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This review first appeared in the January 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Franco Serblin Ktêma in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Franco Serblin- Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacuła
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air 
Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, Miyajima Laboratory Waza
Preamp: Ayon Audio Polaris III with ReGenerator II power supply
Power amp: Tenor Audio 175S and Soulution 710
Integrated amp: Leben CS300XS custom
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600 Ω
Interconnects: CD-preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp-power amp Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, speaker cable Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cords: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300 (all equipment)
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip
audio stand: Base under all components, Pro Audio Bono under CD
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, turntables change continuously
Review component retail in Poland: 99.000/pr zł

Last year (2010) exactly 30 years had passed since Franco Serblin presented to the world his very first loudspeaker system called Snail. That's no mistake. Rather than set of speakers, the Snail was a system of two small monitors plus single subwoofer. These small satellites were mechanically mounted on long extension arms off a central subwoofer all fashioned from wood. Although the 2.1 concept wasn’t exactly completely novel by then, it still was a pretty unusual setup for the times. It was only when home cinema became popular that subwoofers began to play any earnest support role for satellite speakers. This happened many years later. Serblin's successful carrier thus began with an unusual concept and by 1980 his legendary company Sonus Faber started to write its chapter in the annals of the world’s audio history.

By February 2007 Franco had sold his famous company to private Italian holding firm Quadrivio SGR which a year later acquired another audio industry legend in Audio Research. Nobody really expected Serblin to retire to his beautiful home in the vineyards and spend the rest of his life enjoying fame, glory and significant wealth. The last model he’d created for Sonus Faber had been the Elipsa, a scaled-down version of his top Stradivari model. Almost three years after terminating his Sonus Faber tenure Franco presented to the world his newest creation - something big and momentous yet surely connected also very directly to his previous quite revolutionary Elipsa and Stradivari achievements.

By 2010 he unveiled the first design for his new brand. By what name would this brand go? That's a rhetorical question. It simply became Franco Serblin, the first model the Ktêma. Okay, it's not that simple. Is it ever with Italian companies? Certain promotional materials make mention of Yter by association. That’s an audio cable brand. Distributor invoices are issued by another company, the speakers dispatched from yet another. Let’s stick with Franco Serblin.

I’d already covered it during the Warsaw Audio Show 2010 coverage where our domestic premier of these speakers took place but I ought to repeat the most important information Serblin had forwarded. As he explains it, ktêma is Greek for an eternal possession that cannot be disputed over time just as his passion for treating loudspeakers as musical instruments can't be disputed. By being decidedly broad, his Stradivari Homage had been the first Serblin model whose geometry opposed the widely accepted modern standard of narrow deep cabinets. The enclosure was quite shallow but wide and thus unlike those Franco had championed previously - narrow, deep and if possible endowed with a lute-shaped cross section.

The Ktêma is different again. Based on three arcs, the front is very narrow, the outwardly flaring concave cheeks are wider and the broad back is convex. The front sports a twin midrange module of two 100mm mid/high cardioid radiators that reproduce a significant part of the spectrum. This relies on both proper crossover points and special slits in the cabinet which decompress the rear wave and let it pass into the room. The treble is covered by what Serblin regards as driver legend Ragnar Lian’s top achievement, a special 28mm soft-dome tweeter. The back of the enclosure holds two powerful 230mm compression-loaded radiators.

One of the first owners for a pair of Ktêma was Andrea Bocelli who later wrote to Franco: “I just listened to my own album and felt urged to sit at my computer and write a short letter to you to congratulate you on the performance of your speakers and thank you for the great enjoyment of listening to the music they gave me… Every recording of my voice seemed a bit warmer and more beautiful! It was a fabulous experience to feel the presence of the singer right next to me… Congratulations on your everlasting passion!”

Discs used during listening sessions - Bud Powell, Jazz Giant, Verve/Universal Music Company (Japan), UCCU-5062, CD; Pat Martino, East!, Prestige/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2018, SACD/CD; Sonny Clark, Cool Struttin’, Blue Note/Audio Wave, AWMXR-0003, XRCD24; Art Pepper, “…the way it was!”, Contemporary Records/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2034, SACD/CD; Nirvana, Nevermind, Geffen Records/Universal Music Japan, UICY-93358, CD; Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, Live at the Misty, TBM/Sony Music Direct (Japan), MHCP 10038, SACD/CD; Simon & Garfunkel, Bookends, Columbia/Sony Music Japan International, SICP 1484, CD; Depeche Mode, Playing The Angel, Mute, lcdstumm260, SACD/CD + DVD; Alison Moyet, Hoodoo, Sanctuary Records/Castle Music, CMRCD796, CD; Alison Moyet, Alf, Columbia/Sony Music, 483836, CD; Kombi, 4, Polskie Nagrania Muza, PNCD 999, CD. Depeche Mode, Violator, Mute, DMCD7, Collectors Edition, SACD/CD + DVD; Youn Sun Nah, Same Girl, HUB Music/ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9024-2, CD; Suzanne Vega, Close-Up. Vol 1, Love Songs, Amanuensis Productions/Cooking Vinyl, COOKCD521, CD.