Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, COS Engineering D1, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; Crayon Audio CIA-1T [on review]; Audiozen Lysios [on review]; Audio Valve Baldur 300 [on review]
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: TBA
July 26th: "See my new design draft for Furioso Mini. Maybe there still will be some small adjustments but it is very close to final." That was Rainer Weber, contract engineer for Germany's Kaiser Acoustics. The v3 designation shows that this is far from how today's story began. At Munich HighEnd 2018—in the next photo bracketing Chiara—this first model of Kaiser's new line had looked exactly like my review samples which subsequently shipped. But those were recalled a few days after. By that time Kaiser had collected sufficient post-show feedback from dealers and distributors who lobbied not for sonic changes but a slightly smaller more svelte form factor. Now compare as above so below.
You'll appreciate how v3 grew a faceted face and dual not single folds/kinks on the side walls; how the opposing passive radiators relocated upward to now sit slightly higher than the frontal mid/woofer. Finally, internal volume shrunk by about 6 litres to reduce overall size. Quite the stem-cell rejuvenation to show how industrial design morphs in action. As consumers, we are rarely privy to progressive iterations. We see final production, not what led up to it. For once a bump on the road—I'd already penned a 3-page preview with first listening impressions which had to get scrapped—provided a chance to compare two stages of an industrial design process.
It's a reminder also on hifi shows not just being about cast-in-stone product launches. Routinely launches gauge reactions. They test the waters. They reserve the right to instigate subsequent changes. For astonishing sonics, Furioso Mini v2 had already collected major thumbs up at shows in Prague, Mumbai and Munich. Certain markets simply wanted more sugar in their eye candy. Because smart companies listen to their customers, Kaiser went back to the drawing board and Rainer dipped his pen into the sexier ink pot to make it so.
But already Mini v2 became a disruptor by forcing Furioso's flagship back to the drawing board, this time on performance. Huh? A day after the Prague show, Rainer's FaceBook post explained it. "Mini is home from Prague. The next step is to update Furioso Grande with a ribbon tweeter." That's because the big new floorstander had bowed at a France dealer demo with a costly Beryllium dome. Meanwhile a Mumbai show visitor with Tidal speakers using a 30mm diamond tweeter had called v2 "one of the best stand mounts I heard in a while." On March 26th, Rainer Weber sent me a link to HifiHunt.com's subsequent coverage of the Mumbai show. It shared that assessment: "… the setup of Kaiser Audio's Furioso Mini… paired with Octave's V40SE integrated valve amplifier with Black Box and AVM's CS8.2 used as a CD player… evolved from Friday onward. On Sunday, it became quite apparent that we would have no choice but to give it the 'cost no object' Sound of The Show… for truly magnificent and jaw-dropping resolution, attack, decay and timing. We were hoping that we could have some true competition to a Nexus Audio setup but yet again the man behind Nexus Audio came, saw and conquered the show." To reiterate the surprising upshot, Mini's Russian ribbon tweeter had shown the Grande's ScanSpeak Beryllium dome a clean set of Prada heels. But there was more disruption.
By early April, Rainer's update laid it out: "Furioso Mini is a really good speaker; perhaps too good but I won't reduce performance for the sake of fitting the portfolio. I am a designer. I try to do my best at any given budget. However, at present the Mini betters Furioso Grande also in the bass [Grande v1 drawings below]. Grande can displace more quantity but not more quality or refinement. So I will make a new smaller Grande with dual 24cm SB Satori woofers. It needs to be better than Mini. It will be a challenge but I can't imagine anyone buying a more expensive bigger speaker and not getting more performance. So this time, no Furioso Grande at Munich. For now Mini is much better." Smaller speaker, better bass? That definitely mandated a revisit.
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