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The Krypton³ appear like a character from a different story altogether. Maintaining good tonal balance, high selectivity and resolution (in that order), they show dynamic nuances like very large horn speakers do. Be it changes in cymbal crashes like on Groove Yard by The Montgomery Brothers; or the full expression of Jacqueline du Pré’s cello from her Elgar concertos... every single thing was clear to show deeper meaning. It wasn’t art for art's sake, i.e. tricks that sweat over a specific element just so "other may talk about it". Such a perfect presentation of dynamic fluctuations now becomes a prerequisite to show more natural instruments and vocals. This results in insanely high definition and differentiation. It’s not a live, flat, clear, warm or cold sound per se. It largely depends on the recording (largely though not exclusively as even these speakers have their own character). The perfectly transparent speaker is a myth of course yet this Amphion gets us closer to this ideal than any I’ve heard.

This makes for an unbelievably rich sound. Performer presences, the definition of individual instruments and their function inside a performance’s broader plan, the fantastic reveal of the true natures of singers and players… all this struck me especially with guitar. I already mentioned two albums but spent most my time with Wes Montgomery, both solo and with his brothers. The sound of a guitar played through a guitar amp, especially when recorded with a microphone rather than line-out to a mixing console, is completely unique. On one hand the distortions introduced by guitar effects and an overdriven guitar amp are quite interchangeable. Each guitarist has his own set of effects and favorite amp and even if he plays with tone, depth and varying amounts of feedback, it all remains within a certain pre-defined window of parameters. Or so it usually seems with hifi speakers. But if it were really true, why the heck would all those guitarists sweat so profusely over developing uniquely recognizable sonic signatures from their given guitar, strings, amp, valves etc? Why bother if it all sounded more or less the same?

The Krypton³ shows the truth. Electric guitars differ wildly from one another in tone depth, texture, 3D size, expression, small shifts in attack and timbre and various harmonic distortion mixes. For a cliché I must say that with these speakers I simply heard everything better. They were clearly more accurate and selective than my own Harbeth M40.1. The latter still possess personal sound characteristics which simply happen to make my knees weak. But it was the Amphions which showed me what Alan Shaw’s speakers were lacking. With this frame of mind I listened to Offramp from the Pat Metheny Group. It’s one of my favorite albums and reaching for it was meant to show me how well these speakers might assemble material recorded in the infancy of digital recordings. Yet the Amphion went farther. They showed a lively rich sound with amazing instrumental depth and volume exactly as the Portishead album had done earlier. They also delivered exceptional bass, the kind we don’t quite expect. It is short and clean yet definition and punctuality are slightly soft. This bass only speaks when there’s something to say. It’s not bloated or drags along. Yet there is no hardened attack. On the du Pré cello recording it actually showed what might be called a soft underbelly because it was so velvety smooth. With electronica on Diary of Dreams meanwhile it was strong and tight, no softness in sight. Its timbre was just as recorded (which I monitored over headphones to be sure).

But we need to keep in mind the unusual design. The woofers are located on one side so the Krypton³ can be set up woofers in or out. This will be dictated by the size of our room, the speaker distance from the walls and listener. Anssi explained: "Unfortunately we did not have time to break this pair in properly. I am very sorry for that. Straight out of the box they might seem a bit thin in the midrange. When it comes to positioning, I would try them first with the woofers facing in. It's a safe choice for most rooms. If you prefer a broader soundstage, try it the other way but you then need to devote more time and attention to proper positioning, sufficient toe in and accurate adjustment both horizontal and vertical. You can use the directional nature of the tweeter to adjust the toe-in angle. Feel free to experiment with aiming them directly at yours ears and choose what you like best. Another difference is tilt-back. Due to a really good sound propagation pattern you need to pay special attention to create a perfect acoustic match with the room. It's worth spending time on. A few millimeters can bring unimaginable changes."

For me the best setting was woofers in and having the speakers aim almost straight at me with only minor toe-in. Vitally important this very powerful speakers showed no excess bass in my not very large 25m² room + 15m² open space. The sound was very good in fact. Nor was there any issue with sitting close. Clearly the controlled directivity worked as advertised. However it must also be stated that side-firing woofers cause - um, side effects which I hear each time I have such a design on hand. Compared to direct radiators facing the listener, reflective woofers firing elsewhere are less punctual and delineated although here the Amphions are still special for their kind. As long as the bass instrument was perfectly centered on the soundstage like Portishead’s e-bass or the upright on Montgomery’s album, I had no doubt that the bass was exactly the same as that from the best classic designs – tight but full, with good definition and texture. When the bass instrument moved out of the middle or exhibited anti-phase elements, definition grew worse however and exhibited a less tacit sensation of here now. These differences were not large enough to be a nuisance but they confirmed prior findings. I also heard a slight timbre modification near the crossover frequency between woofer and midranges. Anssi indicated that over time the lower midrange would fill out. Indeed each time I returned to listen it seemed that body and flesh had increased.