the Ketsu can crack. On Dolapdere Big Gang's killer "Billie Jean" take [Local Strangers, Yakartop Music] by the "Turkish gangsters whose gun is their music", the underlying Arab djembe groove smacked hard with machine-gun hands on skins and peppery rolls. By the way, this 12-track album of standards from "Englishman In New York" to "Smoke on the Water" and "Can't Take my Eyes off You" is a blast. Western hits are made over to suit a
hip Middle-Eastern club milieu with strings, e-baglama and Arabesque embellishments. Truly, strangers from the West are hijacked and redressed, with Emir Yeşil on vocals leading the troupe into unexpected directions for lighthearted fun with proper diction.

Tord Gustavsen's fabulous piano trio setting of The Ground [ECM] showed how the weight and extension the Ketsu S has reserved for the low end is just right for Harald Johnsen's double bass. Just right too were Jarle Vespestad's tickled and brushed cymbals - not as preternaturally airy in full flotation as some extreme omnipolars manage nor as endlessly decaying but alive without etch or transient tizz. A lyrical pianist like Tord affords one plenty of chances to slip into the instrument and inspect it from the inside out - hammer falls and dampers and resonances and very brief microphone twists where something other than just strings ring. I don't know what that is except that all speakers render it from this disc - just to different degrees. The Ketsu widebanders + super tweeters tracked these distortions more keenly than either my Zu Definitions or WLM Divas, all in keeping with their increased treble
brilliance from, believe it, those paper-cone main units [the Micropure Kotaros pulled a similar trick]. Once I added the bullet tweeters, all driven from the F4s, I became even more aware of transient effects and possible shortcomings of my particular copy of Ground or the recording in general - tiny rustles and papery crinkles like bad spots on a movie reel.

The piggybacked bullet tweeter surely is a trick feature. It comes in so high as to merely add white noise. Depending on your amplifier and hearing, that might be the breath of life or unnecessary dither. The point is, you decide. If the notion of 3" mid/tweeters disturbs you, remember how Anthony Gallo built a small empire with exactly such 'full-range' spheres.

The universal endowment factor of the Signature 30.2 in the flesh & blood department contributed its expected magic also on the Ketsu S. It made for one of those made marriages that work because the matchmakers consulted personality traits and destinies that run far deeper than superficial hormonal attractions. The Red Wine + Eryk sound would appeal to 300B lovers for its depth of tone colors, the associated intimacy and direct connection. Plus, superior bass weight and articulation. Those keen on subjectively even greater depth and transparency -- more silver than gold tones -- would champion the F4 or amps of equal caliber (not that easy to find).

For a tiny nitrous injection without giving up tone density, Peter Daniel's 50wpc AudioSector Patek SE proved perfect. This Boeing-approved chip amp -- said jokingly but relative to Mr. Daniel's prior work at the airplane company -- majors on peppy attacks for a feisty, vivacious attitude. Coupled to surprising image solidity from op amps, this can be quite the addictive combo. The Ketsu S responded in kind by turning a bit cooler than over the Signature 30.2 while gathering momentum for a slightly less relaxed, more forward-charging sound. It stepped closer to the FirstWatt take in how it flooded the rear of the stage with additional light. The Patek SE didn't care for the foam plugs which, like with the AMR AM-77, elevated the upper bass. With both ports open, the bass was linear, potent and drier - another useful tuning feature just like the defeatable bullet tweeters.

$1,800 for a Patek SE, $2,500 for a Signature 30.2 or F4 - all three amps were ideal mates for the Polish slim-line towers to prove that the smart shopper need not be endowed with a huge purse to make terrific music in the home. At $1,949, the 6C33C-powered Chinese Bravo 2.3 with adjustable negative feedback followed this trio to sketch out tube behavior compared to transistors.

Relative bass presence receded by about 2 decibels
and bass quality acquired plenty of peach fuzz, this on a simple Hassidic lament of clarinet against powerfully plucked upright. Truth be told, the amp's grip on tone beginnings in general relaxed noticeably for an all-around far softer, less precise sound that plainly lacked fidelity. Since this is not what that amp sounds like on higher sensitivity speakers -- perhaps Eryk's bass alignment is more demanding than apparent -- I'd advise against affordable tubes to hear what the Ketsu S is really capable of. It deserves a stiff power supply with current delivery behind it. Otherwise things get a bit sleepy. That could give valves a bad name.

As stated earlier, the Ketsu S, conceptually with its side-firing woofers, dimensionally in height and price, competes directly against the DeVore Fidelity Nines. Its slender silhouette in lacquer finish and hi-gloss wood accents as submitted make it more modern and slick in appearance than John DeVore's chunkier proportioned, veneer-clad contender. It's two entirely different looks for two very different interiors and customers. But not sonically.

The Ketsu S seems to have a small advantage in vocal-band openness and deep-throatedness if you will while the Nines bang harder and lower when my customary Mercan Dede discs of Su and Nefes throw woofers to the wolves - and recall that 4 x 10-inchers per channel are my standard ammunition to know what's on these albums to begin with. The Ketsu S does surprisingly well here but the Nines do weller. In the treble, the DeVore 3/4" tweeter is ultimately more suave and finessed whereas in reflexes -- those particular qualities hi-eff listeners group under the term microdynamics -- the Polish speaker has the edge. After give 'n' take, I'd call these models equals in toto but not exactly the same. I couldn't say which is better.

Adding up
Truly lovely finish with apparently high-quality construction underneath. Deep choices for colors and trim.
A complete sonic solution for civilized listeners and their standard 14' x 20' listening spaces. Doesn't need lots of power but clearly straightens up with current delivery (don't most speakers) to prefer transistors from among affordable amp options. Perhaps because of the paper-cone widebanders, it is endowed with more innate body than intuitive to not require tubes for a warmth injection. Excellent articulation of microdynamics to mimic core qualities of the hi-eff religion. Truly powerful resolution with appropriate amps as demonstrated in Coral Bay with the ModWright LS-36.5 and FirstWatt F4 combo. This trip down Rez Alley pointed at superior drive units. The Ketsu S plays plenty loud but won't bang nor cause low-bass pressure waves. Good bottom-to-top coherence without audible hot or cold spots. Extended treble especially with bullet tweeters engaged but ultimately outclassed by ribbons or ultra domes. All in all, a surprisingly mature and dialed package from a non-mainstream company with little visibility in the West yet. Eryk is clearly a gifted designer who avoids all sensationalist tricks to instead walk right down the middle with high standards. From Poland with luv. My wife thought these were the prettiest speaker ever to walk through our front door. Smart men know not to mess with their interior designer. Eespecially when the task is about slipping a pair of loudspeakers past she who rules the living room. Ask her what color she fancies, then smile while you hog the hot seat and grab the remote. Life is good...

Quality of packing: Single MDF crate with styrofoam liners and shrink wrap.
Reusability of packing: Indefinitely.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Very easy. Just remove the foam, set the crate on end and slip out both speakers.
Condition of component received: Flawless.
Completeness of delivery: Included full-color sheet for other model, suggesting a separate brochure for the Ketsu S is under development.
Quality of owner's manual: n/a
Website comments: Contains all necessary information and e-commerce terminal.
Warranty: 2 years
Global distribution: Orders expedited directly from Poland except for Dutch and US intermediaries.
Human interactions: Very prompt and courteous e-mail responses.
Other: Directly competitive with DeVore Fidelity Nines for a known quantity. Especially attractive are the custom finish options.
Pricing: Competitive.
Application conditions: Defeatable bullet tweeters, woofers in/out orientation and port plugs equal setup flexibility.
Final comments & suggestions: An add-on plinth to widen the foot print for increased stability in high-traffic areas has already been announced.
Manufacturer's website