This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

This review first appeared in the April 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of Kirsch
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. 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 fairaudio or Kirsch - Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
Sources: Laptop w. foobar2000 and JRiverMC plus Phonosophie DAC1 and Fonel Simplicité
Amplification: Fonel Emotion, Abacus Ampino, Funk MTX Monitor V3b, Audionet AMP Monos
Loudspeakers: Spendor SP100R², Quadral Megan VIII, Thiel SCS4
Cables: Straight Wire Virtuoso, HMS Fortissimo, Reson LSC 350
Power delivery: Quantum-Powerchords, Hifi-Tuning Powercord Gold, MF-Electronic power strip
USB: BMC Pure USB1, Chord USB SilverPlus
Rack: Lovan Classic II
Review component retail in EU: €3’750/pr.

Cheeky cherries? The unexpected happens a lot goes the saying. There one cruises the interwebs and stumbles upon a speaker maker never heard of before. Next friends who works as hobbyist DJs mention the same brand in passing. Finally one notices—bing—that a Jazz club one frequents heavily over many months probably has used their PA system for years already. This much coincidence tickled this cat something fierce. Next two studio not PA monitors called Kirsch Audio SQ8 graced my digs to show off their chops. Most our readers won’t be hip to Kirsch Audio but they are far from rookies with six moons – well, years under their belt. Their main rep still is for sound reinforcement. Here in Berlin’s music and club scene this local firm in the Neukölln suburb is one of the big names in a sector that includes companies like Function one, L-Acoustics, d&b Audiotechnik, Kling & Freitag, Martin Audio, Meyer Sound and even Electro-Voice… likely nobodies all to most of our hifi-freaky friends.

But designer Felix Kirsch is adamant that they don’t just focus on PA but are equally active in the studio sector. ‘Active’ simply isn’t the most apt term when Kirsch belongs to the rare species of contemporary suppliers which offer exclusively passive boxes to the mastering engineers. As marketing man Wolfram Neugebauer put it, with good reason: "There are a few more reputable and successful makers of passive studio monitors. Whilst not as popular as active generics, those are found in the world’s best studios. Just think Abbey Road with their B&W 801. We’re not adamantly against actives but despite intensive searching simply haven’t yet identified active electronics which would meet our standards."

Apropos standards, Neugebauer continued that with the SQ8’s drivers they aimed very high in the sense that it’s not about top suppliers famous for specific isolated qualities but to identify drive units which like pieces of a puzzle fit in the cabinet and filter architectures "for perfectly seamless unity". For their largest studio monitor's top the Kirschen picked a 27mm silk dome which across its operative bandwidth is said to exhibit +/-1dB tolerance. This is further tweaked with stringent pair matching. Their Audax 20cm mid/woofer was chosen for its linearity, dynamics and precision. Vital about all of it—and here the phase-correct 6dB/octave filter network comes in—is coherent behaviour in the time domain. 'Time fidelity' becomes decisive for accurate image localization of instruments within a dense mix they believe. Delayed signals also get falsely diminished or escape perception altogether. Here it’s fair to remind ourselves that the relevance of phase accuracy isn’t merely questioned in the high-end but also in studio circles. My former Sehring S703SE for example were groomed for time coherence. The equally reputable German firm Geithain thinks less about/on the subject.

Now a fair question is asking how a listener will get at these cherries from Berlin. They’re not exactly low-hanging fruit. "If someone interested lacks a regional dealer, we offer a direct trial option. If everything fits, the customer receives a sales contract which includes the option of returning the product no questions asked. But for the future we do plan on selling exclusively through dealers." Their traditional 2-way with its less common front-firing slot port measures 53x31x44cm HxWxD and uses an MDF box perfectly finished with a tough polyurea elastomeric applied as a hot spay which is currently available only in Henry Ford black.