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This review first appeared in the November 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, 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 Amphion. - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe & Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature with Regenerator power supply
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic + Acoustic Revive custom speaker stand
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω vintage, HifiMan HE6
Interconnects: CD/preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp/power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base IV custom under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under CD player, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under CD player and preamplifier, Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS
Review component retail in Poland: zł 62.900 for black or white, zł 69.900 for Birch or Walnut

nssi Hyvönen belongs to a group of visionary manufactures. This implies no supernatural powers or going where no man has gone before. It simply means having a very clear vision of what he should be doing and how. He founded Amphion Loudspeakers Ltd. In 1998 in Finland’s Kuopio based on love of music as foundation. Although most hifi makers would claim the same, in this case it seems to be true. In his feature ‘Standout demo – Amphion 2012’, Doug Schneider of SoundStage! wrote that Anssi believes music to not only belong to all of us collectively but that the sheer act of listening can be beneficial to our nature. How Amphion means to bring people closer to this benefit is with speakers that most can afford. Amphion creates loudspeakers which "enrich people’s lives by providing a means to experience the beauty of pure natural sound in their homes - at any time - without unreasonable financial sacrifices." We confirmed this in our review of their Argon 1 by Marek Dyba who had opportunity to interview the people of Amphion during his trip to the factory. He wrote: "Anyone visiting Finland has opportunity to see that while we can envy the Finns for their magnificent nature, their country is visibly not as wealthy as its Scandinavian neighbors. Hence the Finns seem to have a very hands-on approach for all aspects of life and—most importantly—are apparently unwilling to spend a fortune on audio gear. As I was told by both Anssi Hyvönen and Mr. Mark Zakowski (the owner of probably the biggest audio salon in Helsinki), Finland’s high-end market is virtually non-existent. That's why Amphion’s Krypton sells mainly abroad. Back home Anssi sells mostly monitors which are cheaper than floorstanders and Finns also don’t have large listening rooms."

As we form a single sentence with the words "cheaper" and "Krypton" in it, we arrive at a true coincidentia oppositorum. If we were to take seriously the words of the company’s owner both on his website and as quoted in interviews, the speakers on review shouldn’t exist. The words "cheap" and "Krypton" stand in stark contrast at every level starting with the concept and ending in the final product. And yet the Krypton exists. Why?

The question can probably be answered several ways but we need to start with the most obvious given by Anssi – there was demand for such a speaker abroad. Consumers, distributors and the audio press rate any manufacturer by his top product. That’s different from the world of film or literature where you are only as good as your last movie or book. In audio what counts is not what came last but what’s best. And that very often coincides with what's most expensive.

But here there’s more to. With the demand from non-Finnish customers for a costlier flagship effort, Anssi and his team perceived their chance to demonstrate engineering acumen and escalate their proven concepts to their logical most extreme conclusion. One might assume that they also wanted to prove to themselves what they could do. The company was founded in 1998 and the website reports that the Amphion project itself is almost 15 years old. That would mean that the idea for these speakers emerged right when Amphion was launched. This would be illogical if the Krypton really came in response to demands from export markets. After all, those need time to first develop on the basis of the company’s earliest designs. It appears that when the website and other collateral materials refer to 15 years, it doesn’t relate to the Krypton per se but rather initial basic concepts and ideas by which the speakers from this Finnish company would become known at home and abroad, in recording studios and homes of music lovers. Among those concepts the big one is U/D/D.

This stands for uniformly directive diffusion. By creating a more equal dispersion of sound waves, anomalies caused by wall, floor and ceiling reflections are minimized and consequently liberate the listener to at least some extent from the ill effects of personal room acoustics. The claim that speakers ‘disappear’ from the room is found in the brochures of most speaker manufacturers. Some understand this more in terms of aesthetics, others in terms of music perception. Among the latter one sees various schools. Some promote the narrowing of the speaker’s directionality by adding a horn in front of the driver; some favor omni-directional radiation; others pursue dispersion control by other means. Amphion is of the latter kind. The Krypton³ is a three-way design with titanium tweeter and two proprietary paper/papyrus midrange drivers combining wood and cane in a d’Appolito configuration first described in Mr. Joseph D. D’Appolito’s paper "A Geometric Approach to Eliminating Lobing Error in Multiway Loudspeakers." In this configuration two midranges or mid/woofers are placed vertically above and below the tweeter and operate in parallel implementing a 3rd-order crossover. Anssi explains that his design solves several dispersion problems related to this geometry by improving its directional characteristics and creating a true point source above 160Hz.

Amphion manufactures its midrange diaphragms in-house and their distinctive yellowish color also exhibits corrugated ridges known from professional stage speakers and designs from the 50s and 60s. These concentric ripples are created on a specially built machine to improve response at lower frequencies. Amphion claims that their corrugated 8-inchers behave like conventional 4-inchers yet maintain the usual advantages of larger diaphragms. These drivers each work in their own chambers which vent outward through hole patterns on either cheek fashioned in the shape of an acute triangle. Amphion has championed this solution for a long time and its benefit saw personal confirmation in the fact that Franco Serblin came up with an almost identical solution for his Ktêma model. That commands respect. As a result of this aperiodic loading, the sound disperses in a cardioid shape known primarily from the recording studio where it is used to describe how microphones ‘hear’. It’s not the usual hemispherical radiation pattern but a shape resembling a cross-section of the human brain with a semicircular forehead, two rounded lobes and a stem. This is supposed to allow the Krypton³ to sound good even in small rooms; help with positioning the speaker near large windows; and perform well in poor acoustics.